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Ruwayda Mustafah

Kurds' disunity 'allows Turkish impunity to continue'

The ceasefire between Turkey and armed Kurdish groups broke down in July [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 29 December, 2015

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Blog: Kurdish people in Turkey are being left to face Ankara's army alone due to a lack of political support from Kurdish leaders in Iraq, warn activists.
Turkey has intensified its military campaign against the Kurdistan Workers' Party - known by its Kurdish acronym, the PKK - since a two-year ceasefire broke down in July.

Human rights organisations and watchdogs have, meanwhile, issued multiple warnings against Turkey's use of force against civilians in Kurdish-populated areas, saying state violence in Sirnak and Diyarbakir was "disproportionate".

Most recently, Human Rights Watch urged the government to cease all military operations within civilian-populated areas.

According to a recent HRW report, at least 100 civilians have been killed, and many more injured, since July. What's more distressing is the seeming lack of widespread outrage on the part of Kurdish politicians within Kurdistan; activists say this allows Turkey to act with impunity.

On Saturday, more than 15,000 people marched in the streets of Dusseldorf, Germany, against Turkey's military crackdown on the PKK and its reportedly disproportionate response to the militant group in civilian areas. Meanwhile, Kurdish politicians from Iraqi Kurdistan continue to keep quiet about the distressing treatment of Kurds within Turkey.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has called on Turkey to end its increased crackdown on Kurdish-leaning media workers


On Sunday, a three-month-old girl was reportedly killed by Turkish forces, alongside her 73-year-old grandfather.

Among the public, the hashtag #StopTheBabyKillerTR was trending for more than two hours on Twitter, but there was silence from Kurdistan Regional Government politicians - normally active on Twitter, particularly with swift condemnations of atrocities committed by various groups in the West.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has called on Turkey to end its increased crackdown on Kurdish-leaning media workers. In December, Zeki Karakus, the owner of Nusaybin Haber, was arrested on "terror charges", along with two other journalists, Deniz Babir and Beritan Canözer, for covering a protest in Diyarbakir.

It is against the backdrop of increased intimidation of activists, arrests of pro-Kurdish journalists, and accusations levied against Kurdish politicians that the atmosphere in Turkey can be understood.

Calls for Kurdish autonomy echo widely, in hopes of reaching a peaceful solution in Turkey, along a similar model to the autonomous Kurdish region established in Iraq.

But activists say the disunity between Kurdish leaders, political parties, and indeed the internal politicking that the Kurdistan region faces has strengthened Turkey's ability to manipulate the narrative around the violence. In this month alone, Turkey has warmly received both Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and Premier Nechirvan Barzani, with Kurdish flags displayed for the first time in Ankara's recent history.

As officials welcome "foreign" Kurdish leaders to the capital, they appear to do little to deal with their own significant Kurdish population. Reigniting three decades of warfare is unlikely to eradicate the PKK, and the violent humiliation endured by the Kurdish people will only fuel support for the armed group.

Follow Ruwayda Mustafah on Twitter: @RuwaydaMustafah

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