The background to “civilians are being killed in Silvan”

Terörün ideolojisi olmaz demek çok yanlış. İdeolojisine bakarak şu veya bu terör biçimini kendimize yakın hissedemeyiz; hepsine karşı tavır almalıyız demek istiyorsanız, ne âlâ; o zaman öyle söyleyin, haklı olursunuz. Ama terörün ideolojisi olmaz demeyin, çünkü aslında terörün her zaman bir ideolojisi var. İdeolojisiz terör olmaz demek, gerçeğe çok daha yakın.

Kurtuluş Tayiz

The Turkish original of this article was published as “Silvan’da siviller öldürülüyor”un arka planı on 13th November 2015.


What is really happening in Silvan? According to news reports carried by the usual papers, the state has encircled the county seat with tanks and is killing civilians. As for the HDP, it is appealing to public “sensitivity” in order to break the “despotic” state’s ring of repression.


When what is disseminated by the PKK media is copied and submitted to the reader as “news,” this is the sort of black picture that is inevitably put together. It becomes easy to arrive at the conclusion that the state is the “killer” while the PKK are the “victims.” In the midst of all this agitation and cries for “sensitivity,” it is the truth that is being sacrificed to cheap propaganda.  


But what Silvan is actually going through is no secret. The PKK had declared the township to be under “self-government” as of 15th August. Now it has started digging new ditches and sent in its armed militants in an attempt to create a “liberated area.” Silvan’s advantage is an easier connection with its rural surroundings. Hence the PKK is constantly able to resupply its local forces with bombs, rockets and other weapons. Its mountain units are also able to enter and exit with greater facility. At present, there are 30 guerrillas from the PKK’s mountain units inside Silvan, it is said, together with the local YDG-H militants adding up to a force of 50-60 fighters.


As for the state using tanks to encircle Silvan, it is for the purpose for severing the connection between the town and its rural hinterland. The security forces are operating cautiously as they move in against the PKK militants, armed with heavy weapons, who have dug themselves in in three neighborhoods in particular. So as to cause no collateral damage to civilians, these operations are being spread out in time. Notwithstanding all such measures, so far two policemen and three soldiers (including a lieutenant) have lost their lives in the Silvan fighting, while dozens of others have been injured. The PKK, meanwhile, has suffered more than 10 dead, and is said to be threatening citizens not to leave town. Nevertheless, more than ten thousand people have fled elsewhere. The remaining civilians are being used by the PKK as human shields.


Obviously, the PKK’s attempt to create a “liberated area” under “self-government” is a futile, indeed an absurd initiative. It is also probable that they themselves are aware of this. In the past they have repeatedly employed this tactic in Cizre, Sur, Lice, Yüksekova and many other settlements, though to no avail. But why then has the PKK launched a new move in Silvan? Why has it sent 30 fighters from its mountain units to a probable death? So that they can “liberate” Silvan?  


The real answers to these questions happen to lie in Syria. Turkey and the US have been preparing to launch a joint offensive against Jarablus, which is right next to Kobane. The PKK’s return to action in Silvan is related to this. While Turkey prepares to break through the massive encirclement along its southern border, the PKK is trying to prevent this from the inside. They think that if the Silvan clashes can be built on and transferred to the political sphere so as to create the setting for a new 6-7 October [2014] wave of violence, they can tie Turkey up hand and foot. HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ have become the sub-contractors for this plan. And the usual media are providing grist to the mill of the PKK. 


In brief, these are the hard facts behind the claim that “civilians are being killed in Silvan.”