Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 10 – 16 August 2012

NEWS
1. Huseyin Aygun’s first statement after his release
2. PKK Says Shemzinan Area Under Full Control
3. Interior Ministry Bans Pro-PKK Demonstrations on Aug. 15
4. Turkish planes shell Kurdistan Region’s border villages
5. Displaced Villagers Unwilling to Return for Fear of More Clashes
6. Relatives of Roboski victims waiting for justice
7. Video: Kurds take control in Syria’s northeast
8. Kurds’ ambitions add explosive element to Syria equation
9. Women’s Group Calls for Nationwide Campaign Against Honor Killing

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
10. The women’s movement in Kurdistan: Interview with Professor Mary Davis
11. VIDEO: Noam Chomsky interview on Turkey and freedom of expression
12. “We force them into line”: Press control in place of press freedom in Turkey
13. The Kurdish Dilemma: An Open Letter to Turkey
14. “May Peace Reign and Life Return to Normalcy”
15. Trending against Kurds in Turkey
16. American Professor: Syrian Kurds need to redefine their ambition
17. Will Syria’s Kurds benefit from the crisis?
18. How, When and Whether to End the War in Syria
19. Syria After Aleppo
20. Iran Launches Diplomatic Initiative Aimed At Preventing The Fall Of Assad’s Regime, Collapse Of Entire Resistance Axis, And Regional War

REPORTS
21. Syria: prospects for intervention. A Chatham House Meeting Summary, August 2012.

ACTIONS
22. CAMPAIGN: SET TURKISH JOURNALISTS FREE

APPEALS
23. BDP appeals for solidarity with Kurdish journalists being prosecuted in KCK trials.

 

NEWS

1. Huseyin Aygun’s first statement after his release
16 August 2012
/ Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
The CHP member of parliament for Dersim, Huseyin Aygun, was released on the evening of 14th August. He was arrested two days before near the district of Ovacik by HPG guerilla forces. After his release he was reunited with his family, before he stepped in front of the cameras and represented his experiences from the previous 48 hours. Aygun explained, the PKK kidnapped him for propaganda reasons. After his arrest, Bahoz Erdal had communicated with the guerrilla force from Dersim. He had made it clear that they should pay attention for there not to be as much as a hair out of place on Aygun.

2. PKK Says Shemzinan Area Under Full Control
11 August 2012 / Rudaw
The People’s Defence Forces, known by its Kurdish initials as (HPG) — an armed wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — claim that the Shemzinan area is no longer under Turkey’s control. Bakhtiyar Dogan, spokesperson of the HPG, said the group’s guerillas had besieged Turkish army camps in the area. “Shemzinan is currently under the control of our guerrillas. Most of the Turkish army bases in the area are under siege and no longer under the control of the Turkish army,” he told Rudaw. “Turkish helicopters and fighter jets have been trying to fly over, but due to HPG’s attacks they have withdrawn from the area. The Turkish army has failed to end the besiegement,” Dogan said. The assault on Turkish military outposts in Shemzinan began on July 23 and is ongoing, despite Turkish efforts to put an end to the clashes.

3. Interior Ministry Bans Pro-PKK Demonstrations on Aug. 15
14 August 2012 / Bianet
The Ministry of Interior issued a ban on all demonstrations in the southeastern province of Siirt between Aug. 10 – 20 to avert a commemoration of the first armed raid by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on Aug. 15, 1984. A demonstration will nonetheless be held in the Kurdish province of Diyarbakır on Wednesday.”Aug. 15 is a significant and historic date for the Kurds. There is also a need to offer moral support during the celebrations to the Kurds in Syria with respect to the developments there and hail them in earnest… The Kurds no longer entertain any expectations. To the contrary, they plainly [aim for] acts that rely on their self-strength. This situation was also manifest during the Newroz [celebrations] and July 14. The acts and demonstrations we are going to perform after this point will also [aim to] impose a solution,” Zübeyde Zümrüt, the Diyarbakır Provincial Co-chair of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP,) said in a public statement.

4. Turkish planes shell Kurdistan Region’s border villages
16 August 2012 / AK News
The director of Sidakan district said Turkish airplanes shelled border villages of the Kurdistan Region last night. Mohammed Ismael said: “Turkish planes shelled some areas and villages in the foothill of Qandil Mountain, such as Chiay Ban, Se Kani and Harmoush village, for 30 minutes at 11:30pm.” The shelling burnt farmers’ fields and some forests. No casualties were reported, added the source. Ismaed expressed concern about migrant Kurds who now settled in the Qandil foothill areas, saying: “Some 100 migrant Kurds are now settled in the area and these border places are regularly shelled. The families are in real danger.”

