Looks like Australian authorities are following the lead of foreign states, and attempting to eliminate support for terrorism.
“The Australian Federal Police (AFP) carried out raids across [Melbourne]’s north and south-east, as part of an investigation into the funding of terrorism.”
No, the AFP weren’t raiding foreign Embassies, Government offices, or those belonging to TNCs, but rather various Kurdish cultural associations, including the HQ of the ‘Kurdish Association of Victoria’.
According to the Multicultural Justice Directory:
The Kurdish Association of Victoria helps newly arrived Kurdish refugees and migrants. The Association provides a range of services for the Kurdish community, including settlement, advocacy, referral, education and health issues. It also offers cultural and recreational programs in the areas of folk dancing, traditional music and Kurdish language.
Presumably, however, the AFP knows better — although no arrests have been made at this stage.
Judging by its actions, the AFP seems to believe that the Association, or those on its periphery, is somehow complicit in supporting or funding the activities of the ‘Kurdistan Workers’ Party’ (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan / پارتی کار کهرانی کوردستان / Parti Karkerani Kurdistan / PKK). Founded in 1978, the PKK was first listed as a terrorist organisation by the HoWARd government on December 17, 2005, relisted on September 27, 2007 and again on September 8, 2009. According to those bureaucrats in Canberra, the party appears to be one of if not the only secular, non-Muslim organisations in the world engaged in terrorism… although I suspect that if the government were to employ a standard definition of the term ‘terrorism’, it may find other organisations whose activities merit their inclusion.
In any case, a law-talking guy, the director of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, Greg Barns:
…says the enforcement of anti-terrorism laws can raise some tricky issues of justice for people living far from their home countries.
“One of the difficulties with this area of the law is that it can mean that people who have given money or other forms of aid to organisations overseas for the most humanitarian of motives could suddenly find themselves and their acts being criminalised,” he said.
“If these laws had been around in the 1970s and 80s anyone who gave money to Nelson Mandela’s ANC or the IRA or Fretilin in East Timor would now be criminalised under the anti-terror laws.”
So what’s the problem?
The PKK is an ostensibly revolutionary organisation, engaged in a nationalist independence struggle. Two recent reports on the PKK’s struggle in northern Iraq by the BBC:
- Seeking out the PKK gunmen in Iraq’s remote mountains
July 21, 2010
“In Iraq’s northern mountains, Kurdish rebels the PKK plan and launch their attacks on Turkey. The BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse sought them out.”
Turkey’s PM Erdogan vows to ‘annihilate’ PKK rebels
June 20, 2010
“Turkey has vowed to fight Kurdish rebels until they are “annihilated”, after attacks killed 11 soldiers.”
A week ago, Turkish authorities arrested a US journalist named Jake Hess “for alleged collaboration with Kurdish activists charged with links to Kurdish rebels” — that is, the PKK. Hess is likely to be kicked out of the country. A few days prior to his arrest, Hess published ‘Kurdish Refugees: ‘We’re Not Living, Just Not Dying’ (Antiwar.com, August 5, 2010):
On Apr. 14 2009, the Turkish government began a series of arrest operations that has led to the imprisonment of between roughly 840 and 1,600 Kurdish political activists, among them elected mayors from the leftist and pro- Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), and renowned human rights activists.
“Kurds are under attack in all areas. We can’t tie our hands and wait for our death[.] We have to exercise our right to defend ourselves, because all doors (to a solution) have been closed,” Deniz tells IPS.
“Like all peoples, we want to freely speak our language and develop our culture. We want our most natural rights to be respected — it’s that simple.”
Hess also notes that “In 2007, the Bush administration deemed the PKK a ”common enemy” of Washington, Ankara, and Baghdad” — and now too Melbourne in 2010. “The U.S. government subsequently began to provide Turkey with actionable intelligence concerning PKK positions across the border. Since then, Turkey and Iran have been jointly bombing and shelling Kurdish villages close to their respective boundaries with Iraq.”
I can remember reading material on the Kurdistan struggle back when I was a teenager, and around the time George I decided it would be a good idea to invade Iraq. (In 1999, when the PKK’s leader, Abdullah Öcalan, was captured by Turkish authorities, supporters organised rallies in protest.) At this time, supporting the PKK was not a crime, and the possibility that the US invasion would put an end to Hussein’s regime, and also liberate northern Iraq from Iraqi state control, was considered a real possibility, at least by some. It didn’t happen, of course, and Kurdish hopes, along with those of many other cultural, ethnic, political and religious minorities, were dashed. Still, I’m sure I’ve got a few issues of The Voice of Kurdistan lying around somewhere…
No I haven’t.
See also : Kurdistan Anarchists Forum (KAF) | THE KURDISH UPRISING AND KURDISTAN’S NATIONALIST SHOP FRONT AND ITS NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE BAATHIST/FASCIST REGIME (plus an account of the workers’ councils), 1991 | Primitive Rebels or Revolutionary Modernizers? The Kurdish Nationalist Movement in Turkey, Paul J White, Zed Books, 2000 | Sheri Laizer interviews Dr. Paul White, KurdishMedia.com, April 6, 2001 | Kurds continue the struggle for an independent state, Tracy Bowden, The 7.30 Report, March 28, 2003.
Terrorism ‘PKK Propaganda’!
Turkey Accused of Using Chemical Weapons against PKK
Daniel Steinvorth and Yassin Musharbash
August 12, 2010
German experts have confirmed the authenticity of photographs that purport to show PKK fighters killed by chemical weapons. The evidence puts increasing pressure on the Turkish government, which has long been suspected of using such weapons against Kurdish rebels. German politicians are demanding an investigation.
It would be difficult to exceed the horror shown in the photos, which feature burned, maimed and scorched body parts. The victims are scarcely even recognizable as human beings. Turkish-Kurdish human rights activists believe the people in the photos are eight members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) underground movement, who are thought to have been killed in September 2009.
In March, the activists gave the photos to a German human rights delegation comprised of Turkey experts, journalists and politicians from the far-left Left Party, as SPIEGEL reported at the end of July. Now Hans Baumann, a German expert on photo forgeries has confirmed the authenticity of the photos, and a forensics report released by the Hamburg University Hospital has backed the initial suspicion, saying that it is highly probable that the eight Kurds died “due to the use of chemical substances.”
Did the Turkish army in fact use chemical weapons and, by doing so, violate the Chemical Weapons Convention it had ratified?