Introduction to Kurds:
Kurdish lands, rich in natural resources, have always sustained and promoted a large population. While registering modest gains since the late 19th century, but particularly in the first decade of the 20th, Kurds lost demographic ground relative to neighboring ethnic groups. This was due as much to their less developed economy and health care system as it was to direct massacres, deportations, famines, etc. The total number of Kurds actually decreased in this period, while every other major ethnic group in the area boomed. Since the middle of the 1960s this negative demographic trend has reversed, and Kurds are steadily regaining the demographic position of importance that they traditionally held, representing 15% of the over-all population of the Middle East in Asia-a phenomenon common since at least the 4th millennium BC.
Today Kurds are the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East, after the Arabs, Persians and Turks. Their largest concentrations are now respectively in Turkey (approx. 52% of all Kurds), Iran(25.5%), Iraq (16%), Syria (5%) and the CIS (1.5%). Barring a catastrophe, Kurds will become the third most populous ethnic group in the Middle East by the year 2000, displacing the Turks. Furthermore, if present demographic trends hold, as they are likely to, in about fifty years Kurds will also replace the Turks as the majority ethnic group in Turkey itself.
There is now one Kurdish city with a population of nearly a million (Kirminshan), two with over half a million (Diyarbekir, Kirkuk), five between a quarter and half a million (Antep, Arbil, Hamadan, Malatya, Sulaymania), and quarter of a million people (Adiyaman, Dersim [Tunceli], Dohuk, Elazig [Kharput], Haymana, Khanaqin, Mardin Qamishli, Qochan, Sanandaj, Shahabad, Siirt and Urfa).
The Turks Vicious Approaches:
The Turks have had no mercy on the Kurds, who only want to see their leader back among them. The PKK leader was kidnapped, which no doubt has upset the Kurds; therefore, it s their right to protest this act. What did the Turks think the Kurdish reaction would be?? Did they actually think that the Kurds would remain silent through this whole ordeal?? Therefore, they should have thought of what they did before they did it, because the Kurds obviously have a right to protest the kidnapping of their leader.
For example, in April, Turkish security forces are reported to have killed 44 Kurdish separatist guerrillas in an offensive near the Iraqi border.
In March, Heavy security was in force in Kurdish areas of Turkey for the New Year festival of Newroz – marked by Kurds as the most important day of the year. This shows how the Turks are abusing their power not even allowing the Kurds to celebrate in their in New Year.
Another example of Turkey abusing its power was in April when six Turkish soldiers were killed in clashes, the Turks responded with killing 27 Kurd rebels, which is more than four times the number of killed Turkish soldiers.
World Wide Scope:
The Spanish Involvement:
The Spanish Constitutional Court has suspended a move by the Basque regional parliament to allow Kurdish separatists from Turkey to convene a parliament-in-exile in the region in July.
This follows a legal challenge by the Spanish government, which strongly opposes the meeting.
It argues that the Basque parliament’s offer to let the Kurds meet there interferes with its exclusive right to handle international relations and foreign policy. The government warned that the meeting might endanger ties with Turkey.
Some reports say it could take several months for the Constitutional Court to make a final ruling.
The Greek Involvement:
Turkish defense lawyer Ahmad Zaki Oglo, who represents the leader of the Kurdistan’s Workers Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, has announced that Ocalan accused Greece, especially the former chief of the secret intelligence system, recently impeached, of handing him over to the Turkish authorities.
In a statement to the Greek daily “Novima” published on Sunday, Oglo stated that Ocalan told him during their meeting on Thursday that the chairman of the former Greek secret intelligence sent him from Athens to Nairobi in order to be handed over.
The lawyer added, quoting Ocalan, that the “Greek government is responsible for arresting him,” saying that at a time when Ocalan asked for political asylum in Greece, they handed him to the Kenyans.
