Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 20 – 26 July 2012

NEWS
1. Kurdish MPs urge Turkey to free PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan
2. Abdullah Öcalan: one year of total isolation in Imrali
3. VIDEO: BDP deputies attacked on 14 July demo
4. BDP MP Ayhan transferred to Adana Prison despite critical state of health
5. Intellectuals condemn the police violence on 14 July
6. Journalists Rise Against Anti-Terror Law
7. PHOTOS: Turkish Kurds make charcoal in Anatolia
8. SYRIA UPDATE: Kurdish Leaders Deny Claims Peshmerga Forces Entering Syria
9. SYRIA UPDATE: Kurds seize power in Kobani in Syria
10. SYRIA UPDATE: Kurds take over more cities: Qyamishli remains difficult
11. SYRIA UPDATE: Kurds give ultimatum to Syrian security forces
12. SYRIA UPDATE: Syria Revealed: The Quiet Planning for a Country After Assad
13. Kurds push back as Obama reportedly sides with Baghdad in oil dispute
14. Permanent Vigil for Ocalan in Strasbourg

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
15. BDP Expresses Grave Concerns over Diyarbakir Attacks
16. Turkey Arrests Public-Sector Unionists Under Broad Terror Law
17. Turkey’s Human Rights Hypocrisy
18. SYRIA UPDATE: Why Does Turkey Want Regime Change in Syria?
19. SYRIA UPDATE:
The PKK in Syria
20. SYRIA UPDATE: The Time for Kurdistan Region of Syria Has Come
21. SYRIA UPDATE: Syria’s Kurds Stand Alone After Rejecting Rebels and Regime
22. SYRIA UPDATE: Iraqi Kurds train their Syrian brethren
23. SYRIA UPDATE: Secession Looming? Syrian Kurds Spurn Both Rebels and Regime
24. Imperial legacy that created modern Syria
25. The Limits of Turkey’s Kurdish Efforts in Iraq
26. Chevron Secures Major Deal in Kurdistan, But More is to Come
27. VIDEO: British MP George Galloway Scolds Arabs for Joining Western Efforts against Iran
28. Limited Autonomy of the Civil Society and the Misuse of the EU Accession Process
29.
Fasting in London against genocidal Sri Lanka timed for Black July, Olympics

ARTICLES
30. The Closing of Turkey’s Kurdish Opening, by Professor Michael M. Gunter

REPORTS
31. Bertrand Russell Foundation: Eyewitness in Turkey, by Tony Simpson, Patrick Deboosere.
32. BIA Media Monitoring and Freedom of Expression Report

STATEMENTS
33. PEACE IN KURDISTAN Press Statement: The mass trial of 36 defence lawyers

NEWS

1. Kurdish MPs urge Turkey to free PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan
22 July 2012 / eKurd
Kurdish members of Turkey’s parliament on Saturday called for the release of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), saying an end to the group’s 27-year conflict with the army is impossible while he is in prison. Joined by human rights activists, the lawmakers also told a news conference that Ocalan has not seen his lawyers or family members for a full year and that such “inhumane” conditions raised concerns about his health and security. “If there is going to be a negotiated peace, Ocalan’s captivity must be ended,” said Emine Ayna, a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). “A negotiating table in which one side holds the key to the handcuffs of the other party won’t yield any results.”

2. Abdullah Öcalan: one year of total isolation in Imrali
27 July 2012 / ANF
For one year the Turkish AKP government has been keeping the Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan in total isolation on the prison island of Imrali. The International Initiative – Freedom For Öcalan – Peace in Kurdistan has release a statement on the day marking one year of isolation.  Kurdish leader Öcalan has not been able to meet his lawyers since 27 July 2011. Ever since him and the other five prisoners on the island have been cut off from the outside world. Neither family members nor lawyers are allowed to visit. Telephone calls or written communication are also not possible.

3. VIDEO: BDP deputies attacked on 14 July dem0
15 July 2012 / ANF
BDP deputies have been attacked by police yesterday. BDP deputies Buldan and Ata sustained injuries.

