Japan’s Justice Ministry has shown responsibility by basing its decision to remove the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from its list of terrorist organisations on factual information rather than the alleged misinformation spread by the Turkish government, the Brussels-based umbrella group of Kurdish organisations, the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK), said on Friday.
The recent removal of the PKK from Japan’s list of foreign terrorist organisations by the country’s Public Security Intelligence Agency (PSIA) was due to Japan’s move to use UN Security Council designations, which propose sanctions against a smaller selection of organisations in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1267, according to a PSIA spokesman. The list was updated in September, but the changes were not published on the agency’s website until late November.
The KNK welcomed the delisting of the PKK by Japan’s PSIA and called on the country to play a constructive role in international politics to facilitate a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question in Turkey.
The Kurdish organisation stressed that Kurds continue to face severe repression within Turkey, where the government has been accused of burning down over 4,000 Kurdish villages, using death squads against Kurdish journalists and torturing Kurdish human rights activists. Turkey has also been criticised for outlawing the Kurdish language and culture. According to the KNK, these conditions have fuelled the PKK’s resistance to the Turkish state since 1978.
The KNK’s written statement describes Turkey as increasingly becoming a lawless state, with both the European Parliament and the European Commission confirming in their 2022 reports that the Turkish government no longer adheres to constitutional principles.
“Since 2017, the legislative, judicial and executive branches have been under the de facto control of [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan’s regime. The cruelty of his authoritarian leadership can be seen in the ever-increasing number of political prisoners, now estimated to be in the tens of thousands,” the KNK said.
The KNK draws a sharp contrast between the PKK and Turkey, emphasising the former’s commitment to women’s rights, environmental sustainability, ethnic co-existence, religious diversity and democratic inclusion. The organisation also stressed the PKK’s willingness to engage in peaceful negotiations to end the conflict. The KNK, on the other hand, accused Turkey of suppressing freedom of speech, arresting Kurdish mayors, repealing laws protecting women and supporting jihadist proxies in the Middle East.
The umbrella organisation expressed the hope that Japan’s move would pave the way for other nations to reconsider the PKK’s designation, thereby promoting the potential for a peaceful political solution to the long-standing ‘Kurdish question’.