Letter: Nato too late again

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Sir: Whilst international attention focuses on Kosovo, and rightly so, D Carpenter (Letter, 7 October) is right to remind us of the similar war of ethnic cleansing being practised by the Turkish forces in south- eastern Turkey against the Kurds.

In July I had extensive talks with Abdulla Ocalan, president of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), to establish a dialogue between the PKK and European parliamentarians in an attempt to commence a peace process to end the 15-year-old war. The view of the British and American governments has always been that the war in Turkey is an internal matter. But the systematic denial of human rights, the burning and destruction of 2-3,000 villages, the extra-judicial killings, the disappearances, the creation of thousands of refugees and the destabilisation of the region are no more an internal matter for Turkey than the events in Kosovo are an internal matter for Serbia.

There can only be a political solution. Ocalan has declared a unilateral ceasefire in anticipation that European governments will respond. To date this has not been forthcoming and Turkey's response is to invade northern Iraq and to threaten to invade Syria. The situation is grave and the Kurdish question deserves the same degree of attention from the international community as Kosovo.


(Erith and Thamesmead, Lab)

House of Commons

London SW1