தமிழ்த் தேசியம்

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

Home

 Whats New

Trans State Nation Tamil Eelam Beyond Tamil Nation Comments Search

Home  > Tamils - A Trans State Nation > Beyond Tamil Nation: One World > The Strength of an Idea > Nations & Nationalism  > International Relations in the Age of Empire  > Armed Conflict - A Continuation of Politics with the Addition of Other Means> Armed Conflict & the Law > Theses On Liberation Movements And The Rights Of Peoples > What is Terrorism?  > Tamil Armed Resistance & the Law

Armed Conflict & the Law

Theses On Liberation Movements And The Rights Of Peoples
Michael Schubert
Translated by the Kurdistan Committee of Canada, 1992
On Liberation Movements And The Rights Of Peoples'

 "In short, anti-colonial and anti-racist liberation struggles are legally equivalent to war (read: international armed conflicts), likewise guerrillas are equal to soldiers in such conflicts. It is irrelevant whether or not the (colonial or racist) state accepts this. Declarations of war are equally irrelevant. Neither the Geneva Conventions nor the additional Protocols make use of the term "terrorism" to exclude certain groups from the humanitarian rights of people in war."


1.   On March 28, 1992, the Deutsche Presseagentur (dpa) reported the following:

"Despite a parliamentary moratorium, 15 Leopard-1 German tanks were delivered to Turkey as recently as February. This was confirmed on Friday by a government spokesman in Bonn. The SPD and FDP were shocked by the news and demanded the resignation of Defence Minister Stoltenberg (CDU). On Friday, Turkish President Demirel defended his country's actions against the Kurds as a struggle against terrorism."

According to the report: "A spokesman for the Defence Ministry called the shipment to Turkey a bureaucratic 'oversight'. Government spokesman Vogel said the matter would be looked into by the Ministry: 'The head of the Ministry is certainly not to blame.' In the words of the Turkish President, the struggle against terrorism in Turkey is similar to what 'Germany did against the Baader-Meinhof Gang'. Demirel said that his country was acting no differently than other nations confronted with terrorists fighting against the state armed with rocket launchers, mortars, grenades, bombs, and machine guns.

Foreign Minister Genscher's comments about human rights violations were the result of false information, he said. The Turkish government stood by its claims that it only uses force against militant Kurds and that the civilian population are not harmed. In this, there were no contradiction of reports of the deployment of German weapons from the former East German army, the NVA, in the Kurdish regions." (dpa/Badische Zeitung, 28.3.1992)

     The day before, on March 27, 1992, the then Foreign Minister Genscher answered the question "Is it even possible to still deliver weapons to a country guilty of such grave human rights violations like Turkey?" with the answer: "If the Turkish Republic doesn't undergo some major changes, No." He then said: "I can only say that under the present conditions there definitely is a persecution of the Kurdish minority taking place." (Stuttgarter Zeitung, 27.3.1992, p.2)

     Such statements and comments, in addition to numerous delegation reports, make it clear that German weapons deliveries are continuing and that there is a massive deployment of German weapons and munitions against the Kurdish civilian population (cf. Report from Bremen delegation members Oppermann, Helmke, and Schulz from 27.3.1992 about the deployment of German tanks in the Kurdish city of Cizre). Six months after the government's cover- ups and appeasements, journalist Wolfgang Storz wrote the following article for the Badische Zeitung on September 24, 1992: A preliminary glace reveals that, by means of NATO's strategic doctrine, Turkey is suppressing the Kurdish independence movement under the guise of "anti-terrorism".

Weapons deliveries from Germany are not the result of bureaucratic oversights in the Defence Ministry, but rather are part of NATO's strategy. That's why this isn't just a special problem involving Germany, even though Germany, as the strongest economic partner in Turkey, plays a central role. The problem of the Federal Republic of Germany and its EU and NATO partners is that they are forced to cover up known torture and other human rights violations in Turkey since the reality of the Turkish-ruled region of Kurdistan is in contradiction to the human rights standards of the EU and NATO. The actual dilemma is that the NATO states made a major issue of the suppression of Kurds in Iraq to forward their strategic interests against Saddam Hussein. If they don't express the same concerns with regard to the Turkish government, then it's clear that their policy is not dictated by human rights concerns but rather by strategic economic interests.

     Above all, the following development is clear: By dismissing the independence movement of the Kurdish people as "terrorism", the criminalization of it and the violation of human rights are integral parts of the solution to the Kurdistan problem at the international level, and the same is true for all liberation movements which are branded as "terrorist" by representatives of NATO states. The point of this text is to examine the aspects of this which relate to the rights of peoples which concern the recognition and handling of the Kurdish liberation struggle, bearing in mind the forcible colonial oppression, as an international struggle within which general human rights as well as the humanitarian rights of people in war must be respected. This text focusses on the section of Kurdistan controlled by Turkey, North-West Kurdistan. Links will be made between the practices of the Turkish government against the Kurds according to NATO strategy which violate the rights of peoples to the suppression of the Kurdish independence movement in the Federal Republic of Germany. All of this can only be done in a cursory manner.

