Monday, January 16, 2012

KCK Operations Continue As Negotiations Remain Halted

PHOTO from Radikal

Continued operations against the Union of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK), the political/civil society wing of the KCK established between 2005 and 2006, have resulted in the detention of 37 Kurdish nationalist activists, many from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

The raids took place on Friday, and involved searches of 123 locations, including the BDP-controlled municipal building in Diyarbakir, BDP headquarters in Istanbul, and the Diyarbakir offices of the Confederation of Trade Unions and Public Employees (KESK), as well as the Kurdish language-cultural organization Kurdi-Der, the Education and Science Workers' Union (Egitem-Sen), the Human Righs Association (IHD), as well as various other non-governmental organizations accused of being linked to the KCK. Provincial and district offices of the BDP across several provinces were also raided, in addition to, most controversially, parliamentarian Leyla Zana's Ankara home (for more on Zana, click here). For an account of the raids in English from Bianet, click here.

The BDP maintains a largely subservient relationship with the PKK, and in the past year, many of its members, with cresendoing fervor, have expressed support for the terrorist organization, including crediting the armed struggle for the progress that has been made in recent years on the minority/cultural rights front. Yet the party remains the only viable legal representative of the Kurdish nationalist movement. The KCK's establishment and activity since its founding has greatly blurred the boundaries between the BDP and the PKK, further confounding its relationship to the PKK and the independence of its members.

For their part, BDP politicians argue the government is determined to push them out of politics, and that the KCK operations are the principal means for doing this. Kurdish members of the AKP are somewhat divided on the issue of the operations. For example, AKP parliamentarian Galip Ensarioglu told Rudaw that while the operations against the KCK are sometimes inaccurate, members of the KCK should understand that "they will have to pay the consequences." Other Kurdish AKP parliamentarians -- for example, Zafer Ozdemir from Batman -- offer stronger support.

Ensarioglu, like other Kurdish parliamentarians from the AKP who tread a thin line, attempt to create distance between the ongoing operations and the government, arguing that the KCK operations are carried out by sometimes overzealous prosecutors and not the AKP. That said, it is highly unlikely that the operations would continue without the AKP-led government's consent, and indeed, government officials have openly spoken out on their status. Soon after Friday's operations, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said the operations will continue.

. . . .

PKK head Murat Karayilan confirmed from Kandil that he was in negotiations with the Turkish government for five years, and that for two to three years, the negotiations were direct. Karayilan has gone onto elaborate that the return of refugees from Makhmour and Kandil were the result of negotiations between Prime Minister Erdogan and imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, and came at the proposal of Ocalan.

On Oct. 18, 2009, two groups consisting of eight guerrillas and 26 refugees returned through the Habur border crossing between Turkey and Iraq to be met by Kurdish nationalist politicians and waves of cheering nationalist Kurds shouting pro-PKK slogans. The appetite of the Turkish public for the Kurdish opening the government had announced the previous summer was soon lost amidst displays of what looked to be victory celebrations that were broadcast for days across Turkish television.

Negotiations soon after ceased, and reports indicate that they have not picked up sense. Tapes leaked of negotiations in Oslo were released this past August, and were not denied by the AKP government. Despite the revelations that both sides of the conflict were at one point holding negotiations, there is no indication from the various centers of power within the PKK nor the AKP government that they will pick up again anytime soon.

For another PKK account of the negotiations, click here for Muzaffer Ayata's interview with Rudaw. When negotiations stopped, PKK violence escalated, and in the past year, has included violence perpetrated against civilians, including bombings in civilian areas and the abduction of school teachers sent to serve in the southeast.

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