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Terrorist PKK starts violent campaign against schools and children

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21 October 2012, Sunday /ORHAN KARANFİL
It is not unheard of for the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to attack schools, students and teachers, but the group has stepped up its attacks on educational facilities over the last month, burning more than 20 schools in southeastern provinces and kidnapping six students from a Hakkari school just this past week.

 Experts say there are a number of factors behind the PKK’s escalating violence against schools.

Last week, PKK militants set more than 20 schools on fire, throwing Molotov cocktails at schools in Hakkari, Şırnak and Van. In Diyarbakır, a group of ski mask-clad PKK terrorists threw a sound bomb and Molotov cocktail into the teacher’s lounge, injuring two teachers and a 12th grader. On the same day, in Şırnak’s İdil district, eight schools were the targets of similar attacks, with some children sustaining injuries. In Yüksekova, Hakkari, pro-PKK demonstrators set 11 schools on fires. Parents in Yüksekova protested in front of the Gazi and Cumhuriyet elementary schools, as this week’s attacks marked the third time they have been attacked.

The PKK burned down container schools built by UNICEF for children who were victims of last year’s earthquakes in Van. Two containers being used as classrooms were destroyed. Civil society and public opinion leaders in Van released messages strongly condemning the attacks, which in fact target young children.

Ayman Abulban, the Turkey representative for UNICEF, said they strongly condemned the attack on the UNICEF container classrooms. “We are against all attacks on schools. Nobody has the right to target schools or children. We hope that such incidents will not be repeated again.”

On Wednesday, the PKK kidnapped six teachers from a primary school in an Iğdır village, with teary-eyed elementary school students witnessing the entire affair. The villagers resisted the abduction, which didn’t stop the militants but did compel them to release the teachers unharmed one hour after the abduction.

But why is the PKK targeting schools and teachers? In fact, it is not an entirely new development. The PKK has consistently said that it sees educational institutions as an instrument of assimilation, and damaging schools, according to the group, promotes its demand for Kurdish-language education in predominantly Kurdish provinces. Last year, the PKK threw a Molotov cocktail into a dormitory in Cizre with many students inside. One student was critically injured and came close to death, while several others suffered severe burns. Terror experts note that the PKK wants to send the message that it has the power to shut down schools if it wants to.

Another factor behind the PKK’s attacks is the physical fact that schools are an easy target. They are not guarded by police or military officers, and they are also ideal places to spread panic after an attack.

Furthermore, there is a strategic reason, in line with the PKK’s authoritarian and militaristic mentality. The PKK wants to make the Kurdish question only about itself, suppressing the diversity of Turkey’s Kurdish community and preventing different segments from participating in politics. Escalating violence this way, the PKK seeks to intimidate and stop action by all Kurds.

Journalist and writer Ümit Fırat, a Kurdish intellectual, said he had warned that the PKK might attack schools at the beginning of the school year to attract attention to itself. “This is because in August Duran Kalkan, who is in charge of the PKK’s military wing, made a statement pressuring [Southeast] locals not to send their children to school or to the military. This pressure meant children should join the PKK instead of going to school. What is going on today is the continuation of that pressure. Even going to school is seen as going against the PKK. Now they are saying Kurds shouldn’t send their children to school, that those who do are traitors. In this way, it is trying to rupture the link the Kurds have to the state system, to make them dependent on it. It is trying to increase its power [over Kurds].”

Strategists also note that the general increase in the use of violence by the PKK serves illegal groupings within the state -- commonly called the deep state -- which were very powerful in Turkey until the recent past, as well as the authoritarian regimes of Iran and Syria. The PKK has long been a matter of contention between Turkey and Syria, and the group has become an important partner to the Bashar al-Assad regime since the escalation of violence in Syria.

School burning and public outrage

Kurdish leaders of public opinion as well as civil society representatives have strongly condemned the PKK, with all of them saying attacking schools or students is unacceptable, no matter what one’s cause might be.

Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Diyarbakır deputy Mehmet Hamzaoğulları said he found the attacks impossible to understand. “Attacks on students and teachers are beyond the limits of reason and logic. Why anyone would want to stop Kurdish children from getting an education I don’t understand.” He said the locals were too intimidated to stand against the PKK.

Echoing Hamzaoğulları’s view that stopping Kurdish children from pursuing an education defies logic, Kurdish politician İbrahim Güçlü said: “Even in wars, one doesn’t attack civilian facilities such as schools and hospitals. By attacking schools the PKK is doing the highest extent of damage to the Kurdish people. The PKK had staged such attacks before. Up until a few years ago, the PKK defended [teaching Kurdish] as an elective course. Now that it is an elective course, the PKK is strongly against it. They are forcing people to stop allowing children to pick Kurdish as an elective course. This obviously shows that the PKK is not concerned with the issues of Kurds’ national rights, the right to Kurdish language education, and that it is only concerned with maintaining its own hegemony and dominance and not letting its sphere of influence narrow.”

Güçlü said the PKK sees every positive step towards extending more rights to the Kurds as a threat against its own existence. “They gave the exact same response when [Kurdish language state TV channel] TRT 6 started broadcasting, or when developments occurred such as Kurdish language and literature departments opening up in universities, and local Kurdish language television stations opening.”

