Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 6 – 12 April 2012

NEWS
1. Turkey’s KCK trial against 152 high profile Kurdish politicians resumed

2. Publisher Zarakolu Released
3. Over 12 thousand people arrested in 2011
4. Prisoners in Osmaniye stop hunger strike
5. BDP ready to negotiate, co-leader Demirtas says
6. BDP could face closure case following KCK indictment
7. 31 Kurdish mayors behind bars in Turkey
8. Turkey’s Justice and Development Party doesn’t believe in existence of Kurdish issue, says Kurdish leader
9. Kurdish leader pledges to pressure outlawed PKK
10. Turkey warns of ‘steps’ if Syria mayhem doesn’t end
11. Arab, Kurdish Tribes Reiterate Support to Comprehensive Reform Process
12. UK Report: Kurdish Issue a “litmus test” for Democracy
13. Turkey has until the end of April to answer to the European Court of Human Rights
14. Video: Nigar Enayati explains why Kurds are on hunger strike

15. Third hunger striker taken to hospital in Strasbourg – FLASH
16. BDP and DTK visit hunger strikers in Strasbourg
17. Assyrian MP From Turkey Visits Vienna
18. State Dept.’s Disgraceful Censorship Of a Report Blacklisting Turkey

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
19. Understanding the Kurdish Issue
20. The long shadow of the 1980 coup in Europe
21. Turkish brutality towards Kurdish children – The Final Frontier
22. Interview with Elif Shafak: ‘In Turkey, men write and women read. I want to see this change’
23. PKK Leader: America Is Unfair Toward Us
24. ‘Truth commissions better than courts to deal with difficult past’
25. Is Turkey preparing for an intervention in Syria?
26. The Kurdish dimension to Turkey’s Syria policy

REPORTS
27. Summary of the debate in the European Parliament on the “2011 Progress Report on Turkey / EU Enlargement”

NEWS

1. Turkey’s KCK trial against 152 high profile Kurdish politicians resumed
9 April 1012/ eKurd

152 prominent Kurdish politicians including deputies and mayors, among whom 99 are under arrest, are accused of “being managers” and “members of an organization” of Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).  The trial which is attended by a large number of defendant lawyers is also monitored by representatives of Swedish Embassy, Swiss Embassy, Delegation of the European Union to Turkey, Human Rights Joint Platform (IHOP) and Swedish Union of Lawyers Without Borders. The courthouse has been surrounded by police blockade because of the trial.

2. Publisher Zarakolu Released
10 April 2012 / InfoTurk

Publisher Ragıp Zarakolu, who was arrested in November on terrorism charges as part of an investigation into the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), was released pending trial on Tuesday along with 14 other accused in the case. Professor Büşra Ersanlı and Deniz Zarakolu, Ragip’s son and Belge Publishing House Editor, who were also arrested in November, are not among the 15 released.  Ersanlı, who was a member of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP) constitutional commission, faces up to 22-and-a-half years in jail on charges of leading a terrorist organization.

3. Over 12 thousand people arrested in 2011
11 April 2012 / ANF

The 2011 report about human rights violations has been released by the Human Rights Association (IHD). The report reveals worrisome figures of human rights violations in Turkey in 2011: 12,685 detentions, 2,922 arrests, 3,252 cases of torture and ill-treatment. “A country which claims to be democratic doesn’t allow for so many violations. The political power is building a police state. There is a concrete deterioration that has remarkably increased in comparison to earlier years”, said IHD General Chairperson Öztürk Türkdoğan.

4. Prisoners in Osmaniye stop hunger strike
12 April 2012 / ANF

Fifteen prisoners on hunger strike in Osmaniye T Type Closed Prison have as of 11 April ended their fast on the 50th day following the prison administration’s promise to answer their demands. Strikers in Osmaniye Prison have been on a fast since 21 February to protest against unlawful and humiliating implementations practiced in the prison.  Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Osmaniye, Hatay and Adana Provincial Organizations, TUHAYDER executives, relatives of prisoners on Thursday morning gathered in front of the prison where BDP co-chair Gültan Kışanak and lawyer Vedat Özkan met with the prison authorities and strikers.

