Hewler Post: “How do you spell 'Kurdistan' in Turkish?”
Kurdish Herald Vol.1 Issue 1, May 2009 - by Servet Tosun
On Newroz day, March 21, 2009, the Kurdistan Regional Government launched Hewler Post, an online newspaper-type publication in Turkish, posted in a well presented, professional PDF format. Despite the fact that Turkey enjoys trade contracts stemming out of Kurdistan, it fails to recognize the existence of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq as a legally sanctioned entity per the Iraqi constitution. Recent developments, however, may have compelled Turkey to realize that the Iraqi Kurds’ achievements over the past two decades, and especially since 2003, need to be accepted, even if grudgingly so, and recognized.
Hewler Post is a child of the thinking that we need to hear each other out, that the Kurdish message is neither racist nor does it threaten Turkey’s security, that message, however is too often lost in translation. Published in Erbil, Hewler Post is the first Turkish publication in Iraqi Kurdistan. Its chief editor, Rebwar Kerim Weli stated in the pilot issue that now more than ever there is an urgent need for the Kurds to release a publication in Turkish.
The mission of Hewler Post is explained by Mr. Weli in the first issue under the title of “Why a Turkish Newspaper?” The biggest problem between Iraqi Kurds and Turkey is the problem of “understanding,” Mr. Weli says, and points out the importance of the mutual understanding between both sides. “Turkey is the door to our dreams for reaching democracy and civilization,” he writes.
Another Hewler Post columnist, Remzi Peseng, also talks about the importance of building relations with Turkey, Mr. Peseng states that in the developed world, paradoxical political developments are unavoidable. Mr. Peseng places emphasis on the importance of socio-economic relations across borders by using the relations between the Spanish government and the Catalan people as an example. According to Mr. Peseng, after Spain entered the European Union, it developed diplomatic relations with Catalans which resulted in tremendous socio-economic progress. This example shows that with the growth of socio-economic relations, each party can became more politically flexible. That thinking seems to be shared by the KRG.
While these steps certainly contribute to the normalization process, there is much that is needed of Turkey. As long as Turkey sees the mere utterance of the word “Kurdistan” as taboo, there is little chance for any comprehensive understanding between the two sides. Stating that the problem is one of communication only is a rather simplified way of looking at KRG-Turkey relations, as it ignores a number of obvious central issues that must be addressed.
The Hewler Post seems designed to function as a tool for communication with Turkey by using Turkish medium, but it is not enough if indeed it is attempting to bridge the gap between the two groups. Thusfar, the publication makes no effort to address Turkish intransigence with respect to the Kurdish question. Mr. Weli wants to use Turkish language to explain what the Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan really want and how they see the Turks. I respectfully would like to remind him, however, that the many Kurds in Turkey already know how to speak Turkish. These Kurds have attempted to express their interests to the Turkish establishment using the Turkish language, but still Turkey has difficulty hearing them due to a combination of enforced ignorance and oppressive measures against certain types of expression. Therefore, writing in Turkish may not be enough for opening a communication between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan.
Indeed, it is difficult to imagine true understanding unless the Turkish side also makes an effort to listen.
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