Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkey and the Kurds

Published: November 23, 2009

In a show of courage and good sense, Turkey’s government has announced a plan to grant long-denied rights to its Kurdish minority, and, it is hoped, finally end an insurgency that has cost more than 40,000 lives.

Kurds compose as much as 20 percent of Turkey’s population, yet for decades the government banned their political parties and denied them the most basic cultural rights, including the right to use their own language. This mistreatment helped fuel Kurdish demands for independence and two decades of bloody attacks by the Kurdistan Workers Party, or P.K.K.

Although some 12,000 militants are still hiding in northern Iraq along the Turkish border, the P.K.K. has been steadily losing popular support. The new initiative is designed as further pressure and incentive for the group to disband. Last year, Parliament legalized private Kurdish language courses and created the first public television channel in Kurdish. New regulation lets Kurdish prisoners speak to visitors in their native language. Full Text