2.   The system of the rights of peoples with respect to humanitarian laws of war was created through the Geneva Convention of 1864 after the founding of the International Red Cross, the Brussels Declaration of 15 European states in 1874, and both conventions on conventional warfare in The Hague in 1899 and 1907.

The aim of these institutions was to limit the allowable means of war and to compel parties at war to humanely treat civilian populations and to respectfully treat political opponents who are enemies in the war. The Fourth Hague Agreement concerning the laws of conventional warfare, passed on October 18, 1907, is still legally binding today (in Germany: RGBI 1910, p.10).

Even at the time of this Fourth Hague Agreement, the Hague Agreements on conventional warfare, interestingly enough, considered partisan struggles to be governed by rules of war and that partisans were to be considered combatants (cf. Art. 1 and the so-called levee en masse in Art. 2). Characteristic for the rules of that time was the notion of the "classical regularity of war", in other words there was to be a clear distinction between war and peace, combatants and non-combatants, and enemy and criminal, and wars between states are to be combats between the regular state armies of sovereign entities regulated by a jus belli (law of war).

     In the 20th century, the reality of war began to greatly diverge from the proposals of regularity in "classical" rights of peoples in war. Clear distinctions were no longer present. This fact has been recognized by nearly all experts on the rights of peoples, as a brief glance at contemporary rights of peoples in war will confirm (cf. Ignaz Seidl-Hohenveldern, Volkerrecht, Baden-Baden 1972, p.15; Hans-Ulrich Scupln, "Freischarler, Guerillos, Partisanen - Gedanken zum Begriff des Kombattenten" in Internationales Recht und Diplomatie, Cologne 1972, p.201ff.; Lombardi, Burgerkrieg und Volkerrecht, Berlin 1976, p.83ff.; Jurg H. Schmid, Die volkerrechtliche Stellung der Partisanen im Kriege, Zurich 1956). In brief, the changes were as follows:

Elimination of the distinction between war and peace; in so far as there is not a total world war, there are always small wars taking place somewhere in the world in different forms.

Elimination of the distinction between domestic and international wars due to the context of the global economy and the decline of single-state sovereignty.

Elimination of the distinction between combatants (as parties at war) and civilian populations (not parties at war according to the classical rules of war); all are involved and all are mobilized by the parties in the conflict.

The partisan form of struggle, namely the guerrilla, becomes the most significant form of struggle for oppressed peoples; the entire picture of conventional war, with its limited character of scope and means, is completely lost. In the case of NATO states, all wars have the potential of becoming world wars, threatening not only the total destruction of the enemy but of the entire planet as well.

It's tough to say whether it's even possible for there to be any further development of the rights of peoples in war given these conditions, but such rules could be effective if modified to fit contemporary changes in war-time conduct. In any case, the frightening and destructive consequences of the Second World War gave rise to the four Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, which were a considerable sign of progress.

     The Third Convention, which deals with Prisoners of War (in Germany: BGBI 1954 II. p. 838; the other Conventions are cited almost verbatim), includes an expanded definition of war which includes international conflicts which are not declared wars but rather armed conflicts between peoples. In other words, there could be a war situation "even if one of the parties refused to acknowledge the crisis" (Art. 2).

     Combatants are now clearly defined to include members of resistance movements, even after a successful occupation by another power (Art. 4; under classical rules of war, peoples no longer had the right to resist or use armed force following a successful occupation). But the formal demands of the Hague Agreements on conventional warfare were retained.

     Art. 3 contains an entirely new clause, one which recognizes the "binding rules of war for armed conflicts which do not possess an international character but which take place in the territory of a signatory nation". And this does not first require the counter party to the armed conflict to be recognized by the affected state.

     Art. 21ff. of the Third Convention lists specific rules for the treatment of Prisoners of War, including detention with a high degree of free movement, thereby prohibiting actual criminal prison detention. The only trials permitted for prisoners of war are those in the cases of illegitimate war-time activity (ie., something other than killing an enemy soldier, planning an ambush, etc.).

3.   Of considerable importance to the contemporary development of the humanitarian rights of people in war and its expansion to include armed liberation struggles is the support of the vast majority of UN member states for the last 50 years ever since the founding of the United Nations Charter on June 26, 1945 (in Germany: BGBI 1973 II p.431; 1974 II p.770; 1980 II p.1252; cf Berber, Volkerrechtliche Vertraege, 1983, p.17ff.), in particular the non-aggression clause in Art. 2 of the Charter, a position which developed despite the negative votes or abstentions of the NATO states. This position was expanded upon in several UN General Assembly resolutions and shows the importance which independence movements have in international developments.    

