Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 14 – 21 June 2012

NEWS
1. Legal yesterday, crime today
2. BDP calls on international opinion to attend KCK trials
3. BDP MP Nazmi Gur: Erdogan’s Offer of Kurdish Language is New Political Maneuver
4. URFA PRISON FIRE: Thirteen prisoners killed in prison fire
5. URFA PRISON FIRE: BDP: What happened in Urfa is a savagery
6. Riots and fires in three other Turkish prisons

7. Prison fires prompt scrutiny of Turkey’s jails
8. CPT to make examinations in Turkish prisons
9. Kurds Attack Turkish Post in Escalation
10. Demirtaş calls on PKK and AKP to end all military activities
11. HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS ASK: “How Many More Must Die Before Peace Comes?”
12. Over 330 people taken into custody in June
13. BDP members taken into custody in Istanbul
14. Court Acquits BDP Deputy Hatip Dicle
15. Turkish women rally against plans to restrict access to abortion
16. 8th Gathering in Istanbul for Freedom of Expression was held on June 9, at Bilgi University

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
17. Fire isn’t Turkey’s biggest problem when it comes to prisons
18. Elective Kurdish courses in Turkey: a historic step or a case of a too little, too late?
19. Interview:
Globe interviews Ismael Besikci
20. From Belarus to Kurdistan: Lessons in Independence

ACTIONS
21. CENI petition: Say No to Abortion Ban!

STATEMENTS
22. BDP: Statement on the arrest of 19 members of the BDP on 7 June 2012

NEWS

1. Legal yesterday, crime today
14 June 2012 / Hurriyet

Seven months ago today, 36 lawyers were arrested on charges of being “a member of an armed terror organization,” as part of the KCK operations. (KCK is the Kurdistan Communities Union, the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.) Thus, the number of lawyers in jail has risen to 40.  Both in Turkish and in world history, this represents a first in the “collective arrests of lawyers.” The closest example is from South Africa in the 1990s, when 11 lawyers were arrested during the Apartheid regime.

2. BDP calls on international opinion to attend KCK trials
21 June 2012 / ANF

The BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) has called on the international opinion to attend the trial of Ragıp Zarakolu (publisher) and Büşra Ersanli (university professor) which will open on 2 July at the court of special authority in Istanbul. The trial is part of the ongoing so called KCK (Kurdish Communities Union) operations, which have resulted in the arrest and prosecution of thousands of Kurdish politicians, lawyers, deputies, councillors, human rights activists, academics, journalists and many other activists working for non-government organizations. While 35117 people are imprisoned on charges of terrorism worldwide, 12897 of these people are in Turkey.

3. BDP MP Nazmi Gur: Erdogan’s Offer of Kurdish Language is New Political Maneuver
17 June 2012 / Rudaw

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s announcement last week that his government will allow schools to offer elective Kurdish language lessons is nothing more than a “new political maneuver,” says Nazmi Gur, Member of the Parliament for Van for the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). “On the same day,” Gur told Rudaw, ‘my colleagues from Van, including the Mayor, were arrested and jailed [on charges of having links to a terrorist organization]. So Erdoğan is not sincere, we don’t trust him. He’s just sending a message to the European Union because they have asked him to solve the Kurdish question without using security measures.”

4. URFA PRISON FIRE: Thirteen prisoners killed in prison fire
17 June 2012 / ANF

Thirteen prisoners burnt to death and five others were wounded in Urfa Prison as political prisoners in C15 ward started a riot and set beds and blankets alight Saturday night.According to reports by Turkish sources, the fire which was reportedly started by political prisoners wasn’t intervened by guardians and soldiers for a long time, causing the death of 13 political prisoners and injury of five others, two of whom got serious burnt.

5. URFA PRISON FIRE: BDP: What happened in Urfa is a savagery
17 June 2012 / ANF

In a statement on the fire incident in Urfa Prison, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Central Office evaluated the incident as a savagery.  “This incident has once again brought the prisons’ reality to agenda as prisoners have been subjected to long detention, isolation, lack of medical services and inhuman severe conditions in Turkish prisons.”, said the BDP statement and underlined that the government should in the nearest future bring the issue to the table in order to prevent further problems and deaths.

