The father of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist who was among 24 PKK terrorists killed in operations in the Çukurca district of Hakkari province has hung Turkish flags on the walls of his home.
The family of Sezer Arslan, a PKK terrorist killed in the extensive operations being carried out against the PKK by Turkish security forces following a terrorist attack that left 24 soldiers dead in Çukurca last month, spoke out against the PKK at the funeral and after the funeral of the slain militant. His father, Mehmet Arslan, put up Turkish flags inside and outside his house in the Korkut district of Muş province. Talking to a Cihan news agency reporter following the funeral, Mehmet Arslan said the PKK had deceived his son into joining its ranks. “Our family isn’t a traitor to its country; there is one state and one flag in Turkey. My son was killed for the PKK’s dirty intentions; we hope that another youth won’t be killed in vain. We are Muslims, we want to live in the same land with the same flag,” he said, speaking out against the PKK.
The uncle of the slain militant, Halil Arslan, told the reporter that his nephew had been attending the Hakkari Anatolian Teachers High School, but in 2009 he was deceived by PKK sympathizers and joined the terrorist organization. Stating that they were not traitors, Halil Arslan added: “Nothing can be achieved by killing police and soldiers, we love our country. The Kurdish and Turkish people fought together in the Turkish War of Independence, we founded this country together. We are loyal to our country. We sent Sezer to Hakkari for education, we didn’t send him there to become a terrorist of the PKK.”
The headman of the village, Mahmut Arat, said that they buried Sezer Arslan at night to prevent PKK sympathizers from turning the funeral into an opportunity for promoting the PKK. “Some PKK sympathizers who wanted to turn the funeral into a protest against the state called us to join the funeral, but we refused, saying everyone who wants to offer their condolences can come to the village, but we will not allow PKK sympathizers to use the funeral for their political aims. We won’t let people who have such aims enter our village,” he said.
“People who want to use our children’s deaths for their political aims and who deceive our children live in comfort. People selected as representatives of the Kurdish people are sunbathing in holiday resorts instead of going to Parliament [referring to the photos of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP) deputy, Bengi Yıldız, who was photographed sunbathing with a woman in Bodrum in Muğla province]. They are manipulating and deceiving the Kurdish people,” Arat added.
Meanwhile, the Kurdish people’s reactions against the PKK attacks have been growing recently. Gathering to protest the terrorist attack that occurred in Bingöl last week, killing three people and injuring 21, civil society organizations, local authorities and opinion leaders in the eastern province of Bingöl, where the majority of the population is Kurdish, strongly condemned the deadly attacks perpetrated by the PKK and said brotherhood and unity in Turkey will not be affected by the PKK’s attacks.
04 November 2011, Friday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL
Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani arrived in Turkey for a visit that is expected to focus on ways to expand cooperation against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which uses its bases in Kurdish-run northern Iraq for attacks on the Turkish army.
Barzani was scheduled to have talks later on Thursday with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who recently urged the Iraqi Kurdish administration to take a clear stance against the PKK, saying that neutrality is not an option in the fight against the PKK. Otherwise, he warned, Turkey has every right to enter Iraqi territory by launching a cross-border offensive to prevent PKK attacks.
The PKK has stepped up its attacks on Turkish targets since mid-summer, killing dozens of Turkish soldiers. Some 25 soldiers were killed in a series of coordinated PKK attacks on army posts in Hakkari, near the Iraqi border on Oct. 25, prompting the Turkish government to order a cross-border offensive against PKK targets in northern Iraq.
Ankara has complained about Iraqi Kurdistan’s inaction towards the PKK presence in northern Iraq in the past, but, as relations have improved over the past years, Turkish officials are now seeking cooperation from the Kurdish government and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against the PKK, designated as terrorist by Turkey, the US and the European Union.
Nechirvan Barzani, Massoud Barzani’s nephew and a senior official in the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), rushed to Ankara after the attack in Hakkari to express solidarity. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in the wake of the deadly attack that he also invited Massoud Barzani to visit Turkey to discuss ways to cooperate in the fight against terrorism.
Barzani is expected to meet Erdoğan on Saturday, after the prime minister returns from a tour that includes Germany and France.
03 November 2011, Thursday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL
An indictment concerning the near-fatal drive-by shooting of singer İbrahim Tatlıses in March of this year says the attack was ordered by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The indictment, prepared by İstanbul Specially Authorized Prosecutor Muammer Akkaş, was forwarded to the İstanbul 17th High Criminal Court on Thursday. The document mentions 12 suspects, nine of whom are currently under arrest. The prime suspect in the case is Abdullah Uçmak, who is accused of having solicited Ersin Altun, the suspected hitman, to stage an attack that left Tatlıses seriously injured. The prosecution has established that Altun had been trained in the PKK’s Makhmour camp in northern Iraq.
Possible PKK involvement in the shooting had been suspected since the first day after the attack. An email message from Ruşen Mahmutoğlu, a PKK-affiliated lawyer, was found on Uçmak’s computer, accusing Tatlıses, himself a Kurd, of standing too close to the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) politically. In fact, Tatlıses had agreed to run as a nominee for the AK Party in the general elections, but the AK Party decided not to nominate him as his health situation remained unclear after the attack. There was also a second attempt on the singer’s life while he was undergoing treatment at Maslak’s Acıbadem Hospital.
