However, I do not think that this terrible event has been properly discussed and elaborated on by political analysts, commentators and politicians. It has very easily degenerated into the question of whether or not Mr. Aygün was playing into the hands of the PKK with his statements. I hope that after a while, we will be able to analyze the issue with a more sober mind.
Terrorism is a political act. Terrorists are not irrational and insane actors. Whether we like it or not, their moves are calculated and by terrorizing people and their rulers, they try to achieve their political aims. Moreover, it is not possible to continue terrorist activities without a support base in the population and without external international support. In the case of Aygün, I think, all these are intermingled. I suggest that we look at the issue from a positive angle and try to see how we can benefit from an optimistic analysis.
I agree with Mr. Aygün and several commentators that the PKK planned to keep Mr. Aygün for a long time, not just 48 hours. But thanks to the reactions from the Tunceli people and international actors, the PKK had to succumb to the pressure. One would like to see a more formidable and staunch reaction from the PKK’s legal political wing, the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), and some liberal writers who have been objecting to the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) case. Yet, that would be too much for them. As for the BDP, as I said, it is the political wing of the PKK so we must not expect them to stand up against the violent PKK, which does not tolerate dissent. The liberals who want to equate the state with the PKK and ask the state to negotiate with the PKK, whom they see as the representative of all Kurds, would not strongly challenge the PKK for a couple of reasons. First, they tend to tolerate what the PKK because of the state’s past horrendous atrocities against the Kurds and their rightful demands. Second, all these so-called liberals actually originate from a Turko-socialist background, which sanctifies armed struggle. With a partial nostalgia, they are happy to see what the PKK can achieve with violence against an oppressive state. Something they could not achieve in their youth.
Nevertheless, the trouble is that the state is no longer oppressive and, on the contrary, the PKK is tyrannically oppressive in the Kurdish lands. I think the Aygün incident is a good case in point. Several months ago, Mr. Aygün said in a newspaper interview that the PKK tried to prevent his election by threatening people, but the people did not give in to the PKK’s threats. There are a couple of main reasons for this. First, the Tunceli people are Zaza, a minority group that the Kemalo-Stalinist PKK wants to assimilate and merge into the majority Kurds. Second, the Tunceli people have always resisted top-down enforcement and threats. Third, Mr. Aygün is a very popular socialist, who is backed by his own strong tribe, which also happens to be the tribe of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the CHP’s current leader. The BDP, which won the mayoral elections in Tunceli, could not get a single parliamentary seat in Tunceli, which severely tarnished its claim of representing all Kurdish-populated areas. Thus, they wanted to coerce people into bowing before the PKK, but it backfired. Having seen that the PKK might completely lose the sympathy of the Zazas, the PKK gave up and released Mr. Aygün within a very short period of time, showing that the PKK, which is a rational actor, has to take into account the people’s wish. And it is this very vital point that I would like to underline. The Kurds and Zazas, who have been supporting the PKK in one way or another, have been hoping that the terrorist organization could get them their rights. However, they have not been blindly supporting it. This means that the state could still win over these people’s hearts and minds. I do not have quantitative data to support my claim, but I presume that even the limited rights so far given by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) have eradicated the PKK’s support base. These people may still be voting for the BDP, but that does not necessarily mean that they wholly agree with the PKK.
If the state sincerely wants to minimize PKK terrorism, it must not delay in giving the Kurds their rights such as education in Kurdish, Kurdish place names, use of Kurdish in courts, hospitals, roads and so on. If these are complemented with decentralization, which does not mean federalism, the PKK’s support base will shrink to only those who want independence or a Kurdish autonomous region.