5. BDP ready to negotiate, co-leader Demirtas says
7 April 2012 / Hurriyet

The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) could face a closure case at the Constitutional Court — only three years after its predecessor, the Democratic Society Party (DTP), was shut down by the same high court — after a prosecutor conducting an investigation into the terrorist Kurdistan Communities’ Union (KCK) network accused the BDP of having links to the KCK. The prosecutor sent a copy of the indictment regarding the KCK, which was accepted by an İstanbul court earlier this week, to the Prosecutor’s Office of the Supreme Court of Appeals. After their review, if the Supreme Court of Appeals’ prosecutors establish that the KCK is indeed linked to the BDP, they may file charges against the BDP seeking to close it down on charges of separatism.

6. BDP could face closure case following KCK indictment
7 April 2012 / Today’s Zaman

The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) could face a closure case at the Constitutional Court — only three years after its predecessor, the Democratic Society Party (DTP), was shut down by the same high court — after a prosecutor conducting an investigation into the terrorist Kurdistan Communities’ Union (KCK) network accused the BDP of having links to the KCK. The prosecutor sent a copy of the indictment regarding the KCK, which was accepted by an İstanbul court earlier this week, to the Prosecutor’s Office of the Supreme Court of Appeals. After their review, if the Supreme Court of Appeals’ prosecutors establish that the KCK is indeed linked to the BDP, they may file charges against the BDP seeking to close it down on charges of separatism.

7. 31 Kurdish mayors behind bars in Turkey
6 April 2012 / Roj Helat

Turkish regime has turned Turkey into the biggest prison in the world. The number of Kurdish mayors behind bars rose to thirty one on 5 April with the arrest of Karliova Mayor Ferit Çelik. Arrests of political representatives who are charged with “having connection with a terror organization” focus mainly on the Kurdish region, particularly in Şirnex (Şirnak) where all elected representatives, except for MP Hasip Kaplan, are being held in prison.  The AKP regime which systematically prevents BDP municipalities’ projects and works puts increasing pressures on BDP municipalities before the coming 2013 municipal elections.

8. Turkey’s Justice and Development Party doesn’t believe in existence of Kurdish issue, says Kurdish leader
12 April 2012 / AK News

Remzi Kartal, the leader of the Kurdistan Peoples Congress (KONGRA-GEL), said that the meetings between members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its leader Abdullah Ocalan on the one hand and the Government of Turkey have reached a dead end. Kartal said: The only way for Turkey to make a long-term strategy is to settle the Kurdish issue through democratic means with the representatives of the Kurdish people. Any situation to the contrary will put Turkey, the region and the international community in a more embarrassing position.

9. Kurdish leader pledges to pressure outlawed PKK
7 April 2012 / Hurriyet

Iraqi Kurdish leader Barzani says his administration will continue to exert pressure on the PKK to not resort to violence and weapons. He also criticizes the ruling Iraqi government for monopolizing power. Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) leader Masoud Barzani said his administration will continue to exert pressure and call on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) not to resort to violence and weapons. He also said he was ready to help the Turkish government and PKK if necessary to solve the Kurdish problem.

10. Turkey warns of ‘steps’ if Syria mayhem doesn’t end
8 April 2012 / The Daily Star

Alarmed by a swelling number of refugees fleeing the year-long unrest in Syria, Turkey has warned of unspecified steps if Damascus fails to abide by an April 10 deadline to cease violence. “We will patiently follow the process until April 10,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying by daily Hurriyet on Sunday. But “we will implement steps” if violence does not stop after that, he added.

