Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 23 – 29 November 2012

Reminder: The 9th International EUTCC Conference will be held on 5 – 6 December in the European Parliament in Brussels, and this year is titled ‘The Kurdish Question in Turkey – Time to Renew Dialogue and Resume Direct Negotiations’. See the events page for details on how to register.

 

NEWS
1. Kurdistan: Victory, but no solution
2. PM says will remove immunity of pro-Kurdish deputies
3. 223 Kurdish minors arrested in November
4. Fifty-one people detained in new KCK operation
5. Saturday Mothers Call for Week 400
6. Kürkçü: Roboski Massacre jointly organized by the Government and Chief of Defence
7. Set journalists free in Turkey: EFJ campaign update
8. ECHR Rule Two Verdicts Against Turkey
9. Turkey-Syria Standoff: NATO Missiles Readied, Kurdish Fighters On Border
10. Syrian Kurds form unified army, call for feralism
11. Syrian Kurds Agree on Forming Joint Military Council
12. Kurdish Language Revival in Syria
13. Syria’s Circassians Flee to Turkey en Masse
14. Iraqi federal, Kurdish forces continue buildup in disputed areas
15. Syrian Kurds demonstrate outside the Cypriot Embassy

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
16. Ocalan still wields influence from island prison
17. For better or worse? The Kurdish hunger strike
18. Veteran PKK Leader: Turkey Uses Armed Groups to Impose Its Agenda in Syrian Kurdistan
19. The Emperor Erdogan’s new clothes
20. A third party joins the fray
21. Turkey confronts a resurgent Kurdish threat
22. Syria’s Kurdish Spring
23. Kurd teachers debate war under Assad gaze
24. VIDEO: ‘Turkey’s support of separatism in Iraq will eventually backfire’
25. Kurdistan’s food security begins at home

REPORTS
26. Peace and Democracy Party International e-Bulletin

STATEMENTS
27. PYD Statement: Turkish Regime Invades Sare-Kanye by Tankers and Salafist Groups
28.
KNK Statement: Turkey is supporting and setting Jihadist groups against the Kurds

PRESS RELEASES
30. International Peace Initiative press release: Launch of the initiative
31. Peace in Kurdistan campaign Press Release
: UK delegation briefs MP’s on ‘highly political‘ KCK trial in Turkey

 

NEWS

1. Kurdistan: Victory, but no solution
22 November 2012 / Communist Part of Great Britain
The mass hunger-strike staged by hundreds of Kurdish prisoners ended on the 68th day of the campaign, on November 18, when committees in 37 prisons decided to end the strike on the basis of the call issued by Abdullah Öcalan, jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), that reached the prisons the night before. On the penultimate day the infamously mishap-prone shuttle ship from the mainland to the island prison of İmralı finally managed the passage, and the usual ‘unfavourable weather and sea conditions’ suddenly disappeared too, allowing comrade Öcalan’s brother to visit him for the first time in months. Öcalan was expecting a visit from the solicitor representing him, as previously agreed during the negotiations. However, after a protest against the government’s last-minute tricks, he agreed to see his brother and hand over to him his hand-written note calling on the prisoners to end their strike.

2. PM says will remove immunity of pro-Kurdish deputies
27 November 2012 / Todays Zaman
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is determined to remove the parliamentary immunity of 10 pro-Kurdish deputies following nearly 800 complaints filed against them in Parliament accusing them of having links with a terrorist organization. Following Erdoğan’s remarks, a motion prepared by the Prime Ministry was submitted to Parliament to divest the BDP deputies of their parliamentary immunity. Erdoğan strongly criticized deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) while speaking to reporters on Monday when asked about his opinion on a recent incident in which a BDP deputy called on people to take up arms against Turkish police. He said he did not want to talk about individual incidents.

3. 223 Kurdish minors arrested in November
21 November 2012 / Rojhelat
Arrest of Kurdish minors by Turkish police and security personnel took a sharp increase in November. Around 417 minors had been arrested this year, of these 223 were arrested in November. Kurdish minors have experienced the apex of violence during the AKP the ruling Turkish party. As a result of high pressures on the government reforms were designed to take place in 2010 but nothing has happened to lower the level violence inflicted on Kurdish children. In cities such as Adana and Merin Kurdish children are trailed in courts dealing with adults. They are denied or rights to be accompanied by parents or guardians.