The following is stated in the "Declaration Of The Independence Of Colonial Nations And Peoples" (Resolution 1514 XV), which was passed on December 14, 1960:

2. All peoples have the right of self-determination. They are free to politically determine the force of this right and to freely struggle for economic, social, and cultural development.

4. All armed actions and measures of repression, of any type whatsoever, against dependent peoples are to be halted in order to make it possible for them to peacefully and freely enjoy their right to full independence. The integrity of their national territory will be respected.

     UN General Assembly Resolution 3103, passed on December 12, 1973, expanded the 1960 Declaration and the resolutions which came after it:

1. The struggle of the people under colonial or foreign rule or under a racist regime to gain their rights to self-determination and independence is legitimate and in full agreement with the Principles of the Rights of Peoples.

2. All attempts to suppress the struggle against colonial or foreign rule or against a racist regime are incompatible with the Charter of the United Nations, the Principles of the Rights of Peoples, the declaration concerning friendly relations and cooperation between states in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the declaration guaranteeing independence to colonized nations and peoples, and such attempts pose a threat to international peace and security.

     These resolutions clearly show that oppressed peoples who take up arms are not aggressors, but rather the colonial and occupying powers are, since they are using police and military force to suppress the right to self-determination (cf. Lombardi, p.189ff. and p.332ff., as well as UN Resolution 3314 XXIX, 14.12.1974). Therefore, the notion of aggression under the rights of peoples is more than just an actual armed attack, it also indicates the aggressive and inhumane structure of a system of which the utilization of police and military repressive machinery is just the external appearance.

4.   After two long period of negotiations, which were often stalled by the NATO states, there have been other steps taken to advance the notion of the humanitarian rights of peoples in war, including the December 12, 1977 additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

     The First Protocol deals with the protection of victims of so-called "international armed conflicts", and the Second Protocol deals with the protection of victims of so-called "non- international armed conflicts" (cf. Berber, Volkerrechtliche Vertraege, p.422, 483).

     In the First Protocol, progress was made with respect to the actual development of war and humanitarian protection. One significant change was the expansion of the notion of an international armed conflict, which the NATO states had previously stressed was only limited to wars between states. In Art. 1 Section 4 of the First Protocol, this is clearly stated:

"[These include] armed conflicts in which people are struggling to exercise their right to self-determination against colonial rule, foreign occupation, or a racist regime, as allowed for under the Charter of the United Nations and the "Statement On The Rights Of Peoples With Respect To The Foundations Of Friendly Relations And Cooperation Between States According To The Charter Of The United Nations".

     Concerning the status of combatants in such conflicts, this is no longer limited (as in the Geneva Conventions of 1949) to members of a state or a non-recognized government, but rather it also applies to parties in the conflict who belong to a non- recognized organization (cf. Art. 43 of the First Protocol; also Frick, "Ein neues Kapitel im humanitaren Kriegsvolkerrecht" in Vereinte Nationen, Nr.76/182). Furthermore, the distinctions between combatants and civilians were minimized and Prisoner of War status is to be granted, even if the formal rules are not adhered to. The following is written in Art. 44 Section 3:

In order to protect the civilian population from hostilities, civilians are not to be harmed if they are not taking part in attacks or war activities or preparing attacks. Because in certain armed situations it is not possible to differentiate between the combatants and the civilians, people are to be granted combatants status if they: a) are openly carrying a weapon during a military manoeuvre; b) are openly carrying a weapon in view of the enemy while on a military march prior to an attack which they are supposed to take part in.

And in Section 4:

A combatant who falls into enemy hands and who is not covered by the provisions of Section 3/2 is to be considered a Prisoner of War; he is entitled to all rights guaranteed by the Third Convention and this Protocol.

Section 5:

A combatant who falls into enemy hands, not while taking part in an attack or preparing for an attack, is not considered a combatant or a Prisoner of War because of his prior activity. (cf. other regulations in Art. 45 and the clear inclusion of guerrilla warfare in Art. 37 Section 2)

     In short, anti-colonial and anti-racist liberation struggles are legally equivalent to war (read: international armed conflicts), likewise guerrillas are equal to soldiers in such conflicts. It is irrelevant whether or not the (colonial or racist) state accepts this. Declarations of war are equally irrelevant. Neither the Geneva Conventions nor the additional Protocols make use of the term "terrorism" to exclude certain groups from the humanitarian rights of people in war.

The only preconditions - stated in Art. 4 of the Third Geneva Convention - are a certain degree of regulated means of struggle and compliance with the rules of war (Art. 4A/2d of the Third Convention). It goes without saying that such rules of war include attacks on the enemy's instruments of war or the killing of enemy combatants (in the case of Turkey, this includes soldiers and even police, since the latter are regularly deployed in anti-Kurdish acts of war).

Such acts have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism, but the Turkish government, with indirect support from Germany, for example, continually condemns such conduct as "terrorism".     Formally, the regulations of Art. 96 of the First Protocol can only be applied if both parties to the war are bound by the Protocol. States must ratify this Protocol for it to have effect. Turkey has not ratified the First Protocol. Germany, like most other NATO states, while often invoking this Protocol, has never ratified it, mostly due to concerns that the protection of civilians would not be possible in the event of a nuclear war.     

