Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 14 – 20 December 2012

Season’s greetings and best wishes for 2013!
From Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

We would like to wish our friends and supporters all the best for the season and the coming year.

 

NEWS
1. PM Plans to Visit Obama for Talks on Terrorism
2. ECHR Finds Turkey Guilty For Blocking Google Sites
3. Turkey: World’s biggest prison for journalists
4. Set journalists free in Turkey: EFJ campaign update
5. Kurdish workers treated like foreigners
6. Murad Karayilan: In strong position we seek for a peaceful solution
7. PYD: Turkey supports armed groups against Kurds
8. Kurdish Parties Remain Cautious of Syrian National Coalition
9. Iraqi president Jalal Talabani flies to Germany for stroke treatment
10. 15 December: Three Kurds executed in Iran

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
11. VIDEO: EFJ debates about press freedom and freedom of expression in Turkey
12. Turkey’s Second Phase of Dismemberment: Unavoidable
13. Syria’s Kurds face uncertain future if Assad falls
14. VIDEO: CrossTalk: Kurd State Soon?
15. Syria: after Assad falls, what then?
16. A Report from Kurdish Syria
17.
Proof of a Scandal: U.S. Policy is Making Syria into an Anti-Western, Antisemitic Islamist State
18. Why Palestinians yes, Kurds no?
19. Iraq, Kurds, Turks and oil: A tortuous triangle

REPORTS
20. Chatham House Briefing Paper: Into the Quagmire – Turkey’s Frustrated Syria Policy

PRESS RELEASES
21. International Publisher’s Association (IPA) Calls for Release of Academic and Publisher Deniz Zarakolu

 

NEWS

1. PM Plans to Visit Obama for Talks on Terrorism
19 December 2012 / Journal of Turkish Weekly
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is planning to meet with US President Barack Obama on a working visit to the US in the coming months, a Turkish official source has said, Todays Zaman reported. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the official stated that such a meeting was discussed during the last phone conversation between the two leaders when Erdogan congratulated Obama on his re-election for a second term as president. However, the official claimed that the schedule for the meeting is not yet certain, and added that regional issues as well as bilateral relations will be at the top of the agenda of the planned talks.

2. ECHR Finds Turkey Guilty For Blocking Google Sites
18 December 2012 / Bianet
The ECHR held that Turkey was to pay the applicant Ahmet Yıldırım 7,500 euros in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 1,000 in respect of costs and expenses. “The effects of the measure in question had therefore been arbitrary and the judicial review of the blocking of access had been insufficient to prevent abuses. There had therefore been a violation of Article 10 of the Convention,” the verdict said, pointing out the arbitrary nature and ineffectiveness of the Turkish court decision to block Google Sites. In June 2009, the Denizli Criminal Court of First Instance ordered the blocking of an Internet site whose owner had been accused of insulting the memory of Atatürk. The order was issued as a preventive measure in the context of criminal proceedings against the site’s owner.

3. Turkey: World’s biggest prison for journalists
19 December 2012 / Reporters without Borders
Coinciding with the publication of its annual roundup, Reporters Without Borders is releasing the findings of the investigation it has conducted in recent months into journalists imprisoned in Turkey. “With a total of 72 media personnel currently detained, of whom at least 42 journalists and four media assistants are being held in connection with their media work, Turkey is now the world’s biggest prison for journalists – a sad paradox for a country that portrays itself a regional democratic model,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The number of detained journalists is unprecedented since the end of military rule but is not surprising given the Turkish judicial system’s structural problems – very repressive legislation with broad and vaguely-worded provisions that allow all kinds of excesses, and markedly paranoid judicial attitudes that prioritize security concerns to the detriment of defence rights and freedom of information.

4. Set journalists free in Turkey: EFJ campaign update
20 December 2012 / Peace in Kurdistan campaign
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) continues their international campaign to set free all journalists in Turkey with a debate on press freedom in Turkey, featuring writer and publisher Ragip Zarakolu, and the EFJ vice-president, Philippe Leruth.

5. Kurdish workers treated like foreigners
15 December 2012 / ANF
In an interview to ANF, Democratic Society Congress (DTK) member and Dev Sağlık-İş Union representative Ferda Koç remarked that the Kurdish workers in Turkey suffer serious violations of rights. Koç says that the Kurdish workers here are treated like ‘migrant workers’ and that the Kurdish society’s modernization under the influence of the national freedom movement has been hindering the Turkish state’s economic pressures on Kurds. Pointing out that Kurdish workers constitute a remarkable part of “unsecured workers”, Koç noted that these workers mainly join Turkey’s labor army not in Kurdistan but across the Turkish territory.

