Campaign launched to de-list the PKK

[Green Left Weekly, March 31, 2015]

The Melbourne-based Australians for Kurdistan committee has launched a campaign calling for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to be removed from the Australian government's list of terrorist organisations. The PKK was first listed in 2005; its listing comes up for review this August.

In the light of the frontline role the PKK has played in fighting the 'Islamic State' killers in Syria and Iraq and in mobilising support within Turkey for Rojava (the Kurdish-majority liberated zone in northern Syria), to label the PKK as 'terrorist' is simply ridiculous.

The ban should be dropped and supporters of the PKK should be able to openly organise without harassment from the authorities.

Since the PKK is talking to the Turkish government and is pushing to get serious negotiations underway to resolve the longstanding 'Kurdish question', the continuing ban by the United States, the European Union and Australia is completely anomalous and an obstacle to any peace process.

The PKK is also an illegal organisation within Turkey. As substantive talks begin between the government and the Kurdish movement, this ban remains an obstacle to real progress.

Also impeding the negotiations is the fact that the foremost Kurdish political leader, the PKK's Abdullah Ă–calan, remains in a Turkish prison and cannot freely consult with either his colleagues or the Kurdish people.

Australians for Kurdistan has set up a website Lift the ban on the PKK. It contains an open letter to the Australian government.

The open letter is the key tool of the campaign and the AFK's aim is to gather as wide a range of endorsements for it as possible. We especially want to get signatures from activists and prominent figures in academia and the arts, in the Third World migrant communities, from the women's movement, the Indigenous rights movement, from trade unionists, environmentalists, and so on.

Also on the website is an article with background material on the Kurdish question and a critique of the Australian government's national security entry on the PKK. The government's justification for classifying the PKK as a terrorist organisation doesn't stand up to any real scrutiny.

Ever since modern Turkey was founded in 1923, the Kurds have suffered heavy oppression at the hands of a ruthless, chauvinist Turkish ruling class. For instance, today over 20 million Kurds are denied public education in their mother tongue.

Resistance to oppression is not terrorism and can't be understood as terrorism. The bans on the PKK should be dropped and the organisation allowed to conduct open legal political activity both in Turkey and among the large Kurdish diaspora.