4. Fifty-one people detained in new KCK operation
26 November 2012 / ANF
At least 51 people have been taken into custody in the provinces of Van, Iğdır and Mersin on Monday in the scope of so-called Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) operation which targets Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Kurdish media and non-governmental organizations since the local elections in 2009 when the BDP achieved a historic victory across Turkey.  Among the main circles targeted by the KCK operations are elected executives, journalists, unionists, lawyers, human rights defenders, academics, authors, children, students and woman activists. Thousands of people have been subjected to political arrests in the scope of the KCK operation and the anti-terror law in the last four years.

5. Saturday Mothers Call for Week 400
23 November 2012 / Bianet
With the demand to learn about their beloved ones who disappeared in the 1990s, Saturdays mothers/people will demonstrate a sit-in protest tomorrow  in the heart of Istanbul for the 400th time. Sit-in protests began on May 27, 1995, when the dead body of Hasan Ocak was found buried in an anonymous graveyard after 55 days of torture. Between 1995 and 1999, hundreds of women in traditional veiled clothing gathered every Saturday at 12 pm with their demand to have information about their beloved ones and see their perpetrators persecuted. Saturday mothers became subject to police violence several times, especially and heavily between the weeks 170 and 200. Press photographers from all over the world snapped photos of old women being dragged by their hair into custody vehicles. Police detained a total of 1093 protestors in 17 years.

6. Kürkçü: Roboski Massacre jointly organized by the Government and Chief of Defence
28 November 2012 / ANF
Perpetrators of the Roboski Massacre are yet to be brought to justice as almost a year has passed over the incident in which 34 Kurdish civilians,among whom 19 were children, were bombed by Turkish warplanes on 28 December 2011. The trial of those responsible hasn’t started in the last eleven months as the state claims that perpetrators couldn’t be ascertained yet. Kurds and democratic circles on the other hand point the state as the perpetrator of the massacre.  Public opinion is also denied the right to obtain information about the legal process because of the ‘confidentiality verdict’ imposed on the investigation. Families of victims, in response to their demand for justice, have however been provided with compensation which they are still refusing to receive, saying they will not accept the money paid for the murder of their children.

7. Set journalists free in Turkey: EFJ campaign update
29 November 2012 / Peace in Kurdistan campaign
The latest update from the European Federation of Journalists campaign to free imprisoned journalists in Turkey.

8. ECHR Rule Two Verdicts Against Turkey
22 November 2012 / Bianet
In a week, the European Court of Human Rights found Turkey guilty of torture, harsh treatment, violation of freedom of expression and union rights abuses in two separate cases. The court awarded the applicant Ahmet Sami Belek, the owner daily newspaper Günlük Evrensel, a sum of 10,320 Euros compensating pecuniary damage, non-pecuniary damage, costs and expenses. “Relying in particular on Article 10 (freedom of expression), he complained that he had been convicted on three occasions under the Anti-Terrorism Act – which made it an offense to publish declarations or leaflets emanating from terrorist organizations – for having published articles containing statements by members of the illegal armed organization PKK (Workers’ Party of Kurdistan), including its president, Mr Öcalan,” the November 20 verdict said.

9. Turkey-Syria Standoff: NATO Missiles Readied, Kurdish Fighters On Border
25 November 2012 / Global Research
Syria has lashed out at Turkey’s “provocative” request to deploy NATO surface-to-air missiles on the countries’ shared border. The batteries may be installed in a matter of weeks, in a buildup that could further flare tensions in the turbulent zone. Ankara has asked its NATO partners to station Patriot missile batteries along its southern border, claiming they are needed to protect Turkey’s national security. The system can shoot down aircraft and some missiles at a range of up to 600 kilometers. The region has seen a number of episodes of cross-border mortar fire in recent months, though Syrian warplanes and gunboats were never reported attacking targets on Turkish territory. The request was acknowledged by NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Thursday, who said that the possible deployment of the missiles was “purely defensive,” and would “serve as a deterrent to possible enemies even thinking of attacks”.

10. Syrian Kurds form unified army, call for feralism
26 November 2012 / Ashaq Alawsat
Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, revealed that “Kurdish forces represented in the People’s Council of West Kurdistan and the Kurdish National Council arrived in Erbil to pave the way for the unification of fighters inside Syria’s Kurdish regions, to establish a popular army as an alternative to the armed militias that have run the security situation in Syria for a number of months”. This group of Kurdish parties and forces, along with coordinating bodies, met in Erbil a few days ago to reach an agreement on unifying Kurdish efforts. This is in order to confront the threats that Kurdish regions are currently facing from Salafi groups, who in recent days have engaged in military confrontations with members of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, which effectively controls the situation on the ground in Syria’s Kurdish cities.

11. Syrian Kurds Agree on Forming Joint Military Council
25 November 2012 / Rudaw
Syrian Kurdish leaders have agreed on forming a joint military council for northeastern Syria, otherwise known as Western Kurdistan. The agreement came after representatives of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Kurdish National Council (KNC) met in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Ismail Hama, Secretary-General of the Kurdish Union Party, told Rudaw that despite some obstacles in the course of the talks, they agreed to “Work to establish a military council. So we hope that this agreement is implemented on the ground.” According to Hama, the PYD has agreed to bring its armed wing, the People’s Defense Units (YPG) under the control of the Supreme Kurdish Council and that they will accept Peshmargas—defected Kurdish soldiers from the Syrian army—in their ranks.

12. Kurdish Language Revival in Syria
28 November 2012 / Rudaw
Under the rule of President Bashar al-Assad and the Baath Party, Syria’s Kurds were deprived of their cultural identity and forbidden to learn their language for decades.  But the ongoing Syrian uprising has created unprecedented opportunities for the Kurdish people in Syria to hold cultural forums and open language centers to teach their mother tongue.   After Assad’s forces withdrew from and Kurdish forces began to claim control of towns such as Derek, Efrin, Kobane and Amude, the Kurmanji dialect began being openly taught in these Kurdish areas of Syria.  Under the banner “Our Language is Our Existence,” the recently founded Kurdish Language Institute in Efrin announced the graduation of 300 participants from its first course in language teaching.

13. Syria’s Circassians Flee to Turkey en Masse
23 November 2012 /  Bianet
Sagus Metin Alhas, a Circassian living in Reyhanli, Hatay Province, performed on November 17 a “one-man demonstration” with banners saying “Speak up and stop Circassian killings” to bring awareness to the human crisis in Syria. “Circassian are being killed Syria even though they are not taking any side in the civil war. I want people to speak up for this,” Alhas said the protest reminding that hundreds of Circassians are doing similar demonstrations all around the world. Alhas told bianet that he realized the protest under the umbrella of “Patriot Circassians Entity”, a platform founded to bring into surface the problems of Circassians in Russia and Turkey. “In Reyhanli, we are hosting 24 families who fled from Syria under the umbrella of Caucasian Associations Federation. We are trying to take care of 95 individuals all by our limited budget. When we run out of money, our federation takes care of it,” Alhas said.

14. Iraqi federal, Kurdish forces continue buildup in disputed areas
25 November 2012 / Xinhua
The Iraqi federal troops and the Kurdish regional forces were continuing sending reinforcements to the disputed areas in northern Iraq, despite efforts to ease the tension between the two sides, a security source said Sunday. “The Kurds have sent more troops on Saturday to their positions near the city of Tuz-Khurmato, 200 km north of Baghdad,” a source from the provincial Operations Command of Salahudin province told Xinhua on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media. “More Kurdish troops set up new positions near a mountain located in east of the city of Kirkuk, some 250 km north of Baghdad,” the source said. On the other side, the Iraqi forces continue their buildup in the disputed areas along a 180-km line that starts from Khanaqin in eastern Iraq to areas in north of Kirkuk city, the source said.

15. Syrian Kurds demonstrate outside the Cypriot Embassy
26 November 2012 / Peace in Kurdistan campaign
Syrian Kurds demonstrated at Downing Street on Sunday afternoon against the killings and destruction of houses at Ras al-Ain, a Syrian Kurdish town of 55,000 people on the Turkish border.  The eighty demonstrators marched to a rally outside the embassy of Cyprus, which holds the presidency of the European Union. They carried the Kurdish national flag. They want full Kurdish autonomy, and they are opposed to Turkish intervention in Syria. They want the overthrow of the Assad regime, and also oppose Free Syrian Army and Islamist incursions into Syrian Kurdistan, as occurred this month at Ras al-Ain.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

16. Ocalan still wields influence from island prison
27 November 2012 / Daily Star
Snatched by Turkish commandos in Nairobi, Kurdish rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan looked resigned and bewildered as he was flown back to Ankara, the gallows beckoning. A decade later, on his island prison, he appears to have the ear of a Turkish government eager to end a devastating conflict. It seems an unlikely comeback. Reviled in most of Turkey but commanding fierce loyalty from Kurdish nationalists, Ocalan has been held in virtual isolation on the barren island of Imrali, 50 km south of Istanbul, since his capture in 1999. Even his lawyers haven’t seen him for 15 months. But after the bloodiest summer for years in Turkey’s conflict with Kurdish militants, and with fears over the spread of Kurdish insurrection in neigboring Syria, Ocalan is emerging from the virtual oblivion of Imrali.

17. For better or worse? The Kurdish hunger strike
25 November 2012 / apogeeculture
It has been just over a week since the 68 day hunger strike of Kurdish political prisoners in Turkey and North Kurdistan ended following an appeal by the imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan. Since that day everybody concerned with the hunger strike, Turkey, Kurdistan and the region has been debating the gains and losses and possible future developments regarding the Kurdish issue. Most of the debates have been centred and in some ways suffocated around the fact that the hunger strikers’ demands were not met, except a minor change in the constitution which allows for defence in the Kurdish language; although this right can be arbitrarily refused if the judge in court sees fit. The demands were: the right to education in the Kurdish language and for steps to be taken to end the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan and guarantee his health, security and eventual release for a peaceful and political solution to the Kurdish question.

18. Veteran PKK Leader: Turkey Uses Armed Groups to Impose Its Agenda in Syrian Kurdistan
26 November 2012 / Rudaw
Aldar Khalil, a member of the Kurdish Supreme Council, has been a well-known and active politician since the beginning of the Syrian revolution. Khalil, who joined the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in 1990, is one of the founders of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). He also runs the Movement for Democratic Communities (TEVDEM), and also played a major role in resolving the issues between the Kurdish National Council (KNC) and the National Assembly affiliated with PYD. Khalil sat down with Rudaw to discuss a range of issues related to Syrian Kurdistan.

19. The Emperor Erdogan’s new clothes
26 November 2012 / Alliance for Kurdish Rights
This is an example of a statement that should be a matter of fact but when it is proclaimed by Erdogan, the prime minister of a country infamous for its violation of human rights, it should be seen as an opportunity for world leaders to ask: “Then how can we consider Turkey a legitimate state?” sThese Mandela-Gandhi-Aung San Suu Kyi-like statements are not free of consequences. Yes, every person who does not have an agenda to say otherwise will admit that words like these coming from Erdogan are as empty as pro-Kurdish newspaper offices.

20. A third party joins the fray
23 November 2012 / Economist
THE bloodshed in Syria has taken a nasty turn, as Syrian rebels fighting against Bashar Assad’s regime clash with their Kurdish compatriots. Worries of an ethnic war between Syria’s Arabs and its 3m-odd Kurds have increased. Kurds on both sides of the border are pointing the finger of blame at the government of Turkey. The trouble began on November 8th when Syrian rebels attacked a small group of Syrian soldiers loyal to Mr Assad in Ras al-Ayn, a town close to the border with Turkey. Despite being bombed by the Syrian air force, the rebels took the town, which lies just across the border from the Turkish town of Ceylanpinar. Syria’s best armed and most powerful Kurdish group, the Syrian Democratic Union Party (known by its Kurdish initials, PYD), which controls the Kurdish districts of Ras al-Ayn, says it feared retaliation from the Assad forces if it was seen to connive at their expulsion, so it asked the Syrian rebels, who are said to have been Salafists, to leave.