6. Murad Karayilan: In strong position we seek for a peaceful solution
20 December 2012 / Rojhelat
At the upcoming of the first anniversary of massacre of Roboski villagers, the president of Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Murad Karayilan asked that those responsible of this crime must be prosecuted. Karayilan in an exclusive interview with Firatnews agency said; the position of Turkish government regarding massacre of Roboski villagers has showed the Turkish occupation policy about Kurds. He said; the massacres of Dersim, massacres during Sheix Seid revolution, Sasus, Zilan, etc. all were committed in the similar way. In the tragedy of Roboski, the Turkish government has repeated its former policies; despite all the protests, while they have not revealed the details of this massacre, they even did not apologize. Karayilan, asked that this crime, was committed in front of the eyes of the international community, thus, it should be prosecuted at the international level.

7. PYD: Turkey supports armed groups against Kurds
17 December 2012 / ANF
Speaking to Nuçe TV on Saturday night on the current situation in the West Kurdistan city of Serêkaniyê, Democratic Union Party (PYD) Leader Saleh Muslim pointed out that the Turkish government is supporting the armed groups attacking on Kurds in the city with an aim to invade the West Kurdistan territory. Muslim remarked that the mentioned armed groups broke their promise by not leaving the city and not ending attacks on Kurds in accordance with the ceasefire they demanded following the clashes in November. “These armed groups aren’t independent structures that act according to their own decisions. The reason why they attacked once again after the ceasefire is the fact that Turkish authorities had a meeting with them and asked them to attack on the Kurds in the city”.

8. Kurdish Parties Remain Cautious of Syrian National Coalition
19 December 2012 / Rudaw
After they held several meetings in Qamishlou on the issue, Syrian Kurdish leaders say they have not decided yet whether to join the newly established Syrian National Coalition. However, Nasraddin Ibrahim, a senior member of the Kurdish National Council (KNC) told Rudaw that his council will send a delegation to convey Kurdish demands to SNC before making a final decision. The Arab League as well as major western countries such as France and the United States have recognized the SNC as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. This international recognition enticed Kurdish political parties to join this coalition. Abdulhakim Bashar, secretary general of Al Party fears that in the future the Kurds will be sidelined if they boycott the SNC.

9. Iraqi president Jalal Talabani flies to Germany for stroke treatment
20 December 2012 / Guardian
The Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, is flying to Germany for treatment after suffering a stroke, his office has said. The 79-year-old Kurdish statesman was admitted to a Baghdad hospital on Monday night. “Treatment has allowed suitable conditions for his excellency to be transferred outside the country,” the statement said, adding that Talabani’s health had improved. It was uncertain whether he would be able to return to his post, and his potential exit from politics is raising concerns about what could be a messy succession battle. He has often mediated among Iraqi Shias, Sunnis and Kurds, and in a growing dispute over oil between Baghdad and the country’s autonomous Kurdistan region.

10. 15 December: Three Kurds executed in Iran
16 December 2012 / Alliance for Kurdish Rights
Urmia Prison, West Azerbaijan Province of Iran: On Friday 15 December three Kurds were summarily executed in Urmia prison, among them Gafur Mirza, who’s father was executed last year. Part of Gafur’s last words were allegedly: Urmia Prison sees more than its share of executions and persecution. Two prisoners were executed just last month after a three year prison term for alleged drug charges, and nothing is known about five Kurdish prisoners in Urmia who were transferred to an unknown location without prior warning or notification.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

11. VIDEO: EFJ debates about press freedom and freedom of expression in Turkey
20 December 2012 / European Federation of Journalists
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is organizing a press conference on “Press freedom and freedom of expression – What’s wrong with Turkey ?” next Wednesday 19 December 2012 at 11 am with Ragip Zarakolu (Turkish columnist, writer, publisher) and Philippe Leruth (Belgian journalist, EFJ’s vice-president).

12. Turkey’s Second Phase of Dismemberment: Unavoidable
12 December 2012 / Armenian Life
Much to Turkophiles’ chagrin the coming networks and coalitions in a multipolar world may deprive Turkey of massive economic aid at U.S. taxpayers’ expense keeping the Turkish state financially solvent. Many economists agree that the so-called positive economic news and reports mask Turkey’s real economic and political troubles and it’s only a matter of time before the time bomb explodes in the face of pro-Turkey neo-con propagandists. A recent report from the U.S. National Intelligence Council focuses on the possible “separation” of “Turkey’s territorial unity” by 2030. However the Intel Report under-rates several factors that can contribute to expedited dismemberment of Turkey. In certain cases, it over-rates Turkey.

