Kish had never known how it feels to be happy. As a small boy, his parents were killed when one of the major buildings in the city was bombed. He was very young then and he cannot even recall the faces of his parents. Fortunately he sought refuge with neighbors who were more than willing to take him in. However, after a few months of his stay, events took a new turn. Kish became the house help of the Mirth family. Too tiny to cope up with the difficult chaos, Kish received insults for a small mistake. Sometimes, he was severely whipped. Every member of the large family could turn their anger to the small child.
While other children of the house attended their classes, Kish was denied the right for his education. Orphaned and homeless, Kish had no one to turn to or a better place to run away to. He thus remained with the terrible family, enduring pain and suffering. Kish is just a representation of what the Turkish Kurds have gone through in the past. The Kurds as they are widely known have no place they can call home. They are the ancient Middle East people who live in Kurdistan, a mountainous place. The Turkish government has been part and parcel in the oppression and discrimination of the Kurds in the country (English Online, nd).
Kurdistan covers different countries namely: Turkey, Syria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq and Iran. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East in the early 20th century, independent states like Turkey and Iran were formed with the exception of a Kurdistan state. Many are the times when the Kurds have been promised of an independent state of their own but the countries around refused the creation of independent Kurdistan state. The Kurds have inhabited this particular place for a number of centuries now. They had been like homeless children as they had never had their own country.
The countries on which Kurdistan stands have taken advantage of their homelessness and oppressed the Kurds beyond measure (English Online, nd). The suffering tale of the Kurds Turkey can win the Nobel Peace Breaking Award (if such is introduced) for their mistreatments on the minorities. It is nearly two hundred years now and the Turks are still adamant to abandon the malpractices. The only term that can best describe the Turks is, ‘bloody killers. ’ In the early 20th century, they conducted a genocide that left a million and a half Armenians dead.
The blood thirsty Turks have turned their heads towards the Kurds who have been fighting for their identity, culture and language. Approximately 30,000 Kurds have been slain by the cruel sword of the Turks (Lobby, nd). The Turks not only killed but also displaced The Kurds. Turkish troops have put 3,000 Kurdish villages ablaze putting the lives of three million Kurds in refugees’ camps (Lobby, nd). In the years1980s and 90s, Kurdish communities were evicted from their homes by the Turkish security forces.
The act was aimed at depriving the armed PKK (Worker’s Party of Kurdistan) accessibility to infrastructure and goods. ,500 towns together with villages were blazed under the state of emergency rule. From a research done in the month of December 2006 by the Turkish government, approximately one million Kurds had been displaced out of south east Turkey from 1986 – 2005. The NGOs had a different figure of between one and four million five hundred thousand which is quite a shocking figure of the IDPs (Internally Displaced People). They had to be compensated for the displacement but by the set deadline of May 2008, 313,829 cases had still been filed. According to reports IDPs were to receive lower compensations as compared with state officials.
The officials are said to have suffered damages during the conflict. Did they suffer more or less than the Kurdish? Furthermore who started the chaos? In this compensation also there is gender discrimination and senseless documentary evidence requirements. Other damages caused like post – traumatic stress was not compensated (Jaroslawski, 2008). The Progressive Report of the European Commission of 2008 points out that if the situation of the IDPs is not going to be addressed, they will continue suffering socially and economically.
The IDPS will have no accessibility to educational, health and social services. This is an indication that the IDPs by nature are discriminated against not by their fate but by being Kurdish (Jaroslawski, 2008). Turkey has carried out ethnic cleansing and displaced the Kurds from their homes for no mature reason. This can only be termed as violation of the human rights (Lobby, nd). The Kurdish people are objects of torture by the Turkish security officers. A report by the Human Rights Watch in 2007 showed that there was an increased police brutality when the daily identity checks were being carried out.
The prisoners also carried the same cross as they were maltreated. Fatal shootings of the Kurdish people were common activities; they were not carried out by rogues but were extrajudicial killings. Why was all this brutality so common in the southeast Turkey and to the Kurdish Humanity? The security officer use force wrongly and intimidate the Kurds (Jaroslawski, 2008). Human rights violation against the Kurds continues to be experienced. There are new anti-terror regulations that have been put to infringe on the rights of the Kurds.
Examples as Jaroslawski lists them include”… access to a lawyer for suspected detainees may now be denied for a period of 24 hours, publishing houses can be temporary closed without court decision under accusation of ’ terrorist propaganda’ and conscientious objection (from military service) can now be considered as a terrorist offence” (Jaroslawski, 2008). Why does this only happen to Kurdish- related – issues? Judges can give many interpretations concerning ‘incitement to violence’ and ‘public interest’ as far as the Kurds are concerned. It will lead to freedom of expression violations! (Jaroslawski, 2008).
Kurds have been treated unfairly by Turkish government who have coined a name for them; “mountain Kurds (English Online, nd). In a demonstration, a Kurdish girl, Berivan aged 15 received 8 year imprisonment for throwing stones at the police at a banned PKK rally. Was this young girl judged fairly? It was not a surprise for Bervian’s arrest as Kurdish children get imprisoned for singing Kurdish songs (Kayserian, 2010). What crime is committed by speaking a language that you were born with? The Kurds speak a language close to Persian but the Turkish governments have forbidden them from speaking their own language (English Online, nd).
