"Turkey and the United States’ joint battle will continue. There will be no areas for them to retreat where Turkey and the US cannot go. Together we shall hunt the terrorists and destroy them.”
~ Nancy McEldowley, US Embassy, Ankara.
The article has been reproduced, with permission, from the October 2006 electronic edition of Variant: Cross Currents in Culture, No. 27, Winter 2006 and from Chapter 5 of the book by Desmond Fernandes and Iskender Ozden (2006) US, UK, German and NATO ‘Inspired’ Psychological Warfare Operations Against The Kurdish ‘Communist’ Threat in Turkey and Northern Iraq (Apec Press, Stockholm).
The Nature of the US Backed ‘War on Terror’ in Turkey, Post-9/11 - A Cause for Concern?
Despite the problematic nature of this type of past US ‘psychological warfare assistance’ to the Turkish state (which has not been meaningfully addressed in any international court of law or, apparently, in any formal EU-Turkey accession discussion documents or negotiations), what is equally of concern is that there has been no attempt by the US government to meaningfully take responsibility for its past actions or to even guarantee the Kurdish/Turkish or even its own public that there will be no repeat of such criminal and deeply unethical behaviour again. Indeed, there are now suggestions that the US government, in the name of the ongoing post-9/11 linked ‘War on Terror’, is increasingly supporting the Turkish state once again in its highly questionable ‘anti-terrorism’ offensive against Kurdish civilians, human rights activists, peace campaigners and ‘PKK militants’ in the region.
US ‘special forces’ and intelligence agencies, it needs to be recognised, are, even at this moment in time, extensively liaising with their Turkish counterparts in publicly unaccountable ‘anti-PKK targeting’ and ‘internal defence’ actions that deploy ‘irregular’, covert ‘psychological warfare methods’. The Turkish state, moreover, in recent months, once again appears to have been issued with the appropriate US government ‘hunting licence’ that seemingly enables it to intensify its violence against ‘suspected’ Kurdish ‘terrorists’ and targeted civilian communities in northern Iraq (south Kurdistan) and the south-east of Turkey (north west Kurdistan), now that the PKK and Ocalan have been officially likened by US administration officials to the arch ‘evil doers’ and enemies ‘Osama Bin Laden’ and ‘al-Qaeda’.
Within the context of the post-9/11 ‘global War on Terror’, US administration officials in September 2005 absurdly stated that they viewed the ‘PKK threat’ as gravely as the ‘al Qaeda one’: “Nancy McEldowley, representing the US embassy at an 11th September  commemoration service in Ankara, said in a speech that there was no difference between al Qaeda and the PKK, or between Abdullah Ocalan and Osama Bin Laden. ‘Turkey and the United States’ joint battle will continue. There will be no areas for them to retreat where Turkey and the US cannot go. Together we shall hunt the terrorists and destroy them’”.(29) Such a statement was in keeping with the stance which has been taken by the Bush administration ever since 9/11: “US President George W. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney have been very clear, repeatedly proclaiming that America and its friends must ‘wage war on terrorism’, that they must ‘hunt down the terrorists’ and destroy them. In his State of the Union speech in January 2002, Bush summoned all nations to ‘eliminate the terrorist parasites who threaten their countries and our own’. After the bombings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in May 2003, Cheney advised an audience in Washington ‘to recognise the fact that the only way to deal with this threat ultimately is to destroy it. There’s no treaty can solve this problem, there’s no peace agreement, no policy of containment … [W]e have to go find the terrorists’” and destroy them! “The idea is that evil must be physically eliminated. As Bush put it, ‘our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil’”. (30)
But as the Socialist Party of Kurdistan has noted with alarm, in the post-9/11 period as much as during the period before that,“what is clear is that Turkish politicians and the Turkish media don’t just mean the PKK when they speak of ‘terrorists’ but all Kurdish organisations, Kurdish associations and even the Kurds themselves”. (31) Kurdish organisations, Kurdish associations and even the Kurds themselves and their ‘pro-Kurdish human rights supporters’, to many within the Turkish ‘deep state’, are the ‘terrorist parasites’ who are to be targeted in the name of this US backed ‘War on Terror’. With US state linked comparisons to Bin Laden and al-Qaeda that conveniently place ‘the PKK’ and its ‘supporters’ and ‘members’ at the ‘ultimate threat’ and ‘enemy’ level that can be imagined, it is evident that any and every type of method of targeting this ‘abhorrent, illogical other’ will now be legitimated in the US backed ‘joint hunt’ to destroy ‘the terrorists’. The following examples of ‘who’ the ‘terrorists’ are and how they are being ‘targeted’ in the US backed ‘War on Terror’ makes for disquieting reading:
