In a bid to quash youth recruitment by the PKK terrorist organization, the government is preparing to cut off social aid to families of recruits.
The move that comes after the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which had started the reconciliation process to end PKK terrorism in the southeast, won Sunday's elections is the next stage to end the decades-old campaign of terror. The government had previously exerted efforts to restore the rights of the oft-neglected Kurdish community and launched economic development projects. Nevertheless, a resumption of terror attacks by the organization this summer after a relative lull dealt a blow to the process.
The PKK, which claims to fight for Kurdish self-rule, draws support from Kurds in southeastern and eastern Turkey where the Kurdish population is concentrated. Cases of families actively helping the terrorist organization and those forced to help are frequently reported.
Cutting off aid to families in the region where some 70 percent of population are granted social benefits such as monthly wages to impoverished families is expected to impact the PKK's efforts to recruit more people to its cause.
Governorates will be authorized to cut off aid if families are detected helping the terrorist organization, either through propaganda or having a member join PKK activities - such as youth participating in street riots as part of the PKK's strategy to push teenagers to the forefront in street battles with security forces. Families will be asked to prevent their members from joining the PKK propaganda or riots and share information with authorities. If they do not comply, social aid will be cut off.
The new measures aim to draw a line between those supporting the terrorist organization and those opposing the PKK's activities.
The PKK's terror campaign and a harsh crackdown by security forces in the 1980s and 1990s had left economic growth stunted in the already impoverished region. Many Kurds in the region migrated to western Turkish cities out of security concerns in the past decades while those who stayed work in low-paying jobs in cities with little prospect of economic development. The terrorist organization had managed to exploit the disillusioned youth in the region to recruit new members.