Turkey MP: Is Erdogan Trying to Drag Turkey into a Civil War?

“Is the palace trying to drag Turkey into a civil war?” asked Idris Baluken, a parliamentarian from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) during a press conference in Diyarbakir on Aug. 20, reported Hurriyet daily.

İdris Baluken (Photo: Cumhuriyet)
Idris Baluken (Photo: Cumhuriyet)

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been igniting the conflict between Turkish security forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), suggested the parliamentarian. “Just like it was the case in the 1990’s, a Kurdish and Turkish conflict with no return is being ignited. This concept is totally materialized at the palace table,” Baluken was quoted as saying.

More than 2,500 people have been detained in the country in raids over the past few weeks, according to Agence France-Presse (AFG). While Turkish officials have claimed that the raids targeted suspected members of the PKK, ISIS, and the Marxist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party Front (DHKP-C), AFG reported that the overwhelming majority of detainees were Kurds suspected of being PKK members.

Most recently, 41 people were detained on Aug. 20, in an operation against DHKP-C in Turkey’s Mediterranean province of Mersin, according to Hurriyet daily.

A day earlier, Kurdish rebels detonated a bomb on a road in southeast Turkey killing at least eight soldiers, reported Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency. The report claims the bomb went off on a highway in the heavily Kurdish-populated province of Siirt as a Turkish military vehicle was passing by.

Meanwhile, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli urged authorities to declare martial law in parts of Turkey where “terrorism is hitting a peak,” reported Hurriyet on Aug. 20. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu quickly rejected the demand by the MHP leader.

Turkish special force police officers patrol the streets of Istanbul as violence escalates (Photo: AFP)
Turkish special force police officers patrol the streets of Istanbul as violence escalates (Photo: AFP)

Violence was also felt in Istanbul on Aug. 19, when assailants threw a grenade at a guard post at the city’s historic Dolmabahce Palace (built by master Armenian architect Garabet Balyan, a member of the Balyan family of Ottoman court architects) and then opened fire, reported Bloomberg News. The attack set off a gun battle in the city center, though no deaths have been reported. Two members of DHKP-C were detained. According to the Anadolu news agency, the detained were the same people who attacked the ruling Justice and Democracy Party’s (AKP) Istanbul headquarters on Aug. 8.

In an Aug. 18 press release, the Kurdish National Congress (KNK) called on the international community, NGOs, the press, and human rights organizations “to condemn the dirty war that the Turkish state is engaging in towards the Kurds.” In the statement, the KNK claimed that the village of Kocakoy in the district of Lice-Hani in Diyarbakir and other surrounding villages are under heavy shelling by the Turkish military, and that several civilians have been injured, an unknown number of them killed.

“After heavy shelling of civilian locations, the Turkish soldiers entered the village of Kocakoy, targeting homes by shooting and burning houses with families still inside. Local sources have reported that many people in these houses are killed and seriously injured. The Turkish army then proceeded to violently force an evacuation of these villages,” read the statement.

The crimes being committed against the Kurdish population in Turkey, the KNK said, are clearly human rights violations, and the Turkish regime must be held accountable by international bodies and organizations.

The PKK on Aug. 18 announced it had formed a democratic, autonomous region in Turkey’s Dersim province, according to the Kurdish news agency Rudaw. The militant group set up extensive checkpoints on the province’s main road, and in a video released by Rudaw, PKK fighters can be seen controlling road traffic and searching vehicles. Although reports indicate that the PKK has declared autonomy in the region, the group has not yet confirmed the news.

“We, as guerrillas, under the right of self-defense for ourselves and our nation, declare democratic autonomy in Dersim,” said a fighter in the video.

PKK fighters can be seen controlling road traffic and searching vehicles in a video released by Rudaw
PKK fighters can be seen controlling road traffic and searching vehicles in a video released by Rudaw

Also on Aug. 18, reports surfaced that the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP) had declared self-governance in the districts of Sur and Silvan in the province of Diyarbakir.  The following day, the co-mayors of the two districts—Sur co-mayors Seyid Narin and Fatma Şik Barut, and Silvan co-mayors Yuksel Bodakci and Meliksah Teke—as well as Democratic Regions Party (DBP) representative Ali Riza Cicek were detained by police.

The co-mayors of the Hakkari municipality, Dilek Hatipoglu and Nurullah Ciftci, were also detained in an operation on the morning of Aug. 20, after claims of a declaration of autonomy in that municipality.

There has been constant unrest throughout Turkey after a suicide bombing on July 21 in Suruc targeted members of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) Youth Wing and the Socialist Youth Associations Federation (SGDF). The young activists were giving a press statement on the reconstruction of Kobane, Syria, when the bombing took place.

