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The following article by Oral Çalışlar appeared in his regular column in Radikal on 29 October 2011. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton.

  • NOTE A judicial operation that since April 2009 has been waged against the organisation known as the KCK (for the Kurdish Koma Civakên Kurdistan [Union of Communities in Kurdistan]) has led to thousands of suspects being held in pre-trial detention.

The KCK detentions have turned from bad to rotten

Professor Dr. Büşra Ersanlı is my friend of more than forty years’ standing. I know her much better than do public prosecutors and the police, or “experts on detention” and “strategists” who spout on about the KCK detentions.

As a young student at Bosphorous University she became acquainted with the state, police, public prosecutors, judges and prison. She was thrown behind bars for opposing the military coup of 12 March 1971 and resisting oppression. She overcame obstacles such as these to achieve prominence in the academic world.

She has always held her head high and never refrained from speaking her mind. She lined up with the most vociferous supporters of the Kurds’ demand for identity. Büşra, who stems from a well-to-do Istanbul family, saw herself as duty bound to take an active part in the Kurdish problem solution process, joined the DTP and BDP and assumed responsibilities.

She fiercely defended the struggle of headscarved students to attend university and of Kurdish students to be educated in their native language. She has always defended the same line, whether in lecturing on democracy at the university or in criticising oppressive methods within socialist circles. There is no need to go into a lengthy account of her track record on human rights, democracy and freedoms; of her sensitivity and consistency.

Just such a person’s summer house in Datça is raided, this person is detained and reference is made to the “fight against the KCK structure”. Whatever political rationale, whatever legal rationale, lies behind these operations, and whoever supports them, I say to them, “Stop at last.”

I have for a long time been writing in this column and commenting from television screens about the KCK case. I frequently encounter reactions from persons claiming to be defenders of democracy and freedom to the effect that, “You do not understand; in this way PKK terrorism’s urban backdrop is being demolished.” I observe that such circles, in this manner, draw a distinction between “good Kurds” (and Büşra Ersanlı, for example, is not Kurdish) and “bad Kurds” and claim that this is bringing us closer to a solution.

Is this how the PKK will be rendered ineffective?

To summarise, certain parties have always tried to explain the logic of the KCK detentions thus: “The PKK wishes to create an administration in cities. It has embarked on setting up an organisation to this end. It wishes, in this manner, to establish a separate hegemony in the cities and break off from Turkey.” The past two years have seen the detention of hundreds of BDP office-holders, along with tens of mayors and municipal assembly members. There are those who have been held in detention for months without being brought before a court. We witness those who are taken to hearings not being brought before the court on the grounds that speaking Kurdish is forbidden. The detentions can be said to have become so widespread that they threaten to bring virtually the whole of the BDP within their scope.

This is not a “point of law” but a “political preference”. As such, there remains no point in discussing this matter on the legal plane.

What are you going to do with 2.5 million voters?

In the 2011 general elections, around two and half million electors voted for the independent candidates supported by the BDP. These votes quite clearly demonstrate a political preference, a social preference and an identity preference. Is it possible for this will to be “destroyed”; for two and a half million voters to be detained? Are we to return to the exercise in futility whereby parties are closed and parties are set up under other names to replace them?

The detaining of Professor Büşra Ersanlı makes a laughing stock of the whole affair and shows that the solution is being sought in entirely the wrong place. As long as this mind set and this procedure continues, Turkey will be unable to get to grips with violence.

Archive of Turkish press translations by Tim Drayton