The democratization and violence paradox in the Kurdish issue - YASIN AKTAY

The democratization and violence paradox in the Kurdish issue

The hypothesis that tensions amongst the society decrease in line with the advancement in democratization, and that different segments of the society would be included in politics as more rights and freedoms are granted, and that societal peace could be established in an easier manner are the de facto approach of democratic sociology. As a matter of fact, this approach has taken place as a hypothesis that has explained all the existing tensions due to the republic regime in Turkey and its political style, as well as suggestive ways to resolve and eliminate these tensions.

The fact that the issue of religion in Turkey has been eliminated to a great extent with the procurement of democratization, rights and freedoms and pursuant to the hypothesis that reinforces this hypothesis is a situation that verifies these theses. Many examples could be found throughout the world, demonstrating that this hypothesis works. However, one should also accept the fact that there is a possibility that this thesis may not always work out. For instance, in a place where religious freedoms are provided in an advanced manner, radical religious movements may as well come to the surface. Extreme right movements in Israel and Europe develop specifically in such democratic atmospheres with fascistic requests. Though structures such as ISIL and the like have stayed as marginal as possible in Turkey, it is an interesting example that they exist at a time when the government has consolidated the most amount of religious freedom.

In reality, the most striking example regarding the fact that rather than eliminating the severity of democratization or radicalism, more opportunity and speed for development is seen in the Kurdish movement in Turkey. The thesis, that the Kurdish movement has turned towards violence because it could not express itself in a democratic political atmosphere, and therefore more democratization was necessary to cope with it, has been espoused and even memorized over the years. This thesis, which has been used as an excuse for the outlawed PKK to address its target audience, has also gained a strong supporter base amongst people who believe in democracy and politics. More democracy, more recognition, more human rights were inevitable factors. However, I suppose the thesis, that ensuring all of these would render violence unnecessary, and that those who express themselves through political means would not need to express themselves through violence anyways, is such a naïve approach, that it has been very well understood with the developments experienced during the resolution process.

Strictly speaking, the resolution process has proceeded with the insistence and the naivetés of the AK Party –which believes in democracy, freedoms and human rights- and has hit the malicious intentions of an organization which loutishly exploited democracy, human rights and the lives of its own people for the sake of power.

The resolution process has been an expression of the confidence of the AK Party regarding its belief in politics and democracy being able to eliminate violence by themselves. For this reason, the AK Party has carried out a series of reforms which it considers as a “silent revolution” on the way to democratization since the beginning. It did not only put an end to policies of denial and assimilation towards the Kurds, but it also established a democratic political ground for the Kurds to express all issues and fight for their cause as Kurds. It paved the way –to the end- for freedom of expression. It had confidence that all of these reforms would automatically inactivate violence.

Democratization was what was meant by the AK Party in terms of the “resolution process” –as a process that involves all segments of the society. However, the same approach was also necessary for an organization which had weapons for years to disarm with all its cadres. For this reason, it also had to find the respondent of the resolution process in a narrower framework. It was only natural that the respondent would be the PKK's imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan, considered as the authority over the organization.

The President's statements when he said “There is no longer a Kurdish issue” in a sense carried the confidence and rightful honor of resolving the Kurdish issue. Though, this statement was distorted by the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) by including it in the pro-denial discourse of the old Turkey.

The only job that was left for the resolution process was the laying down of weapons –which no longer had any provisions as so much democratization has taken place. However, it was understood that democratization was nothing but an opportunity which enabled the spread and consolidation of power –which was established through weapons- when the PKK was in question.

Before large segments of the public were able to procure the necessary benefit, peace and atmosphere from more democratization, the PKK had invaded all the open space through its armed power. Therefore, the democratization atmosphere was sabotaged by the terrorist organization before it even reached the Kurds. Furthermore, the more reforms in democratization and human rights are advanced, the more the capacity of the armed power increases to put in its pledge to the will of the people and to move away from democratization in daily lives.

The organization of both the PKK which works as a terrorist organization and the HDP which works like its political wing in terms of the organization they want to establish over the Kurds reaches totalitarian penetration levels. This is why they run after the three percent in ballot boxes which did not vote for them –even though they obtained 97 percent of the vote-, in order to identify and punish them, or force them to leave the city. Public tribunals established and the peer pressure imposed through discourse regarding loyalty and treason to the Kurdish identity are made possible in such advanced democratic atmospheres.

These islands of despotism which are developed in such advanced democratic environments are certainly felt as the end of state authority rather than democratization amongst wide segments of the public. And paradoxically, people demand more security, more control and more state authority at this stage of democratization. For those who want to preserve their faith in democracy, this is not the best picture at all.


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