An interesting Kurdish-Turkish encounter!

Kurdistan Observer
By: Luqman Barwari  / Los Angeles, California,
April 06, 2006

After obtaining the necessary permits from the city of Los Angeles for a peaceful demonstration, the Kurdish Community in Southern California was surprised by an unusual cold and wet weather in Los Angeles on April 5th, 2006. Despite the weather, about 50 people including school children, men, women, and elderly gathered in front of the Turkish Consulate to show their support of the recent uprising in the Northern Kurdistani cities. They marched in front the Turkish Consulate holding signs, distributing press releases to people, and chanting slogans in support of the Kurdish cause. I happened to have notified Turkish consulate in Los Angles via e-mail and invited them to discuss the recent developments in North Kurdistan.

Although they had not responded to the e-mail, on the day of the demonstration few of the consulate members were outside observing the event. Few of our demonstrators and I approached the consulate staff members to have a casual chat; this was my first encounter with a Turkish official since my last trip to Southern Kurdistan via Turkey three years ago. I assumed the Turkish consulate staff member’s were not too pleased with hearing Kurds and Kurdistan freely and I deliberately did not hesitate to use those words several times in our conversation.

In response to a question about my e-mail to meet with them to open a healthy dialogue and discuss the recent developments in Northern Kurdistan, one of the staff member stated, “We will never sit with the terrorists.” I was not much surprised by his response, knowing that the Turkish officials usually reject any initiative taken by the Kurdish side, regardless of the intent or content. Unfortunately, the Turkish government considers everything Kurdish as terrorism. I felt obligated to ask; “didn’t the Turkish government recently host a high-ranking Hamas official, which was considered a terrorist organization!?” Well, being a Turkish diplomat, he tried to defend Hamas, and considered them to be a legitimate political party, where they democratically won the elections in Palestine. I wondered, if the same chance had been given to PKK in Turkey, what the result would have been. The consulate staff members left the scene and we continued with the demonstration.

About half an hour later one of the staff members returned and invited one of our member for a meeting. Then the consul general, Mr. A. Engin Ansay, had an informal and friendly meeting with Dr. Artin, who had been recently elected as the chair of KNC Public Relations Committee. During the meeting Dr. Artin expressed his concern about unresolved Kurdish conflict in Turkey and recommended a better communication between all involved parties to create a model democracy in Anatolia, where Turks and Kurds could enjoy equal rights. Mr. Ansay highlighted that denouncing violence and not supporting separatism are prerequisite for any dialogue. Dr. Artin pointed out that violence form either side harms both sides; he then emphasized that Turkey has a better chance to become a fully democratic EU member, if she thinks beyond fear of separatism and welcomes Kurdish demand, even if it is for an independent Kurdistan, since such an approach could promote a more stable voluntary union in the future.

This interesting encounter was another confirmation that in a free and peaceful society people are able to have a dialogue without fear of each other. With this in mind I hope that Turkish government as well as Kurdish organizations takes every peaceful measure to make Anatolia a free society for all of its inhabitants and let people make choices about their future in referendums.

Special thanks to Dr. Kamal Artin for his contribution.