Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 30 November – 6 December 2012

NEWS
1. New international initiative calls for peace talks
2. No translation, no witness
3. Court gave unbelievable penalties to 20 students: 590 years imprisonment
4. Turkey police clash with Kurdish protesters at funeral ceremony
5. Imprisoned Journalists Are Not Alone
6. ICG urges Turkey to boost Kurdish rights despite growing violence
7. Turkey’s Kurdish Impasse: The View From Diyarbakır
8. Democratic Autonomy: a model for the Middle East
9. NATO establishes Allied Land Command in Turkey
10. Turkey protests PKK book presentation in Athens
11. Kurdish party conveys solidarity message on Tamil Eelam Heroes Day
12. PYD: On the Ground Activities in West Kurdistan
13. Syrian Kurds Suspicious Of Islamic Militants, Turkey
14. Syrian Kurds Keep Eye on Country’s Oil
15. Kurdish-Iraqi government talks collapse amid fear of civil war

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
16. After the hunger strike
17. Turkish Foreign Minister salutes “all those martyrs who were killed for the holy territories”
18. Syrian National Coalition Chief Says ‘Kurdish Rights Must Be Secured Within A United
Syria’

REPORTS
19. ICG Europe Report No. 222, Turkey’s Kurdish Impasse: The View from Diyarbakır

NEWS

1. New international initiative calls for peace talks
6 December 2012 / Peace in Kurdistan campaign
A new initiative was launched at a press conference on Monday with a call for the reopening of dialogue between the Turkish government and the PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. The call, made by Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu, has the support of a number of world leaders. The International Peace Initiative was launched with statements from South African Judge Essa Moosa and Ngodup Dorjee, representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and the joint call was signed by such prominent dignitaries as former President of the USA Jimmy Carter and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams.

2. No translation, no witness
3 December 2012 / ANF
Despite theTurkish government’s claim that “there is no obstacle for defines in mother tongue for people who do not speak Turkish in Turkish courts” an attention grabbing event happened in Mersin. A total of 180 years prison sentence has been asked for six children who have been denied to call a witness. The witness was to give his testimony in Kurdish but the court said there was no translator and so the witness was not able to appear.  Defense lawyer  Eyüp Sabri Öncel said the decision by the Court was biased “because the witness was going to give evidence in Kurdish and in favour of the defendants”.

3. Court gave unbelievable penalties to 20 students: 590 years imprisonment
6 December 2012 / Dicle News Agency
In the judgement hearing of 21 students of them 8 arrested, the court board gave extraordinary imprisonment penalties to the students that were judged with the claims of being in DYGM (Democratic Patriotic Youth Council). The court board gave dozens years of imprisonment and extracted arrest decision to 10 other students. 20 students were sentenced to 590 years 9 months imprisonment penalty and 36 thousands tl money penalty.  The judgement hearing of 21 students of them 8 arrested, who were judged since the operations made on 19 March 2010 in Antalya, was held in Izmir 10th High Penalty Courthouse. The arrested students and their lawyers stood by in the hearing. As it’s known, the DYGM (Democratic Patriotic Youth Council) is a youth organization under the body of the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party).

4. Turkey police clash with Kurdish protesters at funeral ceremony
2 December 2012 / Press TV
Turkey’s police have clashed with hundreds of Kurds in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir as they tried to hold a funeral ceremony for two Kurdish militants.  The violence broke out on Sunday after police disrupted the funeral ceremony for two militants, who were killed during clashes with the Turkish army.  Witnesses say security forces used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd and that at least two protesters were injured during the clashes. Several protesters were also arrested.  Ankara has launched a full-scale military operation against the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) southeast of the country.

5. Imprisoned Journalists Are Not Alone
30 November 2012 / Bianet
Journalists, journalist associations and human rights advocates were in solidarity with the imprisoned journalists in April – May – June 2012. The associations followed the hearings, visited the imprisoned journalists and protested the trials. During the BIA Media Monitoring and Freedom of Expression April-May-June 2012 reporting period, human rights associations, freedom of expression advocates and professional media associations protested the detention and arrest of journalists. Throughout the period, the associations followed the hearings, visited many prisons, and protested the Anti-Terror Law and the Specially Authorized Courts. They made statements about the judicial reform and freedom of press and expression. They published reports.

6. ICG urges Turkey to boost Kurdish rights despite growing violence
30 November 2012 / Todays Zaman
Turkey should offer Kurds equal rights in language use, local governance, identity and political representation as the mainly Kurdish Southeast seeks to avoid a worsening of the conflict in the region, a think tank said on Friday. It said violence between the state and the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has reached levels not seen since the 1990s, leading to the deaths of at least 870 people since June 2011. In a report focused on Diyarbakır, the largest city in the Southeast, the International Crisis Group (ICG) gave recommendations to the government and Kurdish community leaders to boost trust, Kurdish language rights and debate on decentralization. “Official recognition of Kurdish identity and the right to education and justice in mother languages is a priority,” the report said.

