One of our readers, İbrahim Sarıdemir, sent an email to us on 4 September 2013. We thank him and print his email here in full and unedited:
Warning: “You push the Kurdish people away”
“In your last book, your association of Turkish nationalism with the fight against imperialism and the history of Kurdish nationalism with collaboration with imperialism is a really sad and alienating point of view.
"This definition, which glorifies the Turkish people while insulting the Kurdish, unfortunately leads to your alienation from the Kurdish people.
"Every group of people includes both reactionaries and progressives. You know much better than I that there were also some groups of people who defined themselves as Turkish, yet were reactionaries and collaborated with imperialists throughout history.
In the last 30 years, most people have seen the MHP (Nationalist Movement Party- opposition party) as the proponent of Turkish nationalism, and this narrow persperctive has always caused negative effects. Now you are looking at Kurdish nationalism as the equivalent of imperialist collaborations, and using a discourse which leads to the exclusion of the Kurdish people.
“Try to justify this as much as you can, give examples from history, it does not matter… What matters is how Kurdish people will perceive this discourse. It’s so offensive that, it goes even beyond your interesting claim that the ‘Kurdish language cannot be a scientific language.’ It’s obvious at what level our nation reads. That’s why your new hypothesis goes beyond even being persuasive, in particular it pushes Kurdish people away and results in escalating prejudices.
"If you are thinking of creating a political formula such as ‘Turk+Kurd=independent Turkey, then you need to reconsider these definitions and discourses of yours."
The question is open for all to see
We should all answer this question first: Have there been any anti-imperialist actions at all in the hundred-year history of Kurdish nationalism? Let’s forget about action, is there any stand or discourse against imperialism? If there is any, please, readers may enlighten me.
This question also stands for the senior members of the PKK, BDP (Peace and Democracy Party- Kurdish separatists), and other Kurdish nationalist party members, too, awaiting an answer; a question which will determine the future.
The example of Mahmut Berzenci
In the piece of writing which offended our friend, Sarıdemir, we only paid attention to Mahmut Berzenci’s brief fight against British imperialism in the north of Iraq in 1919. Berzenci, later, was taken as a captive by the British and sent to the north of Iraq again in 1922 to establish a separatist state as a counterrevolutionary act in Anatolia (Asia Minor). Within these circumstances, Berzenci held a relationship with general Mustafa Kemal and lieutenant colonel Özdemir, and asked for military assistance to join the forces of Anatolia against British imperialism there. When Mustafa Kemal’s operations through Lieutenant Colonel Özdemir were stopped in northern Iraq, Berzenci had to take shelter Iran (you can find info about about this in the book, named Mosul: Özdemir Operation, by our valuable friend, Murat Güztoklusu, published by Pozitif Yayınları, page:149). As this example also suggests, Kurdish people can fight against imperialism only if they join with other countries and their nations in the region. There is no other similar example.
Kurdish nationalism is one thing, Kurdish people another
To see the Kurdish nationalism as the equal of Kurdish people is wrong. Then all the criticism against Kurdish nationalism would be valid for Kurdish people. Kurdish people of Turkey joined WWI and the Independence War against imperialism especially on the eastern front. It was the consequence of Mustafa Kemal’s trust in Kurdish people that led him to move towards “establishing a base in the east and a strategy to save Turkey”, and also to organise Asia Minor for the Independence War, which started in Erzurum and Sivas (eastern cities of Turkey). These facts also demonstrate that the Kurdish people, not under the leadership of Kurdish nationalism but joining Turkey, fought against imperialism. This is the equation and we hereby try to explain it.
The dead-end-street leading to betrayal
This could frustrate some of our friends who think like İbrahim Sarıdemir but we have to be honest with our nation: Kurdish nationalism is both a dead-end and also leads to betrayal. The lessons in history are well known. In our region, in whichever country it is, the unique ally of ethnic separatist struggles is imperialism and it always has been. Thus, every fight under the flag of Kurdish nationalism, particularly when it has become an armed struggle, has always had to cooperate with imperialism. Any other way is not possible.
We are Kurds and also Turks
Why are we explaining this? Because Kurdish people are our people. All the people of Turkey are our people. If there is any movement or any action supported by imperialism, we have always stood against it. We come from the fight against governments collaborating with the US in the period after 1945. Are we not the ones who have fought on the front lines against the missions of imperialist-supporting governments laid out under the cover of nationalism - such as joining the Korean War, supporting the French in the independence war of Algeria, undertaking roles in dividing Yugoslavia and taking assignments in the CIA’s Chechen and Central Asian separatists terrorist organization? And did we not serve prison sentences together for the last five generations for these reasons?
Shaking people is our duty and debt
When we make the definition, “the history of the Kurdish nationalism is the history of collaborationism”, we are not involved in any kind of historicism, we present a stand against slavery. If we did not put it courageously in front of our Kurdish people, we see that, it would have disastrous consequences. We also know it would be the real dishonest act. There are examples in the history. The more important thing is, our region is in the midst of many wars and Kurdish nationalism always takes the sides of treachery. Are the scenes from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey not clear? Is not the Kurdish nationalism which see the slaughter of thousands as an opportunity to be ceased? Is this honourable or dignified?
So within these circumstances, it is our duty to shake all of the people who follow Kurdish nationalism. About this Kurdish matter, should we also act like the leftist minions who have no sense of responsibility, live large, never once experienced the oppression and tyranny of the dominant classes in their lives?
The examples of Lalayan and Tito
Please look at Lalayan, an Armenian historian and statesman. He states that: “The history of the Armenian nationalism is the history of imperialist collaborationism.” (A.A Lalayan, the counter-revolutionist role of the Dashnaksutyun Party (1914-1923), published by Kaynak Yayınları, İstanbul, 2005)
So, is the Armenian statesman insulting his own nation and excluding them?
Josip Broz Tito, Croatian-originated Yugoslav statesman, detecting the collaborations of Croatians, was he also pushing them away?
Emir Kustrica, one of the top directors in the world, taking a stand against Boshnak nationalism when Yugoslavia was dividing, was he insulting his own people?
All of the nations in the world need honest and conscientious leaders.
About the history of Turkish nationalism, let us discuss it tomorrow.