Monday, March 18, 2013

Three Reasons the PKK Should Lay Down Arms

March 19, 2013 by Amy L. Beam

Argus - world's largest camera

On the eve of Abdullah Ocalan's call for peace in Turkey, I add my fervent plea to the PKK to lay down their arms. I have a great deal of sympathy for the Kurds' demands for their ethnic and human rights. Last year in Istanbul a young Kurd told me, "No matter what anyone thinks about the PKK, it is because of the PKK that I can speak my language today."

The reasons for laying down arms have nothing at all to do with assigning fault or blame to any group. Laying down arms is not equivalent to defeat. It is simply the only logical thing to do to save one's life.

My plea to the members of the PKK is like a mother on her knees begging her child not to walk into death's trap. Live to fight another day . . . in another way. The battle for Kurdish rights in Turkey can never be won with guns in the mountains. The PKK must put down its arms because of Turkish and U.S. tactics for "finishing off" the PKK. These tactics are so terrifying that I am compelled to warn the PKK. Please don't shoot the messenger.

Reason 1: ARGUS - Greek Mythological Monster with 100 Eyes

In an environment of State secrecy where the public cannot pry information out of the U.S. military, the NOVA documentary ARGUS starts out with a peculiarly uncharacteristic statement by engineer Yannis Ontenyadis saying, "For the first time we actually have permission from the [U.S.] government to show the basic capabilities. It is important for the public to know that some of these capabilities exist." When did the U.S. military ever want to share its secrets? And why? Because Argus will terrify into submission all those labeled as enemies of the State. ARGUS is the 21st century equivalent of the Atom Bomb that ended WWII when it was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The PKK simply cannot win against ARGUS.

ARGUS is the equivalent of 100 Predator drones looking at a medium size city at once. Its cameras use the same technology as miniature imaging chips like those used in cell phone cameras. ARGUS melds together video from each of its 368 chips to create a 1.8 billion pixel video stream. When mounted on a drone that can hover for hours in one location, Argus can provide a "wide area persistent stare" to cover 25 square miles from 20,000 feet (6 km) in the sky. Touch screen technology allows the user to point to any location and open a window to see the detail of that area. Objects as small as six inches can be identified. ARGUS streams 5,000 hours of live video to earth in one day. The video is archived so one can go back in time and look at what was happening at a specific location at a specific time.

ARGUS development was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense's (DoD) Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The software, called Persistics after the concept of persistent ISR — intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance — is tasked with identifying objects on the ground, and then locking on to them and tracking them indefinitely.

According to a US Embassy Ankara cable published by Wikileaks, on Nov. 5, 2007, the United States and Turkey formalized an agreement to share ISR. The United States flies drones over eastern Turkey to identify PKK locations. It passes this intel to Turkey to fly strikes against the PKK. The Roboski Massacre, Dec. 28, 2011, in which 34 innocent Kurds were killed is an example of the cooperation between Turkey and the U.S. Neither country took responsibility.

The original goal was to deploy ARGUS in Afghanistan, but that never came to pass. It isn’t entirely clear what ARGUS’s future is; it was meant to be mounted on Boeing’s high-altitude A160 Hummingbird helicopter, but the chopper has since been scrapped. If ARGUS is to be deployed, it may be strapped to the underbelly of a Predator drone. If ARGUS is deployed to Turkey, there will be no place to hide, no place to run, whether in the mountains or the city.

Reason 2. Attack of the Robobee Drones

Robotic drones have been in development for some years. They are now as small as a dragon fly and are equipped with audio and video recorders and radar sensors so they can fly into a building, photograph and map it and return to base. YouTube is loaded with videos, such as Attack of the Drones - USA, showing various drone designs. This video received so many negative comments that all 3728 comments were removed. There will be nowhere, even inside one's home, to maintain privacy.

Reason 3. Torture and Death at the Hands of Turkish Soldiers

The new battle space is cyber warfare. Anyone who wants to gain public support for their cause must use the internet to tell their story. The United States has declared cyber space as another battlefield and has multimillion dollar programs to mold public opinion through mass propaganda campaigns and psychological warfare. The war is a war for people's hearts and minds. Governments are trying to control and censor the free flow of information on the internet.

Since the Kurdish prisoner hunger strike in 2012 in Turkey, people using Twitter have followed the news on hashtag #twitterkurds. For many months an American troll, mistaken by many to be Turkish, has been repeatedly posting 34 photos to anyone following #twitterkurds news tweets. The photos are of dead, mutilated bodies of PKK with Turkish soldiers standing around in most of them. Many of them show clear signs of torture such as a decapitated head, a man being dragged by a rope around his neck and between his teeth, eyes gouged out, bodies torn apart and more terrorizing photos. I urge readers not to search for these photos because they are deeply traumatizing which is exactly the intended effect.

As soon as the troll's account is blocked for spam, he/she opens a new Twitter account and continues to post 3 or 4 photos per minute for 3 to 8 hours per day. The troll has also, on occasion posted text messages, even stating he/she is an American citizen. He/she replies to tweets written in Turkish, Farsi, French, Spanish, and English. The troll is well-versed on Middle East history.

These 34 photos have been posted thousands of times and many remain on pic.twitter in spite of being flagged. Twitter uses image-matching software, so if a Twitter account posts a photo more than one time, Twitter recognizes it as the same photo and numbers the duplicate photos from 1 to 9. In spite of complaints for months from Twitter users and in spite of Twitter's image-matching software, Twitter has refused to block these photos. No one does this for hours per day, months on end without pay.

It is my belief that this is a military psychological operation intended to terrorize members of PKK and anyone sympathetic to the Kurdish cause. Why else does Twitter refuse to block these images? The message is clearly intended to show PKK members how they will be mercilessly tortured to death by Turkish soldiers. These photos are documentary evidence of Turkish war crimes.

Both Sides: Please Stop Killing Each Other

The question as to who is practicing terrorist tactics is debatable. What is clear is that the PKK cannot win with outmoded 20th century warfare tactics, regardless of how righteous their goals may be. It is time for the PKK to lay down its arms and work through peaceful protests and political avenues for full Constitutional rights for Kurds.

For a peace effort to be successful and lasting, Turkey must release its political prisoners and stop bombing Kurdish villages at the same time it is engaged in peace negotiations. PM Erdogan must take strong action against the hate attacks against Kurds in recent days and weeks by Turkish fascists. It is time for a new Constitution that grants full citizenship rights to Turkey's minority of 15 million Kurds.

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