7. Turkey’s Kurdish Impasse: The View From Diyarbakır
1 December 2012 / Eurasia Review
Though battered economically, socially and politically for decades, the city and province of Diyarbakır could offer hope for Turks and Kurds who want to live together, if Ankara can refocus its policies on creating a more equal, democratic Turkey. Turkey’s Kurdish Impasse: The View from Diyarbakır, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the country’s biggest Kurdish-majority city and province in light of the main issues underlying the Kurdish problem and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) insurgency: mother language, local government and identity and political representation. “The armed conflict is more violent than ever before in the past decade and has killed over 870 people since June 2011”, says Didem Collinsworth, Crisis Group’s Turkey/Cyprus Analyst.

8. Democratic Autonomy: a model for the Middle East
6 December 2012 / ANF
The 9th international conference on “The European Union, Turkey and Kurds” continues at the European Parliament in Brussels with a panel called “Middle East at the cross-roads: Whose regional order?”. Democratic Union Party (PYD) co-chair Saleh Muslim, journalists Cengiz Çandar and Serdar Akinan, Dutch academic Joost Jongerden, Israeli academic Ofra Benngo and Democratic Society Congress (DTK) co-chair Aysel Tuğluk were among the speakers taking the floor today.  PYD  co-chair Saleh Muslim said the followings in his speech on Thursday morning; “We Kurds want to be the soldiers of ourselves, not others’. The autonomy project consists of not only Kurds but also Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Alewis and all other belief groups. Democratic autonomy is the only model of solution for the West Kurdistan territory.”

9. NATO establishes Allied Land Command in Turkey
30 November 2012 / Examiner
A new ground forces command has been established in the Turkish province of Izmir, in the western region of the country. According to NATO, it is a part of an effort to update NATO’s ground forces command structure. NATO Supreme Commander U.S. Admiral James Stavridis was on hand to dedicate the commissioning of the new command, which will be known as Allied Land Command. U.S. General Frederick Ben Hodges will be its first commander. Adm. Stavridis pointed out the geographic location of Turkey vis-a-vis Europe and Asia as a factor in the decision to base the new command in Izmir. The new command is the succeeding organization to NATO’s Land Component Command which was based in Spain. Gen. Hodges took the occasion to reiterate that the pending deployment of Patriot missiles in Turkey is meant only for defense and not to create a no-fly zone inside Syria.

10. Turkey protests PKK book presentation in Athens
30 November 2012 / Reuters
Turkey protested on Friday against the presentation of a book by a Kurdish militant leader in Athens, saying it undermined friendship efforts between the long-standing regional rivals. Greece and Turkey have a history of enmity which has brought them to the brink of war on several occasions, most recently in 1996. Relations have since warmed with natural disasters in both countries bringing the two NATO allies closer. Ankara, however, reacted angrily to the presentation of a book in the Greek capital’s War Museum written by Murat Karayilan, the de-facto leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who is sought by Interpol.

11. Kurdish party conveys solidarity message on Tamil Eelam Heroes Day
30 November 2012 / Tamil Net
“History of the world has been full of clashes between the occupiers and the occupied. As a result of struggles, resistances and sacrifices more of the occupied people have been liberated and the fascist and chauvinist occupiers are being destroyed successively,” writes Mr. Rehman Haci Ehmedi, the Secretary General of the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), in a solidarity message sent to the Eezham Tamil nation on the occasion of Heroes Day. In a note sent to TamilNet via Rojhelat.info on Thursday, Mr. Ehmedi, who is the highest authority in the PJAK, drawing parallels between the struggle of the Kurds and the Tamils, urged the Eezham Tamil nation to continue the struggle, “In the hope of revitalization of the heroic nation of Tamil Eelam, in the hope of triumphant and freedom for the resolute and revolutionary nation of Tamil Eelam; never rest unless triumphing!”

12. PYD: On the Ground Activities in West Kurdistan
5 December 2012 / Rojhelat
People in the cities of Western Kurdistan has expressed solidarity with their brethrens in Serê Kanîyê. In Kobanî doctors and pharmacists have expressed their support by declaring that they will provide medicine and healthcare to the people of Serê Kanîyê and if the need arises also form field hospitals. Qamishlo – the role and influence of the people on its society has been institutionalized by the Peoples Council. In all cities of Western Kurdistan  a wave of democratic change has come and at its forefront is the Peoples Council which allows the people to organize and distribute public goods, service and social welfare to the inhabitants of Western Kurdistan regardless of nationality or religion.

