On December 28, 2011, 36 villagers on their way back to their village in South East Turkey, or what many Kurds call “Northern Kurdistan”, were killed by the Turkish air force. Villagers in those areas are, thanks to the continual economic deprivation of the region at the hands of the Turkish state, very poor people whose livelihood depends mainly on this trading of small quantities of goods with neighboring Kurdish villages over the Iraqi border. Yes, it is indeed trade, but because it is done by the poor in this case, it is called smuggling. Remarkably, when the rich do the same thing with exponentially larger quantities of goods, it is called “trade”… In fact, even when the “goods” the oppressors purchase are deadly weapons worth billions of dollars, it is still considered legitimate business.
The 36 victims were “smuggling” a few bags of sugar, perhaps a dozen gallons of fuel, and some cigarettes on the back of a few mules. The desperate villagers in that area have been confined by the borders that were once drawn by colonial powers to divide lands, and whoever happened to live on those lands. They have been abandoned by all states and their gods. They are deprived of every source of livelihood, and when their children trade some commodities to make daily life possible, they are called “smugglers”. The 36 “smugglers” were burned with bombs dropped from F16 war planes that were not smuggled from the USA, but legitimately purchased. In the present world, it is not only lands and skies that belong to the ruling groups, but also truth and moral rightness. If the poor trade a few bags of goods across the sacred borders of the state, they become smugglers who deserve collective burning, but if the state purchases F16s for billions of dollars, which was directly stolen from the wealth that once belonged to its victims themselves, it is justified as state affairs. After all, it is the ruling groups who create the laws, and therefore define what is legitimate and what is not. It is these same ruling groups who distribute the right to live, and thus assume the right to kill whoever is not deemed worthy of living.
The Turkish officials did not deny the killing of 36 young Kurdish villagers on Dec. 29, 2011. Instead, they simply claimed that their American-made pilot-less spy planes had spotted these people and using this information they had been mistaken for PKK guerrillas, so they carried out the operation to eliminate them. Of course, this is treated as a perfectly legitimate excuse. If you must blame something, blame the producers of the pilot-less spy planes. In doing so, the death of these impoverished villagers has become just another technical mistake. In fact, Kurds themselves are nothing but millions of mistakes. Why would it matter, then, if another 36 of them are burned with the press of a button on an F16 war plane? This is especially the case in Turkey where the borders; unbearable oppression and imposed poverty; upkeep of NATO’s largest standing army after the American army; openly racist constitution of the Turkish Republic; history of Fascist social engendering ; and institutionalized political oppression are far from mistakes. Rather, they are part of an extremely strategic and ongoing campaign against Turkey’s internal enemies whose non-Turkish existence is the single most frightening threat to the state.
Ironically, on the same day, December 29, 2011, there were also confirmed reports of Iraq finalizing an 11-billion-dollar deal (and this is only the first installment) for 18 American F16 fighter jets to “defend itself”. But against whom, I ask? Iran? That would be unlikely given that the Iraqi government itself takes orders on the most crucial issues from Tehran. Perhaps Sunni Arabs? But Saudi Arabia is also about to finalize a deal to buy not 18, but 84 of those same American-made F16 fighter jets. So perhaps it makes the most sense to instead consider potential internal enemies of the state, especially given the history of these types of domestic offensives in Iraq. Recall, for instance, the 1988 Iraqi campaign of ethnic cleansing of Kurds using chemical weapons.
Of course, this business of F16s is just a part of the world-wide, trillion-dollar arms industry that is orchestrated by global capitalism and its so-called free market. The Lockheed Martin Corporation (the manufacturer of the F16 fighter jets), the American administration, and the Middle Eastern sectarian and fascist regimes sell and buy natural resources and mass-murdering weapons within the free market of the neoliberal world for the purposes of business, accumulation of capital, “defense,” and so on. What’s more, these dealings are perfectly lawful in a world run by fascist capitalism and racist fascism. However, if a bunch of villagers transport some basic goods across imaginary borders on the back of a few mules, the most advanced technology of war is put in place to eliminate them. Which one really warrants its own destruction, a world system in which those who work earn nothing but endless suffering and servitude, and those who don’t work have everything including the right to massacre disadvantaged peoples, or a group of poor villagers who walk through hell to bring back goods to sell in order to afford a loaf of bread?
A Kurd is smuggled into being and it is the Turkish state who has taken it upon itself to send them back to the nothingness from which they came. The problem, however, is that the Kurd cannot be sent back to nothingness because, as the popular Arabic myth goes, Kurds are the descendants of ghosts. Thus, not even F16s can eliminate them. They will always be there to disturb the great dream of the revival of the Turkish Empire and Arab unity. In the shape of workers, smugglers, activists, and Marxist-Leninist guerrillas, they re-appear again and again. They re-appear and with them more fighter jets are “traded” to counteract their existence. Some peoples exist as curses to humanity, and Kurds happen to be one of those peoples. But curses are also, dialectically, blessings. The more Kurds re-appear in the rigid mountains with their mules, the more American F16s are sold to Turkey.
A Kurdish joke goes, a Kurd is sent to Hell, and on the following day the divine administration wakes up to find all the inmates of Hell had disappeared only to realize the Kurdish inmate had smuggled them all to Paradise. Smuggling, after all, is what has made the survival of Kurds possible throughout modern history. The Kurd is a universal smuggler. She smuggles dreams into the reality and reality into dreams. Hopefully, there will always be Kurds who smuggle the inmates of Hell to some other world beyond the bloody borders of God’s righteous peoples.