Right of Reply: Ozdem Sanberk

The Turkish ambassador responds to criticism of the treatment of Kurds in his country
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The Independent Culture
I HAVE been astonished to discover that for many people in London, "Kurd" and "PKK" seem to be interchangeable.

Nothing could be further from the truth. During my career as a civil servant in Turkey, I have had friends, colleagues and departmental bosses, and known many politicians who were Kurds. If I had to write down a list of all the ethnic Kurdish people I know, it would be a very long one. Not one of them has any sympathy for the PKK. To suggest that it is somehow their spokesman is both ridiculous and insulting.

In Turkish society, many top novelists, academics, men of religion, singers, will be from this background. Well over a hundred MPs share it.

There is not and never has been discrimination against ethnic Kurds in Turkey, for one very simple reason. It would be completely impossible to enforce. You cannot make any kind of firm distinction. We have lived together for centuries and formed a single community: in politics, the arts and religion.

As for those who say that Kurdish languages are suppressed, they should look more closely at the facts. In Turkish music shops these days, you find cassettes and CDs in Kurdish. There is a growing number of local TV and radio stations using the language. And there are newspapers, too.

I cannot imagine the close association ever ending. Certainly Kurdish people at every level, from minister down to common soldier, have been actively involved in the fight against the PKK. That is why so many of the PKK's victims have been Kurdish, including schoolteachers (shot in cold blood) as well as ordinary villagers and children. Power for the PKK grows out of the barrel of a gun, not out of anyone's heart or mind.