Liberation movements, whose armed wings adhere to a certain degree of regulated means of struggle in accordance with Art. 96 of the First Protocol, must issue a statement of intended compliance to the International Red Cross in Geneva. Such a statement then makes the Geneva Convention and the additional Protocols applicable to the organization which represents a people engaged in an anti-colonial war of liberation.

     [The PKK delivered this necessary statement to the United Nations and the Red Cross in Geneva on January 24, 1995.]

5.   The NATO states, at least until the end of the 1980s, were not able to do much about this reality of the development of war and the corresponding international law. At the same time, while paying lip service to the notion of human rights, these states could not openly call for limits to this in times of war. But because NATO's strategy was directly linked to the economic and strategic interests of its leaders, including Japan, the world's leading capitalist power, and members (including Turkey), there have been major contradictions in its conduct.

Compare the cases of Iraq/Kuwait and the former Yugoslavia to that of Palestine, South Africa, and, of course, Kurdistan. It is not in NATO's interest to support genuine independence for nations of the Three Continents or to allow oppressed peoples to have their own state. Ever since the end of the Second World War, the calls for human rights issued by the Foreign Ministries of these NATO countries have been directly contradicted by the daily praxis of their Defence Ministries, which used all means at their disposal to suppress independence movements. The same is true today. Our example cited above of press coverage in Germany about developments in Kurdistan did not illustrate the whims of former Defence Minister Stoltenberg or some renegade bureaucrat as the calls for resignation issued by the SPD and FDP parties (strangely silent under Stoltenberg's successor, Ruhe) might seem to indicate.

     The notion of terrorism plays a key role in NATO's strategy of countering increased appeals for human rights and the development of humanitarian rights of people in war. Today, "the fight against terrorism" is used to suspend the state's legal guarantees, such as in criminal law and the right to seek asylum in NATO states, as well as to avoid recognizing human rights and international law with respect to liberation movements (cf. Janssen and Schubert, Staatssicherheit: Die Bekaempfung des politischen Feindes in Inneren, Bielefeld 1990, p.85ff. and p.195ff.).

A few thoughts on the development of this NATO strategy:

The starting point for all of this, in connection with American psychological warfare which had begun as early as the Second World War, was the experience of many NATO states - the USA, France, Great Britain - beginning in the 1950s with military defeats against liberation movements in countries of the "Third World", despite having vast economic and military superiority. The French Chief of Staff Andre Beaufre wrote about his own experiences in Algeria and Vietnam in his 1973 German-language book 'Die Revolutionierung des Kriegsbildes':

The surprising success of the decolonization wars can only be explained by the following: The weak seem to have defeated the strong, but actually just the reverse was true from a moral point of view, which brings us to the conclusion that limited wars are primarily fought on the field of morale. (p.34)

     The British Chief of Staff Frank Kitson, who experienced defeat in Malaysia, Kenya, and Cyprus, was able to research several Third World liberation movements, and he drew the following conclusions for Western Europe in the 1970s in his book 'Prior To War: Preventing Subversion And Revolt':

Although subversion and revolt have been present throughout this entire century, never have they been so effectively used as in the last 25 years. All around the world, these struggles have grown to such an extent that some observers now speak of "modern warfare". Such conflicts represent a new dimension of war. (p.34)

     Characteristic of the development of the NATO position is NATO Letter Nr. 3/1976 which was issued by Sir Edward Peck of the NATO Information Office in Brussels. Entitled "The Five Fronts Of NATO", Peck calls subversion within the NATO states themselves the "fifth front of NATO", and he advises that the organization develop a common strategy to combat this. The development of several operative units - secret and generally illegal - within individual NATO states and states of the European Union (EU) is illustrative of this strategic orientation. This new NATO strategy concept is utilized by Turkey, with Germany's full knowledge and support, in its actions against the Kurds.

     The decisive tactical consequence which the NATO states drew from their defeats at the hands of anti-colonial liberation struggles and their own domestic disturbances was to stress the importance of preemptive military - and police - actions.

     In order for NATO states to quickly and effectively wipe out "revolt", which could get out of hand despite technical superiority (read: better weapons) due to the political and moral convictions of the mass movement, it is necessary to make comprehensive analyses early on and to take effective action in the psychological arena. It's no coincidence, therefore, that military and police circles seem to stress the benefits of "psychological warfare".

Ever since the U.S. Defence Department organized the first ever World Wide Psyops Conference in 1963 and the first NATO Symposium On Defence Psychology in Paris in 1960, many NATO leaders and several scientists have been working in the field of psychological counter-insurgency methods (cf. the detailed reports and analyses of P. Watson, Psycho-War: Possibilities, Power, And The Misuse Of Military Psychology, Frankfurt 1985, p.25ff.).

