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Turkey Takes Two-Pronged Approach to Fighting PKK
(24 Messages in 3 pages - View all)
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1.       Roswitha
4132 posts
 04 Mar 2008 Tue 03:54 pm

Turkey's incursion into northern Iraq to fight the PKK may be over, but the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a long way from solving the "Kurdish problem." Erdogan's AKP party is trying another approach -- winning over Kurds with concessions and job promises.

What has Turkey's ground offensive against the PKK really achieved?
The Kaya family keeps photographs of their son Mehmet displayed in the living room of their house. The photos show a young man in a grayish brown uniform, wearing a red star on a yellow background, the symbol of the banned Kurdish Workers' Party, or PKK. Draped over the pictures is the red, yellow and green flag of Kurdistan; simply displaying the Kurdish flag is a crime in itself.

Two female students have set up a camera in the Kaya family's living room. They are filming the interview for Roj TV, a pro-PKK satellite network that is also banned under Turkish law, even if its headquarters are in faraway Denmark.

In early February, before Turkey launched its ground offensive in northern Iraq (more...), Mehmet Kaya was killed in an exchange of fire with government troops. The family drove from Diyarbakir into the mountains to identify the son's body. "He had already written me a farewell letter a long time ago," the mother says into the camera, her voice choked with emotion. "In the letter he wrote: 'You have four other children. Let them fight for our cause.'"

The students are pleased with their recording. It will soon be aired on the channel, as an example of the injustices Kurds face in southeastern Turkey.

No one knows how many Kurds in the region are even receptive to such messages anymore. Even the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan can only guess how popular the PKK, founded in 1978 and classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, is in Diyarbakir. Diyarbakir, considered the unofficial capital of Turkey's Kurds, is one of Turkey's poorest and most neglected cities. Unemployment generally ranges between 60 and 70 percent; in some neighborhoods, it is as high as 90 percent.

This is the epicenter of the ongoing conflict between the Kurds and the Turks, 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the Iraqi border and worlds away from Europe. The region is also home to Turkey's most important military base, where its F-16 fighter jets take off, emitting a dull booming noise that sounds like thunder, on their missions to bomb PKK camps as part of Turkey's Operation Sun. It is also a place where Kurdish youth still volunteer to join the PKK, and where the AKP, Erdogan's conservative Islamic party, is trying to gain a foothold.

So far it is the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) which enjoys the trust and captures the majority of the votes of residents in and around Diyarbakir. It was the only party to criticize the government's military campaign in northern Iraq, and in recent days the DTP has called for demonstrations in major Turkish cities. Public prosecutors accuse the party of being too closely aligned with the PKK, and a petition to ban the DTP is currently before Turkey's Constitutional Court.

Nejdet Atalay, 32, doesn't deny the association with the rebels at all. "They have grown out of the history of our people, and they come from within our ranks." Atalay, wearing a sand-colored suit, is the DTP's new chairman in Diyarbakir. He says that he operates within the tradition of the "Kurdish struggle for freedom," but that he pursues it with democratic means. This, Atalay explains, is why his party has abandoned the old Kurdish demand for an independent state.

People like Atalay envision the Kurds being granted the kinds of rights that minorities like the Scots, the Basques and the Catalans have already been granted: their own regional parliament, a regional government and recognition of the Kurds as a civilized people in the Turkish constitution. But what would happen to the PKK fighters in the mountains? "We need a peaceful solution," he says. "They must be granted amnesty."

The rebels in northern Iraq see things differently. PKK commander Murat Karayilan (more...) has threatened to "take the war into the cities." Karayilan is one of the PKK's leaders who are said to be hiding out somewhere in the impassable mountains of northern Iraq. With words like these, Karayilan awakens memories of the civil war the PKK fought against the Turkish army in the 1980s and 1990s, in which the official death toll reached 40,000.

The PKK has also been taking the war to Diyarbakir lately. In early January, a remote-controlled bomb exploded near a luxury hotel in the city's downtown area, killing five and injuring dozens.

