Wednesday, January 11, 2012

More Trouble with Leyla Zana

BDP parliamentarian and nationalist hardliner Leyla Zana has once more incited a firestorm of criticism. In a speech delivered in Frankfurt, Zana said arms were the Kurds' "insurance policy," and that the progress the Kurds have accomplished thus far is due to the PKK's armed struggle.

This could not be further from the truth. Reform passed in recent years on the Kurdish question has occurred when PKK violence has been at a low, the result of a commitment to liberalism and political rights that has allowed Kurdish activists and politicians to more freely participate in politics, albeit with continued serious restrictions. Any progress on the Kurdish front owes itself to liberalism and the EU accession process more than to violence, which has only stalled reform and led to the old political deadlock. The state is now attempting to assert itself against a Kurdish nationalist politics that thanks to the KCK has become inextricably entangled with violence. For my past post on Zana, click here.

Prime Minister Erdogan responded today by telling Zana that she should "go to the mountain," meaning she should give up parliamentary politics and join the PKK. While this was indubitably not the most productive thing to say, it is more evidence that the prime minister is "fed up," and that it is all the less likely to engage the BDP now than before.

Erdogan also responded to comments made by BDP leader Selahattin Demirtas in response to remarks made by Chief of General Staff Necdet Ozel in an interview with Milliyet in which Ozel said he has qualms with labeling PKK members "terrorists." Demirtas had responded that Ozel did not carry as much importance as a "colonel" and that he did not care what the military chief had to say. Erdogan declared that the PKK Demirtas serves would not allow the BDP leader to shepherd 100 sheep.

PHOTO from Habertürk

The prime minister also drew attention to BDP politicians who had placed PKK regalia on the coffins of some of the 35 people who were killed in the air strikes at Uludere, accusing them of politicizing the tragedy. A parliamentary sub-commission has been established to investigate the strike at Uludere while the government still has yet to issue an official apology or admit mistakes made by MIT or the Turkish Armed Forces. Habertürk reports that the Interior Ministry has stripped a local gendarme deputy commander of his post. The Sirnak governor's office is carrying out its own investigation in conjunction with the Interior Ministry.

In other news related to Uludere, Habertürk columnist Ece Temelkuran, a prominent and controversial Turkish journalist, has been fired for apparently taking too critical a line on the tragedy. In recent columns, Temelkuran had referred to the air strikes as a "massacre." The Wall Street Journal's Ayla  Albayrak gives Temelkuran's firing attention in the international press.

No comments: