Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 4 – 10 January 2013

We are shocked and saddened by the news of the assassination of three Kurdish women politicians in Paris. We send condolences and our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Soylemez, and to the Kurdish community for their loss. We will continue to monitor developments and statements on the incident will be out soon.

Please note: A rally will take place tomorrow, Friday 11 January at 1pm, outside the Turkish Embassy in London. A demonstration will also be held on Sunday 13 January at 12pm*, at the Halkevi Community Centre in Dalston, London. For more details contact fedbir@gmail.com

*Amended date

NEWS
1. Three PKK members killed in Paris attack
2. 3 Female Kurdish Politicians Found Dead in Paris
3. Paris attack draws reactions
4. PKK militants should leave Turkey: Erdoğan
5. Turkey agrees peace roadmap with PKK: media
5. Demirtaş: It’s the AKP’s turn to move
6. İmralı meeting is correct decision: PKK Europe head
7. Turkey’s Erdogan rules out amnesty for Kurdish militants
8. In Rare Talks Ocalan Demands Release of Prisoners, Contact With Rebel Base
9. Kurdish Politicians Apply to Meet Öcalan
10. Kurdish and Turkish lawyers on trial for representing imprisoned leader
11. After 682 days in jail Soner Yalcin is released

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
12. Turkey makes game-changing move on Kurdish problem
13. Karayılan: Dialogue is important but there also needs to be a policy
14. Cemil Bayık: talks are the last chance for AKP
15. Demirtas addresses BDP group meeting about peace talks
16. KCK Trial of Kurdish Lawyers – Istanbul 3rd January 2013
17. Open letter to PM Erdoğan
18. Canadian MP Jim Karygiannis: Kurdish Issue is ‘Also Our Problem’
19. Syria: Whatever happened to balanced reporting?
20. This could be the birth of an independent Kurdish state
21. ‘From the Amazons to Hasankeyf: Damocracy’ – new documentary

REPORTS
22. KCK Trial of Kurdish Lawyers – Istanbul 3rd January 2013, report by Tony Fisher

STATEMENTS
23. Press release: GUE/NGL Group of the European Parliament condemns the assassination of three Kurdish activists in Paris
24. EUTCC Press Release: In memory of our friends, Sakine Canziz, Fidan Dogan, and Leyla Soylemez
25. International Peace Initiative Welcomes News of Negotiations between the Turkish State and Abdullah Öcalan
26. Press Release: EUTCC acknowledge Turkey for resuming talks with PKK

 

NEWS

1. Three PKK members killed in Paris attack
10 January 2013 / Hurriyet
An office of the Kurdistan Information Center in Paris was attacked by unknown people in the French capital Paris late yesterday, resulting in the deaths of three women, including one of the founders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Sakine Cansız, one of the PKK founders in 1978, Brussels-based Kurdistan National Congress’ (KNK) Paris representative Fidan Doğan, and Leyla Söylemez were found dead in the office, located near Gare du Nord station.

2. 3 Female Kurdish Politicians Found Dead in Paris
10 January 2013 / Bianet
Last night, 3 Kurdish female politicians–PKK co-founder Sakine Cansız, Kurdish National Congress Paris representative Fidan Doğan and Leyla Söylemez–were found dead at the Kurdish Information Office in Paris. The three women were allegedly murdered by a group of individuals who raided the office, Firat News Agency said. Rumors say that Cansız and Doğan were shot dead with a bullet in the head while Söylemez died due to a gun wound in the belly. Murders were said to be orchestrated with gun silencers. “We didn’t hear from Fidan Doğan for hours. So we headed to the office after midnight around 1am. There were traces of blood by the entrance. We broke in and found them dead,” Selma Akkaya from Özgür Politika newspaper said.

