Why Islamist Come Back in Turkey and Pakistan?
One may wonder why after all the failures of Islamism in Iran and Afghanistan, the Turkish people elected the Islamists in a landslide vote? A week ago, the same happened in Pakistan and this is after all the atrocities of Taliban next door in Afghanistan, that anybody could see in no uncertain terms. In all cases, Islamists are capitalizing on anti-West "liberation" slogans to win. Is it that people are unaware about Islamism? Is it because people are being very religious?
Surely after Iran and Afghanistan with stoning and murders of opponents, people know very well what Islamism is, and surely they are more aware today than they were 20 years ago, then unawareness cannot answer the reason why they vote in a landslide for Islamists today. Some say that people in the Islamic countries are very religious. And we all know that even 100 years ago, the same people in Turkey and Iran and other countries in the Middle East staged democratic movements such as Iran's Constitutional Movement and surely people have not become more religious in the last 100 years. .
Some others think the reason for Islamists' victory is because of the threats of the US and the West, because of colonialism or semi-colonialism. But again the US influence is nothing compared to what the British influence was 100 years ago. And 100 years ago there was a lot more desire for the Western solution by the people of Turkey, and today we are witnessing such a reversal in Turkey.
The reality is that Western-friendly states in all the Middle Eastern countries, whether secular like Turkey or Shah's Iran, or Islamist like Saudi Arabia, have had one thing in common, and that is disrespect for human rights. And thus forces such as the Islamists, or Baathists, or leftists, capitalize on this reality and win the hearts of the people as *underdog*. This is how Khomeini came to power, and this is what IRI has been doing; this is what Iraqi and Syrian Baathists have been doing, and this is what happened for a while in South Yemen and we may witness soon in Kurdistan of Turkey.
Unfortunately the intellectuals of the Middle East in opposition to the corrupt regimes supported by the West, have themselves trivialized the requirement of human rights standards for the parties and organizations they support, and thus they supported the likes of Khomeini and IRI to come to power. Cold War drove the Western states towards the corrupt supporters in the Middle East, Islamist or secular, and it drove the progressive intellectuals of the Middle East away from the West, whereas they should have been the best representatives of values of democracy, secularism, and human rights in the Middle East.
Even worse, in reaction to Western corrupt puppet regimes, intellectuals of the Middle East have generally accepted an erroneous double-standard as if the racism of forces that represent the oppressed is somehow OK. This is how the opposition leftist groups in Iran *supported* the hostage-taking, which was a racist act against the Americans in 1980 by the Islamists, and opposition groups justified their support by thinking of it as the action of the underdog oppressed people. They supported the racist action, and the Islamist apartheid leading it, until it was too late, and they themselves were killed by the same forces in a short-while in 1981.
If in the United States, democratic forces hardly justify the likes of Farakhan who advocate racism against the Jews, as a so-called black opposition, in the Middle East, in contrast, the many democratic forces have supported such racist groups like the Islamists or Baathists or other racist groups as underdogs. This has been in reaction to so-called pro-West corrupt forces and regimes that had no respect for human rights. And for the opposition, the so-called anti-imperialist stand, had priority, and thus human rights was sacrificed, and they ended up supporting the brutal regimes of Khomeini's Islamism and Saddam's Baathism.
Recently I saw a few communiqués by the PDKI (a Kurdish Iranian Party), where they used the word "Iran" instead of "IRI" in their headlines and articles, when referring to atrocities of IRI (Islamic Republic of Iran), and also instead of using the term IRI representatives, they used the term "Iranians". I thought this was just an innocent linguistic error and contacted their Canada office that had published their communiqués. Their response was that they consciously were using these terms and they justified their racism when referring to other Iranians as Farsi-speaking Iranians.
Again I noted to them that all Iranians are under the oppression of IRI and not just Kurds, and they started calling me all kinds of names and I stopped responding. I understand all their Leninist formulations of double oppression of Kurds, etc but as I noted, even if the formula was valid, whether single or double, the oppression does not justify the racism of the oppressed, the so-called underdog, and as I explained above, this is how our democratic forces fell for Khomeini and Islamists as oppressed, and justified the racism and apartheid of the Islamists, and we are still suffering because of that mistake 23 years later.
I thought now that PDKI Party is not in power and they think their racism is so justified, then what can we expect later if they come to power. Are we going to see the same thing that happened when Kurdish forces took power in Sanandaj shortly in 1980, and they executed many people labeling them as jAsh (meaning traitor), and asked a mob of people what to do with these "traitors", and got so-called people's courts in stadiums convened, and executed those people, without any real courts with defense attorney and real trial.
