June 7 Lessons - EROL GÖKA

June 7 Lessons

The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP)'s success represents one of the large waves resulting in the conclusions of the June 7 elections. Essentially, the HDP carried out propaganda on the field, which encouraged rallying around Kurds' ethnic identity, and succeeded. At the base of their success was the complication of democratic initiative and the resolution process. The exceptional initiative which was started by the AK party –which took a great risk- to put an end to the shedding of blood and to resolve conflicts under the scope of democratic politics, paved the way for HDP's success. The pressure on the Kurdish identity was lifted and weapons were stopped thanks to the initiative and resolution process. While all of these were taking place, a tremendous opportunity arose for Kurdish consciousness. The incidents directly concerning Kurdish existence in our region, including the ones in Iraq and Syria, as well as the developments in Rojava and clashes with ISIL in Kobane, all contributed to the Kurdish people's ethnic consciousness.

The anti-Erdoğan front knew how to make use of these developments, which it carefully followed and made alliance policies in accordance with it. It spent a maximum effort to unify the Kurdish identity -which started to rise- around the HDP, and to transfer pious Kurds from the AK Party to the HDP. After all, they had already started to carry out a perception management campaign portraying the AK Party as if it was cooperating with ISIL -which carries out brutal oppression campaigns against the Kurds in the region-, and even identifying it with the latter. By doing this, they obstructed people from seeing everything the AK Party and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have done for the region and the Kurds. Meanwhile, by giving a “leftist” look in the HDP's program and candidate design, and emphasizing the “We will not make you president” motto softened the reaction of the seculars in the West, -who were full of hatred against Erdoğan-against the HDP, and led them to gain support from some of them.

The Kurds, which continued to be a part of active politics in the AK Party, can add to the issues -which are listed as the mistakes of the AK Party- the attitudes against the Kurds which they perceive to be wrong and object to it. For instance, they can list reasons such as “The ministers accused of corruption should have been sent to the High Council. It was wrong –for the AK Party- to carry out an election strategy over the presidential system. The President should not have participated actively during the election campaign, let alone say, “There is no such problem as the Kurdish issue.” Beside these reasons they can add that the Kurds have not been represented enough in the government and the candidate lists; imported candidates were sent to the region; candidates who were involved in state-sponsored oppression in the previous eras were nominated; the judicial process was circumvented in the Uludere incident; and that the legitimate defense of the Kurds in Kobane were not embraced and terrorized. While criticizing the AK Party on numerous aspects, they can mention the HDP's attention on its propaganda in the region and its choice of candidates, and that many conservative Kurdish activists were added to their lists. They can say that the President and spokespersons of the AK Party made extreme emphasis on its campaign against the HDP and used words such as “Zoroaster,” “Kaba,” and “Kurdish Qur'an,” which mistreated the Kurdish identity. As a conclusion, they can say that “If all of these had not happened, pious Kurds, too, would not have transferred to the HDP from the AK Party.” Even though they could be completely right in their view, the justifications they list do not explain why a large majority of the Kurds throughout Turkey have preferred the HDP. There is the reality of Kurdish ethnic consciousness which has been on the rise for a while; and all justifications –whether mentioned or not mentioned- have only contributed to this reality.

The efforts and work of pious Kurds is indispensable for the emergence of the AK Party, and its struggle to eliminate the Old Turkey. Nobody can disregard the praiseworthy work and effort of the pious Kurds. From now on, the role of pious Kurds in the struggle for democracy and justice will be beyond dispute in a world where Muslims are a majority. However, it was impossible for the wind of ethnic identity –which is on the rise- to not have an effect on them to an extent. It is not possible at all in a world where ethnic politics is escalating, and new forms of secularism are unwittingly placed in our lives… Most particularly when the ISIL plague caricaturizes our beliefs and acts as if they had sworn to annihilate our religious sensitivities through the violent scenes they create, and attack everyone in a brutal manner, and the Kurds the most…

Of course, the initiative and the resolution process were right policies. The restraints on ethnic identities had to be lifted. Surely, everyone with a conscience had to oppose the shedding of one's siblings. But unfortunately, those who saw violence as the only tool to resolve conflict, and the organization which did not know of any other techniques and those who exploited the atmosphere of peace, all tried their best to create complications in the process. Our tradition of solving issues democratically was not strong, and a bloodthirsty power struggle was taking place in the region, beside the many problems which would have resulted in the exploitation of the peace atmosphere in the region.

In the same way we accept the fact that we are a country prone to earthquakes as we live on fault lines, we also have to be aware that we are in each other's arms with a major ethnic issue, and try to resolve it under the scope of democracy and law.

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