Barış ve Demokrasi Partisi

My letter to a Turk

Posted on: 16/11/2012

We are sharing the letter of our hunger strike activist deputy Adil Kurt.

I am writing this letter on the 61st day of the indefinite hunger strike started by Kurdish political prisoners.

I don’t know in which day you will be reading this. To make things easier for you, I will state the day and hour that I write this letter. November 11, 2012, around 21.00. Diyarbakır…

What I feel now is not the feeling of a member of parliament.

I will try to express my sentiments as a Kurd who has lived in the famous Kato region of Hakkâri and used to think himself as the happiest person on earth when he had a new pair of rubber shoes.

By God’s providence, I, who used to be happy with a pair of rubber shoes and found no solace except for listening to the national anthem of Herne Pêş which symbolize the Kurds’ struggles in the Kurdish Federal Region in Iraq and to the epic of Rustemê Zal at the late hours of the night on Radio Erivan, now, have to continue my people’s struggle for freedom by going on hunger strike.

I do not intend to repeat all those experiences that most of you already know and that we are so tired of telling.

Based on my 1.5-year period of membership in parliament, I now think that there are no words left to say to resolve the Kurdish question through democratic and peaceful means. Someone has always attempted to test our sincerity. We have always been treated as the kids of the ‘Kurd, the door keeper.” Most of the time they meant to say ‘it would have been better if you were not here’ . True, we are frustrated by such discourse; but this is not the problem; that we lost our hopes is the problem.

Our experiences are reminiscent of the Algerians’. You know, the elderly French needed Algerian nursemaids. The only reason for their coexistence was the Algerian’s ‘right’ to be the caretaker of the Frenchman. However, the Frenchman who cannot survive without the Algerian’s existence cannot even stand seeing the Algerian in his neighborhood. Not long ago,
only 3-5 years ago, the streets of Paris turned into a huge fireball. Those who set the fire were Moroccan, Algerian and Arab kids but the fuel for that fire was nothing but the incurable arrogance of the French.

This case also describes our ‘brotherhood’ with you. The first scene that met my eyes when I first encountered the Turkish metropolises reminded me of this. I felt like the child of the Kurdish porter who feels the need to be the servant in that high-rise, garish life style. Each apartment building had a doorman and I saw Kurds in those apartments as these doormen.

Please remember the Kurd that rang your bell to visit you on a holy day when you wanted him to leave as soon as possible, also the Kurd with whom you got angry because he took your garbage five minutes late.

When you label this ‘unity’ as brotherhood, our objection intensifies. This is not the brotherhood that we want. As a Kurd I have never felt like a conqueror of İstanbul. I saw the feeling of conquest dangerous, because we have already learned through experience, how cruel it was to be conquered.

Not to say that Kurds that made it to İstanbul with a sense of conquest did not exist. With every step they took, they had to become more ‘white’. Looking back, they no longer liked what they had left behind.

Most of those, by denigrating the ones who stayed behind and wanted to remain ‘black’, hoped to save themselves from becoming doormen. In this way, they took on the role of the ‘bad black cat’ between us. There are also non-Turkish Turkish nationalists. They are the ones who sabotage our brotherhood.
‘Understandably’, you may think of the following question: ‘Not all Kurds think like you. Look, there are Kurds from parties other than the BDP, and they don’t make so much noise.’ This is also true. We don’t claim that all Kurds are like us. But you should also know this. You have to accept the fact that the Kurdish elite have always acted together with the government. Now, let me address a dimension of the above that needs to be clarified. Let me clarify the obstacles faced by the Kurds that have become entrenched in-the-system. I am thinking by putting myself in your shoes. If I also had a Turkish phenomenon that forms two categories, I would prefer the one closer to me. This again does not make sense to me. But here I’m talking about another reality. Those you consider in the category of unproblematic Kurds, in fact, constitute the essence of the problem.

How? Let me explain. All over the world, influential classes are ‘married’ to those in power by ‘obligation’. Obligatory marriage of our Kurdish elite to power holders is a bit more complicated. They have no confidence. They use every kind of clownery to look well-behaving. It’s enough that they simply continue to exist with their influence. The influential Kurd that thinks like this, does not desire to solve the question.

By the way, let me also mention the non-Turkish Turkish nationalists. How can a human being become such? For example, Ziya Gökalp… Abdullah Cevdet … and today many other names that you can easily add to the list. I’d like to sit with a Turk and talk about this paradox. I would not desire someone else to form great-syntheses for myself. So much that ‘Turkishness’ as an identity has become something that is repulsive. What would you think, if your child recite the nationalist oath every morning at school by saying “My existence shall be dedicated to the Turkish existence” which actually means your child should dedicate his existence to my child’s existence every day? Please, think of the same thing for me.

Let’s finish here the issue of empathy.

On 12 September 2012 Kurdish politicians in prison initiated an indefinite, non-alternate hunger strike.I hope it will have ended by the time you read this letter. Even if the strike ends we will be feeling the weight of its reasons.

This strike is based on two principle demands.

First, an end is demanded to the isolation at Imralı that has lasted for a year and 3 months and 15 days (as of November 11th) and which is in violation of the state’s own laws. Second, the right to a legal defence in the mother tongue in the courts is demanded.

The argument put forth by the politics dominating Turkey, is that today they want education in their mother tongue, but tomorrow they will want something else. “Their biggest wish is for an Independent United Kurdistan, anyway” This sounds very familiar, doesn’t it?I hear you saying “It is true, isn’t it?”

Look, lets be frank. I want to share a truth with you. If what the Kurdophobic politicians said were true and Kurdish politicians did the bidding of international forces then be assured that the PKK would not be on the terrorist lists of America, Europe or any other country in the world. PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan would not now be in an isolation cell in Imralı Prison. If today Ocalan is in Imrali, and if the PKK is on global terrorist lists there is only one reason for that. It is because they did not do the bidding of those powers.

We, Kurds have said what we wanted many times. Let me repeat because talk is easy but the written word is permanent.

We want education in our mother tongue. From primary school to the university. We want to recieve public services in our mother tongue. We want to manage ourselves. Rather than be managed by officials appointed by the state, let us choose our own.

We want a constitutional guarantee of our identity and status.

Although It is not correct to expect a response to these demands, we expect one (why is it not correct, what is meant here). To meet all these demands means a thousand year old unity continues under a new social contract. That also means to draw in the Kurds who are living outside the borders of Turkey. As you can understand that does not mean that the dismemberment of Turkey. On the contrary it means growth. So where is the problem? The reason I write this letter is to make you think about this. You will find an answer to this question when you stop seeing me as the Kurd, the doorman to whom you give holiday tip without even inviting into your home.

Finally, I would like to make this clear. Yes, we have a thousand year old unity. But Kurds have another history older than that. Just like you do. How come a thousand years later you exist but we don’t? Please put yourself in our place, and give an answer to this question.

As I finish this up the calender has advanced to November 12th. It has already passed midnight. In my struggle against the “lamb-kebab,my will win and it will not lose. Because I know that the thing we fight for is human life. No softer pillow than conscience was invented. When I put my head on the pillow, I hope to wake up to a day that brotherhood is victorius.

Adil Kurt / Member of Parliament from Hakkari

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