Open Letter to Henry Jackson Society

A new report is being launched by the neo-conservative think tank the Henry Jackson Society on Thursday 17th August at its headquarters in Millbank Tower, Victoria, London. Entitled ‘The Forgotten Foreign Fighters: The PKK in Syria’, the report aims to give scholarly credibility to some of Turkey’s anti-Kurdish propaganda. 

The Henry Jackson Society does a major disservice to its reputation by launching an event in which it declares that the anti-ISIS coalition, led by the United States and the United Kingdom among others, has as its main partner in Syria a terrorist organisation.

The event page on the HJS website mentions that that the People’s Protection Forces (YPG) currently leading the battle against the de-facto capital of ISIS in Syria, is a front organisation for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), without any evidence or academic justification and despite the repeated statements both by the US and the UK officials that these two groups are organisationally separate.

The report’s writer, Kyle Orton, also alleges that the PKK is involved in “trading drugs, weapons and human beings” despite the lack of court decisions. He also claims that the “PKK conducts terror attacks and assassinations inside Europe,” also without citing any examples or referrals to court cases.

Accusations of gross criminal acts such as drug trading and assassinations are extremely libellous and such statements cannot be made without judicial proof.

Suspected PKK members themselves were targets of Turkey-originated assassination plots, most recently in Paris in 2013, when three Kurdish women were killed by a Turkish assassin. German MPs recently made issued statements in which they refer to leaked voice recordings suggesting Turkish intelligence officers planning assassinations against Kurdish political activists in Europe.

More importantly, Orton suggests that the anti-ISIS coalition, which includes most of the European countries, are arming, partnering, and collaborating with a “terror organisation” which carries out terror attacks and assassinations in Europe, apparently unaware of these unsubstantiated claims by the Henry Jackson Society researcher. His comments are libellous against the British volunteers of the YPG, who died fighting against ISIS, which actually carried out multiple terror attacks against European civilians.

The British YPG volunteers, some of whom lost their lives in Syria, included former British soldiers who made fighting for their own country and fighting against terrorism a profession for themselves. Mr Orton’s provocative comments also attempt to stain the legacies of those volunteers who lost their lives fighting against a dark terror force.

The Henry Jackson Society’s event leaflet reads almost identical to the unfounded comments of authoritarian Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which brings to mind the question of possible links between the project and the Turkish government. Orton’s other writings also systematically aim to persuade the West to condone the anti-semitic government of President Erdogan.

It is shameful for an organisation named after a US senator who did such great service to persecuted Jews. We urge the Henry Jackson Society to scrutinise the work of pro-Turkey lobbyist Orton. HJS could do better than funding an apologist for an Islamic authoritarian who is widely accused of supporting Jihadist terrorism, including ISIS and the al Qaeda branch in Syria.

Additionally, in November 2016, a court in Brussels made a landmark decision against the prosecution of Kurdish officials on “terrorism” charges relating to the PKK because the judge in case said that it was an “armed conflict” going on in Turkey and decided that “terrorism” laws were not to be used in the case. Evidence such as this, which is vital for displaying academic nuance and a degree of impartiality, is notably left out from HJS’ discussions over the accusations against the PKK.

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