Thursday, August 19, 2010

Turkey time

Der Spiegel: Turkey Accused of Using Chemical Weapons against PKK
German experts have confirmed the authenticity of photographs that purport to show PKK fighters killed by chemical weapons. The evidence puts increasing pressure on the Turkish government, which has long been suspected of using such weapons against Kurdish rebels. German politicians are demanding an investigation.

It would be difficult to exceed the horror shown in the photos, which feature burned, maimed and scorched body parts. The victims are scarcely even recognizable as human beings.

As I'm writing this well before it'll be published, more information on this story may well have broken. Sounds like mustard gas to me, for what it's worth. It's good to see someone carrying on Saddam Hussein's minority policies.


Whether the story turns out to be true or not, the condition of the Kurds is something worth remembering. In 2008, the Kurds made up 18% of the population of Turkey. Ever since Turkey was founded in 1923, the central government has vigorously persecuted the Kurds. Until the 1990's, their objective was nothing less than total cultural genocide. The very existence of the Kurds was categorically denied; they were classed in censuses as either "mountain Turks" or "eastern Turks" to avoid even admitting that there were such people in Turkey. Their language was banned, and over a million people were forcibly relocated.

Unsurprisingly, the Kurds rebelled against this treatment, and the army was sent in. Eighty years later, they're still at it, now with chemical weapons.

It's worth remembering that the Turks actually invented genocide. From 1915 onward, the Turks killed somewhere between half a million and 1,5 million Armenians in the Armenian genocide. The full panoply of ethnic cleansing was deployed for the first time by the Turks, with forced relocations, concentration camps and death squads.

In international politics, the Turks also still illegally occupy Northern Cyprus, in defiance of the UN and the international community. In what may be a world record of sorts, no country other than Turkey has recognized Northern Cyprus as a state.


Turkey has been seeking membership in the European Union for a good while now. Most of the discussion around their membership revolves around Islam and, frankly, xenophobia, but a real issue that should get a lot more attention is their genocidal policy against the Kurds and the continuing debacle of the Cypriot occupation. A country that behaves like this should have no place in the European Union.

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