After the establishment of the modern Turkish state, the 'Young Turks' set about a policy of forced assimilation of the Kurdish people, after the Kurds had supported Kemal Ataturk in his war of independence.
A betrayal that sowed the seeds of the present conflict. First provided with the possibility of a state in the Peace Treaty of Sevre, the Kurds were denied by trickery and betrayal in The Treaty of Lausanne. The Shiekh Said uprising in 1925 was in response to this stated policy of annihilation and forced assimilation summed up nicely by Ismet Inounu to the Turkish Congress in May of 1925.
"We are frankly Nationalist......and Nationalism is our only factor of cohesion. Before the Turkish majority other elements have no kind of influence. At any price, we must turkify the inhabitants of of our land, and we will annihilate those who oppose Turks or 'le turquisme."
And annihilate they did, brutal suppression and criminalisation of the Kurds began during this period. Over 29 Kurdish uprisings have taken place against Turkish genocidal policies towards the Kurds since that time, the present one led by the PKK being the most recent.
Today The Economist quotes from a new book written by Aliza Marcus, Blood and Belief.
Hevallo has read this book and unfortunately, this book, nor the issues that it address's, cannot be understood without placing the PKK in its historical and political context, which the book does little to address.
For example, the book is based, solely, on interviews with ex members of the PKK, firstly. We all know that ex members of any group have axes to grind.
Secondly, and much more importantly, the book focuses solely on 'internal discipline' issues, again from the point of view of ex members, but does not look at how the Turkish intelligence forces have aggressively tried and succeeded, to infiltrate, agitate and provoke the Kurdish Freedom Movement. Not to mention the many assassination attempts upon the lives of many of its leaders.
The fact that the PKK is not a state, with organs of judiciary, police, courts nor laws, but is fighting for the rights of millions of Kurdish people with little more that Kalashnikovs, plimsolls and a thirst for justice, deserves a little more depth of analysis, especially in regards to the all consuming strength of the Turkish psychological warfare aspect of this conflict.
I'm sure if you look into any freedom struggle you will see an ugly side, consider the placing of a tyre full of petrol around the neck of a traitor who gave information to the enemy during the struggle of the ANC against Apartheid. Or the 'knee capping' punishment given to 'informers' of the Irish Nationalist Movement in Ireland.
Oppressed people who do not have a judicial system, nor organs of state, often have little option but to resort to summary punishments as a way of maintaining discipline and avoiding information being given to the enemy. This has happened in liberation struggles and wars since the beginning of time. Many Kurdish people have joined or have been forced to join the State sponsored 'Village Guard' system where Kurds are forced to fight against the PKK.
They are uniformed, armed and fight alongside the Turkish Army and yet when attacked by the PKK they are continuously called 'civilians' by critics of the PKK.
This at best disingenuous and at worst it is promoting Turkish psychological warfare.
The Kurds have not chosen the conditions under which they have had to carry out their profound struggle for freedom, against a particularly cruel enemy and this book only further demonises the Kurdish Freedom Struggle, without any real context in regards to the situation in which the PKK found itself in, in any particular time.
I'm sure if given the right of reply and in some future date a history of the PKK is written by someone within the organisation, it will be clear why, from the point of view of a liberation struggle against such a cruel and conniving enemy, that things happened as they did.
To read this book and judge the PKK without knowing the context in which the events happened is to accept a lot of Turkish psychological warfare labelling, at a time when the Kurdish people's Freedom Struggle needs support.
Any army, anywhere in the world makes its mistakes. The Kurdish people see through all the psychological aspects of the labelling of the Kurdish struggle and continue to support the Kurdish Freedom Movement in ever greater numbers.
I do hope, that the next book that Aliza Marcus writes, will be about the psychological warfare aspect of The Kurdish Question and the despicable actions of the Turkish military.
Again, unfortunately, we seem to have another Western journalist, making money from the suffering and resistance of the Kurdish Freedom Struggle. Someone who 'parachutes' into a conflict and thinks that they are now experts and feel qualified to judge a long and painful struggle of a people for freedom, perfectly aware of how their work would be used. (Which does make me wonder why has this book been written now.)
What the Kurdish Freedom Struggle, led by the PKK has done above all else is to halt the assimilation and annihilation policies of the Turkish State, dead in its tracks and have given pride and honour to the Kurdish population of Turkey.
Instead of this continued 'labelling' of the PKK as a 'terrorist' or 'criminal' group, is it not time to face the Kurdish reality and look for political and peaceful solutions to The Kurdish Question.
Any 'friend' of the Kurdish people should be putting their efforts into placing pressure on the Turkish government to face the realities and not helping them, by taking part in their psychological warfare against the Kurdish Freedom Struggle.
I had had great expectations and hopes in Aliza Marcus's book, in that her reporting while in Turkey had landed her 'in the dock' and there are some interesting historical aspects, in relation to the founding of the PKK and the timeline of its development in the book.
But, in relation to the main thrust of the book, I was greatly disappointed, mainly for the reasons I have explained above.
From the perspective of supporters of The Kurdish Freedom Movement, this book was written solely, on the word of ex party members, traitors, in their eyes, to the cause.
Intended or not, this book will give great comfort to the enemies of the Kurdish Freedom Struggle.
Although even Aliza Marcus, herself, after focusing on all of the negative, 'internal discipline' aspects of the PKK, cannot escape the Kurdish reality and sums up in the last lines of the conclusion of the book like this:
"These accounts cannot fully explain the PKK's ability to maintain its dominance. The PKK survives because it is popular among the Kurds in Turkey. It is popular because it fought for so long and the PKK's fight tied people to the party and gained it Kurdish respect. Now, Kurds in Turkey are loathe to turn against it, because this smacks too much of betraying their dreams. Ocalan has turned into a symbol of Kurdish desires. What he says or what he does is not that important because he is a symbol. So is the PKK. The PKK's fight, wheter one thinks it is good or bad, put the Kurdish problem on the agenda in Turkey and in front of the world. It helped Kurds define themselves as Kurds. It gave them a sense of honor."