Turkish gov’t toughens Kurdish bid stance after attack
KAHRAMANMARAŞ / ANKARA
A Turkish pilot looks at the coffins of three soldiers, who were killed in an armed attack by suspected militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as the coffins are carried to Van via helicopter for an official ceremony. AA PhotoThe Turkish government has vowed that the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) will not get away with the killing of three off-duty soldiers in the southeast province of Hakkari on Oct. 25, saying its determination to advance the peace process will not bow to terror or terrorists.
“Nobody can consider the state’s legitimate security forces and terrorists to be on the same level. It is not possible for us to accept an argument such as ‘retaliation for the killing of three terrorists,’” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Oct. 26, a day after three soldiers were gunned down in the middle of the afternoon on Oct. 25 while walking in the town center of Yüksekova in Hakkari.
He was referring to the killing of three PKK members by security forces on Oct. 23 in the eastern province of Kars, after they reportedly attacked a hydroelectric power station in the Kağızman district.
“I spoke with our interior minister, our chief of general staff, and our governor about yesterday’s attack [in Hakkari]. I gave the same order to each of them: Those who carried out this traitorous action will be pursued, all required work will be done and they will get their just deserts,” Davutoğlu said, speaking during a visit to the southern province of Kahramanmaraş.
Meanwhile, in Ankara, in a development likely to add fuel to fire, the General Staff announced that the body of a village guard who was kidnapped by the PKK and had been missing for two months was found hanging from a telegraph post in the Tatvan district of the southeastern province of Bitlis.
Despite such incidents, the prime minister vowed that the peace process aimed at ending the three-decade conflict between Turkey’s security forces and the PKK would continue, but warned that the authorities would not allow any harm to public order.
“When we say that we will continue [the peace process] with determination, it shouldn’t be understood that we are recognizing the terrorist organization and affiliated organizations as counterparts,” Davutoğlu said.
‘Nobody will get away with what they do’
Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan, speaking in Adana on Oct. 26, echoed these sentiments.
“From now on, nobody will get away with what they have done. Public security and order will not be subject to concessions just because of the resolution process,” Akdoğan said.
In a statement released late on Oct. 25, the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) described the killing of the soldiers as a matter of “great sorrow and concern,” and also said the peace process should continue on its path.
In a separate statement released the next day, the HDP, a key player in the Kurdish political movement represented at Parliament and involved in the peace process through parliamentary delegations meeting with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, called on the government to stop “the political lynch campaign” against it.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is trying to mislead people through “fabricated accusations and conspiracy theories,” the HDP stated.
Amid heightened anti-PKK sentiment across the country, the government sought to emphasize that the main interlocutor in the peace talks was not the “terror organization” but rather “the people.”
However, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli was not convinced, insisting that what the government called a “resolution process” was actually “a PKK process.”
“How are we supposed to explain this atrocity? Should we keep silent just because there is ‘the resolution’? Should we stop just so the process isn’t disrupted?” Bahçeli said in messages posted on his Twitter account on Oct. 25.
For his part, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu expressed deep sorrow over the killings of the soldiers.
“I’m extremely sad. Such a picture does not suit Turkey. I hope these are the last and Turkey never again faces such grief,” Kılıçaroğlu told reporters in Antalya on Oct. 25.