To the Editor:
Stephen Kinzer's September 4th article regarding the long and sad history of the Kurds was sorely needed, but the omission of one defining aspect of their struggle constituted either sloppy journalism or a serious misrepresentation of fact.
Not mentioning Turkey's sordid record with regard to its Kurdish minority in an article that focuses on their plight is akin to omitting Germany's role in the extermination of European Jewry. During the first third of this century and after using the Kurds to help consummate our century's first recorded genocide (that of the Armenians), Turkey turned against its Kurds in an attempt to rid itself of yet another minority, considered by Kemal Ataturk to be a threat to the newly formed state. Nothing less than a full-scale ethnic cleansing campaign was launched, replete with wholesale massacres of thousands of civilians, mass rapes and an extensive scorched earth policy which left tens of thousands of Kurds open to exposure and starvation. The campaign was so ruthless that most Kurds consider these the darkest hours the Kurdish nation had endured this century, even in the face of severe Syrian, Iranian and Iraqi repression.
What is worse, instead of informing your readers of the ethnic cleansing campaign which Turkey is still waging against its rural Kurdish minority, your only allusion to this tragedy, one that has been well-reported by the European press, is that "thousands of Turkish soldiers have died fighting a Marxist-oriented Kurdish army." It is a misleading assertion coupled with an omission of fact that amounts to nothing less than journalistic malpractice. According to our own State Department, well over 3,000 Kurdish villages have been burned down or otherwise destroyed in Turkish Kurdistan by government forces under the familiar guise of military necessity, displacing an estimated one to three million Kurdish civilians from their rural ancestral homeland to cities&emdash; where the Turkish Government hopes they will become assimilated and lose their Kurdish identity. Hundreds of Kurdish and sympathetic Turkish poets, writers, lawyers, and activists have been imprisoned, tortured, murdered or have simply been listed as "missing".
This aspect of our frantic rush to bomb Hussein into submission for the stated purpose of protecting the Kurds exposes a hypocrisy that is impossible to reconcile by our foreign policymakers &emdash;a double-standard verging on the ridiculous that has somehow escaped the ken of the American press. Put simply, the absurd message that both the Bush and Clinton administrations have been conveying is that if you are a Kurd living on the wrong side of the Iraqi-Turkish border . . . you are fair game.
P. D. Spyropoulos, Esq.