5. Displaced Villagers Unwilling to Return for Fear of More Clashes
12 August 2012 / Bianet
The Governor’s Office in the southeastern province of Hakkari announced the conclusion of the millitary operations against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the district of Şemdinli on Saturday, some 20 days after clashes first broke out in the area. Helicopter gunships and artillery shots can still be seen and heard despite the announcement of the Hakkari Governor’s Office, however, according to Şemdinlihaber.com reporter Azer Demir. The military operations against PKK militants conducting road checks in the villages of Bağlar and Rüzgarlı over the Şemdinli-Derecik highway began on July 23 and kept going for another 19 days with additional air support.

6. Relatives of Roboski victims waiting for justice
16 August 2012 / ANF
No indictment has yet been presented for five Roboski villagers who have been held under arrest for eight months on the basis of statements by “secret witnesses”. Relatives of the victims have been subjected to a legal process instead of those responsible for the massacre of 34 civilians among whom 19 were children.  Five Roboski suspects were arrested and sent to Şırnak Closed Prison one week after the massacre –which took place on 28 December 2011- for allegedly “intending to kill” Uludere Governor Naif Yavuz who was attacked during the funeral ceremony of victims.

7. Video: Kurds take control in Syria’s northeast
12 August 2012 / Al Jazeera
Control of large parts of Syria’s northeast is now in the hands of the Democratic Union Party, the main Kurdish party in the region. About two million Kurds live in the area, making up 10 per cent of the population. There are also significant Kurdish populations in neighbouring Turkey and Iraq and more in Iran. In Syria, the Kurds suffered discrimination and loss of culture under the ruling Baathist party since the 1960s. Many were granted citizenship only last year by President Bashar al-Assad, after the uprising started. As Assad’s stretched security forces left parts of the northeast, Kurdish committees have taken more control. Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel Hamid is the first international reporter to travel to the region since the uprising began last March.

8. Kurds’ ambitions add explosive element to Syria equation
14 August 2012 /CNN
In the city of Qamishli, on Syria’s border with Turkey, neither the forces of the Syrian regime nor the rebels of the Free Syrian Army are to be seen. But visitors say the Kurdish flag is very evident, and Kurdish fighters man checkpoints around the city. More are being trained in the Kurdish region of neighboring Iraq. Away from the epicenter of the battle for Syria, the Kurdish minority — about 10% of the Syrian population — has gained control of two areas. One is around Qamishli, which has a population of nearly 200,000; the other is north of Aleppo in towns like Afrin and Ayn al-‘Arab.

9. Women’s Group Calls for Nationwide Campaign Against Honor Killing
12 August 2012 / Rudaw
One week after its foundation, women’s rights organization Zhiyan [Life] Group organized a demonstration against honor killing in the Kurdistan Region. The demonstrators condemned the killing of Nigar Rahim, a Kurdish girl in the Garmiyan region, who was raped by one of her brothers and later killed by another. The spokesperson for Zhiyan called on all the civil organizations in Kurdistan to join her group in its campaign.  Data from civil and human rights organizations showed a decline in cases of honor killing in the Kurdistan. However, the past few weeks the region witnessed the killing of several women in various areas, including one entire family in Kirkuk.This raised fresh debate among women’s organizations and the Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG].

 

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS                            

10. The women’s movement in Kurdistan: Interview with Professor Mary Davis
7 August 2012 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign.
Professor Mary Davis, well-known academic, trade unionist and former elected member of the TUC women’s committee, recently returned from a solidarity delegation to North Kurdistan where she met with a number of the women at the forefront of this political movement. Peace in Kurdistan Campaign interviewed her on her return to the UK, where she gives her candid impressions on the repressive nature of Turkey’s approach to its Kurdish citizens in general, and Kurdish women in particular.

11. VIDEO: Noam Chomsky interview on Turkey and freedom of expression
13 August 2012 / GIT North America

12. “We force them into line”: Press control in place of press freedom in Turkey
16 August 2012 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
What could be more beautiful for a government than to see the media in its country only writing positive things about it? Certainly this would influence public opinion to the benefit of the government, which would in turn ease the path to re-election. Unfortunately it is not always so easy for some governments. Because, where there is democracy, the media ought to critically examine the policies of the government. Therefore the government must make more effort not to have any stumbles in their policies because the media representatives are on their tail. So goes the theory….

13. The Kurdish Dilemma: An Open Letter to Turkey
12 August 2012 / Rudaw
Violence breeds violence. It may be a cliché, but it’s true, and this ideology will never eliminate the very real Kurdish problem — either within Turkey or externally. It’s been said in Turkish circles that Kurds ask for too many rights and privileges, but has Turkey really gone anywhere near exhausting diplomatic solutions to Kurdish issues? The “Kurdish opening” of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was welcomed by Kurds as well as international human rights activists. A Kurdish language TV station was introduced, prisoners were given the right to speak to their families in Kurdish and an unofficial amnesty was introduced for those with links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

14. “May Peace Reign and Life Return to Normalcy”
9 August 2012 / Bianet
As intense fighting between government forces and militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) continue unabated in the southeastern province of Hakkari, bianet reporter Nilay Vardar has travelled to the heart of the conflict zone to relate the developments there which mainstream media has given only superficial coverage to: ‘I am back from Şemdinli, the crossroads of three countries. We were deeply preoccupied with the question of how to find out about what was going on there since the start of the clashes, and thus we decided to set off for Şemdinli. Official response to the ongoing battle was muted, and even if there was some explanation, that would not have sufficed for us. Realizing the inadequacies inherent in armchair reporting from Istanbul, we pushed the envelope and I hit the road off to Şemdinli to find out about the locals’ take on the events surrounding them.

