Letter: Our lucky Kurds

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The Independent Online
autonomous local institutions, then imposed physical separation between Albanians and Serbs; and finally this summer they expelled the Albanian population. Joan Smith (4 July) is badly informed if she supposes that the situation of Kurds in Turkey begins to compare with this.

Kurds in Turkey genuinely have full rights as citizens. If you meet an MP or army officer or judge or film star or millionaire in Turkey, he or she often turns out to be Kurdish, but is as much a committed part of Turkey as anyone else. Is this anything like the situation in Kosovo?

The rest of Joan Smith's picture needs faulting on virtually every detail. She says Abdullah Ocalan was "kidnapped" in Kenya. In fact he was there illegally and the Kenya government was fully aware of the operation. She may not think he got a fair trial, but the Council of Europe's observers concluded that he did, and anyway the appeals process has not yet begun.

Her picture of him leaves out most of the facts. Ocalan's original ambition was to be an officer in the Turkish army. When he failed the exams, he turned to Marxist revolutionary politics and terrorism. His interest in specifically Kurdish goals came later. Ocalan's thousands of brutal killings, all of which he admitted, were at the centre of his trial. Calling them "nasty" understates their enormity.

Turkey offers all its citizens, including the Kurds, a parliamentary system and a rapidly growing economy. Neither may be completely perfect yet, but they are a lot better than what the Kosovan Albanians had, or what the Kurds enjoy in neighbouring countries.

The situation is a very complex and dangerous one. Turkey has repeatedly sheltered and protected Kurdish refugees from neighbouring countries. On matters like education, every country moves at its own speed. Turkey already has some TV broadcasting in Kurdish languages, and other changes are being discussed. Millions of Turkish Kurds clearly reject the PKK, its goals and its methods. Why can't Joan Smith bring herself to do the same?


Turkish Ambassador

London SW1