Stating that “violence control” is the core of the Kurdish question of course does not necessitate ignoring the aspect of this problem that emanates from the state. In fact, in my previous column, this was sufficiently emphasized– even if expressed in a different manner. However, there are those who always demand others to convey the whole story on their behalf. As a matter of fact, even if the whole story has been told, they want it to be stated more explicitly, over and over again.
There are understandable reasons for this of course. It is not only because they do not understand but often due to their expectation to be acknowledged. When the matter in question is identity, belonging, and nationalism, a disturbing shallowness and a publicly judgmental discourse immediately comes into play.
In this case, the people not coming before the state and, in fact, before an institution that can use violence, often means that attempts to build a uniform nation in a large-scale society “is based on a nation project that will eliminate discrepancies.” If in such cases the nation-building state cannot control violence and differences by relying on justice and a healthy organic body policy, then it is destined to give rise to more violence against it. This is because the formation of a resistance by the elements it is unable to turn into a part of the existing political body’s organic integrity, and these elements’ rejection of the political body is quite common.
This political body description also shows that the nation-state project in Turkey does not render Kurds a part of the political integrity, but rather galvanizes them to feel further ostracized.
The denial of Kurdishness, banning of the Kurdish language, the pressure and denial policies applied on Kurdish culture and identity leading to the formation of a different Kurdish identity and conscience is the most basic sociological rule. There is no need for others to additionally strive to awaken this conscience. Attacks and joint threats will activate a collective conscience, and in the case that it continues, it will further strengthen this conscience. This is the socio-psychological basis of political identities.
In fact, in this sense, Turkey’s nation-state project is based on denying not only Kurds but all ethnic identities, and in return, has warned all ethnic identities in ratio with their violence. However, no ethnic presence other than Kurds have had such a strong identity awareness, because clearly, since being Kurdish is considered a more apparent threat among this national identity, there has been more violence targeting it. The fact that Kurdishness is considered a clearer threat cannot be contemplated independent of it being an area more open to foreign invasion or intervention projects.
Despite this, it was possible for the nation-state and identity project in Turkey to better ascertain these foreign intentions and attempts, and thus establish a just structure that could not be influenced by any foreign intervention. But it did not do it. It was unable to. Neither the mentality disabled by French nationalist Enlightenment nor the sociological conditions the country was forced into were suitable for this.
The denial of Kurdishness, the banning of its language, culture, and the expression of its identity especially during and after the single-party period is the basis of the Kurdish question. Kurds were truly a problem for the state, and administrators were seriously confused with respect to how this problem could be solved. Surely Kurds could not have possibly developed a complete sense of belonging to the state and the people against a state that sees them as a problem. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terror group, on the other hand, played its part in this void. By adding the element of violence needed by this sociological development, which was ripe for the ethnic identity, it both further provoked state violence and thus strengthened this identity, and tried to make its own authority felt through violence.
It initially attributed its legitimacy to the state’s injustices towards Kurds. There was nothing left to say about this. The state truly supported and strengthened the Kurdish question through its unsolved murders,policies of denial and assimilation, as well as village evacuation and prison practices.
However, a brand-new phase started in 2002 when the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) came to power. All practices that formed the basis of the Kurdish question were ended. All restrictions and bans on the Kurdish language, identity, and culture were lifted. The state itself provided the highest quality Kurdish-language broadcasts 24/7. Kurds were recognized in state discourse as a cultural identity and with respect. Step by step, great progress was made in this regard.
The entire basis, which gave rise to the Kurdish question, was apparently eliminated. Yet, the violence continued. On the contrary, as these steps were being taken, the PKK, considering itself as the owner of the Kurdish question, used every opportunity to further escalate the violence. The number of militants taken to the mountains and armed multiplied during the democratic initiative and reconciliation processes. There was great outrage against the discourse that “The Kurdish issue is now over.” This outrage alone revealed the entire psychology and politics of it all. Frankly, the AK Party now had reason to say that the Kurdish question, which it openly recognized in the beginning, no longer exists. This is because it had a record to prove that with everything it has done, it solved the political, legal and social aspects of the issue.
Meanwhile, the PKK has associated the Kurdish question so much with its armed presence, and knows very well that saying the problem is solved would negate itself. It is well aware what it has lost because it has directly experienced the functionality of violence in terms of building an identity and presenting a presence.
To tell the truth, Turkey is at a very different stage now, and the reconciliation process had presented a it with an historic opportunity to transform itself into the new Turkey. But it failed to turn this opportunity into an advantage. It saw the reconciliation process as a victory of its violence and as the state’s weakness. Wanting more, it betrayed its promise and lost.
Fortunately, this is how it turned out and the PKK lost, while the Kurds won.