Justin Vela

Same day…2 interviews…

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ISTANBUL-My interview with PKK top commander Murat Karayilan is getting picked up in the Turkish press quite a bit.

A BBC team interviewed Karayilan the same day I did. Their report came out today, with an angle considerably different than Telegraph’s, where I published my interview. Here’s a bit more on it for those who are confused on how back to back interviews could come out with different angles.

The Telegraph piece emphasized the continuation of violence, with tourist resorts and cities in western Turkey becoming targets as has been seen in the past and just last month when a PKK affiliated organization attacked a bus of military personal in Istanbul.

The BBC piece emphasized that the PKK would be willing to disarm in return for Kurdish rights.

I came to Qandil after doing reporting in southeast Turkey where Kurds told me they felt the conflict had come to a new “breaking point” after the failure of the Kurdish initiative set forth by the AKP, which was supposed to give Kurds more rights. Attacks had increased and the Turkish military had returned to allegedly mutilating the corpses of PKK fighters. “We have reached a point of being fed up,” one Kurdish politician said. “This is either solution or catastrophe.”

When I asked Karayilan about where the conflict was going and what it would take for peace to be declared, he was clear.

“The Kurdish issue has to a degree been solved in Iraq by federal autonomy. They have shown the ability to be able to solve it. Turkey can say that ‘I have a Kurdish problem in my country and I can solve it through federalism.'”

Karayilan’s demands for greater political and cultural rights are nothing new. They are also demands that have been rejected continuously by the Turkish people. The PKK have done nothing other than restate that they are not changing their preconditions for peace.

In Qandil he said that in order for peace to begin the PKK are waiting for Turkey to respond to jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan’s plan for peace, speaking as if an offer had been extended and not taken.

He said this plan includes:

  • A bi-lateral ceasefire
  • An independent committee of reconciliation established to research what has been done by both sides, similar to that in South Africa
  • That PKK fighters be put in an area monitored by the UN. Through meetings they could be eventually disarmed

“We totally agree with what Ocalan proposed. We accept the proposition of Abdullah Ocalan.. We are now waiting if the Turkish government will accept it,” Karayilan said.

Karayilan also said that after their terms were met by the Turkish government the PKK would involve itself in political life.

“The Kurdish problem is a social problem. So if these three parts are met and the disarmament starts, the PKK will involve itself in political life, developing Kurdish life in the political arena.”

The PKK terms for peace are offers that no Turkish government can currently come close to  meeting for fear of losing power. Only a few nights ago I was at a cafe in Istanbul. The conflict was being talked about and two young hardcore AKP voters were adamant. “I wish all Kurds would leave for northern Iraq.” “This is my land.” The time when a Turkish government can even partially meet the demands of Kurds and expect to remain in power is a long time off still. This was seen with the failure of the Kurdish initiative and the reason why the continuation of this 26 year war is the most likely scenario.

The real point that Karayilan emphasized was the impending announcement of “democratic autonomy.” This issue ended up not being given enough space in either the Telegraph or BBC articles but is something I wrote more about in the previous post.

A woman wearing the colors of the banned Kurdish flag at the funeral of her son, a PKK fighter who was allegedly killed by the Turkish military and his body mutilated. Diyarbakir, Turkey. June 2010.


Written by Justin Vela

July 21, 2010 at 9:13 am

Posted in turkey

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

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