The kurdish Globe
By Mehmed Sabri Akgönül
Last week, a commemoration of Sheikh Said and his 46 comrades, who were executed in 1925, was held in several cities of north Kurdistan. A great many of Islamic NGOs, pro-Kurdish political parties and some other religious communities were involved in a press statement made at Dagkapi Square in Diyarbakir where Sheikh Said and his friends were hung.
Pointing at the fact that Kurdish nation have never accepted to be enslaved or be dominated, the crowd at Dagkapi Square stated that "The policies of Turkish Republic that deny the Kurds' national and religious presence do not comply with such universal values as international law, Islamic principles or human rights agreement" in the press statement.
Moreover, it emphasized that a new social contract that takes into account the will of the Kurds is inevitable. In addition to these, the press statement outlined the most prominent demands such as; revealing the locations of those who were buried after getting executed in 1925 and subsequent years; revealing the archives of Independence Courts (in Turkish: İstiklal Mahkemeleri) and Siege judiciary and the archives of Council of War; returning properties of the executed people to their families; removing the insults attributed to Sheikh Said from state school books; and lastly Turkish Republic's apology to Kurds for execution of Sheikh Said and for many others up to now. In addition, they asked the government to rename the square as "Şêx Saidê Kal Square." They also demanded from the Diyarbakir Municipality a memorial to be built at the Dagkapi Square in memory of Sheikh Said and his associates.
The preparations for Sheikh Said rebellion started in the 1923 along with the Azadi (in Kurdish: Freedom) group, a secular nationalist organization of former Kurdish soldiers who supported Kurdish independence, from the Hamidiye Troops which were established under the Ottoman Empire to deal with the Armenian struggle for independent.
Azadi organization was a main player in the Sheikh Said rebellion. Although the organization was known simply as the Azadi, its first name known as the Ciwata Azadi Kurd (Kurdish Freedom Association) and later changed its name to the Ciwata Kweseriya Kurd (Kurdish Independence Association). Preparations for a widespread war in order to gain Kurdish independence against the young Turkish Republic were completed towards the end of 1924. Azadi organized a congress in 1924 and it was decided to start a widespread rebellion in May 1925. Sheikh Said was one of the most prominent names in the congress. However, Kurdish rebellion started in Piran, a province of Diyarbakir, in February 13, 1925, and lasted more than two months. The rebellion was the first major threat which the Turkish Republic encountered. The rebellion was quashed at the end of April 1925. Sheikh Said and his friends were tried by the Eastern Independence Courts.
Turkish former ideology and its intellectual circles argued that the Sheikh Said rebellion was an Islamist reactionary movement. Also, they viewed this event as backward looking, theocratic, anti-democratic and anti-revolutionary movement. But many scholars, including Kurdish and Turkish ones, whose researches based on the facts and documents, stressed that the primary aim of both Sheikh Said and the leaders of Azadi organization was the establishment of an independent Kurdistan.
For example, Robert Olson, who also released a number of publications on the Kurdish issue and Kurdistan, emphasized the nationalist components of the Sheikh Said rebellion and argued that the nationalist motivations were more important than the religious factors. In addition, a Kurdish intellectual Hamit Bozarslan who has major studies on Kurdish revolts thinks that nationalist factors probably have predominated those of religion in the rebellion.
The operations that have been started by Turkish state to suppress Sheikh Said rebellion has ended with serious destructions and exiles of the Kurds from their homeland of Kurdistan. Tens of thousands of Kurds have been killed and around hundred thousands of them have been exiled to the Turkish cities, particularly from Dersim, Erzincan, Bitlis, Siirt, Mardin, Van, Bingol, Diyarbakir, Agri, Mus and Erzurum.
The methods and politics of Turkish state that has been used to suppress the rebellion has only affected the Kurds but also the Turks. A political party, the Progressive Republican Party ("Terakkiperver Cumhuriyet Fırkası"), in the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) had been closed down and some of its members had been tried in Independence Court based on the Law for the Maintenance of Order ("Takrir-i Sukun Kanunu") that was constituted right after the Rebellion. With the same legislation, the opponent newspapers had been closed down, the opposition in the TBMM has been quieted down during 20 years and socialist organizations have been obstructed till 1960s by this politically monist system.
The most striking public statement among all statements made especially in Diyarbakir was the one that was released by the Initiative of AZADİ.
The Initiative of AZADİ has recently been founded as a result of a reunion of those who have had Islamic and Kurdayeti (Kurdishness) responsibility. The Initiative of AZADİ is supporting the idea that people in Kurdistan must have the right to rule themselves. To the Initiative's members, it is a must that obeys necessity of both Islamic and International law that the Kurds should have the right to rule themselves and determine their future. The Initiative of AZADİ is also set against the mentality of prototyping societies through their religions, languages and ethnical identities like in Turkish Republic. Based on these principles, providing that people of Kurdistan agree ant it would support various humanistic and Islamic movements in Middle East. In this context, the Initiative of AZADİ believes that the acquisitions down in southern Kurdistan are of great importance and they could set perfect examples for the Kurds in annexed parts of Kurdistan.
"In 1925, while trying to destroy both national and religious values of Kurdistan, Sheikh Said and his comrades who revolted against war in Kurdistan for rights, justice and freedom didn't indicate consent to founding power of Turkey that eliminated possibilities of making a contract together by putting political sovereignty under monopoly of Turkish umbrella," stated in the statement of the Initiative of AZADİ.
It also emphasized that military, political and all other tools of the Turkish Republic that attacks Islamic and national values of Kurdistan recklessly and eliminates all possibilities of co-existence has been established against will of Kurdish nation. "People of Kurdistan have never accepted this concept of slavery and occupation. Therefore, existence of Turkish Republic in Kurdistan ignoring will of Kurdistan's people is illegimate according to international law and Islamic principles," noted in the statement.
Furthermore, the press statement of the Initiative of AZADİ included some solution offers to solve Kurdish issue such as a comprehensive ceasefire should be done and political prisoners must be released. "A new management approach established in the light of rights, justice and freedoms via a new social contract will be both Turkey's and Kurdistan's highest good. At new constitution, self-government for Kurdish people, sharing of sovereignty, to consider Kurdish language as an official language, right to mother tongue education should be accepted," the statement noted.
There was also held another commemoration for Sheikh Said and his friends on the night of June 29th, Friday by political parties and Islamic NGOs at Sumerpark Amphitheatre in Diyarbakir. The families of Sheikh Said and his comrades and hundred people of Diyarbakir participated in the commemoration.