A source of pride
You can ridicule it as an election gimmick, but that would be too easy. Opposition party CHP has published a report on the Kurdish question, which makes far-reaching proposals, like recognising the Kurdish identity, giving people the right to an education in their mother tongue and even to give some sort of amnesty to PKK fighters. Of course, it is only three months to go before the local elections in March, but it is a long time since the CHP actually made a positive contribution to one Turkey’s most enduring problems. The CHP has been criticised so much for leading the opposition in a non-constructive way that this report should be welcomed. Of course, in the end it comes down to realizing plans and that will meet some stiff resistance, but every change starts with a plan, doesn’t it? And also a change in people’s attitude has to start with somebody being brave enough to say things that are not easily said, and in the CHP that is definitely the case when it comes to the Kurdish issue. They are strongly rooted in the ‘one flag, one state’ ideology, which in their mind is so important for Turkey’s unity and even for its very existence. Stating in an official report that ‘ethnic identity is a source of pride’ is just such a brave act of the kind needed to work towards another kind of unity, one based on ‘unity in diversity’.
Postscript, December 23, 2008: Last weekend CHP held a congress to discuss future plans. The report about the Kurdish question was not brought to discussion. During the entire congress, the word ‘Kurd’ wasn’t mentioned.