Forty-six suspects who were detained Nov. 22 in 16 different provinces across Turkey as part of the ongoing Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) probe were transferred to a courthouse in Istanbul’s Beşiktaş district Nov. 25.
Another 43 suspects detained in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır as part of the KCK probe were also transferred to court there on the same day.
Eleven more people, including Abdullah Akikol, the provincial head of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in the southeastern province of Mardin, were further detained Nov. 25 by police and sent to the court in Diyarbakır as well.
The suspects in Istanbul, including former Democracy Party (DEP) deputy Mahmut Alınak, were taken to the Forensics Institute at around 5 a.m., after which they were taken to court by in a riot police vehicle, according to reports.
The 43 suspects detained in Diyarbakır also include deputy district mayors, members of the provincial assembly, BDP administrators and members of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), a legal umbrella organization of pro-Kurdish groups.
Some 42 of the 46 suspects are lawyers detained in connection with claims concerning Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who allegedly relayed his directives to the KCK through his lawyers from the İmralı Island Prison, where he is serving a life sentence.
Öcalan could be questioned as part of the probe, especially to shed light on the alleged links between the KCK and the PKK, according to reports.
The KCK is an armed and illegally organized body that makes its own independent decisions and which must not become involved with the DTK, Öcalan allegedly said, according to notes seized from his lawyers.
The BDP is primarily focused on the Kurdish issue.
The KCK is the alleged urban wing of the PKK, which is recognized as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Alleged members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) killed three people in an attack on an oil field in southeast Turkey overnight, security officials said today.
PKK militants shot dead two security personnel and an electrician as they got out of their vehicle at the Selmo oil field at Kozluk in Batman province yesterday night, the officials said.
The Canadian firm Transatlantic Petroleum Ltd. operates the Selmo field and describes it as the second largest in Turkey. Transatlantic said in a statement it was working with local authorities to investigate the incident.
An air-backed operation was launched at dawn in pursuit of the PKK members, security officials said.
Batman Governor Ahmet Turhan said operations at the oil field were continuing.
More than 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK took up arms against the state in 1984.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist group by the United States, European Union and Turkey.
Turkish warplanes carried out an air strike in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region on Monday as part of a continued operation against the PKK, a local administration official said.
Turkey has been conducting air strikes against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) since August following the breakdown of a ceasefire and an increase in attacks by the PKK.
“Turkish fighter jets bombed some remote border villages in Sedaka today,” Ahmed Qadir, a local government representative in the hamlet of Sedaka, near the Turkish-Iranian border in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, told Reuters.
“Information available does not say where exactly the areas targeted are or whether there were any casualties or damage.”
The PKK, regarded as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the European Union and the United States, launches attacks from hideouts inside the remote Iraqi mountains as part of their fight for more Kurdish autonomy and rights.
Turkey and Iran have often skirmished with PKK members in the region and Turkish leaders vowed revenge last month with air and ground strikes after the PKK killed 24 Turkish soldiers in raids on military outposts in the south of the country.
It was one of the deadliest attacks since the PKK took up arms in 1984 in a conflict in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.
Turkish authorities did not immediately confirm the operation.
Fırat news agency reported that five Turkish war planes had been flying over Iraq’s Qandil mountains but said it had not received any information about bombing in the area.
21 November 2011, Monday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM WITH REUTERS,
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) of trying to establish a “fascist system” and called on the country’s Kurds to stand against the PKK’s fascist pressure
“I ask my brothers in this region to see this fascist pressure of the PKK and its extensions. In fact they do. Parents who lose their sons [in fight with the PKK], artists, businessmen and civil society organizations are raising their voices courageously and are saying enough is enough,” Erdoğan said in the eastern province of Bitlis during an inauguration ceremony for newly opened departments at Bitlis Eren University.
“I am frequently saying this. Democracy is the antidote for terror. As democratic standards are increased in the country, investments [in the region] increase and the mistakes of the past are compensated for, my brothers in this region are also seeing the truths and standing against terror.
