Jeremy Corbyn at the Kurdish Community Center in London / Erem Kansoy

18/12/2016 - 23:30 0
Discredited Times Journalist Targets Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, Friends of Kurds in U.K.

The leader of the British Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn has been targeted in a report in the Sunday Times for support of the Peace in Kurdistan Campaign, a UK based group lobbying for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question.

In the article, sensationally titled, "Corbyn linked to lobbyists behind Istanbul bombers", it claims that Corbyn and other Labour allies are linked to a network of campaign groups lobbying for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the UK.

The author of the report Hannah Lucinda Smith, an Istanbul based journalist, was previously discredited after reporting that Kurdish forces had cleansed Arab villages in Syria in 2015.

Lucinda Smith's report in the Sunday Times also targets workers union Unison, which supports a campaign recently launched for the freedom of jailed Kurdish and PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan by Unite and GMB workers unions. Unison had previously run a successful campaign for the freedom of South African ANC leader and human rights champion Nelson Mandela.

Lucinda Smith's article falsely claims that the PKK was behind the recent attack on riot police in Istanbul. The attack was claimed by militant Kurdish group TAK.

A prominent Kurdish activist told that the report was targeting Kurds and supporters of Kurdish rights.

"This is possibly the opening shot at criminalising the Kurdish solidarity movement in the UK. It comes at a time when the Unions are taking up the issue a lot more and Kurds are getting wider support. Personally I believe it could be a Turkish state orchestrated campaign through this so called British journalist but how much the UK government are involved we can only guess."

The Times has been a vociferous opponent of the twice elected Labour leader whose solidarity with Kurds goes as far back as the 1980s. Corbyn has called for an end to the ban on the PKK to strengthen the possibility of a peaceful political solution to the Kurdish question and recently said Kurds' right to self determination needed to be recognised.

Critics of the PKK ban have also said the terrorist designation is used to criminalise hundreds of thousands of Kurds living outside the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Hundreds of people have been arrested and jailed for political activities, mostly in Germany where at least a million Kurds live. An 18-year-old woman was jailed in the UK in 2015 for allegedly attempting to join the PKK in its fight against the Islamic State group.

Launched in 1994 the Peace in Kurdistan Campaign has alongside Corbyn and Osamor, other prominent patrons such as linguist Noam Chomsky, writer John Berger and actress Julie Christie.

Kurdish political parties, associations and pro-Kurdish rights groups have come under attack and intense pressure in Turkey and Europe recently as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has moved to crackdown on opposition groups.

12 MPs of the pro-Kurdish rights Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and more than 5,000 members of the HDP and Democratic Regions Party (DBP) have been jailed in recent months. Dozens of Kurdish and opposition media have been shut down and more than a 150 journalists imprisoned, making Turkey the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.

According to reports Turkey has also sent agents to European countries to assassinate Kurdish activists. A Turkish spy working for the Turkish Intelligence Service (MIT) was detained in Hamburg recently while another detained in Bremen had conspired to kill two activists.