Over 35,000 fell victim to terrorism in 30 years

Over 35,000 fell victim to terrorism in 30 years

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Over 35,000 fell victim to terrorism in 30 years

Turkish soldiers defending their ground during an opration against the PKK militants in southeastern province of Mardin’s rural area in this file photo. DHA photo

As Turkey takes serious steps to find a solution to the long-standing Kurdish issue, a parliamentary commission’s report has shown that militant-related activity has claimed over 35,000 lives in the past 30 years.

In the last three decades, 35,576 people have been killed due to militancy, a number that is much higher when taking into account unresolved murders or the number of militants killed by their own or other outlawed organizations, said the report released Jan. 28. A total of 5,557 civilians were killed in clashes between 1987 and 2011.

Some 7,918 officers and public sector workers have died in battles against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), according to the report, prepared by a subcommittee under Parliament’s Human Rights Research Commission. 

A majority of those killed between 1984 and 2012, namely 22,101, are militants, the report said. The report also noted the number of victims who were forced to leave their homes due to militant activities or measures taken in the fight against armed groups. A total of 386,360 people have been forced to migrate from 14 provinces due to militancy, and only 187,861 of them have returned to their hometowns, at a total cost of 128.3 million Turkish Liras.

“In the fight against terrorism, those who prefer to resort to violence should be regarded as criminals, not the enemy, and the struggle against them should be within the law,” said the report, stressing that unlawful methods should be abolished in the fight against terror.

An approach preserving life and favoring rehabilitation rather than destruction should be taken, according to the report. 

“It should be remembered that terror organizations try to win by killing and through death,” it read, adding that political thoughts and ideologies – despite being used as an excuse for terrorism in some circles – should be allowed legal expression, while those ideologies deemed illegal should be limited by law. 

The report also suggested removing societal elements that allow terror to emerge and spread by encouraging proactive, preventative measures such as economic development, investment in at-risk regions, fostering employment and emphasizing education.

Legal ground must be found for smuggling

As smuggling is a main source of income for many residing in border towns, the commission urged the creation of legal trade zones in relevant border towns to foster more opportunities for locals, in a nod to a 2011 incident in which Turkish air forces killed 34 smugglers in the border district of Uludere after mistaking them for militants. The report also called for the removal of the statute of limitations on all unresolved murders and the establishment of a research commission to investigate such murders.

The issue of militancy should be discussed in Parliament via democratic, political methods that allow for a consensus among all political parties, the report said. Likewise, outlawed organizations must also lay down their arms, and all of those involved should use diplomatic language that emphasizes common values. Sectarian relations in the affected regions must be weakened and more deputies who are not affiliated with any group should represent the regions, according to the report. Further, a clear differentiation between locals and militants should be made and experienced personnel rather than newly recruited personnel should be appointed to posts in the region.

Media’s terror language

The report expressed concern regarding the “glamorous” media portrayal of terrorism, particularly in western Turkey, with such slogans as “traffic terror” and “football terror,” that might inadvertently advertise and promote terrorism by making it a common element of society. It suggested that media avoid obscuring the line between social incidents and actual militancy, without censoring any news.

Claiming that militancy cannot harm the unity and solidarity of society, the report, which emphasized recent efforts to create a new charter and contribute to the peace process, called on universities and NGOs to contribute to a solution during this window of opportunity.

Bitter losses in fight with PKK amid drive for peace

In total, 35,576 people have been killed in clashes in the past three decades.

7,918 security and public sector workers have been killed in battles in 30 years.

22,101 outlawed PKK militants were killed between 1984 and 2012.

5,557 civillians were killed between 1987 and 2011 in the conflict.

A total of 386,360 people have migrated from 14 provinces due to violence.

Just 187,861 of the migrants have returned home, thanks to measures that have cost 128.3 million Turkish Liras.