To the Editor:
This letter is submitted in response to Celestine Bohlen's July 16, 1995 article "War on Rebel Kurds Puts Turkey's Ideals to Test". I would first like to congratulate Ms. Bohlen on delivering one of the most even-handed and informative treatments of Turkey's war against its Kurds that has yet to appear in the Times. Nevertheless, her cautious approach at criticizing and identifying what is clearly a campaign of ethnic cleansing in southeastern Turkey, part and parcel of a hundred-year-old effort by the Turkish Government to either absorb or eradicate its Kurdish minority, demonstrates an irresponsible selectivity when compared with your coverage of the Bosnian conflict.
Ms. Bohlen's willingness, for example, to accept Ankara's explanation for the massive displacement of hundreds of thousands of Kurds, stating that 2,654 villages and hamlets have been "emptied" during "the Government's drive to make the region safe from terrorism", is akin to legitimizing the Bosnian Serbs' ethnic cleansing of large tracts of Bosnia based on the fact that Moslem forces have been using these civilian-populated areas as staging posts to launch military offensives and terrorist campaigns against Serb villages. That the Kurdish refugees are fleeing to Turkey's urban areas does not vitiate this crucial similarity between the two situations; over 50,000 Bosnian Moslem refugees have fled into Serbia for safety as well, and are living peacefully and unmolested in the heart of Serbian territory. Just as the goal of Serbians is to displace the Moslem population from its paternal lands through force and intimidation, a primary goal of the Turkish military campaign in Anatolian Kurdistan is to displace the Kurdish population from its ancestral home in order to force the Kurds' urbanization, dilution and eventual assimilation. The fact that the Kurds began fleeing in such huge numbers only after Turkish troops invaded the area, and not during the many years when their villages were under the effective control of PKK rebels, belies Turkish claims that the mass exodus is a result of Kurdish separatists' terrorist activities and not of the Turkish Army's ruthless occupation.
Ankara's PKK-as-ethnic-cleansers myth serves as but another demonstration of the Turks' gift for convincingly standing adverse truths on their head (and for having the audacity to do so straight-faced). To this day the Turkish Government not only denies Turkey's systematic genocide of 1.5M Armenians and 350,000 Pontian Greeks but ardently insists that it was the Armenians who effected an extermination and terror campaign against Turkish civilians. The traumatic reign of the Ottoman Empire over its Christian subjects, a five-centuries-long Dark Age of extreme political, religious and cultural repression punctuated by periods of apocalyptic carnage, is now being promoted as a golden age of tolerance, cultural preservation and renaissance. The ongoing destruction and looting of priceless classical Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine archeological treasures in Asia Minor, Eastern Thrace and occupied Cyprus is somehow transformed into a reverie of Turkey's historic role as guardian and inheritor of Western, and particularly Greek, civilization. These are but a few examples of the Orwellian revisionism Turkey is advocating through its public relations spindoctors and, more troublingly, through an increasing number of university chairs financed by a multi-million-dollar war chest.
Perhaps the apparent effectiveness of this surrealistic strategy, as demonstrated by Ms. Bohlen's obliging coverage of Turkey's Kurdish campaign, should prompt the Serbs to claim that Bosnian Moslems are ethnically cleansing beleaguered Serbian enclaves . . . in Bihac, Srebrenica and Sarajevo.
Very truly yours,Phillip Spyropoulos, Esq.