Join the campaign to remove PKK from list of ‘terrorist’ groups
By Dave Holmes
March 24, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Melbourne-based Australians for Kurdistan committee has launched a campaign calling for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to be removed from the Australian government’s list of terrorist organisations.
The PKK was first listed in 2005; its listing comes up for review this August.
In the light of the frontline role the PKK has played in fighting the “Islamic State” killers in Syria and Iraq and in mobilising support within Turkey for Rojava (the Kurdish-majority liberated zone in northern Syria), to label the PKK as “terrorist” is simply ridiculous.
The ban should be dropped and supporters of the PKK should be able to openly organise without harassment from the authorities.
Since the PKK is talking to the Turkish government and is pushing to get serious negotiations underway to resolve the longstanding “Kurdish question”, the continuing ban by the United States, the European Union and Australia is completely anomalous and an obstacle to any peace process.
The PKK is also an illegal organisation within Turkey. As substantive talks begin between the government and the Kurdish movement, this ban remains an obstacle to real progress.
Also impeding the negotiations is the fact that the foremost Kurdish political leader, the PKK’s Abdullah Öcalan, remains in a Turkish prison and cannot freely consult with either his colleagues or the Kurdish people.
Australians for Kurdistan has set up a website at http://liftthebanonthepkk.org. It contains an open letter to the Australian government (see below).
The open letter is the key tool of the campaign and Australians for Kurdistan’s aim is to gather as wide a range of endorsements for it as possible. We especially want to get signatures from activists and prominent figures in academia and the arts, in Third World migrant communities, from the women’s movement, the Indigenous rights movement, from trade unionists, environmentalists, and others.
Also on the website is an article with background material on the Kurdish question and a critique of the Australian government’s national security entry on the PKK. The government’s justification for classifying the PKK as a terrorist organisation doesn’t stand up to any real scrutiny.
Ever since modern Turkey was founded in 1923, the Kurds have suffered heavy oppression at the hands of a ruthless, chauvinist Turkish ruling class. For instance, today over 20 million Kurds are denied public education in their mother tongue. Resistance to oppression is not terrorism and can’t be understood as terrorism.
The bans on the PKK should be dropped and the organisation allowed to conduct open legal political activity both in Turkey and among the large Kurdish diaspora.
[For more on the struggle of the Kurdish people, click HERE.]
Open letter to the Australian government
Lift the ban on the PKK
We, the undersigned, note that:
1. Ever since the formation of the republic in 1923, Turkey’s large Kurdish population has endured heavy national oppression. Even today, for instance, they are denied public education in their mother tongue.
2. The reason for the persistence of the "Kurdish question" is the refusal of Turkey’s rulers to fundamentally budge on this and the rejection by the Kurdish people of second-class citizenship.
3. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) enjoys the support of millions of Kurdish people in Turkey. It is seen as their legitimate representative and their best hope of securing their national rights.
4. The PKK declared a unilateral ceasefire in March 2013 and began withdrawing its armed units to camps in northern Iraq. In a significant concession, it has dropped its call for an independent Kurdish state and instead calls for autonomy within a democratised Turkey.
5. The PKK seeks to enter into direct negotiations with the Turkish government. Its acknowledged leader, Abdullah Öcalan, jailed in Turkey since 1999, will play a key role in any such negotiations and the PKK wants his harsh conditions of imprisonment significantly eased to facilitate this.
6. The PKK has played a key role in the struggle against the inhuman "Islamic State" gangs in both Iraq and Syria. It has also played a fundamental role in mobilising support within Turkey for Kobanê and Rojava (the Kurdish-majority liberated region in northern Syria). It has close fraternal relations with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the main party in Rojava.
7. Despite this proven anti-terrorist role, the US, European Union and Australian governments continue to proscribe the PKK as a terrorist organisation.
8. Listing an organisation means that it is illegal for Australian citizens to belong to it, raise funds for it or in any way to actively support it. The PKK was first placed on the Australian list of terrorist organisations at the end of 2005 and has remained there ever since. The listing comes up for review in August 2015.
9. The government’s stated case for this listing is extremely weak. It says absolutely nothing about the severe discrimination faced by the Kurdish population of Turkey. It says nothing about the Turkish regime’s crimes against its Kurdish minority. It smears the PKK by claiming it raises funds by drug-running and prostitution rackets. It tries to criminalise its legitimate right to self-defence against oppression. It says nothing about the PKK’s push for negotiations. Then, to top it all off, it admits that the PKK poses no threat to Australia.
We therefore argue that:
- Good-faith negotiations between the Turkish government and the PKK are the only realistic way to resolve this long-running conflict. Australia and the West should use all their influence to push for genuine constructive talks.
- The PKK’s inclusion on Western terrorist lists is an obstacle to fruitful negotiations. The PKK should be de-listed. In particular, we call on the Australian government to remove the PKK from its list of terrorist organisations.
Steven Amies, Union delegate, QLD
Martin Angus, Student, VIC
Kyle Armstrong, Student, NSW
Hans Baer, University of Melbourne, Associate Professor, VIC
William Bailey, VIC
William Beattie, IT contractor (retired), VIC
Kieran Bennett, Anarchist Affinity, VIC
Sue Bolton, Socialist Alliance, Councillor, VIC
Peter Boyle, Socialist Alliance, Activist-journalist, NSW
Lalitha Chelliah, Radio 3CR, Program presenter, VIC
Phillip Deery, Professor, VIC
Rohan Gaiswinkler, TAS
John Haddad, Beth-Nahrin Cultural Club, Conveyancer, VIC
Barry Healy, WA
Dali Hofmann, Student, NSW
Tony Iltis, Green Left Weekly, Journalist, NSW
Ellen Kleimaker, Health promotion officer, VIC
Ewen Kloas, Socialist Alliance, Construction worker, VIC
Riki Lane, Workers Liberty, Researcher, VIC
Liah Lazarou, Socialist Alliance, Student, SA
Monica Lopez, Administrative assistant, VIC
Robert McDougall, Artist, VIC
Aran Mylvaganam, Tamil activist & union organiser, VIC
Gerardo Papalia, Lecturer, VIC
Martin Pileso, VIC
Liz Ross, Socialist Alternative, VIC
Sarp Soysal, SEP, Artist, VIC
Rob Stary, Civil liberties lawyer, VIC
Sally Thompson, Adult Learning Centre, CEO, VIC
Terry Townsend, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, Editor, NSW
John Tully, Victoria University, Senior lecturer, VIC
Ciaran Tully, Student, VIC
Seval Ulus, Student, VIC
Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth, Environmental activist, VIC
Shawn Wallin, Disabled, WA
Liam Ward, RMIT University, Associate Lecturer, VIC
Margarita Windisch, Socialist Alliance, Teacher, VIC
Sallah Ciziri, Canada
Natalie Dinham, Princess Noura University, Lecturer, KSA
Francesc Ferrero, Spain
osman kilic, Journalist, Holland
Esra Kossalan, Sweden
Kerim Meresene, Journalist, Sweden
Roger Mills, Retired, MS
Riccardo Orsini, Italy
Leyla Ozcaki, UK
Christian Pereira, Consultant, UK
Ferhat Saka, Germany
Karvan Salimi, Physical Education Ministry, Coach, Iran