Military activity taking place in the Southeast of Turkey; cease-fires; names of provinces currently remaining under emergency rule [TUR37772.E]

The capture of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdulla Öcalan in February 1999, his subsequent declaration of a cease-fire, and the withdrawal of PKK troops from Turkey to bases in northern Iraq and Iran has led to a significant decrease in violence in Turkey's southeast region (UNHCR/ACCORD 13 Nov. 2000; ISN 13 Aug. 2001; AP 28 June 2001; ISN 22 Aug. 2001). Reportedly, the PKK has made efforts to transform itself into a political movement, publicly abandoning their goal of an independent Kurdistan and announcing that they will settle for "cultural rights" (ISN 22 Aug. 2001; UNHCR/ACCORD 13 Nov. 2000; Washington Report June 2000; JIR May 2000).

However, several articles report the continuation of sporadic clashes between PKK and Turkish troops; many instances resulting in deaths on both sides (ISN 22 Aug. 2001; XINHUA 21 May 2001; Deutsche Presse-Agentur 21 Sept. 2000; The Independent 7 Oct. 2000; The Guardian 31 Aug. 2000; AP 25 June 2000; ibid. 15 Apr. 2000). A 13 August 2001 article posted on the Website of the Swiss government-supported International Relations and Security Network quotes a Turkish security official as saying that "[s]ince as many as 600 PKK (rebels) remain in the emergency -rule zone, we've taken precautions against possible PKK activities" (ISN). The Turkish armed forces rejected the PKK's unilateral cease-fire, declaring it a temporary tactic on the part of the PKK and, according to a report in The Guardian, have "vowed to hunt them down until they surrender or have been killed" (AP 21 Mar. 2001; The Guardian 31 Aug. 2001). According to a 28 June 2001 Associated Press report "[s]ome 200,000 soldiers are based in the southeast - as many as at the height of the 15-year rebel insurgency - backed up by tanks and armored cars visible at roadblocks and paramilitary police."

A 26 January 2001 article reported Öcalan as warning that his supporters will renew their armed struggle if the Turkish government instigates further attacks against Kurds. Öcalan was quoted as stating "We don't want war but if they come to us with the aim of extermination, we will use our legitimate right to self-defence, which is a universal right" (ISN).

As of 5 July 2001, the southeastern provinces of Hakkari, Sirnak, Tunceli, and Diyarbakir remain under a state of emergency rule (U.S. Dept./State 5 July 2001; AP 29 June 2001; ibid. 26 June 2000). The Turkish National Security Council, composed of top generals and ministers, had agreed to extend emergency rule in the four provinces for another four months following the expiration of the previous period on 30 July 2001 (AP 26 June 2001). As well, the United States Consular Information Sheet on Turkey lists the provinces of Van, Sirt, Mardin, Batman, Bingol and Bitlis as "'sensitive areas' or one level below a state of emergency" (U.S. Dept./State 5 July 2001).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References


Associated Press (AP). 29 June 2001. "Turkish Parliament Extends Emergency Rule in Southeast." (NEXIS)

_____.28 June 2001. "Kurdish Anger Simmers in Turkey." (United Nations News) http://www.worldnews.com/?action=display&article=7975212&te.../index.txt&index=recen [Accessed 23 August 2001]

_____. 21 March 2001. "AP Photos." (NEXIS)

_____. 26 June 2000. "Emergency Rule Lifted in Van in Turkey's Southeast." (NEXIS)

_____. 25 June 2000. "Turkish Troops Kill 11 Kurdish Fighters." (NEXIS)

_____. 15 April 2000. "Hand Grenade Explosion Kills Four Soldiers in Southeast Turkey." (NEXIS)

Deutsche Presse-Agentur. 21 September 2000. "Four PKK Rebels Reproted Killed in Clashes with Turkish Forces." (NEXIS)

The Guardian [London]. 31 August 2000. "Turkish Troops Kill 16 Kurdish Fighters."(NEXIS)

The Independent [London]. 7 October 2000. "Landmine and Grenade Kill Three." (Financial Times Information/NEXIS)

International Relations and Security Network (ISN). 13 August 2001. "10 Arrests Ahead of Kurdish Anniversary." (Reuters/United Nations News) http://www.worldnews.com/?action=display&article=8714378&te.../index.txt&index=recen [Accessed 23 August 2001]

_____. 22 August 2001. "Turkish Troops Clash with Kurds." (Reuters/United Nations News) http://www.worldnews.com/?action=display&article=8857522&te.../index.txt&index=recen [Accessed 23 August 2001]

_____. 26 January 2001. "Öcalan Claims Right to 'Self-Defense.'" (BBC) http://www.isn.ch/infoservice/index.cfm?service=cwn&parent=detail&sNewsID=1829&menu=3 [Accessed 23 August 2001]

Jane's Intelligence Review (JIR) [Surrey]. May 2000. "PKK Ceasefire Faces Collapse as Turkish Troops Head to Iraq."

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation (ACCORD). 13 November 2000. "Turkey: Country Report." (Presented by Ayliz Baskin and Gerlinde Wachter at the 6th European Country of Origin Information Seminar 13 November 2000). http://www.oefse.at/accord/download/reptur_f.rtf [Accessed 20 August 2001]

US Department of State. 5 July 2001. Turkey - Consular Information Sheet. http://www.travel.state.gov/turkey.html [Accessed 23 August 2001]

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. June 2000. "Turkey's Kurds Look Forward to Enhanced Cultural Rights as Turkey Moves Toward EU Membership." http://www.washington-report.org/backissues/062000/0006031.html [Accessed 23 August 2000]

XINNUA. 21 May 2001. "Turkish Security Forces Kill 5 PKK Rebels." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted


IRB databases

The Middle East

Middle East Report

Resource Centre. Country File December 2000-January 2001

Internet sites, including:

BBC

CNN

Kurdish Observer

World News Connection