The Turkish original of this commentary was published as Le Monde: Cizre Kobane gibi olacak on 1st August 2015.
Yesterday [31st July] Le Monde published an op-ed titled “The Kurds of Cizre call for revenge against the Turkish authorities” (Les Kurdes de Cizre crient vengeance contre les autorités de Turquie). Signed by Allan Kaval, a self-styled freelancer, but also the paper’s “special reporter” (envoyé special), it begins by describing the funeral of Hassan Nesre, 17 and a member of the YDG-H, the PKK’s militant youth organization. He is reported to have died in the course of the last few days’ repeated clashes with the police.
According to Kaval, as the hearse carrying Nesre’s coffin wrapped in a PKK flag drive slowly towards the cemetery, “thousands of hands keep clapping to the tune of the slogan ‘martyrs never die.’” Notwithstanding the fact that the PKK is on the EU’s list of terrorist organizations, and that France is one of the founders and leading members of the EU, it is described as “the Workers’ Party of Kurdestan, the target of the Turkish army’s air raids since 24th July.”
As the hearse rolled to a stop and the coffin began to be unloaded, suddenly the slogans were interrupted by the rattle of automatic fire, says Kaval. From the roof of a building a masked man with a kalashnikov fired a second and a third volley in the air. The crowd applauded like mad, now shouting a single word: “Revenge!” They then took up yet another chant: “Daech assassin, AKP accomplices.”
Kaval relates that according to the talk of the town, Hassan Nesre had his hands and feet tied when he was shot and killed from a police car. He argues that this incident resembles the black decade of the Kurdish war in the 1990s; in Cizre and all over Turkey, he says, many are the people who believe that the events of the last week constitute a return to those 90s.
Installing a climate of violence
“Un climat de violence s’installe” (a climate of violence is asserting itself), writes Kaval. Under that sub-title, he asserts that the ceasefire that had been initiated in 2013 “by the PKK and the Turkish state” has now been suspended through air bombardments plus waves of arrests targeting “the sympathizers of the movement.” Before Hassan, Abdullah Özdal, 21, had also fallen victim to the clashes, he says. Next, he notes that it is only the river Tigris that separates Cizre from Syria “where the PKK together with its allies is fighting against IS jihadists.” He adds that the town is also close to the “historic refuges” of the guerrillas on mounts Cudi and Gabar that are now being hit through air operations.
Emphasizing that the entire town together with its municipality and all its public life supports the Kurdish political movement, Kaval claims that Cizre is “preparing for the possibility of a large-scale with the Turkish state.” Subsequently, he quotes Mesut Nart, whom he introduces as one of the local leaders of the movement’s legal wing, as saying that “in the wake of the last operations Cizre no longer has any faith in the Republic of Turkey” and “the only thing that now matters for them is the PKK and its jailed leader Öcalan.” Kaval then turns to HDP deputy Ali Akdeniz, who, he says, fully agrees with Mesut Nart, and goes on to quote a fuller warning from Akdeniz: “It is a serious danger of civil war that we are facing in the roads and streets of our town as well as all over Turkey. If it does break out, this will be a long and bloddy war that nobody will be able to stop.”
Allan Kaval notes that “so far the PKK has not launched a call for all-out action against the Turkish state” — implying that if it did, things would be going far worse for the state. He relies on an unnamed HDP spokesperson for Şırnak to argue that only Öcalan can call on the people to restore peace and calm, but that he has been kept incommunicado for months. The possibility that after a relative calm of two years a war that nobody wants might break out yet again feeds into young people’s growing anger against the government, stresses Kaval on the way to arguing that if no solution is forthcoming, the possibility of a 1990 sort of uprising cannot be excluded.
“Cizre is going to be just like Kobane”
It isthrough what he has to say under this last sub-title (which we for our part have carried into our main headline) Kaval really comes across as something of a spokesman for the terrorist organization. Indeed, his sub-title quotes an YDG-H member that he finds among others digging ditches to obstruct police vehicles: “If things continue like this, Cizre is going to be just like Kobane, which is what we are preparing for.”
Kaval does not overlook the plight of Cizre’s mothers. Thus a mom by the name of Sultan agrees that “her children have no option [!] other than to clash with the police.” She rightly complains of being unable to go to sleep while her hildren are out there fighting on the streets. At the same time, she does engage in political analyses. The sort of all-out hostility to the AKP that I have been criticizing as the wrong strategy, she propagates through the following words: “We believed in peace, yes we can live together with the Turks, but it is this government that is pitting us against each other.” It is as if it was not this government that initiated the Peace Process, or if things would be much more peaceful if other parties were to come to power.
Kaval goes on to relate how little kids keep contributing to preparations for clashing with the police by carrying earth-filled bags or lining up beer bottles containing Molotov cocktails. One of those kids must have stirred such admiration in Kaval that he quotes the child as saying: “For us, DAİŞ and the AKP are one and the same, they are enemies of the Kurds. The whole world knows that Turkey is supporting DAİŞ in Syria.” It could be that having kids repeat a lie could be the best possible way of perpetuating it.
Le Monde might find it possible to claim that it has published this Allan Kaval story as part of its respect for the freedom of expression. But it is also very obviously the case that apart from all the disinformation it contains, it relies wholly and exclusively on views and voices only aligned with the PKK (which happens to be recognized as a “terrorist organization” by the world at large) while not giving place to any other opinions. Thus it does reflect on the paper’s credibility and prestige.