Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 25 January – 1 February 2013

NEWS
1. Çetin shades some lights on Paris killings
2. Turkey approves court reform, addressing Kurdish demand
3. PKK not ready to disarm, says official
4. Kurdish militants dismiss Turkey withdrawal reports
5. Turkey – Sentencing of four Human Rights Association (İHD) members
6. Over twenty thousands rights violations registered
7. Bianet Report Reveals Judicial Reform Deficits
8. Turkey criticized for lack of press freedom
9. Turkey Scrambles to Avoid International Financial Blacklist
10. BDP Diyarbakir Provincal Organization Congress began
11. MP Ucer: The terrorist is the state
12. ‘Dear Ocalan says that without Kurds’ liberation, Turkey won’t liberate’
13. Set journalists free in Turkey: EFJ campaign update
14. New edition of the Spokesman on the Kurdish Question in Turkey – out now
15. News Briefing and Activities in West Kurdistan and Syria
16. Militants in Syria intensify attacks on Kurds
17. Video: Kurds increasingly entangled in Syrian war
18. Syrian Kurds and rebels battle over town
19. Opposition Clashes with Kurds Raise Fears of Arab-Kurdish Civil War in Syria

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
20. Turkey Cannot Solve PKK Terror Without Solving Kurdish Issue
21. The News They Carried
22. Erdogan’s Kurdish Issues
23. Turkey Seeks ‘Interdependence’ With Iraqi Kurdistan
24. Syria’s female revolution

PRESS RELEASES
25. Lawyers for Lawyers Press Release: Legal Profession in Turkey under attack – Four lawyers sentenced to long prison terms

REPORTS
26. Human Rights Watch World Report 2013: Turkey
NEWS

1. Çetin shades some lights on Paris killings
29 January 2013 / Kurdish Institute
Journalist Ferda Çetin wrote in Yeni Özgür Politika daily about an important document which sheds some light on the Turkish government’s role in the killings of three Kurdish politicians in Paris, Sakine Cansız, a co-founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Fidan Doğan, representative of the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) in Paris and Leyla Şaylemez, member of the Kurdish youth movement. Ferda Çetin writes about an “award regulation” the Turkish government allegedly issued last year and involving 50 leading members of the PKK, 20 of which are in Europe. “According to the regulation presented to the Prime Minister, the murderer of Sakine Cansız and two her comrades would  need to be paid 4 million TL. Whom did the Turkish government give this money to? What was Ömer Güney’s share in this money?”, asked Çetin.

2. Turkey approves court reform, addressing Kurdish demand
25 January 2013 / Reuters
Turkey’s parliament passed a law late on Thursday allowing defendants to speak Kurdish in court, addressing a key demand of Kurdish politicians as Ankara seeks to advance peace talks with the jailed rebel leader of a 28-year-old insurgency. Kurdish and nationalist deputies clashed verbally and nearly came to blows during a tense debate over a reform seen aimed at breaking a deadlock in trials of hundreds of people accused of links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group.

3. PKK not ready to disarm, says official
25 January 2013 / Kurdistan Tribune
A PKK spokesperson today dismissed reports that the PKK is ready to lay down its weapons. Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ahmet Deniz told Halwati newspaper that the PKK Armed Council is unhappy with Turkish media reports claiming that a four-point agreement was reached in recent talks between jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and the MIT (Turkish intelligence) which included a commitment for the PKK to immediately disarm. Dinez said this was an attempt by the Turkish state to dismantle the whole PKK organisation.

4. Kurdish militants dismiss Turkey withdrawal reports
31 January 2013 / Reuters
Kurdish militants said on Thursday media reports that its fighters had agreed to withdraw from Turkey as part of a peace pact to end their 28-year-old insurgency were lies and part of a psychological war. The Sabah newspaper on Thursday said Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerrillas had agreed to withdraw to northern Iraq, where the group is based, by March 21 as part of peace talks with the PKK’s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan which started late last year.

5. Turkey – Sentencing of four Human Rights Association (İHD) members
25 January 2013 / Mesop
On 24 January 2013, four human rights defenders who are lawyers and members of the Ankara Branch of İnsan Haklari Derneği (Human Rights Association – İHD) were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 6 to 7 years and 6 months, on charges of being a member of “an armed, illegal organisation”. İHD is a non-governmental human rights organization founded in 1986, with approximately 34 local branches around the country.

