ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdish social media users are expressing their anger at the United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May’s recent “Kurdish terrorism” remark, in reference to the decades-long conflict between Ankara and the Kurdistan Workers' Party's (PKK).
“I am a British citizen of Kurdish origin. I ask for millions of Kurds living in the UK and beyond,” said one Twitter user. “Do you not feel ashamed to call a people who have been massacred many times in history and still lack basic human rights as 'Kurdish terrorism'?”
Prime Minister @theresa_may, I am a British citizen of Kurdish origin. I ask for millions of Kurds living in the UK and beyond. Do you not feel ashamed to call a people who have been massacred many times in history and still lack basic human rights as "Kurdish terrorism"? pic.twitter.com/NsdrNo2rtd— Aylina Kılıç (@AylinaKilic) May 16, 2018
May used the phrase on Tuesday in a televised press conference with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in which both leaders mentioned their joint efforts to counter the PKK, a group Ankara and its Western allies designate as “terrorist.”
Another user titled a video of the PM’s “Kurdish terrorism” on repeat as “The shameful comments from UK Prime Minister attacking 'Kurdish terrorism'" and asks “why not label the group, why the people? With ISIS they say “extremists” right?”
One user made reference to the part played by Kurdish military units in defeating the Islamic State (IS) tweeting: ”This so called 'Kurdish terrorism' has been the vanguard of western efforts to defeat ISIS,” and points out “Calling allies who are dying for us every day terrorists to please a brutal dictator is not a good look.”
This so called “Kurdish terrorism” has been the vanguard of western efforts to defeat ISIS.— Gissur Simonarson (@GissiSim) May 16, 2018
Calling allies who are dying for us every day terrorists to please a brutal dictator is not a good look. https://t.co/WNTfdRqPu5
The PKK took up arms in the 1980s to demand rights for Kurdish citizens in a conflict that has claimed some 40,000 lives on both sides. Violence has escalated since the collapse of a peace process between them in the summer of 2015.
“It is important that in defense of democracy, which has been facing extraordinary pressures from the failed coup, instability across the border from Syria and from Kurdish terrorism, Turkey does not lose sight of the values it is seeking to defend,” May told reporters.
May’s choice of words was in contrast with both Turkey and its allies’ avoidance of the term “Kurdish terrorism,” when speaking of actions by the PKK, in part to deny it more support from the people in whose name it fights. She has made no follow-up statements regarding her use of the phrase.
Editing by John J. Catherine