Stop the repression to end the rebellion

By Harem Karem:

Kurds on hunger strike outside European Parliament at Strasbourg

In solidarity with political prisoners in north Kurdistan, a group of south Kurdistan activists began a hunger strike in front of the United Nations office in Hawler (Erbil) last Saturday. They were joining around 1500 Kurds currently on an international protest hunger strike. However, during the early hours of Wednesday morning, they were attacked by members of the ‘Asayish’, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) security police. After being held at Ankawa police station for several hours, they were released.

Ali Mahmud told me in a telephone conversation: “Three of my comrades were arrested at 1:15 am by the security forces and beaten and later released at the Qushtapa checkpoint miles away from the city. We were told it was because we had not obtained permission prior to the strike, but the reality is, it is impossible to obtain permission”.

Mahmud emphasised: “Our action were not in the interests of one particular party or organisation, but rather the general conditions in which the Turkish government treats our fellow countrymen and women.”

This isn’t of course the first time that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has attempted to crack down on activists for fear they might jeopardise its good relations with Turkey. However, aside from this, there is not much more the KRG can do, particularly when it comes to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which enjoys broad public sympathy in the region. This is despite the fact that the PKK takes advantage of the KRG’s vulnerability by using its territory to launch attacks on Turkey.

It has been noticed that Turkey has recently shifted its strategy from chasing the PKK guerrillas in the Qandil Mountain to chasing its own tail – after coming to realise that check-mating the PKK was just a colourful dream of its National Security Council (MGK).

One has to be pragmatic when considering the PKK, unlike Denise Natali who, in her latest piece published on ‘Foreign Policy’, calls on the United States to continue its shared counterintelligence and counterterrorism with the KRG while pressing Kurdish elites to remove the PKK bases from its territory. Natali completely overlooks the dilemma facing the KRG in dealing with the PKK – as she did earlier this year when we met in London.

Those who constantly boast about democratic values and are quick to label other nations’ self-defence as criminal behaviour and terrorism – while failing to acknowledge that, the greater the target and more destructive the methods of mass killing, the greater the terrorism – should stop justifying their own government’s and allies’ international thuggery.

Instead of advising on dropping more nuclear-tipped ammunition bombs, they should live up to their words by acting and thinking like products of a civilised society and help propel humanity forwards through dialogue and mutual understanding.

The PKK is fully aware that neither Turkey nor the United States would dare step on its toes in current circumstances, while any serious attempt by the KRG to remove the PKK from its territory would spark public outrage – a price the KRG cannot afford.

  • Should Turkey or the United States attempt to remove the PKK from KRG territory, this would result in it considering an alliance with Syria and/or Iran.
  • The Israeli government, on the other hand, will take every opportunity to prevent another Islamic government from emerging in the region and strengthening its enemies. Supporting the PKK would mean killing two birds with one stone – not only causing discomfort to Turkey but also putting it in a position to oppose any potential Islamic government in Syria.
  • It is also in Armenia’s interest to have a strong PKK in the region and Armenia will do all it can to support it.

In the meantime, the Turkish authorities must understand Newton’s 3rd law. For every action there is a reaction equal and opposite. Perhaps the only viable solution is to go back to the 2009 Kurdish peace initiative and stop bothering the KRG with Turkey’s internal issues. Stop the repression to end the rebellion.

Copyright © 2012

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