Turkish PM links Lice unrest to drug-trafficking

Turkish PM links Lice unrest to drug-trafficking

Turkish PM links Lice unrest to drug-trafficking

'What happened in Lice is not something ordinary. The Lice incident rests indirectly on the cannabis situation,' Erdoğan said during his weekly address to AKP's group in Parliament. Daily News Photo, Selahattin Sönmez

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appears convinced that the violent clashes in the Lice district of Diyarbakır on June 28 that left one person dead were related, although indirectly, to drug lords concerned that an eventual success of the peace process would harm their interests.

Speaking at a parliamentary group meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on July 2, Erdoğan said the Lice incident was not an "ordinary" one. 

“Hashish and cannabis is the matter on which the Lice incident is indirectly based,” Erdoğan said, denying that it was people’s reaction against the construction of a gendarmerie outpost that really triggered the incident.

Recalling the huge amount of cannabis that was recently destroyed by the police, the prime minister said certain circles had been "annoyed" by this because it was “the most important financial source for terror.”

According to Erdoğan, everybody was aware that "certain circles" had been deprived of their millions of dollars of dirty profits as a result of these successful counterdrug operations.

“Covering up this dirty, poisonous and bloody trade with demonstrations and presenting this as a quest for a right and a demand for democratic rights under the cover of these demonstrations is immorality and lack of conscience. We will not get trapped in this plot,” he said. 

Vowing "no concession" to either terror or drug smuggling, Erdoğan claimed that the government would shed light on the issue. “Unfortunately, those who have been involved in and directing this matter are also aligned with those who have been involved in politics. We will be exposing all of them,” he said.

Main source for PKK

In his speech, the prime minister refrained from explicitly citing names of those politicians, or mentioning the name of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The government-led peace process is aimed at ending the three-decade long conflict between Turkey’s security forces and the PKK.

The PKK’s main source of income is believed to be drug trafficking, yet the group denies drug trafficking. Ankara says Turkish troops frequently seize sacks full of hashish and marijuana near Turkey’s border with Iran and Syria, where the PKK stashes the bags for shipment to Europe.

Several PKK leaders are labeled as suspected drug traffickers in the United States, which has frozen their assets and shunned them from doing business in the U.S.

Still, Erdoğan said the government was resolved to move ahead with the peace process, although he indicated that a difficult and winding road lay ahead.

No "sabotage or provocation" will discourage the government, he maintained.