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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.

alberto negri

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.

(Adapted from Maite’s translation from the Italian.)
Translation from french by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Le petit mag­a­zine qui ne se laisse pas caress­er dans le sens du poil.