Meme War: Freedom Fighters Or Terrorists

What's in a name? The line between "terrorist" and "state terror" blurs with over 30,000 Kurds killed by the Turkish army.

Photo: MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images

An old Kurdish poem describes the Kurds' existence as one of "a thousand sighs, a thousand tears, a thousand revolts." Described in ancient history as a fierce, mountain-dwelling people, the Kurds are the biggest ethnic group in the world without their own homeland. With 25 to 30 million people dispersed throughout Southern Turkey, Northern Iraq and the West of Iran, the Kurds have undergone brutal oppression by foreigners since the Middle Ages.

Kurds make up around 20 percent of the total population in Iraq and Turkey, where their assertion for independence is a major destabilizing force in the Middle East. Their suffering is most evident in Turkey, home to 17 million Kurds: over the past 30 years, Turkey has launched a civil war against them and the PKK (Kurdish Worker's Party), sending in their army to raid 3,000 Kurdish villages throughout the country, killing thousands of civilians and leaving over a million homeless. Kurds make up an overwhelming part of the country's poorest and least-educated, and many who have become successful in business and the government have done so by assimilating into Turkish society. Kurdish language and music had been outlawed until 1991, and the very mention of Kurds in Parliament remains taboo. A Kurdish MP, Leyla Zana, was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 1994 for swearing an oath to the "brotherhood between Turkish and Kurdish people." While all minorities in Turkey theoretically enjoy the same rights, the Kurds have long endured treatment as second-class citizens.

Although the war between Kurds and Turks ostensibly ended in 1999 with the capture of PKK founder Abdullah Ocalan, conflicts continue to this day: in February, Turkey sent in troops to attack the PKK in northern Iraq, adding fire to an already volatile region.

The violent tactics of the PKK have caused them to be slapped with the label "terrorist" by the CIA and the Turkish media, yet the PKK see themselves as "freedom fighters," no different from the Zionists during the early 1900s or the Chechens in Russia. "We are not terrorists," said Mizgin Ahmed, a PKK leader in an interview with the Guardian. "We share the same goals of democracy and human rights as the West."

While the PKK's bombings have caused civilian casualties, the sheer number of Kurds killed by the Turkish army – over 30,000 – eclipses the PKK's actions and blurs the line between "terrorist" and "state terror." "We want Turkey to officially recognize the Kurd's identity," said Ahmed. "Then we will disarm tomorrow."

28 comments on the article “Meme War: Freedom Fighters Or Terrorists”

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Anonymous

It' easy to look at from the west. This looks like an orientalist view point. I'm sorry but we dont travel with the camels in anatolia.
State has gun, PKK has gun. They're both in the name of violence, so there lots of killed women, children and young Kurds and Turks...
what's the difference?. Same shit!
Research, resarch guys and girls...PKK is not a left army, they have Kurdish right-natinonalist ideas.
note: do u now that in turkey every men has to go to army, so some of them-kurds and turks- killed each other are brothers? It is not a easy to say that "turkish army"...what is ""turkish army"?. There is not a professional army in turkey like west counties.
We know the state violence very well, i meet face to face every day, also in the east part of turkey there is a PKK violence in villages, in cities...
Do u konow that how many civil anatolian killed by PKK?

Anonymous

It' easy to look at from the west. This looks like an orientalist view point. I'm sorry but we dont travel with the camels in anatolia.
State has gun, PKK has gun. They're both in the name of violence, so there lots of killed women, children and young Kurds and Turks...
what's the difference?. Same shit!
Research, resarch guys and girls...PKK is not a left army, they have Kurdish right-natinonalist ideas.
note: do u now that in turkey every men has to go to army, so some of them-kurds and turks- killed each other are brothers? It is not a easy to say that "turkish army"...what is ""turkish army"?. There is not a professional army in turkey like west counties.
We know the state violence very well, i meet face to face every day, also in the east part of turkey there is a PKK violence in villages, in cities...
Do u konow that how many civil anatolian killed by PKK?

m

      This article's premise is a classic case of false dichotomy. The notions of "Freedom Fighters" and "Terrorist" are not mutually exclusive.

      In other news...

"Turkey has launched a civil war against them and the PKK (Kurdish Worker’s Party)..."

      Huh? The PKK started in the 70s with the goal of forming a Marxist Kurdish nation. In the 80's they stepped up their violence with attacks on government, civilian, and tourist targets. This is the 'civil war' that the article mentions. And the 30,000 killed that the article suggests are Kurds is actually the total number killed on both sides.

      Why did the PKK step up the violence in the 80s? Many Kurds didn't actually support the PKK, possibly because their Marxist orientation at the time was at odds with with the Islamic orientation of most Kurds. When the central government started the 'Southeastern Anatolia Project' with the aim of improving the living conditions in South Eastern Turkey, it knocked the legs out from under the PKK's main rhetorical stick, that the Kurds were kept poor by the central government. Initially, most of the PKK's attacks at the time were aimed at thwarting the Southeastern Anatolia Project.

m

      This article's premise is a classic case of false dichotomy. The notions of "Freedom Fighters" and "Terrorist" are not mutually exclusive.

      In other news...

"Turkey has launched a civil war against them and the PKK (Kurdish Worker’s Party)..."

      Huh? The PKK started in the 70s with the goal of forming a Marxist Kurdish nation. In the 80's they stepped up their violence with attacks on government, civilian, and tourist targets. This is the 'civil war' that the article mentions. And the 30,000 killed that the article suggests are Kurds is actually the total number killed on both sides.

      Why did the PKK step up the violence in the 80s? Many Kurds didn't actually support the PKK, possibly because their Marxist orientation at the time was at odds with with the Islamic orientation of most Kurds. When the central government started the 'Southeastern Anatolia Project' with the aim of improving the living conditions in South Eastern Turkey, it knocked the legs out from under the PKK's main rhetorical stick, that the Kurds were kept poor by the central government. Initially, most of the PKK's attacks at the time were aimed at thwarting the Southeastern Anatolia Project.

Anonymous

Because that's the world we live in. People would rather fight for their childish identity than fight for the rights of other people.

Anonymous

Because that's the world we live in. People would rather fight for their childish identity than fight for the rights of other people.

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