Tag Archives: PKK

Children Trapped In War Against Kurds

A Turkish flotilla of ships sailed to bring aid to the embattled people of Gaza, and its government denounced Israel for violating human rights, but those who spoke eloquently against oppression are remarkably silent when it comes to the oppression of Kurdish children in Turkey. Metin, a 15 year old Kurdish boy was arrested on charges of aiding Kurdish rebels, thrown into jail for five months, finally released, then thrown back in on charges of throwing rocks during a demonstration. In jail, he shared a bed with two other boys, was beaten by guards, “it was freezing in winter and in summer we couldn’t take showers. Police were rough and pressured us to confess to being supporters of the PKK.”According to Kurdish lawyers, children as young as eleven are imprisoned with adults, and denied access to legal counsel. Many are termed the “stone throwing generation” because at some point these children took part in demonstrations. As one Kurdish activist noted, ‘when they enter prison, they are just kids, when they leave they are militants.”

Turkish law makes not distinction between appearing at a protest and being a militant. If a parent takes their children to a rally, the children from that moment on are now termed to be terrorists! Place children in a jail with hardened militants, and there is scant doubt they will become what they were charged with being–a Kurdish militant.

Ironically, the Turkish government policies of uprooting Kurdish families, ejecting them from their villages, is more alike than different to Israel policy in the West Bank. Exactly, who are the oppressors?

Kurdish Rebels Reject Peace Agreement

Among the longest fights that has been present in the Middle East is the struggle by Kurdish rebels to obtain a separate nation by carving out a piece of Turkey that claim is really Kurdish. Iraq President Jalal Talabani while meeting with Turkish President Gul urged members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to lay down their arms and work for peace. Iraq is concerned the presence of an armed rebel group on its territory just adds one more complication to their efforts at ending violence in the country. Of course, the PKK believes it represents the interests of Kurdish people and the only way is the use of force.

The people of Iraq have known nothing but violence for over twenty years. During Saddam Hussein’s rule, Kurdish people were oppressed, but now there is an opportunity to work for peace. The path to peace is not easy, but the path to war only results in death and destruction.

Turkish Prime Minister Urges Redefinition Of Terrorism

Perhaps, among the most serious mistakes after 9/11 was to cast American foreign policy in terms of a “war against terrorism.” The word, “terrorism” is vague and does not refer to any specific nation or entity that will be compelled to surrender in order to end the war. A “war against terrorism” can go on into infinity since there will always be terrorists and murderers in our midst. Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey has raised new issues concerning this war. ‘President Obama must redefine terror and terrorist organizations in the Middle East,” he urged, “and based on this new definition, a new American policy must be deployed in the Middle East.” Erdogan most probably was referring to organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas which are defined as being “terrorist” in nature. The prime minister has played a key role in seeking to mediate the conflict between Israel and Syria, but after the invasion of Gaza he suspended this effort. However, he is now prepared to resume the role of mediator and pursue a path to peace.

Erdogan’s government for decades has been engaged in fighting Kurdish insurgents who want to break away from Turkey. Based on that experience, he argues, “we see there is a diplomatic side, a social-economic side, and a psychological side. So we must adopt a very comprehensive approach in order to find ways to fight terrorism.” He notes “because terrorism does not recognized borders, has no religion or creed, one cannot approach the problem by saying my terrorist is fine and yours is not.” An excellent insight and one America must grasp.

Obama Promises Turkish-Iraq-Kurdish Summit

In 2001, most opinion polls revealed that over 70% of Turkish people had a favorable view towards the United States. Today the figure is about 9%. Barack Obama promised, if elected, to restore American relations with Turkey. As step one in achieving that goal, he is urging a Turkish-Iraq-Kurdish summit meeting which would deal with issues created by the outlawed Kurdish Worker’s Party(PKK) which conducts military action against Turkey from bases in Iraq. The Obama statement recognized the economic importance of Turkey and Iraq to one another and by ending the PKK threat it would facilitate economic development in the region.

Hopefully, a President Obama would reach out to Iran which also is concerned about PKK activities and urge its presence in such a summit meeting. This might be the first step in persuading Iran there are economic benefits in working cooperatively with a United States that desires stability in the region.

Obama has also promised to work with Cyprus and Turkey to deal with the problem of a divided island. A solution would improve Turkish-Greek relations.

Turkey Confronts Ethnic Conflict

Recent attacks on Turkish military forces by members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party(PKK) have raised ethnic tensions within the country. Within days after several Turkish soldiers were killed by Kurdish terrorists, anti-Kurd incidents broke out all over the nation. In an Ankara high school, leftist and rightist students engaged in fighting while thousands of emails appeared urging people to boycott Kurdish owned shops in the city. Even on Facebook, many anti-Kurdish groups have begun to emerge. Yusuf Alatas, of the Human Rights Association,(IHD) blamed government inaction as a source of this violence. “For a long time, people have been hearing propaganda aimed at provoking negative sentiments. when the first lynching attempts took place several years ago, instead of preventing or punishing the perpetrators, the security forces and the state sided with them.”

Many Turkish cities are reporting incidents of anti-Kurd attacks as well as am accelerating electronic assault on Kurds. One solution would be emphasizing multicultural education in schools and dealing with economic and social discrimination.

