İkinci Kürt açılımı (!)

Bu yazıyı 23 Haziran Pazar günü Barselona-İstanbul uçağında yazmaya başladım. Uçakta internet olmadığı için ikinci İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediye Başkanlığı seçimini kimin kazandığını bilmiyordum.

Havaalanı çıkışı sloganlar ve taksi kornaları eşliğinde dans edenleri görünce herhalde Türk milli takımı Fransa’yı bir daha yendi; taraftarlar onları karşılamaya geldi sandım. 

Bindiğim taksinin şoförü “Abi nasıl [biiiip]! 340.000 oy fark!” deyince Ekrem İmamoğlu’nun seçimi ikinci kez kazandığını anladım. Taksici bana neden güvendi, böyle rahat konuştu, anlamasam da çok umursamadım. “High five” yaptık. Eşi dostu aramak için telefona sarıldığımda fark 700.000’e dayanmıştı.

Pazar gecesinden bu yana seçimle ilgili birçok yorum okuduk. Zaten yoruma açık fazla bir şey de yok. Demokrasi dışı yollarla seçime müdahale edilmezse sonucun bu şekilde olması beklenen bir şeydi.

Belli ki ülkeyi yöneten siyasi irade çoktan katlettiği demokrasiyi henüz gömmeye karar vermemiş, morgda tutuyor. Cesetle ne yapmayı planladığı meçhul. 

Gelecekle ilgili tahminlerde bulunmayı sevmediğim için ikinci seçim yerine başka bir ikinci, İstanbul’u kaybetmemek için her şeyi göze aldığı anlaşılan iktidarın “İkinci Kürt Açılımı” üzerine yazmaya karar verdim.

Açılımın fitili seçimden birkaç gün önce iktidar medyasında ateşlendi. Sabah gazetesi Ankara temsilcisi Okan Müderrisoğlu, 20 Haziran’da yayımlanan “İstanbul… Kürt kökenli seçmenler” başlıklı yazısında “kararsızlar ve Kürt kökenli seçmenlerin dengeleri değiştirebilecek güce” sahip olduğunu yazdı.

Müderrisoğlu’na göre “kararsız olarak tanımlanan ve yakın markaja rağmen renk vermeyen bu grubun anlaşılabilir kaygıları veya memnuniyetsizlik nedenleri” vardı.

Selahattin Demirtaş, muhalefetin aday İmamoğlu’na destek isterken İmralı’nın ne dediği henüz bilinmiyordu. [Devlet diline alışık olmayanlar için açıklayalım. “Kürt kökenli seçmen”, Kürtler; “İmralı”, PKK lideri Abdullah Öcalan demek.] Müderrisoğlu yazısını yıllardır kimsenin uğra(ya)madığı, 31 Mart öncesi ve sonrasında ise yol geçen hanına dönen İmralı’dan bir işaret gelmesi gerektiği yönündeki temennisini ifade ederek bitiriyordu. Duyumlar, İmralı’dan seçimlerde nötr kalınması gerektiği yönünde bir çağrı geleceği şeklindeydi.

Nitekim beklenen çağrı gecikmedi. Aynı gün akşam saatlerinde Anadolu Ajansı “İmralı Cezaevi’nden açıklama yapan teroristbaşı Öcalan, HDP’ye İstanbul seçimlerinde tarafsızlık çağrısı yaptı.” haberini geçti.

Haberin detayları ertesi gün netleşti. Öcalan bir mektup yazmıştı ve bu mektubu kamuoyuna avukatları üzerinden değil, kendisiyle görüştüğü anlaşılan Tunceli Üniversitesi Sosyoloji Bölümü Başkanı ve Rektör Danışmanı Doç. Dr. Ali Kemal Özcan aracılığıyla paylaşmayı seçmişti.

[Devlet diline alışık olmayanlar için belirtelim. “Tunceli”, Dersim demek.] Pek çok kişinin adını ilk kez duyduğu Özcan, akademik camiada, özellikle Kürt meselesi üzerine çalışanlar arasında kendisinin de açıkça reddetmediği “derin ilişkileri” sayesinde iyi bilinen biriydi.

