Forty eight civilians have lost their lives in the current violence in Southeast Turkey, the Human Rights Association has estimated ( between 21 July and 28 August, so by now that number is already up again). One of the cases that especially hit me was the death of Eyüp Ergen, a nurse in the state hospital in Cizre. He was an orphan since 1994, when the state killed his parents while evacuating their village. His sibling is now the only one left of that family. It is a painful example of the fact that a Kurd hardly ever experiences one traumatic experience in his or her life. It is always tragedy after tragedy.
So, let’s talk ‘safe zone’, and ‘no fly zone’, subjects which are already being debated in Turkey. But the safe zone and the no fly zone that I would like to propose would be inside Turkey. The whole Southeast of the country, also known as North Kurdistan: Turkish security forces out, down to the last man, including the evacuation of all military airports. No more tanks into Kurdish cities, towns and villages, no more F16’s from Diyarbakir air base on their way to bomb Qandil and PKK positions inside Turkey, no more policemen shooting civilians. Enough is enough.
I know of course that this is an even more absurd plan than the safe zone plan that Turkey wants for Syria. It is impossible to realize, impossible to enforce. Nobody will even take the suggestion seriously. After all, Turkey is a NATO member, Turkey is (still) negotiating for EU membership, Turkey is (so they say) part of the international coalition against ISIS. The international community sees the Turkish army as the legitimate military power in the whole of Turkey, and the AKP, which may not be governing alone right now but is of course in control of every state institution, as the democratic force exerting power over the army.
In Dersim alone
But however unrealistic the realization of a safe and no fly zone is, the call for it is legitimate. Think about it, and not only about the forty eight civilians of the last thirty seven days. In the history of the republic, the Turkish army has killed tens of thousands of Kurds – last week, a friend raised her eyebrows when I mentioned this number, but it’s by no means an exaggeration.
In Dersim alone some 25,000 people were slaughtered. Add to that the thousands murdered in the decades before Dersim (Kocgiri, Agri, Sheik Said rebellion) and the thousands since the armed struggle started in 1984 (including all the extrajudicial murders in the 1990s and the Roboski massacre) and you know that number is a chilling fact. By far the most of these people were innocent civilians, including many children, whose only crime was to be a Kurd.
How can the Kurds of Turkey ever be expected to trust the Turkish state and the Turkish armed forces again? They don’t serve the Kurdish people in any way. They are not only murdering Kurds, but also destroying their environment (did anybody count how many forest fires were started by bombings by the army? Does anybody know exactly how many dams were built with the sole purpose of obstructing guerrilla movements?), and their culture.
The Kurds must be protected against their brutal oppressor, and the only way this is possible, is to get the security forces out of there. Then the Kurds can work in peace on the autonomy that they are entitled to according to international law, but which the state refuses to give them – this crucial issue wasn’t even discussed during the two and a half year so called ‘peace process’.
And don’t say it would be irresponsible in the current Middle East to leave part of Turkey unprotected by security forces. You know very well that the Kurds are perfectly able to take care of themselves militarily and protect their lands against intruders.
It’s not realistic to have several armed forces within one state? I’m sure the peshmerga in Iraqi Kurdistan beg to differ. But if it is, then there is a logical solution for it: an independent Kurdistan. The Kurds don’t only deserve a territory of their own, they desperately need it. In whichever form, inside or outside Turkey. Countries have been established for less than what the Kurds have been and are going through.