Claim: Erdogan considers PKK and whole Kurdish community same

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Claim: Erdogan considers PKK and whole Kurdish community same

2016-01-12 08:34 GMT
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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung claims Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is fighting against the entire Kurdish community

After the ceasefire between the Turkish government and the PKK was broken, PKK-affliated militias engage in violence in cities in southeastern Turkey

Karen Krüger from FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) wrote an article on 5 January 2016 about the ongoing clashes between the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and Turkish security forces in southeastern Turkey.1 In her article titled ‘Erdogan against Kurds’, she claimed that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s struggle is not limited to the members of the PKK, but is in actual fact against the whole Kurdish community. She also alleged that Erdogan considers the PKK and the pro-Kurdish HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) the same.

In her article, Krüger stated that:

Erdogan wirft die HDP, die kurdische Bevölkerung und die PKK schon lange in einen Topf.” (Erdogan has treated the HDP, Kurdish society and the PKK as if they were the same for a long time.)

However, the claim that Erdogan considers the PKK and the Kurdish community the same does not reflect the reality. In his many speeches Erdogan stated that the terrorist organization PKK and Kurdish community are not the same. For instance, in his speech on 4 November 2015, he said: “According to us, a terrorist is different, my Kurdish brother is different. We should separate them from each other.”2

Furthermore, under the 13-year rule of Turkey’s ruling AK Party (Justice and Development Party), the most radical reforms were made in the field of rights for the Kurdish community. One of the most effective reforms was removing the political ban previously imposed by the state on Kurdish politicians. HDP’s MP Leyla Zana, a Kurdish politician who was previously banned, commented on the reforms, saying that Erdogan is the one who can solve Kurdish issue in Turkey.

During AK Party’s rule, 172 million dollars of investment were made in the mainly Kurdish eastern region of the country and people who suffered damages to their houses were compensated. 187,861 people benefited from this aid.3

The PKK is considered as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US4, the EU and NATO.

The PKK was formally established by Abdullah Ocalan in 1978. The organization adopted a communist ideology, but from its inception was primarily committed to the creation of an independent Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey, northern Syria and northern Iraq. After the end of Cold War, the PKK increasingly emphasized its role as a Kurdish nationalist movement. The group has periodically sought to increase its popularity by exploiting the religious sentiment of the Kurdish community, but the organization remains predominantly secular.

Although the PKK’s founder, Ocalan, is currently serving life imprisonment in Turkey, he is still the group’s leader and figurehead. Other key leaders include Murat Karayilan, Cemil Bayik, Bese Hozat, Duran Kalkan, Remzi Kartal and Sabri Ok.

More than 40,000 people have died in the conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK.

The Peace Process between the Turkish state and the PKK was started in January 2013 by the AK Party government in order to solve problems on democratic grounds.5 On 21 March 2013, through a letter written by the detained PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK announced a ceasefire and promised to withdraw from Turkey's borders. However, despite its promise, the armed groups remained in Turkey. On 11 July 2015, the PKK's umbrella group, the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), announced the ceasefire with the Turkish government to be over.6 Since the declaration of the end of the ceasefire, the PKK has conducted armed attacks, laid bomb traps and carried out missile attacks against security forces in areas including city centers. Following this, the Turkish government launched military operations against the PKK.