Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 12 – 19 April 2012

NEWS
1. Number of hunger strikers reaches 2,000
2. Court accepts second indictment for KCK terrorist organization
3. Kurds Push for their Rights in New Turkish Constitution
4. BDP condemns armed attack against its executives

5. Publisher Ragıp Zarakolu in “silence protest”
6. If defending the honour of our nation is terrorism, we’re proud to be terrorists
7. Demirtaş: European institutions are a party to Turkey’s crime
8. Leyla Zana and MEP’s visit hunger strikers in Strasbourg
9. Fourth hunger striker in Strasbourg taken to hospital – NEW
10. Füle answered motion on ill-treatment of juvenile prisoners in Turkey
11. Protesters in London demand freedom for Ocalan
12. Syrian Kurds see no guarantee
13. Anxious to keep lid on Iraq, Obama woos Kurds
14. KRG leader Barzani visits Turkey as alliance with Iraqi Kurds deepens

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS    
15. Are Syrian Alawites and Turkish Alevis the same?
16. What if an independent Kurdish state is declared?
17. Is Turkey Losing Political War Against Armenians?
18. Expert urges Armenia to benefit from Kurdish factor in Turkey
19. Revisiting the Turkification of Confiscated Armenian Assets
20. Turkey’s aggressive posture towards Syria signals a shift in foreign policy with imperial overtones
21. Turkey Weighs Military Presence in Syria
22. Kurds Dislike Assad but Distrust Uprising
23. Iraqi Kurdistan as U.S. Ally and Partner in the Middle East

STATEMENTS
24. Open letter to Mr. Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe

REVIEWS
25. “Activists in Office: Kurdish Politics and Protest in Turkey”
26. “A Study of the Origins of the Hai—the First People”

NEWS

1. Number of hunger strikers reaches 2,000
16 April 2012 / Roj Helat

The indefinite hunger strike led by the prisoners of PKK and PAJK in Turkish prisons has been going on since 15 February. The hunger strikers demand the freedom of Kurdish national leader Abdullah Ocalan. According to local sources 500 more prisoners joined the strike increasing the number of strikers from 1,500 to 2000 persons. In a statement on the hunger strikers’ demand, and on the behalf of the prisoners Deniz Kaya said the following: “The police-soldier terror on our people, institutions and their workers continue uninterruptedly despite all the calls we have made so far.”

2. Court accepts second indictment for KCK terrorist organization
18 April 2012 / TODAY’S ZAMAN

The second indictment prepared by Specially Authorized Prosecutor İsmail Tandoğan, filed as part of an investigation into the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), was accepted by the İstanbul 16th High Criminal Court on Wednesday. The 892-page indictment – filed as part of an investigation into the KCK, an umbrella group that encompasses the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — includes 50 suspects, many of whom are lawyers. This indictment is referred to as the “second KCK indictment” as another court accepted a 2,400-page KCK indictment last month under which publisher Ragıp Zarakolu and Professor Büşra Ersanlı face lengthy prison terms on charges of leading and aiding a terrorist organization.

3. Kurds Push for their Rights in New Turkish Constitution
18 April 2012 / Rudaw

The process of writing a new constitution for Turkey will start early next month. Kurdish political parties, syndicates and civil organizations have prepared a joint project to be forwarded to the constitution committee in Turkish Parliament. A Kurdish MP says that acknowledging the Kurdish language and identity in the new constitution is something that Kurds will not compromise on. The current constitution was written after the 1982 military coup. Replacing the current constitution has been a topic of debate in Turkey since the election last June in which the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won the majority of votes. All parties in Turkish Parliament, led by parliament speaker Cemil Cicek, have already formed a committee.