• At Adana, on May 28th 2004, “Siyar Perincek … who is the Human Rights Association’s (IHD’s) representative for eastern and southeastern Anatolia, was killed … in front of the IHD building … According to witnesses, a grey-coloured civilian car went after Perincek and his friend Mehmet Nurettin Basci, who was driving the motorcycle. The car approached the motorcycle and the men in the car opened the car’s doors, hitting the motorcycle and causing the two youngsters to fall on the ground. Witnesses added that Basci got up immediately and ran away. A man, who got out of the car put his gun against Perincek who was still lying on the ground and fired it … Witness testimonies” state “that Perincek was shot as he was lying on the ground by a police officer”. (32) According to the BIA News Centre, “the IHD announced that the police in Adana murdered Siyar Perincek … During a press conference in the IHD Istanbul office, it was announced that police fired at Siyar Perincek … as he was driving a motorcycle in Adana. Police then stepped on his back when he fell off from the motorcycle and killed him with a bullet to his back. IHD said there were witnesses who saw the incident. ‘Executions without trials are continuing ... The murderers are free among us,’ said the IHD press statement”. (33)
• Twelve year old Kurdish “Ugur Kaymaz and his father, Ahmet, were killed” in November 2005 “in the south-eastern town of Kiziltepe … in what [Turkish] officials said was an operation against ‘armed terrorists’. Preliminary investigations, including one by parliament’s human rights committee, concluded that the two were unarmed and may have been innocent civilians …[A] group of intellectuals rejected the official account of the incident - that the police suspected the two were armed and preparing a terrorist operation, and that identification was difficult in the dark. Media reported that Ugur Kaymaz was hit by 13 bullets, and that his family said he was helping his father, a truck driver, to prepare for a trip to Iraq. ‘A 12-year-old boy who had been playing with his friends two hours earlier did not represent a clear and present danger’ to the security of Turkey, the intellectuals said. ‘Are we living in a country where everyone [i.e. every Kurd who goes about] in the dark gets shot?’” (34) or, indeed, gets accused of being an ‘armed PKK terrorist?’
• In terms of proposed anti-terrorist actions, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that the Turkish “security forces will intervene against the [Kurdish] pawns of terrorism, even if they are children or women.” (35) General Yaşar Buyukanıt, who officially took over as the new Turkish chief of general staff on August 28, 2006, also provided the following warning: “The military ’‘’was not like a small fire that could be extinguished by wind but was rather a huge blaze that became even bigger … No one can hide behind human rights or democracy to attack this country or its regime”. (36)
• Concerning “a bombing allegedly carried out by Turkish security forces against a bookstore” in Semdinli “patronized by Kurdish nationalists, … allegations that rogue [?] elements in the security forces were involved in the bombing emerged November 9th 2005, after angry residents of Semdinli chased down … three men suspected of planting the bomb that killed two people and wounded more than a dozen. The suspects turned out to be intelligence agents of the gendarmerie, or paramilitary police”. (37) “Esat Canan, an opposition deputy from Hakkari province, where Semdinli is located, who travelled to the town within hours of the bombing, said the car” belonging to the bombers “also contained a [death] list of names of 105 ‘potential targets’ that included … the owner of the bookshop. ‘I saw the list and my name had a red X drawn through it,’ Yilmaz told the daily Radikal”. (38) Others included in the ‘list’ included City Council member Emin Sarı and [pro-Kurdish] DEHAP Province [Party] President Emrullah Ozturk”. (39)
Human Rights Association Chairman Yusuf Alatas noted with concern that “some illegal criminal organizations within the state [apparatus] acting in the name of ‘counter-terrorism’” and the ‘War on Terror’ “are active in Turkey. He said: ‘The Semdinli case was the last link of this chain. We, the people are aware that the Semdinli case was not an isolated incident … Th[e]se events should be questioned; otherwise Turkey will not see democracy’”. (40) However, when these ‘events’ were seriously questioned and investigated by two key individuals - Sabri Uzun (Director of the Police Security Intelligence Bureau) and Ferhat Sarıkaya (prosecutor in the Şemdinli bombing case) - they were removed from their posts under highly questionable circumstances that suggested that a major cover-up was underway. (41) Their findings, however, are worth reflecting upon: “Sabri Uzun … raised concern about possible military involvement in the bombings in Şemdinli when he was questioned by a parliamentary commission. He