Turkish Kurds Demand Self-Rule as PKK-Fueled Violence Escalates

AP Photo/Omer Kuscu
AP Photo/Omer Kuscu

Turkey’s Kurdish population is demanding self-rule days after continued violence has killed many Turkish soldiers and Kurdish militants.

“The rightful resistance mounted by our people against the policies that degrade the Kurdish problem, is essentially a demand and struggle for local self-governance and local democracy,” declared the Democratic People’s Congress (DTK), which includes non-governmental organizations (NGO).

The NGOs met for two days in Diyarbakir, a Turkish city with a high Kurdish population.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed not to permit a separate state to form within Turkey.

“Now they are talking about separating our land in this country. With God’s permission, we will never allow a surgery on the unity of our country,” he announced.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu also lashed out at the suggestion of a separate state inside Turkey. He claimed it is not “appropriate” to even talk with the HDP over such “insulting” suggestions.

“If they think I will tolerate their insults they are mistaken,” he commented. “Either they will be serious and our door will be open for them or we will bring them into line.”

The fighting between Turkish forces and Kurdish factions escalated over the summer, when the government joined the coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its allies claimed Turkey used it as an excuse to target them. Evidence showed Turkish forces bombed areas in northern Iraq, miles away from the designated ISIS targets in Syria.

The PKK is a Marxist-Lenin group and designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., EU, and NATO.

The fighting ended a two-year truce as both sides continued their 30-year war. The PKK officially ended its ceasefire with Turkey after Erdoğan’s Justice and Development (AKP) Party swept parliamentary elections.

“The unilateral state of inaction has ended due to the AKP (Justice and Development Party) government’s latest attacks,” declared the organization. “After the election, the AKP has demonstrated it is going to be a war government.”

The PKK declared an autonomous region in Dersim province in August. Then Kurdish district Dogubeyazit, which lies near the Turkey-Iran border, declared its independence:

“We declare our self-management,” said Muhsin Kula, who claimed to be part of the new government. “Our villages and cities have been turned into ruins. The latest Varto case is proof that humanity is dead.”

Varto is a town in eastern Turkey where on or around August 10 a female PKK fighter named Ekin Van was allegedly raped and killed before her naked body was dragged through the streets by Turkish security forces. The incident has outraged Kurds throughout the region.

“We will not recognize state institutions in this region. We hereby declared that we manage ourselves,” Kula said.

Fighting has increased in the last two weeks. The Turkish government insists its forces killed over 200 militants.

On Christmas Day, Turkish forces killed six Kurdish militants in clashes across the region. The two sides fought in Cizre, which is near the Syrian border, while Turkish soldiers killed three in Diyarbakir.

On Sunday, Hürriyet Daily News reported that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) killed three soldiers and injured another soldier and police officer in Şırnak.