Investigation 03 June 2016 39 4171
Turkey has a long history of conflict with the Kurdish people whose historic homeland is spread over what is now Turkey, Syria and Iran. For many year, Kurds from the country’s South-East have campaigned for autonomy within the Turkish state. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has been fighting for independence and because it’s considered a terrorist group, is outlawed in Turkey. Until recently, a ceasefire had been in effect between the government and the PKK; that has now ended. Since then the conflict has escalated and hundreds have been killed. The local Kurdish population claims that Erdogan’s government is conducting an operation against their people. Civilians continue to die and the Turkish police enjoy unchecked authority. They insist that the widespread murder of Kurds is systematically covered up at state level. Erdogan’s government is also accused of collaborating with ISIS.
The Kurds in neighbouring Syria have also formed their own resistance, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units who are fighting against ISIS. Several accusations are levelled at the Turkish Government, supported by testimonies from Syrian Kurds, captured ISIS militants and Turkish journalists. They allege that Erdogan’s government buys illegal oil from ISIS, allows the militants safe passage across Turkish borders and even provides them with ammunition. Kurds also claim that with its “one nation, one country” policy, Erdogan’s government hopes to use ISIS as a tool to rid itself of the longstanding Kurdish thorn in its side.
Local journalists who have reported on government hostilities towards the Kurds are routinely persecuted and at least one major independent Turkish newspaper has been taken over by the government. Reporters who cover ‘pro-Kurdish’ stories are frequently accused of association with the PKK and by extension, terrorism; many have been arrested and even killed. RT Doc hears first-hand accounts from some of the few remaining independent journalists about their investigations and why they persevere despite the danger.