Defying the Democracy Cure
THE SOURCE: “When Democratization Radicalizes: The Kurdish Nationalist Movement in Turkey” by Günes Murat Tezcür, in Journal of Peace Research, Nov. 2010.
Spurred by the hope of joining the European Union, Turkey embarked on a wave of reform between 1999 and 2004. It abolished its death penalty, liberalized regulation of political parties and the press, and expanded the rights of non-Muslim minorities. Ankara even eased up on treatment of the country’s ethnic Kurds, who are concentrated near the borders with Iraq and Iran, and who have been subjected to a long-standing Turkish policy of repression and forced assimilation. In 2002, the Grand National Assembly voted to allow radio and television programs to be broadcast in Kurdish (albeit for a limited amount of time each day). In 2004, when possibilities were the brightest they had ever been, the Kurdish insurgent group the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) announced an end to a four-year-old cease-fire and resumed a two-pronged campaign of urban bombings and rural insurgency.