10 Years since Ocalan's arrest, Turkey
failed to solve Kurdish issue
leader Ocalan was confiscated in Nairobi on February
15th, 1999. The state hoped that the PKK would
dismantle without Ocalan but the Kurdish movement
managed to reform itself, analyst Kalyon said.
February 14, 2009
Turkey has wasted an opportunity to resolve the
Kurdish issue peacefully following PKK's Kurdish
leader Abdullah Öcalan's apprehension 10 years ago,
political analyst Kenan Kalyon told bianet.
With the help of US intelligence, Ocalan was
confiscated in Nairobi, Kenya on February 15, 1999
and brought to Turkey. He was then tried and
condemned to life on terror charges. He remains in
Imrali prison. Every year,www.ekurd.net
Kurds all around Turkey
and in Europe gather in protests on February 15th to
condemn what they call an "international complot".
Following Ocalan's arrest, we witnessed a period of
ceasefire where the Turkey's Kurdistan Workers'
Party (PKK*) gave priority to political struggle but
the state failed to assess this chance, Kalyon said.
"The state hoped to solve the problem by prolonging
it in time and hoping for a self dismantlement of
the PKK, now it lost Ocalan. Those predictions
didn't realize. PKK managed to reform itself and
continue with a collective direction."
Despite lost chances, he lists several positive
developments in the last 10 years, regarding the
Turkish Kurds hold a poster of the jailed leader of
the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, Abdullah Ocalan,
during Nowruz celebrations in the southeastern city
of Diyarbakir. A large Turkey's Kurdish community
openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.
Jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan Now, The only
prisoner on the Imrali Island in the Turkish Sea of Marmara. photo from ROJ TV station 2007
"First of all, Kurds are
represented in the parliament following July 2007
elections. Disregarding the short experience of
Party of Democracy in 1990s, the Kurdish movement is
involved in parliamentary politics.
Secondly, even if not a fully open relations, Turkey
has initiated dialogue with Kurds in Kurdistan
region in Iraq's north.
Thirdly, the Kurdish movement managed to withhold
its power, clarifying its demands and programme for
a peaceful solution. Those included a new definition
of constitutional citizenship, which would avoid any
discrimination ethnic grounds. This move also
avoided any accusation of separatism."
Despite these positive developments, Kalyon thinks
Turkey was pushed on the brink of a social
dismantlement based on ethnicity,www.ekurd.net
as a result of years of
nationalist enticement. He recounts lynch attempts
against Kurds on several occasions. "This proved
that the barrier before a solution didn't just stem
from the bureaucracy, the state and politicians but
also on a social level."
Kalyon criticizes Turkey for avoiding "his own
Kurds", while communicating with Kurds in Iraqi
And lastly, The Justice and Development Party's (AKP)
efforts to introduce political Islam in Eastern
Turkey, to weaken the Kurdish opposition is
rendering the any solution distant, said Kalyon.
Copyright, respective author or news agency, bianet
The PKK is considered a 'terrorist' organization by
Ankara and U.S., the PKK continues to be on the
blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which
overturned a decision
to place the Kurdish rebel
group PKK and its political wing on
the European Union's terror list.
Over 40,000 Turkish soldiers and Kurdish PKK
guerrillas have been killed since 1984 when the Turkey's
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) (Partiya Karkeren
Kurdistan) took up arms for self-rule in the mainly
Kurdish southeast of Turkey (Turkey-Kurdistan). A large Turkey's
Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority.
The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds'
identity in its constitution and of their language
as a native language along with Turkish in the
country's Kurdish areas, the party also demanded
an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and
constitution against Kurds, ranting them full
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural
rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish
language and private Kurdish language courses with
the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians
say the measures fall short of their expectations.
** Kurds are not recognized as an official minority
in Turkey and are denied rights granted to other
minority groups. Under EU pressure, Turkey recently
granted Kurds limited rights for broadcasts and
education in the Kurdish language, but critics say
the measures do not go far enough.
The use of the term "Kurdistan" is vigorously
rejected due to its alleged political implications
by the Republic of Turkey, which does not recognize
the existence of a "Turkish Kurdistan" Southeast
Others estimate over 40 million Kurds live in Big
Kurdistan (Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Armenia),
which covers an area as big as France, about half of
all Kurds which estimate to 20 million live in
Turkey is home to 25 million ethnic Kurds, a large
Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with
the Kurdish PKK for a Kurdish homeland in the
country's mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey.
Before August 2002, the Turkish government placed
severe restrictions on the use of Kurdish language,
prohibiting the language in education and broadcast
media. The Kurdish alphabet is still not recognized
in Turkey, and use of the Kurdish letters X, W, Q
which do not exist in the Turkish alphabet has led
to judicial persecution in 2000 and 2003
The Kurdish flag flown officially in Iraqi Kurdistan
but unofficially flown by Kurds in Armenia. The flag
is banned in Iran, Syria, and Turkey where flying it
is a criminal offence"
North Kurdistan (
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