N.Iraq, weary of PKK attacks, cancels Kurdish conference

19 September 2011 Monday

Mesut Barzani

Mesut Barzani

The conference would have brought together Kurdish groups from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey to discuss a common stance and efforts for greater rights for Kurds in these countries.

Massoud Barzani, the leader of northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish government, has canceled plans for a conference that would have brought together various segments of Kurdish society in the city of Arbil, citing the unyielding aggression of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Iranian wing, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), both listed as terrorist organizations by Turkey, the EU and the US.

Barzani, who was planning to sponsor a Kurdish conference in Arbil, has backed away from the idea, following an escalation of PKK violence in Turkey. Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), the PKK and the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), a civil society platform affiliated with the BDP and the PKK, had been attaching much significance to the event.

The conference would have brought together Kurdish groups from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey to discuss a common stance and efforts for greater rights for Kurds in these countries.

Sources who spoke to Turkish dailies Milliyet and Sabah said Barzani, concerned about the current escalation of separatist violence, had said he didn’t think it was rational to hold a conference on regional peace and security under these circumstances. The decision to cancel the conference was announced by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to IMC TV, a Turkish television station.

Sources also said Barzani didn’t like that a preliminary conference was held by Turkey’s Kurdish parties in Diyarbakır last week, which they said was in preparation for the major conference in Iraq.

Kurdish politicians in Turkey were unhappy with the announcement. In comments made to Milliyet, head of the pro-Kurdish Rights and Freedoms Party (HAK-PAR) Bayram Bozyel said Barzani’s stance was “frustrating.”

“The demands of the people should be considered and no obstacles should be placed before them,” he added.

“Kurdish leaders should stop saying only they know what’s best for their people. We should reach a consensus and stick with it,” said DTK President Ahmet Türk.

In his statement to IMC TV, Talabani said he believed the BDP, which has been boycotting the Turkish Parliament over its frustration following a higher court decision declaring that deputy Hatip Dicle was not eligible to take a seat in Parliament, should participate in parliamentary sessions.

However, later there were denials about the newspaper reports. BDP deputy Şerafettin Elçi on Monday announced that to the best of his knowledge the conference had been canceled temporarily. In televised remarks during a statement to NTV television, he said there was no truth to the news reports suggesting Barzani had called off the conference because of his anger about the PKK’s increased violence.

Elçi also spoke about the Diyarbakır meeting, cited by Milliyet sources as being one of the factors influencing Barzani’s decision. The granting of legal status to Kurds, the right to use the Kurdish language in schools as the main medium of knowledge transfer and autonomy for Kurdish regions were some of the topics taken up during the meeting, he said. He also remarked that the organizers had called on the PKK for an end to the violence.

 

Cihan