Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 31 August – 6 September 2012

NEWS
1. Journalists to stand trial on 10 September
2. HPG: Fifty four soldiers died in Beytüşşeba
3. HPG’s one month war statement for August
4. Children of War Shaken and Overwhelmed in Şırnak
5. BDP uses card of charter in immunity row
6. Demirtaş: AKP pursues “war at home, war abroad” policy
7. Tens of thousands to take to streets on the Day of Peace
8. 25 Kurdish youngsters taken into custody in Qamishlo
9. Press conference to launch new campaign to free Ocalan
10. Father Joe Ryan joins Freedom for Ocalan campaign
11. KON-KURD calling Kurds to 8 September festival

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
12. Kurds and (the Turkish) Way
13. Hatay Locals Feeling the Squeeze under the Shadow of War
14. Turkey: The Sick Man of the Middle East
15. Turkey, Kurds, Iraq, Syria: a new regional dynamic
16. Regional turmoil spins the illusion of a greater Kurdistan
17. Could a state for Greater Kurdistan be on the horizon?
18. Turkey Warned Against Going Back to Future on PKK
19. Turkey’s Anti-Assad Policy Ricochets Back
20. The World According to Syrian Kurdistan

REPORTS
21. Lawyers on Trial: Report on the KCK hearings
22. Human Rights Watch Report: Time for Justice: Ending Impunity for Killings and Disappearances in 1990s Turkey

STATEMENTS
23. Statement by columnist for ODA TV

 

NEWS

1. Journalists to stand trial on 10 September
5 September 2012 / ANF
In a written statement about the trial of jailed Kurdish journalists, Özgür Gündem Chief Editor Eren Keskin called all friends of journalists to attend the first hearing in Istanbul on 10 September.  44 journalists were taken into custody in the scope of so-called KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) operation which targeted Kurdish press associations on 20 December 2011. Among them 36 have been in held prison and no hearing has taken place so far.  98 Kurdish journalists, colomnists and newspaper employees are currently behind bars in Turkey where the greatest operation against Kurdish journalists ended up with the detention of 44 journalists on 20 December of 2011.

2. HPG: Fifty four soldiers died in Beytüşşeba
4 September 2012 / ANF
In a statement on simultaneous guerrilla actions in Şırnak’s (Şirnex) Beytüşşebap (Elkê) town on 2 September, People’s Defense Forces Press Office HPG-BIM reported that 54 soldiers and policemen were killed and over 50 others were wounded in expansive guerrilla actions in the town last Sunday.The HPG statement underlined that a “revolutionary operation” has been launched in Beytüşşebap, and detailed the operation at around 22:00 local time on Sunday; “Our forces targeted and took the Bayrak, Bêboskê and Çeper military bases, as well as all buildings and security spots of police and special operation teams and all other state buildings.”

3. HPG’s one month war statement for August
3 September 2012 / ANF
People’s Defense Forces Press Office HPG-BIM released its statement about the August month balance of operations and clashes. The statement underlines the heavy consequences of the Turkish army‘s military operations in Kurdistan. It was recorded that in August of 2012, guerrilla forces carried out 183 actions. HPG pointed out that over 400 soldiers and policemen were killed, 31 guerrillas died in clashes of the last month.  The statement shows that the operations of the Turkish army have decreased within this process inversely proportional to the increase of actions by Kurdish guerrillas.

4. Children of War Shaken and Overwhelmed in Şırnak
5 September 2012 / Bianet
Following the fierce clashes that took place between government forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the southeastern province of Şırnak over the weekend, locals who were entrapped in the midst of the conflict are still trying to overcome their shock , according to Fırat Ataman, a store owner in the district of Beytüşşebap. “It was around 21:30 p.m. Everyone suddenly began screaming in the middle of the shopping center. [We] heard the sound of gunfire, and everyone took shelter inside the shops [or] fled to their homes. The police broke into the shopping center, and a firefight ensued,” Ataman told bianet. 10 soldiers lost their lives in Sunday’s engagement, while many stores and cars were also damaged by bullets and rockets during the fighting in the district center.

