The picture emerging in the Southeast of Turkey in the wake of the 2014 local elections is significant in showing how certain developments that our nation has long been carefully following can actually turn out.
Our government and state have always been on the alert against the separatist terror that has cost the lives of tens of thousands of our people over the last 30 years. Our government will never allow a path that will end in separation, such as autonomy, and will take the requisite precautions against it; all the organs of the state are closely watching developments. However, it must never be forgotten that in line with Lenin’s idea of “one step forward, two steps back,” the PKK, a Marxist-Leninist organization, may sometimes appear to be stepping back. The PKK’s ultimate aim is to be able to establish an independent communist state of Kurdistan. An organization that has for years ruthlessly spilled blood in order to achieve that aim will obviously not renounce that goal unless it completely renounces its ideology. For that reason, all kinds of political developments in the region must be closely monitored. What might develop in the near and medium term future, and how the situation may be transformed must be calculated properly and the appropriate measures taken beforehand.
The Free Will of the People in the Southeast Was Not Reflected at the Ballot Box
It is a well-known fact that for many years, elections in the region have largely been held under the shadow of the gun.
The PKK’s pressure and compulsion frequently turns into violence, and the public are obliged to vote for one single party: Were there no threats or coercion in this particular election, the election results in the Southeast would clearly be very different.
In the run-up to the elections, attacks on AK Party candidates and buildings in particular took place in Diyarbakır, Van, Hakkari and various other provinces in the region. These attacks were intended to send to people the message that “we are the strong ones, and you must go along with us.” When such acts of violence take place, the guarantee that the state gives the public is of great importance. Our brothers in the Southeast must enjoy total security if a fair and democratic election is to take place. Weakening the military and police in the region, and scaling down security precautions, may, albeit unwittingly, lead to fear and thus a respect for the strength of the PKK developing in a large part of the public. If a situation arises wherein the people perceive it as the defeat of the state, the people will have to go along with whomever they feel to be the stronger party. Only if people feel secure can they freely vote for whichever party they wish. The priority therefore is to ensure the security of the people.
The Government’s Most Urgent Task Is to Lift the PKK's Pressure from the People’s Shoulders
Lifting the threat of the PKK from our fellow-citizens in the Southeast is the most pressing task facing the state and the government. Under existing conditions, many parties are not able to engage in politics in the region; this must not be tolerated. A political party must be able to work freely everywhere in Turkey and to express its views to the people. It is unacceptable for political parties to be unable to enter certain towns or regions of a country. When there is a threat of violence, the responsibility lies not with the political party in question, but with the relevant institutions of the state, which is responsible for ensuring that every citizen of the country can enter the region. The presence of “no-go” areas in a country, and regions where people cannot speak their minds freely, is not something that any state can accept. In the same way that it is perfectly normal for the HDP and the BDP to engage in politics in the West, other parties, such as the MHP, CHP, SP and BBP must be able to operate in the Southeast. The HDP and BDP must never be allowed to be exposed to violence in Turkey's Western provinces, but in the same way, other parties’ buildings must not be bombed nor their candidates attacked in the Southeast. It is vitally important to establish a climate in the Southeast in which all parties of every idea can actively and freely engage in politics. Our government’s first priority must be to leave no trace of the PKK and to lift this menace from the people of the Southeast.
Autonomy Is a Step Leading to Separation
No matter what the name, be it federalism, autonomy, a cantonal system or the like, no move intended to split the Southeast away from the country and to tear our Kurdish brothers away from us is acceptable to our people. Autonomy is a major step to separation: It is not sensible to be hoodwinked by talk of “We will not declare autonomy” and thus fail to take the proper precautions. Indeed, the words, “We will not declare autonomy, we will build it” show exactly the path that will be followed. There has been widespread ideological activity in the region for the last 30 years to establish the required intellectual infrastructure. A specific idea is propagandized every day in coffee houses, in meetings in people’s homes, in schools and in conversations; remaining silent in the face of that propaganda is akin to watching a disaster unfold like an avalanche or a tsunami. Our state must build an intellectual bastion, based on our national and spiritual values, against the PKK's propaganda. In addition, it is very important for the PKK not to be legitimized in the public perception; that would open the door to a very grave danger. If the intense pressure from the PKK is later combined with pressure from outside the country, if requests for a referendum are persistently raised by international bodies such as the U.N. for example, that imposition could lead Turkey to division. In the face of this grave threat, our people need to be provided with information; new generations with a cause and an ideal need to be raised and other measures need to be taken as well. Instead of wasting time or ignoring the danger, what a great state needs to do is to see that the threat is approaching and inform our people accordingly and to take all possible precautions against fragmentation.
It Is Not Only Economic Progress That Will Make the Nation Happy, But Primarily the Maintenance of Our Unity
National integrity and union are indispensible values. Unless the danger of fragmentation is neutralized, the successes achieved are of no value.
Our nation saw these tactics being employed against the country before the election and behaved with great zeal against those who would target our national integrity and security. Through that zealous behavior, the nation made it abundantly clear that it wanted steps to be taken against the threat of division. That support from the nation must be well taken advantage of, and the threat of fragmentation must be totally eradicated in this term.
For our nation, with its excellent conscience, the protection of national unity and integrity and respect for spiritual values are higher priority issues than encouraging developments such as wealth, luxury, roads or bridges. Our nation will live through love in poverty, but it will never accept any threat to the country. The greatest source of comfort for our people living in Southeast will be the eradication of the PKK.
We must also not forget that any idea that seeks nothing but economic growth and wealth will invariably be defeated at the hands of movements with an ideological infrastructure, such as the PKK. The PKK has a cause, albeit a false one, and those opposed to it also need to have a lofty ideal.
