Reuters’s Brief History of the Turkey-Kuridistan Conflict

In reporting todays’ bombing raids in Iraqi Kurdistan by the Turkish air force, Reuters was careful to bury and limit its representation of context for the struggle. You see, the West is officially on the side of Ankara, which we are told is fighting a noble battle against terrorists in its midst, and across the border with Iraq. Here’s what Reuters had to say about the decades-old conflict, in its entireity, from the very last sentence in the article:

Ankara blames the PKK [Kurdish Workers Party] for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people since the group began its armed struggle for a Kurdish homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984.

Given that description, the reader couldn’t help but come away with the impression that the PKK directly caused the deaths of those 40,000 people. Reuters apparently doesn’t want readers to know that many — if not the vast majority — killed in the conflict were Kurds, slaughtered by the Turkish military and paramilitaries, with massive US diplomatic, financial and military support. (Great Britain could likewise blame American colonial separatists for all the tens of thousands who died here in the 1770s, including the vast majority who died from disease.)

In fact, the Kurdish media claims 40,000 is the figure of Kurds alone who have died as a result of Turkish repression and "ethnic cleansing," which ranged from an official ban on teaching or writing the Kurdish language to, at its height, the forced evacuation of thousands of Kurdish villages (burning thousands to the ground) and the displacement of perhaps millions of Kurds. So if we’re picking sides as sources, the reporter could have just as easily written:

Kurdish officials blame Ankara for more than 40,000 deaths since the Turkish military began resisting PKK demands for freedom in 1984.

Speaking of 1984, it would really require a good deal of skilled newspeak to produce either sentence quoted above, with a straight face, so let’s give Reuters credit where due.

If you want some good background on the subject, check out Jesse Benjaman’s 2003 Z Magazine article, "Kurds at the Nexus of Global Politics."

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