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August 14, 2012, Tuesday

PKK, kidnapping and absolute impunity for the PKK

There are certain leftist and Kurdish groups in Turkey that grant the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) absolute impunity from criticism. No matter what this organization does, they never utter a critical word about it.

I am not talking about the PKK’s so called “war” against Turkish security forces. I am talking about killing civilians on purpose and indiscriminately. It has even killed young women and children. The PKK has executed so many of its own militants. It has killed thousands and thousands of PKK members for so many reasons. It has kidnapped children and made them child soldiers. It has kidnapped civilians. No matter what it has done, these groups have never criticized the PKK, and the PKK knows very well that it will benefit from this absolute impunity from these circles under any circumstances.

I am saying all this because I believe the PKK would never dare to engage in some activities if it had received some criticism, some condemnation for certain atrocities it has committed. For example, it would not have dared to kidnap Hüseyin Aygün, an MP from the Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP), if it had been condemned for similar atrocities committed in the past.

Aygün is a lawyer and human rights defender. He has not only fought against state terror by trying to bring criminal cases against those who set Kurdish villages on fire in the name of fighting against terror, but as an MP he has also played an extremely important role in breaking the silence surrounding some atrocities in Turkey. He is the one who brought the Dersim massacre to Turkey’s political agenda. Like all genuine human rights defenders, he is opposed to violence and terror, no matter whether they are committed by state or non-state actors.

The PKK kidnapped him on Sunday, while he was returning from Ovacık to Tunceli, and they took him into the forest. I was very curious how this kidnapping would be responded to by the leftist and Kurdish groups I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Unfortunately, I saw the familiar pattern: They could not condemn this action, which is the forceful hostage-taking of a civilian and a politician who is not a party to the armed conflict between the PKK and armed forces of Turkey. This is an action banned by all international legal instruments. This is an action which is unacceptable by any moral or philosophical standards.

Following this action there was no reaction except silence, and some nonsensical explanations from this “no criticism of the PKK” camp. A leading Kurdish MP stated that “detention of an MP made them sorry.” He did not say “kidnapping,” “hostage-taking” and so on; he said “detention.” As if Aygün was taken into custody on suspicion of having committed an offense.

Well, there are some theories as to why the PKK engaged in such weird activity. Some say that Aygün was targeted because he is one of the prominent critical figures opposing the PKK for its violence against civilians and the kidnappings of civilians, an action from which he himself now suffers. Some say that with this action the PKK is just trying to attract the attention of the national and international media. Some say this is just to try to stop the CHP’s recent active role in searching for a solution to the Kurdish question. One or all of these explanations may be true, and there may be some further explanations.

I don’t know exactly why the PKK took Mr. Aygün hostage. All I know is this: The PKK will continue to carry out these kinds of activities and atrocities as long as it continues to benefit from the absolute impunity from criticism that some groups offer it in Turkey. It is high time we stand up against atrocities and human rights violations by responding to their perpetrators as they deserve.

I condemn this hostage-taking by the PKK and I wish for the safe return of Mr. Aygün to his home, and to the invaluable job he has been doing in the field of human rights in Turkey.

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