In my mind personal stories usually outbalance the pressure from mass difficulties. I am more attracted to individuals since their history reveal depth whereas mass prosecutions albeit more representative lack the human side in most incidents. But this take on human rights make it necessary to tell you the recent developments concerning Kurds in general in Turkey to make my final point on the issue: the ignorance of public at large and specifically the intellectuals against mass confinement of Kurdish intellectuals, journalists and activists in Turkey.
After turns and turbulences of recent weeks, I have decided to approach the KCK case in Turkey from a different angle. For the average person living in Turkey today, one hundred years of oppression as well as the mass murders of the Kurds in the nineties are events of the past. Their thoughts are lost in the context of an ever changing daily agenda. Most see both Turkish army’s struggle against PKK or Kurdish human rights movement as lost causes today. Although everyone agrees that a misconception absurdly named as “Kurdish problem” should be solved, no party seems to produce a feasible solution. Which in turn makes one think all parties are far from sincerely targeting one. On the other hand the human tragedy surrounding 20 million Kurds living in Turkey still evolves.
It’s also tragic that Turkish public still unaware of the extend and depth of the KCK case despite the fact that famous white Turks were also arrested under its umbrella. Another tragedy is no one knows even what KCK (Koma Civakên Kurdistan) is or what it represents. In this article I will not go into definitions or descriptions of a political entity, but let the reader research it in his own time. Let it suffice to link a descriptive article on KCK with several references.
KCK case is a system of numerous cases opened in several cities where the accused are predominantly Kurds who fight for human rights or Turks who have worked with different functions of the same organization such as academy of politics. The case was initiated on the basis of Turkey’s vague anti-terror law implemented by ‘special courts’ where hearsay and owning books or articles are considered as sufficient evidence of one’s terrorist activities.
In the first indictment, attorney general Adnan Çimen accuses Democratic People’s Congress for acting on ‘unnecessary’ deeds since regional government is possible through parliamentary means. In other words the defendants were accused of defending something that is already in effect in Turkish parliamentary system. In Istanbul KCK case Prof. Büşra Ersanlı was accused of ‘being a clandestine organization officer’ because “she was a woman, she was angry with the police, she thrived for peace and she was friends with” some people. Indictment reads as follows; “as for someone who writes such things, it a mockery of human mind and intelligence to consider her [Prof. Ersanlı] a woman of science.” Also mourning for dead Kurds was considered as a crime against anti-terror law in the indictment.
The same prosecutor even accused KCK defendants for an ultra rightist demo at Marmara University in Istanbul. In addition being a part of official BDP (Pro-Kurdish party) meetings is considered to be a crime in Istanbul KCK indictment. Prosecutor deems those meetings as ‘illegal organization meetings’ where minutes of those include real names and positions of individual members of a legal parliamentarian party. Also legal fundraising events of BDP appear in KCK indictment as illegal activities. I might add paragraphs and paragraphs of unlawful accusation against Kurds under KCK case. Prof. Ersanlı and Ragıp Zarakolu, high profile defendants were set free pending trial a while ago but there are over 7000 accused under KCK case; a number even most attorneys for KCK are not sure about.
In most court sessions defendants were absolved of their basic right to defend because they want to speak Kurdish in the courtroom. Infamous Turkish prisons have very harsh conditions for inmates. Especially if you are political prisoner, you will be introduced to the ‘special treatment’ of guardians as soon as you’re interned. Furthermore many Kurds in prisons have started a hunger strike for an indefinite period of time in protest of the isolation of jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. Already harsh living conditions in jail are worsening for them. Starting from today all will also abandon their rights for open visitation, again in protest.
Many personal stories add to the tragedy of thousands of well-educated Kurdish youth struggling their way in the iron fists of an intolerable state.
But that is only one side of the tragedy. The real one is the way society reacts to this injustice aimed at its members. Of course membership in this case is just a figure of speech. Turkish society is much segmented around both political and ethnic divides historically. A typical so called ‘white-Turk’ considers injustice directed towards his community as a grieve offense whereas he or she might act the same towards other ethnic groups very easily. Therefore the pain inflicted by the state to many Kurdish families via the KCK case had caused to uproar in Turkish society. Furthermore efforts to create awareness in the society about KCK case and related suffering, including those of this author himself, always lead to a concrete wall of indifference. The bravest accepted fear, most found ridiculous excuses. Turkish society recently started to display the features of a primitive society; each to his own. The threads albeit fictive, holding this country together are rapidly disintegrating. Maybe a junta-like, totalitarian government is the only thing holding Turkey together. In the meantime the crack is widening. And the first ones to fall will be the most scared of acting.
Not long ago, Turkish intellectuals were mobilized to save a bunch of white-Turk journalists from prison on another unjust case. They were successful in freeing those (pending-trial) as well as three people on trial for KCK. But when it was turn to defend the rights of hundred or so Kurdish journalists or thousands of Kurdish activists these ‘intellectuals’ all turned the blind eye. One even was bold enough to tell the truth: “You know the consequences!”
Yes, I know them. First hand since I have spoken to many Kurdish families. First hand since I have spoken to Kurdish mothers whose daughters are in Turkish jails where rape and physical abuse are facts of daily life. For them these are ‘the consequences,’ this is the price. But the reality, as long as it does not knock on their own doors, at least so far, does not interest many Turks.
I strongly wish they won’t need the affection of Kurds in the near future.
(With deepest gratitude for Deniz Doğruer for research & ETHA for their resources.)