Although the attack was meant for Turkish soldiers, most of the victims were civilians. The PKK later announced that it was a "horrible mistake," which it regretted deeply. Since then the anti-government group's reputation has suffered tremendously in a place that would normally be its stronghold.

The Turkish prime minister's party has been trying to make inroads in Diyarbakir for some time. Abdurrahim Hattapoglu, a 43-year-old Kurdish business consultant, is the local head of the AKP. Like his role model Erdogan, Hattapoglu wears a moustache and necktie. Standing in front an oversized portrait of the prime minister, he talks about how he plans to conquer the "Kurdish stronghold."

Of course, he admits, mass unemployment here in the southeast is devastating, but the planned dam on the Tigris River, scheduled to begin operation in five years, will bring change to the region. "It will provide an additional 300,000 hectares (741,000 acres) of usable land," he says. "That will create at least as many jobs." What he neglects to mention, however, is that hundreds of villages and the historic sites of the town of Hasankeyf will have to be flooded -- the price of progress.

The AKP captured an impressive 41 percent of the vote in Diyarbakir in the 2007 parliamentary elections, an enormous gain over the 16 percent it garnered in elections only five years earlier. Prime Minister Erdogan did not introduce this massive shift by investing in the region, but by uttering a few overdue words. In 2005, he became the first prime minister in Turkey's history to travel to Diyarbakir, where he conceded that Turkey has a "Kurdish problem," adding that it was also his problem.

"That was a historic moment," says Irfan Babaoglu, a reserved man who is chairman of the Kurdish Writers' Association. "He gave us hope. But then he took it away again when he didn't keep his promises."

A sign in Babaoglu's office reads: "Ji Kerema Xwe Re Cixare Neksinin," Kurdish for "Please do not smoke." He was careful not to have the sign printed on official paper, because that would have been a potential offence. All official statements, signs or brochures in the Kurdish language are still forbidden, even though many residents of Diyarbakir speak and read almost no Turkish. Abdullah Demirbas, the mayor of Diyarbakir, was suspended because he had service brochures printed in Kurdish, even though he also had them printed in Arabic and Armenian. He will soon go on trial on charges of distributing "propaganda for the goals of the PKK terrorist organization."

"Of course, it is no longer forbidden to speak Kurdish on the street," says author Babaoglu. "But Kurdish classes are still banned in public schools. Often Kurdish speeches are forbidden during election campaigns, as are the use of Kurdish names for newborn babies, because the Kurdish letters W, X and Q do not exist in the Turkish alphabet." He says that he too is torn between Turkish and Kurdish, between the official and the vernacular language. According to Babaoglu, many Kurds have, like him, the same schizophrenic relationship with their own culture.

"Assimilation is a crime against humanity," Erdogan told Turks during a visit to Germany in mid-February (more...). Back home, he faced journalists asking whether the roughly 15 million Kurds were also permitted to apply this brazen statement to themselves. A short time later, the government announced that Kurdish-language programs could now be broadcast nationwide on TRT, the government-run television network. Was it a new beginning, or just another promise that will not be fulfilled?

Until now, only heavily regulated local stations have been permitted to broadcast in Kurdish, but for no more than 45 minutes a day and only with Turkish subtitles. Gün TV is one of those stations. Its commissioning editor, Diren Keser, 29, recently appeared in court because the word "Kurdistan" was used in one of the station's programs. The misstep could cost him €50,000.

Getting their own state of Kurdistan is no longer the dream of most Kurds. If there is a Kurdistan at all, it is the region across the border in northern Iraq, which is why the Turkish army is a thorn in its side. Officially, at least, the targets of the ground offensive that ended last Friday were the PKK camps in the mountains. It was by no means a permanent withdrawal. Indeed, the Turkish military leadership now plans to build 11 permanent bases in the mountains, to keep the PKK on its toes. "There are further lessons that we need to teach," Turkish General Yasar Buyukanit told reporters Monday at a briefing on Turkey's incursion into Iraq. "There will be operations when needed. We will continue. We will try to inflict heavier blows on the PKK."