“The PKK has lost its mind; it is experiencing both social and psychological insanity. Fatal and brutal [attacks] against schools, teachers and students are a crime against humanity, a violation of human rights and freedoms that doesn’t have anything to do with the acquisition of Kurdish rights and freedoms, that work against the acquisition of Kurdish rights and freedoms,” Güçlü stated.

Educators in the region are distraught over the situation. Yunus Memiş, head of the Diyarbakır branch of the education professionals’ union Eğitim Bir Sen, said: “The Kurdish people will not let the PKK intimidate and wear out teachers. You cannot talk about humanity where you have violence. Those who stage these attacks should come to their senses. Children will not be pushed into ignorance; the Kurdish people will stand against that.” Memiş said attacking schools only worked towards the enslavement of Kurds.

“It is nothing but barbarity to try to burn innocent children and teachers in schools,” said Bülent Serdar, the head of the Diyarbakır branch of the human rights association Özgür-Der.

Local business associations have also delivered various messages condemning the recent attacks. Diyarbakır Mercantile Exchange President Fahrettin Akyıl said: “I have no words in the face of this violence. What is a person without an education good for? If you burn down schools, massacre teachers, what kind of a world will you be living in?” He described the recent attacks as the “mother of all wrongs.” did.

Kurdish children will be so terribly disadvantaged not learning that one Turk is worth the world and that Turkey belongs to the Turks! What if they grow up believing that Turkey belongs to the Chinese? What if they learn that one Turk is worth only half-the world? Imagine, what a disadvantage that ...
"brainwashing Kurdish children", "elected Kurds get ten year prison sentences for verbalizing their thoughts". Typical excuses used for justifying burning schools, exploding bombs in civilian areas, destroying industrial machinery used for developing the Kurdish areas, burning busses with passengers...
Only a fool or a mercenary would call brainwashing Kurdish children "education"! What's the use of education if the elected Kurds get ten year prison sentences for verbalizing their thoughts? Could someone tell me again just why Kurdish children are being denied basic education in their mother tong...
To all pro PKK apologists. Turkey has been trying every single thing possible for the Kurdish citizens of their country and a great majority of Turkish citizens of Kurdish descent want to protect Turkish territory from seperatism and speak the Kurdish language freely, as well as support Turkey again...
I'm Rick James
Look at these "Kurds" and our friendly neighbours the Greeks/Jews/Armenians comments.... I mean, who cares about Turkish children being kidnapped or even killed, right?..I bet you guys don't care about what these PKK do as long as it's causing harm and misery to TURKS? I mean....It's your culture an...
Honest and Truth
I think a couple of special forces should be secreted into schools at random each night so these scum should not know what would confront them, then when they attack the school, they should be cut down like trapped rats.
True Turk
Aziz, instead of denying it, why don't you visit the PKK's website. The evidence you want is in the webpage called "Karakollar Ve ‘Okullar’". It was the PKK alright. They are burning schools to deprive the Kurdish kids from an education, with the aim that they eventually end up in the mountains to d...
Silly,idiotic tactics reflecting the desperate state of affairs inside the PKK itself.
It is NOT unheard of for Turkish armed forces and Turkish political leaders to shamelessly lie to the citizens of Turkey either. Where is the evidence that the PKK had anything to do with this arson? Could the arsonists be builders/contractors who will be given the job of rebuilding the schools? Cou...
I think the solution is crystal clear. The Turkish leaders need to end their occupation of Kurdistan and recognize the right of the Kurdish people to self-determination. What do Turks actually gain by forcing young Kurdish children to say, "I am Turkish. One Turk is worth the world."? Absolutely not...
Kurdish politician İbrahim Güçlü is perfectly right, PKK is against any improvements made in the Kurds' lives because it diminishes the Kurds' support for them. That's why the PKK destroys machinery used for building roads and airports in the Kurdish areas, and burn schools which give Kurdish childr...
Diyarbakır Mercantile Exchange President Fahrettin Akyıl asks "What is a person without an education good for?". The answer is, such a person is good for being recruited as a terrorist, which is one of the aims of the PKK. Taking away the future and the lives of the Kurdish children, and getting the...
the question is : what bout Kurdish IDENTITY? the basic principle of democracy is; right to study with mother tongue,Kurds have absolutely right to study in their own language. also self determination is another principle of democracy....!
İt is not dıffucult to see the end of PKK.What fundemantel term which let PKK to fight is ignorance.Whenever education shines,ignorance and PKK will be destroyed forever.That is why PKK burns schools.Nowdays,hopefully all Kurdish brothers and sisters will know PKK do not fight and kill because of th...
These cowards are obviously not man enough to win against the adults, so they go for defenceless innocent children. Our Parliament ought to seriously consider banning any Kurdish terrorist groups from forming political parties in Turkey incognito, until they learn they can prove to act in a civilis...
This article only further demonstrates that the Turkish government and military are clearly not doing enough to protect Turkey's territorial integrity and population against terrorism. I agree that the PKK have become desperate after receiving heavy losses but Turkey cannot become a victim to this. ...
This is the group that so many of you believe in? Actually most of the ones who believe in and follow these homicidal maniacs probably cannot read the news. Does anyone really think they are doing anything positive for the Kurdish population of Turkey? This is nonsense and I wonder how much longer T...
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