The Kurdistan Women’s Community (KJK) have released a report with their evaluation of the latest developments in Turkey and across the region. You can download the full report here and we have included below the first part of the report.
Kurdistan Women’s Community (KJK)
Umbrella organisation of the Kurdish Women’s Liberation Movement
Background Information File
Roadmap of the escalation: How did the Turkish-Kurdish conflict upsurge again?
- Political Evaluation by the KJK:
The Turkish state has declared total war on the Kurdish people. The decision to undertake this strategy of total war was made at the meeting of Turkey’s National Security Council on 30 October 2014, when the resistance against attacks by the ISIS terrorist organisation in Kobanê, Rojava (i.e. western Kurdistan, the Kurdish region Syria) reached its peak. This meeting, which lasted more than 10 hours, was illegitimately chaired by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan; according to Turkish law, only the country’s Prime Minister can lead National Security Council meetings.
While the Turkish state was preparing itself for war against the Kurdish within the borders of Turkey as well as Kurds in Rojava and southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq), at the same time it continued peace talks with imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan on the Imrali island. However, these talks had no official character, as no legal framework existed for these peace talks. Thus, Abdullah Öcalan himself, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP), and the democratic public in Turkey insisted on the establishment of a legal and constitutional framework for the peace process in Turkey through the passage of a law. At the same time, the de facto ceasefire between the Turkish army and the Kurdish guerrilla forces was increasingly threatened as Turkish army elements began carrying out military operations with the aim of provoking clashes. The AKP government, which decided to end the peace process at the National Security Council meeting, needed an reason to blame the Kurdish side so they could end the dialogue taking place on Imrali Island.
Abdullah Öcalan was aware of this danger. During the talks between Öcalan, representatives of the HDP, and Turkish state officials he insisted on making a common declaration concerning the peace process. With the “Dolmabahçe Declaration,” which was made to the press by representatives of the HDP and the Turkish government on 28 February 2015, he aimed to prevent provocations and to secure the peace process. Moreover, with this step, he tried to force the state to end the ongoing stage of unofficial dialogue without any concrete results and begin a real negotiation process.
We as Kurdish Women’s Liberation Movement were doing everything possible to contribute to a real peace process for a democratic and just solution of the Kurdish question in Turkey. The Kurdish Women’s Liberation Movement in Turkey and northern Kurdistan is represented within the HDP delegation that took part in the peace talks on Imrali Island by Ceylan Bağrıyanık. Kurdish and Turkish women have established the Women’s Freedom Council as a collective body to develop women’s demands, mobilise women from all over the country for the success of the process and reflect women’s collective will.
As KJK, within our own ranks, we founded a Women’s Freedom Commission to evaluate the process from a female perspective, draft proposals for a new constitution and intervene. Moreover, as organisation, we had meetings with different prominent international institutions that work on peace processes, where we discussed the role of women within the process.
But despite all efforts of our leader Abdullah Öcalan, KCK as the umbrella organisation of the Kurdish Liberation Movement, KJK as the umbrella organisation of the Women’s Liberation Movement, and the Kurdish guerrilla forces, which did everything they could to prevent clashes and maintain the de facto ceasefire with the Turkish army, the Kurdish people that, despite all attacks by the Turkish state with dozens of civilian victims and hundreds of imprisonment, keep on support a peace process with Turkey and the women in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan, who still protest against the Turkish state by saying, “We will not let you make war”, the AKP pressed the war button.
Only a few days after the Dolmabahçe Declaration, the Turkish President Erdoğan declared that the agreement between Öcalan and the government to be invalid. By doing so, he practically announced the end of the peace talks. If you look at the attitude of the government, which did not make any concrete steps during the talks, this statement by Erdoğan seems logical. Because, with the Dolmabahçe Declaration and the participation of a monitoring delegation, Öcalan wanted to give the process an official and legal character and force the state to start real negotiations. As the AKP government under the leadership of Erdoğan, who is acting like President, Prime Minister and Chief of Staff at the same time, had secretly taken the decision of war, they were not going to start peace negotiations with the Kurds. But they needed to whitewash themselves and blame the Kurds.
