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Kurds' call for mediation draws ire from Ankara

Today's Zaman


Friday, May 23, 2008 

The Turkish capital has reacted harshly to a recent call for mediation by a group of Kurdish activists, saying the content of the call was biased and false and highlighting that the call suggests a conditional end to activities of an organization listed as a terrorist organization by a large majority of the international community.

"Biased and false statements concerning our country have been included in a declaration released to the international press by a marginal group which prefers terrorist discourse and tactics to pursuing legitimate and legal democratic channels in Turkey," the Foreign Ministry said yesterday in a written statement, referring to an advertisement signed by 1,000 Kurds living in Turkey and European countries and published on Tuesday in the International Herald Tribune and the French daily Le Monde.

The declaration, titled "Call for a Peaceful Settlement of the Kurdish Question in Turkey," was signed by deputies of the Democratic Society Party (DTP), former members of Parliament, intellectuals and leading Kurdish figures well known by the European public.

It listed several demands as "a basis for Kurdish people's common minimum demands."

"The constitution that is being drawn up must not define citizenship on the basis of belonging to Turkish stock. It must put an end to the denial of the Kurdish people's existence. Kurdish citizens must have a system of public education in their own language at all levels. Their right to use their language in public, to create and to develop media in the Kurdish language, to found associations, institutions and political parties to develop their culture must be guaranteed. On this basis, in order to create a climate of peace and confidence and, once and for all, to turn the page of violence and armed confrontation, an all-inclusive political amnesty must be decreed, and the Kurdistan Workers' Party [PKK] must lay down its arms in accordance with procedures yet to be defined. In the same way, Turkey's so-called 'village guard' militias must be dismantled," the declaration stated.

The most significant handicap before the ongoing reform process being conducted by the government for expanding individual rights and freedoms is surely the terrorist organization, which targets Turkey's territorial integrity, constitutional order and social peace by resorting to violence, the Foreign Ministry said.

"The presence of terrorist organization members who are being sought by Interpol's red notice among signatories of this declaration but the absence of representatives from sincere and independent nongovernmental organizations which have been exerting efforts to improve democratization and individual rights and freedoms in our country points to the identities and goals of those who drew up the declaration," it said.

Without citing any names from among the signatories, the ministry was apparently referring to Zübeyir Aydar and Remzi Kartal, whose names were among the signatories. Both are senior leaders of the PKK, which has been listed as a terrorist organization by the EU, the US and Turkey. The two are among most-wanted terrorists in Turkey who have made use of some European countries' unwillingness to cooperate in Turkey's anti-terrorism efforts. Last year Aydar -- the head of Kongra-Gel, an offshoot of the PKK, and the head of the PKK's European operations -- was arrested in a crackdown in Belgium but was later released, and no legal action could be taken against him by Belgian authorities since he had earlier been granted political asylum.


Today's Zaman Kurds' call for mediation draws ire from Ankara