The Blanket

The Plight of the Kurdish People
Liam O Ruairc • 10 October 2003

Readers of "The Irish News" often express concern to what happens in Palestine. Another struggle which bears many similarities with the Palestinian is the plight of the 15 million Kurdish people, scattered over Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq. Of particular concern is the conflict taking place between the Turkish state and the Maoist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Since 1984, it has claimed over 30 000 lives, mostly Kurdish civilians killed by the Turkish army. Thousands of villages have been destroyed, and more than two million people have been displaced.

It is very worrying to learn that this week the Turkish parliament has approved to send over 10 000 troops to Iraq to support the US army and to get rid of some 5000 PKK guerillas in the mountains of the far North of Iraq. Thousands of Kurdish civilians are likely to be killed, injured, tortured and imprisoned as a result of this. Washington will turn a blind eye, as this can be justified as being part of the global "war against terror". The PKK is on the US state department's list of terrorist organisations along with the RIRA and FARC.

However, the PKK is hardly a threat to US and NATO interests. It has renamed itself the Freedom and Democracy Congress (Kadek). It has abandoned its Maoism and demand for an independent Kurdish state. It demands instead "parity of esteem" for Kurdish people within the countries with a substantial Kurdish population. One of its leaders, Osman Ocalan has stated "We want to cooperate, not fight with the British and US forces" (The Guardian, 8 October). Recently Kadek has been forced to take up arms because of Turkey's failure to establish all party talks now and inclusive negotiations based on equality. Its most prominent leader, Abdulah Ocalan is the Kurdish Gerry Adams.

Western media are likely to remain silent on the suffering of the Kurdish people in the current War on Terror frenzy. This is why it is imperative for all of us to make the public aware of their plight.







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