Our task is really hard…

The views expressed in this op-ed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SyriacPress.

By Aydin Gabriel

The two parties took up arms and headed to the front to militarily solve a problem that could not be solved for decades in the Caucasus. The problem again has had a stranglehold on Azerbaijan and Armenia. We do not have objective information about what happens in the war. Both sides claim that the casualties on the other side run in the hundreds. And both sides claim that the initial bullet was not fired by them but that they were first attacked.

Turkey does not hesitate to emphasize that it fully stands with Azerbaijan with all its power. While Turkey keeps stating that the attack was initiated by Armenia and that this time the war will continue until Armenia withdraws from “occupied land,” international powers have brokered a ceasefire between the warring parties demanding an immediate end to hostilities.

Propaganda, one of the weapons in war, continues at full speed. And, unfortunately, also in this case there is nothing new. There is a dangerous trend as there are powerful circles in Turkey claiming the PKK/YPG is training forces to fight in Armenia against Azerbaijan, and that Turkey sent Free Syrian Army forces, paid and armed by Turkey, to fight them.

I do not know who is right or wrong, but I do not think that PKK/YPG members have gone there and trained the Armenian army. Where we have, on the one hand, a regular state army, and on the other hand a mobile and active guerrilla force, we have to ask who trains who and on what order basis? But since everyone knows that it is propaganda, nobody seems to see the need to ask about this aspect of the issue.

Another issue that confuses me is the claim that the war was started by Armenia. This claim does not make much sense to me. And I am not alone in voicing this illogic claim. In fact, in international diplomatic circles it is said that this war that started in the Caucasus, Russia’s “backyard”, did not start spontaneously, i.e. not only from the hostile countries Armenia and Azerbaijan. They say there was something more in the background. Therefore, the question remains whether Armenia, which is claimed to be the invader, took up arms to gain more territory, or whether Azerbaijan started the war to redeem its occupied territories.

If we leave all the above aside, what really makes me think and worry is the people living in Turkey and their attitude towards this war. Yes, in any war, it is quite normal for countries to support and even contribute materially and morally to the side they consider a friend or have interests with. From this reasoning, it should not be a problem if Turkey takes sides with Azerbaijan in this war. But there is a concerning aspect here. For some circles in Turkey – unfortunately, these circles make up a majority – it is totally acceptable to fight the Armenians, an indigenous ancient people which has lived on this land for thousands of years and long-time citizens of Turkey. This is not something that can be taken lightly and considered innocent.

Actually, one should not be surprised because similar incidents in this country have occurred many times in the past. Let me recall some of them with their background; the question of Cyprus-attacks on Greeks in Istanbul; the “Cartoon crisis” in Denmark-Christian Syriacs in Midyat being violently targeted by Muslims; increased Israeli-Palestinian tensions and conflicts of interest-the Jewish religious places in Turkey being attacked. Such “background-subsequent violence” incidents are common in Turkey. We learned it with every incident in Turkey in the past; “incidents” have “politics” in the background.

Although Turkey claims to be democratic and popular discourse says that it treats all its citizens equally, in fact its basis structure is anti-democratic, it is nationalistic and monist. Despite the popular discourse, the truth is that for those who are not “Turkish-Islamic-Sunni” there is no chance of equal and dignified life in Turkey. Even worse, this approach is state policy rather than an incidental or populist wind  of individual politicians or a certain group. We have been living under these state policies for years.

This mindset is perhaps best exemplified by the person of Doğu Perinçek, the “fast revolutionary leftist” of the past and current leader of the Vatan Partisi (The Patriotic Party). Perinçek said in a program on Turkish television, “Karabakh is what İzmir is to me. Karabakh is also my homeland.” His remarks show that the main mentality of the Turkish right and as well as for the Turkish left, is nationalism, and this includes racism. How to defend pluralism under this widespread mindset in Turkey? Who can change this monist and nationalistic mentality in Turkey?

Our task is really hard. Really hard indeed. But we have to defend pluralism. And we will continue to defend pluralism until the very end. Regardless what politics they pursue, no matter in which state body or government, the nationalist and monist powers in Turkey work arm in arm. But we, the people of Turkey, should respect each other and we must continue to advocate and fight for equality and the right to free association.

Even if the ruling powers bring back past events to carry out their cunning plans, even if they throw the most evil slander at us, we will not hesitate to defend peace, to love people, and to say what we see wrong…