Arrests in Diyarbakir nets tonnes of marijuana, guns

More than 900 people have been charged with drug trafficking since 1984.

By Alakbar Raufoglu for SES Türkiye – 27/12/12

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A recent drug seizure in Diyarbakir Province signals a change in tactics by authorities combatting the drug trade that is used to finance PKK and terrorist activity, an analyst said.

  • Bags of marijuana fill trucks during a news conference on December 15th in Diyarbakir to announce the seizure of more than 20 tonnes of illegal drugs. [AFP]

    Bags of marijuana fill trucks during a news conference on December 15th in Diyarbakir to announce the seizure of more than 20 tonnes of illegal drugs. [AFP]

The army announced on December 15th that it had seized more than 20 tonnes of marijuana along with guns and fertilizer in an operation against suspected militants, during co-ordinated raids in seven villages around the Kurdish-majority province.

"Hundreds of security forces, backed by helicopters, seized an estimated $22.5 million worth of marijuana and ammunition, which can be used to make explosives," Mustafa Toprak, Diyarbakir's governor, announced in a statement.

The drug trade is "a major source of funding for Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants which is earning a significant income though it," Toprak said. "The operation landed a huge blow to the terrorism financing."

Turkish troops frequently seize sacks full of drugs near southeastern borders, where the Kurdish militants are active, which, alongside the lack of full political and security control over some border regions, creates an environment conducive to smuggling and PKK financing.

The latest operation was "different from all previous ones," said Suleyman Ozeren, director of International Centre for Terrorism and Transnational Crime at the Turkish Police Academy.

"Previously the operations were targeting only the smugglers, but this time the security forces found a way to direct plantations where tonnes of marijuana was grown," Ozeren told SES Türkiye. "So, now we're talking about the new connections and arrests of those who planted and sold the narcotics."

According to the National Police records, about 950 people, most with connections to the PKK, have been arrested for drug trafficking since 1984.

In October, marijuana with an estimated value of $1.9 million was seized in the eastern province of Van, while in August, security forces confiscated nearly 4 tonnes of cannabis and other substances used to make drugs in Diyarbakır's Lice district, raising suspicions that the materials belong to the militants.

Ozeren said the PKK takes "part in every stages of drug trafficking; from production to transportation, and from marketing to street level sales."

Due to past years' increased clashes with militants, the security forces "couldn't focus on the smugglers in the bordering region," he said. But after months of successful operations, he added, "it's time to focus on drug trafficking."

Abdurrahman Kurt, former AKP MP from Diyarbakir, said that drug trafficking has for a long time been the "No. 1 problem of the region."

The government "is doing everything to protect our youth from this disaster," he told SES Türkiye.

Hovewer, he added, there have always been rumors and accusations that both elements within the PKK and the deep state are involved in the drug trade.

"For many years we've tried to investigate the direct connection of the smugglers to the deep state. … The Ergenekon trial and other operations will bring more light to this topic, I guess," he said.

Mehmet Nezir Karabas, a Kurdish politician and former BDP MP, said that he believes the government "uses drug trafficking issue politically by linking it to the PKK's name to lower the image of the Kurdish movement."

"Drug traffickers have nothing in common with the Kurdish freedom fighters," he told SES Türkiye. "This is one of the troubles that our people, our youth face with. But you can't fix neither the drug trafficking problem, nor Kurdish issue by mixing the two with each other."


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  • Anonymous about 2 years

    Now is the chance to finish the PKK, that is correct – if they can catch the correct people, of course.

  • Anonymous about 2 years

    As a citizen from Diyarbakir, I had not understood why the state ignored hashish planting so far, but now I do understand it. The state wants hashish to be planted in large quantities at the expense of people because they want to associate the PKK with the narcotics seized in operations and tell the world and countries, who do not accept the PKK as a terrorist organization “Look, those people, whom you call freedom fighters, are smuggling drugs. And since we are fighting against them, do not raise your voice even if we use chemical weapons or kill civilians. Because we are fighting against a terrorist organization that poisons people.” This is the image they want create. Well, Turkish state can fool the world and its people, but how can they fool Kurdish people in the region? How are they going to succeed in their fight against the PKK without the support of the people in the region? Murat Devran

  • Hasan Oran about 2 years

    I’ve worked as a teacher in Agrı-Patnos for three years. Elders in the village were our uncles, elder brothers and the youngs were our younger brothers. They were people who loved their homeland and nation and take side with the state. If there was no fear of terrorism, people would again take side with unity and brotherhood. If there was no terror, I would again go and visit my that brothers every two years. I’ve searched whether any of my villagers’ homes had been collapsed in Ercis earthquake too, and learned that there was no destruction. I have requested one of my neighbours from Agri to search for that village and if there is anyone whose house was damaged, to relay my regards to ensure their contact with me so that I can hire a house here for them and cover their all expenses until the spring. We’re not supporting racism. We look at the hearts of the people for Allah. When Europe is trying to unite to be one state, why do we try to seperate us? Where is this originating, from European countries or from us? Regards to my brothers, my students, I’ve found a phone number and talked to them ten months ago. Village headman (Uncle Mülazım), brother Yusuf had deceased, r.i.p. My brother Cemal had a house in Ercis, I’ve remembered him all the time during earthquake but I couldn’t reached him, I hope he is fine. I missed you very much. Call me friends. Goodbye. Hasan Oran.

  • Anonymous about 2 years

    Finish that ignoble PKK. It’s the viper’s nest.

  • Anonymous about 2 years

    We should wait for the result. This is just one way to end terrorism.

  • Anonymous about 2 years

    I think that the article above is quite brave. In this country, there are not only police and security forces living. It should be known that they exist to protect the people. In this context, is it correct to slander and condemn the people in the region by such claims? Do the people forget Maras, Sivas, Dersim, Agri, Zilan River massacres (even yesterday, they have killed our 34 young-age citizen in Uludere)? Leave that demagogy anymore. Which cloud in which country has wet the soil as much as mother’s teardrops in this country? In my opinion, from the youngest to the oldest, we all have an important task. Look, the negotiations have already started. We should help them without interrupting. Courage should be given to BDP and blood should be stooped immediately. Because peace is necessary for everybody.

  • Anonymous about 2 years

    The state should first end the terrorism of theft within itself. You’ve already subdivided Turkey, stop being a load on the people’s shoulders. Kurds, Turks, terror, etc. Forget all these things. Stop deceiving the people with all these. If you give the things you’ve stolen back to the treasury, a new Turkey can be set up. Sleeping people, wake up, enough! Let’s not allow these impertinent, greedy thieves anymore.

  • Anonymous 10 months

    20% of Turkish people are using marijuana. You’re free decision. terrorist organizations’re earning money

Name: Anonymous - Have your comments posted immediately!

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