A cross-party parliamentary group in the UK has released an inquiry report on “Kurdish Political Representation and Equality in Turkey”, emphasising that the inquiry was published “at a time of acute crisis: a crisis of human rights and freedom of speech, and a fundamental collapse of democracy.”
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kurdistan in Syria and Turkey called upon the UK government to take action in support of imprisoned and persecuted political representatives and freedom of expression in Turkey and to reconsider listing the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a terrorist organization.
Emphasising the “dire situation” in Turkey regarding the “repression of political representatives, violence against women and girls, quashing of journalistic freedoms and militarised attacks targeting majority-Kurdish regions”, the report indicated that “recent years under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling party have seen a return to repressive and violent targeting of Kurds.”
The authors observed that the treatment of the Kurdish population and of elected representatives constituted “one of the greatest threats to democracy in Turkey and the wider region”, and said that the Turkish government cited the ongoing conflict with the PKK and the autonomous majority-Kurdish region in North East Syria, to “justify repression of Kurdish politicians and civilians.”
The report also drew attention to the rise in attacks against Kurds alongside the implementation of a number of state policies: “As the repression of democratically elected representatives has increased in severity, the violence directed at Kurdish civil society has also become more pronounced.”
The APPG recommended that the UK government take action in support of imprisoned and persecuted political representatives, freedom of expression, and an end to gender-based violence, it also offered recommendations “to revisit the automatic listing of the PKK as a terrorist organisation”, a listing which they said, was “at the behest of Turkey”, and something that was being used as “a cover to persecute legitimate political figures in Turkey and abroad.”
“The current trajectory of Turkish state repression of Kurdish communities can only lead to further human rights abuses and violence” the report concluded, adding: “The UK must support Kurdish political and cultural organisations, and put pressure on the Turkish government, to take action for lasting peace.”
On 4 August Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the chair of the group and a Labour MP, announced that the report had been sent to UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab. As yet, no official response to the report has been made public.
The APPG inquiry was launched on 9 November 2020 to “investigate the current state of Kurdish equality and political representation in Turkey” after an initial agreement had been reached in 2019 to conduct an investigation into Kurdish representation in Turkey.