Therefore, the AKP mobilised all its forces – from the government to the media, from nationalists to the army – to prevent HDP from entering parliament. Before the elections, high level representatives of the AKP had declared that there won’t be any peace process if AKP will not get the absolute majority. If HDP wouldn’t have managed to get more than 10% of the votes, AKP would now be able to establish a presidential system in Turkey with the absolute majority in parliament, and representatives of the party would not have any legal legitimacy to participate in the peace talks and mediate between the state and the PKK.
Furthermore, Erdoğan himself gave the order to stop any talks with Abdullah Öcalan. Since 5 April 2015 neither the HDP delegation nor his relatives or lawyers have been able to visit him. He is under total isolation. But it is not just his person, also the perspective for peace and a democratic solution are under isolation.
As KJK we underlined many times the dirty relationship between the AKP and ISIS. We have warned against the dirty plans of AKP and their preparations for war. We have called the people in Turkey to strengthen the struggle for real democratisation in Turkey, against the fascist and totalitarian dictatorship which Erdoğan aims to establish.
But despite all warnings after the large loss of votes, AKP started to take revenge on Kurds and Turkish supporters of the HDP. The bomb attack in Suruç on 20 July 2015, which killed 32 HDP voters, must be seen in this context. While ISIS still has not taken the responsibility for this attack, AKP used this massacre for a new wave of attacks against Kurds. In the days after the massacre, more than thousand Kurds and leftists have been arrested. In Ağrı, Turkish Special Forces raided a house and killed 3 young Kurds inside. In Cizre, a Kurdish boy was shot dead by police after his hands and feet were bound. In Silopi, Turkish policemen killed 3 Kurds, injured 8 people, burned down 6 houses and emptied one quarter.
Simultaneously with these attacks inside Turkey, on 24 July 2015,the Turkish state started to launch airstrikes in southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq) against guerrilla forces and civilians living there. On 1 August, in the early hours of the morning Turkish warplanes, attacked the village Zergele in Qandil, killing 8 civilians and seriously injuring 15 people. Despite all reports, the Turkish state keeps claiming that the killed people were not civilians, but PKK fighters.
By carrying out these ongoing attacks, the Turkish state is disregarding international law as the Iraqi central government announced that the cross-bordered airstrikes of the Turkish army are an assault on Iraqi sovereignty and called the AKP government to immediately stop the bombings. The massacre on unprotected civilians in Zergele constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity.
The AKP government – which currently has no legitimacy– tries to legitimise its illegal airstrikes as “self-defence against attacks by the PKK”. To the international community, it claims that the airstrikes are retaliation for the killing of two Turkish policemen in Ceylanpınar, Urfa on 23 July 2015. A group, which called itself “Apoist Fedayeen Team”, took over the responsibility for these
killing, accusing the 2 policemen of collaboration with ISIS and announcing the act as retaliation for the Suruç massacre.
According to the laws of war, retaliation is limited to one military action. Even if the airstrikes against guerrilla positions in southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq) were in the context of retaliation – which is not true –only one airstrike could be legitimised. But the airstrikes have continued since 24 July 2015.
These illegal and illegitimate airstrikes are part of a total war against Kurds. They aim to cause an escalation of the Turkish-Kurdish conflict and provoke civil war. They must be seen in the context of a dirty and extremely dangerous strategy, which strengthens ISIS for weakening the Kurdish Liberation Movement in Turkey, Rojava and southern (Iraqi) Kurdistan. The AKP is ready for unlimited bloodshed, only to ensure and extend its power.
We prepared this information file to mark the main steps and developments that led to the escalation of the conflict. You will find two chronicles. One provides an overview of the political process in Turkey after the Dolmabahçe Declaration in February, and the other one reflects the efforts of the Turkish army to provoke clashes and the response of the guerrilla forces between February and August 2015. We ask you to take this information into account to draw your own conclusions about the current situation in Turkey and Kurdistan.
Furthermore, we call the international community, organisations and the democratic public:
To intervene for the peaceful solution of the conflict between the Turkish state and the Kurdish side and to call on the AKP government to start official negotiations with Abdullah Öcalan
To make all possible efforts to stop Turkey’s military airstrikes and operations within the borders of Turkey, Syria and Iraq
To send delegations to the village Zergele, where Turkish warplanes killed 8 civilians, and to make investigations
To start an investigation against the Turkish state for violating international laws of war, consciously targeting civilians and, by doing so, committing crimes against humanity
To carry out legal and diplomatic sanctions against the Turkish state
Kurdistan Women’s Community (KJK)