Four days following the Suruc attack, two Turkish police officers were killed by the PKK’s military wing, which claimed the officers had collaborated with ISIS in the Suruc bombing. Since then, more than 40 Turkish police and military officers have died in attacks throughout the country, according to several Turkish news outlets.

On July 25, the PKK announced that its fragile truce with Turkish authorities had lost all meaning after Turkish warplanes attacked PKK camps in northern Iraq a week before. Turkish authorities claimed the strikes hit shelters, bunkers, caves, storage facilities, and “other logistical points” of the PKK in northern Iraq, including the Qandil Mountains, where the group’s military leadership is based, reported RFE/RL.

Peace talks between the Turkish government and Kurdish leaders, which began in 2012, have suffered with the conflict in Syria and the rise of ISIS. In late 2012, then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) had been visiting imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan to find a solution to the Kurdish-Turkish conflict. After months of negotiations with Turkish authorities, Ocalan called for a ceasefire and an end to armed struggle that included disarmament and withdrawal from Turkey. In September 2014, however, the PKK announced an end to the ceasefire in reaction to Turkey’s harsh treatment of Kurdish refugees caught in the Syrian Civil War.

Rupen Janbazian

Rupen Janbazian

Rupen Janbazian is the editor of Torontohye Monthly. He is the former editor of The Armenian Weekly and the former director of public relations of the Tufenkian Foundation. Born and raised in Toronto, he is currently based in Yerevan.
Rupen Janbazian

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  1. I don’t know what to write , I hope Armenian won’t be sucked in this Turkish and Kurdish unrest , this barbaric turkish state again repeating genocide of Kurdish People , time to Kurds defend there families , properties , and belongins. Lesson should be taught to State of turkey , there is no way open , if not today , tomorrow is not going to be different then today for Kurds. they have to right defend themselfes.

  2. For Kurds it is now or never, otherwise every few years the history will repeat itself, killings, humiliations, inprisonments, etc.. etc.. Kurds can not win this war by fighting only ISIS, they should fights ISIS and Turkey same time, because ISIS is TURKEY

  3. I do not wish well for Turkey, especially run by the deranged Islamic fundamentalist terrorist supporter called Erdogan. But in the case of a civil war in Turkey, which is increasingly likely, the tiny frightened and dwindling Armenian community in Istanbul would be the first victims of the Islamist/nationalist killer hordes.

    • The two Turkic states are an existential threat to 3+ million Armenians surviving on about 10% of their ancestral lands not gobbled up by nomadic Turkic invaders.

      A Turkey wracked by internal fissures, even civil war, will be too pre-occupied, and its ever present threat to RoA and NKR will diminish greatly.
      Even better would be the creation of semi-autonomous or independent Kurdistan (yes, I know it will be on our lands: future subject).
      A Kurdish state on the border of RoA would be much better than Turkey for a lot of reasons.
      Also, a preoccupied Turkey will have to greatly reduce its support for Baku.

      I know this is easy for me to say, because I don’t live Turkey.
      But we have to discuss and make a difficult choice: which is more important, survival of 60K Turkish-Armenians or the survival and thriving of 3+ million Armenians in Caucasus.
      And, 60K Turkish-Armenians can leave, and move to anywhere, including Armenia.


    • Exactly, Avery. Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora around the world cannot be held hostage because of a few thousand semi-turkified Armenians in Istanbul.

    • {Even better would be the creation of semi-autonomous or independent Kurdistan (yes, I know it will be on our lands: future subject).}

      I’d be willing to participate in and contribute to this subject. In the meantime, interesting developments are taking place in the broader region with Russia having her eyes for Syria. I wonder how Russia will reach the objective geography-wise?

  4. Funny to see people are talking about turkey like its syria iraq or armenia.This country is powerfull in any sense dont you ever forget that . pkk terrorists enjoyed turkeys inept leaders hold back policy for too long. its time we turned northern iraq into parking lot bring no rock bigger than size of fist should be left in the mountains these pigs dwell.For their financial support in europe turkey need to send in mit agents to assasinate anyone affiliated with pkk in europe

    if they want a war then they will have a war.

    as for you you well we dont really care for you.

    • Turkey has been trying to defeat PKK, the Kurd freedom fighters, for 30+ years.
      Nationalist Turks have been issuing similar threats against Kurds for that long.
      Because TSK has been unable to defeat Kurd freedom fighters, Erdogan was forced to offer a fake “peace” deal to Kurds.
      He never intended to have peace with Kurds, but he is in a panic, so had to do something, while he figures out how to stop Turkey from sinking deeper into the quicksand.

      Nothing Turks can do now but watch their unnatural state, built on the bones of murdered indigenous peoples, gradually unravel.
      Kurds are too numerous by now: the Turk SOP of solving problems by committing genocide will no longer work.

      You nationalist Turks can only watch Turkey become Iraq, fractured into many pieces: chickens are coming to roost.
      It’s the curse of millions of Christians you Turks murdered.

