Comments on PKK Arguments

Argument: “In Turkey, there are two national communities, the Turkish and Kurdish peoples”

Fact: Turkish democracy is not based on ‘ethnic nationalism’. Turkish people’ refers to all the citizens of the Republic of Turkey, regardless of their ethnic roots, and is an expression of existence as equal individuals. Ethnic roots remain a private matter for individuals. PKK’s aim has been to create a model of ‘ethnic nationalism’, based on the exclusion of those of different ethnic origins in Turkey.

Argument: “Turkey rejects the identity of the Kurdish people. Turkey does not allow the Kurdish people to become involved in politics”.

Fact: Contrary to such allegations of the PKK, the Kurdish identity in Turkey is not being rejected. What the constitutional order in Turkey rejects is any approach based on ethnic nationalism. No one in Turkey is punished or ostracized if they declare themselves to be Kurds or if they choose to speak Kurdish. The allegations that Kurdish people are prevented from participating in politics are a gross distortion of the truth. Citizens of Kurdish origin, like all other Turkish citizens, have been using the right to vote and to be elected since the establishment of the Republic.

Argument: “A civil war took place between the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the PKK. The PKK has declared a unilateral cease-fire. To end the war, Turkey should also declare a cease-fire and both parties should start negotiations. The international community should exert pressure on Turkey to this end”.

Fact: PKK has been trying to present its terrorist actions and the fight of the Turkish security forces against these actions, as ‘clashes between two warring parties’.

In doing so, the aim of the terrorist organisation is to convince the international community that events which take place in southeastern Turkey fall under the category of ‘armed conflict’ or ‘civil war’, in line with the Geneva Convention of 1949 and its additional protocols. Thus, the terrorist organisation aims to use such allegations in legal arguments.

The events that have taken place mainly in the southeastern parts of Turkey cannot be interpreted in the way the PKK intends (under the Geneva Convention) because:

– PKK is a terrorist organisation that is responsible for the murder of thousands of civilians. It does not respect to any principle or rule. Several non-governmental organisations have said that the PKK’s signature under several documents on how “it will respect the Geneva Conventions” does not change this reality.

– The declaration of a ‘cease-fire’ by the organisation does not change this fact. The threatening statements by the leadership of the PKK/ KONGRA-GEL broadcast on the media reveal its true intentions.

– According to protocol no.2, which can be described as an enlarged version of Article 3, a necessary condition to speak of civil war is that an armed group should have the continuous control over a certain territory in a country and possess the ability to operate from this particular region. This is not the fact in southeastern part of Turkey.

– PKK, furthermore, resorted to violence in all parts of Turkey. Though the majority of its operations were directed against citizens of Kurdish origin in the southeast, there have also been attacks in metropolitan areas and tourist resorts. It has also staged operations in western European countries. How can these events possibly be regarded as constituting a ‘civil war’ or indeed an ‘armed conflict’ since it is spread over such an area and directed indiscriminately at innocent people?

Is there a Kurdish minority or a Kurdish question in Turkey?

The status of minorities in Turkey was defined by the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, according to which there are only non-Muslim minorities in Turkey. By this definition, it is wrong to refer to Turkish citizens of Kurdish descent as a minority.

Turkey is a unitary state and Turkish citizenship is an all embracing judicial concept, encompassing all citizens, granting them equal rights and obligations. Constitutional citizenship is one of the basic principles upon which the Turkish Republic is founded. To date, all constitutions of the Turkish Republic have envisaged equal rights and opportunities for and have ruled out discrimination among Turkish citizens.

‘Being Turkish’ is a legal status binding all citizens to the Republic of Turkey. Citizens of Kurdish origin, like all other Turkish citizens, enjoy equal rights guaranteed by the Constitution and actively participate in Turkey’s political, social and economic life.

Furthermore, one of the basic objectives of the Turkish state is to secure a fair distribution of its political, social and economic services throughout Turkey. It is PKK terrorism, which Turkey has been combating since 1984, that has caused the disruption of these services in southeastern Turkey.

Not only has the PKK massacred innocent people, a great majority of whom was of Kurdish origin, but also attacked all kinds of civilian targets and infrastructure to make the region unliveable. It has destroyed schools, set forests on fire, blown up railways and bridges, planted mines on roads and so forth.

 How does the PKK/ KONGRA-GEL finance its terrorist acts and activities?

Proceeds from organised crime such as drug-trafficking, arms smuggling, extortion, human smuggling and money laundering constitute the bulk of PKK/ KONGRA-GEL’s revenues.

The PKK/ KONGRA-GEL is involved in all phases of drug-trafficking, from production and storage to transportation and marketing. The area in which the PKK/ KONGRA-GEL is active geographically covers the whole of the so-called Balkan and Caucasus routes and, using these routes, the PKK/ KONGRA-GEL smuggles morphine-base and heroin from various Asian countries to West European countries.

The PKK’s role in drug-trafficking in the East-West axis has been documented by various international reports and papers, including those published by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement of the US Department of State, the Drug Enforcement Agency of the US Department of Justice, the Paris Institute of Criminology and the “Observatoire Geopolitique des Drogues”.

The Sputnik Operation of September 1996, conducted concomitantly in various European countries, has also exposed PKK’s involvement in organised crime and its links to other criminal networks.

Alongside narcotics trafficking, the PKK is also involved in extortion, money laundering, kidnapping, smuggling of arms and trafficking in human beings. The proceeds from these activities are used to purchase equipment required to sustain the PKK’s terrorist activities.

Turkey has persistently exposed the nature of the PKK’s terrorist and criminal activities on various international platforms, warned countries that tolerating PKK activities in their territories against PKK and concluded security cooperation agreements that envisage cooperation in combating terrorism, drug-trafficking and other organized crime with over 40 countries.