4. BDP condemns armed attack against its executives
14 April 2012 / Dicle News Agency
The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Hakkari and Yüksekova Branches have condemned today in press conferences yesterday’s police attack against BDP Hakkari Chair M. Sıddık Yıldırım, Assistant Chair Sait Gezer and Central District Chair Yavuz Aksaç.  The BDP executives’ vehicle had been raked by the police located at search points at the exit of Şemdinli. “The AKP [Justice and Development Party] government that murdered 34 civilian Kurds in Roboski attempted to murder elected representatives yesterday. The prime minister and the interior minister are directly responsible for the attack. The Kurdish issue cannot be solved by killing and arresting the Kurds,” said BDP Hakkari executive Naif Kayacan.

5. Publisher Ragıp Zarakolu in “silence protest”
14 April 2012 / ANF

Publisher Ragıp Zarakolu who has been released on 11 April after five months of imprisonment within the scope of so-called KCK investigation in Istanbul stated that he will no more make any statement to media as long as Anti-Terror Law and Turkish Penal Code remain in effect. ‘I will be making a protest of silence against the current situation’, said Zarakolu.

6. If defending the honour of our nation is terrorism, we’re proud to be terrorists
15 April 2012 / Roj Helat

“We the Kurds are a nation and have a country known as Kurdistan. We have our own national language, culture, custom, music, dance, national fests and ethics; that is why we should a free life and based on our own social and cultural norms we should live freely. Kurdish people have been struggling for their legitimate rights for centuries. To achieve freedom they have sacrificed millions of youth, elderly, male and female and will keep doing so.”

7. Demirtaş: European institutions are a party to Turkey’s crime
18 April 2012 / ANF

Speaking at the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Group Meeting on April 17, BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş evaluated the silence of European institutions about the ongoing hunger strikes of Kurds as “actually saying a lot”.  Demirtaş reminded that 111 days have been left behind the Roboski slaughter and said the followings; “Still, no single authority has been subjected to an administrative investigation as the specially authorized court keeps everything secret. Neither those who gave the order to fire nor those who stand behind this dirty slaughter have been revealed.

8. Leyla Zana and MEP’s visit hunger strikers in Strasbourg
19 April 2012 / Peace in Kurdistan

In solidarity with the hundreds of political prisoners on hunger strike in Turkey, 15 Kurds from across Europe have been on a continuous hunger strike for 51 days to protest Abdullah Ocalan’s isolation at Imrali prison. Having had visits from the BDP, letters of support from Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, and with an online signature campaign underway, the strikers were finally visited yesterday by 10 members of the European Parliament who joined Leyla Zana and South African Judge Essa Moosa to offer political support and highlight their cause.

9. Fourth hunger striker in Strasbourg taken to hospital
15 April 2012 / ANF

A fourth hunger striker in Strasbourg has been taken to hospital today. Gülistan Hasan, at her 46th day of fast, was taken to hospital as her health deteriorated during the night. Three other hunger striker, Kerim Sivri, Tarık Yusufi and Nigar Enayati had been taken to hospital before but refused medical treatment. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, had issued a statement saying that “The hunger strikes in Turkey and Strasbourg have been going on for several weeks and I am deeply concerned about the women and men who are putting their health and lives at risk”.

10. Füle answered motion on ill-treatment of juvenile prisoners in Turkey
19 April 2012 / ANF

MEP Jürgen Klute, German Member of the European Parliament (GUE/NGL Group) and Coordinator of the European Parliament – Kurds Friendhip Group, tabled an official parliamentary written question to the EU Commission denouncing the ill-treatment of juvenile prisoners in Turkey, namely in Pozanti and Ankara prisons. He was asking to the EU Commission to intervene vis-a-vis of Turkish authorities to stop these ill-treatments.

11. Protesters in London demand freedom for Ocalan
19 April 2012 / Peace in Kurdistan

Amnesty International in London was visited by dozens of protesters from the Kurdish community on Monday, who demanded that the organisation speak out against the grave human rights violations suffered by Kurds in Turkey. Some videos of the action can be viewed by following the link below.

