Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 8 – 14 February 2013

NEWS
1. Turkey-Kurds talks a positive, but first, step that must remain focused
2. Barack Obama applauds peace talks
3. They are a hundred years late in talking with the Kurds: BDP co-chair
4. Ruling party seeks BDP’s aid for charter
5. BDP offers founding ‘regional assemblies’
6. Indictment against KESK approved
7. Set journalists free in Turkey: EFJ campaign update
8. EP politician says Erdoğan’s criticism of EU ‘sad’
9. Syrian Kurds-Arab Opposition Discuss Ceasefire In Serekaniye
10. Negotiations Fail Between Kurds And Syrian Opposition
11. Political operation in Europe, military operation in Turkey
12. Fifteen Kurds arrested in Paris

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
13. Winners, losers of Turkey’s bid to solve the Kurdish question
14. Economic Genocide Against Kurds, Turkish author reveals the plan of the Kurdish economic genocide
15. Laws are not just words on paper
16. Opposition Leader Says ‘Turkey Wants to Harm the Kurdish Cause’ in Syria
17. The Kurds Got Me

STATEMENTS
18. KJB Public Statement: The murders in Paris must not be forgotten
19. Statement by the International Initiative: Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan!

NEWS

1. Turkey-Kurds talks a positive, but first, step that must remain focused
6 February 2013 / GUE/NGL Group
“We fully support the courageous move towards dialogue between the Turkish government and imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan” said German GUE/NGL MEP Jürgen Klute in today’s European Parliament debate on the Kurdish issue in Turkey. “The talks have generated high hopes for a peaceful solution but the negotiations are just a first step on road to peaceful solution” he said. “This should not be about power games, it must be about peaceful solutions, either everyone wins or everyone loses.”

2. Barack Obama applauds peace talks
10 February 2013 / Mesop
US President Barack Obama said he believes Turkey’s efforts to try to resolve the three-decade conflict with Kurdish rebels will lead to “real progress,” according to remarks published in a Turkish newspaper on Sunday. “I applaud Prime Minister (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan’s efforts to seek a peaceful resolution to a struggle that has caused so much pain and sorrow,” he told the Milliyet newspaper, referring to negotiations launched last year between Ankara and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). “I believe that the proactive measures that the Turkish government is undertaking can lead to real progress,” he said, according to a copy of Obama’s comments in English provided by the newspaper.

3. They are a hundred years late in talking with the Kurds: BDP co-chair
9 February 2013 / Hurriyet
The Peace and Democracy Party co-chair vowed his support once again to the peace process engaged between the government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan during a speech in a meeting in Ağrı on Feb. 9, adding that the talks were initiated far too late. “They are 14 years late in going to İmralı. They are one hundred years late in talking with Kurds,” Selahattin Demirtaş said, referring to the island where the PKK leader has been imprisoned since 1999. Demirtaş also stressed that they will not give up pursuing rights in their mother tongue, expressing his hopes that education in Kurdish becomes a reality.

4. Ruling party seeks BDP’s aid for charter
10 February 2013 / Hurriyet
A rapprochement between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) aimed at building a new constitution together in case of disagreement within the joint charter panel has become more and more likely as the BDP has put forward four conditions as sine qua non for such an agreement. A re-definition of citizenship, the lifting of all restrictions on the usage of mother tongue in the public sphere, strengthening local administrations and securing full freedom of faith are the BDP’s four conditions to take “a joint step” with the AKP, BDP deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Pervin Buldan told the Hürriyet Daily News on Feb. 10.

5. BDP offers founding ‘regional assemblies’
8 February 2013 / Hurriyet
The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), known to have attributed significant importance to the strengthening of local administrations as a means of resolving the Kurdish issue, has proposed the establishment of “autonomous regional assemblies.” The BDP’s proposal came Feb. 7 at a meeting of a sub-commission of Parliament’s Constitution Reconciliation Commission, during which the article covering local administrations was debated.  According to the BDP’s proposal, there will be both central and local administrations in the country with 20 separate autonomous regional assemblies taking office through elections. Provided they remain within the framework of the Constitution, they will be able to impose taxes and adopting laws.

