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Thursday, December 16, 2004 

The Kurds, the PKK and intellectuals

(continued with the affair : who represents Kurds in Turkey ?)

During her journey in Paris, Leyla Zana has answered to 195 signatories of the Appeal's critics : For these people felt themselves stabbed in the back when Zana had at the end disowned the text, by maintaining that she has signed it without reading (sounds quite unreliable... next time if Erdogan ask her to sign something, will she read it before ???)

According to Zana, Kurdish intellectuals play only for themselves (she means not like herself, which some people reproach only to play for Öcalan's interests...). And these "intellectuals" are "being detached from the people", as is right and proper for intellectuals, and "each of these are playing a different instrument"... (not like the DEHAP which changes constantly its line because of directives and counterorders and purges and internal settlings of scores in the PKK...)

So, according to her : "Kurdish intellectuals were not together with the Kurdish people, before or during the war". Historically, it is wrong : the PKK was indeed founded by a group of students in 1978, and the first troops in guerilla and political cells were mostly recruted among students and middle class, while peasants were considered by Öcalan as "subservient" and absolutely deprived of revolutionnary mind... It was only after the exactions of Turkish army and the blindful oppression in Kurdistan that lower classes began to join guerilla... We can see that the best recruting agents for the PKK had always been jandarma...

Leyla Zana criticizes diaspora too, these Kurds who "have not come to Turkey for 30 years but demanding that the Kurdish people to wage a war and die." well, it is not exactly the truth. Indeed, there is - as always in these situations - a big gap between diaspora and the Kurds staying in the country. But it is not at all a gulf intellectuals/popular class. The largest part of the Kurdish migration from Turkey in France is composed by workers or former peasants, and there is the same gap among them and their compatriots in Turkey. It is not intellectuals from diaspora who call to the end of the ceased-fire, but the "hard" branches of the PKK, from Cemil Bayik to Murat Karayilan, the first being in the guerilla, the other staying in Europe that's true, but it would be very exaggerate to consider Karayilan as an "intellectual"... By the way, the last is the man that Öcalan wanted to replace by Leyla Zana at the head of the ERNK in Europe...

So presenting the conflict - that is only a conflict of interests - as a "defense of people against Kurdish intellectuals" is not exact, and it reminds ina pernicious way the hatred of the PKK against Kurdish "cultured" persons, when in their ranks, no one should speak in a too much "rich style", when executives rathered hide their diplomas for not being attacked because of them in meetings, when they did not use more than a basic vocabulary in newspapers (in Turkish of course, Kurdish was banned by Öcalan) for "making popular". It was no more than a revolutionnary demagogy and it does not suit very well with the line "let's defend Kurdish culture" that they claim in Europe. They must choose : without intellectuals, a culture could be no more than folklore and traditionnal cooking. In that case, it did not deserve 15 years of war to preserve it.

But, since the beginning of the Kurdish national movement, intellectuals, unlike what tells Zana, were always at the first rank of battles : from brothers Bedir Khan's time, to the republic of Mahabad (Qazi Mohammad was not an illeterate worker as far as I know) or during Mustafa Barzani's revolutions (he was himself quite uneducated but has never ousted educated executives from his party), Kurdish intellectuals had always been a part of Kurds' national struggle. In Turkey, these intellectuals and peasants (called "underdevelopped traitors" by the PKK), had preserved Kurdish language : Mehmet Emin Bozarslan published the first Kurdish ABC in 1968 (forbidden in Turkey), Musa Anter, chosed to write in Kurdish and was murdered in Diyarbakir in 1992... In fact, if we look at the history of Kurdish writers in the 20th century, a few escaped from exile or death... Not exactly a cushy job.

And at last, does the DEHAP represent the people ? The AKP had had better results among Kurdish votes than it, so we could doubt of that. As for Leyla Zana, only a legal election will give her the right to pretend "represent and defend" Kurds in Turkey.

source : Hurriyet/ Dec 15, 2004.

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