Özcan’ın ilettiği mektupta, Öcalan iktidar ve muhalefet bloklarından farklı bir üçüncü alternatiften, “HDP’de ifadesini bulan Demokratik İttifak’tan bahsediyor, yeni bir çözüm süreci odaklı bu ittifakın ‘güncel seçim tartışmalarına taraf ve payanda yapılmaması’ gerektiğini vurguluyordu. Başka bir deyişle, Kürtlerin seçimlerde tarafsız kalmasını öneriyordu.

Ali Kemal Özcan’a göre bu görüşme Cumhurbaşkanı Erdoğan’ın onayıyla gerçekleşmişti. Nitekim Erdoğan da kendisiyle yapılan bir röportajda sorulan bir soru üzerine Öcalan’ın mektubunda “Eğer siz beni destekliyorsanız, ne oraya ne şuraya değil, siz kendi gücünüzü ortaya koymalısınız, herhangi bir yere değil kendi tarafsızlığınızı ortaya koymalısınız” dediğini iddia etti; böylelikle Özcan’ı dolaylı da olsa doğruladı.

Erdoğan’a göre bu mektup, Öcalan ve Demirtaş arasında bir iktidar mücadelesi olduğunu gösteriyordu. Demirtaş HDP’nin İmamoğlu’nu desteklemesi çağrısında bulunurken Öcalan tarafsız kalınması istiyordu; bu da Erdoğan’ın deyimiyle “kendi iktidarını bunların hiçbirine kaçırmak” istemediği anlamına geliyordu.

İşin daha da ilginç tarafı, kamuoyu henüz Erdoğan’ın açıklamalarını sindirmemişken devreye Cumhur İttifakı ortağı MHP’nin başkanı Devlet Bahçeli de girdi ve “Teröristbaşının mektubu[nun] HDP’nin vahim sapmasına, zillet ittifakına verdiği rezil desteğine itirazın, tepkinin ve bundan duyduğu rahatsızlığın eseri ve sonucu” olduğunu iddia etti.

Daha açık bir şekilde ifade edecek olursak, Öcalan’ın asılması için idam cezasının geri getirilmesini savunan, meydanlarda destekçilerine ip atan Bahçeli, Öcalan’ın desteğinden medet umuyordu. 

Tüm bunlar yetmiyormuş gibi, devletin resmi kanalı TRT Kürdi 22 Haziran gecesi Öcalan’ın kırmızı bültenle aranan kardeşi Osman Öcalan’ı ekrana çıkardı ve İstanbul seçimleri ile ilgili görüşlerini aktardı. Osman Öcalan’a göre Ekrem İmamoğlu Kürtlere ciddi bir mesaj vermemiş, tersine Kürtlerden kaçmıştı. Kürtler, Abdullah Öcalan tarafından verilen mesajı dinleyecek, CHP’nin adayına oy vermekten kaçacaktı.

2015 seçimlerinden sonra PKK ile topyekün savaşa girerek Güneydoğu’da taş üzerinde taş bırakmayan, sivil halkın cesetlerini gömmesine bile izin vermeyen, Suriye’deki iç savaşa dahil olarak Afrin’i işgal eden Türkiye Cumhuriyeti İstanbul uğruna Kürt politikasını 180 derece değiştirmeyi göze almış, bir gecede “İkinci Kürt Açılımı”nı (!) başlatmıştı. “Kızıl elma” İstanbul için ödenmeyecek bedel yoktu.

Ama olmadı. Ödenen bunca bedele rağmen İstanbul 800.000 oy ile kaybedildi. Anlaşılan “İkinci Kürt Açılımı” da işe yaramamıştı. İktidar medyası büyük bir sessizliğe gömülürken, büyük Türk düşünürü Ahmet Hakan asıl kaybedeni ilan etti.

Önümüzdeki 50 yıl içinde Pulitzer ödülü almasına kesin gözüyle bakılan Hakan’a göre “en büyük kaybeden”, “HDP tabanına egemen olmadığı ortaya çıkan… Kandil’e bile söz geçiremediği belli olan… Karizması fena halde çizilen… Bundan sonraki süreçte muhatap alınması tehlikeye giren…” Abdullah Öcalan’dı. 

