Mon 22 Nov 2010
The Forced Migration of the Kurds in Turkey & The Limits of the Liberal Project Concerning a Solution for the Kurdish QuestionAuthor: K. Murat Güney | Category: Academic , Article
The Extended Version of the Paper Presented in the American Anthropological Association’s Annual Meeting in November 2010, New Orleans
After 25 years long armed conflict between the Kurdish guerilla, the PKK and the Turkish army in the southeastern provinces of Turkey, in 2008 the liberal Islamic Justice and Development Party (the AKP) government introduced the first concrete governmental proposal in Turkey to solve the Kurdish question. The liberal proposals for the solution of the Kurdish question were named by the AKP government as the “democratic opening process”. The “democratic opening process” intends to solve the Kurdish question through the means of the cultural recognition and economic development. On January 1st 2009 as the first step of the “democratic opening process” the first official Kurdish TV channel in Turkey namely the “the TRT Ses (The Turkish Radio and Television Six”) started to broadcast. After the years long bloody conflict that left behind 40.000 deaths and about 3 million internally displaced people, and after the years long official denial of the Kurdish presence in Turkey, the recognition of the Kurdish culture through the introduction of an official TV channel that broadcasts in Kurdish appeared at the first glance as a revolutionary step in the Turkish political history.
However, just like any other liberal democratic “opening” for the cultural recognition and inclusion, the democratic opening process of the AKP government, too, had its limits: About one month after the first official Kurdish TV started to broadcast, the leader of the pro-Kurdish party at that time, Ahmet Turk, disclosed the limits of the “democratic opening” through his speech on the international mother language day, February 21st, 2009. When Ahmet Turk started to speak in the parliament in his mother language, namely in Kurdish, the live broadcast of the official television of the parliament was immediately cut, and an official warning was read: “The constitution and the law on political parties prohibit the usage of any language other than Turkish in the parliament. Therefore we had to cut the live broadcast and we apologize for this!” Following this incident the parliament speaker of that time and a former member of the AKP, Koksal Toptan released a statement declaring that “in the parliament the use of any language except Turkish means an open violation of the constitution.”
Here, the hypocrisy of the AKP government is based on a clear separation between the cultural and the political dimensions of the Kurdish problem. According to the new liberal democratic opening policy of the AKP, one can legally sing in Kurdish or talk about “cultural” issues in Kurdish only in the official Kurdish TV channel, but it is illegal to speak in Kurdish to express “political” demands in the parliament.