I am Turkish. I am a former government official. And I believe that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK — described by President Trump as worse than the Islamic State — is not a terrorist organization.

For decades, Turkish leaders have used the threat of “PKK terrorism” to justify all possible atrocities that a state can commit against a people, and all possible violations of the principles of human rights and international law. We are taught that all Kurds are a threat because of the PKK, and that, without them, the Kurdish question would not exist.

What we were never told is that their movement was founded at a time when state policy was that Kurds as a people, millions of men and women and children, had no identity of their own. We never learned that their armed struggle began only after their first political leaders were captured, imprisoned and tortured, and that the decision to start a political organization at all was made only after decades of massacres and state oppression. We never acknowledge that every effort to crush Kurdish aspirations by force has given their movement more strength and support, not less.