How Europe became a haven for the PKK

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While the EU recognizes the PKK as a terrorist group, many European countries such as France and Germany continue to allow the PKK and its proxies to operate on their territory.

European states have long banned what they consider to be left-wing extremist groups. From the banning of the German Red Army Faction (RAF) and the French Direct Action (AD) to the Italian Red Brigades (BR), European governments have left no room for discussion and have bluntly branded these groups as terrorist groups.

But when it comes to the PKK, the same European countries turn a blind eye to the terrorist group’s legacy and bloody deeds. While the PKK, which launched a nearly four-decade-long campaign of terror against Ankara that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people, is officially recognized as a terrorist group by the EU, the United States and the Turkey, its affiliates like the YPG, the Syrian wing of the terrorist group, are allowed to operate freely on European soil.

“Interestingly, Western countries that shut down their own radicals have continued to support and love radical groups. [like the PKK and DHKP-C]says Aytekin Yilmaz, writer and expert on PKK violence, whose latest book, the last dictatorpresents a virulent criticism of the leadership of Abdullah Ocalan, founder and leader of the PKK, imprisoned by Türkiye in 1999.

“PKK violence works like a mirror for Western countries, and we can understand who is who from their approach to this violence. Western countries must drop this hypocritical mask and face reality,” says Yilmaz World TRT.

Yilmaz, a former member of the PKK, witnessed first-hand many violent actions of the PKK. Since leaving the group, he has written extensively on the recruitment of child soldiers by the PKK and has published several books, including They were just children. The PKK has recruited nearly 20,000 people under the age of 18 over the past 35 years, according to the writer.

Although Yilmaz spent a lot of time writing his book to raise international awareness of the PKK’s recruitment of child soldiers, it did not attract the attention of the press or Western universities, according to Yilmaz. Even human rights groups in Europe and North America have yet to contact him about the PKK’s illegal recruitment of child soldiers, he says.

“Westerners, who mourn for child combatants in Africa and Cambodia, cannot help praising Kurdish children aged 14-15 in Syria,” says Yilmaz, referring to YPG recruitment and use of child militants in its controlled territories in northwest Syria.

The PKK has long recruited child soldiers, but Western states have failed to prosecute the terror group for its illegal actions, according to Aytekin Yilmaz, a writer who wrote a book about PKK child soldiers. (AA)

Despite the illegal actions of the YPG, the United States and its Western allies openly support the group in the name of the fight against Daesh, refusing to acknowledge clear links between the PKK and the YPG.

“Westerners are openly hypocritical. Although the PKK shares pictures of underage fighters killed in clashes every day in its media, Western countries – and, of course, UN representatives – don’t want to see them,” Yilmaz says.

According to UN principles, engaging a child in war is a crime against humanity. But those, like the PKK/YPG, who commit this crime do so freely and no one in the West opposes it, Yilmaz said. European civil society organizations are no different either, he adds.

Offer free pass to YPG/PKK

In all European capitals, from Paris to Berlin and Stockholm, Western states allowed the YPG to open their offices, providing a platform for the PKK and its agenda. Yet the consequences of harboring such groups are felt directly in Turkey, which has been under attack by the PKK since 1984.

In 2018, the Czech Republic, another EU state, released Salih Muslum, the former leader of the PYD, the political wing of the YPG, angering Türkiye. Ankara has brought various charges against Muslum, including “disrupting the unity and territorial integrity of the Turkish state, homicide, undermining public property and promoting dangerous information”.

“Since the 2000s, Sweden has become a country in which the PKK organizes itself easily,” explains Yilmaz. Due to Sweden’s ties to PKK-affiliated groups, Turkey currently opposes the Nordic state’s application for NATO membership.

According to a 2015 annual report compiled by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, BfV, Germany had more than 14,000 PKK members and sympathizers. The same report also states that the PKK was able to raise more than 13 million euros ($14.3 million) in 2014.

Pro-PKK demonstrators stage a rally against the Turkish government, displaying PKK flags and a portrait of group leader Abdullah Ocalan, in Cologne, Germany, in 2016.

Pro-PKK demonstrators stage a rally against the Turkish government, displaying PKK flags and a portrait of group leader Abdullah Ocalan, in Cologne, Germany, 2016. (Martin Meissner/AP Archive)

France has also long allowed individuals and groups affiliated with the PKK to operate in various parts of the country.