Each and every language group has a culture but the question that is hard to answer is; is there culture superiority? The Kurds were not allowed to express themselves culturally. They were not permitted to wear their own traditional clothes in towns and cities (English – online, nd). The Kurdish culture was presented by the Turkish officials as backwards and violent. This was an aim to eradicate the Kurdish culture and replace it with the more ‘modernized’ values of the Turks (Jaroslawski, 2008). The Kurds have their own identity.
For example they claim that the name ‘Kurd’ is onomatopoeic for the sound made by cracking snow as the ‘highlander Turks’ walked along the mountainous place. The Turkish community is working very hard to see that the ethnic identity of the Kurds has been completely eroded. All that the Kurdish community wants from Turkey is their language right. They are claiming the freedom to let them learn and speak their language. However, this is only possible after the Turkish constitution has been amended. This will not come so fast; the freedom to use their language will continue to be denied for a longer time (Jaroslawki, 2008).
Though some radio stations have been allowed to broadcast in other languages other than Turkish, educational radio programs to teach Kurdish language are prohibited. Young people are the targeted group; not to learn their language. Kurdish is not taught in the schooling system be it in private or public systems. It is also illegal to use any other language apart from Turkish in the administration sector or in political rallies. The Kurdish has traditional celebrations of Kurdish Newroz Springs in the months of March and May. In the recent years, there has been a clash with security forces.
The security forces have been condemned for using their force to ruin the celebrations of the Kurds. This is a clear portrayal that the right to embrace their culture has been severely squeezed from all directions (Jaroslawki, 2008). The Kurds have no freedom of expression. The defenders of their rights have been through trying times in the attempt to express their opinions. Jaroslawki in the article, Human rights of the Kurdish community in Turkey, says that they “…have often been prosecuted under Article 301 of the Turkish penal Law for ‘denigrating Turkishness’ and state institutions” (Jaroslawki, 2008).
There are very many prosecutions against the Kurds who peacefully express their opinions (Squidoo, 2010) Income in Turkey is not distributed fairly. Kurds in the East and South – East regions of Turkey are disadvantaged. They are languishing in poverty due to the unbalanced income. Development in the Kurdish lands is needed but the issue regarding Kurds is controlled by political determinants. The Turkish Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan declared an investment of 11. 7 billion euros to put up infrastructure in the Kurdish regions.
This was perhaps a campaign strategy towards regional elections of 2009 and not a genuine state policy. He visited the province of Diyarbakir in 2008 and before his footsteps faded, there were riots by the Kurds and their clash with the security offices of Turkey. One would be left wondering why the Kurdish went on riots after such an ‘honored’ visit by their Prime Minister (Jaroslawski, 2008). The Kurdish people have failed to be genuinely represented in the Grand National Assembly. The poor representation is blamed on the conflicts while in the real sense it is not the cause.
The DTP pro – Kurdish party with its own independent candidates managed 10% national vote requirement and obtained 23 seats of the Grand National Assembly. Currently, the party has a great public support. However, corruption, nepotism and allegation of the party’s linkage with PKK made a big portion of the Kurdish electorate convinced and they voted AKP party; currently the ruling party. The Kurds blame the Kurdish politicians for failure to undertake a legal action (Jaroslawski, 2008). How has the human rights violation been addressed by the government?
Turkey is, as it says, has tried to respect the human rights of all its citizens by abolishing the death penalty as from the year 2003 (Republic of Turkey Ministry of Foreign affairs, nd). The reform process has ensured an admirable progress also in “inter alia, abolishing death penalty, fight against torture, reforming the prison system, freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly, freedom of religion, functioning of the judiciary, civil-military relations, economics, social and cultural rights and anti-corruption measures” says the foreign affairs ministry in one of their objectives.
Human rights education is currently offered in the school system to increase awareness to the citizens about their human rights. This will be in no exception to the Kurdish community also (Republic of Turkey Ministry of Foreign affairs, nd). The Turkey government has lifted the ban on use of the Kurdish language. Kurdish broadcasts have been legalized but Kurdish cultural expressions are still to be permitted (Squidoo, 2010). The Turkey government claims to protect human rights. What rights are protected if there is no freedom of association?
PKK, Kurdish citizens’ voice was founded in 1980 to help overcome the people’s oppression. The Turkish government called the organization a terrorist group for the group’s fight against violations of the human rights (Kayserian, 2010). Human Rights Policy of Turkey One of the major objectives of the Turkey government is to promote and protect human rights. It is for this reason that there has been reform processes currently. The aims of the reforms are to give strength to democracy and ensuring that the rights and freedoms such as the human rights are respected.
What right is respected when Turkey deprive some of its citizens of their human rights? Are these reforms meant to cover a specific group of people and not for all? (Republic of Turkey Ministry of Foreign affairs, nd). According to the human rights policies, it is the work of the Human Rights Boards to carry out investigations on human rights’ abuses and thereafter report to the relevant authorities for a legal action. There is also a parliamentary Human Rights Inquiry Commission that monitors human rights issues especially in prisons and detention centers (Republic of Turkey Ministry of Foreign affairs, nd).