Has the European Parliament changed its definition of terrorism?

MARKAR ESAYAN
Published
Illustration by Necmettin Asma - twitter.com/necmettinasma
Illustration by Necmettin Asma - twitter.com/necmettinasma

While Turkey is trying to protect its citizens from the PKK's terror, 100 parliamentarians from supposedly friendly countries initiated a petition campaign with the aim of removing the organization from a list of terrorist organizations

Recently, around 100 members of European Parliament launched a petition campaign for the removal of the PKK from the EU's list of terrorist organizations. Below is a summary of the grounds cited in the petition.

"The perspective of achieving a peaceful and democratic solution to the Kurdish issue in Turkey is under serious threat. Violence is escalating and poses severe risks to the stability of Turkey as well as the Middle East. In Turkey we are more and more facing an outbreak of violence which pushes back the idea of a peace process and weakens the fight against Daesh.

"The European Union represented by the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, but also the European Council, the UN and the USA have already called for peace in Turkey. In this context, it is a fact that the proscription of the PKK is standing in the way of the establishment of peace, dialogue and negotiations. The PKK's proscription also facilitates the infringements of human rights, allows the curtailing of freedom of thought and freedom of the press.

"Kurds are an important part of the political struggles in the Middle East as proven by the Kobani resistance and a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question in Turkey is not possible without negotiations with the PKK, which, we underline, former Prime Minister and current President Erdogan did already accept. Similar to the situation in Northern Ireland a peaceful solution will be reached just with involving all concerned parties."

Is it possible that these respectable parliamentarians do not know that the very PKK that they want to see removed from the list of terrorist organizations killed 29 Turkish citizens as recently as on Feb. 17 in a gruesome car bombing? The PKK, in collaboration with its Syrian affiliate Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the regime of Syria's Bashar Assad, launched that terrorist attack in Ankara some 300 meters from the Parliament building, which I also attend.

More than 300 soldiers and police officers have been killed since the PKK resumed its attacks on July 22 of last year. Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes due to the trenches the PKK dug and filled with explosives, due to snipers and the practice of using civilians as human shields during clashes with security forces. These tens of thousands who had left their homes did not go to the PYD-controlled Rojava in northern Syria, but to western Turkey.

But why has all this happened? If these 100 respectable European parliamentarians sponsor a terrorist organization, in other words, if they decided to legitimize ongoing acts of killing concerning a serious matter with implications for human life, then they should also do a thorough analysis of why Turkey's reconciliation process ended and why such an eruption of violence started in its stead.

In short, one cannot take a step with such serious implications after listening only to the theories of well-connected PKK members based in Brussels or Strasbourg, or to those of pro-PKK circles. Nor can one undertake a significant initiative like this one with the prejudice that the PKK believes in secularism like us. The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is Sunni, and so is DAESH, or with a belated and disillusioned revolutionary romanticism. All the more so when the real reason behind this convergence with the PKK is an expression of suppressed Islamophobia.

France declared a state of emergency following the latest attacks in Paris and is extended it for three-months afterward. We know that teenagers are cross-examined there, police raids are conducted without court decision, borders are closed, the army is called into city centers and human rights are temporarily suspended. And finally, French lawmakers approved a bill that makes it possible to revoke the citizenship of people convicted on terrorism charges.

EUROPEAN VALUES ARE NO LONGER VALUES

Although Turkey has experienced many similarly tragic events in recent years, it did not declare a state of emergency in any single instance. Nor has it taken as severe measures as France did or passed similar laws.

Apart from that, Turkey has fought and is currently fighting against PKK terrorism, which is aimed at creating cantons through digging trenches in some districts in the southeast. Think of it that while Paris faces successive attacks, the same terrorist organizations that conduct these attacks were to also dig trenches and erect barricades on the streets of Strasbourg, Lyon and Marseille, fill these trenches with tons of explosives, and continue to kill soldiers and police officers.

How would European governments react to such a situation?

While Turkey is trying to protect its citizens from a terrorist organization, 100 parliamentarians from supposedly friendly countries initiate a petition campaign with the aim of removing that organization from a list of terrorist organizations.

This is a very grave situation. What does violating and ignoring universal principles, apart from acting with imperfect knowledge and biases, in the face of violence and terror, which is a major problem in itself, mean to Europe? People were literally blown to bits in the latest attack in Ankara. A 4 year old lost her eye. The perpetrators of this atrocity are linked to the PKK and PYD. If the EU fails to denounce violence and legitimizes it on such an occasion, how can our mutual relations advance?

Initiating the reconciliation process was a huge political risk and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took that risk when he was prime minister, saying: "I will bring about peace, even if it costs me my political career." The denial of Kurdish identity and Kurdish language officially ended, numerous reforms have been enacted, massive resources were devoted to the southeast and eastern regions and huge investments were made. For the first time in 35 years, people living in these regions had the chance to experience a normal life for two years. Pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş received 9.7 percent of the vote in the presidential election on Aug. 10, 2014.

A NEW TREND IN 21ST CENTURY: RACING TERRORS

What happened afterward? Only three months after the election, Demirtaş called on Kurds to take to the streets on the pretext of protesting the DAESH attack on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani. Members of the PKK's youth wing, the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), took to the streets and parts of the country turned into a hell. At least 50 citizens were brutally killed. Among them was Yasin Börü who, together with some other youths, was thrown from a third-floor window in Diyarbakır, hanged and burned.

However, Kobani was saved from falling to DAESH thanks to the heavily armed peshmerga forces from Northern Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). How could these forces enter Kobani? Ankara allowed them to cross over the Turkish border with Syria. Who voted against the motion that allowed the peshmerga forces to cross into Kobani and that was passed with AK Party? The allegedly pro-Kurdish HDP. Unfortunately, they did not care about the reconciliation process. They had been involved in a different plan to be accomplished through Syria.

The government did not overturn the negotiation table despite the Oct. 6-8 incidents. Maybe that was a mistake. The HDP came out of the June 7 elections as the third biggest party, winning 80 seats in Parliament for the first time in its history. While all hoped that the reconciliation process would gain further momentum as the HDP became stronger, the PKK killed two police officers in their sleep on July 22, 2015 in Ceylanpınar. This attack was followed by successive terrorist attacks, resulting in the chaos caused by trenches. Eventually the reconciliation process collapsed.

There is a lot to be said and written. But I think it is obvious that terrorism has no religion, race or ethnicity. And no terrorist group should be granted favorable treatment. I would like to remind the signatory European deputies of this once more.

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