The PKK is not a terrorist organisation. It should never have been listed as such by Australia. In August 2018 the PKK’s current listing should not be renewed. The Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK has been listed as a terrorist organisation under Australia’s national security legislation continuously since 2006. Here are 8 reasons why the ending the ban in August 2018 is the right thing to do:
1. The PKK isn’t involved in terrorism. It has never deliberately targeted civilians or engaged in indiscriminate violence. Its armed wing, the HPG, is engaged in an armed conflict with the Turkish military and security forces — in much the same way that East Timor’s guerilla force, FALINTIL, fought Indonesia’s military forces before independence. FALINTIL was never listed by Australia as a terrorist group — and nor should the PKK.
2. The ban is based on erroneous evidence. The PKK has been accused by Turkish security agencies of drug smuggling, child kidnapping and deliberate targeting of civilians, all without evidence. Rather than prove its assertions, Turkey simply lets its absurd claims lapse — but the damage has been done. If there is evidence of the PKK engaging in terrorism or crime, let it be clearly stated. In its absence, the ban on the PKK should end.
3. The PKK poses no threat to Australia or Australians. Unlike the Islamist groups that make up the other 24 organisations banned in Australia, many of which have targeted Australians overseas or plotted terrorist acts in Australia, the PKK has never sought to harm Australians or brought its armed struggle to this country.
4. The PKK is a legitimate national liberation movement. Its beliefs place it to the left of the Australian political spectrum — but that in itself has no connection to terror. Its three core principles are real grassroots democracy, ecology and an absolute commitment to the rights and empowerment of women — hardly the stuff of a terrorist organisation!
5. The PKK is allied to the Syrian Democratic Forces or SDF. This Kurdish-led and multi-ethnic alliance played the leading role in ridding northern Syria of the scourge of ISIS terror gangs. The US military saw fit to support and arm the SDF as a highly effective and principled force — so what sense is there in Australia banning an SDF ally as a terror group?
6. The PKK has significant support in the Australian community. Many Australians, particularly those of Kurdish background, support the PKK as a legitimate political movement representing their aspirations. Banning the PKK effectively criminalises their political choice and potentially exposes thousands of Australians to lengthy jail terms, as Duncan Kerr has argued (see brochure).
7. The PKK has been the driving force for peace talks in Turkey. In March 2013 PKK leader Abdullah Õcalan initiated a peace process with the Turkish government, calling for a ceasefire and an end to the PKK’s armed struggle. Peace talks got underway but were brought to an abrupt end by Erdogan’s AKP, in a cynical attempt to foment nationalist sentiment and shore up its electoral support in the face of opposition gains.
8. The Turkish state is moving rapidly towards autocracy and dictatorship. Every day brings more news of the charging and jailing of opposition politicians, journalists and academics. Erdogan has established himself as a dictatorial president who uses compliant courts and the security apparatus to bully opponents and stifle dissent. The Turkish people deserve better — and Australia should be wary of banning the PKK at the behest of a tyrant.
Removing the ban on the PKK in Australia is an easy step for the government to take. It will not make Australia any less secure and is the principled and right thing for Australia to do. Lend your support and together let’s Lift the ban on the PKK in 2018!
[This is the lead article from our PKK campaign brochure.]