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Issue 36, March 1999

Ocalan abduction

THE ABDUCTION OF Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan by Turkish secret services has sparked furious protests by Kurds and truly internationalised the Kurdish question. The brutal and humiliating manner of Ocalan's kidnapping in Nairobi, the suspected involvement of US and Israeli secret agents, and the shooting of Kurdish protesters at the Israeli consulate in Berlin, have further enraged the Kurds and their supporters.

More desperate protests can be expected, including self-immolation and mass hunger strikes. However, it would be a tragedy and counter-productive for the PKK to again engage in indiscriminate attacks on Turkish civilians and European targets. This could cost the Kurdish people much international workers' sympathy and it would also be used by European governments as a further excuse to crack down on exiled Kurds.

The Turkish nationalists have celebrated Ocalan's capture and are pressing home their advantage with renewed attacks on PKK strongholds in Northern Iraq. Ocalan will face a show-trial, resulting in a lengthy sentence or execution.

The PKK are on the backfoot but if anything Ocalan's arrest has exacerbated the Kurdish question. It also makes forcefully clear that the oppressed Kurds will find no salvation in the international big powers.

The PKK leadership has made appeals to the US, the EU and the UN to arbitrate a just settlement with Turkey and have even swapped the demand for independence with a call for autonomy. But the main powers exerted great pressure on other countries not to give Ocalan asylum.

Israel and Turkey are the two key allies of the US in the region. The relations between these states and their primary economic, military, strategic and political interests, come well before attempts to wrestle with the dislocation caused by the conflict in Turkish Kurdistan.

  The Kurdish masses have long been viewed as expendable pawns by the regional and world powers. Their struggle will only find support and solidarity from the world working class and its organisations. United workers' struggles in Kurdistan, Turkey and throughout the region, to remove all the repressive regimes and for democratic rights and socialism, is the only viable strategy.

The previous issue of Socialism Today (No.35) included a fuller look at perspectives for Kurdish self-determination. For a copy of the article e-mail us at For Socialism Today subscription details, including a free back-issue offer, see inside front page.

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