11. Arab, Kurdish Tribes Reiterate Support to Comprehensive Reform Process
10 April 2012 / Sana

Arab and Kurdish Tribes on Tuesday held a forum in al-Hasaka under the title “Homeland is First and Last” to reject all forms of foreign intervention in Syria’s domestic affairs. During the forum, the tribes condemned the calls for arming the terrorist groups and all forms of supporting it, whether in Media and politics, by some Arab regimes led by their masters, the Zionists. Participants in the forum denounced the media misleading campaigns led by hostile institutions and their role in the Syrian bloodshed, underlining that the Syrian people have foiled the conspiracy due to their awareness.

12. UK Report: Kurdish Issue a “litmus test” for Democracy
8 April 2012 / Rudaw

“Prospects for peaceful steps towards reconciliation between Kurds in the South East and the Turkish state appear to be receding,” says a new British parliamentary report on Turkey. The process of ‘Democratic Opening’ initiated by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2009 has been replaced by a “return to confrontation and armed conflict,” the report says, noting that the state’s treatment of the Kurdish issue should be seen as a “litmus test for Turkish democracy.”

13. Turkey has until the end of April to answer to the European Court of Human Rights
10 April 2012 / eKurd

As Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office’s application to Supreme Court of Prosecution to investigate the Peace and Democracy Party has been a matter of debate, the European Court of Human Rights accepted the appeal of ten people whose “actions” ultimately contributed to the closure of the former Kurdish party Democratic Society Party (DTP).  The ECHR, has sent five questions to the Turkish government to be answered before the end of April, and will then reach a verdict in accordance with the answers of these questions.

14. Video: Nigar Enayati explains why Kurds are on hunger strike
9 April 2012 / Kurdish Hunger Strike

15. Third hunger striker taken to hospital in Strasbourg – FLASH
10 April 2012 / ANF

A third hunger striker has been taken to hospital early this morning in Strasbourg. Kerim Sivri was suffering through the night of different problems and it was decided to call an ambulance. Sivri, 36, is the third person to be taken into hospital for the consequences of the fast. Fifteen people, included 5 women, have been on hunger strike for 41 days to protest against the continue isolation regime imposed on Kurdish leader Ocalan and to ask an end to military operation. Sivri, like the other hunger strikers, is refusing medical assistance.

16. BDP and DTK visit hunger strikers in Strasbourg
11 April 2012 / ANF

The BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) and DTK (Democratic Society Congress) delegation in Strasbourg will be holding a series of meetings with authorities of many European Organizations. The delegation came to Strasbourg to display their solidarity with fifteen hunger strikers who have been on a fast since 1 March.  The delegation which consists of DTK co-chairs Ahmet Türk and Aysel Tuğluk, BDP deputies Ertuğrul Kürkçü and Nazmi Gür will on Wednesday morning meet with Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland, the Council authorities of Human Rights and political department.

17. Assyrian MP From Turkey Visits Vienna
9 April 2012 / AINA

On the invitation of the Austrian section of the Assyrian Democratic Organization, Erol Dora, member of the Turkish Parliament, visited Vienna. The program included talks with the Austrian media, a meeting with the President of the Pro-Oriente Organisation, a visit to the Austrian parliament and press conference followed by a lecture on the topic of Minority Rights in Turkey. The focus of the lecture was Turkey’s need for freedom of expression without any restrictions, full religious freedom and recognition of minority rights.

18. State Dept.’s Disgraceful Censorship Of a Report Blacklisting Turkey
5 April 2012 / Armenian Life

Each passing day brings new revelations of the Obama administration’s shameful schemes to cover up Turkish misconduct. The latest scandal involves the State Department’s covert attempt to alter the contents of a report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), condemning the Turkish government’s violations of the religious rights of Christian minorities. USCIRF is an independent bipartisan federal agency established by the U.S. Congress to make “recommendations unburdened by foreign policy considerations other than the defense of religious freedom,” according to a Commission member.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

19. Understanding the Kurdish Issue
23 March 2012 / Journal of Turkish Weekly

The international and regional denial of the Kurdish assertions for their right to statehood, within a specified territory which they claim to have inhabited historically, namely Kurdistan, constitutes the core of the Kurdish Issue. This issue has been further internationalized by Kurdish aspirations for the creation of their own state, and recognition of their distinctive cultural and social traits and political behavior, largely formed by their non-state status as well as the fragmentation of what is seen as Kurdistan among many states (mainly Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey).

