Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 20 – 26 April 2012

NEWS
1. KCK releases statement about hunger strike
2. PKK and PAJK prisoners end hunger strike – UPDATE
3. Öcalan’s lawyers’ all activities considered crime
4. Deputy candidate Gürbüz and 3 others charged to 48 years and 11 months
5. Kurds call for recognizing their rights by Turkey
6. Turkish jets bombarded Qendil and Zap once again
7. Demirtaş: Barzani isn’t the addressee of the Kurdish problem in Turkey
8. BDP in new U.S. meetings
9. “97th Anniversary of Genocide and the Tradition of Unsolved Murders”
10. Turkey Causes New Concern for Syrian Kurds
11. Syrian National Council Leader’s Comments Anger Syrian Kurds
12. Iraqi Kurdish Region President, Turkish Officials Meet, Discuss Syria
13. Russian, Iraqi-Kurd Politicians Seek Closer Ties
14. AP Interview: Iraqi Kurdish leader hints at secession, gives deadline to Shiite government

15. Iran: The Political Prisoner, Mr. Gulpari, at Risk of Execution
16. Imminent Risk of Execution for Hebibula Gulperi
17. 4 Iran Guards killed in clashes with Kurd rebels

COMMENT, OPINION, AND ANALYSIS
18. Podcast: A Conversation with Turkey’s Kurdish Leadership at Brookings Institution
19. Unraveling the Kurdish Conundrum
20. Will Turkish Ambitions in Syria Trigger Fall of Neo-Ottomanism?

21. Syrian Kurds Unsure on Uprisings and Turkey’s Role
22. Kurds, Syria, and the Chessboard

STATEMENTS
23. Hunger strike in Strasbourg ends after 52 days

REPORTS
24. Iraq and the Kurds: The High-Stakes Hyrdrocarbons Gambit
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NEWS

1. KCK releases statement about hunger strike
20 April 2012 / ANF
In a statement on the indefinite hunger strike in Strasbourg which has entered 50th day, Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council Presidency said that; “We believe the strike action has achieved its purpose in the eye of everybody with conscience and morality and respect for democratic values and human rights.”  The KCK statement noted that they believe strikers will once again evaluate their situation in consideration of Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan’s call which said “the resistance shouldn’t end up with deaths”.

2. PKK and PAJK prisoners end hunger strike – UPDATE
20 April 2012 / ANF

PKK and PAJK prisoners have ended the hunger strike they had been carrying out since 15 February. The prisoners’ decision was announced by Deniz Kaya who on behalf of strikers said that “We are ending our action as of 20 April 2012 for now in line with the sensitiveness of the public opinion in Kurdistan, Turkey as well as Europe, our Leader’s call for avoiding any death in the process of resistance and the call made by our movement.”

3. Öcalan’s lawyers’ all activities considered crime
19 April 2012 / Dicle News Agency

The indictment against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Leader Abdullah Öcalan’s 50 lawyers considers all meetings and contact between Öcalan and his lawyers as ‘activity of the illegal organization.’ Lawyers’ speaking about their client Öcalan in several meetings as well as Öcalan’s ‘meeting notes’ that have been publicly known through media are presented as evidence of crime. The 890-page indictment is mostly composed of meeting notes between Öcalan and his lawyers, that have been weekly published in the press. The meeting notes are considered as ‘instructions to the illegal organization.’

4. Deputy candidate Gürbüz and 3 others charged to 48 years and 11 months
25 April 2012 / Dicle News Agency

Four, including Elazığ deputy candidate from the Labour, Democracy and Freedom Bloc İsa Gürbüz, were charged to a total of 48 years and 11 months today on the allegations of being members of the illegal organization and producing propaganda of the illegal organization. The defendants also included Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Elazığ City General Assembly member Hacı Ateş and Elazığ City Council member Sefer Eray. The court which did not allow Gürbüz and the fourth defendant Sabri Acar to testify in Kurdish charged Gürbüz to 20 years, Acar to 13 years and five months, Eray eight years and three months and Ateş seven years and three months.

5. Kurds call for recognizing their rights by Turkey
20 April 2012 / Kurdsat

Kurdish parties and institutions insist on the four demands that the governorships of Diyarbakır, Urfa and Batman considered unconstitutional and banned the campaign. Expressing their support to the campaign, non-governmental organizations comment that the ban signifies an attempt to exclude the Kurds in the preparation of the new constitution. Non-governmental organizations point out that the four demands of recognition of the Kurdish identity, recognition of Kurdish as an official language, recognition of a political status and the right to politically organize consist of basic rights.

6. Turkish jets bombarded Qendil and Zap once again
25 April 2012 / Roj Helat

Once again the Turkish warplanes heavily bombarded Kurtak , Qilatopan, Lewze in Qendil area last night, local sources said. At the same time Iran’s artillery has resumed shelling of Kurdistan borders, regardless of the ceasefire declared by PJAK (Kurdistan’s Free Life Party) in last autumn. In the meantime the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) clashed with PJAK guerrillas last night in which four guards were killed and four wounded.

