The recent allegations made by the European Parliament’s Turkey Rapporteur, Ms Ria Oomen-Ruijten MEP against the Kurds are at best a dangerous distraction and will do nothing to bring about a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue.

She alleged that, “The PKK is a terrorist organisation. This problem does not solely involve Turkey. At the same time it also closely affects Europe, because the PKK’s sources of funds are provided from European Union nations. Human trafficking, drug trade and arms smuggling are all conducted for this purpose. The EU cannot leave Turkey on its own in the struggle against terrorism.”

Ria Oomen-Ruijten’s allegations, made without offering even one shred of evidence, simply repeat the baseless allegations that are constantly made by Turkey in its crude propaganda efforts to denigrate the Kurdish people and their organisations.

Her allegations are really motivated by her efforts to persuade the European Union to cooperate more closely with Turkey in what she sees as their joint interest in fighting terrorism. By employing such outrageous smears against the Kurds her aim is to create hostility and fear against the Kurds in Europe. If such a climate of fear is created it will make it easier to cajole EU member states to be more responsive to extradition requests made by Turkey. If this ploy succeeds it will be a dangerous development and will inflict another grave injustice against the Kurds.

The report currently in draft form is expected to be adopted at the end of March by the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs Commission. It would be a disaster and an affront to the Kurdish people if the report were to be adopted in its present form and then became official EP policy.
The report needs to be challenged urgently; indeed it should be rejected in its current form and redrafted to reflect the realities.

The accusations made by the EP Turkey Rapporteur clearly form part of the dirty war that is still being waged against the Kurds. It in an attempt to criminalise the Kurds and will make it more difficult to achieve a resolution, because the resolution can only be based on the principles of justice and must be achieved through negotiations between Turkey and the Kurdish organisations that the report seeks to criminalise.

In making such allegations, echoing Turkish politicians, the European Parliament is reducing itself to little more than a propaganda machine for Turkey.

While it is of course a fact that drugs do come through Turkey into Europe, it is more likely that Turkish state bodies are behind this drug trafficking. On previous occasions clear links between drugs and officials in the Turkish state have been exposed. Drugs have been found in Turkish military vehicles for example. The shadowy network of relations linking Turkey’s so-called “deep state”, the security forces, certain politicians and organised crime emerged in the 1990s at the same time that the Turkish state was waging its dirty war against the Kurds. So it is more accurate to say that the Kurds have been the victims of the illegal drugs trade rather than its beneficiaries. These latest allegations are thus entirely unfair and should be withdrawn if no evidence is offered to substantiate the claims.

What is required of European politicians is to adopt an even handed approach in order to work towards achieving a lasting peace between Turkey and the Kurds. Talks need to involve both Turkish and Kurdish representatives freely chosen by the people. This crude attempt to criminalise leading Kurdish organisations can only act as an obstacle to peace talks by making it easier for Turkey to deny the legitimacy of Kurdish aspirations and the proposals for peace that are put forward by leading Kurdish organisations.

It is alarming that such partisan opinions can expressed in a public arena at such a high level by a European politician and they cannot be left unchallenged.  Ria Oomen-Ruijten is able to exert such a profoundly negative influence on EU policy making which is of fundamental importance for the future of Turkey and the Kurds.

Her allegations should come as no surprise, however. She is a strongly right-wing Dutch Christian Democrat with a long track record of expressing unflinching support for Turkey and has repeatedly made accusations against the Kurds. While her latest allegations do not surprise, they cannot be taken lightly given the influential position she occupies. She is able to sway European policy with regards Turkey and the Kurds and by making such public allegations she is poisoning public opinion against the Kurds; it is not too farfetched to suggest these allegations could even fuel racism against the Kurds in Europe.
It can be mentioned that EUROPOL and the US Drug Enforcement Administration have been unable to provide any independent evidence or juridical facts to prove involvement of Kurdish organisations in drug and other illegal trafficking, as repeatedly alleged by Turkey in order to taint Kurdish organisations with suspicion and criminalise the Kurds.

The EU cannot use evidence supplied by Turkey. The reliability of any evidence provided by Turkish official sources must be seriously questioned. Turkey cannot be seen an impartial source of evidence in any matters concerning the Kurds; how can it be when it is waging a perpetual propaganda war in Europe and the United States in order to smear the Kurds and to enlist the unquestioning support of its allies in its attempts to eliminate the Kurds as an independent political movement.

It is worth stressing what Remzi Kartal and Zubeyir Aydar have stated:
We always ask US and EU for evidences of any kind of involvement of Kurdish organisations in drug trafficking. We also wrote official letters to US Presidents and EU, but we never received any answer. It is well-known fact that the only source of drug allegations against the Kurdish organisations are the Turkish authorities which are on war against Kurdish people and continuously use this as part of their criminalisation policy against Kurdish organisations. But they remained always unproved for the European police and secret services. We ask everyone once again to prove whatever they have in their hand as a respect for the people of the United States and the European Union which represents 27 European nations”..

Ria Oomen-Ruijten’s accusations therefore amount to a crude attempt to insinuate that the PKK poses a threat to Europe, which is erroneous and totally without foundation.

It is also extremely unworthy of a senior European politician to throw baseless allegations at the Kurds while remaining silent in the face of the numerous allegations made against Turkish state and its officials.
If Ria Oomen-Ruijten has any real evidence in her possession to substantiate her allegations then she should make that evidence known to the public. If she does not do so, then we can rightly conclude that she does not possess any evidence in which case she should withdraw her allegations immediately. She must be challenged to do this right away.

The Kurdish people look to the EU to uphold democratic principles of fairness and justice, and they furthermore look to European politicians to act as honest brokers in their future peace negotiations with Turkey, which is the only way to secure an enduring settlement that will be acceptable to all participants. The EU should refrain from taking sides in this issue; that such a senior European politician as EP Turkey Rapporteur Ria Oomen-Ruijten can adopt such an obviously biased stance is a cause of deep concern and can only lead the Kurdish people to doubt the sincerity of the EU as an independent arbiter in the conflict.

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E-mail: knklondon@gn.apc.org