indicated in coded but quite clear terms that the [Semdinli] explosion had possibly been the work of people within the security forces, and expressed doubt that the gendarmes indicted for the bookshop attack could have been in Şemdinli without the knowledge of higher ranking officials, as claimed. Within a month, Sabri Uzun was removed from his post … [Prosecutor] Sarıkaya, issued an indictment in which he … suggested that a motive for the original killing may have been ‘[t]o bring the local [Kurdish] population to a state where it can be lured with ease into action … then exaggerating this threat beyond its true level” in the ‘War on Terror’, “in order to prepare the way for violent measures by the state” to be undertaken against them “and to permit emergency rule to” once again - as during the genocidal period of the 1990’s – “take precedence over the administrative system in the region, … permitting security chaos in the region to be used to apply pressure on the political authority, and thereby … to frustrate Turkey’s fundamental ’‘’political [democratising] directions … and to protect the power and place of the core political/ bureaucratic governing elite’. The indictment also referred by name to a general who had reportedly described one of the alleged [military] perpetrators as ‘a good offıcer’. On March 20, the Office of the Chief of General Staff issued a statement that the indictment was ‘political … aiming to undermine the Turkish Armed Forces and the fight [i.e. ‘war’] against terror’, and made a complaint against the prosecutor. By April 21, the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors”, in seeking to smooth the path and objectives of the US backed ‘War on Terror’, “had taken Prosecutor Sarıkaya off the case, removed him from his job, and stripped him of his status as a lawyer for ‘abuse of his duty and exceeding his authority’”. (42)
• Even as “Turkish authorities” immediately “blamed the bombing” that took place in Diyarbakir on 12th September 2006 “on [the] PKK”, (43) “the notorious Turkish ultra-nationalist terrorist group ‘Turkish Revenge Brigade’ (TIT)”, with extensive connections with the Turkish ‘deep state’ and the security forces, “on their homepage” accepted “responsibility for the bomb attack … A set of pictures” was “added to the homepage, showing the preparation of the bomb that was used in the attack. The bomb consisted of a 12-litre blue thermos container, a walkie-talkie relay detonator, an activator, the top of a metal gas container as a balancing weight that was placed in the bottom of the thermos and a case believed to contain C-4 plastic explosive. DozaMe.org identified the walkie-talkie as the cheap, high quality … ‘Aselsan MT-725 Cobra’ with a maximum reach of 3 km … The walkie-talkie is manufactured by Aselsan, a Turkish company owned by the ‘Turkish Armed Forces Foundation’ … The blast killed seven Kurdish children and three adults, … wounded … another 13 people, … ripping through a crowd consisting of Kurdish families … ‘For every Turk that [the] PKK kills … we will kill 10 Kurds in Diyarbakir’” as part of the ‘war’ on ‘PKK terror’, “the[ir] statement read. It ends with the slogan, ‘A good Kurd is a dead Kurd’”. (44) TIT members, Dozme.org News points out, were “integrated with the Turkish military intelligence agency JITEM and used in black operations against Kurdish political and cultural figures during the Kurdish insurgency in the mid-80’s and throughout the 90’s”. (45)
• “The government has launched its new practice of burying dead [Kurdish ‘terrorist’] suspects where they are killed without bringing them back home for a proper autopsy. The first example of the policy change was witnessed recently in the [Kurdish] Southeast province of Sirnak although it was decided upon during a Counter-Terrorism Supreme Commission meeting earlier [in April 2006] … Professor … Fincanci, who previously headed the Istanbul University Forensic Medicine Department”, stated that this ‘War on Terror’ related “practice itself was a violation of international human rights and that Turkey could be convicted at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for it … Fincanci told Bianet that in each and every death resulting from clashes, a formal autopsy needed to be conducted and that only this could reveal the true reason of death. ‘Only an autopsy can answer questions such as whether a person was killed in a clash, or … killed while running away, or [as a] result of torture after being captured’ … She referred to the international Minnesota Autopsy Protocol covering the effective investigation of extra-judicial killings saying, ‘The conditions of an autopsy are clearly stated in this protocol, accepted by the United Nations. Because these conditions are not being met” in ’‘’the US backed ‘joint’ Turkish ‘War on Terrorism’, “Turkey could be sentenced at the ECHR for failing to conduct an effective investigation’”. (46)
