When you turn your back on a friend who was willing to die for you, there is little left of your ethics or morality
History, if not learned from, has a very awful way of repeating itself. In the case of the Kurdish people, we have been very poor students indeed.
In 1915, the borders of Kurdistan were erased from the European maps. The country no longer existed, and the territory it occupied was divided between the then-neighboring countries of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran Georgia and Armenia. The people of Kurdistan were now expected to just “be” citizens of their new territory, and any mention of a previous Kurdistan was forbidden.
It was, and in many areas of the previous glorious Kurdistan still is, a crime to be Kurdish. This remained a nightmare for survival for the Kurds in every country they lived in, resulting in millions dying because of their heritage, millions of others fleeing for their lives. The original refugee crisis had begun, although no one would ever recognize it as such.
In the 1970’s, Kurdish politicians were elected to office in southern and western Turkey. The government’s response was to stage sieges, cut off utilities and transportation services to Kurdish communities, arrest mayors and imprison them with the most degrading, inhumane forms of torture being a daily ritual for them. The earliest “Gitmo” experiments had begun, and there were no limits to the atrocities.
On March 16, 1988, a chemical weapon attack on the Kurdish population of Halabja, Iraq, killed an estimated 5,000 persons immediately and injured another 7,000 – 10,000. In the aftermath of the attack, thousands more died of complications, disease and birth defects. The attack was and remains today the largest chemical weapons attack against a civilian population in human history. Saddam Hussein taught the future president Bashher al-Assad of Syria how to kill in a very efficient manner, and the preparations for Kurdish villages in addition to other opposition was an easy move the Syrian government to make when the civil war began.
When Daesch (IS, aka Islamic State, began their reign of terror in the Middle East, it was the Peshmerga forces of the Kurds that offered the only substantial ground operation capable of defeating them. So effective was their ground campaign that the US worked directly with the Kurds in targeting airstrikes against IS. When the battle for Kobane began, Turkey predicted an early defeat of the Kurds and lined up tanks and troops on the border to watch the slaughter and prevent reinforcements of Kurds coming from Turkey. They were greatly disappointed.
Today, Turkey’s President Erdogan has discarded what many considered to have been a “peace process” following an election where the outcome was not as he desired. Rather than share any portion of his government and give up the dream of ultimate power with no constitutional restraints, he is now staging what many are predicting will escalate into a civil war through the militia’s extrajudicial killings of Kurds, sieges on Kurdish communities, sniper attacks, restriction on journalists attempting to cover these events, and all other means at his disposal to reduce the voting Kurdish population before the snap elections in November.
Because the US has wanted to use an airbase in Turkey, the government has brokered a deal with the devil. In exchange for using the airbase, the US is to turn a blind eye as Turkey attacks Kurds both within and without Turkey. Claiming they are defending their territory from the attacks of the PKK, they have convinced the international community that they are forced to do this in the interest of national security. The US has become an ingrate to the Kurdish heroes they had so recently sang praises of.
The world paused and cried when Kurdish 3-year old Aylan al-Kurdi’s lifeless body washed up on the shore of the Aegean sea. How many more Kurdish children have needlessly died and gone unnoticed by the rest of the world? How many more Kurdish parents will have to make the decisions about fleeing for their lives or dying with their children in their arms? Those that think refugees that flee are just looking for “cable tv” in another country show their cowardly ignorance of a situation they are unwilling to begin to understand. Kurds are people that deserve every right to life, just as everyone else.
Occupy World Writes believes the United Sates has erred greatly and has grossly underestimated the evilness of Erdogan. We believe that until there is movement toward protecting the Kurds as they were willing to protect all the Middle East against IS, our government is as accountable for these deaths as is Erdogan’s. This is a moment when we must pause long enough to recognize the truth and refuse to let history continue to repeat itself. There are no excuses for the continued attempts to rid the world of any ethnic group.
At least that is one lesson we are banking on the world having not yet forgotten.