  5. [Correspondent of Turkey’s Anadolu agency Mustafa Uygun has urged on his Facebook page to brutally exterminate the Kurds. Uygun’s post greatly resonated with Turkey.
    He wrote: “Our last responsibility before the dead is not to carry his coffin but shed blood. These mountains must turn purple with blood. Our last responsibility must be slaughter, regardless of who they are: young or old men, pregnant woman or a child.”
    Interestingly enough, the comment gained “likes” and also received words of praise.]*

    “young or old men, pregnant woman or a child.”

    This is your Turk in 2015.
    This was your Turk in 1915.
    This was your Turk in 1000AD.

    So let’s see:

    Turks murder 34 unarmed Kurd cigarette smugglers at Uludere. Half of them underage.
    Turks murder 33 young unarmed Kurds at Suruç terrorist bombing: maim a 100 more. Young Kurds had gathered there in peace for support of their kin at Kobani.

    Kurd freedom fighters, PKK, execute a precise military operation and KIA 16 Uyguroğlar Turk occupation troops in the field.
    No innocent bystanders are hurt.
    Kurd freedom fighters, PKK, execute a precise military operation and KIA 13 Uyguroğlar Turk occupation paramilitaries in the field.
    No innocent bystanders are hurt.

    So the standard Turk response is to threaten to “slaughter….pregnant woman or a child”.
    Not KIA PKK combattants, but slaughter defenseless Kurds because they are Kurds.
    This is your Turk in 2015.

    * http://news.am/eng/news/285202.html

    • “This is your Turk in 2015.
      This was your Turk in 1915.
      This was your Turk in 1000AD.”

      Eh, I think you’re exaggerating a bit. If he was talking about Armenians in that manner, I’d probably agree with you, that type of genocidal hatred is not unusual towards Armenians. But that kind of rhetoric towards Kurds is almost exclusively held only by the far right, which, at most is 20% of the country. People hate PKK and AKP is certainly trying to lump HDP in with them, but as long as you’re a Kurd that doesn’t support PKK (and many don’t)/Kurdish independence, the vast majority of Turks have no problem with Kurds, let alone harbor this level of genocidal hatred.

      Take away the recent events and the far right Turks whose ideas have no place in civilized society, and Turkey’s “Kurdish problem” becomes clearer. Bad things have happened, but instead of acknowledging them, bringing them to light, and laying everything in the open to be discussed, for years people have tried to sweep the issue under the rug. A very U.S. Republican idea: if you pretend a problem doesn’t exist (like racism) then it must not exist and everyone who says it does is a reverse racist.

      Yes, things are bad right now in Turkey. It’ll probably continue like this until at least the early elections, where AKP will once again fail to get parliamentary majority (if elections are free and fair). But I fail to see how a racist/genocidal statement about Kurds made by far right ultranationalist (a political minority) is “your Turk in 2015.” Why about Turkish liberals/progressives/socialists (30-35% of the population) who oppose war, racism, hatred towards Kurds and other minorities, etc., why aren’t they “your Turkey in 2015”? Is it because when considering Turkish history in general over the past centuries, the violent view seems to be the prevailing trend? Are we bound to history? Are we incapable of change? Do the actions of a government (that is losing support each day) and it’s supporters define a whole country?

      Finally: “Kurd freedom fighters, PKK..”

      I can’t speak for Kurds in other countries, but in Turkey there is one entity that fights for Kurdish freedom: HDP. No one else.

    • RVDV:

      Thanks for responding.
      My views about Turkey and Turks are necessarily from the vantage point of an Armenian.
      And you undoubtedly know Turkey and the relationship of Turks and Kurds in Turkey better than I.
      I also know you do not want Independence (or Autonomy ?) for Kurds in Turkey, because you do not want to see Turkey fractured: I do for selfish Armenian reasons as explained above.

      As to my comment “your Turk in 2015”: partly because it is astonishing that something like this can be said by a Turk public figure in 2015 – “young or old men, pregnant woman or a child.” – and instead of universal condemnation, is received with approval by Turks. (some ?, many?, most ?).
      But also some of it is your ‘fault’ (…kidding).
      In another thread you very honestly poured cold water on some of my compatriots who went euphoric after the election of Turkish-Armenians to Parliament:

      {82% of the electorate voted for AKP, CHP, or MHP. All three proudly and vehemently deny the Armenian Genocide and I believe Armenians were made familiar with the MHP’s armed youth wing the Grey Wolves during the early 1990s.}

      And as I have written on many occasions previously: I am well aware that there are extremely brave and righteous Turks in Turkey, but they are a tiny, tiny, tiny minority. If those Turks* ever become majority in Turkey, all problems between our peoples would be solved peacefully.

      * Ayse Gunaysu, Ragıp Zarakolu,……..

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