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Cablegate: Kurds in Southeast Optimistic; Hope

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

(U) This cable is sensitive but unclassified;
please protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: Recent meetings with our
regular Kurdish contacts reveal SE Turkey Kurds
are optimistic about the resolution of the
"Kurdish question" and are pinning their hopes
on the international community, most notably
the United States. They also believe an
amnesty for PKK/KADEK members is critical to
achieving peace within the country. Local
Turkish officials, nevertheless, maintain that
while not opposed to amnesty in principal, such
an amnesty will only antagonize the problem
further. In any event, Ankara seems willing
only to consider a broadened repentance law,
without attendant economic and social
incentives. End summary.

Hope for a solution?

2. (SBU) Following the Coalition victory in Iraq,
Southeastern Kurds are cautiously optimistic
that a solution to Kurdish issues will be
found. While it will take time to fully
resolve the situation, the war in Iraq and the
United States' "improved attitude" towards the
Kurdish people signal a beginning to stronger
international involvement in their plight. Our
contacts vehemently state that only pressure by
the USG on the GOT to solve this issue and
inclusion of Kurds in the new Iraqi government
will allow the Kurdish people the opportunity
to live peacefully with a Kurdish
identification in the region.

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3. (SBU) Our meetings also reveal Kurds believe
the first step to improving relations with the
GOT is the freedom to identify themselves as
Kurdish. However, our contacts also suggest
that until Turkey completes its democratization
process, this issue cannot be resolved;
Turkey's current procedures, institutions, and
Constitution are not equipped to permit ethnic
groups, such as the Kurds, the opportunity to
practice their traditions and live peacefully
with other groups. Our contacts conclude that
continued and strengthened pressure by the USG,
as well as other international bodies such as
the European Union, on the GOT, to fully
democratize will give way to a peaceful
solution to the tensions between the GOT and
the Kurdish people.

4. (SBU) Prominent Adana Kurdish activists stress
that amnesty would give PKK/KADEK members the
opportunity to integrate into society creating
peace in the country. They emphasize that the
Kurdish people have lived peacefully with their
neighbors in the region, including Iraq, and
the GOT must play a facilitating role to
maintain this. These Kurdish leaders believe
amnesty would allow PKK/KADEK members the
ability to live free of in fear of GOT
repercussion for their previous acts, and allow
them to fully lay down their arms and establish
a peaceful role for themselves and their
families within society.

"If they won't accept the Turkish Flag, they
shouldn't integrate into Turkish society!"
5. (SBU) Our local GOT contacts, however, say
such an amnesty is not a feasible solution;
nationalistic or ethnic identification only
lends to the divisions within Turkish society.
The opportunity to give such an amnesty would
strengthen Kurdish identity and continue to
divide the country. According to one contact,
Kurdish people prefer to identify themselves
with the smaller, "Kurdish" identity rather
than the "Turkish" national identity;
consequently, this regional identity leads to a
weakening of society by dividing the country.
Other contacts add that amnesty only achieves
its purpose if both the perpetrator and the
victim are in agreement. If the crimes are
political in nature and hence committed against
the State, the State may grant amnesty; but, if
the crimes are against another person, only the
victim or his/her family may grant amnesty.
They argue that while some of the PKK/KADEK's
crimes were political, many innocent families
lost loved ones in the war; it should be their
choice whether to grant amnesty.


6. (SBU) Comment: Kurdish contacts in the
Southeast are optimistic that the
disappointment suffered by the United States
when the Turkish Parliament failed to pass the
motion allowing US troops to be based out of
Turkey will encourage the United States to give
more credence to their plight and less sympathy
to the GOT. However, aspirations for an
amnesty are unrealistic; the most the Turkish
State might be willing to bear in a broadened
repentance law. Even that would not resolve
the problem without attendant economic
incentives and social measures. In this regard
we see no signs either that Ankara has any
creative ideas or that Kurdish businessmen or
groups in the Southeast are willing to take
initiatives on their own. End comment.

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