Tatlıses — who received several bullets to the head and had to undergo at least two brain operations — returned last week from Germany, where he had traveled to receive physical therapy after a two-week stay at a hospital in İstanbul. No statement on his health was released after his return, but his doctors in Turkey had said prior to his departure that the singer had shown an amazing recovery, although it was too early to say whether partial paralysis of his left side would be permanent.
03 November 2011, Thursday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL
The Mardin Police Department seized a total of 88 long-barreled weapons along with binoculars and ammunition belonging to terrorists over the weekend.
Short-range, long-distance and night-vision guns and mounted binoculars that belong to terrorists were discovered buried in the corn fields of Şırnak’s Silopi district, according to intelligence received by the Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime teams of the Mardin Police Department.
According to police, the weapons were smuggled from northern Iraq to members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in a rural area of Şırnak known to be a PKK stronghold. Mardin Governor Turhan Ayvaz and Mardin Police Chief Mustafa Aygün, who provided journalists with information regarding the weapons, said these guns were the type of weapons used for assassinations.
They added that the discovery of these weapons was a large blow to terrorist operations.
Ayvaz said that three people had been detained in the ongoing investigation. According to police, a wounded terrorist and bomb expert was detained in the district of Derik.
The discovery of the weapons comes after the killing of 24 soldiers in Hakkari’s Çukurca district two weeks ago in a series of attacks by the PKK.
The reluctance of many European countries to move against terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) activities on their soil continues to be a major concern for the Turkish government, which has been increasingly vocal in its demand for quick action to curb financial and logistical support to the outlawed organization.
The PKK continues to operate in such countries as Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the UK, France and Italy. Though the PKK has been experiencing hard times recently due to operations launched against the terrorist organization in some European countries, it continue to raise funds and find new recruits in others without any major difficulty, analysts say.
The arrest and then conditional release of several PKK leaders in Belgium, the ongoing judicial process against the PKK in France and the ongoing case into the PKK-affiliated ROJ TV in Denmark are signs that the PKK may confront some difficulty in some European countries. Yet in others, especially in Germany, the PKK operates freely, runs public campaigns, courts politicians and collects money for terror attacks against Turkish military, police and civilian targets in Turkey.
The latest criticism on the issue came from Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek, who lashed out at German authorities for turning a blind eye to PKK terror activities in Germany. Çiçek deliberately chose the venue to deliver his message when he was travelling on a symbolic train ride from İstanbul to Germany to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the emigration of Turkish workers to the European country.
He said, “The number of outlawed PKK and Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front [DHKP/C] members in Germany is twice that in Kandil [a mountain range in Iraq where the PKK’s headquarters are located].”
Despite being listed as a terrorist organization in Germany, the PKK continues to operate under various names in the EU’s largest member country. The PKK has been listed as a terrorist organization by Germany since 1993; however, it continues to be active in the country under various names. Turkey has especially criticized Germany many times in recent years for not properly dealing with the PKK and other terrorist organizations active in Turkey and for not returning members of those organizations living in Germany, where it is estimated that around 4 million Turks live.
Last month Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also accused a number of German funds of funneling money to the PKK through loans offered to municipalities run by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), the political wing of the PKK.
Süleyman Özeren, an associate professor at the Turkish National Police Academy, which specializes in security and terrorism, told Today’s Zaman that Germany stands out among other European countries as the most reluctant partner in combating the PKK. “Germany has become the most important country for the PKK not only in raising hundreds of millions of euros for the terror organization but also recruiting young militants to the PKK,” he said. Özeren underlined that Germany is the least willing to lend support to Turkish efforts in fighting PKK terror.
“We do not see the German government taking effective measures to make it difficult for the terror organization to raise money or recruit new militants. The country has turned out to be the best place for the PKK to run terror propaganda openly and without any difficulty,” Özeren explained. He warned that it this continues unabated, both Germany and other European countries will pay a heavy price for harboring terror organization in their midst.”
At the 2011 Bosporus Conference in İstanbul two weeks ago, Turkey’s EU Minister and chief negotiator Egemen Bağış also urged Europe to take more concrete steps against PKK terror. He asked European countries to work together with Turkey to combat terrorism, adding, “What al-Qaeda is to the West, the PKK is to Turkey.”
“The PKK is not only an enemy of Turkey, but also of Europe because while the PKK kills Turkish people with bullets, it is killing European youth with drugs,” Bagış said.
Strategic Research and Study Center (SAREM) head Önder Aytaç argues that European countries have a vested interest in seeing Turkey involved in internal problems so that it will be in a weak position. “As long as the PKK does not pose a threat to the vital interests of European countries, they will continue to turn a blind eye to PKK activities in their territories,” he said, adding that the European security agencies will not interfere with PKK activities at this stage. “They [PKK militants] do not engage in terror activities in host countries in Europe in order to not invite the wrath of the security services there,” Aytaç told Today’s Zaman.
