Three Kurdish resistance fighters were killed over the weekend during clashes with Turkish military forces currently occupying Northern Kurdistan (often referred to as South East Turkey). Two of the rebels were killed near Uludere in Sirnak province, close to the border with Iraqi Kurdistan, when soldiers pursued a group of fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who had allegedly detonated explosives on a road as a military vehicle passed. The blast had failed to claim any casualties.
A third rebel was killed in Beytussebap, also in Sirnak, in a battle that erupted after a group of PKK guerrillas opened fire on a Turkish police checkpoint.
Last Friday, PKK spokesman Ahmed Denis announced that the rebels had ended a unilateral truce with Turkey – in place since April 2009 – “because of Turkey’s continuing hostility towards the Kurdish people.”
The statement came against a backdrop of rising violence between Turkish forces and the PKK. In one of the bloodiest attacks in recent months, the PKK fired rockets at a navy base last Monday, killing six soldiers and wounding seven.
Since 1984, the PKK has been engaged in a war of liberation for the mainly Kurdish populated territories that make up the north of historic Kurdistan but currently exist as Turkey’s southeast. The war for Kurdish independence has since claimed roughly 45,000 lives, with Kurds making up the vast majority of casualties.
The PKK has demanded an end to all discrimination in Turkish laws against ethnic Kurds, hoping instead to be granted full political freedoms. The party has also demanded Turkey’s recognition of the Kurds’ identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in Kurdish populated areas. Most Kurds currently living under Turkish occupation openly sympathize with the PKK despite it being considered a ‘terrorist’ organization by both Ankara and Washington. The PKK also remains on a European Union blacklist despite a court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group and its political wing on the EU’s list of terror organizations.