Peace in Kurdistan Campaign patron Kate Osamor MP asked a series of questions of the the UK government last week, in an attempt to gauge whether Turkey’s obvious duplicity – bombing PKK targets and Kurdish civilians in recent months apparently in the name of fighting ISIS while covertly supporting ISIS and affiliated groups – is at all an issue for the UK’s relationship with it NATO ally.
The written responses she received were, frankly, quite incredible, for two reasons. First, they reveal the UK appears to have no intention of questioning Turkey, even as documented evidence mounts of their support for ISIS on the one hand and of major human rights abuses in military operations against the Kurds on the other. Secondly, they represent a callous disregard for the concerns being raised by issuing a stock answer, identical word-for-word, for each question asked. In fact, it is the exact same answer given by FCO representative Baroness Anelay when questioned about the Turkish military hitting more PKK targets than ISIS positions and arresting more Kurdish activists that ISIS members. The answer was simply this:
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) continues to kill Turkish police and security forces. The PKK must cease its violence and the peace process needs to be resumed. We support Turkey’s right to defend itself against all forms of terrorism.
The Government continues to monitor closely Turkey’s democratic reforms, including as part of the EU accession process, focusing particularly on freedom of expression, respect for the rule of law and minority rights.
We welcome Turkey’s invaluable contribution to the international campaign against Daesh, particularly its agreement for the use of its airspace and airbases, as a member of the Global Coalition committed to defeating it. Turkey has been carrying out strikes against Daesh since July 2015, and have detained over 2,500 Daesh suspects since 2013, of whom one third are foreigners. Turkey recognises the role that Syrian Kurds have to play in the fight against Daesh, and accepts that Syrian Kurds receive Coalition support.
It was David Lidington MP, Minster for Europe, who answered each of Kate Osamor’s questions – 4 in total – with the same answer above. We can only speculate as to how and why this stock answer has been issued by the Government.
They were also asked about whether concerns had been raised about the use of curfews in Silva, CIzre and elsewhere, which has led to the deaths of nearly 100 civilians. Once again, the answer shows disregard for the severity of the violence or the lives of the civilians on the receiving end of it. And once again, the same answer was given twice:
We welcome the visit on 15-16 October of Turkey’s national human rights body to Cizre and Sirnak to conduct analysis and research on the recent events there.
We continue to monitor the human rights situation in Turkey closely and raise concerns regularly with the Turkish authorities.