Swedish MP: Turkey Has to Accept an Autonomous Kurdistan
STOCKHOLM, Sweden — As the Turkish government continues a campaign of
detention of Kurdish politicians, activists and journalists, many
Kurds wonder what the position of European governments is on such mass
arrests. The detainees are accused of affiliation with the outlawed
Kurdish group Union of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK). Turkey wants to
become a member of the European Union (EU) but has to meet certain
criteria to qualify for membership. On this issue Rudaw interviewed
Peter Hultqvist, member of the Swedish Parliament and chairman of the
Parliamentary Defense Committee. Hultqvist is considered a supporter
of Kurdish rights in Europe.
Rudaw: As a Swedish and European politician, how do you view the
arrest of political and civil activists in Turkey?
Pete Hultqvist: I used to be the mayor of Borlanges in Sweden for 18
years. People voted me in. The same is true with regard to the Kurdish
mayors who are now arrested in Turkey. They have been elected by the
people… The Turkish government needs to respect the votes of the
people and not attempt to suppress their voices. The KCK dossier is a
political one and not legal. Those tried under this name are being
tried for political and not legal reasons. I followed up on the first
KCK dossier in a Diyarbakir court. I saw how the detainees were
prohibited from using Kurdish language. They did not allow them to
speak in their language. Back then I said this is not a judicial case
and I do repeat again.
` Turkey has proven that it does not tolerate freedoms,’
Rudaw: The European countries are very sensitive to issue of the
freedom of expression. But last week 35 Kurdish journalists were
imprisoned in Turkey and yet no word was heard from Sweden or Europe
Peter Hultqvist: It is great injustice to arrest anybody, whether they
are a politician, journalist or average villager, for expressing their
opinions. That is unacceptable. If journalists and others are detained
because they expressed their views, then this is a political
detention. Turkey has proven that it does not tolerate freedoms.
Therefore, I believe if the Turkish government continues the way it
does now, then its chances of becoming an EU member will diminish.
Rudaw: But all those actions by Turkey have not had any impact on
breaking the silence by European countries. When will the Europeans
tell Turkey to stop?
Pete Hultqvist: I think Turkey has now crossed the line. Europe should
not allow Turkey to cross more lines and continue its violations of
human rights. But countries who often views other peoples and
countries as enemies, do not attach much importance to their
reactions. Turkey does not care if European countries and politicians
tell it to stop. They act according to their own opinion and not
others’. Now there is only one thing on their mind and that is to
defeat their rivals and all Kurds. That is what they are now
apparently focused on and not international reactions.
Rudaw: But European countries and diplomatic relations can affect the
attitude of other countries. Don’t you think the European silence may
play into the hands of Turkey?
Peter Hultqvist: I think Sweden and other European countries should
strongly criticize Turkey. They should not be tolerant toward the
unjust and illegal actions of Turkey. But the truth is that Europe is
silent about these actions of Turkey. For example, Europe can support
legal Kurdish parties such as the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) that
operate within a democratic framework. I consider BDP to be very
important and it can resolve the Kurdish issue. I wonder why the
Turkish state attempts to undermine BDP. It would mean undermining
Turkey and will close down the door on progress and the resolving of
issues. It will not only close the door on resolving the Kurdish
issue, but also on itself (Turkey).
` The important thing is that Kurds should have the right to have an
Rudaw: When do you mean exactly by solving the Kurdish issue?
Peter Hultqvist: In my opinion, Turkey should recognize the Kurdish
language in its laws. It should be allowed as an official language in
schools. I think language is an important issue. Kurdish parties and
organizations should not be closed down and their members should not
be detained. There should be freedom of assembly. All political
prisoners should be freed and their trials should be according to law.
Kurds should not be imprisoned because of their opinions. The
important thing is that Kurds should have the right to have an
autonomous Kurdistan. That is the legitimate right of all peoples
including Kurds. The Turkish state will have to accept this demand
because it is very legitimate. Turkey will close the doors on itself
by trying to eliminate the BDP. Turkey has to accept an autonomous