16 sep Kurdish issue or battle with terrorism?
According to the FT of September 15th, ‘Turkey has sent thousands of troops into battle against Kurdish rebels as violence in the country’s most intractable dispute have reached levels not seen for more than a decade…’ 5000 soldiers were mobilized after the forbidden Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) attacked a police station in Semdinli, in the remote south-eastern part of the country. This attack is now used by Turkish prime minister Erdogan to announce the end of the ‘Kurdish opening’, involving negotiations with the PKK and more rights for the Kurds. The end of talks and the beginning of yet another civil war unnoticed by most foreigners, but a heavy burden for Turkey. More than 30.000 people have been killed over the past twenty years during the fights between independence seeking Kurds and the authorities. Kurdish sctivists point at the mass detentions that have put 8000 people behind bars (as the FT has found out.) They complain of discrimination, lack of respect and illegal arrests of, among others, mayors and other officials with a Kurdish background. Journalists are being thrown in prison for publishing articles on child abuse in juvenile correction centres holding mainly Kurdish prisoners. It seems that the Kurds are actually in power in the region around Semdinli, a first in history and a blow to the authorities in Ankara. This, plus the attack, is enough reason for Erdogan to call the Kurds ‘terrorists’ and a danger to the country. And by saying this he points at all the Kurds.
No one seems safe today in Turkey if he or she is a Kurd and hardly anyone outside of Turkey seems to worry. As if the conflict has been going on for too long, or as if violating human rights has become a natural part of the Turkish-Kurdish tensions. Kurds living aboad are not safe either, accoording to the number of Kurds in Dutch and other prisons, regularly being held for God knows what sins they have never committed.
Is this a problem to be solved by those involved or does the international community need to speak up?
The FT writes that politicians in Turkey link the growing power and visibility of the PKK to the influence of foreign countries, such as Syria and Iran, who are at odds with Ankara over its calls for the departure of president Assad. An easy way to cover up the real reason why Turkey is not prepared to offer Kurds independence. That reason being the huge oil reserves cummulating under Kurdish territory. No way Ankara is going to give that away.
An independent Kurdistan will stay a distant dream and will cost many more lives as long as we don’t hear the real story and the international community doesn’t intervene in this ‘friendly’ country, a distinguished member of NATO and still a potential member of the EU.