by Gordon Taylor | 11/07/2007 01:51:00 AM
I never seem to get caught up with this series. Just as I put up one thing, another item comes along that demands to be noticed. I've already noted that the 8 Turkish POWs were released on Sunday morning, 11/4. When I heard on Saturday that three members of the Turkish Parliament had crossed into Iraq, it was pretty obvious that they were trying to get the men released. But I also asked myself, How long until these three parliamentarians are going to be accused of treason for consorting with a terrorist group? Well, not long:

Turkish Daily News, 6 November 2007

An investigation was launched about three Democratic Society Party (DTP) deputies yesterday who took back the eight missing Turkish soldiers from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq Sunday.

Deputies of the Pro-Kurdish DTP, Aysel Tuğluk, Osman Özçelik and Fatma Kurtulan had signed a document with the PKK terrorists during the release of the soldiers, who called their engagement merely "humanitarian." But the DTP's initiative was frowned upon by a large part of the Turkish public as well as the government and other opposition parties. The Soldiers were taken hostage on Oct.21.

The chief public prosecutor's action came after a statement by government spokesman Cemil Çiçek, who claimed that the DTP deputies were caught red-handed as they were photographed while receiving the soldiers and jointly signing a document with the PKK on a table decorated with pictures of terrorist leader Abdullah Öcalan. "We knew that our soldiers would be freed one day before their release and before the three mentioned deputies went [to northern Iraq]," said Çiçek, underlining that there was another point that must not be overlooked in the images. "It is clear who is close to the terror organization," he said.

Those who denied knowledge on the whereabouts of the terrorists made a clear impression on Sunday, said Çiçek, lashing out at the DTP's rhetoric of "mediating for the sake of humanitarianism." The DTP earlier announced that the party regarded the hostage crisis from a humanitarian point of view, not from a political one.

Mediation vs. negotiation

As the DTP's influence on the PKK led to judicial action, discussions on the scale of DTP-PKK relations flared up in Parliament again. The DTP's self-declared role as "mediator" was interpreted as that of "negotiator" in Ankara. The DTP's objective was seen as pushing for a political solution to the Kurdish problem by negotiating between the state and the PKK, a terrorist organization. Spokesmen of various parties castigated the "mediation" initiative of the DTP by stressing that the state will not negotiate with terrorists.

Politicians of Kurdish origins that gathered under the DTP made their first significant move this weekend. Three of them, Osman Özçelik, Aysel Tuğluk and Fatma Kurtulan went to northern Iraq and took back the missing soldiers by contacting the PKK under surveillance of Iraqi officials, northern Iraq government representatives and U.S. soldiers. The DTP highlighted its message to the public that it is the address to resort to for a political solution. The DTP's leader, Ahmet Türk, reiterated that they adopted a humanitarian view of the crisis, speaking to Turkish Daily News. The DTP's head of parliamentary administration, Sırrı Sakık, denied any ulterior motives for gaining political leverage from the hostage situation. "But we repeat this: Turkey must solve this problem with dialogue," he [said].

AKP angry with DTP

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) parliamentary group deputy leader, Nihat Ergün, said it is not clear how exactly the DTP was involved in the resolution of the hostage crisis, adding that these initiatives did not change the truth that the PKK spreads terror. "While the reality of terror remains in place, the DTP bringing soldiers back does not mean quitting the struggle," Ergün said.

An end to the nation state will not be considered as part of a political solution if this is what they mean by a political solution, said Ergün. "If DTP members want to bring terrorists back from the mountains, or convince the terrorist organization to give up violent methods, then let them use their influence," said Ergün. He added that any possibility of negotiations between the state and the terror organization is inconceivable.

'DTP benefits from hostage crisis'

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) parliamentary group deputy leader, Oktay Vural, said the DTP is after political gain by turning the hostage situation into a negotiation process. "It was known from the beginning who took the soldiers, who controlled them and who was in charge. The DTP knew this too," said Vural.

"Was it the AKP who wanted the DTP to mediate? Did they ask Barzani to mediate between Turkey and Barzani? It was impossible for the PKK to harm the soldiers anyway," said Vural, adding that the exploitation of the event was a sign of the beginning of a negotiation process.