13. Syria’s Kurds face uncertain future if Assad falls
14 December 2012 / Guardian
The quarrel began when a young Arab called Mohammad drove up to a Kurdish checkpoint. The Kurdish fighters manning it beat him up. Bruised, angry and humiliated, Mohammad gathered up a group of armed friends. There was a shootout; Mohammad, his brother and three others were killed. Three Kurds also died. Both sides agreed a truce. As part of the deal the Kurds abandoned the mountaintop checkpoint in the village of Qastal, seven miles from the town of Azaz in northern Syria, and retreated down the road.

14. VIDEO: CrossTalk: Kurd State Soon?
6 December 2012 / Centre for Turkey Studies
Will the Kurdish people have a state of their own in the near future? With the Middle East in turmoil, can they exploit this instability? What are the chances of a positive outcome for Syria’s Kurds? And will Turkey be forced to compromise on the Kurdish issue? CrossTalking with Edward Joseph, Ibrahim Dogus and Fevzi Bilgin.

15. Syria: after Assad falls, what then?
18 December 2012 / Guardian
It was not the supposed imminent collapse of the Syrian regime that dominated the recent meeting of the Friends of Syria in Marrakech but the thorny subject of al-Nusra, one of the armed resistance groups operating in the country, which the US has just classified as a “foreign terrorist organisation”. The chairman of the Syrian National Coalition called for the US to reconsider its decision; the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamad Tayfur condemned it as wrong and hastily made. Many other statements of support for al-Nusra followed, most notably from non-Islamist members of the coalition.

16. A Report from Kurdish Syria
13 December 2012 / Santa Barbara Independent
I was sitting on the dirt floor of a hut on the Tigris River in northwestern Iraq, just outside the booming territory established by Iraqi Kurds 21 years ago in 1991, a place that today looks increasingly like an independent Kurdish state. I was negotiating with smugglers to get across the border into Syria, where the civil war against the dictator Bashar al-Assad was raging. I wanted to get what I considered the important but under-reported story of Syrian Kurds, who recently had taken up arms in the hope of establishing their own autonomous region.

17. Proof of a Scandal: U.S. Policy is Making Syria into an Anti-Western, Antisemitic Islamist State
18 December 2012 / Mesop
In his article, “The Revolt of Islam in Syria,” Jerusalem Post, December 12, 2012, Jonathan Spyer, senior fellow at the GLORIA Center, points out compelling information about the new Western-backed leadership in Syria. The bottom line: If this is Syria’s new government then Syria now has an Islamist regime. This is happening with the knowledge and collaboration of the Obama Administration and a number of European governments. It is a catastrophe and one that’s taking place due to the deliberate decisions of President Barack Obama and other Western leaders. Even if one rationalizes the Islamist takeover in Egypt as due to internal events, this one is U.S.-made.

18. Why Palestinians yes, Kurds no?
11 December 2012 / Kurdish Aspect
At a conference I attended in the mid-1990s, I dared to compare the Kurdish national movement in Iraq with that of the Palestinians. The conference dealt with the changing political map of the Middle East against the background of the 1991 Gulf War, the Oslo Accords of 1993 between Israel and the Palestinians, and the burgeoning autonomies that were developing concurrently in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG ) and the newly established Palestinian Authority. At the time, both groups spoke of their peoples’ right to self-determination, and it was only natural to pinpoint the similarities and differences between the two national movements. The comparison, however, caused an uproar among the participants, who were mostly Palestinians and other Arabs, with some even leaving the conference hall in protest.

19. Iraq, Kurds, Turks and oil: A tortuous triangle
20 December 2012 / The Economist
SNAKING their way from Kirkuk, a city 240 kilometres (150 miles) north of Baghdad, through Kurdistan and across Turkey’s eastern region of Anatolia to the Mediterranean are pipes that once carried 1.6m barrels a day (b/d) of Iraqi oil to the global market and yielded fat transit fees to Turkey along the way. The infrastructure underpinned the two countries’ mutual dependence. But nowadays the balance of power has shifted. A third party, the Iraqi Kurds, has changed it. It is unclear who will emerge on top. But Iraq’s central government in Baghdad is on the defensive.

REPORTS

20. Chatham House Briefing Paper: Into the Quagmire – Turkey’s Frustrated Syria Policy, December 2012.

PRESS RELEASES

21. International Publisher’s Association (IPA) Calls for Release of Academic and Publisher Deniz Zarakolu, 11 December.

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