Just as troublingly, “Turkish Human Rights Chairman Alatas recalled on his part that there were [now] numerous allegations related to the killing of PKK militants in the recent months … ‘There are claims that the bodies are being mutilated,that their organs are being cut off, that even if they are caught alive, they are tortured and killed as well as allegations that chemical weapons are being used. How are these going to be [meaningfully] investigated [in these circumstances]?’ he asked”. (47)“‘This comes to the same meaning as the state saying, ‘I have the right to kill you without being monitored’… The IHD Chairman argued that the practice also meant punishing those relatives and families that had a right to the bodies and noted, ‘This is something that does not even happen in [‘regular’] wars … What happens to the body is an issue that concerns the family’. Pointing out that this … practice effectively meant violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which governs respect towards family and private life, Alatas concluded: ‘In essence, this is a practice to punish the Kurdish people. It is a practice that provokes enmity and hatred’”. (48)
It needs to be understood that in this US backed ‘War on Terror’, schoolchildren, students, poets, musicians, writers, publishers, human rights campaigners, academics, lawyers and artists are all being targeted in a manner that surely must be questioned and opposed. Huseyin Kizilocak, for example, has detailed the following situation that highlights just how ‘pro-Kurdish’ people in this post-9/11 US backed ‘War on Terror’ period, are being scandalously ‘targeted’ as ‘PKK linked terrorists’ in Turkey. The US government’s commitment to ‘jointly’ assist and substantially back the Turkish state in this ‘War on Terror’ that is aimed at ‘hunting’ down and eradicating ‘the PKK terrorist threat’ in Turkey needs to be analysed in this wider context in which a whole range of people come to be defined as ‘PKK linked terrorist threats’:
I want to give some examples from the Turkish newspaper Radikal´s news from the 9th of June this year (2003), which shows the current situation:
- Because of a calendar with the month written in English, Turkish and Kurdish, the publishers were put on trial for separatism and terror.
- A group of students from Nigde university are on trial with the same accusations, because they watched Kurdish television and listened to Kurdish music.(49)
Moreover, “according to a report in the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet a case has begun before the state security court in Diyarbakir against 27 children aged between 11-18, because they had demanded the right to native [Kurdish] language tuition … The state prosecutor … accused the children and adolescents of ‘aiding [i.e. ‘sponsoring’] a terrorist organisation’ [sic] through their demands, and has called for prison terms of 3 years and 9 months”. (50) In 2002, students’ petitions calling for the right to merely receive some optional instruction in the Kurdish language, were incriminated “on grounds of being instrumental to the [‘terrorist’] PKK’s efforts to establish itself as a political organisation. State Prosecutors were briefed by the Ministry of the Interior in January, 2002, to bring charges of ‘membership in a terrorist organisation’ ’‘’punishable with 12 years imprisonment against any students or parents who lodge[d] petitions demanding optional Kurdish lessons. By 23rd January 2002, a total of 85 students and more than 30 parents ha[d] been imprisoned and over 1,000 people (among them some juveniles) detained” for merely “having demanded optional first language education in Kurdish”. (51)
In addition to this, a “case against the members of KESK Music Group … who were charged with having sung in Kurdish during a festival organised by teachers’ union Egitim-Sen in Diyarbakir in 2002, was restarted on 2nd April (2004)”. (52) In a European Commission 2004 report, it was confirmed that “in March 2004 … RTUK ordered the closure for 30 days of ART TV, a local television channel broadcasting from Diyarbakir, on the grounds that it had violated ‘the principle of the indivisibility of the state’ when, in August 2003, it broadcast two Kurdish love songs”. (53) Jon Rud notes that “RTUK issued a warning to one TV channel which had shown a music programme with songs in Kurdish. This was based on a provision which prohibits programmes that are ‘in breach of the general principles of the Constitution … national security…’, etc”. (54)
TO BE CONTINUED. . .
29. Ozgur Gundem(2005) ‘US threatens Kurds’, Ozgur Gundem, 12 September 2005.
30. ’‘’Keen, D. (2006) Endless War? Hidden Functions of the ‘War on Terror’’. Pluto, London and Ann Arbor, p. 8
31. ’‘’PSK (2001) ‘If You Listen to Turkish Politicians...’, PSK Bulletin, 2001.
32. ’‘’BIA News Center (2004) ‘IHD: Who Is Responsible for Perincek's Death?’, BIA News Center, 17 June 2004, as reproduced in InfoTurk, No. 310, June 2004.
33. ’‘’BIA News Center (2004) ‘IHD: S. Perincek was Executed Without Trial’, BIA News Center, 8 June 2004, as reproduced in InfoTurk, No. 310, June 2004.
34. ’‘’Boland, V. (2004) ‘A Group of Turkish Academics, Writers and Artists’, Financial Times, 4 December 2004.