6. Over twenty thousands rights violations registered
30 January 2013 / ANF
Human Rights Association (IHD) Diyarbakir Branch has presented the Kurdish region rights violations report for the year 2012. According to the report, 21,107 rights violations were registered in the region in 2012, revealing a substantial increase in right violations in prison and in the number of deaths in clashes. Speaking at the press conference on the report, IHD Diyarbakır Branch Secretary Raci Bilici said right violations in the Kurdish region were a consequence of the deadlock in the Kurdish question and called on the government to progress the dialogue process in a more effective way.  Bilici pointed out that the unending military operations and security policies of the government have dragged the whole Kurdish region into a war environment. Bilici remarked that the clashes and deaths in 2012 have doubled the figures of previous years.

7. Bianet Report Reveals Judicial Reform Deficits
28 January 2013 / Bianet
68 journalists and 27* publishers entered 2013 behind bars in Turkey. Several campaigns have been held throughout the country, dozens of lawsuits have been filed in order to demand fair trials for jailed journalists. In 2011, 104 journalists were jailed in Turkey. In July 2012, the Turkish government implemented judicial reforms – known as 3. Judicial Reform Package in Turkish – which partially reduced the number of jailed journalists. Overall in 2012, 22 journalists and 2 publishers have been arrested for “terrorism” according to relevant articles of Turkish Penal Code. Various Turkish courts sentenced 24 individuals to a total of 214 years 11 months and 15 days of prison, while 1 journalist received life sentence.

8. Turkey criticized for lack of press freedom
25 January 2013 / Hurriyet
Turkey has been criticized for its media freedom stature according to a report by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). “The high number of journalists imprisoned, detained or prosecuted has a paralyzing effect on its media environment,” the report read, while the country was said to have “more journalists in detention than any other State in the world.” “In April 2012, as many as 95 journalists were in jail awaiting trial or serving sentences after being convicted,” the report read, adding that the number has increased since.

9. Turkey Scrambles to Avoid International Financial Blacklist
26 January 2013 / AINA
Turkey is scrambling to push through a long-awaited anti-terrorism financing law before a deadline next month to avoid being expelled from an international watchdog and placed on its blacklist alongside Iran and North Korea. Turkey is already on a “grey list” of countries drawn up by the 36-member Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a money-laundering watchdog, for not implementing the legislation required by its members despite pressing Ankara for years. The FATF has warned Turkey if it does not pass the necessary legislation, which would allow alleged “terrorist” accounts to be frozen without a court order, by Feb. 22, it will be expelled as a member of the group and blacklisted. Such a move could restrict foreign activity with Turkish banks, hamper Turkey’s ability to raise funds abroad and could affect its credit rating, which received a boost last year when Fitch raised the country to investment grade.

10. BDP Diyarbakir Provincal Organization Congress began
26 January 2013 / Dicle News Agency
The BDP Diyarbakir Provincal Organization 2nd Ordinary Congress began with the motto of “Let’s evolve the negotiation process into solution”. Speaking in the opening of the congress, which thousands of people participated into, the BDP Diyarbakir Provincal Co-chair Zübeyde Zümrüt, “If the AKP(JDP) government is sincere on the solution of Kurdish issue, then it will give up from the military and politicial operations,” called on. The BDP Diyarbakir Provincal Organization 2nd Ordinary Congress began with the motto of “Let’s evolve the negotiation process into solution” in Seyrantepe Closed Sport Center. One minute silcence has been held for people, who lost their lives in the struggle of freedom and democracy.

11. MP Ucer: The terrorist is the state
27 January 2013 / Dicle News Agency
A massive visit was made to the condolence tent being set for the HPG (People’s Defense Forces) member Kenan Koçak (Zerdeşt Derik), who lost his life in a clash on 25 January. Speaking in the visit the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) Van Parliamentarian Ozdal Ucer, “AKP government sees Kurdish people as ‘terrorist’. But we say the only terrorist is the state,” said. The BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) Van Provincal Organization organized a massive visit to the condolence tent being set for the HPG (People’s Defense Forces) member Kenan Koçak (Zerdeşt Derik), who lost his life in a clash on 25 January.

