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A PKK Founder Says Peace Process with Turkey is Not Over

By Rudaw 8/9/2013
Protesters carry banners reading,
Protesters carry banners reading, "We fight for Life, we die for Peace" as they march to protest operations against Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) during a demonstration in Diyarbakir, Turkey. Photo: AFP


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Selahettin Celik, a former founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), says that the group’s declaration that it is halting a pullout of fighters from Turkey should not be seen as a re-declaration of war.

But he warns that, “In the end the war may be resumed anyway.”

The PKK’s commander, Cemil Bayik, announced last week that he was stopping the withdrawal of fighters from Turkey, which began in early May as part of a peace process to end the group’s three-decade separatist war, in which an estimated 40,000 people have died.

Bayik said the decision was taken because Turkey had failed to deliver anything concrete in return for the withdrawal.

“Turkey has not taken any steps to solve the Kurdish question and will not do so. It is clear how the Turkish parliament acts against the Kurdish identity and Kurdish language,” Celik says, echoing comments by the PKK commander, who accuses Ankara of not living up to the terms of the peace process.

Some Turkish media see the PKK’s decision to end the peace deal as a lever against Turkey, aimed at pressuring Ankara to ease off against the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria.

The PKK leadership, including its jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan, was for years based in Syria, enjoying the backing of the ruling regime.

The group denies having any more links with Damascus, but Turkey has always accused the Assad regime of using the PKK as a tool to pressure Ankara.

In the Syrian civil war, Turkey backs opposition rebel forces that are fighting to oust Assad and has asked for the president’s resignation. On the other hand, the PKK stands accused of backdoor deals with Damascus through its Syrian arm, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which stepped in after the start of the 2011 civil war to take control of Syria’s Kurdish regions from regime forces.

“Even if the PKK takes up arms again, I don’t think they can have a considerable impact on the situation in Syria,” Celik says, adding that most likely Iran and Syria are demanding that the PKK up the pressure against Turkey.

Celik believes it is this heat that is behind the PKK’s decision to halt its pullout. “But that should never mean ending the peace process,” he counsels.

After years of negotiations between Turkish intelligence officials and Ocalan, both sides finally agreed on a peace deal. The PKK agreed to withdraw its fighters and Turkey pledged to address the cultural and political rights of more than 15 million Kurds, easing up on decades of oppression that have included jail terms and fines even for speaking the Kurdish language. 

Celik advises that the PKK should not take the peace process as a zero sum game.

“The PKK can organize demonstrations in the cities, strengthen its foreign relations and clarify its intentions to the public,” Celik suggests. “What they are doing right now isn’t enough.”

Meanwhile, says Celik, the PKK has to be patient if it wants to see the peace process through. He says that Turkey is currently busy with the crisis in Syria and soon will be preoccupied with its own local elections.



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Herdem Kurdman | 9/9/2013
As a kurd from North up to now I do not know we have a peace process with republic of Turkey,but a ceasefire between PKK and turkish government.And there is no negotiations but a dialouge between turkish secret Service and PKK´s jailed leader.There is no Observators too neither international nor regional,any protocol and no trancparency.And turkish premier always says republick of Turkey against all kurdish establishement and achivement in everywhere of the world.Turks said we want to finish the war but we give to kurds any rights ,they recognise kurds neither as a nation nor as a minority and turks don´t want to recognise kurdish language as other official language in turkey. Also there is no peace process Mr.PKK founder and Rudaw columnist. It is not kurdish Task to sell turkish ottomans intrigues and their enmity against kurds as a peace process. Yes, the ceasefire must continue and kurds must Support and protect the achivements in Western Kurdistan.But therefor PKK-PYD should Change their policy against own People and other kurdish organisations.They must put kurdish language in all kurdish life , within their organisations and in Northern Kurdistan.The PKK must be ready for a peace process with their ex companions and other kurdish parties. Of course they must stop their verbal attack and their fouling campaign against KRG. Otherwise a Long sleep awaits us in North.
66Mahmoud | 10/9/2013
You need 2 to Tango, and Turkey is not serious with its approach to peace, only trying to gain some time in front of Syrian and interior problems, under today’s circumstances Turkey may make some gestures but nothing permanent, and can take back any time in a snap of a finger
Med | 11/9/2013
Turkey save time untl be sure that the kutds in syria not get they right,after that starting war aginst pkk ..But if kurds in syria get there rights Turkey give Kurdish right in Turkey its best gain now in syrian Kurd but Ankara push on KRG to close the border on pyd the only powerful Kurdish fighters can stop Kurdish Ismaists from controling Kurdish Rojawa, ,other partiys dont have clear plane for atonomy..
Med | 11/9/2013
Whay allways making pyd ally to assad or aginst pyd.Whay not tllking about al nusra they are not good guys and do you think pyd is bad guys.I am not pyd or pkk but I can see all Kurds must be praoud for pyd fighters.
Russel Check | 11/9/2013
It’s finely hitting the PKK that the whole thing was a stall tactic, let’ see what Turkey got out of it: Turkey secured it’s borders with Iran and KRG at a time of war on it’s Syrian border, dealt another blow to Iran by luring PKK away from them, PKK even turned down an offer of advanced weapons from Iran’s revolutionary guards! what a mistake! Turkey scored high in the eyes of it’s Western ally’s initiating the ”peace process”, saved billions in money and personal by the ceasefire, resources they badly need on the Syrian front securing their border and supporting and arming all Islamist groups, Erdogan scored high at home with domestic propaganda by telling the Turkish public “look how we try to solve the issue democratically and peacefully, don’t blame us that the PKK will draw from the process ”. It secured more KRG goodwill and the continuation of securing more Kurdish Oil and Gas and at the same time used KRG to do it’s dirty work pressuring PYD while they themselves even invited PYD for talks, the list goes on and on. Now let’s see what Kurds got out of it: ZERO! ZILCH! Turkey will not recognize Kurds in the constitution, meaning Kurds are not equal, Turkey will not permit Kurdish language schools, Turkey will not allow any form of autonomy or federalism. Oh wait I forgot they promise to lift the ban on Kurdish names, now Kurdish parents can finely actually call their children Kurdish names! and Kurdish villages can get back their original Kurdish names! isn't that nice? but Turks being Turks the minute a child was called Kurdistan the government took the parents to court! the minute a youth NGO used the word Kurdistan in their organization name a criminal case was opened against them and they are now in court! That’s the changes they actually promised to make now imaging the things they say LOUD and CLEAR they will never accept. Dear PKK and PYD it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee, it’s time to approach Russia, Iran and even Assad in Syria, there will be never a better time to make a deal with Assad than now, at least secure Rojava.
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