According to official sources, 24 soldiers and 237 rebels died in Operation Sun. One family or another will likely be leaving Diyarbakir soon, to pick up the body of a son.


http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,539268,00.html

2.       AlphaF
5677 posts
 04 Mar 2008 Tue 04:12 pm

I wonder how Kurds write their names in Arabic or Persian?

They want a regional government of their own and amnesty for all terrorists on the mountains. Is that all?

Perhaps they would like some fried potatos too, with their order !

3.       azade
1606 posts
 04 Mar 2008 Tue 06:26 pm

Great article

Gelek spas hewal

4.       thehandsom
7403 posts
 04 Mar 2008 Tue 07:10 pm

Ros?
Where are those pictures from?
(they are not from latest incursion I think..may be one of them is from halapce from saddam era)

5.       thehandsom
7403 posts
 04 Mar 2008 Tue 07:28 pm

There have been a discussion going on after this incursion:
The link is here but I am afraid it is turkish only.
http://www.radikal.com.tr/haber.php?haberno=249182

Prof. Dr. Baskın Oran thinks that Turkey itself created PKK generically, and specially, he thinks that diyarbakir prison, which was used for really disgusting crimes during 1980s, played very important role for creating pkk..(There is a book about the incidents in that prison, written by Mehdi Zana)
He proposes an amnesty for pkk members. he also thinks that there should be economical and political reforms. He proposes all the reasons which created pkk should be got rid of..
He also advocates their party (DTP) should be made more powerful..

==
Prof. Dr. Halil Berktay thinks kurdish problem is a Turkish problem. And the turks should change themselves first..He thinks that all the turkish racist elements should be cleared away from everywhere, starting with the constitution.

And also murat belge wrote something about it today (turkish I am afraid )
http://www.radikal.com.tr/haber.php?haberno=249175






6.       LCT
25 posts
 05 Mar 2008 Wed 12:20 pm

It was a fairly similar story in the North of Ireland.
Until the British Army went into the Bogside in Belfast in 1969 the IRA were a very small group of old men who would spend most of their time talking about the past.
In fact until 1972 the IRA never fired a shot against the British army. It was a commmon joke among many against the occupation that the slogan I.R.A, painted on walls meant "I ran away"
After the experience of 3 years of occupation under enemy forces and the brutalisation of the mainly catholic population, the youth started to fight back against the army and so was born the Provisional IRA; a direct product of the British Army's incursion.

The British army still occupies the North of Ireland (Six Counties)- Many of us do not recognize the term "Northern Ireland" as a protest against imperialism.

There are still as many troops there as there are in Iraq.

7.       Daydreamer
3743 posts
 05 Mar 2008 Wed 12:41 pm

I have an idea how to solve the Kurdish problem. Let Kurds vote whether they want to be Turkish citizens or not. If they vote in favour of independence, they should be granted some parts of Turkey and Iran as lands for their country. After all Turkey let Albanians do the same in Kosovo. They should be consequent and allow the same at home.


LTC,

Wasn't there a referendum in Ireland about whether to be independent (ROI) or be part of UK (Northern Ireland)?

8.       Umut_Umut
485 posts
 05 Mar 2008 Wed 12:46 pm

Quoting Daydreamer:

I have an idea how to solve the Kurdish problem. Let Kurds vote whether they want to be Turkish citizens or not. If they vote in favour of independence, they should be granted some parts of Turkey and Iran as lands for their country. After all Turkey let Albanians do the same in Kosovo. They should be consequent and allow the same at home.


LTC,

Wasn't there a referendum in Ireland about whether to be independent (ROI) or be part of UK (Northern Ireland)?



What a great suggestion

9.       Deli_kizin
6376 posts
 05 Mar 2008 Wed 12:58 pm

Quoting Umut_Umut:

What a great suggestion



I guess you are not a ver kurtulcu but a vur kurtulcu lol

10.       Umut_Umut
485 posts
 05 Mar 2008 Wed 12:59 pm

Neither Deli

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