For months, the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has been making contacts and trying to create a solution to the issue known in the Turkish political arena as “the Kurdish problem.”
In my opinion, this name is both an insult to Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin and a way to frame the issue in such a way that makes it impossible to solve. If the German government had coined the issues that it faces with the country’s Turkish minority as “the Turkish problem,” I am sure that we would be outraged.
The funny thing is that politicians with the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP, also use this degrading language.
The DTP does not hide its ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, an internationally recognized terrorist organization. However, the government’s efforts to find a solution are made in the shadow of the DTP. Therefore, one can say that the government is essentially following a path drawn by a party that does not condemn terrorism.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan initiated serious talks with the DTP even though he has said before that he would never talk to an organization that does not openly condemn terrorism. Through these talks, imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan has became the key person in the solution to the “problem.” DTP Vice President Emine Ayna has openly told the press that Öcalan is the person who should be addressed for a solution. Suddenly the most hated person has become the only hope. There are even some people who try to associate Öcalan with Nelson Mandela.
All this has happened for one main reason. The AKP thinks that the DTP is the only voice for Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin and that Öcalan is the natural leader of the Kurdish minority. When you think this way, it makes perfect sense to try to solve the issue in the DTP’s shadow. However, common sense says that even though the voice of the DTP is very important and has to be heard, it is not the only voice – and perhaps not even the strongest one.
That’s where technology and Web 2.0 kick in. Talking only to the organizations that created the problems is history. It is time to speak with the people directly. Even the U.S. military is beginning to get opinions from Iraqi people in order to change their ways for the better through Twitter and other Web 2.0 projects where it engages in discussions with “real” Iraqis.
In her essay “Saving Democracy with Web 2.0,” Jennifer Granick, the executive director of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, says that ideas like Web 2.0 are completely nonpartisan, totally political and fundamentally democratic. She suggests that there are already applications emerging that track how the government spends its budget to see if any regions or minority groups are left out in the cold. Why shouldn’t the Turkish government use these powerful tools to reach people directly instead of following whatever a jailed terrorist says without questioning?
It would be so easy to build a tool to get suggestions from Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin.
Would it not be wiser to make sure that what DTP demands are the real priorities of the local inhabitants before engaging in discussions that could polarize Turkey further? What if extremist Turks do not like what Öcalan has to offer and start rioting to create turbulence, as happened between the leftists and rightists before the 1980s?
Would it not be wiser to get opinions from a broader citizen base and engage in discussions with the people directly when the technological tools needed to do so are readily available?

Hurriyet Daily News