It is not a secret that governments in Turkey, for years, have disregarded the Kurdish political will and tried to suppress it. The latest stage of those who cannot deny the Kurdish presence is the policy of denying Kurdish politics. This has been one of the basic arguments constituting the country’s policies for the past couple of years. Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was trying to be criminalized so that it is eliminated from Kurdish politics. The old policy of the Turkish state based on the denial of Kurds, which also coincides with the political aims of the governing party and its partner, this time, focused on the HDP, the leading actor in Kurdish politics.
The government policy was based on the assumption that HDP would lose votes with each propaganda linked to terrorism and obstructing its coverage in the mainstream media. However; with its highly limited media exposure, the HDP kept its vote potential as well as the meaningful place it has in Turkish politics. Just as the denial policy of the past contributed to the strengthening of the Kurdish identity, the denial policy of Kurdish politics similarly helped HDP cement its leading role in Kurdish politics. If our country had any political mind available, this is the biggest opportunity ever encountered for our social peace. But, of course, this is not possible with the continued denial policy.
Trying to criminalize HDP has served as the declaration of the failure of this policy at every election. The last local elections also enhanced this failure. However, the government is nowhere near accepting its error. The continuation of the past policy of appointment of trustees, in a second wave, is like a blind stubbornness.
The trustee appointments are attempts to sustain those state policies prioritizing security and at the same time hoping this will bring political benefit to the governing partners; all in rejection of the will of people. Nevertheless, it must have been understood that this was not adequate to erase HDP from the Kurdish political scene, a search for public support was being sought. The blood that was needed seems to have been found with Hacire Akar’s action – the first mother to start the sit in.
The initiative of the Kurdish families, with the help of HDP, to save and to return home their sons and daughters who took to the mountains to join the outlawed PKK, is the sign that a new stage has been reached to link HDP with terror. So to speak, a fresh blood is trying to be injected to the failed policy.
However, when we read this policy in reverse order, contrary to what was desired, it will result in a strengthening effect for the HDP. The denial policy of Kurdish politics that is trying to be dragged with trustee appointments, even though it has failed, is now being flattened for real via “Kurdish mothers.”
Mehmet Akar, the son of activist mother Hacire Akar, was seen last at the HDP building, Diyarbakır; probably regarded as the last address for a political solution, before he took to the mountains. Young people should be considering armed struggle as a more powerful and strong means (for peace) as far as the legal political platform is being shut down for Kurds. Also, families seem to be channeling their hopes to the representatives of the Kurdish politics instead of the state that prioritizes security politics.
Even though families were angry at the HDP, accusing them, seeing and showing as if it was supporting terror organization PKK; they obviously look to HDP instead of the state. In front of which public building would they have been so comfortable to voice their Kurdish messages and cries as they did in front of the HDP Diyarbakır Province Headquarters? Which sit in protest in front of public buildings was openly supported? Saturday Mothers at Istanbul’s Galatasaray Square were always met with tear gas, batons, detention and security measures. We know that motherhood is sacred in the eyes of the state, but to a certain degree. Somehow, that sacredness suddenly disappears exposing state policies and the crimes of public employees. Even if they are accusing, they go to the doors of HDP where they can best express themselves and where their position would be best understood.
As a matter of fact, İyi Party leader Meral Akşener, must have seen the significance of these protests for the HDP. She said, “While we have the state to protect and look after our children, obliging citizens to appeal to a political party is frivolous, weakness of management. I am warning those who are building plots over the conscience of these mothers; when our mothers go to the doors of that party instead of the doors of the state, you are attributing the mission of a state to that party.” The role that is being cast for HDP is obviously, not the mission of a state but that this party has a leading role in politics.
HDP is the leading actor in Kurdish politics and an indispensable part of Turkey’s political scene. These actions will serve for the acceptance of this fact, if not today, tomorrow.
But the hope is for the state to understand that the only way to prevent armed struggle is the struggle carried out on a legal political platform. For the state to see that instead of using Kurdish politics as a tool of denial, that social peace would be achieved through HDP being integrated into Turkey’s politics.
For this concealed war to end, the one that drags poor Kurdish children and poor Turkish children to death at the same clashes, that makes Kurdish mothers and Turkish mothers suffer the same pain, the state should reopen the negotiation tables. No negotiations could take place by disregarding Kurdish politics and the political preference of the Kurdish people. In short, the HDP is the apple of the eye of peace hopes and the policy of ignoring HDP and the denial of Kurdish politics is bound to declare its failure if not today, tomorrow.
*This abridged article first appeared on GazeteDuvar on Tuesday, September 10, 2019.
Who is Berrin Sönmez?
After graduating from Ankara University Faculty of Language, History and Geography, she became an assistant in her department. Her master thesis was the path of the Ottoman Empire’s participation in the I. World War. Her half-finished Ph.D. thesis was on community centers and cultural transformation. After a period of teaching, she went back to academia and lectured on revolution history and history of culture. In the February 28 process, she was dismissed from academia. The arbitrary management of the time and its justice system fully dependent on the government, left the academic staff solely to the rector’s appreciation. Since her paths to seek her rights were all blocked by judicial decisions, she self-retired. She worked in the Finance Ministry, Ankara University, Education Ministry and Afyon Kocatepe University for an average of four to five years each. Advocating the rights of women and children, human rights, democracy and peace, a feminist-activist Berrin Sönmez has several articles and essays printed in several journals.