-5- Turkey Destroys Kurdish Villages With U.s. Weapons.
by Gabriel Roth
Thursday, April 13, 2000
The Turkish government''s campaign of repression against ethnic Kurds has continued since the Turkish Republic was founded in 1923. Fifteen years ago, though, the civil war escalated, thanks to generous donations of weaponry from the U.S.
Since 1980, the U.S. has sold or given Turkey weapons to the tune of $15 billion, including Cobra helicopters, armored personnel carriers, and F-16 fighter bombers. American soldiers have been sent to Turkey to train commando forces there. An estimated 75 percent of the Turkish army''s arsenal is marked "Made in the U.S.A."
This weaponry has gone to quell the nationalist movement among the Kurds.
The Turkish civil war represents the single largest use of U.S. weapons by non-U.S. forces anywhere in the world. In the past 15 years, nearly 40,000 lives have been lost. More than 3,000 villages have been leveled, burned, or evacuated since 1990; some were simply destroyed from above by American-made bombers. Two million Kurds have lost their homes.
All this in an effort by Turkey''s military government to crack down on the Marxist-led Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. In a tactic borrowed from the U.S. Army in Vietnam, Turkish soldiers habitually force Kurdish civilians into serving as "village guards." Villagers who won''t participate in the anti-PKK struggle have been beaten, forced off their land, or worse.
Readers of the U.S. press have seen stories about the plight of the Iraqi Kurds, perhaps because their oppressor, Saddam Hussein, is an enemy of the U.S. But there are four times as many Kurds in Turkey, also suffering state repression, and about them we hear nothing.
Kevin McKeirnan, "Turkey''s War on the Kurds," Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, March/April 1999. For more information, go to www.kurdistan.org, www.fas.org/asmp, or www.clark.net/kurd.