‘Remove PKK from terror list,’ petition tells UK govt

© Asmaa Waguih
A petition is calling on the British government to remove the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from its list of terrorist organizations, citing the group’s democratic foundations and ongoing war against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

As of Friday afternoon, nearly two thousand people had signed the petition on the Parliament website calling on the UK to support the PKK rather than proscribe it.

The petition follows the imprisonment of a British teenage girl last week found guilty of trying to join the PKK.

Sihan Ozcelik, 18, from London, was sentenced to 21 months in jail for engaging in conduct in preparation for terrorist acts.

The far-left PKK is proscribed by several states and organizations, including NATO and the European Union.

However, Russia, Switzerland, India, China and the United Nations do not list the PKK as a terrorist organization.

Colin Chalmers, author of the petition, describes the PKK as the opposite of IS.

“The PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) is fighting Daesh/ISIS on the ground, defending Kurdish and other communities from its barbarism. It is proving extraordinarily militarily effective. The UK should be supporting the PKK, not proscribing it.

“The PKK rescued thousands of Yazidi civilians threatened with genocide in 2014. Its sister organization the YPG has protected Christian communities in Syria.

“The PKK’s strategy is to pursue peace talks while encouraging democracy in Kurdish areas. They embrace women’s rights and oppose every aspect of the reactionary ideology of Daesh/ISIS,” he added.

Kurds, who have lived in Turkey for centuries, have been fighting against Turkish authorities for several decades. They demand an independent state or at least greater autonomy.

A ceasefire between the PKK and Turkey officially ended in early November after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan vowed to “liquidate” the group.

The PKK had declared a ceasefire on October 10, saying it wanted to avoid violence that might prevent a fair election in Turkey. Ankara dismissed the move and launched airstrikes against the group a day later.

“It is clear that a fresh halt to hostilities can only be achieved with a new will for a solution of the Kurdish problem within the Turkish state and talks aimed at such solution,” the PKK’s statement said.

“We call on all the Kurdish people, the peoples of Turkey and [democratic] forces to step up their struggle.”