AKP suffocates democracy; Now not even prayers are sacred
Cemil Bayik, May 2011
Because Kurds are prevented from participating fully in the political system in Turkey those who want Kurds silenced are rarely called to account. If Kurds succeed in placing their right to autonomy on the political agenda they are accused of engaging in “ethnic politics” and their parties are either closed down or suffer significant repression. The 2nd of March 1994 - when diplomatic immunity was lifted from Kurdish parliamentarians of DEP (Democracy Party) and they were arrested or forced into exile – is an historic date in the catalogue of prohibitions against Kurdish democratic politics which continues today. This coup was many times worse than the so-called February 28 Process - the military coup of 1997 that brought an end to the coalition government headed by Islamist Welfare Party Prime Minister Erbakan. Those islamists who were targeted by the February 28 Process are now in government.
There is no other example in the world of such double standards and inequality in politics. The attack [last week on Prime Minister Erdogan’s election convoy] in Kastamonu was said to be the work of the Ergonekon conspiracy. On other occasions in the past when Kurdish guerrillas have carried out attacks it is claimed in certain quarters that foreign forces are at play. Such misinformation is now transparent. Even AKP's own supporters no longer believe such black propaganda.
Over the past two months the Turkish police have unleashed unprecedented violence upon the Kurds, including murdering young Kurds. The Democratic Solution Tents have come under heavy police assault. The streets of Kurdish cities have been bombarded with teargas, and yet when there is a response to this state oppression, like the Kastamonu ambush, there is uproar.
The Turkish state is suffocating democracy. Democratic politics are suppressed and forbidden but as soon as civil society protests against this or when the guerrilla forces carry out an operation the entire situation is misrepresented with black propaganda. The truth is that when the road to peaceful and democratic politics is closed dissent of this nature will occur.
Since the time of DEP until today democratic politics has suffered heavy persecution. Nowhere else in the world is such harsh oppression placed upon democratic politics. Since the time of HEP until the present the demand on Kurdish politicians to denounce the PKK as terrorists has dominated the agenda. No opportunity is given to democratic progress. This distraction is an attempt to divide the people and to prepare the way for special warfare. For this reason right up to the present day oppression continues against democratic politics.
Democratic politics can no longer be forbidden. The party is organised, branches have been established, it is estimated that 10-15 pro-Kurdish candidates will be returned to parliament. But attempts are still being made to halt this progress. In this situation no one who defends the democratic process can say that there is a real opportunity for democratic Kurdish politics. In Kurdistan, Kurdish parliamentarians and all democratic political representatives are placed in an impossible position: when they want to work progressively all kinds of obstacles are placed in their path. They are obliged to falsely proclaim that there is democracy in Turkey if they want to achieve anything.
Yet success will be measured through the progress made at the election. The election will give the people the opportunity to use their voice and from that the will of the people will be judged. So many party workers, campaigners and canvassers who work on behalf of BDP were arrested by police. As if it were not enough to arrest and detain over two thousand party activists now hundreds more have been detained recently and these arrests are continuing. It seems possible that by the end of May anyone still capable of working for the party will not remain at liberty.
Erdogan is a very presumptuous prime minister. The right to speak falls within the area of each individual’s personal freedom. Now Erdogan is putting prohibitions on the Friday Worshippers, Kurds who want to conduct their weekly Friday worship in their own language. Now Tayyip is telling people which mullah is appropriate to lead prayers and which is not. Previously they told Kurds how to talk and how to think; now they are telling us how to pray as well! It is probable that this time the police will attack the people at prayer after receiving such encouragement. After the prime minister said “Where are the civilians?” in the Democratic Solution Tents the tents were attacked the next day by police.
Kurds are renowned throughout the Middle East for their faith. Arabs, Persians and Turks have used religion as a tool of politics and have all manipulated it as an element of their nationalism. But Kurds believe in right, justice, law, conscience and equality and worship according to these beliefs. But the AKP uses religion for its own interests. Like Yezid and Muawiye, who brutally sought power against the tenets of their faith, the AKP uses religion to further its own economic and political ends. When Kurds want to end this situation in Kurdistan, the AKP, like Yezid, becomes consumed with fury. Erdogan’s reaction to the Civil Fridays invites comparison between the Prime Minister and Yezid. Just as Yezid descended with violence and oppression upon the righteous during prayer so the AKP now does the same thing. The message to the Kurds is either you tow our line or we will turn every day into a Battle of Kerbala for you! There is no other explanation of the forbidding of the Friday Worshippers’ prayers and the attacks. However, all the tyranny and oppression of Yezid and Muawiye could not free them from being cursed, and through their actions the AKP, like Yezid, will be cursed.