A message for Turkey, not just Kurds

by editor | 26th March 2013 9:08 am

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orsola casagrande

Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan’s Newroz message could be summed up in this phrase: “It ‘s time to silence the weapons and time for ideas to speak”. Which could also be said in another way: What is happening is a change in strategy. The Kurdish liberation movement is moving from an armed campaign to a cultural campaign. In this sense, the “reassurance” Öcalan gave is very important, especially for the guerrillas: “This is not an end, but a new beginning. This is not abandoning the struggle – we are initiating a different struggle”, he said. The “reassurance” is needed because the Kurdish leader calls on fighters not only to declare a truce but also to start moving outside the borders of the Turkish state. The letter Öcalan sent to the BDP (Party for Peace and Democracy) through the head of the Turkish secret services (it is he who leads the talks with the Kurdish leader) is clear and follows the proposals contained in the Road Map published in 2012. “The period of armed struggle is ending, and the door is opening to democratic politics” the letter reads and continues, “The time has come for dispute, conflict, and enmity to yield to alliance, unity, blessings, and a mutual embrace”.
As in the Roadmap, in the Newroz message can be read the political and strategic journey Öcalan made. It’s a journey arrived at the point where the need for armed struggle is ending. Now what interests the Kurdish leader is building a new society, a model for a new society organization that would lead to the democratization of the whole of Turkey. However, the construction of this new model (democratic autonomy, although revised in parts, in these last years the model has been and continues to be practiced) walks alongside the creation of an environment favourable to peace. Hence the Newroz call to the guerrillas who have been asked to declare a truce.
Nevertheless it is clear that the message Öcalan sent is not directed only to the PKK. Indeed it is directed to the Turkish government that must make some decisions about how to respond to, possibly, the highest of challenges: to start talking about peace. It is no coincidence, that just three days before Newroz, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has talked about the possibility of creating a committee of “wise men” responsible for the resolution of a few issues from disarmament to the withdrawal of the guerrillas. In the Roadmap, Öcalan explains in detail what steps all parties involved in the Turkish-Kurdish conflict must do to create an environment favourable to dialogue.
As with all processes, the creation of an environment where trust can grow, is a sine qua non condition for dialogue to begin. In fact it means creating a context in which all parties have the same status and come to the table with equal rights. In this context it will be important to see what the Turkish government will decide to do and how quickly.
Certainly Öcalan has been able in those years to argue and explain his ideas for a new model of society, including new institutions necessary for this model to work. With originality, he has also begun writing a new vocabulary to define concepts and ideas that are still only partially being “defined” in other situations (in the Basque Country for example, bearing in mind that each process and each country has its own peculiarities). But above all, this has been – and remains so – a “journey”, a shared path, despite the long period of isolation to which Öcalan has been submitted to. It is worth recalling that the Road Map written by Öcalan was completed only after the draft had been discussed, modified, integrated by all the components of the Kurdish movement. They had discussed the proposal of Öcalan in hundreds of meetings and gatherings. So Kurds were well prepared and ready when Newroz arrived and it is also why the Kurdish leader’s letter has been received with such an enthusiasm. It was not easy to prepare the Kurdish movement, because what Öcalan has done is encourage a change of vision even of the conflict itself. A rupture that obviously the government and the intellectual and political circles in Turkey have not yet made. And that is perhaps the greatest risk: that a good part of society, and the political and intellectual class of Turkey, are not ready for such a shock. Because that’s the point. It is not “just” talking about peace in classical terms (i.e. calling a ceasefire) but it is indeed raising the level of discourse imagining a different way, inclosed an innovative way of talking about peace. It involves using a new vocabulary, which means daring to look at who so far has been considered “the other” as if looking at yourself. And therefore, it is to want for the “other” what you would want for yourself.
The Basques, and before them the Irish and South Africans know this subject well. For Turkey is still a new topic. The Kurds have demonstrated vision, creativity, courage and imagination. They have not removed the hand, on the contrary, they have put it out. Let’s see if the Turkish government and other actors in the political, intellectual and social life in Turkey will be brave enough to acknowledge this important gesture and shake that hand.

Source URL: https://globalrights.info/2013/03/a-message-for-turkey-not-just-kurds/