The co-head of a pro-Kurdish group in Turkey has extended the hand of friendship to the illegal organization Hizbullah as long as it lays down its arms and addresses Kurdish people’s political status, news wires reported Monday.
The Democratic Society Congress, or DTK, an umbrella organization of pro-Kurdish groups, is open to everyone following those principles, co-leader Ahmet Türk said in a press meeting in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır.
Türk’s comments came in response to a question about the statement of Abdullah Öcalan, the convicted leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, on the recent release from jail of Turkish Hizbullah members whose legal cases at the high court had not come to a conclusion in 10 years’ time.
“These Hizbullah members can be talked to, if they do not aim to follow their former style. If they have made self-criticism, if they have learned from their mistakes, if they [aim to operate] on legal grounds, they can be called and represent themselves in the [DTK],” a pro-Kurdish news agency quoted Öcalan as saying, based on the notes of his interview with his lawyers.
If Hizbullah members cannot meet these conditions, there will be no space for them in Diyarbakır, Öcalan said, adding that the self-defense and legitimate defense of Kurds is the priority.
Hizbullah, unrelated to the Lebanese Hezbollah, is regarded as responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people during the mid-1990s, the worst years of the conflict between Turkish government forces and the outlawed PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Türk and other representatives of the DTK and pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, held the press meeting to address an ongoing case against the Kurdistan Communities Union, or KCK, the alleged urban wing of the PKK. The DTK is a civilian organization that is open to everyone, is based on people’s democratic rights and freedoms and respects all beliefs, differences and identities, Türk said, the Anatolia news agency reported.
Murat Karayılan, one of the PKK leaders based in the Kandil Mountains in northern Iraq, meanwhile accused the government and the state of trying to resurrect Hizbullah. “Hizbullah should not be a tool for the state’s and government’s games anymore. What they should do is to make society forgive them,” Karayılan said, according to the pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency. “Because from now on, having the role of a knife in [the heart] of Kurdish society is an attempt with no results.”
Hizbullah came to prominence in the late 1980s in southeastern Turkey. Some experts say its aim is to destroy the secular order and spread “true Islam” throughout the country, by force if necessary. However, strong claims have surfaced that it was the state itself that established the organization to fight the PKK, through illegal means, such as summary executions.
While pro-Kurdish circles claim Hizbullah was used a weapon against the Kurdish political movement, the organization also became known after dozens of hogtied bodies were discovered in mass graves in the year 2000. The public relived those days of horror when five Hizbullah members, two of which were allegedly leaders of the organization, were freed last week under a new regulation that came into effect with the new year.
Selahattin Demirtaş, the co-head of the BDP, said in the same press meeting in Diyarbakır that it is not right to discuss the issue only in regard to the release of Hizbullah members.
“We consider it right to see the whole picture. No one in Turkey right now feels under the security of the judiciary,” Demirtaş said. “The principle of having a fair trial is universal, but we see that no one in Turkey trusts the judiciary anymore. This is not only about latest releases.”
The KCK case that was the subject of the press conference is set to resume Thursday after a break. Almost 200 people, including local Kurdish politicians and mayors of Southeast Anatolian cities are among the defendants and were under arrest for almost two years. Hearings last year focused on the demand of the defendants to defend themselves in Kurdish, their mother tongue, and the court’s rejection of that demand. The DTK and the BDP jointly asked for release of defendants. Hurriyet Daily News