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 Activists in Iraqi Kurdistan call for mass demonstration to condemn Turkish airstrike against civilian Kurds

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Activists in Iraqi Kurdistan call for mass demonstration to condemn Turkish airstrike against civilian  3.1.2012 

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January 3, 2012

ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — Activists in Kurdistan Region are campaigning for a mass demonstration to condemn a recent Turkish airstrike that killed 40 Kurdish villagers who were mistaken for rebels.

The calls for a demonstration came in an open debate organized by Asoy Madaniyat, an NGO, on how to take a stand regarding the killing of 40 Kurds in Turkey’s Hakari province, just on the border of Kurdistan Region.

Kurdistan Regional official expressed concern over the attack but failed to condemn it clearly as they  condemned an attack by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerillas on the Turkish forces two month ago that killed about 26 Turkish soldiers setting off criticism within the society.   

Dec 31, 2011 - Protesters in Iraq's Kurdistan region criticise Turkey after an airstrike kills 35 Kurdish villagers. Sunita Rappai reports. By Reuters Video.
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“Though it is the first time that the Turkish state apologizes for a crime against the Kurds… but this does not mean that we be silent over such a big crime” said Mohammed Baziyani, a political observer in Kurdistan Region.

He criticized the “weak position” of the Kurds in Iraq to what he believed to be “lack of a national strategy”.

“The stand of the Kurdistan Regional Government and officials across the political spectrum was not up to expectations. We should hand a letter of protest to the Turkish consulate in Kurdistan Region in which the attack would be condemned.” Bazyani said.

Umed Khoshnaw, secretary of the Kurdistan Democratic Youth Union (KDYU), however had a different view. “The political parties in Kurdistan say big words in the meetings, but they don’t contribute well when it comes to action… therefore, we the best thing is to stage a nationwide mass protest where the NGOs also have remarkable presence”

Saleh Salahyi, an intellectual who participated in the debate, said everybody in Kurdistan including ordinary people and politicians as well had to play their parts by taking to the streets to protest the killing of civilian Kurds by the Turkish forces.

Turkish jets last night bombed a village, Ortasu, in the Kurdish populated province of Sirnak, 1,174 km south east of Ankara, killing nearly 35 people 13 of whom are aged from 12 to 18. They were, reportedly, working as smugglers.

The Turkish military first said it had launched the strike after unmanned drones spotted suspected rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK, and that there were no civilians in the area.

Turkey’s Recep Teyyip Erdogan has admitted it was a mistake and apologized for the killing of civilian Kurds on Friday. The apology however has failed to calm the Kurds in Turkey and Iraq as well.

In November Turkey bombed the Sulaimaniyah and Erbil provinces of Iraq's autonomous northern Kurdish region, wounding a civilian, Kurdish officials said. Since August 17, 2011 Turkish jets repeatedly carried out air strikes against the Kurdish PKK separatist group's bases in Iraqi Kurdistan region, under justification of chasing elements of the anti-Ankara PKK, forcing large numbers of Kurdish citizens of those areas to desert their home villages, including an air raid that killed 7 Kurdish civilians in a village north of Kurdistan’s Sulaimaniyah city on August 21, 2011.

Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

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.

PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, 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. 

Aknews part of this article written by Fryad Mohammed

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