PKK leader Fehman Hüseyin targets Zana for remarks on peace

One of the top leaders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Fehman Hüseyin, »»

One of the top leaders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Fehman Hüseyin, has directed veiled criticisms at Leyla Zana, an independent pro-Kurdish deputy from Diyarbakır, due to her recent statements about the role of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the settlement of Turkey's long-standing Kurdish problem.

In an interview with the Hürriyet daily last week, Zana said she believes Prime Minister Erdoğan will solve the Kurdish issue and that she has never lost hope in him, spurring reactions from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and PKK figures.

In remarks that appeared on PKK-affiliated websites on Tuesday, Hüseyin, who is known by the codename “Bahoz Erdal,” said no one could talk about the PKK declaring a cease-fire or laying down weapons.

Hüseyin also criticized the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government for trying to eliminate the PKK. He said the AK Party government is trying to purchase drones from the US to be used in the fight against the PKK and has sent tens of thousands of soldiers to the border with Iraq to combat the PKK.

“When there are such efforts to eliminate the PKK, no one can talk about a cease-fire or the laying down of weapons,” he said.

Zana said she does not think the Kurdish issue will be solved by appointing the military, police or judiciary with certain tasks, stating: “There is a solid fact here. Let's say this openly and accept this fact. If he wanted, the strongest can solve this [Kurdish] issue. Who is that strongest one? It's the government and its head, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The person who is the head of the strongest government in [our] history is able to show the willpower and have the power to sort out this issue. I believe that he will be able to solve this issue. I have never lost my faith in him resolving this issue. And I don't want to lose my faith in him. If I had lost [my faith], I wouldn't be here.”

Although Zana's remarks were interpreted as a sign of possible dialogue for a solution to the issue by many, she received much criticism from the BDP. BDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş said on Thursday that “whoever is hopeful about Erdoğan [regarding the Kurdish issue] is naive. This is thinking like the AK Party.”

“Erdoğan's statements are all clear. Which of his policies can boost our hopes? The hope for solution is not in Erdoğan, but in the people,” he added.

Another reaction to Zana came from Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli during his party's group meeting on Tuesday.

“It is such interesting timing that a female deputy who was convicted of separatism said she believes Prime Minister Erdoğan can solve the Kurdish problem and she has hope and faith in this,” said Bahçeli, adding that his party still remembers how the AK Party government worked to ensure the release of Zana from prison and bowed to international pressure to this effect.

Zana gained prominence in 1991 for taking part of her oath of office in Parliament in Kurdish, a language not recognized as an official language in Turkey. She was convicted in 1994 by the State Security Court (DGM) of links to the PKK, which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the EU.

In 2004, she was released after an appeals court overturned her conviction.

Zana also spurred a reaction from the families of the victims of the Uludere bombing, in which 34 civilians were killed on the Turkish-Iraqi border near Uludere last December by Turkish military jets after they were mistaken for PKK terrorists.

Bahar Encü, the sister of Cihan Encü, one of the victims, said she does not believe in the sincerity of Zana's remarks, while also calling on the authorities to find out the masterminds of the Uludere incident.



Columnist: TODAY'S ZAMAN