Activists in Office
Kurdish Politics and Protest in Turkey (Studies in Modernity and National Identity)
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of Washington Press
Preface and Acknowledgments
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In September of 2006 I stood with a dozen visitors in front of a sand-colored building in the center of Erbil, a jumbled city of around a million people that had become the capital of the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. We took pictures, and some of the guests posed for the cameras. This was not a particularly attractive building, but adorning the front was a...
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Introduction: Other Routes of Resistance
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From the early twentieth to twenty-first centuries, Kurdish activists used many means to try to achieve territorial authority, Kurdish cultural recognition, and democratic reform in Turkey. Official resistance to such efforts resulted in a series of conflicts between the Kurdish national movement and the Turkish state that would ultimately..
1. Early Routes: Conditions of Kurdish Electoral Mobilization
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This chapter explores early efforts to use electoral politics to promote reforms concerning Kurds and to establish a new kind of Kurdish representation in Turkey. In the 1940s and 1950s, Kurds participated in politics but did not openly use their office to challenge state policies concerning ethnicity and governance in the southeast. In...
2. New Collective Challengers: The Institutional Trajectory of Turkey’s First Pro-Kurdish Party
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On June 7, 1990, a small group of parliamentarians submitted a petition to the Turkish Interior Ministry to found a new party called the People’s Labor Party (Halkın Emek Partisi, or HEP). Party chairman Fehmi Işıklar told the press that the new party had been established to take a leading role in the promotion of...
3. Resources of the System
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Entering the legal political game gave Kurdish activists access to a range of tangible and intangible assets that could be used to advance the interests of pro-Kurdish parties and the Kurdish national movement. This chapter examines what sorts of resources pro- Kurdish activists could deploy by working within the formal political...
4. Characteristics of Coercion: Obstructing Access to Resources
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Between 1990 and 2008 pro-Kurdish parties and their members experienced a wide array of coercive measures that restricted their access to the resources of the system, interfered with their ability to use them to advance the movement and its goals, and at times threatened to end pro-Kurdish party activism entirely. Party administrators...
5. Producing Competing Truths
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This chapter describes how pro-Kurdish parties used the formal political system between 1990 and 1994 as a “broadcasting system” for the transmission of a pro-Kurdish narrative that challenged the state’s discourse on security, violence, and identity. Entry into the system— and, especially, the Parliament—provided unparalleled access to...
6. Creating a New Kurdish Subject
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In April 1999 pro-Kurdish party candidates swept into local offices in towns and cities across the southeast. For the first time in Turkey’s history, a Kurdish political party expressly committed to furthering collective Kurdish rights had gained control of dozens of municipalities in the Kurdish-majority southeastern provinces. In local elections in 2004...
Conclusions: Assessing a Challenger’s Impact
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In July 2007 a pro-Kurdish party won representation in the Turkish parliament for the first time in thirteen years. Although running as independents, the nearly two-dozen new parliamentarians represented the Democratic Society Party (DTP), formed in 2005. Among the unlikely new members of Parliament was a Kurdish lawyer who had been...
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Publication Year: 2010