09 September 2015

Turkey’s War on the Kurds


The network of loudspeakers that stretches across Fethiye, a town on the southwestern coast of Turkey, is generally reserved for announcements regarding lost children, vehicles in violation of parking regulations, and funerals. On select occasions, it is used to blare football anthems.

Yesterday, one event got top billing: the funeral of twenty-five-year-old Adnan Ergen, a soldier killed over the weekend in an attack by members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the southeastern Turkish village of Dağlıca. Fifteen other soldiers also perished. A former resident of the Fethiye area, Ergen was buried in the nearby district of Seydikemer.

Prominent Turkish media outlets put the number of funeral attendees at twenty thousand. For the past two nights, caravans of cars draped in Turkish flags have careened around Fethiye in a noisy tribute to the fallen soldiers. Storefronts and buildings, already cluttered with flags, have somehow found room for more.

Adding to the atmosphere is the ever-present slogan emblazoned on a hill overlooking the town’s bay: “şehitler ölmez vatan bölünmez,” which means, “martyrs never die and the homeland will never be divided.” The rhyme is also quite conducive to repetitive chanting, and features prominently at nationalist protests.

Interestingly, some of my acquaintances here who were formerly gung-ho on the bölünmez front have now come around to the idea that homeland division is in fact possible and even desirable. Let the Kurds have the southeast, the new thinking goes, and stop costing us money and lives.

But among the problems with the we’ve-had-enough-go-back-where-you-came-from approach is that many Kurds come from here, not there, and that the just establishment of a Kurdish state obviously can’t take place via forcible expulsion.

More importantly, Turkey’s application of the “terrorist” label to the PKK — and the commonplace ascription of the label to all Kurds in the popular discourse — purposefully leaves no room for the history of the state’s transgressions against the Kurdish population. READ MORE AT JACOBIN.