Remarks by newly appointed Diyarbakır Police Chief Recep Güven that the problem in the country’s Southeast will not be resolved unless tears are also shed for Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists killed in clashes with security forces have triggered mixed reactions among columnists as well as politicians.
While many argue his statements demonstrated a willingness to share sorrows and to coexist, the rest assert that terrorists who indiscriminately kill innocent people deserve no empathy.
Sabah’s Hasan Celal Güzel is one of the harshest critics of Güven’s remarks. He finds them too political, aiming to attract the sympathy of the locals in Diyarbakır, where he has just been appointed. What is more, Güzel thinks, Güven aims to become a new Gaffar Okan, a much-respected former Diyarbakır police chief who lost his life in an armed attack. But it is not right to go against the state’s terrorism policy and to express such controversial views just to build a relationship with pro-PKK locals. And ironically, just after Güven delivered his controversial remarks, terrorists attacked a number of schools in the Southeast, targeting children and teachers, which is not acceptable by any means.
Güzel points out a distinction between pitying or feeling sorry for those who were oppressed by the PKK or deceived by them into leaving their families and joining the terrorist organization and condemning or being completely against the terrorists who kill men, women and children in cold blood. Moreover, the fact that such statements come from a police chief, whose job is to fight against the terrorists, will send out the wrong message to the terrorists that the state has its weakness, he notes.
Taha Akyol from Hürriyet, on the other hand, analyzes “the psychology of the PKK.” What makes the PKK survive even though more than 30,000 terrorists have been killed in the last three years? Akyol says it is because the PKK’s power stems from disseminating the idea that Kurds live under the yoke of the state and so the terrorists should fight against “the enemy,” which is the Turkish state, to save the Kurds and to take the risk of sacrificing their own lives to this end. It is an indispensible necessity that the state should carry on its armed struggle against terrorists. But on the other hand, Akyol says he cannot criticize Güven’s words because the tone he sets is also important to encourage terrorists to quit the PKK and to let them know that the state is ready to accept them if they leave.