The never-ending oppression of the Kurds?


The life of the Kurdish people has been dominated by numerous conflicts for decades. The Kurdish landscape has always been a region where armed struggles have been launched and the Kurdish people have fought against colonizing powers for a very long time. Several uprisings have been launched in the past 200 years such as Rewandûz, Bedirhan Bey, Yezdan Şêr, Agirî, Dêrsim, Simko Şikak, Ubeydullah, Koçgirî and so on. Consequently, the Kurdish people haven’t turned a blind eye and did not remain silent when they had been deprived of freedom. The oppression continues, and so does the resistance. Resistance has become a part of their life. Still, the Kurdish issue is awaiting a solution.

Even though Turkey is acclaimed as a democratic role model in the Middle East, the ruling Turkish AKP (Justice and Development Party) government is continuing to deny the Kurdish peoples civil rights. AKP has failed with its so called “democratic opening/Kurdish initiative”, because it hasn’t played with honest cards. Turkey began its witch hunt after the local elections in Turkey in April 2009 when pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) won 99 municipalities in the local elections in March 2009. More than 10,000 Kurds have been jailed in the last 3 years. Many solicitors, mayors, journalists, human right defenders, BDP members, unionists, students, mothers and children have been arrested within the scope of KCK (The Union of Communities in Kurdistan). About 181 Kurdish children have been killed since AKP came to power in 2002.

The Turkish government is systematically repressing the Kurds. It is engaged in a campaign of silencing the Turkish mainstream media to cover the events in the Kurdish region of southeastern Turkey. The Turkish government continues to practice state terror to extinguish Kurdish aspirations. Civil disobedience have become a regular event in Turkey.

On 12th of September Kurdish political prisoners decided to start a hunger strike. Today there are more than 780 Kurdish political prisoners on a indefinite and irreversible hunger strike in Turkish jails and the strike is expanding across Turkey. Kurdish political inmates’ strike enters 54th day as their health condition is deteriorating. They urge the Turkish government to end the isolation of the Kurdish PKK leader leader Abdullah Ocalan to negotiate a peaceful settlement, end the repression against the Kurdish people and the right to use their mother tongue in public spheres, which also includes the court. So far, no steps have been made by the Turkish government to fulfill the strikers’ demands and stop the hunger strikes. Kurds and political activists in eastern Kurdistan (Western Iran) have also launched hunger strikes in solidarity with the ongoing hunger strike in Turkish jails.

A legislative proposal about the right to speak in your native language is about to be introduced. The pro-Kurdish BDP enforced this proposal when the other three parties (AKP, MHP and CHP) rejected it in the parliament. Turkish AKP changed its mind one week after the BDP had introduced the bill. AKP friendly actors mean that the first step is to introduce eligible courses in Kurdish, and that it could possibly lead to that Kurdish can be spoken freely. This point will be actualised due to a strong Kurdish opposition in the Turkish system.

Turkey is continuing to conduct major crimes against the Kurdish people and the government is hiding its actions in southeastern Turkey. Roboski (Uludere) victims are still waiting for the Turkish government to try those ones who are responsible for the death of 34 Kurdish civilians who were killed in a Turkish airstrike on 28th of December 2011. And we all know that the Turkish military leadership and Erdogan’s government bear responsibility for the slaughter of Roboski. Eleven months have passed and the village of Roboski still waits for justice. Their voices are rarely heard.

The clashes between HPG (armed wing of PKK) and the Turkish Armed Forces began on 23 July 2012 in Şemdinli (Şemzînan). The Turkish army has deployed thousands of soldiers and military vehicles in the southeastern part of Turkey. Still, the army can’t finish the PKK. And the war continues in the southeastern region. Turkish government keep on spinning tales and fabricate spectacular victories that only exists in Turkish mainstream media. Turkish army has already lost southeastern Turkey to the superior HPG guerrillas. The retired major general Osman Pamukoğlu shocked Turkey when he said that “Turkey has lost Hakkari Province” on Turkish television (HaberTürk). Turkish PM Erdogan’s comment was the following:

“The prime minister indirectly criticized the leader of the Rights and Equality Party (HEPAR), retired Maj. Gen. Osman Pamukoğlu, by saying that some retired generals were saying on television that Turkey had lost Hakkari Province. Erdoğan accused Pamukoğlu of speaking nonsense and in a way that supports the PKK’s claims. “Why does he speak like that?””

Turkish army is lying about their exact casualties, but its made big losses and it also exaggerates the death toll of PKK members and their own losses. PKK continues to carry out its actions undisturbed. It is obvious that the PKK has changed its strategy. Before it used to “hit and leave”, but now the PKK “hit and control . The PKK has set up check-points and control the roads. It has stopped dozen of vehicles and torched some of them. Truckers and drivers have not been held as a hostage. The PKK has arrested some Turkish politicians, but later on released them. Notice that the movement has not abducted the politicians, it has in fact arrested them and judged them in KCK courts according to KCK laws. Operation Revolution continues.

As I am writing this, Deniz Kaya, spokesman for prisoners sentenced in PKK and PAJK cases has announced in a written statement that the hunger strike is taken to a higher level. Kaya stated that 10,000 more Kurdish political prisoners are going to join the ongoing indefinite and irreversible hunger strike on 5th of November 2012. He also stated that they are ready to pay any price for their freedom, leader and people and that the honourable resistance continues…

But why does the international community remain silent? Why not start a consultation process in order to end this war and further bloodshed? Why not solve this issue with the stroke of a pencil? End the oppression, give them the right to speak and defend themselves in their native language and end the isolation of the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. Just give the Kurdish people their freedom.

The Alliance for Kurdish Rights aims to amplify diverse Kurdish voices. Views expressed by our authors and contributors are not necessarily our own. We welcome constructive and respectful feedback and discussions. If you’d like to contribute to AKR, join us.