The Kurdish Women’s Movement in the Netherlands asked Frederike Geerdink several questions about how she got in touch with the Kurdish freedom struggle and about the recent political events in Kurdistan:
You have followed the Kurdish people’s struggle for a long time now, and you have also written many articles and books about that. How did you come in touch with the Kurds and what aroused your interest for the Kurdish struggle?
As a freelance Turkey correspondent, which I started to be in 2006, I wrote about many subjects going on in Turkey and the Kurdish issue was one of them. The issue started to become more important after Roboski massacre, on 28 December 2011. I lived in Istanbul at the time and went to the village a few days after the massacre happened, just for one day to make two stories. But I returned to Istanbul having more questions than answers about what had happened there. So I returned to Gülyazi (Kurdish name Bejuh), where part of the families live and where the graveyard is – Roboski (Turkish name Ortasu) is the village around the corner, even closer to the border. And turned up returning many times and eventually decided to write a book about it.
Roboski massacre showed the whole Kurdish issue at a square kilometer, in all its depth but also in all its basicness: people are deprived of their rights in every possible way, and it needs to end.
This taught me a lot about journalism as well. There were no ‘two sides’ to this story. There was the truth, and there was the government’s framing of it. Theframing needed to be mentioned and I did that in the articles and book I wrote about it, but not as a possible truth but as the framing it was. I could only take that stand because I had properly investigated it. I learned about the Kurdish issue, and I got to know the state.
My book about Roboski massacre, The Boys Are Dead, is available in Dutch, Turkish, English and Arabic, more info on www.frederikegeerdink.com
You travelled many times to Kurdish cities and have witnessed the Turkish state’s policy against the Kurds first-hand. Today the Turkish state’s annihilation policy against the Kurds has reached some new heights. In your opinion how did the state’s attacks and policy worsened?
Of course, this started in 2015, when the peace process fell apart, or, let’s say, when the state decided to end the so-called peace process because Erdogan didn’t gain anything from it anymore. Then the alliance with the MHP worsened the situation further. Also that the EU does absolutely nothing but lets its unfounded fear of refugees (and its lust for economic markets) define its relationship with Turkey, is highly problematic.
To break a whole society, oppressive systems target the female population aggressively for that purpose. The Turkish state carried out for decades a policy of rape, torture and murder against Kurdish women specifically. As you also know the Kurdish women’s movement in Europe initiated on 25 November a campaign called ‘100 reasons to prosecute the dictator’. The goal is to make the world aware of the crimes committed on the order of Erdogan specially against women and have him prosecuted for that. He did undoubtedly commit many terrible crimes against humanity that should lead to his prosecution at the international criminal tribunal. What is needed to be done more to reach that goal and achieve justice?
In my dreams, Erdogan is one day held accountable for his many crimes in a domestic court. Mass murder, ethnic cleansing, but also corruption and theft. And yes, femicide as well. I hope one day Turkey will have a real truth and reconciliation committee to help the people of Turkey heal. But such commissions will not excuse crimes like the ones Erdogan committed. He must face trial, preferably at home because that would mean something has radically changed in Turkey, but if that’s not possible, in an international court – to be honest, I don’t know which one is harder to achieve since I am no international law expert.
Wherever the trial is held, I hope to be at the press tribune and report about it. I’ll make it a book.