20. The long shadow of the 1980 coup in Europe
8 April 2012 / Sunday’s Zaman
It has been said by many this week from all over the political spectrum and I can only agree: The start of the trial against retired generals Kenan Evren and Tahsin Şahinkaya, two of those responsible for the 1980 military coup, is a historic event with an extremely high symbolic significance. It signals the end of an era in which army commanders could get away with anything and the Turkish state was not able or willing to seek justice for the victims of past wrongdoings by the military.

21. Turkish brutality towards Kurdish children – The Final Frontier
8 April 2012 / Alliance for Kurdish Rights

It was the summer of 2005; I was 13 when I returned to Kurdistan for the second time. Before that my only sighting of it had been in 1993, a visit where I would have been only 2 years old, so the only knowledge I had of the land was through stories from my parents and their friends. In my mind I had painted a picturesque land which bred a resisting and valiant people.

22. Interview with Elif Shafak: ‘In Turkey, men write and women read. I want to see this change’
8 April 2012 / The Guardian

Born in 1971, Elif Shafak is the author of eight novels and is Turkey’s most widely read woman writer. Her work has been translated into 30 languages and she was awarded the honorary distinction of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. She divides her time between Istanbul and London. Her latest novel is Honour.

23. PKK Leader: America Is Unfair Toward Us
25 January 2012 / Rudaw

In the second of a two-part interview with Rudaw, Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Murat Karayilan said Kurds in Turkey have the right to hold a referendum to decide whether Kurdish areas in Turkey gain autonomy. Karayilan criticized the United States and Europe for supporting Turkey’s war against the Kurds, maintaining that the Kurds have not been recognized for their role in helping the US bring democracy to Iraq.

24. ‘Truth commissions better than courts to deal with difficult past’
8 April 2012 / Today’s Zaman

A distinguished professor of contemporary history has said that truth commissions are better than courts for dealing with difficult past events, such as Turkey’s Sept. 12, 1980 coup d’état, many people are responsible to different degrees. “The problem with the prosecution is that it just takes a few individuals to account for criminal responsibility, whereas if you have a truth commission, a larger process, then you can explore the whole historical background and understand all the connections without having to do with [the] very specific thing of proving … criminal responsibility,” said Timothy Garton Ash, the Isaiah Berlin professorial fellow at St. Antony’s College, Oxford, for Monday Talk.

25. Is Turkey preparing for an intervention in Syria?
11 April 2012 / The Telegraph

The short answer is yes. Although it won’t happen tomorrow or without assistance especially from the United States, which is evidently first going to allow Kofi Annan to ˚ getting Iran to broker a peace deal. But Abdullah Bozkurt, a columnist at Turkey’s Today Zaman newspaper, outlines the legal case for intervention that wouldn’t require UN Security Council authorisation (read: the say-so of Russia and China). This strikes me as the most likely set of events to unfold

26. The Kurdish dimension to Turkey’s Syria policy
10 April 2012 / Foreign Policy

As escalating numbers of Syrians flee across the Turkish border to escape President Bashar al-Assad’s brutality, Turkey is stepping up diplomatic efforts to exert increased international pressure on the regime. While the international community is inclined to give Assad more time to implement Kofi Annan’s peace plan, Turkey feels that the urgency of the situation demands immediate action. Tensions between Turkey and Syria have further escalated after shots fired across the border wounded four people in Turkey’s Kilis refugee camp and Syrian forces and Free Syrian Army fighters clashed over control of a nearby border gate.

REPORTS

27. Summary of the debate in the European Parliament on the “2011 Progress Report on Turkey / EU Enlargement”, Brussels, 28-29 March 2012

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