4. BDP MP Ayhan transferred to Adana Prison despite critical state of health
22 July 2012 / ANF
Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) detainee Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Urfa MP İbrahim Ayhan had a heart spasm during his transfer to Kürkçüler F Type Prison in Adana on 20 July night. Ayhan’s heart spasm also continued in Adana Prison where he was put in a single cell and denied permission to see anyone.  In a letter to all media organizations, Ayhan MP called attention to his situation and said that he had been subjected to numerous inhuman and unlawful practices in Urfa Prison where he had been held under arrest for a long time because of political works he had performed.

5. Intellectuals condemn the police violence on 14 July
22 July 2012 / ANF
Hundreds of Turkish intellectuals, including authors, poets, academics, artists and peace activists, released a written statement to demand the resignation of Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin for the state violence committed to prevent the 14 July rally of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and Democratic Society Congress (DTK) in Diyarbakır.  The intellectuals protesting against the injury and arrest of dozens of people and police violence against the Kurdish people and deputies said: “We as the citizens of the Turkish Republic want to live in peace with the Kurdish people on the basis of equal citizenship…”

6. Journalists Rise Against Anti-Terror Law
23 July 2012 / Bianet
During the period covering the 2012 months of January-February-March, the professional media bodies were constantly protesting the detention and arrest of journalists. The professional bodies also protested the closing-down of the Özgür Gündem (Free Agenda) newspaper, the non-unionization movement at the Anatolia News Agency (AA), the Anti-Terror Law (TMK), and the Special Authority Courts during the period. The media bodies followed the court hearings and criticized the government’s attitude towards imprisoned journalists throughout the three-month period. They released statements regarding the judicial reform and the freedom of press and expression.

7. PHOTOS: Turkish Kurds make charcoal in Anatolia
19 July 2012 / MSNBC Photoblog
Every year, in the early spring months, hundreds of Kurdish families migrate from eastern Turkey to the wooded areas of central Anatolia to earn money by making charcoal. Families live in makeshift tents and almost every member of these families takes part in the process.

8. SYRIA UPDATE: Kurdish Leaders Deny Claims Peshmerga Forces Entering Syria
23 July 2012 / Rudaw
Syrian opposition leaders accused the Kurdish parties of receiving support from the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq in an attempt to take over the Kurdish areas in Syria. Kamal al-Labwani, member of the Syrian National Council [SNC], told Alarabiya news network that the Kurdistan Region Government (KRG) is supporting the Kurdish parties in Syria “by sending some armed forces from Peshmerga to help Syrian Kurds to take control of the Kurdish areas in Syria”.  “We have information that a number of Peshmerga members entered the Kurdish areas in Syria and they are fighting now side by side with other Kurdish armed groups,” al-Labwani added. But Kurdish politicians and activists in Syria denied the claims of the Arab opposition, and considered it propaganda aiming to create division within the revolutionary forces.

9. SYRIA UPDATE: Kurds seize power in Kobani in Syria
19 July 2012 / ANF

The Kurdish people seized all government institutions in the Kurdish city of Kobani in West Kurdistan on Thursday as clashes between Assad’s regime and Western-supported armed groups are reported to be intensifying. Kurdish authorities in the region stated that this measure has been taken to prevent the war in Syria from reaching the region of Kurdistan.

10. SYRIA UPDATE: Kurds take over more cities: Qyamishli remains difficult
21 July 2012 / Transnational Middle-East Observer
Kurdish forces united in the YPG (Yekîneyên Parastina Gel) yesterday took over Efrin without resistance. A pro-Baath website in Dutch claimed the Syrian army handed over some Kurdish areas to Kurds in an ‘agreement’, but a source within the Kurdish National Council (KNC) denied this. Kurdish parties called on the Syrian army to withdraw from Kurdish-dominated cities reports Rudaw. There are claims Kurds took over some parts of Qamishli—the largest Kurdish city in Syria, but others deny this. The city is vital for Kurds to control the Kurdish areas (see the map).