In fact, the EU’s police agency, Europol, in its latest report confirmed the PKK’s involvement in activities such as drug smuggling, human trafficking and money laundering. “Information obtained from EU member states shows, for instance, that both the PKK/Kongra-Gel are actively involved in drugs and human trafficking, the facilitation of illegal immigration, credit card skimming, money laundering and fraud for the purpose of funding terrorist [support] operations,” Europol said in its 2011 EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT).
The report also said the PKK was pursuing a “double strategy” of resorting to violence in Turkey, while seeking legitimacy abroad and likely to pursue this double strategy. It also noted that the terrorism threat posed by the group to EU states can currently be considered as “relatively low.” “However, the large number of PKK/Kongra-Gel militants living in the EU and the continuing support activities in the EU, like large demonstrations organized in the past, show that the PKK/Kongra-Gel is in a position to mobilize its constituency at any time and is an indication that it maintains the capability to execute attacks in the EU,” it added.
The 2011 report of the Federal Office for the Defense of the Constitution (Bundesverfassungsschutz) also confirmed Europol findings, saying that the PKK collects funds from Kurds in Germany and even sends people to join its militia arm, the People’s Defense Forces (HPG), who fight against the Turkish army and in the mountainous regions of northern Iraq. The report states that the PKK has 11,500 members in Germany. The report further indicates “a few million euros” have been collected by the organization. It also states that some Kurdish youths join the PKK; however, no exact figure is given on the number of people who have joined the terrorist organization.
Another report by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Austria, unveiled by Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner in early August, also confirms German findings. The report said the main goal of PKK activities in Europe is to finance the administrative units of the terrorist organization and win new members to the ranks of the PKK. The report drew attention to the contradictory attitudes of the PKK in Europe as the terrorist organization seems to adopt a pro-peace attitude on one side, while it still perpetuates its armed struggle. The reports say the PKK’s messages about adhering to democracy and abandoning violence and separatist ideas are not realistic.
30 October 2011, Sunday / ABDULLAH BOZKURT, ANKARA
Fifteen people were wounded yesterday when a group of alleged Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) supporters attacked Turkish anti-terror demonstrators in Paris.
Turkish citizens had gathered in Bastille Square in Paris in the late afternoon to protest the recent terrorist attacks when alleged PKK supporters attacked them with sticks and stones.
Fifteen people were wounded, and one remains in critical condition.
The protesters refused to leave after the attacks and continued their demonstrations. The French police force then reportedly surrounded the group and used tear gas to contain them.
Anti-terror protests by Turkish citizens in other countries have been going on for some time. A recent protest took place in Holland, where the protests took place peacefully, excluding a minor discrepancy that was quickly resolved by the involvement of Turkish authorities.
Professor Büşra Ersanlı, a constitutional law expert and a member of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP) intra-party constitutional commission, was detained along with dozens of others on Friday as part of an investigation into the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella political organization for all groups related to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Counterterrorism units launched simultaneous operations against suspected KCK members early on Friday and detained 41 people. Police raided various BDP offices in İstanbul as well, including the BDP İstanbul Politics Academy and several BDP branches.
Ersanlı, who has been taking part in the BDP’s preparations for a draft constitution, is also among the detainees. Sources said the number of detainees may increase as the operation is still under way.
BDP Co-chairman Selahattin Demirtaş strongly criticized the new wave of detentions on Friday. “We will not be able to talk about a healthy constitution-making process if we go ahead like this. We will have no party member who can join efforts for [drafting] a new constitution,” Demirtaş said.
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, including membership in a terrorist organization, aiding and abetting a terrorist organization and attempting to destroy the country’s unity and integrity. The suspects 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.
US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Alexander Vershbow led an interagency delegation to Ankara on Thursday to discuss ways to improve US-Turkey cooperation against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a statement from the US Embassy in Ankara said.
Ambassador Vershbow’s delegation met with a broad Turkish interagency team, headed by Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Halit Çevik. Ambassador Vershbow met separately with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu, and Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar.
“Ambassador Vershbow underscored the continued support of the United States in this effort and the commitment of the US against the PKK, which is a common enemy of Turkey, Iraq, and the United States,” the statement said.
The statement recalled that after a series of PKK attacks on the Turkish military on Oct. 19, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Davutoğlu agreed to work to improve counter-PKK efforts, and US President Barack Obama told Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that he would send a team to Turkey to carry out this work.
Police have detained Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) member Professor Büşra Ersanlı, along with nearly 70 party members, in an operation against the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) in Istanbul today.
Ersanlı, a political science professor at Marmara University, is a member of the BDP party assembly and has a seat on the party’s charter preparation commission, which is working toward drafting a new constitution. The BDP is primarily focused on the Kurdish issue.
BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş reacted harshly to the detentions, asking for the immediate release of all detainees, including Ersanlı, saying the detentions continued “on the prime minister’s bidding.”
“We want universal justice to act, not the government’s justice,” he said.
Demirtaş said an unconstitutional process was being carried out and it was “becoming impossible to discuss [a new] constitution.”
“There will not be any staff left in the BDP to appoint to the Parliament’s charter commission if the detentions continue,” he said.
The KCK is accused of being the urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is itself listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.