15. Trending against Kurds in Turkey
10 August 2012 / Al Jazeera

Netizens were outraged to find “En İyi Kürt Ölü Kürt” — the best Kurd is a dead Kurd — trending on Twitter on August 9. Many said the phrase’s online popularity reflected common sentiments in Turkey against Kurds. The Stream spoke to Kani Xulam of the American-Kurdish Information Network about why the phrase was trending.

16. American Professor: Syrian Kurds need to redefine their ambition
14 August 2012 / Rudaw
In an interview with Rudaw, Michael Gunter, professor of political science at Tennessee Technological University and the author of six books and hundreds of scholarly articles on the Kurds, addressed recent developments in Syrian Kurdistan. Professor Gunter, who is also the secretary general of the EU Turkey Civic Commission, offered his opinion on the Turkish threats of invading Syrian Kurdistan, the possibility of a Kurdish state or autonomous region and EU/U.S. views on the area.

17. Will Syria’s Kurds benefit from the crisis?
10 August 2012 / BBC News
In any assessment of the potential winners and losers from the political chaos in Syria, the country’s Kurdish minority could be among the winners. The Kurds make up a little over 10% of the population. Long marginalised by the Alawite-dominated government, they are largely concentrated in north-eastern Syria, up towards the Turkish border. Aaron David Miller, a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC, believes that the Kurds could be one of the main beneficiaries of the demise of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. “Syria is coming apart, and there’s not much chance it will be reassembled with the kind of centralised authority we saw under the Assads.”

18. How, When and Whether to End the War in Syria
10 August 2012 / The Brookings Institute, Washington
Syria is Lebanon of the 1970s and ’80s. It is Afghanistan, Congo or the Balkans of the 1990s. It is Iraq of 2005-2007. It is not an insurgency. It is not a rebellion. It is not Yemen. It is certainly not Egypt or Tunisia. It is important to accept this simple fact, because civil wars — especially ethno-sectarian civil wars such as the one burning in Syria — both reflect and unleash powerful forces that constrain what can be done about them. These forces can’t be turned off or ignored; they must be dealt with directly if there is to be any chance of ending the conflict.

19. Syria After Aleppo
6 August 2012 / Carnegie Endowment for Peace
Prospects for Syria look bleak with conflict continuing to intensify in Damascus, Aleppo, and other parts of the country. The resignation of Kofi Annan as UN special envoy and interlocutor with the Assad regime highlights the difficulty of effective international engagement, while the even more recent defection of Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab underlines the narrowing political options for the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. In this Q&A, Yezid Sayigh explains how the regime’s probable victory in Aleppo will likely expand so-called clearing operations in the surrounding area to build on the government’s perceived success. Sayigh argues that despite the problems facing diplomacy, the international community should maintain pressure on Russia to help engineer a viable formula for sharing power as part of Syria’s transition away from Assad.

20. Iran Launches Diplomatic Initiative Aimed At Preventing The Fall Of Assad’s Regime, Collapse Of Entire Resistance Axis, And Regional War
10 August 2012 / Middle East Media Research Institute
In light of the escalation of the crisis in Syria, on August 9, 2012, Iran held an international conference aimed at preventing the fall of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and the collapse of the entire resistance axis that would inevitably follow. In Iran’s eyes, the Syrian regime is the bulwark against a Sunni-Shi’ite war in the Middle East encompassing Syria, Lebanon and Iraq and others, which would have far-reaching ramifications for the survival of the Islamic regime in Iran itself.

REPORTS

21. Syria: prospects for intervention. A Chatham House Meeting Summary, August 2012.

ACTIONS

22. CAMPAIGN: SET TURKISH JOURNALISTS FREE / European Federation of Journalists
To date, over 700 individuals and organisations around the world have joined the Set Turkish Journalists Free campaign thank to your support. They have sent a petition letter to the Turkish Prime Minister, Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan, calling for the release of the jailed journalists in Turkey. To date, over 100 Turkish journalists (waiting for an updated list) still remain in prison with many facing the threat of imprisonment.  Please keep supporting our campaign and share your solidarity with the jailed colleagues in Turkey. Join our campaign and send your e-petition today! And forward this email to your contacts.

APPEALS

23. BDP appeals for international delegates to show solidarity with Kurdish journalists being prosecuted in KCK trials. Download the appeal (pdf).

 

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