     The central aim of this defence approach is to destroy the morale of the insurgent movement at the early stages, to discredit it and destroy it using repressive means like long periods of isolation detention in prisons, thereby preventing a mass movement from starting which could be hard to control with conventional means. Defaming the insurgents as "terrorists" and punishing them accordingly - thereby ignoring international law concerning the rights of people in war - is a particularly useful means. The German constitutional law professor Ulrich K. Peuss noted this back in 1975 in his essay "Thoughts On The Notion Of Political Prisoners":

Criminal law not only has the ability to make members of a party in the civil war "criminals", it can also punish them on a moral level by not seeing them as opponents in a war but rather as morally inferior criminals. Both of these are means of criminalizing political opponents. (in: Politische Prozesse ohne Verteidigung, Berlin 1975, p.18)

     It is clear that this NATO strategy has been used consistently since the 1970s against independence movements and domestic disturbances which threaten NATO's economic and strategic interests, dismissing these as "terrorist" in contradiction to developing international law. In a May 1975 government study on military strategy in Western Europe commissioned by the London Institute for the Study of Conflicts, the following was written: "Wherever possible, terrorists should be charged under normal criminal statutes and treated as normal criminals."

And at the EU Minister's Conference in 1977, the problems with respect to the rights of peoples as outlined in the recently approved First Protocol to the Geneva Conventions were noted:

"The Ministers agreed that captured terrorists would not be treated as Prisoners of War as stated in the Geneva Convention." (Stuttgarter Zeitung, 1.6.1977)

As laws within NATO and EU states were strengthened in order to "fight against terrorism", those utilizing the term terrorism were well aware of what they were doing (cf. Schubert, "Terrorismusverfolgung: EG als Hebel repressiver Vereinheitlichung, die BRD als treibende Kraft?" in Europa und Strafverteidigung, especially p.168ff. which is based on the research of the Max-Plank Institute for National and International Law in Freiburg; and the European Agreement On Terrorism Prevention, 27.1.1977). We can assume that these contradictions were deliberately utilized in order to be ready for new situations, to cover up reality, and to increase the psychological threat, the fear of foreigners who come in from far away and keep spreading. Here are a few examples of the definition:

- W. Schenk in Vereinte Nationen, Nr. 4, 1976, p.97: "The notion of terrorism is many-sided. In general, it has a negative connotation. But that doesn't mean that the same people can't be classified either as terrorists or freedom fighters. It depends on one's position."

- The British "terrorism expert" Jenkins in "Are 'Terrorists' Politically Motivated Criminals Or Just Terrorists?" in Kriminalistik, Nr. 1, 1984, p.17: "When we speak of terrorism, what exactly are we talking about? There is no precise or accepted definition." But he later states that "terrorism is communism".

- The then Attorney General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Rebmann, in his "Working Paper For The Berlin Conference On The Law Of The World / July 21-26, 1985" published by the World Peace Through Law Center in Washington, D.C.: "There is no international agreement on what 'terrorism' is. Even today, there are disagreements as to what the boundaries are between terrorism and war confrontations, and concerning the question, what is aggression, revolt, or the justified resistance of people and groups of people?"

- Former U.S. President Reagan stated that "terrorism" is caused by a "criminal phenomenon, a fanatical hatred of the United States and our people, our way of life, and our international significance". (Reagan, "The New Network Of Terrorist States" in Current Policy, Nr. 721/1985, U.S. State Department, Bureau of Public Affairs).

     The brutal scenarios envisioned in NATO and government strategies to combat the terrorism and horror were made clear in an article entitled "Terrorism: An Opportunity For New Rules" published in the International Herald Tribune on November 9, 1985 and written by a man named Raymond Price, a member of Richard Nixon's staff. Price, among other things, called for the creation of an International Terrorism Court and the use of the death penalty against people convicted of "guilt in a terrorist act".

This court would have the authority to take "special measures" and supersede state laws. Turan Itil, a medical doctor who carried out brain research for many years at university clinics in Tubingen and Erlangen in Germany and then in Missouri in the USA, commented at a non-public NATO government symposium on the theme "Rehabilitation Possibilities For Terrorists" held on January 23, 1985 in Istanbul that terrorists had a "genetic predisposition" which caused them to become murderers with just a political veneer. (Prof. Turan Itil, cited in Nokta, Nr. 6/85, 17.12.1985). Such thoughts are reminiscent of fascist notions of "damaged people".

6.   Bearing in mind this development of NATO strategy and conduct by and within its member states, the unjustified accusations of terrorism and the resulting criminalization and police and military operations are seen as isolated incidents, and as such are just to be criticized as the isolated actions of individual members states, like Turkey.