3. Paris attack draws reactions
10 January 2013 / Hurriyet
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls has described the attack at the office of the Kurdistan Information Center in Paris, which resulted in the death of three women, as “insupportable.” French authorities are determined to uncover the truth in this case,” Valls said during his visit to the crime scene this morning. Valls offered his condolescences to the families of the three victims. “Three women have been shot down, killed, without doubt executed. This is a very serious incident, which is why I am here. It is completely unacceptable,” he told reporters, AFP has reported.

4. PKK militants should leave Turkey: Erdoğan
10 January 2013 / Hurriyet
The aim of ongoing talks with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is to convince the group’s militants to lay down their arms and abandon Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday. “Our sincerity can be seen in the steps that we have taken in the last few days. Our aim is to have the separatist terrorist organization’s cadres leave Turkey. [We want to make them] lay down their arms and leave,” Erdoğan said during a joint press conference with Nigerien Prime Minister Mahamadou Issoufou in reference to the talks between Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the PKK, and the government.

5. Turkey agrees peace roadmap with PKK: media
9 January 2013 / AFP
The Turkish government and jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan have agreed on a roadmap to end a three-decade-old insurgency that has claimed tens of thousands of lives, Turkish media reported Wednesday. The deal was reached during a new round of talks between Ankara and Ocalan and aims to have the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) lay down arms in March, private news network NTV and Radikal newspaper reported. An initial cessation of hostilities was to evolve into a fully-fledged ceasefire agreement over the following months, they said, without revealing their sources for the reported breakthrough.

5. Demirtaş: It’s the AKP’s turn to move
8 January 2012 / ANF
Speaking on Tuesday during his party’s parliamentary group meeting. Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) welcomed the contacts with Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan and said they are “logical, right and the only path to peace”. He also said the talks are a positive but late and inadequate development. “If Öcalan is to negotiate for peace, he must have direct contact with the Kurdish Communities Union and the Kurdish people,” Demirtaş added. Demirtaş underlined that the KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union), DTK (Democratic Society Congress) and BDP need to be included into the process of ongoing talks so that these meetings could pave the way for negotiations. “It is important to us that the talks have been given publicity 14 years later and are progressing in partial transparency at present. This is a logical and right step taken in such a critical process”, he said.

6. İmralı meeting is correct decision: PKK Europe head
6 January 2013 / Hurriyet
Zübeyir Aydar, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) European head, has denied recent reports that his group is against negotiations between Kurdish deputies and PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, Doğan News Agency has reported. “The PKK is a whole and its follows its leader. It doesn’t have sects. Meeting with our leader, constructing dialogue and negotiating with him is the right decision. We have said for years that our interlocutor is Öcalan. The dialogue which has been started with him is our demand. It is unthinkable for us to be against it. Any other comments are manipulations of psychological warfare,” he said.

7. Turkey’s Erdogan rules out amnesty for Kurdish militants
6 January 2013 / Reuters
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan ruled out a general amnesty for Kurdish militants on Sunday but said intelligence agents would continue to talk to the rebels’ jailed leader in a bid to end a near three-decade insurgency. Erdogan’s chief adviser said last week that Turkish officials had been discussing disarmament with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and on Thursday two Kurdish lawmakers paid a rare visit to the militant group’s leader in his island prison.

8. In Rare Talks Ocalan Demands Release of Prisoners, Contact With Rebel Base
7 January 2013 / Rudaw
Jailed rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan has asked Ankara to free thousands of Kurdish prisoners and let him communicate with his mountain base in Iraqi Kurdistan, in rare talks believed to have centered on disarming guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey, a source told Rudaw. Ocalan, who has lived in virtual isolation on Turkey’s Imrali island since his capture in 1999, met last week with two pro-Kurdish MPs, the first meeting with anyone outside his family for more than a year. Details of Thursday’s talks, led by Aylat Akat of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have not been disclosed, but Turkish intelligence and other officials have said that, “The talks with Ocalan are about disarming the PKK.”

