The democratic revolution that has brought unprecedented levels of freedom to Turkey in recent years will not be complete until the festering Kurdish problem is resolved. When I toured the Kurdish region two years ago, a solution seemed tantalisingly close. Kurds were overflowing with optimism. Now that optimism has crashed back into frustration and anger. What happened?
In the summer of 2005, prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan flew to Diyarbakir, the biggest city in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, and delivered a speech that was shocking in its candor. “A great and powerful nation must have the confidence to face itself, recognise the mistakes and sins of the past and march confidently into the future,” he said. “The Kurdish issue does not belong to a part of our nation, but to us all … . We accept it as real and are ready to face it.”
Today, southeastern Turkey is again militarised. Thousands of soldiers are poised to stage cross-border raids into northern Iraq, where Kurdish guerrillas of the rebel PKK maintain fortified bases. Turks who call for a peaceful, democratic solution to the Kurdish problem are once again branded traitors. Kurdish mayors are being arrested. [complete article]