28 March 2012
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EU adds the PKK to
list of terrorist organisations
The lists, which add 13 new organisations includes, for the first time, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The PKK was replaced in April by the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress (Kadek) which is not on the EU's lists of terrorist groups. The inclusion of the PKK follows persistent demands from Turkey that they should be on the list.
For the first time Latin American groups are included and it is noteworthy that the Colombian paramilitary Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), the largest human rights violators in the country (81%, according to UN figures), with proven links to the Colombian armed forces, are new additions on the list alongside Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path, from Peru).
Most of the other new additions mirror the proscription list drawn up by former Home Secretary Jack Straw which came into force in the UK in September 2001, including three organisations (the PKK and Mujahedin e Khalq) which have been given leave to appeal in the UK against their proscription.
The inclusion of the PKK is particularly puzzling because it unilaterally declared a ceasefire in 1999, ending its military struggle and withdrawing its armed forces from Turkey in order to enable a political solution of the Kurdish question. It disbanded after its Congress on 4-10 April, when a new organisation called KADEC (Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress) was founded, completing a three-year transition from armed to democratic struggle. KADEC is not included in the list of terrorist organisations. So while it was not proscribed in the UK and at an EU level during the 15-year armed struggle, the PKK is now being labelled as "terrorist", when it has been committed to a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish question for the past three years.
The Kurdish community is denied the most basic human rights in Turkey, including cultural rights such as using the Kurdish language or manifestations of Turkish folklore, which are deemed "separatist" and consequently "terrorist". Displacement of Kurdish communities and military onslaughts causing massacres have all been part of what KADEC's Osman Ocalan calls the Turkish effort for the "denial and annihilation of the Kurds". The decision, according to Osman Ocalan, "will assist Turkey to impose even more intensive oppression", and may lead to a new war if Turkey's military forces "will start to oppress all democratic forces involved with the Kurds".
The decision also disregards the distinction stressed by the European Parliament Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights between acts of terrorism and "acts of resistance in third countries against state structures which themselves employ terrorist methods" and the "Statement" attached to the EU Council's Framework Decision on combating terrorism which recognised the legitimacy of liberation struggles.
Another Turkish group that has been included in the EU's terrorist list is the left-wing DHKP-C (Revolutionary People's Liberation Army/Front/Party), one of the main players in the hunger strike in Turkish prisons against the F-type cells regime which started in October 2000 and has so far claimed 50 lives - and a further 30 who were slaughtered in December 2000, when security forces attacked prisoners in an effort to break the strike and enforce transfers to the new prisons.
The inclusion of Askatasuna in the list of groups that are deemed "organisations [that] are part of the terrorist group ETA" is significant, if not unexpected. The Aznar government in Spain is attempting to make organisations linked with the Basque nationalist left illegal, including organisations that concentrate on highlighting human rights abuses by Spanish security forces, and ETA's political wing, Batasuna. Askatasuna is the name taken by Gestoras pro amnistia, a prisoner support group, after it was banned, and was controversially included in the list of terrorist groups drawn up on 27 December 2001. When its lawyer requested access to the documents and information that led to its proscription, he was disappointed to find that he had only been given partial access to documents none of which specifically dealt with the information leading to the group's inclusion on the list of terrorist organisations.
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