Kurdish militant chief denies links to suspect in Paris murders

ISTANBUL Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:12am EST

Thousands attend the funeral ceremony of the three Kurdish activists shot in Paris, in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast, January 17, 2013. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Thousands attend the funeral ceremony of the three Kurdish activists shot in Paris, in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast, January 17, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Umit Bektas

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Kurdish militant commander denied the suspect held over the killing of three activists in Paris was a member of his group, accusing the Turkish state of involvement in the murders in an interview with a rebel-linked news agency.

The murders overshadowed Turkey's moves to begin peace talks with the rebels and their top field commander, Murat Karayilan, said on Wednesday the government was conducting a "psychological war" rather than sincerely trying to end the conflict.

The Turkish government said it had begun talks with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan on how to end the 28-year-old conflict over Kurdish autonomy and soon after, on January 9, the activists, including a PKK founder, were killed execution-style.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has suggested the motive for the triple murder may be an internal feud in the PKK.

Omer Guney, a driver of one of the women killed, was placed under investigation on Monday, the Paris prosecutor said. Guney, who told prosecutors he had been a PKK member for two years, denied the charges.

"This person definitely had no relationship with the PKK and the PKK leadership," the group's acting head Karayilan told the Firat news agency at his base in northern Iraq, adding that Guney nonetheless did sometimes take part in demonstrations.

"We have no doubt that the Turkish state was involved in this business," he added.

The PKK, designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union, has previously blamed the killings on shadowy elements within the Turkish state or foreign powers, but this is the first time it has blamed the state directly.

The PKK took up arms against Turkey in 1984 with the aim of carving out a Kurdish homeland and it now seeks autonomy for Turkey's Kurds. The conflict has killed more than 40,000 people.

"PSYCHOLOGICAL WAR"

The talks envisage a deal under which the PKK would stop fighting, withdraw from Turkish soil and disarm, according to media reports. In return, the government would carry out reforms boosting rights of a Kurdish minority numbering some 15 million.

But clashes between the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Turkish military have continued despite the peace moves. Kurdish politicians have criticized the military operations and the hardline stance of Erdogan, who said attacks on the fighters in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq would continue.

The militant Karayilan voiced similar criticism.

"We can't see a sincere and confidence-inspiring approach from the AKP government towards solving the problem," he said.

"If a peace process is really wanted, this style and stance of psychological war must be put to one side. It is important that the parties respect one another," he added.

Turkish security forces killed six PKK militants on Tuesday in the southeastern province of Mardin, near the border with Syria, security officials said.

Parliament is scheduled on Thursday to debate a draft law under which defendants will be able to use Kurdish, or other languages in court - a demand of Kurdish politicians.

The government presented the draft to the assembly in November during the course of a hunger strike by jailed PKK militants, whose demands included such legislation.

Courts' refusal to allow defendants who speak Turkish to use Kurdish in their defense has been a source of controversy in cases against hundreds of defendants accused of PKK links.

Erdogan's government has boosted Kurdish cultural and language rights since taking power a decade ago, but Kurdish politicians are seeking greater political reform.

(Editing by Alison Williams)

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Comments (2)
sulaimanyjuan wrote:
The right of defense is a sacred bond between a citizen and his or her government, but I can’t help but be a bit curious if Mr. Oner was ever alarmed about the death of Mr. Altinbas in police custody? If his own sister were raped, tortured, and murdered under similar circumstances, would he have protested the presence of an American in the audience? It all comes back to you Mr. Atatürk. You set a bad precedent and adopted the law of jungle. Unlike Mr. Oner, however, you actually knew a thing or two about the big power politics. You respected the Americans, the English, the French, and the Russians. It was with the Kurds that you lost your equilibrium. To this day, I don’t see how you found glory in battling the weak. There is no honor in killing the defenseless. Only cowards gang up on the small ones. After your victory over the Kurds, you came up with another of your memorable lines, “Peace at home and peace abroad.” What does the word peace mean to you, Mr. Atatürk? Can justice ever be divorced from the cause of peace? Can serenity ever be the lot of a molester or the molested? Can torture against an individual or violence against a defenseless people ever pave the way for stability? You obviously were clueless about these weighty issues. You saddled your children with some elementary school catechisms and thought they were going to have the ride of their lives. It has been anything but a ride

Jan 24, 2013 5:14pm EST  --  Report as abuse
sulaimanyjuan wrote:
joining the European Union. Last November, Professor Kaboglu had the misfortune of holding a press conference to make public his board’s findings. He was physically assaulted on national television. His report was branded “a document of treason.” The Prime Minister of Turkey, the man who should have stood by his embattled advisor, conspired to fire him for daring to suggest things like the Kurds should be called the Kurds in Turkey. This is a rough outline of your country, Mr. Atatürk. And yet, people all over the world are still cheering for it to join the European Union. When we tell the same people the way to humanize the Turks is to empower the Kurds, that the weaknesses of the Kurds have contributed to the brutality of the Turks, that in the liberation of the Kurds lies the freedom of the Turks, a deafening silence fills the room, as if Galileo had just told the cardinals of the Vatican, “yes, the earth moves.” You, Mr. Atatürk, may think this loneliness of the Kurds is the best news that you have heard so far, but hold your breath, it is not meant to cheer you up, rather to sting the Kurds, to defy the odds, to keep faith like the Italian scientist, and to march onward with the confidence of sleepwalkers so that we too could reclaim what rightfully belongs to us in spite of the world.

Jan 24, 2013 5:38pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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