The lawyer indicated that Ocalan asserted to him the need to settle the Kurdish issue in a peaceful way, adding that at the same time Ocalan gave his men instructions to defend themselves.
Oglo said his client is very anxious, but is relatively normal despite being totally isolated from the outer world and exposed to psychological pressure.
The British Involvement:
Although the British authorities have shut down the world’s sole Kurdish-language television station, its director has vowed to find a way to bring it back to life. The decision came as a great shock to us,” the station director, Hikmet Tabak, said. “But Kurds will not give up their right to broadcast. We are not going to enter the new millennium without television.” Tabak did not say how he hoped to resume broadcasting. He is reportedly approaching European governments in search of one that will give him permission to operate. “I don’t think every possibility is exhausted,” he said in a telephone interview from Brussels. “We are not without choices.”On Friday, the Independent Television Commission, which regulates broadcasters based in Britain, ordered the Kurdish station, Med-TV, to halt operations permanently. It said Med-TV had broadcast programs “which included inflammatory statements encouraging acts of violence in Turkey and elsewhere.” Kurds are a large minority in Turkey, and some among them assert that they have been so brutally repressed by Ankara that their only alternative is revolution. In February and March, Med-TV carried a series of interviews with supporters of rebel guerrillas who have been fighting a separatist war in eastern Turkey for more than a decade. The rebel leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was captured in February by Turkish agents and faces a trial that could lead to his execution. In response to Ocalan’s capture, several of his supporters appeared on Med-TV and urged Kurds to attack Turkish targets and kill Turkish leaders. Tabak said afterward that he regretted the broadcasts and had dismissed staff members who allowed them on the air. He and lawyers for Med-TV told the British commission that they would prevent such broadcasts in the future. “We took particular and sympathetic account of the circumstances in which the broadcasts in question were made and the changes which Med-TV proposed to make to its service in the future,” the commission chairman, Sir Robin Biggam, said in announcing its decision. “However the commission decided that it was necessary in the public interest to revoke this license. “Whatever sympathy there may be in the United Kingdom for the Kurdish people, it is not in the public interest to have any broadcaster use the U.K. as a platform for broadcasts which incite people to violence. Med-TV have been given many opportunities to be a peaceful voice for their community. To allow them to continue broadcasting after such serious breaches would be to condone the misuse of the U.K.’s system for licensing broadcasters.” Med-TV has been broadcasting from Britain since 1994. It encourages Kurdish nationalism and supports efforts to establish a Kurdish identity. On its news commentary and interview programs, it offers a platform for Kurds of various persuasions, including those who support the war that is being waged against the Turkish army. The station has many viewers in eastern Turkey, where the authorities consider it a tool of terrorists. The officials have made several efforts to obstruct the station, including jamming its signal and restricting residents’ use of satellite dishes. After the British announced their decision, the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement to welcome the demise of “the hateful organ that continuously promoted violence and bloodshed in our country.”
The Palestinian Involvement:
Efforts are being exerted to arrange for a meeting between Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and the chairman of the Kurdistani Democratic Party in Iraq, Masoud Barzani.
The sources which asked not to be identified told AFP that a Kurdish figure recently came to the Palestinian areas and met with Palestinian officials to arrange for such a meeting.
AFP added that the Kurdish envoy met with Palestinian Public Works Minister Azzam Ahmad, who had been the Palestinian ambassador in Iraq for many years and who is the official in charge of Palestinian -Iraqi relations in the Palestinian government.
The sources explained that relations between the Kurdistani Democratic Party and the PLO are very old and their meetings have continued, especially after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority.
On the objective of efforts made to convene a meeting between Arafat and Barzani, the sources stated that the KDP wanted to benefit from the close relations between the Palestinian government and Baghdad in order to bring viewpoints together between the two sides.
The sources continued that as for the Palestinian government, “The objective is to preserve the unity of Iraq and its territorial integrity.”
The German Involvement:
Joschka Fischer, the Green party foreign minister, stated that there was no such thing as “Green foreign policy,” but only “German foreign policy”.
