Her Name is Ece Temelkuran
August 13, 2007
You and I have never met. I am a Kurd and you are a Turk. Our connection is accidental as are our respective vocations. You are a journalist and cover Turkey for the daily, Milliyet. I am an activist consumed with the liberation of my people from the yoke of your people, the Arabs and the Persians. Lately you have dedicated a number of your columns to the Kurds. Mostly, they have been good. I have, I want the record to show, at one time, written to you. I thanked you for your stories about the Kurds. I also asked you a couple of questions. I thought you would write back. You never did. I let it go.
But then you did something extraordinarily wicked. You belittled my people in a column on July 28, 2006. You titled it, “Who Loves America More, Please Raise Your Hand!” You then answered your own question by pointing your finger at us, the Kurds. You said: it was very “acitici”, which translates to something like, hurtful. You must have felt a lot of pain for you wrote the word, “hurtful”, twice. I was, to be honest with you, lost, that is to say, didn’t know, if we, the Kurds, were the source of your grief or the Americans. I think I know the answer, but still, I want to ask you a question by way of getting you to go on the record with an answer. If you were stranded on an island and had to spend the rest of your life with a) a Yankee, b) a Kurd, what would you choose? I have a feeling you would prefer the devil to both of us! Please, don’t think I am being too harsh here.
There is no other word for it Ece: you have a blind spot. It is called the Kurds and Kurdistan. It is almost like a national disease with the entire race of the Turks. We are so close to you and yet so far away from you. You see us all right and then just like mirages in the desert you can never find us. You have the perfect vision, translation, a very good education, but it somehow miserably fails you when it comes to, yes, the Kurds. Yes, Ece, we are a “hard nut to crack” and you may not know this, but your government does and well. It has fought us with the awesome power of the state for the last 84 years and it is as close to victory as Sisyphus ever was. Between us, we are going to outlast your government the way the mythical boulder outlasted the King of Corinth. And if you are still around, we will invite you to our birthday party, — it will also mark your liberation from ignorance about us, — as a guest, on the house, so to speak.
But perhaps you don’t want to wait that long. Perhaps you really truly want to wake up from your ignorance-is-bliss frame of mind and help the clueless readers of your newspaper to come to terms with the reality as well. If so, I want to tell you what was wrong with your piece. If not, I am hoping this open letter will help clarify a few things for some Americans at least. This world, Ece, as you well know, seriously suffers from an abundance of darkness, which directly, I maintain at least, contributes to its all time high level of violence. Some people have even made it their profession — your prime minister comes to my mind — to pay odes to doom and gloom and are mighty proud of it. If I had it my way, I would make it a requirement for all these popinjays, and especially the Turkish ones, to take a compulsory class in Archaeology. Yes, I mean it, for that profession teaches its students a thing or two about unearthing facts rather than burying an entire living race, the Kurds, some twenty million no less, in a place as big as Turkey.
Come and think of it, I think you too should consider signing up for this class. It will definitely equip you with some tools to read meanings into insignificant things, be they fading pictures on the walls of the caves or the fragments of lost tablets in the museums. Once armed with these skills, you could then do away with what passes as journalism in Turkey and may consider joining us in helping your people see the world in bright light with all its colors, cultures and races. The Kurds that you berated in your article would then appear to you not as simpletons who gave in to the gratifications of the moment, but a persecuted race concerned with the safety of their children with an eye to their future. That was the message behind their advertising campaign in the United States. They said “Thank You” to America for removing Saddam from their streets. And you think this is an unforgivable sin! You don’t say it, but the implications are there, you want us to join the jihadists to rid “our country”, Iraq, of hated American occupiers! That means, you think, we are habitual slaves! If so, I will declare you an ignoramus through and through.
I guess you never knew that we were gassed by Saddam Hussein. I guess you still are clueless to the fact that there is an ongoing cultural genocide against the Kurds in Turkey. I guess, when Iran summarily executes the Kurds for the crime of wanting to remain Kurds, you call it statecraft. I also think you suffer from another disease called jealousy. I have a hunch you wanted us to say “Thank You” to Turkey! If yes, why didn’t you just say so? If that is the case, I am willing to make a deal with you. You topple the statues of Ataturk in Turkey, a man no different than Saddam Hussein for us Kurds, I will be sure to undertake a “Thank You” campaign, this time for you and in your country!
What the Kurds did was not out of ordinary Ece. The Jews, people still living tell us, were grateful to America and Russia for their emancipation in the aftermath of the Second World War as well. The Kurds feel the same towards the Yankees and you should not belittle our heartfelt gratitude to those who rid us of a monster who used to shed our blood like water. The Kurds are not your enemies, the despots of the Middle East are.
I remain disappointedly yours,
This letter first appeared in Soma, Issue # 27, August 2007. SOMA Digest is a subsidiary of KHAK Press & Media Center: http://soma-digest.com/