BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
No, the title is not some veiled reference to the political climate of the U.S. in these presidential primary days.
It refers to another place that somehow eludes, evades, the attention its current plight deserves.
It is a place where the government is run by people who seem to be power-mad; a place where leaders started out in the right direction, but either altered their plans, were changed by the thrill of power, or got elected under false pretenses with their true agenda hidden; a place where the government stirs up trouble with its neighbors and its own citizens; a place where politicians resort to any means, no matter the cost in blood, to get reelected.
It is a place where chauvinism and religious fanaticism (imagine- rallies in major cities attracting thousands in support of reestablishing a caliphate) exert an ever more powerful influence on society; a place where “minorities” are vilified and scapegoated; a place where a small stratum of civil society is truly decent, but still so far ahead of the bulk of the population that meaningful progress is still minimal, and very spotty.
It is a place, truly, where every time some progress is made, some force in or sector of the polity forces recidivism.
This is a place where Kurds are vilified for simply wanting basic rights and freedoms, where they are vilified as the “Armenians” of today, where there really is no “majority” group despite centuries of forced assimilation but those who erroneously believe they constitute the majority want to squelch all other identities.
It is a place of fear.
It is a place where Armenians were eradicated; a place where Armenians are still painted as treacherous creatures, even though most people have never had the opportunity to meet an Armenian; a place where the government finds it necessary to legislate how “buried” Armenian “treasure” is to be handled when found – subtly reinforcing the notion that such treasure exists (and the very notion of that existence implies the Armenians must have been evil, usurious, treacherous people, hence deserving extermination).
It is a place where “Kurdistan without Kurds” is the unspoken policy objective, echoing the centuries-long policy of “Armenia without Armenians”… It is a place where Kurds are today accused of treachery, echoing the same slander hurled at Armenians a century ago; a place where “Armenian” is an epithet, and “Kurd” is on its way to becoming one.
What happens in places such as this one? What happened in Lebanon when its tensions exploded? What happened in the U.S. when issues of slavery and other constitutional matters could not be amicably resolved? What happened in France in the era of the guillotine? The same is coming to our “place” according to an Armenian parliamentarian from a Kurdish-oriented party— civil war. I suspect poking sticks in too many hornets’ nests, playing with too many fires at once, and figurative-chest-thumping as a bluff also indicate how overextended this place has become.
Erdogan has messed with too many factions in and out of Turkey, is power hungry, has multiple hands of political poker going simultaneously, callously fuels bloodshed to achieve his ends, and has generated a society of fear. He is working on a “final solution” to his Kurdish “problem” by trying to stomp out any sign of Kurdish dignity, including trying to undercut the standing of HDP whose Garo Paylan predicts that civil war may be coming. Couple this with Turkey’s external entanglements – Syria, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, refugees, EU, Israel/Gaza – and you can see why a full blown civil war might erupt, much worse than the 1970s mutual-killing sprees of political opponents.
Should we cheer or shudder? I’m not sure. I am sure that this is a time of extreme risk and opportunity in our occupied homeland. Be alert. Be prepared. “Surprises,” equivalent in scale for us to the fall of the USSR, might be coming.