The behind-the-scenes intrigues by which Abdullah Ocalan was arrested and abducted to Turkey have made clear how deadly serious this statement was.
In the events leading up to the arrest, the German government played a key role. The Green foreign minister bears the main responsibility for the delivery of the Kurdish leader to his Turkish hangmen.
The German government had continually indicated to the PKK leadership that it was ready to work together to find a solution to the Kurdish problem. Officials in Bonn announced that the German government would take the lead in moving an initiative within the European council in the interests of the Kurds. But at the decisive moment the government denied Ocalan asylum, and thereby gave the signal that was to be followed by all other European governments. If ever the word “betrayal” was applicable, it was here.
In the past, delegations of Social Democrats and Greens had travelled to Turkey and Kurdistan. They drew attention to the war of destruction undertaken by the Turkish government against the Kurdish people and denounced the support given for this repression by the previous German government of Helmut Kohl. Here are just a few examples:
When in October 1992 some 20,000 Turkish soldiers marched into northern Iraq to hunt down the PKK, the SPD and the Greens protested in the German parliament against the massacre of the civilian population and demanded an immediate halt to the delivery of weapons from Germany to the Turkish government. They denounced the 580 million German marks which flowed into Turkey in the form of weapons sales in the 1980s and condemned the use against the Kurds of idle military hardware from the National Peoples Army (NVA) of the former East Germany.
On December 18, 1992 the present German environment minister, J rgen Trittin, demanded in the upper house of parliament an end to the deportation of Kurdish refugees after the TV program “Monitor” documented the use in the Kurdish region of German grenades (type M438 X, produced in Liebenau, Germany) and NVA tanks.
“It is well known that under the pretext of fighting the PKK the Turkish government has allowed a massacre of the Kurdish civilian population to take place,” Trittin stated.
After a four-day visit to Kurdish communities in Turkey, a leading Green spokeswoman, Angelika Beer, declared in an official party press release:
“The German Republic is a war party…. It is not a spectator to the war in Turkey–that would be bad enough–but is actively participating in the form of regular military co-operation and arming of the Turkish military….
“We call upon the German government:
“Immediately make public and end in a demonstrable manner all co-operation with the Turkish government in the realm of NATO support, armaments support, support and training of secret police as well as collaboration at the level of Interpol;
“To declare an immediate halt to the deportation of all Kurds in Germany;
“To freeze economic collaboration–in particular the German-Turkish co-operation Council–until Turkey demonstrably respects human rights.”
In 1994 the “Network Peace Co-operation”, with substantial participation by the Greens, put the following demands to the government:
“For the calling of an international conference of Kurds, as soon as possible … on the basis of the right of self-determination for the Kurdish people in Turkey….
“For an end to every form of military and police collaboration, as well as economic and political support, for Turkey, and the imposition of an immediate armaments embargo within NATO.”
Even the SPD fraction in the German parliament, which in its “Principles of Social Democratic Policy toward the Kurds” of February 1994 clearly differentiated itself from the PKK, declared unequivocally that the Kurds constitute an oppressed people in the Middle East, and stated:
“The intensification of the acts of state violence leads to increasing numbers of peaceable Kurds being driven into the arms of the PKK. It must be doubted whether Turkey can resolve the problem of the PKK through an intensification of the Anti-Terror laws.”
In response to a statement of the PKK chairman in 1995 announcing an armistice, representatives of the SPD and Greens responded with renewed calls to “use the opportunity” and seek a negotiated settlement.
On January 18, 1996 the European parliament, in a “Resolution on the Situation in Turkey and the Offer of an Armistice by the PKK”, called upon “all affected parties in Turkey to seize the present opportunity to investigate means and ways to introduce a national dialogue, through which it would be possible to find a political and peaceful resolution of the problems in the southeast of the country”.
