Kurdish Conflicts in Turkey
The struggle against the militant-separatist Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK ; founded 1978) in Southeast Anatolia and its retreat in northern Iraq and its ongoing guerrilla campaigns was waged with great severity in 1984 / 93-99. Nevertheless, the Kurds’ demands for autonomy in southeastern Anatolia remained the greatest domestic political problem. The high treason trial against PKK General Secretary A. Öcalan, who was arrested in Kenya in February 1999 and brought to Turkey shook Turkey. The original death sentence (1999) for “separatism and the establishment of a terrorist organization” was finally commuted to life imprisonment in 2002 after a ruling by the European Court of Justice. As a result, a peaceful solution to the Kurdish conflict in Turkey seemed in sight: the declaration of renunciation of violence and the withdrawal of the PKK from Turkey in 1999 was followed by the officially declared reorganization into a political party (including renaming in 2002). Fore more information about Turkey and Middle East, please visit Cancermatters.
From 2004 onwards, Kurdish organizations repeatedly carried out terrorist attacks, among other things. on tourist destinations; at the same time, the fighting between the Turkish military and the PKK, which is again operating under its old name, intensified. The government took military action against the PKK in northern Iraq, among other places, and tried to deprive it of its breeding ground by investing billions in the infrastructure and social networks of the Kurdish regions.
In 2009, the government propagated a course of “democratic opening” which also aimed at resolving the Kurdish conflict. Nevertheless, on December 11, 2009, the Kurdish Party for a Democratic Society (DTP) was banned by the constitutional court. The decision was perceived at home and abroad as a setback for opening up to the Kurds. On November 1, 2010, the imprisoned PKK leader A. Öcalan declaredthat he was holding talks with the government about a peace solution. Nevertheless, there were heavy fighting between the Turkish army and the PKK in 2011 and 2012. Unlike in previous years, when the PKK had opted for guerrilla tactics, it now tried to control areas for longer. In 2012 she was able to hold some villages near the Iraqi border for weeks. Observers attributed the rise of the PKK to the civil war in Syria, where a sister organization of the PKK had taken control of part of the border areas. Ocalan announced in March 2013 a ceasefire and the withdrawal of PKK fighters from Turkey. In return, the government promised measures to improve the situation of the Kurds. The reform package presented on September 30, 2013, according to which z. B. was allowed to be taught in private schools in the Kurdish language, but disappointed the Kurds.
The sloppy Turkish stance on the fight by Kurdish militias against the terrorist organization Islamic State (IS) in Syria led to a heavy burden on the peace process from 2014 onwards. Tens of thousands of Kurds fled to Turkey before IS units were advancing to the Syrian border town of Kobane in autumn 2014. Parliament gave the government the mandate to counter terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, but there was no military intervention. All over the country, Kurds protested against the lack of help for the Kurdish defenders of Kobane, who are allied with the PKK. For the first time since the 2013 ceasefire, the Air Force bombed PKK positions again. On July 28, 2015, President Erdoğan declared the peace process with the PKK is over. In the period that followed, the clashes escalated in the south-east of the country. The security forces took action against the PKK with great severity. There were numerous fatalities and considerable destruction in the cities. The conflict also claimed civilian victims.
In autumn 2016, Erdoğan deposed 93 HDP mayors in the Kurdish regions in southeast Turkey and placed the cities under forced administration. HDP boss Selahattin Demirtaș was arrested and sentenced to four years and eight months in prison in September 2018 for terrorist propaganda, which an appeals court upheld in December 2018.
HDP candidates who prevailed in the local elections in 2019 in Kurdish areas were partially deprived of their victory. The AKP candidates placed second were used in their place.
In May 2019, thousands of Kurdish prisoners ended their hunger strike, some of which had been going on since November 2018, against the prison conditions of PKK leader Öcalan . Öcalan , who has been in solitary confinement for 20 years, was allowed to see his brother and his lawyers again for the first time in early 2019.
Erdoğan’s goal in southeastern Turkey as well as in northern Iraq and northern Syria was to prevent the formation of an autonomous Kurdish area.