9. Kurdish Politicians Apply to Meet Öcalan
9 January 2013 / ANF
Peace and Democracy Party co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said the appointment delegation would include co-chairs of Peace and Democracy Party and Democratic Society Congress. “We have applied to the Ministry of Justice before,” Demirtaş said. “But our efforts yielded no results. This time, we believe that our request will be accepted.” Demirtaş underscored the importance of their participation in the Imrali process–the ongoing detente and negotiations between Turkish state and PKK. “If our request will be approved, we will head to Imrali island and meet Öcalan.” Demirtaş Also reminded last week’s meeting where Öcalan received deputies Ahmet Türk and Ayla Akat Ata, which he suggested to “bring a positive climate”.

10. Kurdish and Turkish lawyers on trial for representing imprisoned leader
9 January 2012 / Guardian Law blog
While UK courts made their traditionally slow start to the new year, a hearing in Istanbul managed to pack more than 100 lawyers onto its benches on January 3rd. The mass trial of Kurdish and Turkish lawyers has raised concern among the international legal community about the state of justice in one of NATO’s more powerful members. Turkey is also a member of the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe.

11. After 682 days in jail Soner Yalcin is released
30 December 2012 / The Spark
By Barry White. Soner Yalcin, international journalist and owner of Odatv news web site was released at the end of the 15th hearing of the Odatv trial at the Judgement Palace in Istanbul on 27 December. However, he can’t leave Turkey and he will have to report weekly to the court. He was first imprisoned in February 2011, along with nine other journalists working for the internet news site. They were accused of being involved in the alleged ‘Ergenekon’ coup plot to overthrow the government. The defendants have always maintained that the case was an excuse to bully independent and critical journalists. One journalist, Yalcin Kucuk remains in prison along with former intelligence officer, Hanefi Avci.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

12. Turkey makes game-changing move on Kurdish problem
5 January 2013 / Hurriyet
The Turkish government has made a game-changing move on the country’s chronic Kurdish problem by letting two Kurdish-origin members of Parliament visit the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, at his İmralı island prison on Jan. 3 following a number of contacts with him by Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT). Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin told reporters that his ministry had decided give a positive answer to the applications of the Kurdish problem-focused Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) to talk to Öcalan themselves instead of hearing what he says on the future of the Kurdish problem from government officials, lawyers or his relatives.

13. Karayılan: Dialogue is important but there also needs to be a policy for resolution
9 January 2013 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
KCK Executive Council President Murat Karayılan talked to ANF reporters Deniz Kendal and Rosida Mardin about the recent meeting with the leader of the Kurdish people, Abdullah Öcalan, on Imrali Island.  Stressing the importance of monitoring the initiative carefully, he said, “the initiative launched for dialogue is both an important and an accurate approach.” Karayılan said that meetings have been taking place with Öcalan since November, and he continued, “of course the visit of Ahmet Turk and Ayla Akat to Imrali showed the significance of these meetings.” This is a new dimension and we are aware of its importance. However, we will find out in the coming days whether these meetings and the renewed dialogue will turn into a process that leads to a resolution of the Kurdish issue or not.

14. Cemil Bayık: talks are the last chance for AKP
7 January 2013 / Peace in Kurdistan campaign
While the talks with the Kurdish Leader Abdullah Öcalan in Imrali are being debated, member of the KCK Executive Council, Cemil Bayık, evaluated the subject in his column published at the Yeni Özgür Politika and Azadiya Welat newspapers.Bayık, in his article written in Kurdish, entitled ‘the last chance for AKP’, stated that as a result of the resistance of Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan against one and a half year of threats and blackmailing, the AKP had to restart the talks. Stating “resistance of the Guerrilla and the People also forced the AKP to talk with the Kurdish People’s Leader”, Bayık’s article is as follows.

15. Demirtas addresses BDP group meeting about peace talks
10 January 2013 / Peace in Kurdistan
Co-chair of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Selahattin Demirtas addressed the BDP group meeting on Tuesday with an in-depth discussion on the renewed negotiations between the Turkish state and the PKK. Here is a translated version of the full speech.

