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Published On: Wed, Feb 14th, 2018

Turkey imposes kurfew in predominantly Kurdish Diyarbakir province

nsnbc : Turkey, on Wednesday, imposed curfews in dozens of villages and towns in the predominantly Kurdish Diyarbakir province, prompting fears of a new, intensified crackdown against PKK militants and Kurdish civil society leaders and activists.

Aftermath after Turkish "anti-terrorist" operations against Kurds in July 2016. Courtesy HRW

Aftermath after Turkish “anti-terrorist” operations against Kurds in July 2016. Courtesy HRW

The office of the governor of Diyarbakir province announced a total of 176 curfews that had been imposed in the province. “A curfew is in place from Wednesday 0800 (0500 GMT) until a second announcement is made” in the villages and towns in the districts of Silvan, Kulp, Lice and Hazro, it said in a statement. Implicitly referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), the office  stated that the curfews will allow security forces to “neutralize members and collaborators of the terrorist organization”.

The PKK – as well as non-militant Kurdish cultural, civil society, grassroots and political organizations are strongly represented in the predominantly Kurdish Diyarbakir province. The Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) took up arms in 1984 after failed attempts to convince Turkey of the need to address “the Kurdish issue”.

Turkey has a population of 79 million. Some 22.5 million are Kurds. However, Ankara does not even recognize the existence of Kurds; That is, Turkey does not recognize Kurds culturally, constitutionally, or otherwise. Descriptions used by official Ankara to describe Kurds include “mountain Turks”, the terrorists. More than 40,000 Turkish soldiers and Kurdish rebels, have been killed in the conflict.

The PKK, outlawed in Turkey as a terrorist organization, is increasingly recognized as a legitimate resistance and national liberation organization by key European Union member states including Germany and Belgium.

The trend is currently to recognize the conflict in Turkey as a civil war or national liberation struggle rather than a “terror campaign” launched by the PKK. Officially, the PKK is blacklisted as a terror organisation by Ankara, the United States and the European Union.

A large Kurdish community in Turkey and worldwide openly sympathize with PKK rebels and Abdullah Öcalan, who co-founded the PKK in 1974 and currently serving a life sentence in Turkey, has a high symbolic value for most Kurds in Turkey and worldwide according to observers.

Since July 2015, fighting has intensified between Turkish security forces and the PKK after Ankara ended a two-year ceasefire agreement. Since the beginning of the Turkish military campaign, Ankara has imposed several round-the-clock curfews, preventing civilians from fleeing regions where the military operations are being conducted. The new curfews come after Turkey launched a cross-border offensive against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) in northern Syria. Ankara insists the Syrian Kurdish PYD, YPG and YPJ are terrorist organizations allied and on par with the PKK.

CH/L – nsnbc 14.02.2018

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