12. ‘Dear Ocalan says that without Kurds’ liberation, Turkey won’t liberate’
27 January 2013 / Dicle News Agency
Speaking in the BDP Mardin Provincal Congress the DTK Co-chair Ahmet Turk gave information about the meeting he made with PKK Leader Abdullah Ocalan and said, “Dear Ocalan says these: ‘I don’t want our people to strangle each other. But when some deny Kurdish people, what can I do? Without Kurdish people liberate, Turkish people won’t liberate. When a attitude doesn’t come to Kurdish people on the base of justice and equality, what can I do? All the demands take base the justice and equality unity of Kurdish and Turkish people.’ The expectation is this. And aslo we are supporting these efforts of Dear Ocalan all the way,” said.

13. Set journalists free in Turkey: EFJ campaign update
31 January 2013 / Peace in Kurdistan campaign
The latest update from the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) international campaign to set free all journalists in Turkey.

14. New edition of the Spokesman on the Kurdish Question in Turkey – out now
30 January 2012 / Peace in Kurdistan campaign
See link below for full contents and how to order a copy.
In December 2012, many Kurds, some Turks and various others gathered at the European Parliament in Brussels to consider ‘The Kurdish Question in Turkey’. The conference was sponsored by the United European Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) political group, with support from Greens and Socialists. It included two prominent Kurds, Leyla Zana, now a member of the Turkish Parliament, who was previously imprisoned there, and Zübeyir Aydar of the KNK, who participated in the aborted negotiations with the Turkish intelligence services (the so-called ‘Oslo Process’) that ceased in 2011.  We publish their papers here, alongside Ayse’s own statement from prison on receiving an award from Turkish PEN, part of an international organisation which supports persecuted authors.  Our Dossier section includes eyewitness accounts from some of the KCK trials.

15. News Briefing and Activities in West Kurdistan and Syria
1 February 2013 / Peace in Kurdistan campaign
Latest news briefing from the Information and Relations Centre of the PYD:
Attitudes and reactions of the political parties towards the attacks on Serê Kaniye.
National Coordination Body In Syria: We strongly condemn the conduct of the armed groups in Serê Kaniyê
Qamishlo – The National Coordination Assembly in Syria condemned in a statement the extremist conduct of the armed goups in Serê Kaniyê. The statement explained: “our people in Serê Kaniyê are exposed to an armed campaign coming from both outside the border as well as from the inside. These attacks have intensified since the sixteenth of this month with the goal of raising the sectarian problems between the components of the Syrian fabric, and also to stir unrest and chaos in the region.

16. Militants in Syria intensify attacks on Kurds
26 January 2013 / Press TV
Foreign-backed militants in Syria have stepped up their deadly attacks on Syrian Kurds in northeastern Syria near the Turkish border, Press TV reports. On Tuesday, at least 56 people were reported to have been killed in a week of fighting between the militants, using tanks and mortars, and the Kurds, who make up almost ten percent of Syria’s population. The militants also clashed with the Kurds near the southeastern Turkish town of Ceylanpinar which borders the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain in the Hasaka province.

17. Video: Kurds increasingly entangled in Syrian war
24 January 2013 / Al Jazeera
Fighters belonging to the Kurdish minority in Syria are increasingly becoming caught up in the conflict. One group, The Kurdish Popular Protection Force, is battling the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the town of Ras al-Ain in the north. The FSA is accusing the Kurds of being Assad’s mercenaries. But the Kurds say they are only protecting their own people. Al Jazeera’s Sue Turton reports from the border between Turkey and Syria.

18. Syrian Kurds and rebels battle over town
19 January 2013 / LA Times
Syrian rebel and Kurdish militiamen were battling Saturday for control of a northeastern Syrian town in a dramatic illustration of the deep fissures within Syria’s armed opposition. A Kurdish umbrella group, the Kurdish National Council, called Saturday on the rebel leadership to exert influence with its fighters to cease their attack on Ras Ayn, along Syria’s remote northeast border with Turkey. The Kurdish group demanded that the opposition leadership “put pressure on these armed groups to stop this criminal war, which is detrimental to the principles and objectives of the Syrian revolution.” Whether the request will make any difference remains to be seen. Rebel combatants in Syria are heavily decentralized and generally follow no central command.