Turkish Anger Escalates Over Kurdistan Attacks

The attack a few days ago by members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party(PKK) provides incentive for war advocates in Turkey to escalate demands that only military action is the solution in dealing with legitimate grievances of Kurds in their country. Last Friday’s attacks which resulted in the death of about a dozen Turkish soldiers came just as Parliament was discussing giving its nation’s military even more leverage in striking into Iraq in pursuit of rebel forces. It is now clear just about every political party in Turkey is ready to give the military almost unlimited power to attack where they so desire regardless if it means sending thousands of troops into Iraq.

Ironically, the European Union was urging Turkey to focus on domestic efforts to deal with needs of its Kurdish population, but since the PKK attacks, it will cease playing a role of restraint and join the movement toward military solutions of problems. The Turkish military was talking about domestic solutions, but it is now determined to use full force in crushing the PKK. As always, when terrorism is handled by military tactics, human rights suffer and wise diplomacy gets lost in the shuffle to invade and kill the enemy.

Turkey Confronts Issues In Kurdish Areas

The Justice and Development Party(AKP) of Turkey is examining issues related to how best the nation can work with Kurdish citizens in the southeast section of the country and is it necessary to utilize military operations against Kurdish rebels in those areas as well as in Iraq. Some argue the issues are best confronted through economic development, improve social rights of Kurds and work to place Kurds in positions of political leadership. Members of the armed forces are more inclined to resort to military action against rebels. Prime Minister Recep Erdogan recently chaired an important meeting with those involved in the anti-terror campaign. Parliament has granted the government authority to send Turkish armed forces across the border into Iraq to confront members of the Kurdistan Workers Party(PKK).

A fly in the ointment for the AKP is the upcoming elections and their fear using violence against Kurds would seriously damage the ability of the party to obtain votes in the southeast region. There might even be greater benefit to legalizing the PKK and get them involved in a political process rather than a military one.

Iran And Turkey: Friends Or Enemies?

Relations beten Turkey and Iran have not been particulalry close over the past few decades even though both nations possess among the most powerful military forces in the Middle East. However, their joint concern over Kurdish rebels may well be a sparkplug which brings them even closer together. Last week, they signed a memorandum of understanding, “the increase in some terrorist movments in the region damages both countries and the most inflluential way to battle this outlaw problem is the exchange of intelligence and security coopertion.” In other words, Kurd rebels on the border Iran and the border of Turkey bring together two reluctant friends.

Turkey has already made cross the border excursions into Iraq and there are reports Iran has shelled Kurdish rebels in northeast Iraq. Iran complains Kurdish members of th Party For Free Life in Kurdistan(PJAK) are supplied by US intelligence even while America is supporting Turkish attacks against the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party(PKK). It appears the presence of the same enemy between Iran and Turkey might eventually result in much closer military cooperation. How will the United States respond to such close ties?

Turkey–We May Go In Again To Iraq!

Trkey’s top general made clear his nation may once again send troops into northern regions of Iraq to continue the campaign against the outlawed Kudish Workers Party(PKK). “We have taught them a lesson. But there will be more lssons to be taught to them in the future,” emphasized General Yasar Buyukjanit, Chief of the General Staff. In his first press conference after the eight day invasion, Buyukanit made clear his soldiers retired not due to pressure from the United States but after successfully completing the mission of the invasion. “I say it again. There was no influence from outside or inside.”

General Buyukanit admitted the PKK could not be wiped out in a single operation which might necessitate further incursions into Iraq. He expressed anger toward critics who want Turkey to place more emphasis on economic, social and educational efforts with Kurds. He said conducting education in the Kurdish language would “cause serious consequences for the future of the country.” Exactly, which ones, he never made clear.

Turkey has to focus much more intently on confronting issues of prejudice against Kurds in their own society. A military venture can have limited immediate impact, but long term solutions lay more in classrooms and ending economic and social discrimnation.

Ironically, even as he spoke, Prime Minister Erdogan was telling Israel to end its invasion of the Gaza Strip.

Turkish View–A Day Or A Year In Iraq?

American and Turkish officials failed to reach an agreement as to when Turkey’s armed forces will be departing from Iraq. Yesterday, President Bush told a press conference, “Turkish troops sh ould withdraw from northern Iraq as soon as possible” while Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told Turkish officials in Anakara, “the U.S. believes the current offensive should be as short and precisely targeted as possible.” Turkish Chief of Staff Generl Yasar Buyukanit told Gates, “short term is a relative notion. Sometimes it is a day, sometimes a year.” He pointed out Turkey has been struggling with terrorism for 24 years and noted America has been in Afghanistan for six years.

Prime Minister Erdfogan insists “Turkish soldiers will be returning after achieving their goals” but will not pinpoint the exact time when that task will have been accomplished. On one hand, Gates accepts the complexity of the situation, on the other hand, the United States is protecting the integrity of the Iraqi government. Unfortunately, the two might not coincide in terms of a timetable for withdrawal.

Once again, the Bush administration is living with unintended and unexpected consequences of the ill fated invasion of Iraq. Most experts knew from day one of Bush’s actions to get rid of Saddam Hussein that an important result would be creation of a confusing situation in Kurdistan. Neither Bush, Cheney, nor Rumsfeld had any grasp as to what they were doing in terms of Turkey’s concern over creation of an independent Kurdistan state. Of course, neither did right wing pundits like Rush Limbaugh and the others who still insist the Iraq operation was the right move.