Kurdish contraversy

By David Thiessen

Editors, the Gauntlet
Re: Turkey unfairly portrayed, Mar. 18, 1999,

I am responding to an article written by Melisa Kozak and printed in he Gauntlet on Mar. 18. Melisa brings up may questions and issues that should be addressed, but a few demand a response. Melisa boldly writes that a previous Gauntlet article written by Shirzad Ahmed was "not only wrong but also blatantly one-sided," yet she refuses to provide any evidence to back up her claims (other than point us to a very one-sided web site). She also refers to Shirzad as "a student who claims he is a Kurdistan Worker’s Party sympathizer." How does she know this? Where is her support? I read Shirzad’s article and nowhere did it say anything of the kind. Surely not everyone critical of Turkey’s massive human rights abuses can automatically be labeled PKK sympathizer! Is this the kind of "free speech" backed by Melisa? It’s certainly the kind that Turkey implements-a twisted kind of free speech that labels anyone who opposes the status quo as enemies of freedom. The truth is that it is authoritarianism disguised as freedom. And this is precisely the kind of "freedom" Melisa Kozak exemplifies. Perhaps Melisa could explain the following: if freedom of speech is so prevalent in Turkey, why are seven Kurdish parliamentarians currently imprisoned simply for taking their parliamentary oaths in Kurdish? While she is at it, she could also explain why so many Kurdish people were beaten and arrested for joining a protest just a few days ago (during the Kurdish New Year’s celebration). Is this freedom of speech, Melisa? Melisa might even try defending Turkey’s outright refusal to abide by the Geneva Convention in the handling of political prisoners (perpetual confinement, no private legal council, et cetera). I suggest that perhaps it is Melisa who needs to widen her horizons, who really needs to re-think how her allegiances are affecting her judgment. It is one thing to love one’s country (much as one’s own child). It’s another thing altogether when we not only close our eyes to the evils done by those we love, but actively support the evil. From everything I have read-and I have read from every political vantage point-if the real truth were told, it would be Turkey sitting in the dock today, charged with terrorism, torture, and genocide.

David Thiessen

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