Republican People's Party deputy leader, Cevdet Selvi, said they found the DTP's efforts to mediate with the PKK unhealthy. "Turkey would never negotiate with terrorists. These attempts are merely intended to distract Turkey from a cross-border operation," he said.

And you thought American politicians were stupid! Once again, we are Through the Looking Glass.

I was going to post the following photographs anyway, simply because they form an interesting narrative of something that we seldom get to see. But the government spokesman, Mr. Cicek, has put forth so blatant a lie that it makes sense to look at them anyway.

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It's just after daybreak in the mountains of northern Iraq. The convoy of SUVs has arrived from Erbil, and their headlights are still on.

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The delegation walks up the road. In addition to security men, there are three MPs from Turkey and two representatives of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).

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The PKK commanders (in guerrilla uniform) and KRG reps converse. Note that the Turkish MPs are not taking part.

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The PKK guerrillas have formed up in ranks, the table (with Ocalan's picture) is ready, and all the officials are in attendance. To the left of the table, remaining aloof, are Osman Ocelik, Aysel Tugluk, and Fatma Kurtulan, all members of the Turkish parliament and members of the DTP, or Democratic Society Party.

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In full waiting mode. Note, on the left, the woman commander of the YJA-STAR (women's guerrilla army) detachment, looking about as great as a guerrilla could possibly look. Love the scarf. Michael Kors take note.

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Waiting continues. Note the dark opening to the ravine at the upper right of the picture.

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And here they are.

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All eight of them, with escort.

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Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government Rep signing the transfer papers. There is no indication in any of these photos that the Turkish MPs are signing or dealing with the PKK commanders.

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Another view of the signing.

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Here the Turkish MPs are involved. They are greeting the newly released soldiers. Note that one of them is embracing Fatma Kurtulan, MP from Van. Obviously he is outraged that she is consorting with the terrorist enemy.

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Another view of the greeting line.

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The sun has now risen. Iraqi KRG reps review the PKK formation.

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The SUVs in the convoy have turned around. It is time to return to Erbil. Later in the day the soldiers were put on a plane and flown back to Turkey. Accompanying them was Gen. David Petraeus of the US Army.



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Blogger Mizgîn on 11/09/2007 9:56 AM:

Gordon, the women guerrillas in these photos are properly members of YJA-STAR (Yekitiya Jinen Azad), the women's units of HPG (Hezen Parastina Gel). PAJK (not to be confused with PJAK) is a political wing, not an armed organization.

The YJA-STAR guerrillas have their own website, here.


Blogger Gordon Taylor on 11/10/2007 10:43 PM:

My mistake. Thank you for the correction, M.


Blogger Hevallo on 11/11/2007 3:07 PM:

Dear Gordon or others at Progressive Historians,

I would be very interested to know if in military history or the history of any country that soldiers who are taken as prisoners of war but are released by the enemy, are then imprisoned by the country for whom they fought.

I'ts a serious question for Progressive Historians.

I remember the British Navy personel who were taken hostage by the Iranians but were looked after by the UK military after there release.

I remember the Israeli soldiers who Israel claimed as the reason for the bombardment of Lebannon for.

Is there a precedent for this behaviour by the Turkish Military?


Blogger Jeremy Young on 11/11/2007 3:26 PM:

Well, I know a little about military history, so I'll take a stab at this.

My guess would Because the only reason you'd imprison your own soldiers would be because they had somehow aided in the enemy's military or propaganda efforts. If the first, then the "capture" wasn't authentic in the first place, so it doesn't count. If the second, that would only have happened in the years since WWII, when war propaganda became internationally available through the medium of television.

In Vietnam, a few of the American prisoners were given the option of early release in exchange for telling the media when they got home that they had been well-treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions (which was far from the truth). Three men, led by Air Force Col. Norris Overly, took the early release and fed the pre-programmed lies to the media; in doing so they almost certainly hurt the American war effort. Nevertheless, not only were these men not disciplined by the military when they returned, they were not even dishonorably discharged. What they did was almost exactly what the Turkish soldiers are being charged with doing.

There's probably precedent for incarcerating "captured" soldiers who were really informants, or sending former prisoners who have gone mad to a mental hospital, but that's not what's going on here. This is just despicable -- those soldiers would have done better to have stayed in Kurdistan.


Blogger Gordon Taylor on 11/11/2007 11:46 PM:

See my comment at "Is There Precedent..?"