PKK arson and murder in Basbaglar, Turkey (July 5, 1993)

On this day in 1993, PKK terrorists slaughtered 33 villagers in eastern Turkey and burned down 200 buildings including a clinic and a mosque.

The quest for a homeland cannot justify terrorist acts against innocent civilians.

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BASBAGLAR, TURKEY — Ya gotta feel for the Kurds. Spread primarily across four nations – Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey – they are often referred to as the planet’s largest ethnic group without a homeland. They thought they had one in the Treaty of Sevres imposed on Ottoman Turkey after WWI but that was not to pass.

Over the decades many Kurdish groups have continued to lobby for their space, most of them peacefully. Subsequent post-Ottoman governments have not helped matters, often denying there is such a thing as a Kurdish ethnic group (they are often called ‘mountain Turks’).

Other Kurds, however, have taken up violence to press their case. There have been many such groups over the years, such that it sometimes seemed you could take three letters of the alphabet at random and be fairly certain that a particular organisation had already claimed the moniker.

Kurdistan Workers’ Party

One of the largest such groups is called the PKK – the Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê or Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Founded in 1978 it is generally viewed as a ‘leftist’ party. In 1999, its leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was captured and imprisoned by the Turks. Nevertheless, the PKK continues to be active, largely in eastern Turkey.

On this day in 1993 the PKK is believed to have been responsible for a massacre in the village of Basbaglar. 100 or so PKK terrorists descended at evening prayer time, killing 33 residents and burning down 200 homes, as well as the village clinic, mosque and school.

 But some people put a black mark against Basbaglar for an unknown reason and laid waste to the village and slaughtered the people. We do not know the reason why they chose Basbaglar but the attack was planned long ago: they knew the village and the residents well.

Wanting a homeland is one thing. It is perhaps ok to engage an army to achieve that goal. But slaughtering villagers? No, that is not ok.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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