Visit to Kurdistan

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 103 - October/November 1991

FRFI supporter WILLIAM MARTIN recently visited Kurdistan and sent us this report of oppression and resistance.

The warmth, kindness and hospitality extended to me by the Kurds of the village of Yesilynva contrasted sharply with the realities of daily life in this part of north west Kurdistan. Close to the town of Uludere and hugging the mountains straddling the Turkish/Iraqi border, Yesilynva is literally in the front line of resistance to the Turkish state. In defiance of Turkicisation, the Kurdish population still call Uludere and Yesilynva by their Kurdish names of Qilaban and Rapin.

The colonial oppression of the Kurdish people extends to every corner of people's lives. It may be difficult to imagine that Kurdish parents cannot name their new-born child with the (Kurdish) name of their choice. Yet if they do this the Turkish state will not register the child's birth. Kurdish names like Nictiman (Patriot), Azad (Freedom) and Berxwedan (Freedom struggle) are extremely popular names with mothers and fathers.

Yesilynva, like countless other settlements, is beset by chronic underdevelopment and poverty. Many children receive no schooling at all. Older boys and girls often develop their first literary skills when they join the ARGK.

There is not a family or household in the village which has not suffered the arrest, imprisonment or death of a family member. Many people carry injuries from beatings or shootings. Others have died when Turkish soldiers fired wildly and randomly at people's homes.

To be caught in possession of a political paper, such as Yeni Ulke (New Land), or the word of an informer is sufficient for someone to be abducted and taken to the Turkish army base in Uludere, where detainees are kept in cold, unlit dungeon-like pits. A large military post, several kilometres west on the road to Sirnak, is a known torture centre. Detainees here are systematically tortured. Electric shock torture to the genitals is also carried out there.

It is Sunday 17 August. In the cooler hours of the morning people begin their chores. Children play, animals graze. A typical day begins peacefully, but the peace is shattered as 300 armed Turkish soldiers ring the village and a jeep-mounted loud-speaker rasps an order for all males over 15 to assemble on the main road. While homes and gardens are searched, the men's identity cards are examined. An informer has touted in formation about an 'Ali' or a Mehmet'. 50 men are arrested and abducted from their families. Their fate - certain beatings and torture, and detention for weeks, months, maybe years. These raids on Kurdish villages can happen at any time. In August 1990 the nearby village of Sins had been surrounded by Turkish troops. The villagers were ordered to become 'village guards', under the control of the Turkish army. When they refused their homes were burnt with their possessions in-side. The villagers of Siris were deported from the land they had lived on for hundreds of years. 'There is no middle road for us. Either you are with the PKK or you are a collaborator', said one villager.

Diyarbakir, the largest and most important city in north west Kurdistan, was a day's journey from Yesilynva, passing through countless Turkish army checkpoints.

Since the abduction and murder (by a police death squad) of Vedat Aydin on 4 July, and the massacre of mourners at the funeral procession on 10 July, repression has intensified. 58 of the 2,000 Kurds arrested remained in custody and were due to appear in court on 29 August. Hundreds of people are still recovering from serious injuries, others have been too afraid to go to hospital to seek treatment.

Activists have been arrested as the hated MIT secret police have stepped up their activities. The 17-24 August issue of Yeni Ulke was banned from sale.

The morale and spirit of people is unbroken. Countless young people have left home to join the ARGK. In the tea gardens and cafes the talk is of not being defenceless when attacked and fired on next time.

With this background and with the Turkish forces continuing their at-tacks on PKK bases in northern Iraq, there was anger at Talabani's meeting with Turkish officials in Istanbul where he stated his commitment to the strengthening of 'Turkish national security'. Turkish government spokesmen quoted Talabani as saying 'if we had the sort of democracy which you enjoy in Turkey, we would not ask for autonomy from the present Iraqi regime'.

The following message given to me by an ARGK patriot and fighter indicate that the Kurds are not seeking 'deals' with their oppressors. Rather they seek solidarity from British people:

'We don't want the British people to believe the lies of the ANP (Turkish government news agency). We want British people to help and support the Kurdish people. We are suffering very bad oppression from the Turkish government. We need political and material support. We want you to demonstrate and force the Turkish government to stop the brutal treatment of the Kurdish people.' 


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