Monday, June 18, 2007
With all the recent headlines about Turkey and the PKK, this is the first time I've seen an actual interview with a PKK leader. Michael Howard of The Guardian spoke to Cemil Bayik, one of the PKK's two chiefs, who had this to say about his group:
Mr Bayik said the PKK, which began life 30 years ago advocating a pan-Kurdish Marxist-Leninist state, was no longer a separatist movement. "We are not looking for independence, we are not even looking for federalism like the Iraqi Kurds have. The solution lies in granting the Kurds of Turkey language and cultural rights and freedom of speech."
He also denied that the group targeted civilians, and declared that they would welcome dialogue to resolve their conflict with Turkey.
According to most accounts I've seen, Turkey's record on the Kurds is pretty bad, and although Ankara has undertaken some reforms (mainly due to EU pressure), they've been pretty half-hearted. On the other hand, the US and EU have both listed the PKK as a terrorist group.
So there you have it. Looks like the final betting line on this one is "Pick 'em."
By the way, talk about a byline: Michael Howard in the Qandil Mountains. Indeed.