Column: Southeast rallies and new era in Kurdish question

Yasin AktayBY: Yasin Aktay*

Both sides are continuing at full speed with their campaigns concerning the constitutional amendment package to be put to referendum on April 16. Surely, the most ideal situation for the referendum would have been for these campaigns to be focused on the contents of the constitutional package to be voted on. Yet, it seems recently that even Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is more informed, regarding the contents of the package compared to the early days.

It seems that the confusion that existed in the community during the beginning on what the package would bring has diminished, and the community’s level of de facto knowledge concerning governing systems has increased. Despite this, discussions continue to be limited to taking sides and solely the contents of the package. There is a mass of people that reject this even if they know what the package brings, simply because President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants it. There is no way to convince this mass of people through any kind of information or argument because their decisions are influenced by not what they know, but instead by their feelings.

Frankly, a significant mass of people that support the package are giving full support to the package not only because they know or because they just found out, but merely because of their love and devotion to Erdoğan. This is the level of politics that never fails.

The referendum picture that can be seen to result from now will not remain limited to a change in the governing system in Turkey alone. The pictures resulting in our president’s Diyarbakır and Mardin rallies and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s Bitlis, Siirt, Batman, Şırnak, Hakkari and Van rallies show that whatever happens here, it will reveal a brand new and fresh energy in terms of Turkey’s national unity and health.

After July 2015, a new period began in our southeastern cities. The new policy followed in the region with the end of the period called the reconciliation process and as a result, further revealed the entire frauds, hypocrisies and evilness of the terrorist organization, supported by the people, is expressed in all its grandeur in these rallies.

Administrations have been appointed to all the provinces and cities in which the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) had attempted a “self-government” adventure through municipalities. These administrations have been on the job for a few months and are providing the municipality services the region’s settlement centers have been longing for in the best way. It can clearly be seen that the people are not the slightest bit displeased that administrations have been appointed. On the contrary, the people who think that the municipalities elected with their own votes cheated on them are extremely happy with the appointment of administrations. They are now taking every opportunity to express their pleasure.

The HDP or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that surrendered to the “justice” of militants who invaded the cities citing self-governance, that dug ditches in front of people’s homes, that set up bombs in houses and burned them down, that made holes in bedroom walls to create passages through homes and violated all privacies, has nothing to say today to the Kurdish people. They are organizing “no” campaigns wherever they like, but there is nothing they are able to say to the people – and the people are not listening to them either. Hence, their rallies turn out to be extremely weak.

The locals in the southeastern Şırnak province said, referring to the prime minister’s rally in Şırnak, “This is the first time Şırnak has ever experienced such rally excitement.” As a matter of fact, the rally took place at the location where the houses trapped due to terrorism have been completely razed and turned into a flat area to be rebuilt. Those whose houses were destroyed are not holding the government but the HDP and the terrorist organization responsible for this and are on the contrary, expressing their pleasure with the government protecting them.

Perception revolution regarding the state

Cities are being rebuilt. Maximum care has been taken to prevent any harm to the lives of the people victimized by terrorism. And in such an operation, focus has been turned solely on armed terrorists in never before seen meticulousness, to prevent the loss of civilian lives. In addition to this, the people see that the damage to property also being compensated, it leads to almost a revolution of perception in the region: This state is not the old state. This state is also the state of the Kurds and its fundamental mission is not to kill but save lives, not in discrimination but in equality, not to estrange but to embrace.

Hence, from the square in Şırnak was heard the shouting of, “Death to the PKK.” People did not hesitate to salute Prime Minister Yıldırım from the balconies and windows of their homes along the road.

The people of Şırnak state that they personally witnessed another treachery and foul play by the PKK during their ditch policy. The militants, who came from the mountains and got the youth of the city to dig up the ditches, ran and left those children to die when the state launched the operation.

The people of Şırnak explain this treachery in dismay, but with a share of consolation, they refused the organization’s insistence and threats to be live shields for the militants when the state started the operation and provided the environment for the state to carry out the operation more comfortably. The people of Şırnak hence explain proudly that they sided with the state from the first hour onward.

Meanwhile, there is one other request I have frequently started to come across in the region: The parents of the 15-17-year old children who were kidnapped by the PKK during the reconciliation process want their children back. They want to call out to the PKK, but of course they cannot find anybody to address there. Hence, they are requesting that the government take their children, safe and sound, from the PKK and return them to their homes.

They say that it is not likely for children of that age to join the organization by their own will and desire. If a child of that age is not licensed to commit crimes, then they could have gone to the organization by being kidnapped only. Therefore, they are taking action against the organization that has committed a crime against humanity in this way.

They are taking action, but they also have no hope in relation to Europe which says it dotes upon human rights and child rights. For Europe, human rights is deserved solely by those who behave the way they want. Those who do not serve their policies, are not even considered as human.

In brief, the April 16 referendum process, regardless of the result, is turning out to be the start of a new era in the Kurdish question.

*Yasin Aktay is the vice chair of the ruling Justice and Development (AK Party) in Turkey.

(Published in Yeni Şafak Turkısh newspaper on April 10,  2017)