When two Turkish cabinet members were barred from campaigning for the dictatorship of Turkish President Erdogan in Germany, the sultan wannabe snarled:
“If I want, I will come. If you don’t let me in, I will shake up the world for such impudence.”
He then ordered his toady foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, to arrange a campaign rally in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
The Dutch told the minister he was not welcome.
He defiantly went anyhow, and his plane was not allowed to land.
Erdogan tried to sneak in a woman minister, Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya—who was also stopped and booted out of Holland.
This was good riddance, but then Mr. Cavusoglu came to Washington, DC, my city, to speak at the National Press Club.
I signed up for the event with a friend, Sam Husseini, and we both got our confirmations within an hour.
I was looking forward to needling the minister about two things:
1. How can you complain about intolerance in Holland when 12 out of 59 Kurdish parliamentarians remain imprisoned, 83 out of 103 Kurdish mayors have been summarily sacked, and 5,000 Kurdish municipality workers have been given pink slips for wanting to clean their streets?
2. How can you, with a straight face, support the right of self-determination for Palestinians—a noble right recognized in the UN Declaration for Human rights—but deny that same right to the Kurds? I’m not trying to offend the polite company gathered here for your talk, but isn’t that a bit two-faced?
But I never got to ask anything.
I was disinvited ten minutes after I was “invited.”
I printed my pass and went anyway, telling the event organizers that they were in violation of National Press Club rules and they couldn’t say no to me while saying yes to my friend without an explanation.
Their response: I was threatened by burly Turkish-speaking security guards and menacingly ordered to leave.
A friend and member of the National Press Club, Sam Husseini, who tried to videotape our dispute, was told he couldn’t.
He told them it was a public event and he couldn’t be stopped.
I stepped back and unfurled our banner with Azad Kobani:
“Freedom of Speech is a Two-Way Street!
Let My People Speak Kurdish!”
Members of Turkish Heritage Organization, feeling cornered, went and got the National Press Club folks to order us out.
I told the Club people they were violating National Press Club rules, and the Turks were discriminating against us based on ethnicity.
I added: they should really follow the example of Netherlands and tell Mr. Cavusoglu he was not welcome here!
We were allowed to continue our protest, but were told not to “harass” the minister, at the entrance of the National Press Club.
But instead of us harassing the minister, which we weren’t going to do anyway, one rowdy Turk brazenly tried to seize our banner, and injured Azad’s arm during the scuffle.
A nearby Washington Times reporter turned the fracas into a story that same evening. Thank you, Washington Times.
Al Jazeera Arabic did a special with Azad Kobani.
A Turkish woman reading our banner claimed that Kurdish is spoken in Turkey.
I said: we want preschools, elementary schools, middle schools, and universities in Kurdish.
A cynical Turk standing by her said, “Then, you will secede from us.”
I said: “That will be good for the Kurds!”
They left without further comment.
We spoke to about a dozen reporters.
Overall, I dare say we got better publicity than Cavusoglu.
Maybe we brought a smile to the grim, mutilated faces of 34 murdered villagers of Roboski on this Newroz day, March 21, 2017.
“How long, O Lord,” they must ask, as the Psalmist did 3,000 years ago, “shall my enemies be exalted over me?” (Psalms 13:1-2.)
Americans should have done what the Dutch did in the city of Erasmus, Rotterdam and booted out Cavusoglu as well.
Kani Xulam @AKINinfo