“There has always been sympathy in France for the PKK, especially since the election of François Mitterrand in 1981”, explains Yasser Louati, French political scientist and president of the Commission Justice & Libertés (CJL).

Relations between France and the PKK date back to the 1980s. The wife of former French President François Mitterrand, Danielle Mitterrand, had publicly expressed her support for Ocalan during her husband’s presidential term.

Since 2012, when the YPG was able to gain territory in northeast Syria, exploiting the country’s civil war conditions, there has been a growing trend across the Western world to turn a blind eye to the presence of the PKK. . While Western states go after all Daesh-linked groups, they allow PKK-affiliated groups to operate on their territory.

For a long time, left-wing radicalism in Turkey found the most support in countries like Germany and France, according to Yilmaz. “I have not heard of a single revolutionary comrade who has taken refuge in socialist Cuba or in North Korea. In the past, they also avoided going to the USSR,” he points out sarcastically.

Western hypocrisy

Like Yilmaz, Louati sees signs of hypocrisy and double standards in Western states’ approach to the PKK.

“The hypocrisy lies in the way so-called Western democracies can demand the rest of the world to support them in their fight against organizations they have labeled as terrorists, first without clearly defining under what conditions, then without refraining from supporting organizations qualified as terrorists by their own allies”, says Louati World TRT.

On the basis of the official EU list, the PKK is classified as a terrorist organization, but the head of the main newspaper of French communists, Humanityand José Bové, a member of the European Parliament, issued a call in 2016 for the PKK to be removed from the EU’s list of terrorist organizations, according to Louati.

“The initiators were not targeted by European institutions or by the French government for having supported the PKK. This appeal was published less than a year after the bloody terrorist attacks on Paris,” explains Louati, referring to the Daesh attacks in the French capital.

Despite PKK attacks on Turkish civilians, Louati points out that there have been a number of pro-PKK demonstrations in Paris and Marseille and that these demonstrations have been supported by national figures like Jean Luc Melenchona far-left leader who came third in the first round of the last French presidential election.

PKK supporters hold flags and portraits of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the terrorist group, as they demonstrate outside the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, 2007.

PKK supporters hold flags and portraits of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the terror group, as they demonstrate outside the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, 2007. (Cedric Joubert/AP Archive)

The French government under Emmanuel Macron has taken no legal action against such pro-PKK protests, he says. “Therefore, there seem to be some terrorist organizations that can be supported by civil society, while others would land you in jail if you ever voice your support for them,” he says, referring to how the French establishment reacts differently to different groups.

“What if a call was published in a major newspaper or demonstrations were organized to remove Hamas or Islamic Jihad from the EU terrorist list? People can’t even legally boycott Israel or hold pro-Palestinian protests,” he says. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are two Palestinian armed groups.

France even went against the EU Court of Justice to uphold its ban on BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), a civil society movement that aims to pressure Israel to implement end its occupation and illegal settlements and other human rights abuses.

Will France host the FLNC?

While Paris welcomes groups affiliated with the PKK, it is very harsh when it comes to groups like the Front de liberation nationale de la Corse (FLNC), which advocates the separation of the Mediterranean island from France to form a independent state.

“I doubt that the French government would welcome foreign support for the FLNC in Corsica, MIM in Martinique, MDES in Guyana or FLNKS in New Caledonia,” says Louati, referring to French anti-independence movements in different territories directed by France.

The MIM (Movement for Martinican Independence), a left-wing party, defends overseas “decolonization and independence” from France, while the MDES, or Movement for Decolonization and ‘Emancipation Sociale, a political party in French Guiana, advocates for its The FLNKS is the Kanak and socialist National Liberation Front, which also claims the independence of New Caledonia from France.

When action was taken by French domestic intelligence services against PKK funding, the group’s representatives in France even said they were shocked at being “treated like terrorists”, says Louati, indicating how PKK-affiliated groups are confident about their presence in the West. European state.

“Under Macron, playing on all fronts is no surprise,” he said. On the one hand, he will denounce terrorism, while supporting organizations like the PKK, which is classified as a terrorist group by NATO, he says.

“Because Turkey is considered a rival, the PKK can be supported for reasons that the French government will have to clarify and then relativize in the so-called ‘war on terrorism'”.

Source: World TRT

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