APPEAL: Lift the ban on the PKK – Justice and Freedom for the Kurds

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign and Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)

To the UK government, the European Union and the Turkish Government

The case for the delisting of the PKK is now quite overwhelming. We believe that the time is now right for all parties to consider this move in order to give an additional boost to the peace process. 

The new chapter in the peace process to resolve the Kurdish conflict with the start of tentative talks between the government side and Abdullah Ocalan has been heralded as the Kurdish opening. It has been greeted as the start of a genuine breakthrough that could bring about an enduring peace and final end to a conflict that has done so much damage to Turks and Kurds alike. This could not have been achieved without goodwill and willingness to compromise on both sides. 

Recent initiatives to secure peace through talks can still be jeopardised by the continued listing  of the PKK as a terrorist group in Turkey which is reinforced by the UK and European Union’s ban on the organisation.

We believe that it time to recognise that the PKK is a major political force inside Turkey and the main party that enjoys the trust and loyalty of the vast proportion of the Kurdish people living in the country and in the Kurdish diaspora. The Kurdish people have remained steadfast in their support through thick and thin. To this day, the PKK is able to exercise great influence on the Kurdish community and has shown itself to act responsibly as a force for stability and democratic change inside the country.  Turkey last made amendments to its anti-terrorism law in April of this year and is now reported to be on the verge of introducing new terrorism legislation in the wake of the Taksim Square and Gezi Park protests. Turkey is now facing the prospect of a renewed clampdown on civil rights that might mean a reversal of the real progress on reform.  This would be a dangerous development.

We are convinced there is a need to strengthen the social forces that want peace and reconciliation. Abdullah Ocalan and the PKK have demonstrated their readiness to work for peace through constructive engagement with the elected government in Turkey. They continue to adhere to the terms of the peace process and call for a deepening of democracy in the country.  Bringing an end to all the needless suffering and countless casualties are at the forefront of our minds as we seek to encourage and move the peace process forward to an agreement that will satisfy all parties. We believe that this is the only way to secure the peace in the long term. In this context, we believe that it would be a helpful move at this stage to consider the delisting of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party from the banned terrorist groups. Our reasons for making this proposal are twofold – it will boost the prospects for the successful outcome of the peace process, and it will recognise the constructive moves that the PKK has made towards the search for peace and the bringing about of a final end to the conflict.

The ban on the PKK distorts the whole political process by ensuring that anyone who expresses an opinion on controversial issues in Turkey can be held to be an associate of terrorism and prosecuted with the full force of a law that is as indiscriminate as it is unjust. This, we are sure you will agree, is an intolerable situation in any modern democracy.

We have in mind the need to bring the party ‘’in from the cold’’ and believe that lessons can be learned from the history of contemporary conflicts in other countries which had been brought to an end by the taking of bold and imaginative measures such as occurred, for example, in Northern Ireland and South Africa where former combatants now occupy important positions in post-conflict politics. Learning from these experiences, there is an urgent need to look again at the proscription of the PKK as this may become an obstacle to any future negotiations that will be required to achieve the peace settlement to which everyone is publicly pledged.  

We appeal to you to take the appropriate measures to review the listing of the PKK because we want to see an end to the conflict in Turkey. A true peace will need to respect and reflect the wishes and traditions of the Turkish nation and the Kurds who form an integral part of it.