Kurdish civil society organizations speak out loudly against terrorism

Civil society organizations from the predominantly Kurdish cities of Diyarbakır and Batman have voiced their concern amidst tension in the country following the loss of civilian lives in terrorist attacks, calling on the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the government to end violence.

Diyarbakır Bar Association Chairman Mehmet Emin called for an end to violence and the establishment of peace on behalf of NGOs on Tuesday in Diyarbakır.

Diyarbakır Bar Association Chairman Mehmet Emin called for an end to violence and the establishment of peace on behalf of NGOs on Tuesday in Diyarbakır.

“Those deaths hurt our hearts. Put an end to this,” said Diyarbakır Bar Association’s Chairman M. Emin Aktar, starting his statement on behalf of the civil society groups at the Southeast Journalists Association.

The statement came following the attacks of the PKK, which has recently been targeting civilians in its attacks as they killed a pregnant woman and her 6-year-old daughter in the southeastern province of Batman late on Monday.

The Batman incident was not the first in which civilians have been killed by the PKK. Fourteen civilians were killed and 58 injured over the past 18 days in terrorist attacks carried out by the PKK, which has recently stepped up its attacks.

“We are seriously concerned about those developments. We are losing our hopes for peace. Nobody with a clear mind and conscious would accept the recent armed attacks targeting civilians,” Aktar said. “The public knows that armed attacks and operations will lead to more tears and bloodshed.”

The terrorist attacks came after Turkish warplanes started to bomb suspected PKK hideouts in neighboring northern Iraq, including the main PKK base on Kandil Mountain, in mid-August in response to the surge in violence.

Aktar also said that they expect the PKK to end its attacks, to stay out of conflict and to prepare for disarmament. He also called on the government to end its military operations. The civil society organizations also called on the BDP to end its boycott of Parliament and join Parliament on Oct. 1 when the summer recess ends.

“We also expect from media not to publish provocative news,” he added. “We expect from everybody who is responsible to be supportive of a new peace process.”

The statement was singed by associations including Southeastern Anatolia Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (GÜNSİAD), the Diyarbakır Stock Exchange Market, Independent Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (MÜSİAD), the Diyarbakır Businessmen’s Association (DİSİAD), the Diyarbakır Businesswomen’s Association (DİKAD), the Southeastern Young Businessmen’s Association (GÜNGİAD) 7th region of Türk İş, the Middle Eastern Industrialists and Young Businessmen’s Association (OSGİAD) and the Organized Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (OSİAD). Beşir Baymaz from the Batman Young Businessmen’s Association (BAGİAD) said on Tuesday that they condemn the recent terror attacks.

“Bloody acts of terror do not make a distinction between military and civilian targets, or between men and women. Those acts victimize the people of the region and they create hatred,” he said. Salih Yıldız, deputy chairman of the Batman Commerce and Industry Chamber, said that too many civilians are dying.

“We should raise the voice of civilians so that the guns may be silenced,” he said. Batman’s MÜSİAD Chairman Suat Özdemir also joined the others and said that the violence should stop.

The PKK’s escalating violence has even drawn a reaction from some members of the BDP. Selim Sadak, a Kurdish mayor for the BDP in the southern province of Siirt, where the PKK gunned down four young women and severely injured two last week, lambasted the PKK, saying: “the attack is not acceptable and cannot be justified. I cannot accept this [attack] and I will not do so.”

The Kurdish public outcry against violence has been praised by Kurdish intellectuals. Writer and poet Kemal Burkay called on the PKK to lay down its arms in a recent interview.

“Arms now hurt the struggle of the Kurdish people,” he said, and added that terrorist acts prevent efforts to change the country’s military-era Constitution. Burkay has been also critical of the BDP for its refusal to enter Parliament.

After years of political struggle in Turkey, Burkay took to living in Stockholm, where he was a political refugee since May 1980. He returned to Turkey after 31 years. He said the idea of returning to Turkey started when the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government announced a “Kurdish initiative” two years ago to expand the cultural rights enjoyed by the country’s Kurds.

He also said that Kurds are now voicing their criticism louder. In an interview in the Radikal daily on Tuesday, Kurdish politician Leyla Zana said that the BDP should be in Parliament on Oct. 1.

“I said this in our first group meeting. We paid a lot to be able to enter Parliament. That’s why we should continue our struggle in Parliament. Parliament does not belong to the AK Party. It belongs to the nation. The public suffered a lot in order to send us to Parliament. They did not spend money on food but put gasoline in the tanks of their cars and came to vote for us. They want to see us in Parliament,” she commented.

Now a BDP member and deputy elected on June 12 general election, Zana gained prominence in 1991 for taking part of her oath of office in Parliament in Kurdish, a language not recognized as an official language in Turkey. She was convicted in 1994 for links with the PKK and was released in 2004.

Prominent Kurdish intellectual and former politician Tarık Ziya Ekinci told the Star daily on Tuesday that the PKK will be increasing its terrorist attacks against Kurds who refuse to give support to the terrorist organization.

“PKK is an outlawed organization and it only acknowledges the laws that it creates for itself,” he said. Ekinci said that the government is keen on clearing the terrorist organization with heavy strikes on Kandil Mountain and bring the so-called “Kandil legend” down. Ekinci added that the Kurdish initiative would herald a new era if the terrorist organization can be stopped.

According to Ekinci, BDP deputies should stop boycotting Parliament. “I have had a telephone conversation with them [BDP] and told them to enter to Parliament and they said they will consider my words,” Ekinci said.



27 September 2011, Tuesday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL