Claim: Erdogan ended peace process

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Claim: Erdogan ended peace process

2016-12-14 07:30 GMT
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Haaretz article claims Turkish President Erdogan ended peace process with PKK

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir

On 13 December 2016, Haaretz published an article by Zvi Bar'el entitled ‘Like Israel, Turkey and Egypt Trapped in Domestic Terror Quagmire’. The article focuses primarily on comparing Turkey’s struggle against terrorism to that of Israel and Egypt. However, the article contains a number of factual inaccuracies.
Bar’el claims that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ended the peace process with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) after an attack carried out by DAESH on Kurdish nationalist groups in Suruc on 20 July 2015. However, the outlawed PKK declared the annulment of the peace process before the Suruc attack. The annulment of the ceasefire was formally announced by the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the PKK's umbrella group, on 11 July 2015.1 A leading KCK figure, Bese Hozat, wrote on July 15, 2015 in the PKK-aligned Ozgur Gundem newspaper that the present political situation in Turkey necessitated a "revolutionary public war".2
The article continues with the claim that Turkish President Erdogan is using “violent tactics against the Turkish Kurds,” arguing that this has taken the form of demolishing homes, prolonged curfews and the outright killing of civilians.
Bare’l is foremost mistaken in both conflating Turkey’s Kurdish-origin citizens with the PKK and by suggesting that operations against the PKK are aimed at civilians. Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin remain prominent in all sections of society and are represented in both the government and the parliament. As Fact-Checking Turkey has previously noted, Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin are scattered all over Turkey, with an estimated 14 to 22.5 million Kurds living in various parts of the country. 17.5 percent of the total Kurdish population resides in Istanbul alone.3
Security operations began as a response to an upsurge in violent PKK activity in the southeast of Turkey following the collapse of the peace process mentioned above. The PKK has conducted armed attacks and carried out missile strikes against security forces. PKK-affiliated groups moved to take control of certain residential areas and declared what they call “self-rule.” To stop the security forces from entering neighborhoods, the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), the PKK’s urban youth branch, dug trenches, erected barricades and booby-trapped buildings. All of these activities resulted in the severe damage of infrastructure, which the Turkish government has sought to alleviate with offers of financial compensation to homeowners.4 It is notable that security forces took measures to establish a corridor to safely extract civilians during security operations.5 However, it was reported that the PKK did not permit civilians to leave security zones.6
Curfews followed as a temporary precaution, and young militants armed with light weapons clashed with the police. Furthermore, the European Court of Human Rights rejected a petition on 13 January, 2016 for a temporary injunction to lift ongoing curfews in two districts where anti-PKK operations are continuing.7 For more information check Fact-Checking Turkey’s previous reply to similar claims here.8