Originally in the 80’s the PKK was a classic national liberation struggle and being communist orientated was declared a terrorist organisation by the US which ordered its ”NATO partners’ and the UN to follow suit.
As the 1st middle eastern country in NATO it was considered essential to keep it on side, and this placation of Turkish state crimes has continued till today, leaving the big Kurdish minority (at least 15 million) defenseless to the charge of supporting ”terrorists” when they have always been the first victims.
This we hope explains why we demand to let Ocalan speak, not because we see him as a godlike leader as the MMS suggests, but because he is the key to peace.
As in many European countries in the past, Turkish nationalist politicians have used xenopohobic campaigns against minorities as a way to secure their power. The leader Erdogan gained his now ‘legalised’ dictatorship, while arresting jailing and often killing hundreds of thousands of suspects, mainly Kurds and Gulen opposition, but also leftists, feminists, gays and other minorities.
The unilateral truce and peace process started by Ocalan came to an abrupt end in 2015 when Kurds took part in elections and gained enough seats to enter parliament. The response was immediate, a quick end to the ceasefire was engineered and a huge military operation unleashed on Kurdish towns and cities, reducing many to rubble.
Delisting the PKK as ‘terrorist’ must be a Priority
info from a 2016 report HERE
Delisting would catalyze political negotiations between the Turkish government and the PKK, resulting in an arrangement enhancing Turkey’s security while enshrining greater political and cultural rights for Kurds.
In 1999, following his capture, Ocalan decided to abandon demands for independence in favor of Kurdish rights and self-rule within a democratic Turkey. The PKK initiated its first unilateral ceasefire in 1999 and that lasted until 2004.
In July 2007, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) consolidated its single-party rule. Then in 2009, under then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish government, after negotiating with Ocalan in prison, announced its “Democratic Initiative.”
This purported to improve democratic rights for all Turkish citizens, including Kurds. Negotiations, first in Olso between 2009 and 2011, involving Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MIT) and PKK representatives culminated with Ocalan announcing another unilateral ceasefire, which endured from 2013 to July 2015.
….On July 20—a suicide bomber killed 33 people and wounded dozens more in Suruc. The attack targeted a gathering of Kurdish youth activists planning relief efforts for Kobani. Many Kurds believed that MIT was behind the attack or, at a minimum, that MIT had turned a blind-eye to the incident.
In retaliation for the Suruc attack, two Turkish police officers were killed by members of a radical youth movement. In response, Turkey cracked down, arresting hundreds and launching airstrikes targeting Kurds.
Turkey granted permission for U.S. warplanes to use Incirlik Air Force Base in Southeast Turkey on July 22, 2015. Turkey used the cooperation as an opportunity to attack the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan and in southeastern Turkey. The operation morphed into a full-fledged offensive against the PKK and turned southeastern Turkey into a war zone.
Since August 2015, hundreds of civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. President Erdogan has stated that Turkey will continue battling the PKK until every last fighter is “liquidated.” This spiral of violence eliminated any chance of a formal peace process.
Erdogan has taken the fight against the Kurds to the political arena as well. The AKP precipitated new elections in November 2015 by rejecting a government of national unity.
Erdogan campaigned on a platform that the AKP would restore stability and defeat terrorism, and the party won 49.5 percent of votes. With its absolute majority, the AKP consolidated Erdogan’s power by establishing an imperial presidency.
Delisting could be a catalyst for peace in Turkey. In exchange for delisting, the PKK would be required to renounce political violence, reiterate its willingness to resume the ceasefire with Turkey, and engage in political negotiations. In exchange for greater political and cultural rights for Kurds in Turkey, the country would see sustainable peace
The State Department has updated the FTO list by adding and removing groups, and amending designations with new aliases. Currently, 59 groups are listed. Both FTO and SDGT designations trigger an asset freeze. FTO designations, however, go further by imposing immigration restrictions and making it a crime to knowingly provide “material support or resources” to the FTO…..
…In February 1999, Turkish forces captured Abdullah Ocalan in Nairobi, Kenya. At his trial, Ocalan apologized to the families of those killed during the conflict and called for an end to violence.
He announced his commitment to a democratic solution for Kurds within Turkey. As described above, the PKK implemented a unilateral ceasefire, which lasted until June 2004; halting efforts to reach a peace agreement ensued. In March 2013, Ocalan again called for a ceasefire and withdrawal of forces in exchange for political reforms.
According to CT’s Country Reports on Terrorism (2014):
Following three decades of conflict with the PKK, in late 2012 the Government of Turkey and PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan began talks for a peace process. The talks continued in 2014. The PKK called for a ceasefire in March of 2013…Although ongoing peace talks mitigated violence between the PKK and Turkish government forces, isolated incidents continued.
However, in the period after this report was released, violence escalated dramatically…….
Reconsidering the PKK’s Designation as an FTO
The US Secretary of State could revoke the PKK’s designation as an FTO either based on discretion or in response to a petition for delisting filed on behalf of the PKK. And a revised assessment of U.S. national security would have pivotal bearing.
Today, circumstances are dramatically different from those that preceded the PKK’s designation. The rise of the Islamic State changed U.S. priorities in the Middle East. The PKK’s fight with ISIS has benefited U.S. counter-terrorism efforts in Iraq and Syria.