5. BDP uses card of charter in immunity row
5 September 2012 / Hurriyet
A parliamentary move aimed at lifting the parliamentary immunity of nine Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies would oblige the party to leave the commission tasked with drafting a new constitution, a party official has said. “Opening a discussion about parliamentary immunity at a moment when [the Constitutional Conciliation Commission] is writing the new constitution is unacceptable with regard to political ethics,” Meral Danış Beştaş, a deputy leader of the BDP who is responsible for the party’s legal affairs, told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday. The party is still committed to the process, but could reconsider its position, if the other parties proceed with lifting the BDP lawmakers’ immunity.

6. Demirtaş: AKP pursues “war at home, war abroad” policy
3 September 2012 / ANF
Speaking at the Van District Congress of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), party co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş reminded of the Van earthquake that struck eastern city of Van in October 2011 and pointed out that the people of Van had to pass the last winter in their own nylon tents due to the negligence of the government which –he noted- has spent four and a half billion dollars in concern with the Syrian crisis.  Demirtaş said the followings referring to Prime Minister Erdoğan, the leader of the ruling AK party government; “There is no proper word than racism and fascism for your calling yourself a Muslim, a human being and the leader of a democracy government regardless of the fact that you avoid spending money for the people who have gone through an earthquake in your country while spending a pile of money in order to trigger a war with another country.”

7. Tens of thousands to take to streets on the Day of Peace
31 August 2012 / ANF
The International Day of Peace will be met in Turkey in an environment of intense clashes and racist attacks across the country. This year’s September 1 rallies in Turkey will put emphasis on negotiation and democratic solution for the Kurdish problem.  The major meetings for the World Peace day will take place in the provinces of Istanbul, Diyarbakır, Van and Adana, while marches and rallies will be staged in a number of other provinces. The main agenda of this year’s activities will be the Roboski Massacre, murdered children and the conflict environment in the country.  The rally in Kadıköy area of Istanbul will be one of the most important centers for people to voice their demand for peace. The Istanbul rally which is leaded by People’s Democratic Congress (HDK) is expected to be joined by 100 thousand people.

8. 25 Kurdish youngsters taken into custody in Qamishlo
3 September 2012 /ANF
Soldiers of the Assad regime took 25 Kurdish youngsters into custody in Qamishlo, the biggest city in West Kurdistan on the grounds of being draft dodgers. Hundreds of people took to the streets after the detentions on Monday.  Detentions came after Syrian soldiers raided a number of houses and workplaces in Kudurbeg and Suka Şênî neighborhoods in Qamişlo at midday hours. The youngsters, aged between 18 and 30, were taken to a military center.  Following the detentions, hundreds of young people gathered in front of the Qasımo Mosque, the area of Friday marches, under the leadership of Komelên Ciwanên Rojavayê Kurdistan (KCRK, organization of youth of west Kurdistan). The protest demonstration of the group continues with the support of shopkeepers who have closed their shops in protest against the detentions.

9. Press conference to launch new campaign to free Ocalan
4 September 2012 / Peace in Kurdistan campaign
The International Initiative has invited the press and public to a press conference in Brussels this Thursday, for the launch of a new international campaign, ‘Freedom for Abdullah Ocalan’. The campaign already has a list of over 1000 first signatories, and will be the latest significant international coordinated effort to put pressure on the Turkish government to finally stop isolating Ocalan from the people and negotiate a peace settlement with the only legitimate representative that can do so.

10. Father Joe Ryan joins Freedom for Ocalan campaign
4 September 2012 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
Father Joe Ryan joined the Freedom for Ocalan Initiative Committee on their first rally, on the week of the launch of the international campaign to demand freedom for the imprisoned Kurdish leader and all political prisoners in Turkey. The international campaign will be launched in Brussels with a press conference this Thursday, 6 September. Already over 1000 prominent people – politicians, political commentators, writers, Nobel Prize winners, and many more – have signed a petition to express their solidarity with the new campaign. Father Joe Ryan’s also issued a short message of solidarity, which you can read here.