Yes, these are some of the dark pages of our recent history that should not be repeated. Yes and anybody who questioned such anti-human rights practices of those groups was put under surveillance by these so-called democratic parties. I have written about the Kurds and the history of Kurdistan and its role in the growth of Iran (my research paper is attached below), but to be on the side of Kurdish people exactly means condemning the racism and anti-democratic practices of such groups and not condoning it with so-called double oppression formulas, and not repeat the same tragedy of 1980 when such forces took power in Kurdestan, tragedies which were the result of racism. Racism of oppressed underdog is as bad as the racism of the rulers, we should have learned that after Khomeini and the underdog Islamists coming to power in Iran..
It is wrong to say that the racism of the oppressed is right. It is wrong to use the excuse of Kurds have had a double oppression to justify the racism and atrocities against other Iranians by any organization like PDKI. If we do not speak up now, tomorrow we are going to be like Abdollah Nouri when the forces that he supported came to power, and killed in crimes against humanity, and had no respect for human rights, and now they have jailed him too. The leftist Iranian groups who unite with such forces like PDKI, without seeing the current racism of that organization, will be helping a force, which is the opposite side of the coin of Turkish racism. When is the left going to learn that their support of the tyrannical "underdog" is what gave us Khomeini, and later gave us hostage-taking, and finally gave us the massacres of 1981 and 1988, when the leftist supporters of hostage-taking themselves were wiped out as well. The likes of current PDKI racists will do the same, and unless they change their racist policies, no democratic Iranian political force should cooperate with them.
The problem of Middle East is that the partners of the West are not the ones who really care for the democratic values and want the betterment of the Middle Eastern countries, and are the ones who want to fill in their pockets with the money of Western states by their corruption and wheeling dealing contracts. The real intellectuals of the Middle East should drop the past leftist solutions and should speak for democratic values, secularism and human rights and go for building a post-industrial society and they should unite with the West and should never compromise about *human rights* whether it is attacked by Islamists or monarchists or attacked by Baathist, racist parties or other anti-democratic forces who justify their apartheid and racist stands by speaking for the underdog and the oppressed.
We should not allow anybody to drop human rights under the excuse of expediency, such as the Turkish fascists. On the other side of the coin, we have had enough of Khomeinist Islamists who spoke for mostazafin and justified their attacks on human rights. The human rights are not relative and whether a group of people are oppressed is not a justification to absolve their anti-human rights positions, whether they call themselves avant-garde of proletariat or spokespersons of the oppressed Kurds, but advocate apartheid or racism like many of the communist regimes and parties in the Eastern Block and Soviet Union in the past.
I have extensively written about Kurds and Central Government in Iran. The Kurdish people and intellectuals are some of the most advanced Iranian thinkers, but today's racist policies of the PDKI are against the democratic aspirations of Kurds as well as other Iranians, and I condemn their racism. Below is my article about Kurds and the Kurdish issue and I know my resistance to the racism of PDKI will be labeled as being against unity of opposition to IRI, and other familiar abundant labels. But I prefer to speak up now than to wait another 1979 and regret to have supported a racist force to come to power.
A major problem of secularism and democracy in the Middle East has been in not understanding the significance of human rights in the programs of different parties. Most of the Iranian forces do not even care to state their position about capital punishment and are waiting to win power to make a blood bath of hate and the talk of oppression now like the way Khomeini and Islamists complained of oppression against them during the Shah is of no value. A democratic force should show full support of human rights in its program *before* coming to power, and racism is the opposite of human rights support, and the apartheid of Islamists was even obvious before 1979 and should have been resisted then.
The French Revolution emphasized human rights so much in 1789, and maybe we can now see that there was a reason to do it, because the secular forces not following it, whether pro-Western or other, can easily cause the backlash of Islamism again, which only focuses on blaming all the failures, not on lack of human rights, but on the Western democracy. Iranian Constitutional Movement and similar movements in Turkey and elsewhere in the Middle East cared about forms of elections and parliaments and even secularism but they missed the emphasis of individualism, individual rights and human rights, and the new parties and organizations easily dismissed these basic values that are so central to all Western democracies.
In reaction to such racist pseudo-nationalisms like Turkey, a dark return to the past, seems like the solution for the present, and a vicious circle repeating itself. A retrogression happens whether by a revolution like 1979 in Iran or by an evolution like what is happening in Turkey. The need for a clear stand on racism and apartheid and full support of human rights and individual rights in programs and practices of all parties and organizations in the Middle East is the only lasting solution to the political roller coaster of the Middle East.
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher
Nov 4, 2002
Attachment: Kurds and Formation of Central Government in Iran