Deliberate Pressure Was Applied on Our Kurdish Brothers To Separate Them from Us
It is a well-known and sad fact that certain circles cannot bear even to lay eyes on our Kurdish brothers, basely despise them, utterly disregard them and attach no worth to them, dislike even the geography of the region they live in and quite literally regard the entire Southeast as nothing but dead weight. For years now, these people have been trying to separate our Kurdish brothers from us. As an extension of that immoral mentality, the alleged Ergenekon organization inflicted the most appalling mistreatment on our Kurdish brothers for many years. Our dear brothers were subjected to terrible oppression, and that unpleasant policy served those who wished to split those dear people away from us. However, we are now in a time when that plan is being thwarted. The time has come when Diyarbakır, Hakkari and Şırnak will be like London or Paris, when our brothers will live in peace and joy in the mountains, when we will all sit down together for traditional feasts and dance as one.
The establishment of a Stalinist autonomous region - such as the PKK is aiming for - will inflict dreadful oppression on our brothers. Abandoning our devout Kurdish mothers and grandfathers and sisters to communist compulsion will mean we have learned nothing from the sufferings of the past. We cannot knowingly abandon these dear people to such suffering.
For that reason, we must not ignore the fact that those who would imprison the Kurds in one area and the Turks in another, and who disallow the right to engage in politics, or even to live in the other’s area, are doing nothing but serving the cause of division. Everyone who says, “Kurds have no other friends than Kurds” or “Turks have no other friends than Turks” are grossly mistaken: We are all servants of God, we are all brothers; none is superior to any other, there is certainly no need for any one to be divided from others, and we must all live together freely, and as brothers.
It Is a Sin for Muslims to Fight One Another in the Face of the Threat of Fragmentation
“Obey God and His messenger and do not quarrel among yourselves lest you lose heart and your momentum disappear. …” (Surat al-Anfal, 46)
God commands Muslims to be united. He tells us that if we are divided, we will lose our strength. It is therefore incumbent upon all Muslims to avoid such a state of affairs.
At a time when Muslim intellectuals are in any case few in numbers, it would be irrational to make them turn on one another. What is compatible with reason and good conscience is unity and reconciliation. We need to make Muslims better by correcting any errors they may make, rather than putting pressure on them and attempting to eradicate them; the dispersal of a group of Muslims is no grounds for rejoicing. Of course they must be warned if there are things about them that are wrong and of course the state must take steps, within legal bounds, if crimes have been committed. But it is of the greatest importance to make a mature Muslim group with potential useful rather than eliminating it.
Muslim intellectuals must treat one another with love and watch over and protect each other. That love and unity will be a fortress against division. Television, chat programs and social media must be places where Muslims confirm their love for one another, not express their hatred.
There is a time for everything. In order for Turkey to be great, it must clearly first neutralize the PKK: Everything else is subsidiary to that. So long as the PKK threat exists, our powers and energies must be directed against the PKK, and not elsewhere.
We Must Not Establish a Self-Destructive Mechanism
A persistent policy of anger would mean familiarizing Muslims with a spirit of rage, and that is very dangerous. If a person grows accustomed to hate, they will target all those around them. If a system of oppression and destruction is set in operation, that machine will crush everything before it; it will grow and will become impossible to stop. A mindset that seeks to totally annihilate a Muslim group, without distinguishing between true and false, may later be turned against all Muslims; it goes without saying that after a while, this may turn into a force that strikes Muslims themselves in a most unexpected way.
The crushing of every agent that serves to intellectually resist division may very well be a project organized and planned by separatist forces. The project of setting Muslim against Muslim has been implemented in many countries in the past, and it has borne fruit; there may now be a similar plan in Turkey. All Muslims must behave moderately, be ever watchful and vigilant against these pernicious traps being set and never make concessions on the moral values that God desires from us.
It will be a very good thing, in this period in particular, for our government to follow a policy that strengthens love and brotherhood and that does not permit anger to settle in people’s minds.
All Parties and Civil Society Organizations Must Unite against Division
Political parties in the Southeast forming alliances to enter elections is a very rational tactic. Right and center-right parties have lost elections by very narrow margins in towns such as Ağrı, Iğdır and Siirt; had they formed pre-election alliances and worked together, those losses would obviously not have happened. In order to avoid a massive electoral loss in the Southeast, the AK Party, the CHP, the MHP, the SP, the BBP and HudaPar should enter the elections in alliance. Everyone must be capable of making sacrifices when there is a danger of fragmentation and they must be capable of forging an alliance in name of the unity of the motherland. Our nation expects all parties to unite in a spirit of brotherhood at such a time. A loss before everyone’s very eyes must not be permitted.
It is important for all parties to establish a national consensus and act together against the threat of separatism. All our citizens must concentrate on the threat of the PKK and constantly keep this vital issue in the public eye.
Speaking out against Separatism Must Not Be Depicted As a Crime
Some circles express their unease at the raising of the question of separatism. That is a false perspective, however; depicting opposition to the threat of separatism as an offense and advising silence in the face of it is wrong. Our Prime Minister stresses that he is against separatism every time he speaks. At every public meeting he calls for, “A single motherland, a single nation, a single flag and a single state,” and warns millions of people against the threat of division. It is a magnificent thing for that fine attitude to be shared by everyone and for the subject to be raised at all times by our citizens.
The Common Voice of Our Nation
In summation, nobody must try to make separatism look attractive by coming up with new names for it. Nobody must cast eyes on this country’s territory and dream of an independent communist Kurdistan; to those who would seek such a thing, it must be said strongly and repeatedly that the Turkish nation will not abandon the Southeast to the tyranny of communism; this country will not give up so much as one inch of land. Our cause and our ideal are a Great Turkey and Islamic Union. The destiny ordained by God for this country consists not of division, but of being united and strong, and of being the spiritual leader of the Islamic world.