11. KON-KURD calling Kurds to 8 September festival
3 September 2012 / ANF
A week before the 20th International Kurdish Culture Festival, Confederation of Kurdish Associations in Europe (KON-KURD) called upon the 10 federations and 175 unions affiliated to the Confederation, the people of Kurdistan in Europe and all their friends to ensure broad participation in the festival. The written statement by KON-KURD pointed to the national democratic struggle of the Kurdish people for a “free leader, free Kurdistan” and underlined that this year’s festival in the German city of Mannheim coincides with a historic time when the Kurdish people are liberating their homeland from the colonialist power.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

12. Kurds and (the Turkish) Way
5 September 2012 / New York Times blog
When I first started covering Turkey in the early 1990s, my foreign colleagues and I were sometimes mocked for referring to the brewing resentment in southeastern Turkey as “the Kurdish problem.” There was no sectarian or ethnic discrimination, we were told; the problem was terrorism. The Kurdistan Workers Party, better known as the PKK, resorted to violence and extortion, which no civilized society could abide. The major flaw in this argument was that the Turkish state also resorted to tactics unworthy of a civilized society. For years, to argue for Kurdish rights — let alone regional autonomy — or simply to write in Kurdish could mean prison; such acts were considered aiding and abetting terrorism. Kurdish political parties were shut down. Political activists were tortured. In what became Turkey’s own dirty war, thousands of people were assassinated or disappeared.

13. Hatay Locals Feeling the Squeeze under the Shadow of War
3 September 2012 / Bianet
While debates continue raging over the Apaydın Syrian rebel camp located in the southern border province of Hatay, many locals have grown weary of the presence of Free Syrian Army (FSA) troops in the area and expressed deep-seated worries about the impact of the war on the local economy. “No one is mentioning this; please write about it. Both shopkeepers and big investors have incurred substantial losses when the [borders] were shut down following the outbreak of the war. The investments in Hatay have gone bad. We are going bankrupt,” said one local. Everyone we met in Hatay’s Antakya district complained about the local economic recession triggered by the war, while shopkeepers in the neighborhoods of Harbiye and Reyhanlı also told bianet their sales were progressively falling.

14. Turkey: The Sick Man of the Middle East
4 September 2012 / Rudaw
By the time this article is published, CIA Director David Petraeus will be in Turkey, according to the Turkish daily Aksam. Petraeus is to conduct talks with Turkish officials on the situation in Syria and the fight against terrorism. The visit will highlight a number of important issues in U.S.-Turkish relations. But the question remains, in today’s world — or more precisely, in today’s Middle East — how useful is this relationship for Turkey and for the U.S.? It goes without saying that both are looking to each other as strategic allies, especially with the new Middle East that is emerging before our eyes. The vision of Turkey and the U.S. is clear: a Middle East where Turkey has the upper hand or is the elder brother. But can Turkey do that?

15. Turkey, Kurds, Iraq, Syria: a new regional dynamic
30 August 2012 / Open Democracy
The middle-east’s power-balance is in flux amid state tensions and political conflicts. In a two-part article, Bill Park – who was recently in Ankara and Erbil – examines the impact of these changes on Turkey and its neighbours, especially the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) of northern Iraq. In part one, he looks at the Iraqi dimension; in part two, at Syria’s conflict and the wider Kurdish question.

16. Regional turmoil spins the illusion of a greater Kurdistan
31 August 2012 / The National
The Kurds have no friends but the mountains. This old saying is certainly true of the countries where most Kurds live – Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. All these governments distrust their Kurdish minorities and have discriminated against them to varying degrees for decades. That is unlikely to change. But the force of Kurdish nationalism, so long repressed, is once again on the rise. There is even talk of a Kurdish state, an idea that was mooted at the end of the First World War, but crushed by the hostility of the newly minted Turkish Republic and, of course, the Kurds’ enduring lack of powerful friends.

