UK's indifference toward PKK may harm bilateral relations
by Ali Ünal
ANKARANov 21, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Ali Ünal
Nov 21, 2016 12:00 am
Turkish institutions in London became the target of PKK-affiliated groups in recent weeks and British police who failed to prevent terror attacks were also unable to bring the culprits of these assaults to justice even though there is a vast CCTV network throughout London. Turkish parliamentarians and academics who spoke to Daily Sabah stressed that indifference toward the terrorist activities of the PKK may harm deep-rooted bilateral relations as well as ongoing anti-terror cooperation between the two countries.
In recent weeks, Turkish community centers, mosques and other buildings in London have become the target of PKK terrorists. On Nov. 6, the Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Center in central London was attacked. Two days after this incident a Turkish mosque in the Hornsey area of London was also vandalized by PKK-affiliated people. Even though attacks against Turkish community centers in continental Europe have been a problem for a while it's a new phenomenon for the U.K. and especially its multicultural capital London. Daily Sabah contacted the British Embassy in Ankara to find out whether the U.K.'s policy against the PKK terrorist organization has changed. Responding to our question a senior official in the embassy said that the PKK has been proscribed as a terrorist organization by the U.K. government since 2001. "Proscription means that an organization is outlawed and is unable to operate in the U.K. The U.K. has a strong record of disrupting PKK activity. For example, in the last year alone U.K. police have seized more than half a million Turkish liras from individuals linked to the PKK," an embassy official said. "The U.K. will continue to keep up its efforts to combat the PKK's activities in the U.K.: we remain Turkey's strongest partner in Europe on the PKK and counter terrorism," an official further claimed. However, Turkish security reports obtained by Daily Sabah indicate that the U.K. is still one of the most important countries for the PKK in Europe to carry out lobbying activities and to raise money. The report also said the PKK has around 150 active members along with 2,000 sympathizers who freely operate under the names of "cultural" organizations in north London. The Turkish sources also said since 2004 Turkey has requested the extradition of 18 terror suspects from the U.K. but not one of these requests were accepted by the U.K.
Daily Sabah also contacted the New Scotland Yard press division to learn whether the culprits of the recent assaults against Turkish community centers have been brought to justice. However, a New Scotland Yard officer who responded our questions said, "there have been no arrests and inquiries continue" despite a vast CCTV network throughout London.
Commenting on the matter, Turkish deputy and member of the Turkish-U.K. Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group Prof. Dr. Talip Küçükcan said it is very concerning that U.K. officials did not take preventative measures to avoid these attacks and failed to find the culprits of the recent assaults. "The U.K.'s indifference toward PKK terrorism not only harms deep-rooted Turkish-U.K. multidimensional relations. It also hurts the multicultural spirit of London and a threat to the U.K.'s own security," he said. "Thus, expect the British police to strengthen their measures against the PKK and other terrorist organizations," he added. Dr. Enes Bayraklı from the SETA Foundation explains that these incidents reveal British officials' reluctance to take steps in the fight against the PKK. "First of all, these attacks had to be prevented or at least the culprits of these assaults should have been brought to justice," he said, while adding that politicians' harsh statements about Turkey gives a sort of legitimacy to attackers and explains the reluctance in the fight against the PKK.