- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 3, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Contrary to media reports, the Marxist-Leninist terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) ambition is not regional autonomy in Turkey.

Its goal, as proclaimed in the PKK’s Manifesto (Oct. 27, 1978), or self-styled “Declaration of Independence,” is an independent socialist state of Kurdistan on territory under the sovereignty of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

The chief target of the PKK’s terrorism, however, has been Turkey. The PKK has been responsible for about 40,000 deaths there, or 13 times the September 11, 2001, casualty figure in the United States, including a chilling number of fellow Kurds who reject the PKK’s violence. In customary parlance, the PKK’s banner is treason.

Some media reports also wrongly assert or insinuate that Turkey’s citizens who sport Kurdish ethnicity groan under discrimination or oppression that explains or partially justifies the PKK. Turkey’s Kurds are equal under the Constitution. They are equal by every political, economic or social benchmark. They enjoy equality in the franchise, the right preservative of all rights. While the vast majority has chosen to support Turkey’s mainstream political parties, Kurds enjoy the option of supporting the pro-Kurdish nationalist Democratic Society Party (DSP). In the most recent national legislative elections, the DSP attracted a tiny 3 percent of the vote. A fringe party, the DSP leadership resists renouncing violence and terrorism as a means of political dissent.

Kurds are fairly represented in the corridors of power. They serve at the highest levels of the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Kurds have been president, prime minister, and the leader of the National Assembly. Kurds similarly flourish in the arts and entertainment. There is no stigmatizing “ethnic” line or segregation between Kurds and non-Kurds in Turkey. Intermarriage is commonplace.

Kurds enjoy equal access to jobs, business opportunities, education, housing, credit and otherwise. Nondiscrimination is the legal and operative rule. And equal access has been matched with equal Kurdish success in these endeavors. While there is no Kurdish underclass, Kurds do reside disproportionately in the less developed areas of southeast and eastern Turkey.

Kurds enjoy the same freedom of political association, freedom of expression and freedom of religion as other Turkish citizens. Turkey’s democracy has been responsive to Kurdish special aspirations and grievances. Broadcasting in Kurdish is now permitted, as is private instruction in the many Kurdish dialects. The latter has languished, however, because Kurds in Turkey have preserved their languages and covet fluency in Turkish for the same reason Americans of disparate backgrounds strive for fluency in English.

As previously noted, a substantial percentage of Kurds reside in the southeast, which has historically suffered economic underdevelopment. Over the last decades, the government of Turkey has responded correspondingly by pouring in approximately $20 billion to jump start the southeast with infrastructure or otherwise. Featuring the Great Anatolia Project with 21 dams and 19 hydroelectric stations on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the government’s economic development program is reminiscent of the Tennessee Valley Authority in the United States under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In tandem with the government, private Turkish charities devoted to health care and sister philanthropic endeavors have poured aid into the southeast.

Turkey has also offered an olive branch to the PKK. Amnesty has been offered to PKK members who have not been involved in attacks; and, on Dec. 9 Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced he would propose legislation broadening the amnesty’s reach.

Turkey’s Kurds overwhelmingly repudiate the PKK because Turkey’s democracy works for them. The number of Kurds attracted to the PKK’s Marxist-Leninist terrorism is estimated at 3,000 to 10,000, or a microscopic percentage of Turkey’s Kurdish population. The PKK has retaliated against Kurds for their rejection with indiscriminate violence and assassinations. The PKK’s degeneracy is further corroborated by its resort to narcotics trafficking to raise funds to support their nefarious tactics and ambitions. According to the French, 80 percent of the heroin in Paris is smuggled into the country by the PKK.

The PKK cannot credibly deny the equality and flourishing of Kurds under Turkey’s ever-strengthening democracy. It has no inspiring rallying cry like the American “No taxation without representation.” Instead, the PKK embraced Marxist-Leninist claptrap that has been consigned to the dustbin of history to expiate its mindless terrorism and 40,000 deaths.

Most recently, the PKK shed its Marxist-Leninist trappings in favor of equally repugnant and unjustified ethno-nationalist terrorism.

Bruce Fein is resident scholar at the Turkish Coalition of America.

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