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 Turkish PM vows Kurdish reforms despite attack 

 Source : AFP | Agencies
  Kurd Net does not take credit for and is not responsible for the content of news information on this page

 


Turkish PM vows Kurdish reforms despite attack  31.8.2009  





August 31, 2009

ANKARA, Turkey, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed Sunday to press ahead with a plan to extend the rights of the Kurds despite what he claimed were attempts by Kurdish rebels to derail the process.

As the military flexed its muscle with parades and flypasts Sunday to mark Victory Day, four Turkish soldiers were killed in a grenade attack by Turkey's Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels in southeast Turkey, near the Iraqi Kurdistan region border.

"I see this attack as attempt to axe, to prevent the democratic opening process," Erdogan told reporters here hours after the incident near Semdinli, Hakkari province.
 

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

"The democratic project is underway...It is not possible for us to stop in spite of those who are trying to prevent us," he added, underlining that the struggle against the PKK would be pursued with vigour.

Last month, Erdogan's government announced that it was working on a package of "courageous" reforms to boost the rights and freedoms of the Kurdish community and pave the way for the end of the 25-year bloody insurgency led by the PKK.

Ankara has remained tight-lipped on the content of the plan, but has stressed that democratic reforms lay at the heart of ending the violence.

While opposition parties argue that broader rights for the country's Kurds would pave the way for Turkey's disintegration,
www.ekurd.net army chief Ilker Basbug warned earlier this week that the planned reforms must not endanger unity.

The army "respects cultural diversity", but opposes the politicisation of the issue, Basbug said Tuesday, underlining a constitutional article that describes Turkey as being an indivisible whole with Turkish as its language.

In a display to underline the army's strength and the country's unity, the military played up Sunday's ceremonies marking a military victory against invading Greek troops in 1922, under the slogan "A Strong Army, A Strong Turkey".

In the capital Ankara, some 8,000 soldiers -- nearly double the number in previous events -- marched before civilian and military leaders as nearly 50 aircraft flew past and dozens of tanks rolled by.

The general was greeted with patriotic slogans when he joined flag-waving spectators after the parade as the crowd broke into applause and chanted, "Turkey is Turkish and will stay Turkish! The motherland is indivisible!".

"Nobody can break Turkey up," Basbug told a young girl in tears who said she was opposed to the government's plan, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Over 44,000 Turkish soldiers and Kurdish PKK guerrillas have been killed since 1984 when the Turkey's Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) took up arms for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey (Turkey-Kurdistan). A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels. Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority.

The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds' identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in the country's Kurdish areas,
www.ekurd.net the party also demanded an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms.

The PKK is considered a 'terrorist' organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

Last month, the rebels announced that they were extending a ceasefire in their campaign until September 1 in anticipation of a peace plan to be announced by their jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan.

There are still occasional clashes in the southeast although their frequency has decreased considerably.

In a bid to boost its bid to join the European Union, Turkey has in recent years granted the Kurds a series of cultural liberties, including the launch of a public Kurdish-language television.

Kurdish activists however say the reforms are inadequate to encourage PKK militants to lay down arms.

A senior ruling party lawmaker said last week the Kurdish language could be introduced as an elective course in Turkish schools as part of the new plan.

Media reports say the government may also consider restoring the Kurdish names of villages that have been renamed, lifting a ban on using Kurdish in political posters and modifying the definition of Turkish nationality in the constitution.

Copyright, respective author or news agency, AFP | Agencies

** Kurds are not recognized as an official minority in Turkey and are denied rights granted to other minority groups. Under EU pressure, Turkey recently granted Kurds limited rights for broadcasts and education in the Kurdish language, but critics say the measures do not go far enough.

The use of the term "Kurdistan" is vigorously rejected due to its alleged political implications by the Republic of Turkey, which does not recognize the existence of a "Turkish Kurdistan" Southeast Turkey.

Others estimate over 40 million Kurds live in Big Kurdistan (Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Armenia), which covers an area as big as France, about half of all Kurds which estimate to 25 million live in Turkey. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK for a Kurdish homeland in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey.

Before August 2002, the Turkish government placed severe restrictions on the use of Kurdish language, prohibiting the language in education and broadcast media. The Kurdish alphabet is still not recognized in Turkey, and use of the Kurdish letters X, W, Q which do not exist in the Turkish alphabet has led to judicial persecution in 2000 and 2003

The Kurdish flag flown officially in Iraqi Kurdistan but unofficially flown by Kurds in Armenia. The flag is banned in Iran, Syria, and Turkey where flying it is a criminal offence" 

Southeastern Turkey: North Kurdistan ( Kurdistan-Turkey) wikipedia     

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