     But such criticism is only effective if it clearly draws on the positions of the UN developed from the 1960s to the 1980s concerning a people's right to self-determination, including the right of a people to struggle for independence from a racist or colonial regime, and the applicability of the humanitarian rights of people in war for all forms of independence struggles on the basis of the First Protocol of 1977. The anti-terrorism strategy developed by NATO must be criticized on this basis. But it's not enough to simply point out the deficiencies of the terrorism claims made by these states. It would be more effective to stress the further development of human rights and international law with respect to self-determination and humanitarian rules of war, which stand in contradiction to the accusations of terrorism. The following comments are from the "Geneva Declaration On Terrorism" of March 21, 1987 which was issued at the end of the conference of the International Progress Organization (IPO):

The peoples of the world find themselves in countless struggles for a just and peaceful world, based on fundamental rights, which must be seen in the context of a whole series of broadly supported international conventions.

As for present-day confrontations:

Against this background of suffering and struggle, the international debate in the media and elsewhere concerning terrorism is being distorted and manipulated by the ruling powers: The public are mislead into thinking that terrorism is solely carried out by victims of the system. We would like to make it clear that terrorism is almost always an expression of the ruling structures and has little to do with legitimate resistance struggles. The trademark of terrorism is fear and this fear is stimulated in the population through horrifying forms of violence. The worst form of international terrorism is the preparation for nuclear war, in particular the expansion of this arms race into outer space, as well as the development of first-strike weapons.

Terrorism includes state-organized holocausts against the people of the world. The terrorism of modern states and their high-technology weapons is far worse than the political violence practiced by groups who want to end oppression and live in freedom. (From the "Geneva Declaration On Terrorism", 21.3.1987, translated from Janssen and Schubert, Staatssicherheit, p.187ff.; the first people to sign this declaration were Nobel Prize winner and former Irish Foreign Minister Sean MacBride, former U.S. Justice Secretary Ramsey Clark, Dr. Johann Galtung, peace researcher at Princeton University, and Dr. Richard Falk, also of Princeton University)

     This definition of terrorism is an accurate one and is fully in line with the criteria of the rights of people in war. The humanitarian rights of people in war forbids the use of violence against uninvolved civilians with the aim of spreading fear. Of course, it is impossible to deny that some political targets are attacked with violence during liberation struggles, thus spreading fear among uninvolved persons - hijacking airliners, for example - but this does not contradict the fact that guerrilla attacks against persons and objects connected to the colonialist war machine carried out in armed independence struggles against colonialism are in full accordance with contemporary rules of war. It is, therefore, unacceptable that the Turkish government may classify the operations of the ARGK (the armed wing of the PKK) as terrorist acts.

     In fact, contemporary debates concerning terrorism have turned full circle: While true terrorist threats, as outlined in the above Declaration as expressions of existing ruling structures, are glorified and honoured, liberation movements are unjustifiably labelled as terrorist with the aim of defeating them.

     We shouldn't confuse the question of the legitimacy of armed operations by guerrillas in an anti-colonial independence struggle under international law with a moral question or with the question of their use of effectiveness. According to the Geneva Declaration On Terrorism:

"To say this more clearly: We recommend that non-violent resistance be used whenever possible, and we respect the genuine efforts made by the liberation movements in South Africa and elsewhere to avoid the use of violence as much as possible in their struggle for justice. We condemn all methods of struggle which inflict violence on innocent civilians.

We don't want terrorism, but we must emphasize that the terrorism of nuclear weapons, criminal regimes, state atrocities, attacks with high-technology weapons on Third World peoples, and the systematic violation of human rights are far, far worse. It is a cruel extension of the scourge of terrorism to classify the struggle against terrorism as "terrorism". We support these struggles and we call for clear political terminology together with the liberation of humanity. "

     One more note on this theme of terrorism: It is quite revealing that during the wave of anti-foreigner pogroms in Germany, which killed and seriously injured several completely innocent people, the German authorities and media never once used the term terrorism, quite in contrast to their treatment of left- wing movements ("ecoterrorism" and "intellectual terrorism"). Consider the text of a song by the English skinhead band Screwdriver, whose lead singer was Ian Stuart, a leading member of the National Front. This text is nothing more than a call for terrorism: "Whenever I can I do something about these Untermenschen, I fight and I make the blood of these Jews flow/With boots and sticks and knives, until they're gone/(Refrain) We will win and stay in this land, we'll fight for pride and honour/Hit the mothers, rape the children, until they go back to where they came from". Such bands are allowed to give concerts in Germany. Screwdriver played in St. Ingbert near Saarbrucken, for example, greeted by more than 400 bald and uniformed Nazis giving stiff-arm chants of "Sieg Heil!"

7.   On the basis of the theses outlined above, let us look at the present situation in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan.

