Erbil – Zuhal Demir, a Belgian MP for the New Flemish Alliance (NV-A), was depicted by the Turkish state media as a supporter of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) amidst ongoing tensions in Turkey and accusations by Turkey that Europe is not doing enough to combat the PKK.
The Turkish A Haber channel suggested that there were European politicians whose only job is to support the PKK, although Demir is not a member of the European parliament.
“Of course, I support basic rights for the Kurds, like education in their mother-tongue,” Demir told the Belgian newspaper the Standaard. “Compare it to the fight of the Flemish people in Flanders, but I do not support an independent [Kurdish] state. And those rights should be fought for in a democratic way, without violence, I am a pacifist,” she said.
The Belgian MP from a Kurdish background said she has repeatedly denied supporting the PKK. “Because I am Kurdish, doesn’t mean that you sympathize with the PKK. And still I am depicted by the Turkish tv-channel A Haber as someone who backs the PKK,” she said.
Previously she spoke at a Kurdish organization in the city of Antwerp, which included symbols of the PKK and pictures of imprisoned PKK-leader Abdullah Ocalan. “But this doesn’t mean we support these symbols. On the contrary, violence is never a solution for a problem,” she said.
She asked the ministers to support her. “This is scary, this incitement to hate,” she said. “But I will not complain, because this will take years. I rather focus on positive affairs.”
Heavy fighting re-erupted in Turkey after a two-year-old ceasefire ended in July 2015. Now the PKK and the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) are being targeted in a fierce Turkish security crackdown, following the botched July 2016 coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
European countries have criticized the crackdown on Kurdish politicians and the independent media, which raised anger in Turkey.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg