Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 12- 18 October 2012

NEWS
1. All PKK and PAJK prisoners on hunger strike
2. Turkey: Hundreds of Kurdish political prisoners go on hunger strike
3. Father on hunger strike, children on school boycott
5. 419 years in prison for 45 KCK suspects in Adana
6. VIDEO: Talk to Al Jazeera – Murat Karayilan: Hoping for a Kurdish Spring
7. US envoy reveals secret assistance offer to Turkey in PKK fight
8. Turkey’s Bid to Revamp Constitution Falters
9. The Third Judicial Reform Package Proves Insufficient
10. ‘Roj baş!’ Kurdish books set for class
11. VIDEO: Turkish-Kurdish conflict- what you should know
12. Syrian Conflict Raises Kurdish Specter For Turkey
13. VIDEO: Turkey Beats War Drums as Kurds Mobilize at Syria Border
14. PKK vow ‘reprisal’ if Turkey attacks Syrian Kurds
15. Diplomats see Kurds, not Assad, as likely target of Turkish border buildup
16. Leaked Files: Kurdish Leader Mishaal Tamo was killed by Direct Order from Assad
17. Sunni religious activists sentenced to long prison terms
18. Kurdish Group Slams France After Arrest of Member
19. EU Progress Report: Kurdish Issue Key Challenge for Turkey’s Democracy
20. Set journalists free in Turkey: EFJ Campaign update

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
21. Q&A: Yavuz Baydar on Turkey’s press freedom climate
22. The 33rd Day!
23. ‘Innocence’ or ‘Schadenfreude’
24. Erdogan May Be Shifting Policy Toward Kurds
25. Turks, Cease Fire!
26. Why (and How) Syria’s Conflict Could Get Worse
27. World Kurdish Congress: A Lost Opportunity

STATEMENTS
28. Peace in Kurdistan solidarity message to the BDP 2nd Extraordinary Congress
29. BDP greeting messages for 2nd Extraordinary Congress
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EVENTS

See our events page.

 

NEWS

1. All PKK and PAJK prisoners on hunger strike
15 October 2012 / ANF
Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Kurdistan Women’s Liberation Party (PAJK) prisoners in all Turkish prisons have started an indefinite and non-alternate hunger strike on Monday.  The strike of 380 political prisoners in 39 prisons which has been going on since September 12 has been joined by all PKK and PAJK prisoners as of October 15, as had been announced by Deniz Kaya on behalf of all PKK and PAJK prisoners yesterday.  The statement by Kaya underlined that they will take no steps backward and added; “We will not hear the voice of any power other than our leader and the movement”, referring to Mr. Öcalan and the PKK.

2. Turkey: Hundreds of Kurdish political prisoners go on hunger strike
17 October 2012 / Global Voices
Hundreds of Kurdish political prisoners have entered an indefinite hunger strike, challenging Turkey’s treatment of Kurdish political prisoners. Through their protest, some are demanding re-trials and language rights while others want to raise international attention about Turkey’s treatment of Kurdish political prisoners. Despite their hunger strike, which is nearing six weeks, international media outlets have largely remained silent. This is not particularly surprising, since domestic media outlets in Turkey have both ignored the hunger strikes, and refused to report on them.

3. Father on hunger strike, children on school boycott
17 October 2012 / Dicle
Staying in Diyarbakır D Type Closed Prison Mehmet Cagirici is on the hunger strike, which was begun on 12 September to force the government to “instantly and without condition” provide the circumstances of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Leader Abdullah Ocalan’s freedom, health and security, lift the bans and obstacles over mother tongue. His children supported him by began to boycott the schools. The children are boycotting the schools with the demand of education in mother tongue.

5. 419 years in prison for 45 KCK suspects in Adana
17 October 2012 / ANF
Forty five suspects of KCK (Kurdish Communities Union) case in the southern province of Adana were sentenced to a total of 419 years and two months in prison for alleged “membership and leadership of an illegal organization”, “spreading propaganda for an illegal organization” and “holding explosive substances”.  Including two press workers and former chair of closed Kurdish party DTP (Democratic Society Party) Adana organization, 47 people, with 14 arrested, have been tried in the scope of so-called “KCK” operation which was carried out in Adana in December of 2009.

6. VIDEO: Talk to Al Jazeera – Murat Karayilan: Hoping for a Kurdish Spring
13 October 2012 / Al Jazeera
The chief of the PKK’s armed wing explains the Kurdish role in Syria and the impact of the Arab Spring on the region.

7. US envoy reveals secret assistance offer to Turkey in PKK fight
18 October 2012 / Press TV
The US ambassador to Turkey has revealed that Washington secretly offered Ankara to have an “anti-bin Laden” type of joint operation against a number of military leaders of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).  On Tuesday, Francis Ricciardone revealed to Turkish journalists that the US had offered Turkey its military technology to hunt down the PKK leaders.  However, the Turkish government turned down the offer, saying it would continue battling with the PKK “on the basis of its laws and experiences.”

8. Turkey’s Bid to Revamp Constitution Falters
16 October 2012 / Wall Street Journal
Political wrangling at home and mounting risks abroad are jeopardizing Turkey’s bid to overhaul its constitution, analysts and politicians say. Despite unanimous agreement last October from parliamentary parties to replace the current charter—written during a two-year military junta government in September 1980—efforts to draft an inclusive document that started with a high-profile meeting of Turkish lawmakers a year ago have slowed to a crawl. The country is grappling with the rising threat of conflict with neighboring Syria and the bloodiest year of fighting since the 1990s between the military and Kurdish guerrillas, who have been emboldened by a power vacuum in the southeast.

9. The Third Judicial Reform Package Proves Insufficient
15 October 2012 / Bianet
Only 12 journalists were released as a result of the Third Judicial Reform Package, which introduces a conditional pardon for certain media and opinion offences. The journalists took the streets again during this period to demand the release of their imprisoned colleagues and went to courts asking for a fair trial. A total of 15 journalists were laid off for questionable reasons. This proves that there is an increase in self-censorship. A total of 72 journalists and 35 distributors welcomed the month of September in prison. Fifty-one out of the 72 journalists and all 35 distributors were from the Kurdish media. In the three-month period, three people, including one journalist and one distributor, were sentenced to a total of 20 years, seven months and 15 days in prison for violating the Anti-Terror Law (TMK).

10. ‘Roj baş!’ Kurdish books set for class
13 October 2012 / Hurriyet
Turkey’s Education Ministry has announced the completion of a textbook for Kurdish elective classes that entered the school curriculum for the first time this year as part of the “Living Languages and Dialects” section.  The book for fifth-grade Kurdish classes will be different for the two main dialects of the language, Kurmanji and Zazaki, the ministry said, adding that it would publish the information on its website on Oct. 13. The books on the list will then be distributed to schools after they have been printed.  The cover of the teacher’s guide for the Kurdish classes bears the lyrics of a Kurdish song that says: “Ornate and beautiful/Pleasing and cute is the Kurdish language/A beautiful sound/Coy and gentle is the Kurdish language.”

11. VIDEO: Turkish-Kurdish conflict- what you should know
12 October 2012 / The TollundWoman

12. Syrian Conflict Raises Kurdish Specter For Turkey
16 October 2012 / Spiegel Online
Necdet Özel, the chief of the Turkish General Staff, pulled his visor cap deep down over his face and placed his right hand on his holster. In Akçakale, where a Syrian shell killed five civilians in early October, and which has come under more artillery fire from the neighboring country since then, the commander of the Turkish army threated to strike back with “full force” if the shelling from Syria didn’t stop. “We are here,” he said, “and we are standing tall.” Several tank groups rumbled up to a few meters from the border, and at least 25 additional fighter jets landed at the Diyarbakir air base. Özel’s message was that Turkey, whose army of 612,000 troops is the largest in the Middle East, is preparing for war with Syria.

13. VIDEO: Turkey Beats War Drums as Kurds Mobilize at Syria Border
9 October 2012 / Russia Today

Mortar shells landing in Turkey may be coming from weapons that Ankara itself provided to Syrian rebels fighting Bashar al Assad, according to a Turkish newspaper. This together with suggestions that Kurdish separatists are mobilizing inside Syria, threatens to leave Turkey in an awkward diplomatic position. RT’s Middle East correspondent Paula Slier has the latest.

14. PKK vow ‘reprisal’ if Turkey attacks Syrian Kurds
17 October 2012 / Google News (AFP)
Turkey’s Kurdish rebels will retaliate to any Turkish attacks on Kurds in war-torn Syria, the second in command of the outlawed PKK said in an interview published Wednesday. “Turkey should stay out of this conflict and stop its scheming,” Murat Karayilan, who heads the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the absence of its jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan, told Swiss daily Le Temps. “The PKK feels solidarity with all Kurds and we will support the Syrian Kurds. If the Turkish army attacks them… we will carry out very violent reprisals on Turkish territory,” said Karayilan, who was interviewed in a PKK sanctuary in Iraqi Kurdistan mountains near the Iranian border.

15. Diplomats see Kurds, not Assad, as likely target of Turkish border buildup
16 October 2012 / Kansas City Star
Turkish tanks are deployed on hilltops overlooking Syria and additional combat aircraft have been moved to bases close to that war-torn country in an escalation that began Oct. 3, when a Syrian artillery round landed in the border town of Akcakale, killing five Turkish civilians. But while the developments have all the appearance of two countries heading for a major clash, the Turkish government’s moves may relate not so much to the civil war now raging across Syria, but to what is for Turkey a far deadlier conflict: The long-running war against militant Kurdish separatists, whom the Turkish government sees as a threat to the existence of the state itself.

16. Leaked Files: Kurdish Leader Mishaal Tamo was killed by Direct Order from Assad
17 October 2012 / Rudaw
Oct. 7, 2011 is an unforgettable date for Syrian Kurds; it is the day Mishaal Tamo was assassinated in Qamishli, in northeastern Syria. Tamo was a prominent Kurdish politician and leader of the Kurdish Future Movement. He had been released after three and a half years from one of the Syrian regime’s prisons. A leading member of the Syrian National Council (SNC), Tamo was considered an inspirational figure for Kurdish revolutionary youth. According to observers, this was one of the main reasons why he was assassinated. Tamo’s home in was broken into by four gunmen and he was killed. His son Marcel and a fellow activist were injured in the incident. The assassination was condemned by the U.S., who considered it a clear escalation of the regime’s tactics. The French called the assassination a “shock.”

17. Sunni religious activists sentenced to long prison terms
17 October 2012 / Iranian.com
A local source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that on September 29, several Sunni Kurds who have been inside Evin and Rajaee Shahr Prisons in a state of limbo for a number of years, were put on trial at Branch 28 of Tehran Revolutionary Court, under Judge Moghisseh, without a chance to choose a lawyer, and were all sentenced to long prison terms.

18. Kurdish Group Slams France After Arrest of Member
14 October 2012 / Rudaw
Adem Uzun, a senior member of Kurdish National Congress (KNK), was arrested on Oct. 9 by French police. Uzun was in France to attend a conference about the future of Kurds in Syria. The event was held at the French Parliament and included prominent Iraqi, Turkish and Syrian Kurds. The leadership council of the KNK has strongly condemned Uzun’s arrest and warned France about its actions. In a statement, the KNK said: “Since 1998, we have taken the path of protest and struggle to fight the international conspiracy against the Kurds,” referring to jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan. The KNK said that over the past 14 years, they have proven that no one can stop their struggle to free Ocalan.

19. EU Progress Report: Kurdish Issue Key Challenge for Turkey’s Democracy
17 October 2012 / Rudaw
The EU Commission’s 2012 Progress Report on Turkey notes “there was a considerable debate on the Kurdish issue but no progress towards a solution.” According to the report, the “Kurdish issue remains a key challenge for Turkey’s democracy; the 2009 democratic opening, aimed at addressing the Kurdish issue, amongst others, was not followed through on.” The report notes that the local government in the southeast suffered from a number of politicians being detained, a major complaint of Kurdish politicians from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). However, the report also calls actions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) “terrorist attacks.” This addresses concerns of Turkey, who often accuses EU states of not doing enough to combat the PKK.

20. Set journalists free in Turkey: EFJ Campaign update
18 October 2012 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
The latest news update from the Set journalists free in Turkey campaign, organised by the European Federation of Journalists.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

21. Q&A: Yavuz Baydar on Turkey’s press freedom climate
16 October 2012 / Committee to Protection Journalists
For the past several months, CPJ staff has been researching pervasive press freedom problems in Turkey, including the criminal prosecution of journalists, the use of governmental pressure to engender self-censorship, and the presence of a repressive legal structure. This month, CPJ will release an in-depth report on Turkey’s press freedom crisis. In advance of our report, we are publishing this illuminating interview with Yavuz Baydar, ombudsman for the Turkish newspaper Sabah and columnist for Today’s Zaman. The interview was conducted via email.

22. The 33rd Day!
14 October 2012 / Apogeeculture
On 12th September 2012, nine women prisoners in Diyarbakir E type prison began an indefinite hunger-strike. In the statement they made via lawyers they highlighted two demands: the right to use their Kurdish mother tongue in the public sphere, including court and the removal of obstacles preventing imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan from negotiating in peace talks with the Turkish state. Soon after, many other inmates, men and women, from prisons in every corner of Turkey began joining the hunger-strike; sometimes in groups and in certain prisons individually. Now there are 380 prisoners in 39 prisons who are on what has surpassed a hunger-strike and become a ‘death fast.’ This is their 33rd day.

23. ‘Innocence’ or ‘Schadenfreude’
16 October 2012 / Kurdistan Tribune

As the explosive power of the film trailer, “Innocence of Muslims,” ricocheted across the Middle East—violently sparking its own grim trail of fire, blood and death—I became weary of part of the title:  “Innocence.” I began looking for its hidden meaning, its sinister part, as it were. Even before the toxic dust settled on the barbaric bloodbath—dozens assassinated, including at least four Americans, with the U.S. ambassador to Libya, murdered and dragged through the streets like a dog and allegedly sodomized—I found it.

24. Erdogan May Be Shifting Policy Toward Kurds
12 October 2012 / Al Monitor
After 14 months of isolation, the Turkish authorities allowed Mehmet Ocalan to visit his brother Abdullah Ocalan, who was being held in solitary confinement on the Island of Imrali located near Istanbul. During a talk-show appearance on the eve of the general conference of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the Kurdish leader will be moved out of solitary confinement.

25. Turks, Cease Fire!
11 October 2012 / Dissident Voice
In the Middle Eastern corrida, the moment of truth is approaching fast. Assad’s Syria is running around the arena like a wounded bull, fraught and worn down by a year of cruel strife. Banderillas of mujaheeds stick out of his broken hide. The public, the Europeans, the Americans, the Gulf rulers call: Kill him! And the Turkish matador steps forward, pulling out his sword. His cannons rain death on Syrian slopes; fire and lead storm consumes the hills. Erdogan is preparing to deal last blow to his exhausted neighbour.

26. Why (and How) Syria’s Conflict Could Get Worse
10 October 2012 / Huffington Post
Syria’s continuing carnage and chaos have led to tens of thousands of people (mostly non-combatants) being killed and maimed. Many more have become refugees, within their homeland, or in neighboring countries. With things already so horrific, it’s hard to imagine them getting worse. But the regime of Bashar al-Assad is steely cruel. Besides, we don’t have to think hard, or far back in time, to find examples of how pitiless wars within and among nations can be. So we must, realistically, consider a possible deterioration–and one that affects not just Syria but other countries besides.

27. World Kurdish Congress: A Lost Opportunity
16 October 2012 / Rudaw
A world congress could have been a beacon of hope to a developing nation in the midst of transformation. After decades of political challenges and confrontations, a period of stability in the Kurdistan Region is almost like living in a dream — a phase where the power of the pen is stronger than that of the bullet. Holding an international Kurdish Congress is one of the best investments the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) could make in securing its future. Simply having the event on its own is an excellent idea; a great achievement for an oppressed nation.  However, there are a lot of things to consider when putting together a world congress. As the name implies, it has to be a world-class event. This is especially true when it comes to organizing and managing a world congress.

STATEMENTS

28. Peace in Kurdistan solidarity message to the BDP 2nd Extraordinary Congress, 14 October 2012.

29. BDP greeting messages for 2nd Extraordinary Congress, 14 October 2012.

 

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