35. ’‘’Peace in Kurdistan (2006) ‘Time for Justice: The Case of Ocalan and the PKK - End the Criminalization of the Kurds in Turkey and Europe: Notification of a Meeting at Committee Room 20, House of Commons, Westminster, Tuesday, 18 July, 7pm’, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign, London, p. 1.
36. ’‘’Turkish Daily News (2006) ‘New Army Chief Buyukanıt Promises To Crush “Terrorism”’, Daily News, 26 August 2006 (http://www.info-turk.be/336.htm#Army).
37. ’‘’Zaman, A. (2005) ‘Top Turkish Party Backs Bomb Probe - AKP’, Los Angeles Times, November 17, 2005.
38. ’‘’Zaman, A. (2005) ‘Top Turkish Party Backs Bomb Probe - AKP’, Los Angeles Times, November 17, 2005.
39. ’‘’Guler, S. (2005) DIHA News Agency Report, 15 November 2005.
40. ’‘’ Cihan News Agency (2006) ‘Reminder of Kurdish Language from EP Member’, Cihan News Agency, Van, 6 August 2006 (zaman.com).
41. ’‘’See Human Rights Watch (2006) Letter to Turkish Prime Minister, dated 7th June 2006.
42. ’‘’Human Rights Watch (2006) Letter to Turkish Prime Minister, dated 7th June 2006.
43. ’‘’Xinhua (2006) News bulletin, Xinhua, 14 September 2006.
44. ’‘’Dozame.org (2006) ‘Turkish Revenge Brigades’ claims responsibility for the bomb attack in Amed (Diyarbakir)’, Dozame.org (http://www.dozame.org/blog/index.php).
45. ’‘’Dozame.org (2006) ‘Turkish Revenge Brigades’ claims responsibility for the bomb attack in Amed (Diyarbakir)’, Dozame.org (http://www.dozame.org/blog/index.php).
46. ’‘’Korkut, T. (2006) ‘Security forces authorized: “Bury Where You Kill”’, BIA News Center, 18 April 2006, as reproduced in Info-Turk, May 2006, No. 333 (http://www.info-turk.be/index.html#Activists).
47. ’‘’Korkut, T. (2006) ‘Security forces authorized: “Bury Where You Kill”’, BIA News Center, April 18, 2006, as reproduced in Info-Turk, May 2006, No. 333 (http://www.info-turk.be/index.html#Activists).
48. ’‘’Korkut, T. (2006) ‘Security forces authorized: “Bury Where You Kill”’, BIA News Center, April 18, 2006, as reproduced in Info-Turk, May 2006, No. 333 (http://www.info-turk.be/index.html#Activists).
49. ’‘’Kizilocak, H. (2003) ‘The Relationship Between Turkey, EU And The Kurds’, Paper at the International Conference on Kurds, the European Union and Turkey, London, Sunday, 29 June 2003.
50. ’‘’Hurriyet (2002) ‘27 Children Brought Before Diyarbakir’s State Security Court’, Hürriyet, 11 June 2002, as reproduced by IMK Weekly Information Service, 17 June - 28 June 2002, No. 160 (http://www.kurds.dk/english/2000/news107.html).
51. ’‘’Aram (2002) Conspiracy and Crisis: Turkey and the Kurdish Question: From the Nineties to the Present Day - Written by a collective of journalists and researchers on behalf of Aram Publisher. Aram, Istanbul, January, 2002 (http://www.zmag.org/content/ForeignPolicy/aram0122.cfm).
52. ’‘’Evrensel - TIHV, (2004) ‘Members of a Music Group on Trial in Diyarbakir’, 6 April 2004, as cited in Info Turk, April 2004, No. 308
(http://www.info-turk.be/308.htm#Reforms in Turkey: Sword of Damocles" still hangs on freedoms).
53. ’‘’Yildiz, K. and Muller, M. (2005) ‘Turkey, Kurds, Europe and the EU Accession Process: “What is to be done?”’, in Muller, M., Brigham, C., Westrheim, K. and Yildiz, K. (eds.) EU Turkey Civic Commission: International Conference on Turkey, the Kurds and the EU, European Parliament, Brussels, 22-23 November 2004 – Conference Papers. KHRP, GB, p. 97.
54. ’‘’Rud, J. (2005) ‘Turkey’s Implementation of European Human Rights Standards - Legislation and Practice’, in Muller, M., Brigham, C., Westrheim, K. and Yildiz, K. (eds.) EU Turkey Civic Commission: International Conference on Turkey, the Kurds and the EU, European Parliament, Brussels, 22-23 November 2004 - Conference Papers, KHRP, GB, p. 65.