Ankara’s War On Kurds?

During the hectic rush hour of Wednesday 17th February, there was a car bomb explosion in Ankara which claimed at least 29 lives, only 4 months after the attack in the same city which killed more than 100 people.

Immediately the government accused the Syrian YPG to the effect of justifying the bombing of their positions in northern Syria, despite both the PKK and YPG denying these claims. However, upon further investigation, it was suggested that instead the attack was carried by a Kurdish youth from the radical Kurdistan Freedom Falcons organisation from Turkish-Kurdistan.

What we are seeing in the south east is a clear assault on the terrorist organisation the PKK, but it comes hand in hand with a war on the innocent. The Turkish army’s tactics of totality, attacking all to weaken the few, has been the cause of mass trauma of the innocent.

How is a government to differentiate between the guilty terrorists and innocent others? This is a question haunting armies, leaders, nations, and empires throughout history. But before the advent of the necessity of rules of war, and the establishment of human rights accords, governments would attack both the innocent and guilty in the hopes of successfully destroying the threat. Now, it has been incredibly important as a matter of ethics to be able to differentiate the innocent from the guilty. Nevertheless, due to the almost impossibility of such a task, we still see states utilising de-humanising language such as “collateral damage” to discuss killings of the innocent – argued by governments to be a regrettable necessity to destroy the enemy.

In one video, a Kurdish journalist accompanies a group of innocent inhabitants of the city of Cizre in the South East of Turkey. Whilst waving white flags, the group are attempting to gather their dead relatives and friends and transport them across a main road. Further down this road a Turkish army blockade is spotted, and despite their waving of white flags, the group is attacked.

In the province of Sirna, the brother-in-law of HDP politician Leyla birlik, Kurdish activist and filmmaker Haci Lokman Birlik was killed by police, and a video released online shows his body being dragged across the street attached to a police van. The police officer filming can then be heard shouting abuse and swearing at the lifeless body. Turkish nationalist comments on YouTube hail the video as “the best video in the world”. After initially claiming the video was propaganda, the government admitted it was real, and launched an investigation, but governmental organs such as the Daily Sabah noted such security procedures were the ‘standard’.

The Turkish state has thus re-launched a psychical, ideological, and mental war with the use of force, fear, and intimidation. Who suffers at the end of the day? The innocent. PKK fighters participate in the organisation full well knowing that they might be killed in combat. Turkish soldiers and armed police officers operating in such areas also know that their lives are at risk. But the innocent civilians have no reason to need to die, no need to live in fear. Unfortunately, the inhabitants of these cities are one ones who lose. They live in fear, and are pushed further and further into alienation by the governmental tactics on the one side, and boisterous and violent means of the PKK on the other.

— Raphael Gregorian

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