Forty-one Kurdish intellectuals have issued a joint declaration condemning recent death threats by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) against Kurdish writers Muhsin Kızılkaya and Mehmet Metiner and Kurdish singer Şivan Perwer for supporting the government’s democratic initiative, which seeks to end separatist violence by expanding the cultural rights of Turkey’s Kurds.
The declarations recalled that socialist Kurdish leader Kemal Burkay, who resides in Sweden where he was granted asylum, and journalist Orhan Miroğlu had also received threats from the PKK.
“We, the signatures are below, see these threats as a major attack on the freedom of thought and strongly condemn them. We invite [PKK leader Abdullah] Öcalan and the administrators of the KCK [the Kurdistan Communities Union, the urban branch of the PKK] and the PKK to modify their approach.”
The signers of the declaration also called on Kurdish politicians including the leaders of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) and the deputies and mayors of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) to take a clear stance against the PKK’s threats. The signers included 41 Kurdish public figures known for their intellectual contributions to society, including Celile Celil, Sertaç Bucak and Fırat Ceweri. The most recent intimidating PKK statements were made against Kızılkaya, Metiner and Perwer last week.
A group calling itself the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), affiliated with the PKK, posted on its website a statement calling on the three men to keep silent, written in a threatening tone. It is largely believed that the statement was the outcome of words uttered by Abdullah Öcalan in a meeting with his lawyers on Feb. 18, 2011, on İmralı Island where he is serving a life sentence.
Öcalan, according to the meeting minutes the lawyers brought back from the island, said, “Somebody should tell these people [naming some Kurdish intellectuals] to shut up.” TAK’s statement openly included the names of Perwer, Kızılkaya and Metiner. In addition, Öcalan has made statements critical of Burkay and Miroğlu in recent months.
The declaration signers also said they were pleased to hear a recent statement from BDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş, who referred to the threats against Kurdish intellectuals as “unacceptable.”
Declaration signer Fırat Ceweri, a writer and a member of the Swedish PEN writers’ network’s executive board, said death threats by Kurds against Kurdish intellectuals and artists for expressing their opinions was extremely dangerous. “It is most frustrating for me that Kurds are being dragged into the whirlpool of totalitarian thought and are already devouring their own children.”
Writer Abidin Parıltı, who also signed the declaration, offered an analysis of the recent mood the PKK is in, saying: “The feeling of losing control lies at the core of fear. Threatening, on the other hand, is a method of forcing people to give up, making them toe the line or obey.
It is ironic that intellectuals and writers are being silenced by the very same people who promise freedoms. ‘You will either do as we say, or you’ll get killed.’ This is not at all different from the ‘love it or leave it,’ approach.” Parıltı was referring to “Love or Leave,” a slogan used frequently by ultranationalists in the past against those critical of Turkey’s official policies.
Hesene Mete, also a writer, said: “Threatening is uncivilized whether it is directed at a writer or an intellectual, or a farmer or a worker or anybody else. Today, in the year 2011, a force issuing threats against artists, writers or painters, is unacceptable.”
Murad Ciwan, the editor in chief of the Netkurd news website, said, “A threat or attack that seeks to take a person’s life, whether its source is the state, a political organization or any other group or individual, cannot be acceptable.”
Burkay can return to Turkey
In related developments, a prosecutor’s office yesterday announced that it was dismissing an investigation launched into socialist Kurdish politician Kemal Burkay, who has been in Sweden since the 1980 coup d’état, indicating that there are no legal obstacles for Burkay to end his Swedish exile.
Burkay last month spoke to a Turkish television channel, saying he wanted to return. Following Burkay’s statement, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said “the door is open” for him and others who might want to return, but Burkay had told the press that Erdoğan’s well-intentioned words would not be enough to make his return possible.
Burkay has also been a target of the PKK’s anger, for his words that PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan is not the only one Turkish officials should negotiate with for a solution to the Kurdish problem. The PKK holds that Öcalan should be the only party in talks about the Kurdish issue.
Today´s Zaman (Istanbul)
11 March 2011