Cablegate: Are Se Turkey Protests Against Pkk Terror

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



1.(SBU) Summary: Low scale reportedly PKK/KONGRA GEL
terror attacks continue across southeast Turkey. A car
bomb attack in Van on July 2 also killed five and
injured over twenty, narrowly missing the Van
governor's car, its apparent intended target. Its
perpetrators are as yet unidentified. Meanwhile press
reports of regional residents' protests against the
return of PKK/KONGRA GEL violence are becoming more
frequent. The GOT is trying to present these as one-
sided protests against PKK/KONGRA GEL. Upon further
examination, the GOT seems to be orchestrating or
manipulating some of the protests and protestors often
seem to be cautioning the GOT as much as the PKK/KONGRA
GEL cadres who are apparently bent on a new terror
wave. Regional communities increasingly voice fear of
being caught between the new round of PKK/KONGRA GEL
regional terror and an anticipated GOT backlash which
they fear will becomes less proportional the longer the
terror continues. End Summary.

Terror attacks continue on low scale

2.(SBU) Reported PKK terror attacks since June 19 have
occurred in southeast Turkey from Kahraman Maras to
Van. Press reports indicate that GOT casualties reached
approximately nine dead or wounded, while PKK/KONGRA
GEL suffered 12 dead or wounded since June 19. (Note:
we cannot vouch for the accuracy of these numbers; they
are rough indicators of the scale of ongoing terror and
anti-terror operations. End Note.) There have been two
credible reported mine or improvised explosive device
(IED) attacks, in Van and Bingol provinces, since June
19. A third reported mine or IED attack on July 12 in
Sirnak province is from a less credible source.
According to multiple press outlets, Turkish General
Staff (TGS) sources announced the deployment in late
June of unspecified "special forces" to Sirnak,
Tunceli, Diyarbakir and Bingol provinces.

Van attack high profile, but perpetrators unknown
--------------------------------------------- ----

3.(SBU) A car bomb attack in Van on July 2 also killed
five and injured over twenty, narrowly missing the Van
governor's car, its apparent intended target. Its
perpetrators are as yet unidentified. On July 5, Van
governor Hikmet Tan said in a press statement that
neither Al Qaeda nor (Turkish) Hizbullah could be ruled
out in the attack, but that the attack bore "some of
the marks of a PKK attack."

Protests against violence, hope for peaceful Kurdish
--------------------------------------------- ---------

4.(SBU) Since late June there have been press reports
of protests against the return of violence to the
southeast Turkey region in Batman, Van, Tunceli,
Diyarbakir and Sirnak provinces. These protests have
also advocated a peaceful solution for the "Kurdish
question" in Turkey. Most of these protests number in
the hundreds according to press reports, but the Van
protest on July 5 reached as many as a thousand, as
confirmed by a local contact.

Who is protesting?

5.(SBU) Many of the protestors are the southeast
region's Turkish Kurds, according to local contacts.
These contacts report, however, that the ranks of some
protests are stacked with pro-government village
guards, government employees forced to "protest," or
police in civilian clothes. In Dargecit, Mardin
province, contacts report that shopkeepers were forced
by police to "close" their shops as a sign of protest
and police filmed open shops as an intimidation tactic.
One contact told a consulate staff member that some of
the "protest meetings' are being organized by
individuals associated with the fringe Grand Unity
Party and Nationalist Movement Party. (Comment: AMCON
ADANA cannot corroborate this allegation. End

GOT, PKK reactions to the protests

6.(SBU) Contacts also say that GOT officials also are
trying to spin the protests as anti-PKK, citing the
predominance of governors, AK Party officials or
military figures, e.g. Turkish General Staff Chief
General Hilmi Ozkok's July 5 statement in Van, drawing
media attention to the events. Contacts underline
that people in the region are protesting to try to
impress upon both PKK/KONGRA GEL and the GOT their
strong desire not to see violence "by either side"
return to the region, a hope for a "peaceful solution
for the Kurdish question," and a desire not to
complicate the position of Kurds in Iraq. Reported
PKK/KONGRA GEL militant wing leader Murat Karayilan
said in a late June statement reported on June 26 by
Evrensel newspaper that PKK/KONGRA GEL would cease
terror attacks if the GOT would end its anti-terror
operations in return. He also reportedly called for a
"peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue."

So, are protests for real?

7.(SBU) Comment: At their roots, the regional protests
are real, despite clumsy GOT efforts to manipulate
them, in that there is frustration among people in the
southeast region that they may again become caught in
the crossfire between PKK terror attacks and GOT
reprisals. Local contacts also express disappointment,
although not surprise, that neither PKK cadres still
espousing terror and violence nor the GOT seem to
understand the message protestors are trying to
communicate to them. Recent TGS Deputy Chief General
Basbug and subsequent police official calls for
prosecution of the four recently-released DEP deputies
for transgressions reportedly committed during their
June southeastern Turkey tour are deepening regional
discouragement. Finally, some contacts point out that
the return of violence to the region is again delaying
nascent efforts to start village return and
resettlement programs, another thorny regional bone of
contention. End Comment.


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