11. SYRIA UPDATE: Kurds give ultimatum to Syrian security forces
21 July 2012 / Rudaw
A statement by the Union of Kurdish Coordination Committees (UKCC) on Friday called on all members of the Syrian army to withdraw from the Kurdish areas or face consequences.“After liberating a part of our Kurdish region, we are warning all the pro-Assad forces in the Kurdish areas to either defect from this regime and withdraw peacefully, or they will be forced to leave against their will,” the statement read. The UKCC statement also called on the Kurdish people to preserve all the government institutions and secure them from any damage, “because these are the property of the people, and all the neighbourhoods should be regularly protected by the Kurdish Popular Protection Units.”

12. SYRIA UPDATE: Syria Revealed: The Quiet Planning for a Country After Assad
21 July 2012 / Enduring America

For the last six months, 40 senior representatives of various Syrian opposition groups have been meeting quietly in Germany under the tutelage of the U.S. Institute for Peace (USIP) to plan for how to set up a post-Assad Syrian government. The project, which has not directly involved U.S. government officials but was partially funded by the State Department, is gaining increased relevance this month as the violence in Syria spirals out of control and hopes for a peaceful transition of power fade away. The leader of the project, USIP’s Steven Heydemann, an academic expert on Syria, has briefed administration officials on the plan, as well as foreign officials, including on the sidelines of the Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul last month.

13. Kurds push back as Obama reportedly sides with Baghdad in oil dispute
23 July 2012 / Foreign Policy
The top Kurdish representative in Washington on Friday pushed back against Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki‘s attempt to encourage U.S. President Barack Obama to stop U.S. oil companies — particularly ExxonMobil — from investing in the Kurdish area of Iraq following Chevron’s recent purchase of 80 percent of two blocks in the autonomous region.  The Kurdish representative, Qubad Talabani, the Kurdish Regional Government’s representative in Washington and the son of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, was responding to Maliki’s claim that Obama had sided with Baghdad in the escalating dispute in a recent letter.

14. Permanent Vigil for Ocalan in Strasbourg
23 July 2012 / ANF
Kurds in Europe have been in a permanent vigil action in front of Council of Europe since 5 June to ask the European Council, European Parliament, European Union countries and western countries like the USA to “stop their political, military and economic support to Turkey, for the freedom of the Kurdish Leader Mr Abdullah Ocalan and for the recognition of the Kurdish peoples’ status in all parts of Kurdistan.  The vigil action, which came after the Geneva-Strasbourg Long March in the winter and the 52-day-long hunger strike in Strasbourg last March, continues in the fifth week with five demonstrators from Germany who have taken over the vigil from five others coming from Swiss.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

15. BDP Expresses Grave Concerns over Diyarbakir Attacks
19 July 2012 / Armenian Weekly
The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Representative in the U.S., based in Washington, D.C., wrote the following on July 17: The recent “Democratic Struggle for Freedom” demonstration organized by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and Democratic Society Congress (DTK) on July 14 in Diyarbakir (Amed), Turkey, was both banned and violently suppressed by Turkish security forces. Demonstrators had gathered to deliver a clear message to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that the Kurdish issue can only be solved through peaceful means and the restarting of negotiations with the imprisoned leader of the Kurdish political movement, Abdullah Ocalan. Turkish security forces confronted the peaceful demonstrators, detaining and injuring many, including Kurdish deputies from the National Assembly.

16. Turkey Arrests Public-Sector Unionists Under Broad Terror Law
23 July 2012 / In These Times
They were upfront and loud, not unusual behavior for discontented labor unions anywhere. They had complained about the puny wage increases the Turkish government was offering its public workers. Nor did they like new education laws that they claimed hurt students and teachers. And they had voiced their views about plenty of government polices affecting not just workers. But early one morning last June when police raided the homes and offices of members of the Confederation of Public Service Workers, (KESK), rounding up 69 union leaders and activists, their arrests had nothing to do with labor-law violations.