     No one can deny any longer that this is a war, since the Turkish army deploys tanks, cities are bombarded by warplanes, and so on. Operations by the Turkish military and police in the weeks before this article was written [in 1992] are prime examples of Turkish state terrorism against the Kurdish population: the massacre of unarmed Newroz demonstrators on March 21, 1992 (cf. dpa/Badische Zeitung, 23.3.1992); the bombardment of the city of Sirnak on March 24, 1992 (cf. Frankfurter Rundschau, 25.3.1992); new attacks on Sirnak on August 28, 1992 - which the Turkish government claimed were carried out by the PKK, a lie which even the Turkish press didn't believe - which caused 20,000 inhabitants to flee (cf. Suddeutsche Zeitung, 24.8.1992; taz, 26.8.1992; Suddeutsche Zeitung, 22.9.1992); the forced evacuation of entire Kurdish villages in the border region with Iraq, and the murder of 50 political activists since July 1991 [as of late 1992] by death squads with close ties to the Turkish police (cf. Suddeutsche Zeitung, 8.5.1992; statements from Amnesty International, German Section, 8.5.1992). Such attacks are exemplary of terrorist conduct as outline in thesis 6 above. 

     These recent developments have even forced courts (particularly in Braunschweig, Stuttgart, and Hannover) to partially recognize that Kurds, as a group, are entitled to a right to asylum because of the persecution they suffer under Turkish rule. A court decision in Braunschweig given on April 8, 1992 characterized the situation as follows:

Reports seem to indicate that the Turkish security forces have used force against and opened fire on unarmed women and children, in other words against persons not involved with terrorist acts. This climate of arbitrary violence exists despite oral guarantees that the state of emergency in all these provinces would be lifted. Regardless of one's political estimation of the PKK or the Turkish security forces, it must be recognized that persons not involved in terrorist activities, Kurdish people in the provinces under emergency rule, could at any time become the targets of politically motivated repression at the hands of the Turkish security authorities. (...) Such attacks are designed to intimidate the Kurdish people and prevent them from expressing their desire for independence through demonstrations or other forms of expression. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the fight against terrorism. This is state terrorism and the repression of political opinions. (Braunschweig Administrative Court, 8.4.1992, case number AZ:5 A 5087/91, p.67)

     But the Turkish regime doesn't just apply the NATO doctrine of "anti-terrorism" in its military actions, but also in its legal code as well. The so-called "Anti-Terror Law" (Law Nr. 3713), passed on April 12, 1991, criminalized not just the armed resistance movement but also anyone suspected of supporting it. This law is embarrassingly closely modelled on the so-called "anti-terrorism" laws which were drafted in Germany in the 1970s and similar laws in other European states. All of these laws are characterized by the following provisions which closely border on civil rights violations:

- Making membership in an organization a crime on its own, thus not having to prove an individual carried out specific criminal acts.

- Creating special legal procedures and special police and prosecution investigation powers.

- The use of special crown witnesses, who get privileges and mild sentences for denouncing other people.

- Special detention conditions, including isolation detention. (cf. the "anti-terror" laws in Great Britain, France, Spain, and Germany in Schubert and Janssen, Staatssicherheit, p.99ff.)

     The Turkish Anti-Terror Law, which replaced and even surpassed Articles 140, 141, 142, and 163 of the Turkish Criminal Code, is a central instrument utilized against captured Kurdish independence fighters from the ranks of the PKK/ERNK/ARGK:

     The notion of what comprises "terror" outlined in Art. 1 of Law Nr. 3713 is ridiculous: Any "use of pressure" is sufficient to be considered terror, and this could include a strike or even a newspaper article. Specifically, this pressure must have as its goal any change in the existing political order or the "indivisible unity of the state and its people". If two or more people act together in this then they constitute a terrorist organization.

     Art. 2 defines people as "terrorists" who are members of a group described as such, even if these individuals themselves have committed no criminal acts. Terrorists can also be people who are not members of an organization but who commit an act "in its name".

     Art. 7 spells out drastic sentences for not only membership in a terrorist organization but also for spreading propaganda "in connection with this organization". The sentence for such propaganda can be 5 years in prison and a fine of 100-300 million Turkish lira (TL).

     Art. 8 bans any "written or oral propaganda, assemblies, or demonstrations which, through their means, aims, or ideas, seek to destroy the indivisible unity of the state's territory and people" and prescribes a jail term of 2-5 years and a fine of 50- 100 million TL. Section 2 of this article makes this "propaganda crime" applicable to all media agencies as well.

     Art. 9 establishes special courts and procedures for anyone charged under the Anti-Terror Law.

     Art. 10 states that the defence team can only be a maximum of three lawyers (this is very similar to Germany's Paragraph 137) and allows for "contact between the accused and the lawyers to be monitored by prison personnel" (again, very similar to the contact and mail restrictions allowed for under German law in cases involving Paragraph 129a, membership in a terrorist organization), thereby greatly restricting the rights of the defendant.

     Art. 11 allows for up to 15 days of detention before arraignment in cases of "collective criminal acts".

     Art. 12ff. includes other anti-terror clauses, such as those designed to dissuade witnesses from giving testimony for the accused.