The PKK contributed to defending and liberating areas such as Makhmour, Sinjar, and Kirkuk in Iraq. In August 2014, the PKK was instrumental in establishing a humanitarian corridor to rescue tens of thousands of Yazidis trapped by ISIS on Mount Sinjar.
The YPG/YPJ and SDF forces in Northern Syria, branded as PKK terrorists by Erdogan which they deny, have expelled ISIS from practically the whole of Northern Syria, including Manbij and the IS capital Raqqa.
They have thus done the world a huge favour and while largely respecting the rights of civilian and prisoners, suffering heavy casualties in the process, including many international volunteers.
The designation of the PKK as terrorists and Turkey’s inclusion of all Kurdish groups as part of the PKK gives it impunity to massacre the YPG/YPJ and SDF who are thus restricted from seeking international support
In addition to the battlefield successes against ISIS, the Kurdish creation of a political party with ‘co-leaders’, many of whom who are now on hunger strike in jail, would contribute to democracy in Turkey.The PKK for its part has renounced separatism and instead seeks democratic autonomy within a Turkish state. Also the governance of Rojava, led by the PYD party, provides a positive example of grass roots democracy, women’s empowerment, and environmental sustainability.
At an October 2016 press briefing, the State Department Deputy Spokesperson, in response to a question as to whether he was aware of “many of the PKK militants joining the YPG,” responded that the State Department has “always seen a clear separation between the two.” Erdogan, however, does not recognize the U.S. distinction between the PKK as terrorists and the YPG.
Western scholars, European politicians, and think tanks have advocated delisting the PKK, noting the groups pivotal role in combating ISIS. A petition to delist the PKK, posted on the White House website’s “We the People” platform, gathered over 33,000 signatures…..
Turkey’s current disproportionate military offensive against the PKK and the YPG/YPJ and SDF in Rojava and resulting civilian casualties underscore the need for a different approach. A more pragmatic policy by the international community toward the PKK would include incentives for the organization’s transition, as well as benchmarks for reform.
Maintaining a group’s label as a terrorist organization negates the possibility of engagement, and can embolden more radical factions within the group. Delisting the PKK would reward the organization’s role fighting ISIS. It could also catalyze political talks between Turkey and the PKK. Turkey would become more secure and stable through a political resolution that grants greater political and cultural rights to Kurds.
Unfortunately any progress is blocked by the current dictator in Turkey who has boasted publically that he will ”take back all countries once in the Ottoman Empire”. Nevertheless having gained supreme power it would benefit him and everyone else to restart the peace process by rehabilitating Ocalan.
The secrecy and the top-down character of the peace talks made it much more difficult for outsiders to assess whether any progress was being made; and eventually may have helped to obstruct achieving any lasting progress.
The talks were already put under a severe strain in the autumn of 2014, when violence erupted in various Kurdish-majority cities in south-eastern Turkey, in protest against the Turkish Government’s perceived siding with the Islamic State (IS, or Da’esh in Arabic) in its siege of Kobanê on the Syrian–Turkish border.
In the wake of the June 2015 elections, the talks came to a de facto end and violence erupted on a scale not seen since the 1990s.
Some local observers allege that Erdoğan had affectively abandoned the peace talks already during an October 2014 meeting with the army leadership and with the then prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, in the wake of the urban protests (Dersim Haber 2016 Dersim Haber. 2016. Önlü: Katliam planı kanıtlanmıştır [Önlü: Proof of a plan for a massacre has been given]. January 26. http://www.gazetedersim.com/haber/2338/onlu-katliam-plani-kanitlanmistir (accessed June 21, 2016).).
What little is known about these talks hardly suggests that democratic autonomy was ever considered a serious option by the Turkish authorities.
5. The Rojava laboratory, 2012-present
The Kurdish question in Turkey took an unexpected turn in the summer of 2012, when the PYD (Partiya Yekitiya Demokrat, or Democratic Union Party), a pro-PKK Syrian–Kurdish party, and its armed wing, the YPG (Yekitiyên Parastina Gel or Popular Protection Units), gained control over three disconnected majority-Kurdish areas along the Syrian–Kurdish border without a shot being fired.
Declaration on the Democratic Solution of the Kurdish Question
by Abdullah Ocalan
But it’s clear that in 2002 Öcalan started reading Bookchin intensively, especially Ecology of Freedom and Urbanization Without Cities.
Thereafter, through his lawyers, he began recommending Urbanization Without Cities to all mayors in Turkish Kurdistan and Ecology of Freedom to all militants. In the spring of 2004, he had his lawyers contact Murray, which they did through an intermediary, who explained to Murray that Öcalan considered himself his student, had acquired a good understanding of his work, and was eager to make the ideas applicable to Middle Eastern societies. He asked for a dialogue with Murray and sent one of his manuscripts.
….Reading Öcalan’s In Defense of the People, I sensed an exhilaration that reminded me of how I felt when I first read Ecology of Freedom back in 1985—delighted by the insight that people once lived in communal solidarity, and that the potential for it remains, and inspired by the prospect that we could have it again, if we chose to change our social arrangements.
The concept of the “irreducible minimum” simply has taken new names, like socialism. Ecology of Freedom offers to readers what Murray used to call “a principle of hope,” and that must have meant something to the imprisoned Öcalan.
“The victory of capitalism was not simply fate,” Öcalan wrote in 2004. “There could have been a different development.” To regard capitalism and the nation-state as inevitable “leaves history to those in power.”
Rather, “there is always only a certain probability for things to happen … there is always an option of freedom.