21. Turkey confronts a resurgent Kurdish threat
25 November 2012 / Washington Post
This town of 19,000 nestled in an idyllic mountain pass of impossibly green pastures and golden autumn trees is on the front lines of Turkey’s rapidly escalating guerrilla war. In a struggle for autonomy as well as independent language and education rights, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has waged a low-grade conflict in Turkey for decades. But in recent months, the group has reemerged as a stronger, better equipped and increasingly organized force that is now in the midst of one of its bloodiest campaigns since the worst days of the conflict in the 1990s.

22. Syria’s Kurdish Spring
22 November 2012 / Vice
Syria’s three million Kurds are the country’s largest minority and have been part of the uprising since it first erupted. Their rebellion, however, is in a separate struggle. The Kurds have been fighting for basic rights under oppressive regimes ever since the Ottoman Empire fell after the First World War, leading to the region where the bulk of Kurds live being divided between what is today northwestern Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and northwestern Iran. In Syria, when the Ba’ath party came to power in 1963, they banned the Kurdish language and flag and stripped hundreds of thousands of Kurds of their citizenship, passports and official documents, leaving them unable to work, study, marry or travel. By Karlos Zurutuza

23. Kurd teachers debate war under Assad gaze
25 November 2012 / Khalaeej Times (AFP)
Residents and militias in Derik have removed almost all the ubiquitous presidential portraits from official buildings since the regime made its exit from the Kurdish town in northeast Syria. They have also taken down a statue in the town centre of President Bashar Al Assad’s late father and predecessor Hafez Al Assad over the past week. But one place the two leaders still look down from their official portraits is on the wall of the headmaster’s office in the town’s secondary school. “We don’t have any problem with these pictures,” says English teacher Suzanne, 27. “Assad is our president. I hope he’ll stay, but I don’t think so,” she adds resignedly. Before the revolt, “I could do whatever I wanted, I could travel wherever I wanted and now I can’t because of terrorists,” she says, using the standard regime term for rebels fighting to unseat Assad.

24. VIDEO: ‘Turkey’s support of separatism in Iraq will eventually backfire’
28 November 2012 / Press TV

A prominent analyst tells Press TV that Ankara’s support of Kurdistan separatism issue in Iraq will eventually backfire as Turkey’s Kurds are not happy with their situation either. In further escalation of tension between Iraq and its semi-autonomous Kurdish region, the two parties have reinforced military presence along their separation line. According to the Iraqi constitution, the federal government has the authority to establish and manage armed forces to guarantee the security of Iraq. But the constitution also requires the Iraqi parliament’s consent before military commands are formed. Maliki had not sought this consent.

25. Kurdistan’s food security begins at home
26 November 2012 / Financial Times
If Iraq is the cradle of civilisation, the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in the north gave birth to agriculture. The first crops were planted in these fertile plains and mountain valleys and animals are said to have been domesticated on the area’s ideal pastoral land seven millennia ago. But if the region was once the bread basket of Iraq, renowned for its top-quality wheat, it is now an increasingly large consumer of imported food. Turkey, Kurds’ strongest trade partner, imported about $7bn worth of goods into northern Iraq last year, the majority of which was food, officials say. Iran, the area’s second largest importer, is another important source for food, especially livestock.

REPORTS

26. Peace and Democracy Party International e-Bulletin, 28 November 2012.

STATEMENTS

27. PYD Statement: Turkish Regime Invades Sare-Kanye by Tankers and Salafist Groups, 23 November 2012.

28. KNK Statement: Turkey is supporting and setting Jihadist groups against the Kurds, 26 November 2012.

PRESS RELEASES

30. International Peace Initiative press conference: Launch of the Initiative and call from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu for the Resumption of Dialogue on the Kurdish question in Turkey. 29 November 2012.

31. Peace in Kurdistan campaign Press Release: UK delegation briefs MP’s on ‘highly political‘ KCK trial in Turkey, 29 November 2012.

 

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