Mektubun Öcalan tarafından yazılıp yazılmadığını bilmiyoruz. Avukatları ve HDP yönetiminden yapılan açıklamalar, mektubun gerçek olduğunu gösteriyor. Keza mektubun muğlak, her yöne çekilmeye açık üslubu da Öcalan’ın daha önceki mesajlarında kullanılandan farklı değil.

Öcalan bu mektubu neden yazdı, neden bu tür bir zamanlamayı seçti, hedefi neydi, bilmiyoruz. Tek bildiğimiz, yapılan gerçek bir tarafsızlık çağrısı ise pek bir işe yaramadığı.

Bu, Öcalan’ın Kürt hareketi açısından önemini azaltmıyor. Yaptığı çağrıların dikkate alınmayacağı anlamına da gelmiyor. Unutmayalım, aynı Öcalan kısa bir süre önce tek bir mektupla aylardır süren açlık grevlerini sona erdirdi.

Üzerinde asıl kafa yormamız gereken mesele de bu zaten. Öcalan’ın etkisini yitirip yitirmediği değil, ne kadar etkiye sahip olduğu. Önderlik mekanizmasının sınırları.

Ufak bir zihin egzersizi yapalım ve Öcalan’ın muğlak bir tarafsızlık çağrısı yerine Kürtleri açıkça iktidarı desteklemeye çağırdığını düşünelim. Zorla ya da isteyerek, Kürtler için en doğrusunun bu olduğuna inanarak.

Sizce Kürtler Öcalan’ı dinler miydi? 

Ben “Hayır, dinlemezdi” diyemiyorum.

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Turkey’s elections, or breaking out of “the human crisis”

In my previous article, I referred to Albert Camus’ 1946 Columbia University lecture entitled “The Human Crisis” and recounted the four short stories he used to describe this crisis. To recapitulate briefly, Camus argues that there is a human crisis, as evidenced by the moral decline that made possible the tragedies experienced in World War Two, i.e. the death, torture, and exile of millions of people.

In this lecture, Camus also suggests ways of resisting the existing order, which tramples on the very values that make us human. After all, there are people all over the world – to begin with, his own country, France – who are prepared to sacrifice their lives in the fight against barbarity and violence. What unites these people, and creates a universal resistance that transcends borders, is the value of “human dignity”. Those who respect dignity are the ones who are willing to take a stand. Their goal is to end the master-slave dialectic that breeds inequality. Slavery prompts silence, and silence born of slavery is the worst of all silences. Hence slavery must end, and everyone must be free, for freedom is the only way of protecting human dignity.

There are concrete steps to be taken, Camus argues, to build a new human ideal on this rather abstract philosophical foundation.

The first step is to call things by their names, and admit that any order dominated by a single ideology will eventually lead to massacre and suffering. “People do not think bad thoughts because they are murderers; they are murderers because of their bad thoughts. That is why it is possible to become a murderer without having killed a single person; and that is why we are all murderers, more or less.”

The second step is to steer clear of fatalism. It might not be possible to achieve the ideal order at the end of the struggle, or the new order might be flawed in other ways. This should not deter us from persevering in our resistance. We should simply try to do our best under the existing circumstances, setting realistic expectations and standing firm on our ground.

What do Camus’ suggestions tell us about today’s Turkey, in the wake of yet another snap elections?

If we are to call things by their names, we must first acknowledge that the current regime in Turkey is unabashedly autocratic, however we define the latter. The only difference between Turkey and totalitarian regimes like China or North Korea is the limited room for dissent that some groups still enjoy.

It is also clear that the upcoming June 24 elections will not be democratic, and the outcome of the popular vote is already known. The “leader” may not be elected with 80-90% of the votes as in, say Russia or Egypt, but we know that the elections may be considered “null and void” if the results do not fulfil the expectations of the establishment, as we have witnessed in the case of the June 2015 parliamentary elections.

This does not mean that the elections are not important. The fact that the elections have not been cancelled altogether under the pretext of the ongoing state of emergency shows the “symbolic” importance attached to popular support and an aura of democratic legitimacy.