7. Demirtaş: Barzani isn’t the addressee of the Kurdish problem in Turkey
21 April 2012 / ANF

Following the talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu as well as Iraq’s fugitive vice president Tariq al-Hashemi in Istanbul, President of Federal Kurdistan Regional Government, Massoud Barzani, met the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) delegation in Ankara. The meeting on Friday was attended by BDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş, Gültan Kışanak and Democratic Society Congress (DTK) Co-Chair Ahmet Türk.

8. BDP in new U.S. meetings
25 April 2012 / ANF

The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) delegation has attended a conference at Brookings Institute in the U.S. following a meeting with the Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon. The delegation has been in the U.S. for a couple of days now for a series of meetings.  Asked by Turkish journalists about Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who said military operations would end if PKK laid arms down, BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said: “We would no doubt appreciate the ending of violence on both sides but the Prime Minister should make clearer statements if he intends to call for a ceasefire.”

9. “97th Anniversary of Genocide and the Tradition of Unsolved Murders”
25 April 2012 /Bianet

At the 97th anniversary of  1915 Armenian Genocide a commemoration event organized at Taksim Square yesterday evening at 19:15. 500 people came together in front of the tram stop at Taksim Square; Rakel Dink, Orhan Dink, Arat Dink, artist Metin Kahraman, Prof. Dr. Gencay Gürsoy, BDP parliamentarians Sabahat Tuncel and Sırrı Süreyya Önder, journalist author Oral Çalışlar, Prof. Dr. Baskın Oran, artist Ferhat Tunç and the family of Sevag Balıkçı were among them.  Participation in this year’s commemoration event was much more crowded than the previous two years. 30 people from People’s Liberation Party protested the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide 20 meters behind the area of the commemoration event.

10. Turkey Causes New Concern for Syrian Kurds
25 April 2012  / Rudaw

The arrest of a Syrian Kurdish political figure during the recent ‘Friends of Syria’ conference in Istanbul and the subsequent immigration restrictions imposed on the Turkey-based activist have reinforced mistrust towards Turkey among Syria’s Kurds. On 1 April 2012, Yilmaz Saeed – representative of Tevgera Ciwanên Kurd (the ‘Kurdish Youth Movement’ in Syria) – was arrested by Turkish authorities, as he attempted to attend the ‘Friends of Syria’ conference in Istanbul. Mr Saeed explains that he wished to enter the conference with two colleagues in order ‘to deliver a message and ask why we had not received an invitation to the meeting.’ He describes how he was held in detention for much of the conference, awaiting the arrival of an Arabic translator and answering basic identity questions.

11. Syrian National Council Leader’s Comments Anger Syrian Kurds
25 April 2012 / Rudaw

In an interview with Rudaw Last week, Burhan Ghalioun, head of the Syrian National Council (SNC), said, “There is no such thing as a Syrian Kurdistan.” This angered Kurds in Syria. In response to his statement, Kurds shouted only one slogan at a demonstration last Friday — “This is Kurdistan” – while the rest of the demonstration declared, “The Assad regime will fall and we will win.” During the interview, Ghalioun also rejected federalism and self-determination for Kurds in Syria. Ismaeel Hamo, secretary-general of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria, described Ghalioun as “unaware” of Syria’s history. Hamo told Rudaw, “We are disappointed in the Syrian National Council. We will not wait for Ghalioun to grant us federalism. We insist on autonomy or federalism for the Kurds in Syria.”

12. Iraqi Kurdish Region President, Turkish Officials Meet, Discuss Syria
19 April 2012 / Voice of America

The head of the Iraqi Kurdish region, Masoud Barzani, is visiting Turkey in a deepening of relations built on trade and growing shared regional interests. But the unrest in Syria poses both a challenge and opportunity for the two parties. The Iraqi Kurdistan regional President Masoud Barzani started his two-day visit Thursday by meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. One of the key topics of talks is reported to be the crisis in neighboring Syria.

13. Russian, Iraqi-Kurd Politicians Seek Closer Ties
20 April 2012 / Ria Novosta
Russian lawmakers have moved to establish closer ties with Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, inviting members of the influential Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) to Moscow to discuss future cooperation. The KDP delegation led by Abdulsalam Abdullah, a senior party official in charge of relations with Asian states, was invited to Moscow by A Just Russia party, one of the country’s four parliamentary parties, whose 64-strong faction is the third largest in the State Duma.

14. AP Interview: Iraqi Kurdish leader hints at secession, gives deadline to Shiite government
25 April 2012 / Washington Post

The president of Iraq’s self-rule Kurdish region demanded Wednesday that Shiite leaders agree on sharing power with their political opponents by September or else the Kurds could consider breaking away from Baghdad. The warning by Kurdish President Massoud Barzani in an interview with The Associated Press underscores that Shiite domination in Iraq’s government is reviving secession dreams that the now departed American military had tried to contain.