17. Turkey’s Human Rights Hypocrisy
19 July 2012 / New York Times
A NEW political order is emerging in the Middle East, and Turkey aspires to be its leader by taking a stand against authoritarian regimes. Earlier this week, Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, went so far as to denounce the Syrian government’s continuing massacres of civilians as “attempted genocide.” Turkey’s desire to champion human rights in the region is a welcome development, but Mr. Erdogan’s condemnation of Syria is remarkably hypocritical. As long as Turkey continues to deny crimes committed against non-Turks in the early 1900s, during the final years of the Ottoman Empire, its calls for freedom, justice and humanitarian values will ring false.

18. SYRIA UPDATE: Why Does Turkey Want Regime Change in Syria?
23 July 2012 / The National Interest 
The downing of a Turkish RF-4E reconnaissance aircraft in late June brought Turkey and Syria to the brink of war. Following the statement of Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the rules of engagement of the Turkish military have been changed and expanded, Turkey has deployed two armored brigades and positioned antiaircraft batteries along its Syrian border. Turkish F-16 fighters scrambled to chase away Syrian assault helicopters, which were within four miles of the Turkish-Syrian border on several occasions during the first week of July.

19. SYRIA UPDATE: The PKK in Syria
24 July 2012 / Hurriyet
While we were busy talking about northern Iraq, if a “Western Kurdistan Autonomous Region” is formed in northern Syria, it is obvious what kind of a nuisance Turkey will be facing. The developments are only adding to this anxiety.  There was disagreement between the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is within the orbit of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), in Syria and the Kurdish National Council (KUK), which is within the orbit of northern Iraqi leader Masoud Barzani. Barzani reconciled the two sides in Arbil. After this “Arbil agreement,” the PYD, together with the KUK, captured Kobane, Amuda and Afrin near the Turkish border and hoisted their flag.

20. SYRIA UPDATE: The Time for Kurdistan Region of Syria Has Come
23 July 2012 / Rudaw
The Kurdistan Region of Syria? Yes, it is possible. Now is the time to decalre it.
Today, the Kurds of Syria are in a position to be a strong player in the new Syria and the Middle East. But this depends a great deal on their Kurdish neighbors and co-fighters – namely, the KDP and PKK. The events of the past week have opened up a new horizon for the Kurds in the Middle East in general and the Kurds of Syria in particular. The liberation of the Kurdish cities of Syria presents a new kind of challenge for the Kurds of Syria.

21. SYRIA UPDATE: Syria’s Kurds Stand Alone After Rejecting Rebels and Regime
22 July 2012 / AINA
Developments in Syria and Iraq have led some to speculate that the birth of an independent Kurdish state might be at hand. A closer analysis shows that a united Kurdistan is still unlikely, although a separate semiautonomous Kurdish community in Syria, with some parallels to the Kurdish Autonomous Region in Iraq, is a growing possibility. In Syria, Kurds are sitting on the sidelines of the uprising against the Damascus regime. Indeed, the Free Syrian Army has accused members of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) of hindering its operations in some areas against the Assad regime, according to the Kurdish website Rudaw.net. Leaders of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is affiliated with the PKK, have made it clear that they will not tolerate the spread of Syria’s conflict into the Kurdish-dominated areas of Syria.

22. SYRIA UPDATE: Iraqi Kurds train their Syrian brethren
23 July 2012 / Al Jazeera
The Kurdish government in the north of Iraq is training Kurdish-Syrian fighters who will be sent back to defend Kurdish territory at home, says Kurdish regional President Massoud Barzani. In an interview with Al Jazeera at the presidential palace near Erbil on Sunday, Barzani confirmed for the first time the presence of a training camp in the Kurdish region. The training puts yet another twist on complicated Kurdish relations and highlights major differences between the policy of the Kurdish regional government and Iraq’s central government towards neighbouring Syria. “A good number of the young Kurds who fled have been trained. We do not want to interfere directly in the situation but they have been trained,” Barzani told Al Jazeera in his first interview in months. He said they have not yet been sent into Syria but are intended to be deployed there to fill any “security vacuum” as Syrian security forces retreat.