6. Riots and fires in three other Turkish prisons
19 June 2012 / ANF

A fire broke out in Osmaniye T Type Prison where ordinary prisoners set beds and blankets on fire on Monday night. A guardian and fifteen prisoners were taken to hospital, suffering from smoke poisoning. Another fire broke out in H-3 ward of Antep E-Type Closed Prison as political prisoners started a riot on Monday evening to support the riot in Urfa E Type Prison where thirteen political prisoners burnt to death alive on 16 June night after starting a fire in a ward to protest against poor prison conditions. Five prisoners were seriously affected by the smoke of the fire.

7. Prison fires prompt scrutiny of Turkey’s jails
19 June2 2012 / CNN

A series of recent fires in at least five detention centers around the country has raised questions about living conditions in Turkey’s prison system. Late Saturday night a fire broke out in the dormitory of a prison in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa. The fire claimed the lives of 13 prisoners and injured five others before authorities successfully extinguished the blaze. Prisoners reportedly set fire to their mattresses to protest cramped and unsuitable living conditions.

8. CPT to make examinations in Turkish prisons
20 June 2012 / ANF

European Council Committee for the Prevention of Torture will form an “ad-hoc” delegation to make an extra-ordinary examination in Turkish prisons within this week.  The delegation which will be visiting Turkey in connection with increasing complaints and problems about prisons is expected to make examinations in Pozantı Prison, where children were allegedly subjected to sexual abuse and rape, and in Sincan Prison where Pozantı victim children have been held since the exposure of allegations. Besides visits to Silivri, Urfa, Osmaniye Prisons, the delegation is also expected to visit the Imralı Prison where Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan has been held under isolation since 27 July 2011.

9. Kurds Attack Turkish Post in Escalation
19 June 2012 / Wall Street Journal blog

Eight Turkish soldiers and at least 18 Kurdish militants were killed in clashes near Turkey’s border with Iraq through Tuesday, marking the most deadly battle this year in a long-running separatist conflict that has escalated significantly in recent months. The fighting erupted shortly after dawn on Tuesday as militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, attacked a local military post in Daglica village, according to a statement from the local governorate of Hakkari. At least 18 PKK members were also killed in subsequent clashes with the Turkish military, the local governorate said, adding that 19 soldiers had been wounded.

10. Demirtaş calls on PKK and AKP to end all military activities
20  June 2012 / ANF

Speaking at the Parliamentary Group Meeting on 19 June, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş renewed the party’s call for the ending of further deaths and conflicts.  Underlining that deaths and killings will never offer a solution to the Kurdish problem, Demirtaş called on Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) movement to end all kinds of armed activities and the government to end military operations in order to give an opportunity for a political solution.

11. HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS ASK: “How Many More Must Die Before Peace Comes?”
19 June 2012 / Bianet

The Human Rights Association (IHD) and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV) issued a joint press release today, calling for negotiations and an end to all violence between the Turkish military and the PKK in wake of recent clashes that killed and injured scores of troops and militants Eight troops and 10 militants lost their lives during today’s clashes in the Dağlıca district of the southeastern province of Hakkari, with another 16 troops wounded, while another soldier also lost his life in the southern province of Hatay yesterday evening.

12. Over 330 people taken into custody in June
16 June 2012 / ANF

According to figures compiled by ANF and DIHA, at least 333 people were taken into custody for political reasons in the first 15 days of June. Among the detainees are also 122 students who have been remarkably targeted since May of 2012.  Hardly a day passes without mass arrests in Turkey which has obviously implemented anti-social and Kurd enemy policies inside the country for a long time, continuing to put manipulations into effect since it came to power in 2002.  Among a number of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) members who were taken into custody in Van on 7 June, ten were sent to prison, included three mayors.

13. BDP members taken into custody in Istanbul
19 June 2012 / ANF

Many executives and members of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) were taken into custody on Tuesday morning as a result of simultaneous house raids in Şişli, Bayrampaşa and Beyoğlu districts of Istanbul. The operation by police and special operations teams targeted many BDP members and executives who were accused of “joining an unpermitted demonstration” and “carrying out actions with blast bombs and molotov cocktails”. Detainees were taken to Istanbul Security Directorate following the medical checkup at Forensic Medicine Institute in Yenibosna.

