Turkish intolerance fuels PKK resurgence

Turkey's Kurdish separatist guerillas, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), officially ended a five-year truce in June, and eastern Turkey has since seen a series of bombings and skirmishes. Most recently, five Turkish soldiers died after a bomb blast ripped through a busy street in the town of Semdinli, Hakkari province, near the border with Iran and Iraq, on Aug. 5. (Turkish Weekly, Aug. 6)

The PKK truce came in response to Turkish commitments to respect Kurdish language and cultural rights in the region. There are now signs that recent progress in this area is being reversed. While Kurdish is still not allowed to be taught in state schools (even in Kurdish-majority regions), authorities changed the law in 2002 to allow it to be taught in private schools. Now the directors of Turkey's eight privately-owned Kurdish-language schools have announced that they are closing them due to bureaucratic hurdles, and in response to popular Kurdish demands for the language to be part of the regular curriculum at state schools in the region. "We took this decision because of…the request for education in the mother tongue at schools," said Suleyman Yilmaz, Kurdish school director in Diyarbakir. He said the price of private schools, which receive no government support, put them beyond the means of most students. He also said that while it takes two or three months for most private schools to obtain government permits, it can take up to 18 months for the government to grant permits for Kurdish-language schools. As recently as 1991 it was illegal to even speak Kurdish. (AP, Aug. 1)

In another sign of growing polarization, Ridvan Kizgin, chairman of the Human Rights Association (IHD) in the province of Bingol, was fined 1,112 lira (US$800) by the Bingol Governorship for using "Cewlik," the Kurdish name for the province, in an official document.

Kizgin had written a letter to the Bingol governor and the Interior Ministry on June 29, discussing the issue of ongoing military operations in the area. He signed it on behalf of "The IHD Bingol (Cewlik) Office." Kizgin was charged with breaking paragraph 31 of the "Associations Law," which mandates that all documents from official associations must be written in Turkish. Kizgin is challenging the fine before the courts. (Dozame.org Kurdish new service, Aug. 1)

The war in Turkish Kurdistan has claimed some 37,000 lives since the PKK first took up arms in 1984. See our last post on the PKK.

PKK official website:

  1. Deeper background to Turkey-PKK conflict
    Turkey and the Kurds

    It would not be wrong to say that the Kurdish Question is the fundamental cause of instability in Turkey. Failing to take a positive a step forwards to solve the problem, Turkey tries instead to rouse the outside world by playing on the terrorist threat posed by the PKK, although the latest decision by the PKK to go to war and the intensification of armed conflict has been undertaken with the full knowledge of the ‘deep’ state. The only side not to be in the know on this matter has been the AK Party.

    As is common knowledge, PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan, is detained on Imrali Island under the control of the General Staff. During the PKK/Kongra Gel’s Second Conference – at a time when there was neither grounds nor cause for it – and despite opponents coming out against it, Kongra Gel took the decision to go to war in June 2004 on an order brought from Imrali Island by Abdullah Ocalan’s lawyers,. The order was made during the lawyer’s visit to Imrali with military personnel on duty. In other words, the Turkish military was aware of the decision to go to war and provoked it. In any event, one conspicuous after-effect of this decision was the breaking away from the PKK of most of its compos mentis political activists today comprising the PWD (Democratic Patriotic Party of Kurdistan). So, now, then, let’s lay out the position clearly:

    Firstly, the PKK’s renewed spiral of violence and the interception of those militants entering Turkey with C4 explosive – in almost every case before it is detonated, is no coincidence and is being carried out with the full complicity of the Turkish army. Abdullah Ocalan and the General Staff are orchestrating this scheme.

    Secondly, in falling for the ploy that has also led to the AK Party adopting a harsher tone and drawing closer to the General Staff, the PKK has committed a very serious error.

    Thirdly, so far as the political struggle in the legal arena is concerned, the DTH, headed by Leyla Zana and Hatip Dicle’s group, has been stillborn and its lack of success lies in equal measure to its having failed to take a stand against this policy and towards the PKK.

    Fourthly, instead of seeking any resolution of the Kurdish problem, through these kinds of ploys the Turkish state has taken an axe to the positive developments.

    Fifthly, when the Turkish state wanted the PKK to abandon its weapons, when refusing to work with the democratic Kurdish opposition and the PWD as a side that had abandoned its weapons, she continued to pursue her essential policy as before.

    Finally, the US and democratic world has unfortunately thus far indirectly helped Turkey in the development of this retrogressive policy by not taking the PWD seriously and entering relations with the party despite it being the force with the greatest chance to positively influence the PKK’s support base. The PWD’s efforts to develop relations with the US and with Israel are known.

    Despite the PKK/Kongra-Gel having declared their intention to annihilate the group, no one bothered to take any notice and Sipan Rojhilat, Kemale Sor and Hikmet Fidan, HADEP’s former assistant general secretary, were murdered. Although the Turkish intellectual lobby and well-known names in the Turkish press spoke out, still the Turkish state remained silent.

    In short, Turkey won’t take a step towards resolving her own internal problems or develop the necessary policies to do so but is criticising the outside world because of the tensions these problems have led to.

    1. Terror is terror regardless of any possible reasoning.
      It is a pity to see valued Kurdish intellectuals like you trying to defend terrorists. Regardless of how many reasons you can find in Turkish policy, and reagrless of some of them being just, you can never explain to anyone killing innocent people Kurdish, Turkish or foreigners in Turkey will suit your overall purpose. Noone will believe your “innocent” political reasoning while you keep on killing or kidnapping civilians. Shame on PKK and the supporters of PKK. Continue blaming everyone excect yourself and you will get nowhere.
      All you will get is going to be the hatred of people of all ethnic background.

    2. Azad Zakhoi’s death
      Azad Faysal Zakhoi (1950-2006) was a pen-name used by Faysal Eyub Omer (Turkish surname Dunlayici). He was also formerly also known as Kani Yilmaz. After he fled from the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan in February 2004 he sought to work as a writer and mediator for Kurdish unity in parallel with coordinating relations for the PWD.

      He used his Iraqi Kurdish names as a pen name to express his ideas, free of any former political association while living in Sulaimania.The chosen name Zakhoi was used in deference to the border town of Zakho and the accent of Kurdish close to his mother tongue. I can confirm his identity as I translated this article into English from Turkish in his presence before his murder.

      He was assassinated on 11 February 2006 in Sulaimania in a car bomb planted in his car by a fellow Kurd from the PKK.

      He is sadly missed by all who hoped for democracy and free speech in Kurdistan, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria and the Kurdish Diaspora.

      His last articles and unfinished book were published posthumously in 2007 by Veng Yayinlari in Turkish under the title Kurt Sorunu: Kemalism, PKK Sistemi ve Ulusal Birlik Cozumu available from Veng Yayinlari, Diyarbakir, Turkey.

  2. that is so wrong..
    it is not turkish intolerance that fuels PKK terrorism Mr. It is the fact that USA invaded Iraq and PKK terrorists can freely walk on the streets of Iraq as US soldiers who are busy with trying to save their lifes can not dare fighting with them …

    We will crush the PKK terrorists soon… Don’t you worry Mr Bill!