6. Indictment against KESK approved
13 February 2013 / ANF
Ankara 13th High Criminal Court has approved the indictment against 72 members of the Confederation of Public Laborer’s Unions (KESK) and unions affiliated to it, who were arrested in a so-called KCK (Kurdish Communities Union) operation in June 2012. The Ankara centered “KCK /Democratic Labor Platform (DEMEP)” operation on 25 June 2012 was simultaneously carried out in eight provinces, Ankara, Diyarbakır, İstanbul, Ağrı, Bitlis, Siirt, Adana and Eskişehir. The operation ended up with the detention of 72 union members, including KESK General Chairperson Lami Özgen, Tüm Bel-Sen Secretary İzzettin Alpergin, Eğitim Sen Secretary Mehmet Bozgeyik as well as many executives and members of primary unions.

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

8. EP politician says Erdoğan’s criticism of EU ‘sad’
8 February 2013 / Todays Zaman
Responding to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s criticism of the EU during his Eastern European tour, influential European Parliament politician Alexander Graf Lambsdorff said it was “sad” to hear such complaints from Erdoğan. Noting that Turkey has not made long-standing reforms in the past 50 years due to military interventions and still has problems with regard to human rights, one of the leading members of the European Parliament, Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Vice Chair Lambsdorff, said: “It is sad that Erdoğan criticizes the EU in this way. He knows very well that the past 50 years in Turkey have not seen continuous progress in terms of democracy. On the contrary, military coups, human rights problems and lack of political pluralism have remained serious impediments to real progress.”

9. Syrian Kurds-Arab Opposition Discuss Ceasefire In Serekaniye
9 February 2013 / Rudaw
The Kurdish Supreme Committee (KSC) wants a joint civil administration under its guardianship, the removal of all armed elements and free travel between Serekaniye (Ras al-Ain) as conditions for a ceasefire in the war-stricken city, Kurdish sources said. On Tuesday, the KSC leadership held a meeting with a delegation from the Syrian opposition in thenortheastern Syrian city to end fighting between the Kurds and the larger — mostly-Arab —  opposition to the Damascus regime. The Arab delegation, led by the prominent Syrian opposition figure Michel Kilo, arrived in Serekaniye under the name of The National Committee for Civil Peace Protection to discuss the fighting between rebels of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and forces of the Kurdish Popular Protection Committees (YPG).

10. Negotiations Fail Between Kurds And Syrian Opposition
7 February 2013 / Al Monitor
Negotiations led by Syrian opposition member Michel Kilo between Kurdish fighters in Ras al-Ain, near the Turkish border, and Free Syrian Army (FSA) leadership have failed to reach a settlement, according to Kurdish parties and websites. Kilo, along with other representatives of the National Coalition to Protect the Civil Peace, is mediating between the parties in order to end the fighting. This move has been described as “a step forward towards national reconciliation” between the two parties. At the beginning of his meeting with the Kurdish Supreme Committee on Feb. 5, Kilo said “our visit is to resolve the crisis and a major problem,” a reference to the ongoing clashes that have raged for months between Kurdish fighters, FSA groups and other battalions of the Ghuraba al-Sham, who are said to be close to al-Qaeda.

11. Political operation in Europe, military operation in Turkey
13 February 2013 / ANF
At least 23 Kurds have been taken into custody in France and Spain on Tuesday. The operations which target the political activities of Kurds are being coordinated by the French state which have arrested hundreds of Kurds for political reasons in the scope of the security cooperation agreement it made with Turkey in October 2011. According to updated reports, 17 Kurds were into custody in the French cities of Bordeaux and Toulouse yesterday. The operation, ordered by anti-terror prosecutors and carried out by police forces, was reportedly conducted in the scope of an investigation launched against Kurds in March 2012 for alleged “attempt to fundraising to provide financial support to PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party)”.

