Citizen Nazim Hikmet
BY HASAN BULENT KAHRAMAN
SABAH- Three recent steps taken by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) got less public attention and praise than they deserve: Turkey restored the citizenship of Nazim Hikmet, the TRT started to broadcast in Kurdish, and the new Kurdish-language TRT 6 broadcast the Alevis breaking their Muharren fast live. These problems have been around for a quarter-century and haven't been solved by any ruling party, but now that they were solved no one seems to have noticed or understood.
Some people ask whether restoring Hikmet's citizenship was necessary and whether if he were alive today he would accept this from the ruling party. They also ask if Kurds would embrace the new channel. When I heard all this, I was shocked. I never thought this way and I consider the current situation very important, for the following reasons.
First, I believe that most of the credit for these breakthroughs should go to Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay. He not only made the decision, but also took another important step by saying that he felt disgust at the restaurant now on the site of the 1993 Madimak Hotel fire. Some say the building should be turned into a museum. All this makes me think. As a friend of mine said, Turkish public opinion acts like a spoiled child. It cries until it gets what it wants, but then once it has what it wants, it turns its back. This also shows that the public doesn't know what it wants and doesn't take it seriously.
But for example, when then ruling Social Democratic People's Party (SHP) was considering restoring Hikmet's citizenship, the issue was a top Culture Ministry priority. The first initiative on this issue was made by then Culture Minister Ercan Karakas, when I was a consultant to the ministry. Although there were no legal hurdles to restoring his citizenship, no previous ruling party has been willing to do so. Now it's finally been done, but people give it no respect, which is irrational. The same applies to Kurdish TV broadcasts.
If somebody asked, 'In a unitary state, could there be a state TV channel which broadcasts in a language other than the official language using public money?' I would say nothing. What's strange is that many Kurds don't like the channel. Unfortunately, I'm at a loss to explain this.
All this points to two things: First, culture is no longer 'high culture.' A series of problems of the political structure unsolvable up to now have been solved after they were considered as cultural problems. Secondly, there will be fiercer debate between hardened ideologues. We should be prepared for this. In addition, we should know that those who criticize good decisions are doomed to stay on the wrong side. The right thing to do is to instrumentalize politics or provide politics with a functional character. I congratulate Mr. Gunay."
I admit I'm not into poetry but this story has got me quite interested in reading his works. Good decision btw.