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 Turkish officials aided Kurdish PKK rebels, prosecutor says

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Turkish officials aided Kurdish PKK rebels, prosecutor says  13.2.2012  

Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan with Turkey's intelligence MIT chief Hakan Fidan, Photo: AA See Related Links
February 13, 2012

ISTANBUL, — A Turkish investigation of links between Kurdish activists and militants has uncovered evidence of state officials aiding the separatists, a prosecutor said on Monday, fuelling speculation about a power struggle within the security apparatus.

The statement from the Istanbul state prosecutor's office coincided with police raids across the country to detain around 100 people over alleged ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in the same investigation.

The arrests came less than a week after prosecutors asked the head of the National Intelligence Agency (MIT) and his predecessor to testify over secret links between the PKK and the agency, controlled by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

The government has moved to block the questioning of MIT operatives with a parliamentary bill requiring Erdogan's permission for such a move. At the weekend the prosecutor who ordered their questioning was removed from the case.

However, Istanbul deputy chief prosecutor Fikret Secen said in a written statement defending the investigation that it was only directed at the actions of individual officials and not against government anti-terrorism policy.

"This investigation ... was launched due to evidence giving rise to suspicion that some state officials acted outside the duty given to them by the executive organ and aided the (militant) organisation in executing its operations," it said.

The head of MIT, Hakan Fidan, is close to Erdogan and the current probe is seen as exposing tensions between his organisation and elements within the police and judiciary.

Istanbul prosecutors have asked their Ankara counterparts to summon Fidan, while detaining four other MIT officers for questioning but no action has been taken so far.

The prosecutor's investigation is focused on an organisation called the Union of Kurdistan Communities (KCK), which the PKK is alleged to have established with the aim of creating its own political system in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey.

Around 150 politicians and activists are already being tried in the region's main city of Diyarbakir on charges of membership of an armed terrorist group and hundreds more people have been detained in related cases.

Since 2009, some 700 people have been arrested over alleged links to the KCK, according to government figures. Kurdish media puts the figure at around 3,500.

The KCK-trial began on October 18, 2010 when a Turkish court began the trial of 152 high profile Kurdish politicians and rights defenders, accused of being the urban wing of the outlawed separatist Kurdish PKK rebels.

Over 7748 people were taken into custody and over 3895 persons were arrested in the scope of KCK operations during the past nine months, the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party announced. Dozens of BDP executives and employees are still in prison.

At least 567 people were detained by police from 10 December 2011 to 3 January 2012. Among the detainees, including mayors, students, children, human rights activists and union members, over 350 were remanded in custody and sent to prison.

On February 4, 2012, members from the Swedish Parliament nominate imprisoned Turkish publisher and human rights defender Ragıp Zarakolu who is in jail for KCK links for the Nobel Peace.


Security sources said those held on Monday were believed to be involved in bomb attacks and illegal protests and noted their detention came just two days before the Feb. 15 anniversary of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan's capture in 1999.

Prosecutors are also believed to want to question MIT officials about secret talks they held in Oslo with PKK representatives. The contacts came to light last year through recordings on the Internet.

Some have interpreted the targeting of the MIT as a nationalist warning to Erdogan against seeking any negotiated settlement with the PKK. Erdogan is currently recovering from his second bout of intestinal surgery in three months.

Talks between the state and PKK were halted after Erdogan's AK Party won a third term in office last June with around 50 percent of the votes. The PKK has returned to fighting using northern Iraq as a refuge for operations in southeastern Turkey.

Erdogan, who has Islamist roots but whose AK party includes centre-right and even strongly nationalist elements, has pressed reforms in Turkey that have shaken the political establishment since he was first elected in 2002. He has cut back the influence of the army and shaken up a conservative judiciary.

In a country rife with conspiracy theories, some have also suggested an influential Islamic movement, headed by Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim theologian living in the United States, could be seeking to clip Erdogan's wings.

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.

The 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. 

Compiled by from news agencies

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