AN ERROR ONLY !? : Durrieu – Calling PKK members ‘activists’ a translation error (Council of Europe)

25 April 2013 /EMRE DEMİR, İSTANBUL – French socialist deputy Josette Durrieu, who drafted a Turkey report that was adopted in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), said the word “activists” used in the report to describe members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was a translation error.

With a last-minute amendment on the floor, the section of the report was changed to describe PKK members as “activists” rather than terrorists or militants, sparking reactions from Turkish officials. Durrieu told Today’s Zaman on Thursday that the word activist is used in French for those who are members of organizations such as the ETA, adding that the report also described the PKK as a terrorist organization several times.

Underlining the difference between the meaning of the word activist in French and Turkish, Durrieu said, “[The word activist] is mostly used in Turkish for those who are members of an NGO, but ‘activist’ in French is a term used to describe people who are individually engaged in social matters.” She also regretted that the report drew negative reactions due to one word. “If I had known that the word activist was going to be interpreted like this, we could have used another term instead.”

The change of description stands in sharp contrast to the earlier reports, decisions, declarations and recommendations adopted by the Council of Europe’s institutions, including PACE, the Secretariat and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), as the group is listed as a terrorist organization by the EU, the US and Turkey.

In response to reactions to the report, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Wednesday said the use of the term “activists” to describe PKK terrorists is only a phrase. Davutoğlu told reporters that the term did not constitute a decision by the body. Davutoğlu added that the activities of PKK members are described as terrorist activities in the rest of the report.