17. Could a state for Greater Kurdistan be on the horizon?
2 September 2012 / Al Jazeera
Millions of Kurds, observing the meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran last week, must have thought: “What about us? What about our non-aligned nation to be? We should be there. Maybe next time…” It may be just possible that Kurds – which themselves admit their notoriety for internal squabble – are finally getting their act together; after all, history may be dictating, roughly a century after World War I and its aftermath, which dealt a big blow to Kurds. This is the last chance for the emergence of a Greater Kurdistan.   After the two Syrian Kurdish parties made a deal – sealed by Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani – to jointly run northeast Syria, Kurdish parties in Iran are also coming together. Meanwhile, Ankara behaves like a bunch of headless chickens.

18. Turkey Warned Against Going Back to Future on PKK
4 September 2012 / Wall Street Journal
Just as one of the bloodiest summers since the 1990s is turning Turkey’s leaders increasingly hawkish against Kurdish politicians and separatist guerillas, Human Rights Watch offered a glimpse into the dark methods employed two decades ago that scarred the population and sowed distrust toward the state. Thousands of civilians disappeared or were killed in the 1990s as Turkey’s military pursued a scorched-earth policy against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, according to a report unveiled Monday by the New York-based human-rights group. The conflict has claimed more than 44,000 military, PKK and civilian lives since it started in the 1980s and displaced thousands of people from their villages, Human Rights Watch said.

You will find a link to the Human Rights Watch report below.

19. Turkey’s Anti-Assad Policy Ricochets Back
5 September 2012 / Wall Street Journal
Turkey’s Anti-Assad Policy Ricochets Back The Turkish government, which is spearheading efforts to force Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power, is facing public skepticism over its Syria policy as the civil war next door increasingly spills across the border.  Developments in recent weeks have magnified Turks’ unease over Syria’s 18-month uprising. More than 82,000 Syrians have now sought refuge in Turkey, at a cost of around $300 million to the Turkish government, Ankara said Tuesday, as Turkish border towns that relied on trade with Syria have seen economic activity wither and unemployment rise. Turkish television is showing footage of the country’s nationals, which have been kidnapped in Syria and Lebanon by groups loyal to Damascus, targeting Turks seemingly due to Ankara’s anti-Assad stance.

20. The World According to Syrian Kurdistan
5 September 2012 / World Affairs Journal
The odds that Syria’s tyrant Bashar al-Assad will survive the insurrection against him are increasingly slim, but the civil war might last a lot longer. The opening chapter pits the Baath Party regime and its paramilitary units against the Free Syrian Army, but there are other factions that have a stake in what happens next. Most of Syria’s Alawites—who make up roughly twelve percent of the population—are with the regime. They may face persecution from the majority if Assad loses. They might also mount a terrorist war against a new government, either from the alleyways of Damascus or from a breakaway state of their own on the Mediterranean.

REPORTS

21. Lawyers on Trial: Report on the KCK hearings
3 September 2012 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
On 16 – 19 July 2012, thirty-six Kurdish lawyers, representatives of imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, were tried at Istanbul High Criminal Court. They were arrested in November 2011 and charged under the Anti-Terror Act of ‘being a member of an illegal organisation’ and ‘passing orders of Abdullah Ocalan’.  Margaret Owen OBE, barrister, human rights lawyer and patron of Peace in Kurdistan campaign travelled to Istanbul with other international colleagues to observe the mass trial. She has written a report on her observations, which you can read online or download at the link below.

22. Human Rights Watch Report: Time for Justice: Ending Impunity for Killings and Disappearances in 1990s Turkey
3 September 2012 / Human Rights Watch
The Turkish government should take action to address statutory time limits, witness intimidation, and other obstacles to the prosecution of members of security forces and public officials for killings, disappearances, and torture, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

STATEMENTS

23. Statement by columnist for ODA TV, Coskun Musluk. 4 September 2012.

 

Advertisements