The European Parliament held a plenary debate yesterday to discuss a resolution on the 2012 Turkey Progress Report, published last autumn. Peace in Kurdistan has followed the process closely and provided a submission to the draft resolution, which you can read below.
The final resolution was adopted yesterday, and can be downloaded here.
PEACE IN KURDISTAN CAMPAIGN APRIL 2013
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: Motion for a resolution on the 2012 Progress Report on Turkey
Presentation by Peace in Kurdistan campaign for discussion of the draft motion on the 2012 Progress Report on Turkey, to be discussed in the plenary of the European Parliament on 17 April 2013.
We welcome that the motion stresses the importance of the fourth judicial package, which identifies that the current definition of terrorist acts is excessively broad and has been employed to criminalise non-violent political or cultural expression. It would be appropriate to mention however, as the 2012 Country Report by the UN Commission on Human Rights does, that Turkey’s Anti-Terror Law in particular has been used to charge a high number of cases in the context of the Kurdish issue, making comprehensive reforms to Turkey’s judicial system, especially how anti-terror legislation is implemented, a key issue that must be addressed in any discussions on the resolution of the Kurdish question.
While the motion encourages dialogue, debate and discussion around the Kurdish issue, and rightly supports the current negotiations, it certainly does not make a strong enough statement on the political, cultural, social and economic marginalisation of the Kurdish people that forms the context of the military conflict. This is worth mentioning given the detailed attention paid to the needs and rights of other minority groups in Turkey in previous paragraphs. The motion should address Turkey’s Anti-Terror Law as a significant barrier to political inclusion, given that it has resulted in the arrest, detention and prosecution of 8,000-10,000 Kurdish people, or defenders of Kurdish rights. (This is noted in the text as ‘several Kurdish politicians […]’, a claim which grossly understates the scope and breadth of Turkey’s anti-terror trials.
The motion should also make recommendations for political reconciliation and the possibility of amnesty for PKK fighters and political prisoners, as part of a long-term peace process. It should also acknowledge calls for local and decentralised government as valid and potentially crucial to the further democratisation of the country.
The motion should also strongly recommend that Turkey commit itself to full and proper investigations into war crimes and human rights abuses during the course of the Kurdish conflict, and make effort to offer redress to the victims of torture, detention, extrajudicial killings and the forced displacement of millions of Kurdish citizens from their villages and land.
The motion also should strongly recommend that Turkey remove the barriers to minority party participation in national politics by reforming rules that state a party must obtain 10% of the vote to be able to take up seats in the TGNA.
It is regrettable that the motion can praise Turkey’s ‘resilience’ in the face of PKK attacks (and later [para 53.] express solidarity with the victims) but not express support for Kurdish civilian victims of the extensive rights abuses and provocations carried out by the military in waging war on the insurgency.
It is essential to insist that progress in the peace negotiations will offer the potential to totally transform the political situation of conflict ultimately rendering the resort to arms unnecessary and alleged acts of terrorism irrelevant. In this context, it must be recognised that the continuing criminalisation of the PKK and its supporters is a major obstacle towards the achievement of a settlement when the PKK is one of the principle partners in the negotiation process. Moves to reducing the rhetoric on terrorism must be combined with concrete steps towards the decriminalisation of the PKK, holding out the possibility of its removal from the terrorism list and thus the integration of the organisation within civil society.
Earlier demands for Turkey’s domestic anti-terror legislation are somewhat devalued and delegitimised by this paragraph, which reflects Europe’s own needs in its ‘war on terror’. What is especially worrying is that this language justifies draconian practices that already see Kurdish residents of Europe routinely and systematically targeted by police anti-terror operations. So far this year, more than thirty Kurdish people have been arrested in Europe for alleged links to the PKK; most have been released without charge. This amounts to judicial harassment and may violate international human rights standards. Furthermore, senior members of well known and respected civil society organisations have been detained and are being held in lengthy pre-trial detention, as in the case of Adem Uzun.
The motion also fails to mention the assassination of three Kurdish women in Paris, who were killed in a building that is monitored 24 hours a day by French police.
Rather than encourage closer co-operation on counterterrorism matters, the EU should encourage its Member States to offer practical support and expertise to Turkey, where this can be found, on conflict resolution and peace building, political reconciliation, human rights standards, and minority rights.
Peace in Kurdistan Campaign is a UK based lobby group which seeks to raise awareness about the situation facing the Kurds – primarily in Turkey – and campaigns for a change in UK government policy. Peace in Kurdistan supports the rights of the Kurdish people to self-determination and to choose their own political representatives. The campaign seeks to communicate the arguments for a democratic peace settlement to be achieved through negotiations between Turkey and the Kurdish side.