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Eruptions in February 1999 all over Europe about the arrest of Turkish Kurd guerrilla leader Abdullah Ocalan helped highlight an issue about the plight1 of the Kurds2. The Kurdish people are scattered throughout Turkey, Iran, Iraq and other areas in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. They are fighting for their historic Kuridistan and in many countries, including Turkey and Iraq (even after the Gulf War, when protection was meant to be there from the US and its allies).
The crackdown on Kurds has been horrendous. Turkey is a NATO ally and a large recipient of US military aid3 and weapons. Many human rights abuses (often carried out using those very same weapons) against the Kurds4 have been overlooked by key influential countries like USA5.
The arrest of Ocalan has resulted in a "trial" where he has been sentenced to death, despite many protests and anger throughout Europe. (Note, a lot of the mainstream media reported that he was arrested for his involvement in the conflict where 30,000 people have been killed. It is phrased to make it sound like he and the PKK have been responsible for the majority of these deaths. However, the Turkish military has been responsible for the vast majority of killings6. The previous link, from the British Guardian news paper summarizes it quite well: "Every time the name of Ocalan occurs in the British press it is accompanied by the figure '30,000 dead in the last 14 years'. The implication is that Ocalan has brought about these deaths. The PKK has certainly killed, and has also committed atrocities, but the overwhelming number of these 30,000 deaths, not to mention widespread mutilation and rape, are the responsibility of the Turkish military.")
This article is part of the following collection:
- Human Rights In Various Regions
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- http://www.foreignpolicy-infocus.org/progresp/volume3/v3n07.html#KURDISTAN POLICY CRITIQUED