12. Syrian Kurds see no guarantee
14 April 2012 / Kurdish Globe

Syrian Kurdish politicians warn if Kurds are not given rights in a post- Assad Syria, the country won’t see stability.  In a Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul, the Syrian Kurdish opposition withdrew from the Syrian National Council (SNC) after it removed Kurdish demands from the final constitution document charting a transition plan for Syria.

13. Anxious to keep lid on Iraq, Obama woos Kurds
17 April 2012 / Reuters

President Barack Obama, facing a damaging election-year problem if Iraq’s political crisis worsens, has launched an urgent behind-the-scenes push to ease tensions between the Baghdad central government and the Kurds. Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurds’ semi-autonomous regional government, paid a quiet visit to the White House on April 4 and left with backing for two long-standing requests that could help build the worried Kurds’ confidence in U.S. support.

14. KRG leader Barzani visits Turkey as alliance with Iraqi Kurds deepens
18 April 2012 / Todays Zaman

Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), is set to visit Turkey on Thursday and Friday to speak with Turkish officials and Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, on bilateral relations, regional developments, the fight against terrorism and serious internal political issues in Iraq. A Foreign Ministry statement said Barzani was scheduled for a two-day visit, and was expected to be received by President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS     

15. Are Syrian Alawites and Turkish Alevis the same?
17 April 2012 / Global Public Square – CNN

Could Turkey really go to war against Syria?  If it were to do so, Ankara would need to find a way to deal with the increasingly sectarian nature of the conflict in Syria and its potential ramifications inside Turkey. The regime of Bashar al-Assad has enjoyed overwhelming support among Syria’s minority Alawite population. The country’s Sunni majority, on the other hand, is leading the anti-Assad rebellion.  Turkey’s push-back against al-Assad has drawn attention to a possible risk for Ankara: A sectarian Sunni-versus-Alawite conflict in Syria could potentially spill over into neighboring Turkey, causing tensions between Turkey’s Alevis and the government in Ankara.

16. What if an independent Kurdish state is declared?
12 April 2012 / Hurriyet

United States President Barack Obama’s hosting the head of the Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Masoud Barzani, at the White House in Washington is a significant development not only for Iraqi Kurds but for all Kurds. The U.S., by hosting Barzani as the equivalent of a head of state, has highlighted its special interest in the Kurds. This interest is not new. It is an intimateness that began to become clear especially after the Cold War.

17. Is Turkey Losing Political War Against Armenians?
13 April 2012 / Armenian Life

During recent years Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s much fanfared foreign policy of “Zero problems with neighbors” has turned into “Zero neighbors without problems.”After Turkey’s posturing as a mediator between Israel and Arabs has backfired both in Tel Aviv and the Arab street, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has turned against his longtime ally President Bashar Assad of Syria. Compounding the situation, The Economist magazine reported that Mr Erdogan’s secular critics argued that “his behaviour points to another troubling impulse: to lead an arc of Sunni Muslim countries spanning Africa, Asia, the Balkans and the Middle East. As evidence they point to Turkey’s coddling of Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood.”

18. Expert urges Armenia to benefit from Kurdish factor in Turkey
14 April 2012 / PanArmenian

Provisions of Treaty of Sèvres related to Armenians and Kurds were the only ones that were not brought to life, Armenian political analyst said. As Levon Shirinyan told a press conference, the Kurds attach great importance to the treaty in setting a goal to build their own statehood, and hope to get back the confiscated territories. “The Turkish authorities and politicians still dub the treaty ‘a bur in the throat’,” the expert said, adding that Armenian must be ready to return Surmalu and Kars as minimum. Mr. Shirinyan further stressed the need to develop good relations with the Kurds, due to their being a driving force for destabilizing the situation in Turkey.

