If ever there was a nation that operated under the maxim one step forward two steps back it is the Turkish Republic, which was established by Mustafa Kemal, aka Ataturk and his brother military officers out of the remnants of the Ottoman Empire. Since 1984 when the Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK] cadre first went into the mountains of south eastern Turkey to fight for an independent Kurdistan, there has been a violent insurgency in that area which has resulted in tens of thousands of dead, young Turkish army conscript’s, PKK combatants and civilians have littered the Kurdish areas of Turkey and in truth an independent Kurdistan is no nearer today than it was in 1984.
The Kurdish people of south east Turkey lived under draconian laws which amounted to nothing less than marshall law. After the Justice and Development Party[AKP] came to power in 2002 under Prime Minister Recep Erdogan he introduced laws on to the statute book which liberalized and abolished many of these laws, especially those which forbade the Kurds to broadcast in their own language. Erdogan himself understood how petty and restrictive these laws could be as when he was Mayor of Istanbul he was imprisoned for reciting part of a poem in Kurdish.
To the surprise of most of the Turkish media pundits Erdogan’s AKP not only swept the board in the 2007 General Election, but also did extremely well in the south east of the Nation where most of the Kurds live. The AKP became the first Turkish political party in living memory to garner in the Kurdish vote in great numbers and in the process this has given hope to both Turk and Kurd that the conflagration in the east can come to an end by peaceful means, with the Turkish Republic intact but having undergone a democratic spring clean.
However the Dinosaurs who lurk within the heart of the Turkish State and still believe the only way to deal with the Kurdish problem is to crush them with military might have not been sleeping; and they reacted quickly to the fact that the Kurdish Democratic Society Party [DTP] gained 20 seats in the new Parliament, thus for the first time since 1994, when Kurdish Parliamentarians were jailed for taking in Kurdish the oath of allegiance to the Turkish Parliament, the Kurds are also represented in Parliament by a pro-Kurdish party. The minions of the ‘Secret State’ in the legal system quickly went to work against the DTP by arresting three of its leading members. The case against Osman Özçelik, the Deputy[MP] for Siirt, a city in south-eastern Turkey which has a mixed population made up of Turks, Kurds and Arabs and his comrades Çimen Işık and Kudret Ecer, is that they failed to comply with the Political Parties Law by not preventing Kurdish slogans being chanted during the DTP party’s first grand congress meeting, held on June 25, 2006.
The case indictment which would be preposterous in almost all EU nations is that slogan’s in a language other than Turkish is prohibited, and that a poster of the jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan was draped on the wall during the DTP congress — both acts constitute a crime under Turkish law.
The case continues……