QAMISHLI – The US is calling on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to stop fighting the Turkish security forces, while avoiding to condemn human rights abuses by Turkish authorities in which hundreds of civilians have died.
“We view the PKK as a foreign terrorist organization and we support Turkey’s efforts to go after the PKK. But as with any counterterrorism operations, we always want to see every effort made to avoid and certainly minimize any civilian casualties. And certainly, we would want any kind of counterterrorism operations to be mindful of human rights and human rights concerns,” said Mark Toner, US State Department spokesman, without condemning the abuses.
According to both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the Turkish authorities violated human rights in the war against the PKK in the Kurdish region southeast of Turkey. Nevertheless, the US only called on the PKK to stop fighting the Turkish army.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a report published on 11 July accused the Turkish authorities of covering up major human rights abuses in the southeast, and said that at least 338 civilians were killed in the areas where there were clashes between the Turkish armed forces, and the PKK-linked Civil Protection Units (YPS).
“We’d like to see the PKK to stop its attacks on Turkish authorities or Turkish police and security forces, and to see a return to, again, some kind of mechanism whereby there could be a peaceful – or discussions, rather, about ending the violence. But in any case, we support Turkey’s right to defend its citizens,” Toner said on Monday.
The US government spokesperson also refused to comment on possible efforts or engagement by the international community to resolve the conflict with the PKK. “I would simply reiterate the fact that we would hope the PKK would exercise restraint,” he said.
So far, after the failed military coup in Turkey last weekend in which many of the leading generals that were involved in human rights abuses in Kurdish areas of Turkey were arrested, the PKK has acted with restraint, and has seemed to stop fighting or carrying attacks. The PKK has adopted a wait-and-see policy towards the new situation.
“There has always been a willingness on the Kurdish side to hold negotiations but they do not trust [Turkish president] Erdogan,” Gareth Jenkins, an Istanbul-based analyst for the Silk Road Studies Program, told ARA News.
The analyst doesn’t expect that the Turkish government under president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will resume the two years peace process that collapsed in July 2015, although it was the military and not the PKK, that tried to overthrow the government.
“I don’t, [expect a new peace process] because everybody knows that it was Erdogan who ordered the hardline policy in the southeast,” he said.
“The PKK is one of the main beneficiaries of the current chaos in Turkey, particularly how Erdogan has used a genuine coup attempt as an excuse to instigate a purge of thousands of soldiers, judges and prosecutors whom he doesn’t like,” Jenkins told ARA News.
“The coup attempt itself was damaging enough but Erdogan’s reaction to it is going to result in severe damage to the Turkish military’s operational capability,” the analyst concluded.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg
Source: ARA News
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