I hope the terrorist organization will not find a single issue to abuse. This process will continue. You will see, the PKK and its extensions will soon show their true colors and the people of this region will get rid of this terror problem,” he said.
By the extensions of the PKK, the prime minister refers to the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy (BDP) whom he accuses of failing to distance itself from the PKK. PKK members, who are fighting for autonomy in Turkey from their bases in northern Iraq, have escalated attacks in recent months, killing dozens of members of the security forces and many civilians since July.
In a separate speech during a party meeting on Friday in Bitlis, Erdoğan once again lashed out at critics of recent police operations against the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), who he said are trying to portray the KCK as a civil society organization. He said none of those arrested as part of the KCK operations were arrested without concrete evidence.
“How can an organization who seeks a parallel state be innocent?” he asked. Prosecutors say the KCK is a political umbrella organization that includes the PKK. KCK suspects are accused of various crimes, including membership in a terrorist organization, aiding and abetting a terrorist organization and attempting to destroy the country’s unity and integrity. The detainees include mayors and municipal officials from the BDP, which has said the investigation is the government’s method of suppressing its politicians, denying any links between the suspects and any terrorist organizations.
18 November 2011, Friday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL
Finding the two countries’ terrorist groups comparable, the Colombian president told Turkey that respect for human rights and support from the people are necessary ingredients in effectively combating terrorism ahead of his official visit on Friday.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who began an official visit to Turkey on Friday, offered the Turkish government advice on its decades-long struggle against the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), during an interview with Today’s Zaman ahead of his arrival. “What I can say about the lessons we have learned from our experience is that the only effective way to fight against these illegal groups is to do it with total respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, intensively using intelligence and winning over the hearts of the civilian population which, at the end of the day, is always in need of safety, security and well-being,” he said in emailed remarks.
Santos said the government tried to lead an open peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC), even establishing a de-militarized zone. When the terrorist group instead continued attacking the civilian population, the public, 98 percent of which now repudiates the FARC, was outraged and rallied in support.
But the Colombian government has not closed its doors to the FARC if it decides to cease violence and work toward a peace resolution. “If they stop resorting to violence, intimidation and terrorism, they’ll always find that the government is willing to sit down and discuss. In fact, we’re building a legal framework enabling them to return to society, provided that they meet the duties of truth, justice and reparation in favor of their victims,” Santos said.
According to Santos, Colombia’s struggle against the FARC is very similar to that of Turkey against the PKK. “In fact, while they are different organizations with different claims, we may find similarities between the fight of the Colombian state against the FARC and the fight of Turkey against the PKK, particularly because both groups have resorted to terrorism and drug trafficking,” Santos said.
The FARC, which has killed 41 of 1,300 candidates in local elections and wreaks havoc through bombings and isolated terrorist attacks, also drags down the economy by scaring investors off, while the government finds itself plugging all of its resources into combating terrorism.
The Colombian government has made tremendous strides against its separatist terrorists, Santos said, but there is definitely room for improvement.
The leader of FARC was killed recently after Santos firmly promised to fight the group when he took office last August. The country’s war on drugs has been deemed successful and, in the minds of many Colombians, the FARC has lost power. The Colombian government has been able to push the FARC out of all but the most remote areas of the country.
But this is not the end of the fight against terrorism in Colombia, Santos adds. “The demise of the top leader of the FARC does not mean, unfortunately, the end of that terrorist group. But it greatly weakens them, as the terrorist group has been weakening in recent years. My government will continue to firmly fight all illegal armed groups, promoting the demobilization of their members and strengthening the presence of public institutions throughout our territory,” he affirmed.
Santos, the first Colombian president to visit Turkey, is negotiating a free trade agreement and an investment protection treaty with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül. “Unfortunately, there is not much Turkish investment in Colombia,” Santos said, listing two Turkish companies in his country. “But we hope this will soon change,” he added.
Despite the geographical distance, Santos said business relations with Turkey are important and expanding. Last year bilateral trade between Turkey and Colombia was valued at $268 million. During the first eight months of this year, Santos said bilateral trade has exceeded $439 million. “Imagine how these figures may grow with a free trade agreement. There’s lots of potential,” he said.
