But what is it that causes conflict if the PKK has no grounding in the population or any “real substance?” One strand of Turkish opinion believes that the Kurdish conflict is caused by the backwardness and lack of education of the Kurds. Here, Turkish interviewees – including from the foreign ministry – stressed that backward social and economic structures are at the root of Kurdish dissatisfaction. In their search for a united republic, Turks label Kurds the “Future-Turks.” This argument about the backwardness of the Kurds is strongly rejected by the Kurdish population. Mothers of children who went “to the mountains” stressed that their daughters and sons were highly educated, having received university education. Their children “are in no way backward or uneducated.”2 In fact, these mothers were not only proud of their children’s education, but were equally proud of their youth’s willingness to die for their people.3 The acceptance and social rewarding of martyrdom discloses a level of radicalization that stands in contradiction to the view that Kurds lack substance. While Kurdish mothers are proud of their freedom fighters, Turks deny any legitimate cause of their terrorists. From the point of view of many Turks, Kurds essentially do not exist as a separate ethnic group. Thus, in the 1970s it was common wisdom in Turkey that Kurdish was a peculiar way of speaking Turkish.4 The roots of this perception date back to the very beginning of Attatürk’s Republic:

Everybody in this country is a Turk. This is also in the constitution. The ones who define themselves differently then become the enemy and have to be either isolated or treated in a way that they should accept the identity given by the constitution.5