The European parliament took this step in view of specific evidence of numerous incidents of abuse of human rights by the Turkish authorities, including the arrest of deputies friendly to the cause of the Kurds, and having acknowledged its “shock over the revolting pictures published by the European press of Turkish soldiers swinging the heads of beheaded Kurds”.
At the beginning of July 1998, a conference of the Socialist International in Vienna attended by social democratic deputies of the European parliament declared in favour of a “Solution to the Kurdish question in Turkey” through a “direct dialogue between the representatives of the Turkish authorities and representatives of the Kurds in Turkey”.
Under the heading “On the way to Europe–the Future of the Kurdish Question for Turkey and its Neighbours”, the conference demanded in Point 20 of its closing statement that: “the EU grasp the international and political initiative, to demand and make possible the creation of an atmosphere in which a constructive dialogue can take place”.
However, no sooner was the question concretely posed, than the European social democrats and the Greens made a turnabout of 180 degrees.
What had changed? Certainly there was no easing in recent months of the persecution and repression of the Kurds. Quite the opposite. And with regard to the PKK, Ocalan himself made concessions to the Europeans on every point, and promised to fulfil practically all of the demands made upon him.
“Europe demanded an armistice by the PKK, and a one-sided armistice was declared for the 1st of September 1998. Europe demanded recognition of the indivisibility of Turkey, and according to the Seven Point Plan and many statements of the PKK chairman, this demand was also met,” declared a statement of the Kurdistan Information Centre in Cologne on February 17.
The armistice declaration of the PKK of August 28, 1998 began with the words: “For a considerable time the European parliament and some peace initiatives in Turkey have expected the PKK to make the first moves for a political solution. Bound up with this are the hopes for a positive result. This position is encouraging.”
Following his arrival in Rome on November 12, 1998, Ocalan appealed in a press statement to the Italian and German governments to accept him and allow him to stand before an international court of justice, where the question of the Kurds could be dealt with. At the end of November the press reported that at a meeting between the prime minister of Italy, Massimo D’Alema, and the German Chancellor, Gerhard Schr der, in Bonn there was talk of such an international court.
The European spokesman for the PKK, Kani Yilmaz, quoted his general secretary in a press conference on November 14 in Rome with the words: “I demand that clarity be immediately established over my political status. Italy should not use Germany as a pretext if it sees any obstacles to awarding me such a status.” Yilmaz went on to say, “The PKK chairman said that in such a case it should be considered whether to go Germany.”
One would think Ocalan could go no further in humiliating himself. But even so, the PKK leader was stabbed in the back. The hesitations and manoeuvring of the Italian, German, Dutch, Belgian and Greek governments created the conditions whereby on February 15 Ocalan was kidnapped from the Greek embassy in Nairobi, Kenya and abducted to Ankara.
In the process the Kurdish people have been declared fair game for the Turkish army. An unprecedented wave of arrests has taken place in the towns and villages of Turkey. In Istanbul alone, according to the Turkish human rights organization IHD, at least 400 members of the legal pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party have been arrested. The monstrous campaign of chauvinism unleashed in Turkey following Ocalan’s arrest speaks volumes. For days the PKK chairman was shown on television gagged and bound.
The Canadian Involvement:
The Kurdish guerrilla organization led by Abdullah Ocalan, whose arrest this week by Turkish commandos sparked riots around the world, has been sending agents to Canada since the early 1990s to raise funds and to hideout, according to an intelligence report obtained by the National Post.
The Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has been waging a violent campaign for a homeland in Turkey, “now views Canada as a ’safe haven’ for PKK members who have overstayed their welcome in other countries,” says the Canadian Security Intelligence Service report.
“In Canada, the PKK began to form a notable presence in the early 1990s,” the report says. “The PKK’s development here has followed the pattern seen in Europe in the mid-1980s; the service believes the goal of the PKK in Canada is to gain control of the general Kurdish community for its own financial and strategic purpose.”