14. Court Acquits BDP Deputy Hatip Dicle
19 June 2012 / Bianet

A specially authorized court in Erzurum province ruled to acquit arrested BDP deputy Mehmet Hatip Dicle of terrorism related charges in connection with a speech he had delivered in the northeastern province of Ağrı in 2007, although Dicle will continue to serve time behind bars due to an earlier verdict passed against him. The Supreme Court of Appeals had overturned the verdict against Dicle issued by the Erzurum Second Court for Serious Crimes to sentence him to two years in prison on the charge of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.” The Erzurum court then reviewed his file and decided to acquit him.

15. Turkish women rally against plans to restrict access to abortion
18 June 2012 / wtsp.com

Hundreds of women gathered on Sunday in Istanbul in the latest demonstration against the religiously conservative ruling party’s plans to restrict access to abortion. Last month Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan catapulted the issue to forefront of public debate in Turkey when he called abortion “murder.” A day later, he amplified the controversy by equating a botched military operation in Uludere with abortion. The Uludere massacre claimed the lives of 34 Kurds in southeastern Turkey when faulty intelligence led to an airstrike on a group of smugglers crossing the Turkish- Iraqi border.

16. 8th Gathering in Istanbul for Freedom of Expression was held on June 9, at Bilgi University
June 2012 / Institute for Freedom of Expression

At the opening address a proclamation was read signed by 9 international and 22 national institutions from 5 continents. Then for International PEN Eugene Schoulgin, writer, Vice President; for IPA publisher William Nygaard; for Human Rights Watch, Emma Sinclair Webb, reporter on Turkey, and for Amnesty International, Andrew Gardner, reporter on Turkey addressed their opening speeches. (Texts will be placed at our site as they are translated. During the full day meeting, presented by Çağlar Çabuk, four forums on different aspects of freedom of expression took part.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

17. Fire isn’t Turkey’s biggest problem when it comes to prisons
21 June 2012 / Alliance for Kurdish Rights

Recent events in Turkey have shed a critical, if heated, light on the prison system in Turkey. On Saturday 16 June, several inmates of the Urfa prison set their bedding on fire in protest of the prison’s extreme overcrowding. Thirteen inmates were killed, and five others were injured as a result of the blaze. The next day, the prison erupted in further protests both from inmates furious at the death of their compatriots and the family members of the inmates anxious for news of their loved ones. The prisoners banged on their windows and doors while chanting anti-government slogans. Prison officials responded to the anxious family members with pepper spray and tear gas.

18. Elective Kurdish courses in Turkey: a historic step or a case of a too little, too late?
18 June 2012 / Kurdish Globe

Last week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made an announcement that state schools will offer elective Kurdish courses by stating that “Our pupils will now be able to learn Kurdish as elective courses if a sufficient number of students [more than 12 pupils] gather.” He also defined the decision to initiate elective Kurdish-language lessons as “a historic step.”

19. Interview: Globe interviews Ismael Besikci
18 June 2012 / Kurdish Globe
Globe: You are identified together with the Kurdish question in Turkey. How would you define the Kurdish Question?
Besikci: Actually the Kurdish Question is the Question of Kurdistan which got stolen on the rights to establish an independent state after the World War I, during the period of the League of Nations, when Kurdistan got divided into four pieces.  The very first division of the Kurds and the Kurdish territory officially took place at the Treaty of Qasr-e Shirin in 1639. Secondly, at the end of the Russo-Iranian wars of 1812-1813 and then 1826-1828, northern areas of Iranian-controlled parts of Kurdistan came under complete Russian rule. Finally, Kurdistan was divided once more in the 1920s during the period of the League of Nations…

20. From Belarus to Kurdistan: Lessons in Independence
17 June 2012 / Rudaw

I was once told by a university professor that despite globalization, we live in a world where there are more borders and nations than ever, and that nationalism is a natural process in a time when trans-national capital and global culture dominate the scene. Coming from a small Eastern European country, I never thought that I would compare the people and the land of Kurdistan to my own nation. However, in light of what was said, this comparison is not without merit.

ACTIONS

21. CENI petition: Say No to Abortion Ban!

STATEMENTS

22. BDP: Statement on the arrest of 19 members of the BDP on 7 June 2012, 10 June 2012.

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