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Date: Mon, 12 Jul 1999 22:49:15 -0500 (CDT)
From: Green Left Parramatta <glparramatta@peg.apc.org>
Subject: Ocalan: Terrorist or freedom fighter
Article: 69256
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.22874.19990713121711@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

Ocalan: Terrorist or Freedom-fighter?

By R. Karadaghi, The Kurdistan Observer
23 June 1999

Few events in Kurdish history have brought the plight of the Kurdish people into focus as has the kidnapping of the Kurdish nationalist leader Abdullah Ocalan. Also, few events have exposed the hypocrisy of the so-called civilized world as has this kidnapping, for it proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the civilized world pays only lip service to the ideals of morality, justice, fairness, and human rights. What it really cares about is its own perceived self-interest and the protection of those interests regardless of who suffers in the process.

This shameful kidnapping episode was the culmination of a brutal record of oppression of the Kurdish people by the Turkish government for the last eighty years and by its predecessor, the Ottoman empire, for four centuries before that. Human greed, self-interest arrogance, and stupidity being what they are, one can almost understand Turkeys role, but one fails to understand the uncalled-for evil role that the other key players played in this shocking and sad chapter of Kurdish history.

But important as he is to the Kurdish struggle for freedom and independence, the issue is far greater than Abdullah Ocalan or his kidnapping, even though the kidnapping and the murky circumstances surrounding it and what happened in the four months preceding it is a glaring example of how the Kurds have been treated throughout their history not only by their immediate enemies but also by their enemies allies. The issue is that the human and national rights of over thirty million Kurds have been trampled upon for too long by the States of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, each of which is occupying a part of Kurdistan. Yet, the reaction of the civilized world, the supposed defender of freedom and democracy, has been either active material support for this occupation and repression, or tacit support, or indifference.

It is a fact that without massive military and financial support from the West, especially the United States and some European countries, Turkey would not have been able to continue its genocidal war against the Kurds for the last fifteen years, resulting in more than thirty-five thousand deaths of both Kurds and Turks, the destruction of more than three thousand Kurdish villages, and forcing three million Kurds out of their ancestral homeland to join the ranks of the homeless and the uprooted.

It is also a fact that when Saddam Hussein killed or disappeared more than one hundred eighty thousand Kurds in his infamous Anfal operations in the late eighties, there wasnt even the faintest protest against it by the civilized world; on the contrary, he was given more loans and more credit! And when he wiped out five thousand innocent Kurdish men, women, and children in his chemical attack on the town of Halabja in March of 1988 ( the aftermath of which is still being felt even today in birth defects and inexplicable illnesses), there was only a faint, obligatory protest.

But to be silent in the face of injustice, reprehensible as it is, is one thing and to actively support it is another. The record shows that the West has been supporting the oppression of the Kurds directly or indirectly for a very long time beginning with the division of Kurdistan among the local colonialists, as planned and implemented by Britain and France, immediately after FirstWorld War. And since that time, the West has supported the status quo in divided Kurdistan but has periodically paid lip service to the Kurdish Cause, too. For instance, the West supported Saddam in his genocidal war against the Kurds in the eighties which decimated the Kurdish people and devastated the Kurdish countryside. And despite the safe haven, which was created after the Gulf war to protect the Kurds, Western and other civilized diplomats have not concealed their real desire for the return of Baghdads authority to fill the power vacuum in northern Iraq (of course the word Kurdistan is a taboo!), the implication being that even with a Kurdish administration firmly in place and running the affairs of the people there was still a vacuum because Saddam, for the time being, was not terrorizing the Kurds!! The civilized world can tolerate any ethnic group having its own government and its independence except the Kurds!

As for the Wests military, economic, and political support for Turky, of course it has gone on uninterrupted since the creation of modern Turky. And to be consistent with this shameful record, thirty U.S. senators sent a letter to President Clinton in May asking for the lifting of any restrictions on arms sales, especially helicopter gunships, to Turkey, as if Turkey needed any more weapons to kill the Kurds with. Those senators most probably support NATOs war in Yugoslavia. One cant help but wonder if decision- makers could be so ignorant of what Turkey is doing with the weapons it gets from the West. How could they be against ethnic cleansing in one place and actively for it in another?

The civilized world, which has behaved in such an uncivilized way towards the Kurds, also has the audacity to label the Kurdish freedom-fighters as terrorists! Someone should explain to millions of Kurds why the Kosovars, the Bosnians, the Croats, the Chechneans, the Timorese (of Indonesia ) and every other ethnic group seeking freedom and independence are freedom-figters, which they certainly are, and yet the Kurds, who also seek the same goals, are terrorists! The enemies of the Kurds have their labels backwards. The truth is that the Kurds are not terrorists; on the contrary, they are fighting terrorist States throughout Kurdistan.

And would someone, perhaps one of the fossilized career displomats in the foreign ministries of the Western Powers, tell us why NATO has mobilized all its military and diplomatic might to fight ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and insure full autonomy for Kosovo now and a referendum for independence at some near future date, and yet it supports ethnic cleansing by the Turkish State, one of its very democratic members, against the Kurds? Is what the Kurds want less legitimate than what other freedom-lovers want?

Unfortunately, the weak are always defined and demonized by the strong, and we Kurds have always been defined and labeled by our enemies, who are much stronger than us. Who is responsible for killing over thirty-five thousand people in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan and destroying, by Turkish admission, more than three thousand Kurdish villages and driving three million Kurds out of their ancestral homes? Is it the Turkish government and its military and Security forces, or is it the Kurdish freedom-fighters who have been merely defending their people against a vicious enemy who is using the most sophisticated weapons of war against them? How can the civilized world, especially the countries which supply Turkey with these lethal weapons, be so blind to the truth?

Indeed, the policy-makers and those who coin the labels would serve their nations better by reassessing their past misconceptions and misrepresentations, which have been the basis for an inhuman, unfair, and misguided foreign policy. The civilized world would truly become CIVILIZED if and when it stops supporting injustice, be it human rights violations or ethnic cleansing, and, instead, supports freedom from oppression and those who seek it.