PKK killings

Fidan Dogan, Leyla Soylemez and Sakine Cansiz were assassinated in Paris on 9 January. Tens of thousands of people took to the Parisian streets to salute the three women’s coffins, draped in the flag of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party). Many thousands more followed them in Diyarbakir, in south east Turkey. Cansiz was a founding member of the PKK and is likely to have been central to discussions that were underway between the PKK and the Turkish state, seeking an end to the armed conflict between them that has been waged since 1984. Over 40,000 people have been killed in this conflict, some 500 in 2012. The PKK suspects that the assassination is the work of a faction within the Turkish state that wants to sabotage the discussions. Omer Guney was charged with the murders by the French police on 21 January; the PKK say he was not a member of their organisation.

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Turkey – repression and censorship / FRFI 229 Oct/Nov 2012

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 229 October/November 2012

On 10 September 2012, the biggest trial of pro-Kurdish and leftist journalists in Turkish history began.

36 of the 44 accused have been detained since nationwide police raids in December last year. They are charged under anti-terrorism legislation with being members of an illegal organisation, by which the Turkish government means the Koma Civakên Kurdistan (KCK – Union of Communities in Kurdistan). The KCK is an umbrella organisation, which developed out of the banned Workers’ Party of Kurdistan (PKK). Since 2009 8,000 people have been detained on charges of KCK membership, including Kurdish MPs and municipal politicians, as well as members of the executive committees of pro-Kurdish organisations, lawyers, human rights activists, trade unionists and, of course, journalists. The charges arise out of local political activities, simply for representing Abdullah Ocalan (Chairman of PKK, in gaol since 1999) or even for newspaper reports critical of the government – which are alleged to support the political aims of the PKK.

The trial of the journalists is the latest act of repression by the Turkish government against any kind of opposition. Recently the Turkish Interior Minister stated that: ‘There is no difference between the bullets fired in the [Kurdish] southeast and the articles written in Ankara.’ His words show how just how far Turkish democracy has developed since 2002, when the western imperialist powers welcomed the ruling AKP into power – not at all! From student demonstrations to the protests along the Black Sea coast against hydroelectric power plants, every act of opposition has met with a brutal police response, and hundreds of people have been arrested and incarcerated.

The accusations against the journalists are mainly based on statements from ‘secret witnesses’. In addition, newspaper articles and reports by the journalists aired on Kurdish satellite TV channels are being used as evidence of their ‘crimes’. Some of the accusations hinge on reports on fatalities after fights between Kurdish guerrillas and the Turkish army – casualty figures are notoriously manipulated by the Turkish media to minimise Turkish army losses and maximise those of the guerrillas. For example the Turkish army recently declared that in the last four months there have been 88 soldiers and policemen and 373 Kurdish rebels killed. The Kurdish guerrillas deny this, reporting 1,035 members of the Turkish army killed against 103 members if the Kurdish forces. Another journalist has been charged with denigrating the Turkish state after writing about sexual abuse at Turkish Airlines.

The trial begins just as the armed struggle of the PKK is at its peak. The latest developments in the Middle East, especially in Syria, have put new opportunities and challenges before the Kurdish struggle. The north of Syria is effectively controlled by PYD, the sister organisation of the PKK, which is a nightmare for the Turkish state as a few towns in the east, within the borders of Turkey, are now also controlled by Kurdish guerrillas. So far all attempts by Turkey to persuade its imperialist masters to build a buffer zone in northern Syria have been rejected. The Turkish state will do anything it can to prevent any autonomous Kurdish area in the north of Syria. 

Ali Demir

Turkish state condemns Israel but attacks Kurds / FRFI 216 Aug/Sep 2010

FRFI 216 August/September 2010

Turkish state condemns Israel but attacks Kurds

As a result of the Israeli attack on the Flotilla to Gaza, which resulted in the death of nine Turkish activists and injuries to many more, there were protests throughout the region and the rest of world, and Turkish flags were carried alongside Palestinian flags as a symbol of resistance and freedom.

In the face of popular protests within Turkey itself, and needing to assuage the religious right, Turkey threatened to break off diplomatic relations with Israel. It had no choice, particularly if it is to assert itself as a regional power. Recently, as its applications to join the European Union have continually fallen on deaf ears, Turkey has reorientated itself, in terms of political alliances, towards Iran, Syria and further east.

However, it should be remembered that prior to the attacks, Turkey was one of the few Muslim countries with which Israel has had a strategic military relationship. In 2008 Turkey’s imports from Israel rose 36% to $1.4bn, with defence making up $850m of trade between the two countries.

While any isolation and pressure on the Zionist state is to be welcomed, this does not now mean that Turkey is capable of playing a progressive role within the Middle East, as its recent attacks on the Kurdish population following the local elections in June make abundantly clear. In the elections, the legal Kurdish organisation BDP (Party of Peace and Democracy) gained overwhelming support from the Kurdish population. Following this victory, a group of guerrillas from the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) entered the region through the Iraqi border to a welcome by hundreds of thousands of people. One and a half million people attended a PKK rally in Diyarbakir. Turkey responded by arresting the Kurdish mayors, activists and children who attended the demonstrations up and down Kurdistan. 21 PKK fighters were killed in a fight along the border, their bodies dismembered and burned by Turkish soldiers.

Turkey has no right to give lectures on democracy while denying statehood and identity to the Kurdish people, who do not even have the right to education in their own language. Its condemnation of Israel’s action against the Flotilla was a necessary but opportunist step and should not be allowed to mask its own murderous operations against the Kurds.

Ertan Yeldiren

Turkey: Middle Eastern revolution under siege

Middle Eastern revolution faces the prospect of being liquidated at its pivotal point in Anatolia/ Kurdistan. This attack is the third of its kind and the most serious; the previous crises being the fascist coup of 1980 and the counter-revolutionary climate which followed the collapse of the socialist countries in the early 1990s. The weakening of the Middle Eastern revolution, following the imperialist Gulf War, is essentially rooted in the isolation of the Kurdish national liberation struggle.

Over the last eight years, the isolation of the Kurdish freedom movement has gradually led to the abandonment of its initial strategy and aims. These included, for example, a pledge to bring about 'the October Revolution of the Middle East'.

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Turkey: Prison massacre

FRFI 159 February / March 2001

Between 19 and 22 December 2000 the Turkish military and police carried out a massive and brutal operation against revolutionary prisoners. The prisoners were protesting against plans to change the structure of the prison system from one where prisoners are able to freely associate within the confines of their dormitories to a cellular system, whereby they will be subject to lengthy periods of solitary confinement. 20,000 grenades, gas and incendiary bombs were dropped on 20 prisons and 10,000 military and police personnel deployed. Thirty-three people were killed and hundreds wounded. There has been no international outcry and the story barely flickered across British TV screens over the Christmas period.

A visit to Turkish prisons by the UN Committee for the Prevention of Torture had just concluded on 19 December when the security forces began bombarding the prisons, breaking through the walls with bombs and power tools, and then throwing in grenade after grenade. After the fashion of the most murderous NATO operations, the massacre was named Hayata Donus which means Return to Life, with the state claiming its aim was to 'rescue' prisoners who had been forced against their will to participate in a protest hunger-strike. The real aim was to break the prisoners' resistance and move them by force to the new cellular prisons.

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