Given that, we must avoid fatalism, and persevere in our fight. Boycotting the elections, however tempting as an ideal, is not a feasible option and would only strengthen the leader’s hand as long as the majority remains unconvinced. Uniting around a single candidate is equally impossible given the fragmented nature of Turkish society – an archipelago of communities as I have argued earlier. A candidate supported by liberals (who were formerly on the side of the current government) will not be backed by leftists, Kurds, or Alevis. A candidate who can unify Alevis and Kemalist secular constituencies will not receive votes from conservative-nationalist (Sunni Muslim) groups. The candidate nominated by the Kurds or the leftists will be rejected by an overwhelming majority of the population, including secular nationalists.

Even if it were possible to unify around a single candidate, a change of leadership would still be out of the question given the undemocratic character of the current regime, as outlined above.

The only feasible, if not ideal, option is to let each party to nominate its own candidate who would get the votes of most of the respective party’s supporters. In case this leads to a second round where the leader would have to face a single opposition candidate, then the goal must be to get as many votes as possible for the latter. It is not unconceivable, given the dismal state of the existing state of affairs, that voters from every group could overcome the communitarian divide and support the opposition candidate. In more concrete terms, some liberals, non-nationalist seculars, and even some conservatives could vote for the HDP candidate Selahattin Demirtaş. In a similar vein, some leftists and Kurds might consider supporting a centre-right candidate who makes it to the second round. Even though this might not alter the outcome of the election in the end, the dissenters could constitute a critical mass – large enough to make their voices heard.

In any case, under such adverse circumstances, the ultimate aim should be to achieve a symbolic display of power, which might in turn boost the opposition’s self-confidence and increase the chances of leaving at least some degree of communitarianism behind.

This way, as the great human crisis continues, so will the resistance…

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On Swedishness, stoicism and drama queens

Stoic, n. and adj. “One who practises repression of emotion, indifference to pleasure or pain, and patient endurance”… Drama queen, n., “A person who overreacts to a minor setback or who is prone to exaggeratedly dramatic behaviour; (also) a person who thrives on being the centre of attention.”

The way they are defined by Oxford English Dictionary, almost antonyms, right? If you use them to depict the cultural characteristics of a particular group of people, they certainly are – polar opposites that represent two very different mindsets, perspectives on the world and the vicissitudes of life, and on how to cope with them. I am sure some of you know the orientalist binary oppositions of thinkers like Montesquieu between North and South, which associate all that is good with the North and all that is bad with the South. “As you move toward the countries of the south”, Montesquieu writes in The Spirit of the Laws, “you will believe you have moved away from morality itself.”

Well, we should definitely “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”; these stereotypes have had an amazing life span, still continuing to shape the way we think about peoples and their cultures. Individuals too. We tend to praise stoic endurance and self-sufficiency, at least in more individualistic societies. We associate it with strength of character, freedom, a prerequisite of emancipation from oppression, however defined. And there are very few places or contexts where “drama queen” would denote something positive. Who likes needy, noisy people? Who enjoys the company of people who crave for, in fact as the OED claims, “thrives on”, being the centre of attention?

Nowhere more so than in Sweden! Being a Swede means being self-sufficient, silently enduring, private… Avoid confrontation at all costs – “lay low, keep a low profile” as a friend just told me. It is no coincidence that the two words you learn first when you move to Sweden are lagom (everything in moderation; just the right amount) and jantelagen (the Law of Jante which promotes modesty, or a belief that individual achievement and success are not things to be proud of – you’re no better than the others!).

Now if you are not familiar with my academic work, you may think that I am reproducing the same stereotypes here. Far from it. Cultures are historically and socially constituted; they are not homogeneous, and of course they are subject to change. And yet, in each and every society, at any particular point of time, there are general tendencies that you need not ignore – or you could, at your own peril. In today’s Sweden, the dominant tendencies you are expected to abide by and respect are those I have cited above.

My dear friend, the historian Lars Trägårdh, has called this “the Swedish theory of love”. In a brilliant article he and another dear friend Henrik Berggren have co-authored, “Pippi Longstockings: The Autonomous Child and the Moral Logic of the Swedish Welfare State”, they define it in the following way: “…the Swedish theory of love posits that all forms of dependency corrupt true love. Only mutual autonomy can guarantee authenticity and honesty in human relationships.” Lest be misunderstood, this is of course a historically rooted praxis that marks the institutions of the Swedish welfare state, not an essential-peculiar cultural idiosyncrasy: “the primacy of individual autonomy has been institutionalized through a plethora of laws and policies affecting individual Swedes in matters minute and mundane as well as large and dramatic.”