Santos pointed out that The Economist included Turkey and Colombia in the so-called CIVETS group — along with Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt and South Africa — in its list of emerging economies with the highest expected growth rates. The CIVETS group fell ranked second in the emerging economies with the highest growth rates. The BRIC group, made up of Brazil, Russia, India and China, ranked first. “The time has come for us to get to know each other more, to explore the many things that unite us, to enrich each other with our differences, and to move forward together in order to achieve greater development for our people,” he said.
The leaders completed the fourth round of negotiations two weeks ago in Ankara. Santos said he hopes they will sign the agreement in the next round of negotiations, to be held next year in Bogotá. “It would be a real pleasure to sign it in Bogotá, hopefully with the presence of President Gül. It would be an honor for us,” he said.
While in Turkey, Santos also inaugurated Colombia’s embassy in Ankara. In a speech at Ankara University, Santos described Turkey as a country that is rising in economic and political stature and said the two countries must “join forces.” Santos is also scheduled to meet with Erdoğan and other leaders during his visit.
“However, the most important goal is to establish closer contact with the Turkish people and their government, in order for us to mutually cooperate hereinafter on several aspects of mutual interest,” Santos stressed.
An Iranian lawmaker has called for better cooperation between Turkey and Iran against terrorism, which he said requires “a serious fight, regardless of where it is staged,” as he surprisingly hailed growing relations between the nations with the hope that Iran and Turkey would fulfill their true potential in the future.
“Our true potential exceeds what we currently make of it. Relations are good, but they could be better,” the head of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, told the Anatolian news agency on Thursday before he departed for a visit to Turkey, where he will meet with Turkish officials and discuss bilateral and regional relations later in the day.
Boroujerdi spoke of great opportunities ahead for Iran and Turkey, suggesting that the countries had more common than diverging interests. Turkey and Iran are neighbors with a remittent relationship in the volatile Middle East, and diplomatic relations between the regional powers have cooled with regard to Turkey’s cooperation on a bilateral and regional level with the US, a country Boroujerdi regarded as “the Great Satan.”
Touching on the US role in the Middle East, the Iranian official suggested that the nations of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region could secure the region through cooperation with each other, and there would be “no need to lean on the walking cane of the US,” Anatolia reported.
Turkey and Iran are both combating terrorism seeking autonomy in their countries, and share intelligence regarding the activities of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Iranian offshoot, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK). Commenting on the common terrorism problem of Turkey and Iran, the official noted that the two countries were cooperating through a mutual security committee for years to find a solution to the problem, and suggested that a serious fight was needed to overcome terrorism wherever it was staged.
On Thursday, Boroujerdi met with President Abdullah Gül in Ankara and had a meeting with the chairperson of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, Volkan Bozkır, with whom he discussed bilateral relations between the countries and ways of countering terrorism and illegal drug trafficking. The Iranian official, speaking to reporters after his meeting with Bozkır, also noted that the foreign trade volume between Turkey and Iran stood at $12 billion, and that it would reach $15 billion by the end of the year, as he expressed that the two countries would like to see that figure at $30 billion next year.
17 November 2011, Thursday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, ANKARA
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has stepped up a verbal onslaught on the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), charging that its members have been instrumental in the recruitment of militants for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“BDP lawmakers are encouraging young people, even kids as young as 14, to go to the mountains, become terrorists and kill,” Erdoğan said yesterday.
“Those ruthless people share the responsibility for bloodshed with the terrorists whom they tolerate and turn a blind eye to,” he said.
Erdoğan’s accusations followed his outburst against the BDP the previous day, in which he said the party was now openly supporting terrorism and that its eventual withdrawal from Parliament would be no loss.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
In a related development, Parliament rejected a censure motion against Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin, submitted by the BDP, in a stormy Nov. 15 session that produced angry exchanges over police operations targeting Kurdish activists.
Drawing on its comfortable majority, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) ensured that the motion was rejected after a preliminary debate.
