Murat Karayilan: Our Guerrillas Want to Expand Their Territory

09/08/2012 RUDAW  RUDAW – DIYARBAKIR, Turkey – Members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) abducted three Turkish soldiers near Diyarbakir this week. According to the Dogan news agency, the Turkish soldiers were on their way home on leave when the bus they were traveling on was stopped and searched by PKK guerillas near Abale village.

Diyarbakir Governor Mustafa Toprak announced that military authorities began a thorough search of the area for the abducted soldiers immediately. “With help from the air force, a military search in the area has begun and is still ongoing,” Toprak said. The incident comes after the area witnessed some fierce clashes between PKK rebels and the Turkish army in the past several days. Earlier this week, Murat Karayilan, the acting leader of the PKK, said his fighters had crossed the Turkish border and positioned themselves 35 kilometers inside Turkish territory.

“In response to the Turkish military bombing our villages and terrorizing our people every day, our guerrillas want to expand their territory and fortify their positions,” Karayilan said. Karayilan added that the idea of borders is history and that his group would not be abiding by any boundaries.

“Our guerrillas have taken position near Shemzinan. All the Turkish efforts to expel them have been fruitless,” he said.

Apart from a response to the repression of Kurdish people in the area by the Turkish military, Karayilan said that his group’s operations in the area “show our strength.” Ten Kurdish villages have been under pressure to evacuate, Karayilan said, and PKK fighters are there to defend the people. “I urge the people in those villages to stay united and face the Turkish military,” he added.

The leader went on to criticize Turkey for ignoring numerous PKK calls for peace, particularly between 1999 and 2004. “Even back then, [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan said in Russia ‘there is no such thing as the Kurdish question if you don’t think about it,’” Karayilan said.

On Monday, the office of Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani released a statement urging the PKK and Turkey to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict.

“War and killings will not bring any positive outcome and will only complicate and deepen the problems,” read the statement, presented by presidential spokesman Omed Sabah. Sabah said President Barzani asks all sides to declare a truce so that the doors to peace will open. “Kurdistan Region President is concerned about recent clashes near Hakkari and condemns the PKK attacks that will have no result other than damaging the national cause and interests, and will become a barrier to any peaceful solution,” said the statement.