     Special detention conditions, isolation, and a total ban on outside contacts are provided for in the third section of the Anti-Terror Law, Art. 16, again very similar to laws in Western Europe.

     In the fourth section, security measures and "rewards for helping to solve terrorist cases" are spelled out, including an entirely new identity for members of the public service.

     All of the provisions of this law are in gross contradiction to the humanitarian norms and standards for treatment of Prisoners of War as embodied in international law, and they violate all human rights conventions concerning minimum legal standards. This law allows the state to suspend nearly all the rights of the defence team while sanctioning all acts of terror and isolation by the state power. Although we haven't yet seen the creation of Raymond Price's "terrorist court", Turkey's Anti- Terror Law isn't that far removed from such a vision.

8.   The operations undertaken by the Turkish government against the Kurdish independence movement are the brutal quintessence of a decades-long development of counter-insurgency methods under the guise of "anti-terrorism". This raises the question of whether the independence movement in the Turkish-occupied portion of Kurdistan and the armed struggle being waged by ARGK guerrilla units fulfils the criteria of an international armed conflict as outlined in the First Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of 1977, despite objections by the Turkish regime (and those of many other NATO states), and whether ARGK fighters should be considered combatants. We believe these criteria have be sufficiently fulfilled from a number of different angles. (cf. Ralf D.H. Ferting and Patricia Krommer in their report to the Commission to Protect the Rights of Minorities Against Discrimination, a subcommission of the UN Human Rights Commission, cited in Kurdistan Report, Nr. 45/46, 1992, p.51ff.; also the investigation of lawyer Eberhard Schultz, Bremen, 10.7.1992)     In particular, the following criteria have been fulfilled:

- The liberation struggle of the Kurdish people is an international conflict, in this case an anti-colonial (and anti- racist) struggle, as defined in Art. 2 of the Geneva Convention and Art. 1 Section 4 of the First Protocol. This concerns the history, culture, size, and significance of the Kurdish people who are living under colonial rule in Turkey, a state with a racist ideology which denies their identity as Kurdish people (they are called "mountain Turks"). The armed struggle of the ARGK has broad popular support and is no longer characterized by merely sporadic armed actions.

- All available information seems to indicate that the ARGK is an organization with centralized responsibility and a controlled leadership structure, something required by the additional Protocols, therefore its members should be granted combatant status as outlined in Art. 4A/2 of the Geneva Convention and Art. 44 of the First Protocol.

     [On January 24, 1995, a statement was released in Geneva from the leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan. In this statement, the PKK stated it would "respect the Geneva Convention of 1949 and the First Protocol of 1977 regarding the conduct of hostilities and the protection of the victims of war" and that it would "treat those obligations as having the force of law within its own forces and the areas within its control". The PKK distributed this statement to all of its forces and called upon the International Red Cross to provide assistance. The PKK also called on the Turkish government to make "the same undertakings and to accept an offer for services from the International Red Cross".]

     Therefore, according to laws outlined in this text, the Kurdish movement should now no longer be treated as a "terrorist" movement and captured Kurdish combatants should be classified as Prisoners of War.

9.   It cannot be forgotten that the practices of the Turkish government against the Kurdish civilian population and Kurdish independence fighters would not be possible were it not for arms provided to them by NATO states, in particular Germany, and the actions carried out against the Kurdish independence movement within various European states are designed to discriminate against the Kurds as "terrorists". Germany has played a leading role in all of this, particularly through its years-long campaign to describe the PKK as a "terrorist organization", police raids on Kurdish homes in Germany, and especially the two major show trials at special courts in Dusseldorf and Celle against Kurds accused of being PKK members.

It would be beyond the scope of this text to describe the ridiculous charges of being a terrorist organization which fell apart during the Dusseldorf trial. It would also be too much to describe all of the special conditions which characterized the Dusseldorf trial, like the bulletproof glass cage which separated the defendants from the courtroom and even from their lawyers, the isolation detention, and so on. It should be noted, however, that during the Dusseldorf trial, not only were the defendants charged with membership in a terrorist organization according to Paragraph 129a because of their alleged activities in Germany, but two of them were also on trial for a murder which supposedly took place in the 'Mazlum Korkmaz' ARGK military academy in Lebanon (cf. Schultz and Schubert, Von Stammheim nach Dusseldorf, Kiel 1989). The State Prosecutor obviously decided to take on a sort of world lawyer position and involve himself in the affairs of the Kurdish independence movement, thereby helping the Turkish government "involve" itself in fighting crime "on the home front". Such conduct shows the obvious danger of international criminalization by the repression organs of one of NATO's strongest states.

     In order to effectively support the Kurdish people's right to self-determination, it is essential that the practices of the human rights commissions, Foreign Ministries, and heads of state of NATO and EU countries be exposed and pointed out. Without their help, the Turkish government could never suppress the Kurdish independence movement. We hope that this text can help provide some effective support to the Kurdish independence movement.

Mail Us up- truth is a pathless land - Home