ISTANBUL – Amid increasing PKK violence and Turkish bombings of PKK camps in Northern Iraq last night, a solution to the Kurdish question seems further away than ever. It is not only increasing violence that hampers a solution, but also legal action against Kurdish politicians adding to the rising tensions.
PKK violence started increasing last month, when thirteen Turkish soldiers were killed in a gun-fight. Yesterday another eleven soldiers died, making a total of at least thirty soldiers dead within a month ‘Our patience has come to an end’, said Prime Minister Erdogan yesterday. Similar threats came from the PKK in the period before the general elections in June. The organization warned there would be more violence if no concrete measures to solve the Kurdish issue were taken soon after the elections. No proposals were forthcoming from the government.
The PKK repeatedly respected cease-fires, the last one from August last year till the beginning of March this year. However this didn’t lead to any democratic progress. On the contrary: the pressure on Kurdish politicians intensified.
Hundreds of Kurdish mayors are on trial, mostly for making propaganda for a terrorist organization. And now three hundred Kurdish lawyers defending the mayors are also being prosecuted. The trials are chaotic, partly because the politicians aren’t granted the right to defend themselves in their mother tongue.
Human Rights organizations, like Human Rights Watch, condemn the trials against democratically elected politicians who don’t use violence.
As well, there is still no resolution on the question of MP’s from the pro-Kurdish BDP, who can’t take their seats in parliament because they are in jail, also mostly on charges of ‘making propaganda for a terrorist organization’. The remaining BDP MP’s decided not to take the parliamentary oath. At the beginning of July an umbrella association of Kurdish organizations announced ‘democratic autonomy’ for eastern and south-eastern provinces that are mainly inhabited by Kurds. This angered the government in Ankara.
The tensions are erupting now in an escalation of violence. According to Prime Minister Erdogan the air strikes of last night should be considered self defence, and he added more strenuous action will be taken against the PKK after the holy month of Ramadan, at the end of this month.
The Turkish army declared they had taken measures to prevent civilian casualties. Kurdish sources however claimed that people were wounded in a village in the sparsely populated mountainous area.