15. Iran: The Political Prisoner, Mr. Gulpari, at Risk of Execution
18 April 2012 / Defend International

Defend International has been informed by reliable sources that Mr. Habibollah Gulpari has been transferred, without prior notice, to Semnan Prison in Northern Iran, where he may be at imminent risk of execution. DI urges Iran to stop the execution of Mr. Gulpari and encourages the Iranian authorities to review death penalty in light of International Human Rights Law.  Reports about the imminent risk of execution of Mr. Habibollah Gulpari, aged 27, have been leaked recently and several sources have contacted international human rights organizations and the media, asking them to take actions because his death sentence could be carried out soon.

16. Imminent Risk of Execution for Hebibula Gulperi
20 April 2012 / Kurdistan Commentary
Hebibula Gulperi has been in the custody of the Iranian authorities since 27 September 2009. He was arrested during a trip from Mahabad to Urmiye, located in Eastern Kurdistan (Iran). He has since his arrest been subjected to both psychological as well as physical torture and denied basic rights. Human rights reports tell of ill-treatment including prolonged solitary confinement, broken arms and legs, interrupted sleep, electrocution, poor or non-existent meals etc. Gulperi appeared before the Mahabad branch of the Revolutionary Court in 2010 where he was convicted to be a mohareb i.e. an ‘enemy of God’ death in accordance with articles 186 and 190 of the Islamic penal Code.

17. 4 Iran Guards killed in clashes with Kurd rebels
25 April 2012 / Fox News
Four troops from Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards have been killed in clashes with Kurdish rebels in western Iran, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported Wednesday. Eight others were wounded. The fighting erupted outside Paveh, a town near the Iraqi border. There has been sporadic fighting in the mountainous regions on Iran’s border with Iraq and Turkey between Iranian forces and Kurdish rebels. This was the most serious incident between the two sides since September. The report said the Guard clashed Tuesday with armed members of the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, or PEJAK, which is fighting for greater rights in Iran.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

18. Podcast: A Conversation with Turkey’s Kurdish Leadership at Brookings Institution
On April 24, the Center on the United State and Europe at Brookings (CUSE) hosted a discussion exploring these and other important questions related to Turkey’s Kurdish minority, featuring Selahattin Demirtaş, the co-chair of BDP, and Ahmet Turk, an experienced politician currently an independent member of the Turkish Parliament. Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow Ömer Taşpınar provided introductory remarks and moderate the discussion. Listen to the event in full.

19. Unraveling the Kurdish Conundrum
20 April 2012 / The National Interest
For the last century, some 30 million Kurds in the Middle East and Turkey got the short end of the stick. They were the unacknowledged, often-persecuted minority in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. They had little ability to affect the politics of these countries. But that began to change after the first Gulf War, when the Kurds of northern Iraq gained significant autonomy. And now the Arab uprisings have awakened a Kurdish consciousness throughout the region. While Kurds have started talking more to each other, there has been no coming together and no unified Kurdish area is remotely in the offing—but as the situations in Syria, Iraq and Iran change, a new status for the region’s Kurds is coming. To understand and protect its interests in the outcome, Washington must pay close attention to the dynamics at work.

20. Will Turkish Ambitions in Syria Trigger Fall of Neo-Ottomanism?
20 April 2012 / Armenian Life

The so-called “Arab Spring” in Syria has pushed Turkey into political and economic – and possibly military quicksands. Recently, Turkey was caught red-handed in its endearing relationship with Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, and Ankara was widely criticized in European, Western and Middle Eastern Media. Turkey’s eagerness to exploit religious extremism to pursue its neo-Ottoman ambitions and advance its economic interests has become all too obvious to friends and foes alike. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s boastful declarations to “rid Syria of his former ally President Bashar Assad,” have turned into a protracted political war.

21. Syrian Kurds Unsure on Uprisings and Turkey’s Role
19 April 2012 / Foreign Policy Journal

When the “Syrian revolution” erupted March 2011, all eyes turned to the Kurds – about 2.5 million or around 10% of the Syrian population: would they join the protest movement initiated in the besieged city of Dar`a, or maintain the fragile political balance established after 2005? As a matter of fact, the Kurdish areas remained comparatively calm until October, since most of the Kurdish parties were reluctant to become actively involved in the “Syrian revolution”. “The Kurdish parties were buying time to see whether they could obtain more concessions from the regime”, explains Jordi Tejel Gorgas, author of the book Syria’s Kurds: History, Politics and Society.

22. Kurds, Syria, and the Chessboard
25 April 2012 / Ria Novosti

Last March, at the peak of the pressure on Syria and Iran, the Syrian Kurds boldly declared the independence of West Kurdistan, with the city of Afrin as the capital. The territory thus claimed lies in the northern part of Syria and borders Turkey. A forum of Syrian opposition groups held earlier this year in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, passed a resolution to the effect that a self-governed Kurdish formation would be established in North-Eastern Syria when Assad’s regime finally falls.

STATEMENTS

23. Hunger strike in Strasbourg ends after 52 days, KNK Press Statement, 21 April 2012.

REPORTS

24. Iraq and the Kurds: The High-Stakes Hyrdrocarbons Gambit. International Crisis Group Middle East Report No. 120, 19 April 2012.

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