19. Opposition Clashes with Kurds Raise Fears of Arab-Kurdish Civil War in Syria
27 January 2013 / Rudaw
Thirty-three fighters have been killed in Syria in fighting between the main opposition and the country’s Kurdish minority in the city of Ras al-Ain (Serekaniye) on the Turkish border,  raising warnings of an Arab-Kurdish civil war. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which reported the deaths, said that 28 rebels of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the main opposition fighting to topple the regime of President Hafez Assad, and five from the Kurdish Popular Protection Committee (YPG), were killed in last week’s encounter.

Geneva Declaration 29 January 2013
30 January 2013 / Support Kurds in Syria
The Syrian International Conference took place in Geneva 28-29 January 2013. The Conference aimed to promote and encourage a real dialogue between the Syrian democratic opposition structures in an open dialogue about the consequences of using violence, the sectarian risks and the future of the democratic project. It would encourage cooperation, coordination and synergies between political parties, civil society and social movement inside Syria, and advance work towards a realistic transitional program, for a civil and democratic State in Syria.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

20. Turkey Cannot Solve PKK Terror Without Solving Kurdish Issue
5 January 2013 / Al Monitor
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has been negotiating with Abdullah Ocalan, the founding head of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who is serving a life sentence in prison. Turkey’s mainstream media has labeled these negotiations “the Imrali process.” This so-called “process” has yet to pave the way for peace negotiations with the PKK. Of course, it is impossible to solve the issue by speaking only with an isolated Ocalan. It is indisputable that there will be no progress unless the negotiation process includes — directly or indirectly — the political and military wings of the Kurdish movement.

21. The News They Carried
23 January 2013 / IHT Global Opinion
Last Thursday was a major news day in Turkey, and part of the story was that the Turkish media failed to report a major event in the Kurdish southeast of the country. The day before, the bodies of three women activists, members of the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., were flown from Paris back to Diyarbakir, the unofficial Kurdish capital of eastern Turkey. The women were murdered in their Paris office earlier this month, presumably to scuttle extraordinary negotiations between the Turkish government and the P.K.K. The head of Turkey’s national intelligence service has been discussing with Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned former leader of the P.K.K., how to get the group to lay down arms in exchange for better protecting Kurds’ rights.

22. Erdogan’s Kurdish Issues
28 January 2013 / The National Interest
Turkey’s political discussion changes quickly. Yesterday it was mostly Syria. Today it is making peace with Kurds. That has been a boon to prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s political standing—at least for the moment. 2012 marked the AKP’s ten-year anniversary as the ruling party, a rare feat in Turkish politics. The party has been one of the few constants in a new, more vital Turkey. But it was a difficult year for Erdogan because of Syria’s unending civil war. After a year of intense criticism over his handling of Syria, including from members of his own party, Erdogan’s political fortunes seemed to be suffering.

23. Turkey Seeks ‘Interdependence’ With Iraqi Kurdistan
23 January 2013 / Al Monitor

As Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is trying to bring a closure to Turkey’s Kurdish issue once and for all, his policy also comes under the scrutiny of the neighboring countries. Turkey has long been vexed by the aspirations for self-determination of the Kurdish people both inside its borders and in neighboring countries. How strange then that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki would complain, as he did on Dec. 31 in an interview with the Someria TV channel, about Turkey’s efforts to “divide Iraq” into Arab and Kurdish entities, while pronouncing them a failure.

24. Syria’s female revolution
24 January 2013 / Now Media
This article is one of a six-part series on the countries affected by the Arab Spring, two years after the uprisings that are reshaping the Middle East first began. Each piece explores a selected country’s battle for freedom from a different angle. When the Syrian uprising began almost two years ago, women took part in the peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, right alongside men. But as the conflict turned bloody – with regime forces bombarding towns, killing civilians and using rape as a weapon, and with some groups of rebels taking up arms – men came to dominate. Today, many believe that the uprising is becoming increasingly militarized and Islamisized, and that women aren’t playing much of a role in the fight. However, there are arenas in which women are very active, and they play an indispensable role in keeping the rebellion strong.

PRESS RELEASES

25. Lawyers for Lawyers Press Release: Legal Profession in Turkey under attack – Four lawyers sentenced to long prison terms, 30 January 2013.

REPORTS

26. Human Rights Watch World Report 2013: Turkey, 31 January 2013.

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