Intelligence officials say the PKK has tried to send senior members of its organization to Canada in the past few years in ”an attempt to vitalize the PKK in Canada.” But at least two of the attempts have been thwarted by Canada, which arrested the agents and initiated deportation proceedings against them.
The Israeli Involvement:
The wrath of the Kurds amid persistent accusations that Israel helped Turkey track down Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, whether true or not, is the price Israel has to pay for its blossoming defense alliance with Ankara, experts say.
Try as it might, Israel cannot shake loose the impression among the Kurds that it helped lead Turkish commandos in Kenya to their charismatic leader.
Ocalan himself said in a recent interview with the London-based Jane’s Defense Weekly that he believed the Mossad was tracking his movements on behalf of Turkish intelligence.
On October 13, OC Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Malka told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Ocalan had left his Syrian headquarters and had showed up in Russia.
Six days later, the Turkish prime minister announced this information, saying a “foreign security service” helped locate Ocalan. He did not name the country.
“It was clear from that moment the Kurds were looking at us differently,” said Alon Liel, a former top diplomat in Ankara and expert on Turkey.
“For months I have warned that the alliance with Turkey has presented Israel with red lines. We have married a bride with a problematic family. I am not against friendly relations with Turkey, but we have to know the problems it causes,” said Liel.
Four times at his press conference in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu denied that Israel helped in the capture of Ocalan. But this is not expected to change the impression among the Kurds that Israel’s defense establishment helped track down the PKK leader.
A Kurdish rebel leader told Israel Radio yesterday that the Mossad gave Turkey the information that helped its commandos locate and capture Ocalan, also known as “Apo.” Speaking before the assault on the Berlin consulate, the rebel leader said they have no intention of attacking Israeli targets.
Yet Ocalan’s PKK said the assault on Israel’s consulate in Berlin was the result of a “dirty war” conducted by Turkey and its ally Israel on the Kurds. “The incident in Berlin… is an example and result of this alliance founded on this dirty war,” PKK spokeswoman Mizgin Sen told the Belgium-based Kurdish Med TV channel.
The security agreement signed with Israel in 1996 provides for intelligence cooperation. Israel is also selling Turkey’s powerful armed forces materiel including night vision equipment as well as anti-rocket systems employed in helicopters.
Liel said that it was not difficult for the Kurdish rebels to see the “great romance” developing between Turkey and Israel, with such Israeli weapons and technology flowing to Turkey.
While not everything Turkey does or wants benefits Israel, the immediate payoff of the close ties has been lucrative defense contracts and, according to foreign reports, sharing of intelligence.
“There is no such thing as a free lunch,” said Prof. Efraim Inbar, head of the BESA strategic think tank at Bar-Ilan University. “We have to look at some alliances through their cost-benefits. The IAF is flying in Turkey and Turkish officials said that under certain circumstances we would be able to use their territory and that is of great deterrent value.
“We should not make enemies if it is not necessary, but on the other hand, what is at stake is a very important relationship. We should not be hysterical even if we have to pay a price,” Inbar said.
Turkish sources close to the defense establishment said there was satisfaction in Ankara over the firm Israeli response in Berlin. “The Kurds made a big mistake there. Let this be a good lesson for them,” one source in Ankara quoted Turkish defense sources as saying.
“The Turks are always thanking me. They are living on the image, much of which is supplied by the banner headlines of the Turkish press, that we are helping them greatly,” Liel said.
The U.S. Involvement:
The United States worked for four months to help Turkey arrest Abdullah Ocalan, the Kurdish rebel leader, U.S. officials said. U.S. diplomatic pressure backed by intelligence gathering helped to put Ocalan in flight from a safe haven in Syria, to persuade nation after nation to refuse him sanctuary and to drive him into an increasingly desperate search for a city of refuge, the officials said. “We as a government tried to figure out where he was, where he was going and how we might bring him to justice,” a senior administration official said.