16. KCK Trial of Kurdish Lawyers – Istanbul 3rd January 2013
6 January 2013 / Peace in Kurdistan campaign
As part of Peace in Kurdistan’s continuing monitoring of the ongoing KCK Trials in Turkey, solicitor Tony Fisher and barrister Melanie Gingell have returned from Istanbul where they observed the latest hearing of a mass trial of 46 Kurdish lawyers. Tony Fisher, a member of the Law Society’s Human Rights Committee, has written the following report about the hearing on 3 January, which includes a summary of the proceedings and a commentary on the highly politicised nature of the trial. The report is also available for download.

17. Open letter to PM Erdoğan
5 January 2013 / Alliance for Kurdish Rights
Honorable Prime Minister Erdoğan, as you are aware, the long-standing Kurdish struggle for autonomy has remained a constant issue in Turkish national politics. Kurdish history is dominated by the unending fight for self-determination and recognition of a distinct ethnic identity within the Turkish community.

18. Canadian MP Jim Karygiannis: Kurdish Issue is ‘Also Our Problem’
8 January 2013 / Rudaw
As a Liberal Party member of the Canadian House of Commons since 1988, Jim Karygiannis is working to establish peace through dialogue between the Kurdish and Turkish communities in Canada as well as in Turkey.  In an interview with Rudaw, he says that on the Kurdish issue Turkey and Iran can learn from Canada, where Francophones exist alongside Anglophones and enjoy similar rights.  He adds that, because Kurds are part of the Canadian community, the Kurdish issue is also a Canadian problem.  He urges young Canadian Kurds to see themselves as full citizens and become more engaged in Canadian politics.

19. Syria: Whatever happened to balanced reporting?
2 January 2013 / eKurd
How many reports have we seen telling us that Kurds in Syria are working for al-Assad, that the Kurdish PKK (from Turkey) is behind the actions of Kurdish Democratic Union Party – PYD, that PYD runs the Kurdish area, and that Kurds are divided? There are many. In contrast, where are the articles that positively report the unity of the Kurdish political parties and the creation of a safe area within the Kurdish region in the North-East where those who come without weapons are welcomed and cared for? Where are the articles that give voice to those working for a solution based on dialogue and non-violence? There are just a few.

20. This could be the birth of an independent Kurdish state
9 January 2013 / Guardian
I was surprised to read an article in the Baghdad newspaper al-Sabah, by its editor Abd al-Jabbar Shabbout, suggesting it was time to settle the “age-old problem” between Iraq’s Arabs and Kurds by establishing a “Kurdish state”. I had never heard a formerly so heretical view expressed in any Arab quarter so publicly. And this was no ordinary quarter: al-Sabah is the mouthpiece of the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki himself. Shabbout went on to suggest a negotiated “ending of the Arab-Kurdish partnership in a peaceful way”.

21. ‘From the Amazons to Hasankeyf: Damocracy’ – new documentary
9 January 2013 / Mesop
A new documentary, out next month, makes the case against huge dam projects, such as the one in north Kurdistan which threatens to destroy the 10,000 year old town of Hansankeyf, one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth. Film maker Todd Southgate travelled from the deepest corners of the vast Amazon rainforest in Brazil to the mountains and plains of fertile upper Mesopotamia in north Kurdistan/Turkey.

REPORTS

22. KCK Trial of Kurdish Lawyers – Istanbul 3rd January 2013, report by Tony Fisher, 6 January 2012.

STATEMENTS

23. Press release: GUE/NGL Group of the European Parliament condemns the assassination of three Kurdish activists in Paris, 10 January 2013.

24. EUTCC Press Release: In memory of our friends, Sakine Canziz, Fidan Dogan, and Leyla Soylemez, 10 January 2013.

25. International Peace Initiative Welcomes News of Negotiations between the Turkish State and Abdullah Öcalan, 9 January 2013.

26. Press Release: EUTCC acknowledge Turkey for resuming talks with PKK, 5 January 2013.

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