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Excerpts translated from the special broadcast marking the screening of the film “Terrorist: Zehra el le altre”, concerning Zehra Doğan, Aslı Erdoğan and Şebnem Korur Fincancı. The podcast was published on November 18 2019 on Radio Sonar. With Alberto Negri, journalist; Zehra Doğan, artist and journalist; animated by journalist Francesca Nava.
A.N. I would like to ask Zehra: since you’ve arrived in Europe, do you think people over here have really understood what is going on over there?
Z.D. I think they have understood. But that isn’t the case for everyone. In fact, I travel all over and give talks. One day, a friend told me I was turning into a robot from constantly repeating the same thing. We can’t tell what is going on now for the Kurds only with tales for the news, what they did with ISIS or what they’ve been subjected to by Erdogan. Even prior to this, during the period when Tansu Çiller was prime minister of Turkey, even before that, all along the history of the Turkish Republic, from the earliest times, during the Ottoman period, we have always lived under oppression. But, parallel to this, we have continued to resist.
F.N. I have a few questions for Alberto Negri concerning current news topics also mentioned in this documentary. You have often described Erdogan as the dog chosen by NATO, then let loose from his cage in order to massacre the Kurds. What is currently going on in Rojava can simply be described as an ethnic cleansing. An American diplomat even published a paper on The New York Times, something that was supposed to remain confidential, in which he accuses the Trump administration of collaborating in the ethnic cleansing and the war crimes. An ex-commander of the international coalition (a certain Allen, I believe) has said the same thing. We’re talking here of an ethnic cleansing, of a genocide occurring on a background of total silence from the international community and public opinion. How is it possible that, once again, Italy, Europe, the UN, the West do nothing, say nothing, remain silent concerning what is going on over there. And yet, the stakes in that part of the world concern us deeply. Can you explain the stakes involved in this part of the Middle East and why we remain silent once again in front of the campaign of genocide, of ethnic cleansing and replacement? Because what is going on over there is quite simply a demographic replacement, an ethnic cleansing of a people who were our allies and whom we have abandoned, betrayed, once again. I know this question requires a long answer.
A.N. As far as I’m concerned, I would be satisfied if even only one person among the audience here tonight kept that in mind and thought from time to time about what she saw here. That she recall this one image of asphalt filling with blood. You know, I have spent 40 years seeing this asphalt filling with blood. All over the Middle East, Northern Africa, all of Africa. It isn’t only a matter of the Kurdish question. Have you forgotten the Palestinians, maybe? The Egyptians being massacred in the prisons, the 500 000 dead Syrians? The images you just saw a moment ago shocked me even more during my stay over there with Garyp because, yes, with Garyp we went on location to see what was going on over there, because you mustn’t think that us Western journalists are like drones flying overhead. No, you are not a drone but a journalist walking on the roads. Without Garyp’s help we could not have seen certain things, Cizre, Silvan, Diyarbakir while the bombs were falling on the town centre, a fifteenth century mosque set on fire by Erdogan’s cannon. These images of destruction struck me even more in 2015 as I was coming from Syria where I had seen entire villages completely destroyed, and I was wondering where I found myself then – was I in Turkey or in Syria. Because I was witnessing the same destruction, the same despair, the same deaths, the same massacres. But Turkey is a member of NATO, a country with which we have commercial contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. We manufacture the weapons. You know that in Kayseri we manufacture the Augusta helicopters used by the Turkish army to fly over the towns and bomb them. We already know these things.
Francesca, you asked me why we don’t do anything. It’s obvious, because we are villains since we know full well the reason why blood runs in the streets, it isn’t only because of Erdogan because even Zehra reminded us earlier, there is a long and ancient history. A chronicle of the consequences following the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, the entire chronicle of colonialism the nations invented, separating entire populations. On October 1st 2014 when I entered Kobanê, I arrived by the town of Suruç, located on the Turkish border, you could enter through a hole in the wire fence. But those in Suruç knew the ones in Kobanê, for they were relatives, separated by a frontier. We separated them during colonial times, we separated populations, families, souls, cultures. We took them and fragmented them, tore them to pieces. We are not spectators, we are Erdogan’s accomplices.
And you who have seen these images today, you are not a stranger to what is going on over there. You are not only witnesses, you are accomplices to all that, every day. Of course there are major and minor accomplices, yes? We Italians, Europeans are perhaps minor accomplices. Afterwards, there are major accomplices, such as Trump for example, yes? Who shakes Erdogan’s hand and tells him straight off “I am your admirer since day one”. Do you realize? But do you even begin to truly realize? After clearing the field for the massacre of Kurds, after seeing how he massacres the Kurds, after doing what he has done, he tells him: “I am your admirer since day one.” That means we are admirers of these massacres. That is the reality, no more, no less.
