News / Middle East

    Kurdish Groups End Cease-fire With Turkey

    Supporters hold a flag with the image of Abdullah Ocalan, jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) as they celebrate outside the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) headquarters in Diyarbakir, Turkey, June 7, 2015.
    Supporters hold a flag with the image of Abdullah Ocalan, jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) as they celebrate outside the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) headquarters in Diyarbakir, Turkey, June 7, 2015.

    An umbrella network of Kurdish organizations that includes the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has announced a three-year-long cease-fire agreement with Ankara is now over, dealing a major blow to a protracted reconciliation process with Turkey's Kurds.

    The PKK-linked Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) declared an “end to the cease-fire” first agreed in 2012 and warned it would target "all the dams” in the country’s southeast.

    In the statement delivering a significant setback to the fragile off-and-on peace process, the KCK said Turkey's building of barracks, dams, and roads for military purposes had violated the truce.

    "The Turkish State took advantage of the cease-fire conditions, not for a democratic political resolution, but to gain an advantageous position in preparation of war by building dozens of guard posts, roads for military purposes and dams in order for a cultural genocide," the statement said.

    Unusual release

    The statement was first released to the Firat, a PKK-linked news agency based in Amsterdam.

    The PKK launched a three-decade-long self-rule insurgency in 1984. It tempered its aims subsequently and its imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan has been negotiating a resolution to the conflict. But in recent months the process has stalled with positions hardening on both sides.

    Some senior PKK officials have been expressing deep reservations about the process; and some fighters told VOA recently that they no longer believe in Öcalan’s peace strategy.

    “If he were released tomorrow, we would celebrate his freedom. But I can assure some fighters would try to assassinate him the following day,” one veteran fighter told VOA in the spring. He asked for his name not to disclosed in any reporting of his views.

    Positions have also been hardening on the government side. In March, the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, dismissed the idea there is even a Kurdish problem, prompting fears that talk of a breakthrough by his ministers was misplaced.

    Erdogan argued Kurds already enjoy equal rights with the rest of the country and should not need anything else.  

    “The only thing in their eyes is the Kurdish question. What are you talking about? There is no such thing, there is no Kurdish question,” he thundered in a speech.

    He added, “What Kurdish problem? ... What have you not got? ... What else do you want? For God's sake, what don't you have that we do, you have everything,” he said.

    KCK's invovlement

    Opposition politicians tied his nationalist dismissal of the Kurds to the June parliamentary elections. His ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its majority in the polls and is now immersed in coalition talks, with the most likely partner being the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which wants to see an end to the peace process.

    Whether the PKK leadership will formally endorse the Union’s announcement of an end to the cease-fire remains unclear. It is also unclear why the PKK did not issue a formal statement itself.

    One Turkish intelligence official told VOA that Öcalan had not signed off on the threat and so hardliners had to “use the KCK as a vehicle.”

    The sentiments of frustration and deep anger contained in the weekend statement reflect the ire of many of the country’s 12 million Kurds towards Ankara.

    “The Kurdish movement has decided to not to accept this treatment any more,” said the PKK-dominated KCK.

    Kurdish anger has been boiling since the Turkish government refused to intervene militarily to help the Syrian Kurdish defenders of the border town of Kobani to see off a months-long siege by Islamic extremists.

    During the siege, which was lifted in January partly as a result of fierce U.S.-led coalition airstrikes on the extremists, Turkish jets launched air raids on PKK positions in southeast Turkey.

    The main Syrian Kurdish group is an offshoot of the PKK. Further anger was prompted last month when the Turkish President warned he would not allow the Syrian Kurds to create a state of their own along the border with Turkey.

    And clashes between the PKK and the Turkish military have increased in the southeast of the country, with both sides accusing the other of prompting the fights.

    "Our people have stood as human shields in the face of such moves that would start this war and many of our people, including the youth, lost their lives in the attacks by the state” the KCK said in the weekend statement.

    Trading accusations

    Since 1984, nearly 40,000 people have been killed in clashes with the PKK, which is designated as a "terrorist organization" by the international community, including the United States and the European Union.

    Monday, pro-Kurdish lawmaker Altan Tan accused the government of paving the way for a collapse of the peace process by acting slowly and dragging its feet in the talks. Those who want a [peace] resolution have to act swiftly to avert a rekindling of the insurgency, he says.

    On Sunday, a minibus carrying civilians came under fire when a group of Turkish gendarmes in Göle, a district in Ardahan province, clashed with PKK militants, leaving one person dead and two injured.

    Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu vowed Monday the construction of dams and roads in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast would continue. 

    "Governments build roads and dams," he said. "They don't back down through threats.” 

    He accused the PKK of reneging on a pledge to withdraw armed fighters from Turkish territory.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    by: Kurdistan
    July 15, 2015 12:59 AM
    Kurds have to be really strong against turkey. Weaker Kurdistan is not a choice with kurds. We have to destroy turkish influence and economy in kurdistan region. We want our history and our destiny. Turks dont belong with us. We respect their culture and people but we cannot let turks have power over us. We have our own dreams and goals. And we will never let go off Kurdistan.

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    July 14, 2015 6:24 AM
    I cannot agree less with the Kurdish people that this is the most auspicious time to speak out – even with the nuzzle of the gun on their head – loud and clear for the world to hear them, that they have had enough from Turkey. There’s no worse thing right now than that the Kurds have ISIS breathing down their throat and Turkey is bombing them when Turkey should be helping them. There’s not much hope of getting better really, hence the Kurds cannot hope to get help from Syria whose answer, like Bobby Barre and Skeeter Davis would ask, “How-can-I-help-you, when-I’m-falling too?”

    Essentially this is existential threat to the Kurds, but that’s how bad it can get for them to know who’s friend and who’s foe. Turkey has betrayed its EU membership not only in carrying out a war of attrition against the Kurds; it has engaged in complicit terrorism aiding ISIS recruitment, logistics and deployment to attack Kobani. Turkey’s aggression exposes its link with ISIS, why not ensure self-determination of the Kurds. Turkey is ready to stage a war with Kurdistan, let ISIS use its territory to fight Syria, Kobani and Iraq. Why not Kurdistan be?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora