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Open letter to the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey: Begin with European nationality politics, Mr. Erdogan!

Open letter to the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Göttingen, 7th October 2008
Begin with European nationality politics – Equal rights for Kurdish language and culture!

Dear Prime Minister,

On 17th October last year your Parliament passed the authorization for a military intervention in the neighbouring country for one year by 507 of the 550 votes.

The time you needed without any further agreement of the Turkish Parliament for your military operations has come to an end. (oder am 07.10.08 vielleicht lieber: is coming to an end. NP) Now, after recent battles with the PKK, you will need fresh authorization from Parliament for future intervention.

The Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) has always rigorously condemned the extremism of the totalitarian PKK. We mourn for the Turkish soldiers who have lost their lives just as we do in the case of the PKK supporters. However we call on you emphatically to recognize at last the existence of some 15 million citizens in Turkey, who speak Kurdish as their mother tongue (Kurmanci and Zaza)!

The Turkish media report constantly on the crimes of the PKK – yet the unrelenting suppression of the Kurdish-speaking people of Turkey and the persecution of all those Kurdish people and civil rights workers, who stand up or demonstrate for the equal rights of their language and culture, find hardly any mention in the Turkish media or politics. Kemal Atatürk solemnly promised equal rights for the Turkish and Kurdish citizens of his country. However the reality of the 20s and 30s of the previous century were massacre, expulsion and torture.

Turkey is applying to join the European Union. Many European countries have large ethnic and linguistic minorities. Italy has its 300,000 South Tyroleans, Spain its six million Catalonians, Great Britain its eight million Welsh and Scots – and all these countries have granted regional self-government and full recognition of their languages and cultures. The same is true of many other member states of the EU in the case of their minorities.

Your policies of suppression, shared by the military, authorities, justice and government, mean only that the military conflict will never end and simply become more bloody.

So we appeal to you, Prime Minister, begin with a reconciliation and an equilibrium between the Turkish majority and the Kurdish minority in your country. Both are Turkish citizens, both identify themselves with your state, as long as this state grants equal rights.

This means that the Kurds have a right to recognition to their language at schools and universities, in government authorities and in public. Relax the Turkish-Kurdish relationship! Release the 3,835 Kurdish prisoners and grant a general amnesty for all PKK supporters! We would remind you that none of the generals, officers and other ranks who have been involved in crimes against Kurdish civilians and prisoners have ever been brought to justice.

Begin with the reconstruction of the 3,876 Kurdish villages which have been destroyed and set up a programme for the return of the two million villagers who have been displaced.

Begin to build up a good relationship with the neighbouring Iraqi federal state of Kurdistan, with which you are already linked through the presence of thousands of Turkish companies. Here an exemplary protection for minorities is being practised with reference to the resident Turkmen people.

Please resist the military hawks among your generals. Solve the Kurdish problem in a peaceful and democratic way!

Yours Truly

Tilman Zülch President of the Society for Threatened Peoples International P.S. We are sending this letter to all members of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and to politicians and media in Europe, in USA, Canada, Australia and the Islamic world.

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