By GERRY FOLEY
The kidnapping of Kurdish resistance leader Abdullah Ocalan, with the help of the United States and the complicity of its NATO allies, created a wave of public criticism and outrage in Europe against the governments involved.
For the time being, these protests have been overshadowed by the fears and furor aroused by the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. However, the hypocrisy of the arguments raised by the Western powers for the intervention in Yugoslavia has even further exposed the scandalous nature of their complicity with the Turkish regime’s genocide against the Kurdish people in Turkey.
And the defenders of Ocalan have been quick to point this out. For example, the American Kurdish Information Network made the following statement immediately following U.S. president Clinton’s announcement of the NATO assault on Yugoslavia:
“Last night, March 24, 1999, President Bill Clinton addressed the nation to cite his reasons for America’s entry into the war as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) against Serbia. Among these, he said, ‘In 1989, Serbia’s leader, Slobodan Milosevic, … stripped Kosovo of the constitutional autonomy its people enjoyed, thus denying them their right to speak their language, run their schools, [and] shape their daily lives.’
“In the same address, referring to Turkey, he noted that it is our ally … in Turkey, an ethnic minority known as Kurds numbering some 15 million people can not speak their language, run their schools and shape their daily lives no different than the Kosovars in Serbia.
“But Clinton’s aides know this and know more, for example, that it is the United States that supplied weapons that have enabled Turkey to enforce these draconian laws on the Kurds. Some among the Kurds have taken up arms, the way the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) has, and have fought the Turkish army that has cost the lives of 37,000 people, the destruction of 3432 Kurdish villages, and the displacement of more than 3 million Kurds. But silence prevails in the case of the Kurds.”
The brutal treatment of Ocalan by the Turkish authorities, the threats against his lawyers, the brutal suppression of demonstrations on his behalf, and the Turkish government’s proposals to ban yet again the only party defending the Kurds, as well as the major opposition party in parliament, the Islamic party, have given the Western powers no second thoughts about their collaboration with Istanbul’s repression.
In fact, Britain even upped the ante on March 22 by banning from the air the Kurdish TV channel, MED-TV, claiming that it had been broadcasting terrorist propaganda. This station, however, is one of the few means that the Kurdish people have of expressing themselves internationally.
The British suppression of MED-TV, moreover, coincided with the Kurdish national holiday, Newroz, the spring equinox. Obviously, the closing down of the only Kurdish TV channel, which reaches most of Europe, could be expected to interfere with the Kurdish national demonstrations. This year, the demonstrations were focused on protesting the kidnapping of Ocalan and the complicity of the Western powers in this act of international gangsterism.
In Turkey itself, many thousands of Kurds mobilized for Newroz, in defiance of Turkish state repression. The Turkish police launched massive attacks on the demonstrators, which went almost unreported in the Western capitalist press. Virtually the only source of news wasOzgur Politika, a Kurdish on-line daily newspaper based in Europe.
In its March 23 issue, Ozgur Politika reported that in repressing the Newroz demonstrations, the police had arrested almost 600 people in Istanbul, about 1500 in Adana, and hundreds in other cities.
The Kurdish resistance has clearly not been demoralized by the kidnapping of Ocalan and the alliance of the Western states with the Turkish regime against them. It will continue to expose the crimes against the Kurdish people, not only of Turkish but of the Western capitalist states as well. This is becoming one of the major international political battles of our time. All supporters of democratic rights must support the Kurdish resistance.