19. Revisiting the Turkification of Confiscated Armenian Assets
17 April 2012 / Armenian Life

If one person murders another, then takes over that murdered person’s property and possessions, he would be living off the proceeds of his crime. Once authorities discover his crime, he would be found guilty—by any court, anywhere—and then sentenced, punished, and forced to return the unlawfully obtained property and possessions. But if a people murders another people, and takes over the property and possessions of the murdered people, it seems that different rules apply, and the guilty—and their children—can continue living off the proceeds of the crime.

20. Turkey’s aggressive posture towards Syria signals a shift in foreign policy with imperial overtones
12 April 2012 / The Economist

IN THE early hours of April 9th a group of Syrian civilians fled to the Turkish border as clashes between insurgents from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Syrian government forces raged. Two Syrians died and several others, including two Turks, were wounded when Syrian troops fired on the civilians’ destination, a refugee camp located in the Turkish province of Kilis.

21. Turkey Weighs Military Presence in Syria
17 April 2012 / The Media Line

With international peacekeepers overseeing a shaky ceasefire in Syria, Turkey appears to be moving closer to creating a buffer zone across the Syrian border as the refugee situation worsens in the regional tinderbox. The Turkish media are awash with reports that Ankara is finalizing plans to seize territory on the Syrian side. Analysts say the move is not only based on a growing enthusiasm for humanitarian intervention, but for internal Turkish motives.

22. Kurds Dislike Assad but Distrust Uprising
18 April 2012 / Time

Syria’s Kurds, who have long complained of discrimination under President Bashar Assad, would seem a natural fit to join the revolt against his rule. Instead, they are growing increasingly distrustful of an opposition they see as no more likely to grant them their rights. Kurdish parties angrily pulled out of a recent conference aimed at unifying the opposition ranks after participants ignored their demands for more rights and recognition in a post-Assad Syria.

23. Iraqi Kurdistan as U.S. Ally and Partner in the Middle East
12 April 2012 / The Cutting Edge

Despite a budding national political crisis originating from the consolidation of power under Prime Minister Maliki, the Kurdish region of Iraq has seen a number of successes in recent years. Per capita gross domestic product has risen dramatically since the fall of Saddam’s regime in 2003, illiteracy has been reduced from 56 to 16 percent, and the security situation has been greatly improved. Furthermore, the economic and commercial sector has seen increased foreign investment, and the people of Kurdistan have accepted a tolerant policy that rejects revenge and retaliation. In recent meetings with President Barzani, President Obama and Vice President Biden praised these achievements, reaffirming their commitment to a democratic, federal, and pluralistic Iraq.

STATEMENTS

24. Open letter to Mr. Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign, 18 April 2012

REVIEWS

25. “Activists in Office: Kurdish Politics and Protest in Turkey”
Insight Turkey

Review by Michael Gunter: Most of the recently published books on the Kurdish problem in Turkey focus on the armed struggle and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Watts, however, offers a much-appreciated alternative approach. “Pro-Kurdish political parties” (p. xvii), or what she also calls “challenger parties” (p. 16), “have made themselves matter and… have impressed their ideas and agendas on reluctant and often repressive states” (p. x). “The central argument of this book is that… pro-Kurdish elected officials and party administrators engaged [as]… ‘loudspeaker systems’ for the transmission of highly contentious information politics that challenged the narratives of security, identity, and representation promoted by Turkish state institutions…. They [also] tried to construct a competing ‘governmentality’ and new collective Kurdish ‘subject’ in cities and towns in the southeast” (p. 13).

26. “A Study of the Origins of the Hai—the First People”
Keghart.com

Review by Jirair Tutunjian: One of the wonders of Prof. Hovhanness Pilikian’s “Origins of the Hai—the First People” is the author’s ability to impart so much new and stunning data and fact-based speculation within the slim volume. The second wonder of the book is the polymath professor’s gutsy (some might say reckless) criticism of the Bing Bang theory and everyone from Charles Darwin to Western scholars who, the author says, push the British-French-German imperial and racist agenda by distorting the truth about the origins of mankind and the key role of the Armenian nation in that history.

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