Posted on October 4, 2016 by Editorial Staff in PKK, Politics
Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. Photo: Reuters
ANKARA,— Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has denied that Turkey has a “Kurdish problem,” saying there is instead only Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) “terror problem” that hinders development in Turkish Kurdistan, the eastern and the southeastern of Turkey.
Meeting with Confederation of Turkish Tradesmen and Craftsmen (TESK) head Bendevi Palandöken and a group of merchants in Ankara, Yildirim said terrorism was holding back development and investment in Turkey, especially for citizens living in the east and southeast.
“We have been suffering from terrorism for many years. In reality there is no Kurdish problem in Turkey. Kurds have a terror problem with the PKK. This problem holds us back in all areas. Works in the region are delayed, investments are delayed. Who is suffering? Our citizens living there are suffering,” he added.
The PKK took up arms in 1984 against the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to push for greater autonomy for the Kurdish minority who make up around 22.5 million of the country’s 78-million population. A large Kurdish community in Turkey and worldwide openly sympathise with PKK rebels.
Yildirim recalled that six soldiers who were taking security measures were recently killed in an attack during construction of a road between the Kurdish southeastern province of Şirnak and the eastern province of Van.
“Now let my citizens see, let my Kurdish citizens living there see. This terror organization, these vile people are doing whatever they can to hinder the development of the region. Let our children not fall into this trap,” he said.
In March 2015, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey never had a Kurdish problem, noting that Kurds enjoy all the rights and everything else enjoyed by Turks.
The Turkish authorities last week have stopped broadcasts of 10 mostly Kurdish language television channels under state of emergency rules imposed in the wake of the July 15 coup bid.
Since July 2015, Turkey initiated a controversial military campaign against the PKK in the country’s southeastern Kurdish region after Ankara ended a two-year ceasefire agreement. Since the beginning of the campaign, Ankara has imposed several round-the-clock curfews, preventing civilians from fleeing regions where the military operations are being conducted.
Observers say the crackdown has taken a heavy toll on the Kurdish civilian population and accuse Turkey of using collective punishment against the minority.
Activists have accused the security forces of causing huge destruction to urban centres and killing Kurdish civilians. But the government says the operations are essential for public safety, blaming the PKK for the damage.
Pro-Kurdish opposition political parties say about 1,000 civilians, mostly Kurds, have perished in the fighting, since the Turkish offensive against the PKK centred in towns and cities in Turkish Kurdistan.