23. SYRIA UPDATE: Secession Looming? Syrian Kurds Spurn Both Rebels and Regime
22 July 2012 / Antiwar.com
Despite early indications from Turkish officials that the civil war in Syria would be in at least some measure about western Kurdistan, the nation’s Kurdish National Council (KNC) is trying to find itself a third route through the ongoing crisis, spurning both rebels and regime and opting to stand alone.It is not so much a matter of choice as necessity. The rebels are overwhelmingly hostile to the Kurds, both because of the Arab nationalist rhetoric used by their leadership and because they are enjoying strong support from Turkey. At the same time, the regime has never been all that friendly to the Kurds, and have lost most of their territory around Kurdistan at any rate.

24. Imperial legacy that created modern Syria
25 July 2012 / Morning Star
Like its neighbours, modern Syria is a state whose very existence and borders have been defined by 20th century imperialism.  The current crisis can only be understood by placing it in its broad historical context of the geopolitical faultlines of the region rather than within the often superficial framework of the “Arab spring” or “Twitter revolutions” that informs most Western media coverage.  The outcome of the Syrian unrest has profound implications for the wider Middle East and this can only be appreciated by recognising the country’s historical background.

25. The Limits of Turkey’s Kurdish Efforts in Iraq
19 July 2012 / eKurd
One place where Turkey’s ‘zero-problems with neighbors’ policy seems to be working is in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. In just five years, Ankara has used its soft power to turn a once conflicted relationship with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) into an economically and politically profitable one. Still, even this alliance has its limits. Ankara may be highly engaged in the Kurdish oil market, but it will not fully support the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG’s quest for economic independence. Nor is Turkey willing to completely alienate Baghdad for its Iraqi Kurdish ally. Despite tensions between Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Ankara remains vested in the Iraqi oil sector and committed to Iraq’s territorial unity.

26. Chevron Secures Major Deal in Kurdistan, But More is to Come
19 July 2012 / Rudaw
Chevron’s acquisition of Reliance is part of a new wave of major oil and gas deals with Erbil and with these developments Baghdad policy of deterring Oil and gas investments in Kurdistan has ended for good. Reliable sources (from diplomatic, political and industry circles), who prefer to remain anonymous, have confirmed to Rudaw that several top league international oil companies are following ExxonMobil and have signed or are about to sign big new contracts with Kurdistan.

27. VIDEO: British MP George Galloway Scolds Arabs for Joining Western Efforts against Iran
26 July 2012 / Mayadeen TV

28. Limited Autonomy of the Civil Society and the Misuse of the EU Accession Process
21 July 2012 / Mesop
Misuse of the European integration process by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is interrelated to a process of the control of the civil society which goes hand in hand with transforming the Turkish cultural capital. According to the interviews conducted with the major civil society leaders, the democratisation discourse of the AKP is superficial. Moreover, the usage of the European integration process by AKP as a room to manoeuvre in the domestic politics and as a tool for Turkey’s further authoritarisation.

29. Fasting in London against genocidal Sri Lanka timed for Black July, Olympics
22 July 2012 / TamilNet
The Black July remembrance event held at London on Sunday addressed the systematic injustice that Sri Lanka had been meting out to the Tamils, with activists placing emphasis on the protracted nature of genocide Eezham Tamils face in unitary Sri Lanka. Gobi Sivanthan, a Tamil youth activist, began his hunger-strike vigil which will end on the Olympics closing ceremony on August 12 demanding, among others, the immediate halting of land grabs in the Tamil homeland. Conveying solidarity with the demands of the demonstrators, Kurdish and British activists who spoke at the event urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to immediately suspend Sri Lanka from the 2012 London Olympics. “States committing genocide should not be part of Olympic games,” Akif Wan, a representative from the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) said, speaking at the event.

ARTICLES

30. The Closing of Turkey’s Kurdish Opening, by Professor Michael M. Gunter. July 2012.

REPORTS

31. Bertrand Russell Foundation: Eyewitness in Turkey, by Tony Simpson, Patrick Deboosere. 17 July 2012.

32. BIA Media Monitoring and Freedom of Expression Report, 23 July 2012.

STATEMENTS

33. PEACE IN KURDISTAN Press Statement: The mass trial of 36 defence lawyers, 20 July 2012.

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