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THE Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) released an open letter to US President Donald Trump on Friday, countering his claims that the liberation movement was a “bigger terrorist threat” than Isis.
Mr Trump caused outrage during a press conference last week when he hailed his decision to withdraw US troops from northern Syria as “strategically brilliant,” saying the Kurds were “not angels.”
He went on to suggest that the PKK, formed in 1978 as a response to oppression of the Kurds by the Turkish state, was “in many ways worse than Isis.”
But the letter, addressed to Mr Trump and the people of the US, rejects comparisons between the PKK and Isis.
It explains that 40 million Kurds exist predominantly in four countries — Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria — saying: “For years, the Kurdish people had asked these governments only for the basic democratic rights that you enjoy each day: the right to exist, to speak their own language, to practice their own culture, to participate in politics as free and equal citizens.”
But each time they had demanded their basic rights, the Kurds were met with a brutal response, the letter explains.
This includes being “bombed with advanced weapons, torn from their homes in the middle of the night and disappeared, jailed and tortured, their villages flattened and their very language and culture banned.”
It says the PKK was founded to “resist the violence of the Turkish state” and explains that hundreds of thousands of Kurds had been massacred.
“We don’t have to go too far back in time — in the ’90s the Turkish state destroyed 4,000 Kurdish villages and extrajudicially killed 17,000 Kurds,” it says.
It issues a reminder to Mr Trump that it was the forces of the PKK that were the first to stand and fight against Isis as it began its campaign of terror across Syria and Iraq, as “millions fell under extremist subjugation.”
The Kurdish movement and its people gave 11,000 lives in this fight, the letter says, and explains that Turkey has invaded northern Syria and fought with more ferocity than when Isis swept across the region.
The letter says Turkey has sent “terrorist gangs affiliated with al-Qaida to torture and murder the people who defeated Isis,” explaining that the Turkish state sees the Kurdish identity as a “greater threat than the groups that targeted innocents in not only Sinjar and Kobane, but Paris, Manchester and New York City.”
It concludes: “We are not guilty of terrorism; we are victims of state terrorism. But we are guilty of defending our people. We believe that the American people will be able to judge for themselves who the dangerous terrorists of this world are.”
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