It concerns the Kurds, but it’s the same thing for the Palestinians. When was the last ime you heard someone say something concerning the expansion of Israël’s colonies, have you heard anything about the colonies, about the bombing of Gaza? Silence. However, this silence surrounding massacres of hundreds of Kurds, Palestinians, Egyptians and of several other peoples of this region, the silence is now insinuating itself in a devastating way inside our society. When you allow yourself to see that you next door neighbor – for it is truly a matter of our neighbors on the same floor, for you have visited this beautiful Istanbul, yes? And you have seen the post card of this place when you went on holiday…those people are truly our next door neighbors. And you have given the green light for their massacre. First, they will set the house next door on fire, but the fire will reach your place, it will come through the walls.
The other day Trump tweeted that a few weeks ago he had abandoned Rojava and left the Kurds to face Turkey and the Turkish loving militias made up of jihadists, jihadists we had already seen over there, in Cizre, in Silvan for they were already using jihadists then, back in 2011. OK, great. He said in a tweet, ok, let them croak once and for all those Kurds, after all we’re 11 000 km away. Following that kind of reasoning you later get the Ben Ladens and the destruction of the twin towers. Following those kinds of words you produce attacks in Europe. But that’s nothing, ladies and gentlemen. The worst is that you insinuate in the heart of our society something that will lead some day to our being governed by one Erdogan or another, right here.
F.N. Out of curiosity : we seem to be in a real scenario to which NATO is an accomplice. What is NATO nowadays? Should we hold its funeral? How is it possible that a NATO ally buys weapons from the Russians and that no one says a word about it, as if buying from the Americans, then with the F 35, buying from the neighbor Erdogan etc; with the anti-missibles shields bought from the Russians, it’s as if we were playing at some sort of game of Risk. Is Erdogan making fun of us?
A.N. The meeting between Erdogan and Trump the other day set the tombstone on NATO. And Trump has let it be known that, from now on, Europe could be at the mercy of an Erdogan or of any Putin whatsoever. He doesn’t care. Those countries no longer interest him, nor do the Europeans or Europe, their values don’t interest him. In speaking about NATO, the French President, Macron, talked of cerebral coma. Why cerebral coma? When we abandoned the Kurds and Rojava, we not only abandoned those people, we also abandoned all those who shared the same Western values. As if, by the way, people’s lives were exclusively a Western value. As if it wasn’t a value common to all of humanity. But that is what we have done, and that is the result. And Trump signed that agreement with Erdogan without even giving the Europeans a call. That means quite simply that he has abandoned the Europeans to their fate. Europe is no longer useful to the United States. Consequently, an Erdogan, a Putin, an Orban, whomever, they don’t care. But what have they done? They’ve set off the alarm system. They went to take care of the Syrian oil fields in Deir ez Zor and showed us that, when it comes to the wealth from oil, from the soil, when it comes to money, they want to keep their hand in, of course. That is the message they sent us. Very simpl, brutual, as brutal as the blood you saw running on the asphalt.
F.N. What should we expect? Because this is extremely worrisome as behind this reasoning I see nothing but war on the horizon, very worrisome if we consider everything we have evoked here, concerning the jihadist fighters Erdogan is starting to send back, it’s like a real scenario from the Far West where the only topic is money.
A.N. We can see it through the people you interveiwed in this documentary. Asli Erdogan said something very interesting. She said: listen, there is no need for nazi concentration camps or Stalinist goulags, no need for a third world war. These days, we need much less in order to produce a society that is less and less democratic, less end less civil, less and less free. No need for another great war. All it takes are small daily massacres, day after day. What message comes up from all those countries in the Middle East, on the Mediterranean…? The message to us is very clear: “You have seen what is happening over there since Libya rebelled; when you blow out a dictator, anarchy moves in. You dethroned a dictator like Saddam in Irak, and anarchy follows. When you rebel against Erdogan, new wars and massacres begin.” This is the message of fear. Asli Erdogan spoke about that fear. The message of fear is not only addressed to Kurds, Palestinians, Algerians, Egyptians…This message is aimed directly at you, directly at us: they want to frighten us.
F.N. What Can we do? Что делать ? Que faire?
A.N. First, we can do this: come to a this place and watch a film like the one you made and learn how to resist, true resistance, through other people’s example. And what is true resistance? Do we know about resistance over here? It is what is coming from the peoples surrounding us, from those who have seen their society in crisis, from those who have given testimony of massacres, bombings, who have seen the deaths of their children, their relatives, their families and, despite it all, have continued to resist.
That is the lesson we are being sent from the other side of the Mediterranean. But perhaps we have already forgotten it (resistance) because too many years have gone by since we have known true resistance here.