Friday, 28 June 2013

A Historical Moment in the History of the Turkish Republic: Solidarity with the Kurdish People from Istanbul and Izmir

Not too long after PM Erdogan's discouraging remarks about the peace process and the subsequent call of the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party, legal pro-Kurdish party) to take the streets in Kurdish cities in order to protest the inactivity of the government in the peace process and to urge for further reforms, the situation has escalated. In Lice, a small city close to Amed (Diyarbakir), the largest city in the Kurdish regions of the Turkish Republic, the military has fired at protesters leaving one dead and several injured. The people in Lice were protesting that yet another military fortification was built in the predominantly Kurdish region of Turkey, despite the peace process. Already some days ago KCK president and leading guerilla commander Murat Karayilan had made a clear statement calling the ongoing construction of such fortifications in the region and the increasing activity of the Turkish military a damage to the peace process, ultimately threatening the process as such. As is described in the article on Erdogan's recent remarks in the peace process, only the Kurdish movement has taken steps in order to carry forward the process so far - namely, the guerilla started to retreat to Northern Iraq.

Following the events in Lice the Turkish Republic has witnessed a historical moment. One day, it might be remembered in history books as the day, when all anti-democratic, war-mongering forces in the Turkish Republic trembled with fear - for after dozens of years of Kurdish resistance and liberation movement, the Turkish people have at last solidarised themselves with the Kurdish people and opened up the way for a democratic alliance of the peoples, surmounting yet another one of the several divisions (Alevites vs. Sunnites, Besiktas vs. Fenerbahce vs. Galatasaray, Religious vs. Secular, ...) seperating the oppressed masses and classes within the Turkish Republic from each other and mostly even pitching one against the other.

Until now, the struggle of the Kurdish Liberation Movement has been mostly isolated from the rest of Turkey and except for some organized left, revolutionary groups hardly anyone every solidarized with the Kurdish movement. But today, thousands in Istanbul and Izmir solidarized with the Kurdish people. Soon after news of the incident in Lice spread people organized spontaneous manifestions instead of the public forums that usually take place every evening. #direnlice became a widely used hashtag on social media. In two districts of Istanbul, Kadiköy and Besiktas, -  both until today known as supposedly being ultra-nationalist and chauvinist - thousands of people marched chanting slogans like "Resist Lice, Kadiköy is with you", "Shoulder to shoulder against Fascism", "The people of Lice are not alone", "We do not want war, we want peace" and even the Kurdish "Biji bıratiya gelan" ("Long live international solidarity!"). People living in the neighbourhoods actively supported the protestors from their balconies and windows. In Taksim, some people were even solidarizing themselves even with the slogan "You cannot liberate Turkey without also liberating Kurdistan".

It must be noted that up to now in everyday life it was unimaginable that anybody begins talking Kurdish publicly in the western parts of the Turkish Republic. But today, several people spoke entirely in Kurdish when talking on the forums after the manifestions - and they were positively accepted by the people attending the forums with a chorus of clapping and shouting while Turkish flags with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk depicted on them were swung! One Kurdish person who was living in Kadiköy for over a dozen years was close to bursting out in tears when he greeted the people attending the meeting in Kurdish and he expressed his joy over this very unexpected solidarity.

This Turkish Resistance/Democracy Movement is like a locomotive - nobody can stop it at the moment and it races ahead of any organized politcal organization and exceeds all expectations. It has broken with divisions and ideologies that were handed down for dozens of year. The collective struggle and commune-like life in Gezi park - a life entirely organized by the people themselves, without presence of state institutions or representatives - has forged a new spirit, a new people that is yet in the making. The people in Turkey, the oppressed and exploited masses and classes are awaking- they are on the verge of taking their destiny into their own hands, wondering why they didn't do so before and still wondering that they managed to wake up at all. At the time, the Turkish Resistance/Democracy Movement is - like an early bird - still questioning and interrogating itself and through this tries to handle with and move in this new situation which is the possibility of becoming a Subject. But it is clear that Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas' statement that the AKP from now on will ask the people in any matter before deciding on it, is in reality becoming a nightmare not only for the AKP but for all anti-democratic forces in the Turkish Republic. From now on the people of Turkey will no longer wait until they are told to do something - they will do it themselves, the way they collectively decide to do it. This Turkish Resistance/Democracy Movement invents its own unique language and its own unique forms of resistance (which, by the way, include a specific aesthetics and a veritable explosion of humour), moving forward when it is probably least expected.

Today is a decisive moment regarding the Kurdish Question - this day has broken the Ultra-Nationalist/Chauvinist hegemony and confuted the claim of Selahattin Demirtas, president of the legal kurdish party BDP, and even of Murat Karayilan that there are major ultra-nationalist/chauvinist forces within the Gezi Parki movement that might determine where the Movement is heading to, whereby this claim, until now, motivated the rather conservative and distanced stance of the Kurdish Liberation Movement towards the Turkish Resistance/Democracy Movement. The Turkish Resistance/Democracy Movement is at the moment ahead not only of the Revolutiony Turkish Organisations, but also of the Kurdish Liberation Movement. Now, the window of opportunity opens up for the construction of a democratic alliance of the peoples, an alliance between the Kurdish and the Turkish people and between all the other different peoples in Turkey. It is this alliance - and solely this alliance - that can bring peace and democracy and popular power to today's Turkish Republic.

Tomorrow, the other major cities in Turkey will witness a reaction to today's events and furthermore in Istanbul, several demonstrations will take place that will all end in Taksim, where a huge commemoration for Ethem Sarisülük, the protester who has been killed by a police gun with the policeman being released without charges, will take place. It is to be expected that this commemoration will be combined with a commemoration for the protester who died in Lice today.

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