PKK: strategy of chaos?

  • KurdishMedia.com - By Goran Sadjadi
  • 02/04/2006 00:00:00

This article is not intended as a response to Thomas Jezequel’s “PKK: strategy of chaos”, but instead to provide readers with a balanced view of the situation in Northern Kurdistan.

The recent unrest in Diyarbakir, known as Amed to the Kurdish people, among other cities in the Kurdistan region of Turkey began when a large crowd of mourners refused to disperse after the funeral ceremonies of four of fourteen Kurdish guerilla fighters. The guerillas were killed on March 25th during a large Turkish military operation in the city of Mus. Since then, riots in Diyarbakir, Batman and other neighboring cities have led to the destruction of private and government properties, and a battle between Kurdish protestors hurling rocks and firebombs at Turkish police, and police firing aimless rounds at the crowds. The Turkish security forces continue to respond with violence, and as well as over 400 people have been injured in the events and eight people killed. Clearly, this kind of civil unrest does not gratify Turkish government officials in Ankara who are seeking EU membership for Turkey. However, with the use of the Turkish media and other sources at their will, the government has very easily turned these events into a blame-game and way to target elected Kurdish politicians in Turkey.

Recent events in Kurdistan have been fairly positive for the democratic progress of the legitimate Kurdish parties operating in Turkey’s government. Just prior to the unrest, Osman Baydemir, elected mayor of Diyarbakir, made a visit to the United States seeking help for the development of his city. The democratic progress and increasing support that Baydemir has been able to achieve has further agitated government officials in Ankara, as well as Turkish military heads, who are beginning to feel threatened by Baydemir’s pro-Kurdish stance after he made a public statement declaring that he will “continue to use Kurdish.” Baydemir was implying to peoples’ right to freedom of speech with this statement following a letter he sent to the Danish government asking them not to shut ROJ-TV down; a Kurdish satellite station suspected by the Turkish government to be funded by the outlawed Kurdish-separatist group, the PKK.

Despite the legitimacy of Osman Baydemir and the DTP, which includes membership of over thirty other Kurdish mayors in Turkey, Turkish officials and the media will stop at nothing to end their success. An investigation about the letter sent to the Danish government is already underway. And now, with focus on the violent unrest in Diyarbakir, it is unclear whether Turkish military objectives have gone as far as to physically harm the Kurdish mayor. These assumptions may be extreme but it was as equally as inordinate to learn that Osman Baydemir was harassed by the Turkish Special Team (anti-terror unit) while trying to make a public statement of peace to calm the agitated protestors. Some reports have claimed that Baydemir’s vehicle was attacked by the Turkish Special Team causing injury to his chauffeur. However, no one should be surprised by the actions of the Turkish military since it is still unclear how connected the democratic-seeking government and warmonger-military actually is, despite their claims.

Turkey has clearly incorporated a strategy of chaos, and not peace, in reaction to the recent protests. In response to the recent violence in Diyarbakir and the surrounding cities, the Turkish government has praised the security forces’ handling of the riots. This is despite the security forces’ negligent acts of shooting aimless rounds of bullets, which have resulted in the murders of two children in the midst of the protests. The Prime Minister of Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan, has gone even further by stating “The security forces will intervene against the pawns of terrorism, no matter if they are children or women.” This is opposite of Baydemir’s statement of peace.

The Turkish government has become extremely impatient with the PKK and the military has consequently ordered several key strikes against PKK camps. The killing of guerillas in a resistance combat should be expected. However, one must consider the facts that the recent operation was planned during the month of the Kurdish holiday, Newroz. Similar tactics were used by Saddam Hussein against the Kurdish rebels in Iraq as means of psychological damage. The Kurdish people are inclined to mourn at a time of the year when they should be celebrating. In addition, during the funeral of the guerilla fighters, the Turkish police attacked the crowds causing further agitation and unrest in the city. Local sources have claimed that the police have also blocked the emergency units in the hospitals for preventing the treatment of the injured protesters or have detained them under beatings prior to the completion of their treatments.

Certainly, all people will be blamed, whether partly or wholly responsible, whenever violence is used a method of making a point. One will question why there were children in the midst of a violent protest. However, the State must be required to respond to violence with peaceful tactics, rather than ones that provoke more chaos. Peaceful tactics are clearly something the Turkish security has proved they are incapable of in the past, or in the current events taking place in Kurdistan. Kurdish politicians should be very cautious of the Turkish government’s strategy and how these events will be used to tarnish the careers of Baydemir and other members of the DTP. Turkish prosecutors have already been ordered to begin building cases against the elected Kurdish officials despite the lack of proof of their affiliation with the protests. The lack of proof however should not be taken for granted, as many prosecutors have successfully issued the “separatist card” in Turkish courts as a means of evidence. The Turkish State must do a lot more in regards to their democratic reform if they wish to obtain EU membership. Allowing a language to be spoken that was previously outlawed, but barring it’s use from political institutions still, is not the democratic progress that will easily please Kurds in the country. The 60% unemployment rate, the homeless as a result of wrongful displacements, the limited educational institutions, and many other problems that need attention in the impoverished southeast Kurdish region of Turkey (Northern Kurdistan) are most important to the Kurdish people.

The only bold responses made by the Turkish government in regards to these issues have consisted of more violence and more political strategy in Kurdistan. One must ask whether the Turkish government has praised its security forces for maintaining peace, or if they praised them for carrying out a mini-war against the people of Diyarbakir and Batman.

Goran Sadjadi is an active member and President of the Kurdish American Youth Organization.

  • KurdishMedia.com - By Goran Sadjadi
  • 02/04/2006 00:00:00