The Kurds' choice - YASIN AKTAY

The Kurds' choice

One of the obvious outcomes of the June 7 elections is that a significant number of Kurdish votes, compared to the previous elections, shifted from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) to the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which defines itself as Kurdish nationalist. To make sense of this shift, there was a focus on why Kurds left the AK Party.

To which AK Party mistake could the shift of Kurds from the AK Party be seen as a reaction? The only explanation of asking why Kurds broke away from the AK Party, which strived against all mistakes that were made toward Kurds in the history of the Republic of Turkey, and which, in the words of its leader, took a political risk if necessary, drank poison if necessary, which did not hesitate to pay a political price if necessary, it seems, cannot be explained with the AK Party's approaches alone. In the end, one needs to understand the true reasons of why Kurds who left AK Party turned toward the HDP out of favor in their own world.

It is an actual fact that a significant number of the Kurdish population is inclined toward a party that has made an open Kurdish nationalism its cause, rather than the AK Party which has defined itself as being against any kind of ethnic nationalism. This incline may also be a simple expression of the reaction Kurds are displaying against the AK Party for whatever reason, without having to go as far as nationalism.

Regardless of what the AK Party or any other party does, it could also be the expression of accepting nationalism as the single determinant in political choice. Establishing one's political choice over nationalism is possible for any kind of political spectrum. There is not much that could be said about this.

The meaning and value of nationalism and how right or wrong the preferences in this regard are could be debated. However, it should be remembered that in the end, this is a possible and legitimate choice on political grounds. Furthermore, it could also be questioned how much the HDP or a left-socialist party, in fact a party with Baathist tendencies, can respond to the expectations, values, semantic world of Kurdish nationalists.

In the end, if Kurdish nationalism is a movement to protect the essence of an identity, it is also our duty to remind people that the HDPKK is today, making Kurds undergo the greatest assimilation in the history of Kurds in the form of a kind Kurdish Kemalism. Whatever was left by Kemalism to Turks from Turkishness as a Turkish nationalist, surely the Kurdish political movement is leaving Kurds a lot less than Kurdishness.

Simply take a look at the Kurdish used by the political movement on TV or print publications; just compare how much it resembles the Kurdish used by the Kurdish people. If that's not enough, take a look at how Kurds' political, traditional values are corroded within this movement.

You can look at the literature developed through Kurdish girls taking to the mountains, the daughters of Kurds, who are so devoted to their chastity and customs that they are able to create unending blood feuds upon the girls fleeing with a man even if for marriage. You can see the extraordinary change male-female relationships and the entire traditional culture have undergone. Not considering this, as assimilation shows that a heavier poison than that injected by all kinds of nationalism to all ethnic structures is being injected to Kurds.

Despite this, of course it is their own choice for some Kurds to choose Kurdish nationalism. What we need to do to stop this, to develop Kurds' political choices toward Islam, is not to be more royalist than the king as a bribe, but to remind them of Islam's universal principle of oneness. Otherwise, once you compete to respond to a nationalist expectation, you are not doing a favor to those people.

Giving populist answers to nationalist expectations is also no satisfying action in terms of its addressees. But this is not the problem either. The problem is the sincere, principled and consistent attitude that needs to be adopted against ethnic nationalism.

The AK Party has brought an end to the denial of the Kurdish identity, to assimilation; it has made all regulations necessary to allow Kurds to be recognized as Kurdish, for them to freely speak their language at all levels and for Kurds to see themselves as an honorable and first-class citizen as Kurds. Yet beyond this, there is also sensitivity toward being swayed to an ethnic nationalist position.

Many analyses after the June 7 elections were asking in surprise why and how the Kurds' votes were lost. Upon this development, it was even asked how Islam lost the Kurds. As if the AK Party is identical with Islam and as if Kurds voting for the HDP is like them leaving Islam...

Frankly, none of these perceptions can be deemed completely insignificant. But let us quickly note that Islamism's losing somebody, any ethnic group or person cannot be the issue. Such perceptions alone reflect ethnic arrogance. It is a repetition of the ignorant attitude of rubbing something in like that which the Bedouins displayed toward the prophet. The response God ordered the prophet to give to this Bedounistic attitude explained in Surat al-Hujurat in the Quran is a remarkable lesson: “They consider it a favor to you that they have accepted Islam. Say, 'Do not consider your Islam a favor to me. Rather, Allah has conferred favor upon you that He has guided you to the faith, if you should be truthful.' "

No ethnic group is a gain for Islam. Arabs, Turks and Kurds have all gained dignity with Islam and made history with their Islamic identity, personality and discipline. No ethnic group that does not know this as it is has ever had or will have any benefit to themselves or to anybody else. Islam is a source of honor for every individual and ethnic group that has chosen it and found the true path through it. Also, the idea that all Kurds have shifted to the HDP, consequently a secular Kurdish nationalist movement in a free election is not right either. As we said earlier, it is not possible to call a picture that is the result of an election that failed to take place independent of any pressure in the region, an election. Hence, we had said that the question “Why did the Kurds not vote for the AK Party?” needs to be replaced with the question “Why weren't the Kurds able to vote for the AK Party?”

In order to discuss a choice, we need to be able to see a choice given in truly free terms. How can we, in an environment where the HDP's election campaigns are made by the PKK's armed elements, and the few people who didn't vote for the HDP are chased down, say the Kurds really made a choice?


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