12. Fifteen Kurds arrested in Paris
12 February 2013 / ANF
Fifteen Kurds have been taken into custody in the French cities of Bordeaux and Toulouse on Tuesday, French news agency AFP has reported. The operation was reportedly carried out in the scope of an investigation led by anti-terror prosecutor for alleged “attempt to fundraising to provide financial support to PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party)”. The investigation is said to have been launched in March 2012. The operation against Kurds coincides with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s visit to France where he has met his counterpart  Laurant Fabius today. Many other earlier operations against Kurds living in France had similarly come before or after talks between Turkish and French authorities.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

13. Winners, losers of Turkey’s bid to solve the Kurdish question
9 February 2013 / Hurriyet
While Turkey has been taking baby steps to solve its long-standing Kurdish question, the Turkish government’s still unripe move has appeared to trigger a domino effect that might have both regional actors and global heavyweights considering shifting their stance in their foreign policies.  Amid the quarrel over the second visit to outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan on an Istanbul island where he has been serving a life sentence, the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) released last week a statement in which the group slammed both the Syrian government and rebels for attacks targeting Kurds in Syria, while warning of a “Turkey-engineered Arab-Kurdish Civil War” in the country.

14. Economic Genocide Against Kurds, Turkish author reveals the plan of the Kurdish economic genocide
7 February 2013 / Roj Helat
The Turkish writer and journalist, Oral Uzkuray considered the “draft law on prohibition of the terrorist financing” as an “economic genocide” against Kurds. Uzkuray noted that their goal is to break down the Kurds economically and financially in Turkey. He said “the Kurdish businessmen killed in their homes, one after the other in the 90’s. Now they have decided to solve the problem with their plan through the use of Nazi’s guidelines”. Turkish parliament’s justice committee, approved the “draft law on prohibition of the terrorist financing” a few days ago. If the draft becomes law, without the prosecution order, and under government’s order a “special commission” of bureaucrats is formed who can seize the opposition property and wealth on the pretext of supporting terrorism. Article 2 of the law states “there is no need a court order for sentences”.

15. Laws are not just words on paper
14 February 2013 / Hurriyet
Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin has submitted the so called “fourth judicial package,” which aims to bring Turkey’s penal code up to European standards, for approval by the government. If the package is accepted and passed by Parliament this will be a major achievement for the government.Turkey’s human rights record and the deficiencies in its democracy remains under international and domestic scrutiny today, despite Prime Minister Erdoğan’s claim that there have been marked improvements in these areas since his Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002.

16. Opposition Leader Says ‘Turkey Wants to Harm the Kurdish Cause’ in Syria
8 February 2013 / Rudaw
Abdulhakim Bashar, the first president of the Kurdish National Council (KNC) and the secretary of the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (Al Party), who directs his party from Erbil, accuses Turkey of supporting Arab fighters against the Kurds in Serekaniye (Ras al-Ain). He told Rudaw that by doing so Turkish intelligence wants to harm the Kurdish cause, but that by backing radical Islamists on its border Turkey is threatening its own future security.
Rudaw: Why have the Arab fighters directed their heavy weapons towards Serekaniye? Does capturing Remelan have something to do with attaching Serekaniye (Ras al-Ain)?
Abdulhakeem Bashar:  Serekaniye is an alarm that shows the existence of groups that are hostile toward the Kurds and want to eliminate their cause. Some terrorist groups have come to Serekaniye after the withdrawal of the Syrian regime from that town. They are easing the pressure on the Syrian regime.

17. The Kurds Got Me
8 February 2013 / Huffington Post
Darfur got George Clooney. Haiti got Sean Penn. Cambodia got Angelina Jolie. The Syrian Kurds got me, Sarah Wayne Callies. That is the simplest and most direct metric I know to convey how bad it is for them right now. Other major humanitarian disasters have garnered the attention and sponsorship of Academy Award winning actors, and the Kurds, God bless them, landed themselves a television actress who won the award for drama in college. Things are not good in Domiz camp, across the border from Syria in northern Iraq. It’s the kind of place that makes you feel like you just went twelve rounds with Floyd Mayweather. The camp was built for the 5,000 people they expected to seek refuge in it, and that was sufficient until August of last year when hundreds of refugees started arriving every day. The most conservative estimate I heard of Domiz camp’s current population is 42,000 souls.

STATEMENTS

18. KJB Public Statement: The murders in Paris must not be forgotten, 7 February 2013.

19. Statement by the International Initiative: Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan! 14 February 2013. 

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