Turkey: Kurds mount resistance to war drive

In response to the new offensive by the Turkish government, Kurds in the country's east are declaring their own regional autonomy. The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) announced a "democratic autonomous region" in Dersim (Tunceli) province, and established checkpoints on the main road ithrough the region on Aug. 18. "We as guerrillas, under the right of self-defense for ourselves and our nation, declare democratic autonomy in Dersim," said a fighter in a video released by the group, showing their militants controlling the road and searching vehicles. Villages in Dogubeyazit district (Ağrı province) likewise issued an autonomy declaration. Local PKK militant Muhsin Kula said: "We will not recognize state institutions in this region. We hereby declared that we manage ourselves." Fighting between the PKK and government forces has left several dead this month, especially in Hakkari province, although accounts of the death toll widely vary. The government is denying PKK claims of 30 soldiers killed, claimg to have lost only one. Kurdish anger has been enflamed by reports that a female PKK fighter named Ekin Van was allegedly raped and killed before her naked body was dragged through the streets in Varto (Muş province). (Rudaw, Aug. 18)  (See map)

In the largely Kurdish city of Diyarbakır, residents on Aug. 20 started the first day of what will be a daily walkout to protest the internal war in Turkey. The Democratic Regions Party (DBP) has called for citizens of Diyarbakır to stop business as usual every day for five minutes to call a halt to the government's offensive. Neighborhoods in the city have declared their own autonomy, electing local assemblies. The Sur district of the city has seen intense street-fighting with the security forces since declaring self-government. (JINHA, Aug. 21) Leaders of the People's Democracy Party (HDP) and other pro-Kurdish parties were arrested as the autonomy declarations were announced. The co-mayors of the Kurdish-majority towns of Silvan and Sur (Diyarbakır province) were among those detained. A new HDP policy has two co-mayors, one female and one male, running towns controlled by the party. (MEM, Aug. 19)

PKK political prisoners in Turkey launched an indefinite hunger strike on Aug. 15, demanding an end to the campaign of "political genocide" against the Kurds. They are also demanding that the Turkish state end its ongoing isolation of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been unable to meet with anyone from the outside since April. (JINHA, Aug. 21)