Why this conceptual, semi-academic, musings? A knot in my stomach. Yes, you have not misread it; this is all because of a knot in my stomach. A profound sense of indignation – feeling victimized and helpless; knowing that whatever I do or say, under the current circumstances, I will “bury myself deeper” (again referring to the words of the friend who wisely suggested me to lay low).

For some time now, I am losing all the battles I am engaged in, and the funny – no tragic – thing is, I haven’t started any of these battles. Yes, I am a fighter; I would not avoid conflict if I believe I am defending a right cause (I may be wrong of course but that’s another question). And yes, I have not always picked my fights wisely in the past.

Not so much recently. I fight cancer and I fight the current government in Turkey; that’s all!

I know that, as the wise Byron Katie once noted, “defence is the first act of war”. But surely defending your rights is not? Or is it? Should I turn my other cheek when I am slapped simply because I am surrounded by a cultural environment that does not condone any kind of confrontation?

Rhetorical question. In Sweden, I should. The only thing I can do is to avoid the slapping to turn into whipping, or beheading. All in the name of higher values that are hardly upheld by the majority – a “secret” that everybody knows. And do not ever refer to extenuating circumstances; you are just making up excuses for your acts that defy the accepted norms. You are being a “drama queen”. Shut up and endure. Stoically. Like a proper Swede.

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Trapped in Sweden

I came to Sweden several times between 2007 and 2011, even spent a few months working in both Lund and Malmö. It was only in September 2011, however, that I have come to stay for longer than a few months, initially for a year, without having a clue that I would end up settling here. Sweden had never been in my map before as a place to put down roots. If I were ever to leave Turkey, UK was by far the most likely option.

And yet I ended up in Lund. I had come to terms with my arch-enemy, loneliness (at least so I thought), so it wasn’t that bad. I loved my job, my colleagues, the tranquillity, and didn’t miss the place I was born and raised in that much. Then came the notorious Swedish winter; not so much the weather but the heavy, profound loneliness. The hefty darkness that would weigh on even the most “depression-proof” soul. And frankly I was not one; I had my fair share of depression or darkness, both literally and metaphorically speaking. But I knew how to rise from the ashes like the mythological Phoenix, with renewed vigour and appetite for life. Still, there was something different, something indecipherable about the Swedish winter and the loneliness that accompanied it.

That is probably why, my early serenity notwithstanding, I did not hesitate to apply for a job in London when I was invited to do so. I was determined to do my best and leave if things worked out. Well, things did not work out, in the most peculiar way and at the end of a two-months long marathon, the position was withdrawn and I stayed in Sweden. I guess that was February 2012.

Less than a month after, I met someone who gave me the most precious gift of my life the following year. You know him already. So I stayed. I got used to Sweden and the Swedish way of life. I adapted. I even learned to love it. He became the meaning of life, the anchor of my being. I became more attached to Sweden when she took good care of him when the beast struck. During all these years, I had company, I felt loved.

And again during all this time, even when for one reason or another I felt down or was let down, I never blamed Sweden. It was home after all, whatever “home” means in the case of a troubled, rootless soul. Loneliness, too, was my friend now. Sometimes my best friend.

I could not have guessed that all this would or could fall apart like a house of cards. So unexpectedly, so swiftly. The person who brought me here has decided to leave (he had good reasons for doing so); the center he created and took care of so well has been washed away like a sand castle; the love of my life reached the most difficult part of his journey. And the loneliness I believed I had domesticated has chosen to betray me. I was tired – tired of fighting, tired of trying, tired of surviving, tired of rising from the ashes. After all, what was the point?

But I was also trapped. I couldn’t leave. I had nowhere to go; the job that I loved so much – not even a job but a way of life – did no longer make sense, let alone give me a modicum of satisfaction; the new avenues I tried to follow, be it activism or the fake world of social media, ended up in a dead end. I was trapped in a small cellar with the ghosts from my past. I made mistakes.

Now I feel the time has come. If I am to rise from my ashes again, and I seriously doubt I could muster the force necessary to do so, I have to leave all behind. I have to leave Sweden and all that it represents in the present moment behind.

But I cannot leave him.

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