13. Syrian Kurds Suspicious Of Islamic Militants, Turkey
5 December 2012 / Al Monitor
The relationship between the Syrian opposition factions and Kurdish groups is still precarious, despite the efforts on both sides to bridge the gap that is widening by the day, to the extent that they started to hurl accusations of ethnic intolerance at one another. The tension is growing even greater amid a rift within the ranks of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) regarding the issue of the Kurds. Some FSA members see the Kurds as a major player in Syrian popular movements, while others perceive them as mortal enemies that collude with the regime. There is also a third group within the FSA that prefers to keep its distance from this issue. In the last two cases, one must pay heed to the hidden engine of change behind these positions, which is Turkey. Turkey is mobilizing its forces on the border, while some Kurds accuse it of facilitating the transportation of the fighters to the areas they control.

14. Syrian Kurds Keep Eye on Country’s Oil
1 December 2012 / Rudaw
The oil fields in the resource-rich province of Hasaka account for more than half of Syria’s 370,000 barrels a day. Although Hasaka is 60 percent Kurdish, the Kurds have not benefited from the oil.  Syrian Kurds hope to profit from the oil in the future like the Iraqi Kurds were able to. However, most Syrian Kurdish parties have yet to put in place a plan for what to do about it.  Both the Democratic Unity Party (PYD) and Kurdish National Council (KNC) confirm that they have not discussed the issue during negotiations, unlike the Iraqi Kurds who managed to attract many foreign companies after the fall of Saddam Hussein. According to a report by the Turkish think tank ORSAM, despite the fact that Hasaka is the richest part of Syria in terms of oil resources, there is no investment in the area due to government policies. In addition, says the report, “Arabs were placed within the Kurdish population through strategic projects and an aim to establish a demographic balance.”

15. Kurdish-Iraqi government talks collapse amid fear of civil war
30 November 2012 / The Christian Science Monitor
Talks between Kurdish and central government forces aimed at defusing military tension in northern Iraq have collapsed amid fears that bitter political divisions are again bringing the country to the brink of civil war. The talks in Baghdad between Iraqi and Kurdish military commanders brokered by a three-star American general broke down on Thursday, two days after the prime minister announced both sides had agreed on pulling back forces in part of the disputed areas. Officials on Friday said there were no new talks scheduled. Kurdish regional President Massoud Barzani, who has described deployment of Iraqi forces as a plot against the Kurds, accused the Iraqi prime minister of reneging on the agreement and vowed that Kurdish forces would deter Baghdad’s “militarism.”

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

16. After the hunger strike
29 November 2012 / New York Times blog
When winter hits Turkey, the fighting between the Army and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.), which has been going on for nearly thirty years now, tends to slow. The P.K.K. is based in a mountainous region on the border with Iraq, and snow isolates its fighters—and creates new dangers for government forces. Earlier this month, seventeen Turkish soldiers were killed when their helicopter crashed in the mountains because of bad weather.  This year may be different. Fighting was particularly intense this fall, and as a result, Henri Barkey, a Turkey expert at Lehigh University, says, “the P.K.K. thinks it has some sort of momentum behind it, and [it] may not want to lose that.” The P.K.K. changed its tactics during the fighting season—briefly occupying a town in the southeast—and may surprise this winter as well. There are gains to be made with nonviolence, perhaps.

17. Turkish Foreign Minister salutes “all those martyrs who were killed for the holy territories”
30 November 2012 / Legal Insurrection
Yesterday was other-worldly, watching the sick march of hypocrisy on display at the U.N. for the vote in the General Assembly to grant “Palestine” nonmember state status. Of course, “Palestine” already declared independence in 1988 and that declaration was recognized by almost all of the 138 countries that voted “yes” yesterday. What was other worldly was watching the speech of the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.  I watched it live.  I haven’t been able to find a link to the text, but it was unreal, talking about the inalienable rights of peoples to a state.  This is the same Turkey which brutally supresses the Kurdish independence movement both inside Turkey and neighboring states, and which has threatened in the past to go to war if Kurds in neighboring Iraq established their own state.

18. Syrian National Coalition Chief Says ‘Kurdish Rights Must Be Secured Within A United Syria’
5 December 2012 / Rudaw
Syria’s Kurdish political parties have said they will join the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), a coalition of opposition groups, once it recognizes federalism for Syrian Kurdistan. But in an email exchange with Rudaw the new head of the council, Moaz al-Khatib, said that since the SNC is a revolutionary body it cannot decide such a constitutional issue. Moaz al-Khatib strongly criticized Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki for allowing weapons to reach the Syrian regime through Iraq.  He also thanked Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani for his support to the Syrian revolution. Al-Khatib, who had been an Islamic preacher at a Damascus mosque and spent one year in prison last year, was newly appointed as the head of the SNC at a convention in Doha.   He answered the following questions by Rudaw.

REPORTS

19. ICG Europe Report No. 222, Turkey’s Kurdish Impasse: The View from Diyarbakır. 30 November 2012.

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