Press release: for immediate release

26 April 2013


It is with great appreciation that the EUTCC received the message from Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council President Murat Karayilan that the PKK withdraws its forces gradually from Turkey starting 8 May, 2013. The withdrawal is a result of the ongoing peace talks between the PKK’s leader Mr. Abdullah Öcalan and the Turkish government and emerged following letter exchanges between the mountain and the leader. The withdrawal is the first phase in a process that hopefully leads to lasting peace.

In his message Karayilan called on all good forces – in all parts of Kurdistan, in North Kurdistan, and in Europe to support the process among others by organising conferences in order to bring unity, freedom, solidarity and democracy and to enhance the further peace process. The today’s statement shows that the Kurdish movement wants a political solution and that Mr. Öcalan is a key figure in the process and should therefore be allowed to play his role more freely in the process, among others by enabling him to communicate directly with his partners. This however requires a radical change in his prison conditions. It is our hope that the Turkish government will control its forces so that there will be no military attacks during the withdrawal – or later. The withdrawal should not be regarded by Turkey as the solution to the conflict – this first step by the PKK needs to be followed by concrete steps by the AKP government like the writing of a new constitution that is a democratic state worthy.

Today we have indeed witnessed a historic moment following decades of war and suffering. In all these years the PKK has been the Kurdish people’s shield against oppression and military attacks in Turkey. The PKK has made a brave move and by this it has truly shown that it is an organisation with many sides. One of them is its strong and solid educational base emphasizing that education is the path to freedom and growth for all. When the time is ripe political education will replace weapons.

However, dark political forces swipe Europe shadowing the ongoing peace process. In October 2012 the Kurdish diplomat Adem Uzun was arrested in Paris and is still imprisoned. In March 2013 Yilmaz Orkan, another Kurdish politician, was arrested in Belgium. Their diplomatic efforts and lobbying for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question are well known to the European Parliament, the European Council and the international community. The worst incident, which sent shock waves all over Europe, took place in January 2013 when three Kurdish women, Sakine Cansiz (a co-founder of the PKK), Fidan Dogan (Kurdish politician) and Leyla Söylemez (Kurdish activist) were brutally assassinated in Paris. Who are behind the killings? This question has not being answered but there are reasons to believe that this wrongdoing is politically anchored and that deep state forces stand behind.

The EUTCC strongly supports the PKK’s withdrawal of forces from Turkey, the points to be followed in order to avoid the interruption of the process, as well as the organising of three conferences in all parts of Kurdistan, in North Kurdistan and in Europe. At the same time we call on Turkey to follow up on each step delineated by the PKK. The EUTCC also call for the immediate release of Adem Uzun and Yilmaz Orkan. Finally, the EUTCC urge the French government and the EU to do their outmost in the search for an answer to the Paris-killings.

Kariane Westrheim Michael Gunter Hans Brancheidt Judge Essa Moosa
Chair Secretary general Treasurer Board of Directors

Contact: Kariane Westrheim,, +47 976 42 088