Like Turkey, the U.S. government, whose involvement in Ocalan’s capture was reported on Friday by The Los Angeles Times, considers Ocalan a terrorist. He leads the Kurdistan Workers Party, which has waged a violent
campaign against Turkey for 15 years, seeking autonomy for the Kurdish people. Some 37,000 people have died in that fight. The United States has an increasingly close military and intelligence relationship with Turkey, a NATO ally that lets U.S. pilots fly missions against Iraq from a NATO base in Incirlik. That military post also serves as an electronic-eavesdropping station for U.S. intelligence to spy on Iraq.
The Trial of Abdullah Ocalan:
Ocalan has been held on a prison island off Istanbul since Turkish commandos seized him in Kenya on Monday. The Turkish government accuses him of running a terrorist campaign to win independence for Kurds in southeastern Turkey.
Turkey accuses Ocalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), of launching a campaign for autonomy that has killed more than 30,000 people since 1984. His lawyer, Britta Boehler, said Dutch attorneys have not been allowed to travel to Turkey, and Turkish attorneys who tried to see Ocalan were arrested.
A Dutch attorney for Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan said her client will not get a fair trial in Turkey and none of his lawyers have been able to see him.
“None of the lawyers so far has been able to be in contact,” Boehler said. “He has been captured now since Tuesday, and there is no access for any legal defense so far.”
Boehler said a trial likely will start next week, and she believed the Turkish government would move swiftly to convict Ocalan.
“I do not believe that he will get a fair trial according to standards like in Europe or the U.S.,” Boehler said.
Since this was the case the European Union has called on Turkey to allow international observers to attend the trial of the Kurdish separatist leader Abdullah Ocalan. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has called on Turkey to give Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan a fair trial and grant defence lawyers full access to their client, an Ocalan lawyer said.
Britta Boehler, the Dutch-based lawyer that heads Ocalan’s international defence team, told Reuters the ruling came through to her Amsterdam office on Thursday evening. She expected the court to make an official announcement.
Boehler and her fellow defence lawyers petitioned the European Court last month to intervene in Ocalan’s case.
The defence team complained that Ocalan’s detention by Turkey violated the European convention on human rights. He was seized lasts month in Kenya, where he had been holed up at the Greek embassy, and flown to Turkey to face trial for treason. “Not only has the European Court said Turkey must guarantee a fair trial, it has also said that Ocalan’s lawyers, including his foreign lawyers, must be allowed unfettered access,” Boehler said.
She and her colleagues tried in vain to see Ocalan soon after his capture, but they were turned away by Turkish authorities at Istanbul airport “We will have to see whether Turkey will enforce the ruling. We might apply to Turkey officially to allow us to see Ocalan,” Boehler said.
Ocalan s attorneys have also urged the U.S. and other western countries to secure a fair trial for the PKK leader.
The trial of the PKK leader has been postponed numerous times. A Turkish prosecutor announced that the treason trial of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan would begin May 31, 1999 on a prison island in the Sea of Marmara.
At a special state security court, presiding Judge Turgut Okyay cited “security reasons” for holding the trial on treason and separatism charges in a specially built court on Imrali Island, where Ocalan has been in solitary confinement since Turkish commandos arrested him in Kenya in mid-February. Okyay said foreign observers would not be permitted to attend the trial and that it would “proceed without pause” until a verdict is reached.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Ocalan for founding and leading the Kurdish Workers’ Party, the separatist guerrilla group blamed for the deaths of thousands of Turkish security forces, state employees and Kurds allied with the government over the past 15 years. Turkey has not carried out a death penalty in more than a decade and the court’s decision for Ocalan’s second-in-command does not bode well for the PKK leader.
The top lieutenant to rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan was sentenced to death May 20, 1999 for masterminding hundreds of deaths in Turkey in a bid to win autonomy for the Kurds. Therefore, it s highly likely that the PKK leader will receive an identical fate.