The BDP had sought to censure Şahin over a massive investigation into the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the PKK’s alleged urban network, arguing that the minister was responsible for “police-state practices flouting the Constitution” and “reckless attacks on elected representatives and lawmakers.”
Adamant over the investigation, Şahin said even Kurds who had voted for the BDP were content with the government’s efforts against terrorism.
BDP lawmaker Pervin Buldan likened the hundreds of arrests in the KCK probe to the oppressive practices experienced in the wake of military coups. “The country has never seen political arrests on such a scale before,” she said.
Seven members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist organization have turned themselves in to Turkish security forces in the southeastern province of Şırnak, the Cihan news agency reported on Wednesday.
Cihan said seven ex-PKK members, including a woman, entered Turkey from Iraq through the Habur border gate in the Silopi district of Şırnak province and surrendered to Turkish soldiers after leaving a PKK camp in northern Iraq. They were questioned at Silopi Gendarmerie Command and by the Silopi Prosecutor’s Office. After being questioned by prosecutors, they were referred to the Diyarbakır Specially Authorized Prosecutor’s Office.
The desertion of PKK members comes on the heels of a call by President Abdullah Gül to PKK members who are Turkish citizens to lay down their arms and return to their families and benefit from a law that guarantees amnesty. According to the popularly termed Repentance Law, or Turkish Penal Code (TCK) Law No. 221, PKK members who surrender to security officers will be released if their criminal records are found to be clean, on the basis of having left the terrorist organization without having committed any crimes.
Furthermore, Mersin police carried out an operation against a group of PKK terrorists, capturing seven of them in possession of weapons and explosives in the Aydıncık district of Mersin province on Saturday, who have been identified as having been involved in various terrorist attacks that resulted in the deaths of six soldiers and four policemen.
Police stopped the truck in Aydıncık and found 19 handguns, seven Kalashnikov rifles and numerous bullets as well as hand grenades. Seven PKK terrorists were captured in the operation, which was backed up by helicopters.
The terrorists were taken to the Mersin Police Department’s counterterrorism unit in armored vehicles. Mersin police stated that four of the seven people captured were part of the terrorist organization’s mountain forces.
During interrogation, the terrorists confessed to more than 20 terrorist attacks in the last two years in the southern provinces of Antalya, Adana and Mersin. The terrorists also confessed to the attack in which six Turkish soldiers were killed and seven wounded in a rocket attack on a naval base in the Mediterranean port city of İskenderun.
The PKK, which is fighting for autonomy in Turkey from bases in northern Iraq, has escalated attacks in recent months, killing dozens of members of the Turkish security forces and many civilians since July. Turkey has responded to the attacks with air and ground offensives against PKK bases in Turkey and northern Iraq.
Two deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) filed criminal complaints against themselves on Wednesday in protest of recent police operations against the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), saying they too would face charges if the acts of those detained in operations are accepted as a crime
BDP Co-chairman Selahattin Demirtaş and BDP İstanbul deputy Sebahat Tuncel arrived at the Beşiktaş Courthouse in İstanbul to submit their complaints. Prosecutors say the KCK is a political umbrella organization that includes the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist organization.
The deputies said in their petition that they are also involved in similar acts as dozens of people, including BDP officials, academics and journalists, have been arrested as part of KCK operations and that they would continue to be. “If these actions are accepted as a crime, I also committed the same crimes,” their petitions read.
Turkish police have recently stepped up operations against the KCK. The KCK investigation started in December 2009 and a large number of Kurdish politicians, including several officials from the BDP, have been detained in the case.
The suspects are accused of various crimes, inclu
ding membership in a terrorist organization, aiding and abetting a terrorist organization and attempting to destroy the country’s unity and integrity. The detainees include mayors and municipal officials from the BDP, which has said the investigation is the government’s method of suppressing its politicians, denying any links between the suspects and any terrorist organizations.
Among the most recent detainees are publisher Ragıp Zarakolu and constitutional law Professor Büşra Ersanlı, who both taught classes at the BDP’s Politics Academy — a training workshop for young party members. Their detentions and subsequent arrests sparked outrage from the BDP as well as civil society groups.