Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 22 – 28 February 2013

NEWS
1. Kurdish rebel leader sees Turkey pullout by August: media
2. Öcalan foreshadows release of PKK captives, expresses hope that they ‘join their
families’
3. Rebel truce with Kurds is shaky, say experts
4. Kalkan: everybody should make their part in the process
5. ‘De facto’ PKK truce holds as PM vows to go till end
6. Second hearing of Van trial opened –UPDATE
7. Fight against terrorism dominates National Security Council meeting
8. Kurdish militia signs ceasefire with Syrian rebels
9. Ras al-Ain Agreement Between FSA and Kurds Reduces Tensions
10. Kurdish women take up arms, says Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
11. Turkey calls on Parliament not to approve Bildu text
12. Turkey censures Basque parliament bill
13. SORTU call for the release of Öcalan

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
14. Part of Turkey’s Territory is Kurdistan
15. Erdoğan’s Deadly Pro-Life Agenda: Recruiting Unborn Turks in the War on Kurds
16. Turkey’s Foray Into the Fertile Crescent

STATEMENTS
17. PIK Statement: Protest at Mass Arrest of Trade Unionists in Turkey

ACTIONS
18. Stop censoring Kurdish activity on Facebook!

 

NEWS

1. Kurdish rebel leader sees Turkey pullout by August: media
27 February 2013 / Reuters
Jailed Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan is proposing to withdraw his fighters from Turkey by August if Ankara pushes through reforms under a draft plan to end a 28-year insurgency, media reports said on Wednesday. Imprisoned on Imrali island near Istanbul since 1999, Ocalan has since October been discussing a deal with Turkey’s government to end a conflict that has killed 40,000 people since his Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) took up arms in 1984. Under the plan, sent to Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party as well as the PKK leadership, the rebels would begin a formal ceasefire on March 21, the Kurdish New Year, said the Sabah and Star newspapers, which are close to the government.

2. Öcalan foreshadows release of PKK captives, expresses hope that they ‘join their families’
23 February 2013 / Hurriyet
The jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has called on the PKK to “treat their prisoners well” foreshadowing an eventual release, after the Feb. 23 visit of three Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies to the İmralı island prison. “I hope they [the captives] will rejoin their families,” he said, in a letter given to the visiting BDP delegation.BDP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Pervin Buldan, Istanbul deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder, and Diyarbakır deputy Altan Tan visited İmralı, where Öcalan is serving a life sentence, as part of a “peace process” that involves government officials holding talks with Öcalan in order to convince PKK militants to lay down their arms. It follows a similar visit by BDP deputy Ayla Akat Ata and independent deputy Ahmet Türk on Jan. 3.

3. Rebel truce with Kurds is shaky, say experts
22 February 2013 / The National
A ceasefire agreement that ended three months of fighting between Arab rebel groups and Kurdish militants in Syria’s north-east is unlikely to hold, experts say.  The two sides have been fighting in Ras Al Ayn since last November, when Turkey assisted Arab fighters opposed to the Syrian president, Bashar Al Assad, to enter the town and engage militants of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD). The Arab fighters and PYD signed a deal to end the fighting at the weekend. The PYD is considered the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought a decades-long war with Turkey. According to Cengiz Candar, a Turkish commentator and Middle East expert, Turkey’s logistical support for the Arab rebels was a signal of its displeasure with the Kurdish militants on its border. “It will not stand by as another Kurdistan may appear at its door under the control of PKK-guided elements,” he said.

4. Kalkan: everybody should make their part in the process
26 February 2013 / ANF
Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council member Duran Kalkan spoke to ANF about the recent developments in the process of talks aiming to a solution of the Kurdish question.
Referring to the recent call by Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, who said that prisoners should be released soon through the BDP delegation that visited him on 23 February, Kalkan said that Öcalan made this call to both Turkish and Kurdish sides. Kalkan pointed out that the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) was open to release the prisoners, adding “However, nobody should expect us make an unilateral move”.

5. ‘De facto’ PKK truce holds as PM vows to go till end
27 February 2013 /Journal of Turkish Weekly
Parties involved in the ongoing resolution process expressed their determination for eventually finding a peaceful resolution to Turkey’s decades-old conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says he would even drink hemlock poison if it meant achieving peace. “If our Justice Ministry is allowing BDP [Peace and Democracy Party] deputies to İmralı as part of the resolution process, the only reason is [to see] whether a step could be taken [toward a solution]; it was this,” Erdoğan said on Feb. 26 in an address to his party’s parliamentary group, reiterating that he was ready to even “drink hemlock poison” if it would pave the way for serenity in the country.

6. Second hearing of Van trial opened -UPDATE
22 February 2013 / ANF

The second hearing of the ‘KCK’ Van trial against Kurdish politicians opened today in the city. Among the politicians under trial are the city mayor, lawyer Bekir Kaya, Bostaniçi District Mayor Nezahat Ergunes, Baskale former District Mayor İhsan Guler.In the 710-page long indictment, all activities organized and attended by 13 elected politicians were re-classified as crimes. These include civilian Friday prayers (weekly Islamic prayers not organized by government’s official religious leaders) and even press statements (such as the one from Newroz on the 8th of March honoring International Women Workers Day).

7. Fight against terrorism dominates National Security Council meeting
27 February 2013 / Journal of Turkish Weekly
The National Security Council (MGK) held its regular bi-monthly meeting Feb. 26, just three days after a delegation from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) made a critical visit to İmralı island for talks with the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as part as an ongoing peace process between the government and the PKK.Although there was no comment made directly on the talks with the PKK during the MGK’s meeting, which was presided over by President Abdullah Gül and saw the participation of top civilian and military officials, the nation’s fight against terrorism and security operations planned for the coming months dominated the five-and-a-half hour assembly, according to an official statement.

8. Kurdish militia signs ceasefire with Syrian rebels
20 February 2013 / Reuters
Syrian rebels and a Kurdish militia that have fought each other for months in a town near the Turkish border have signed a ceasefire, averting the prospect of an Arab-Kurd conflict.Syria’s Kurds have exploited the civil war between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebels fighting to oust him by asserting control in parts of the northeast, which have been spared the worst of the violence. But the relative calm was shattered last November when mainly Sunni Muslim Arab rebels overran the ethnically mixed Syrian town of Ras al-Ain and Assad’s airforce bombed it in the days that followed.

9. Ras al-Ain Agreement Between FSA and Kurds Reduces Tensions
21 February 2013 / Al Monitor

The northeastern Syrian city of Ras al-Ain can finally live in peace after the unprecedented agreement between the Popular Protection Units and Free Syrian Army (FSA) brigades. The agreement, which puts an end to the constant fighting between the two groups, resulted from various mediation efforts orchestrated by opposition leader Michel Kilo. It signaled the end of the hostile media campaigns orchestrated by both sides, and it constituted a victory for the inhabitants of Sri Canet — the Kurdish name for Ras al-Ain — in the face of constant attempts to cause strife between Arabs and Kurds. This went along with a campaign to portray the Kurds as traitors and accuse their parties of fighting alongside the regime. The accusations were denied by the Kurds, who affirmed their loyalty to Syria and their rejection of any calls for secession.

10. Kurdish women take up arms, says Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
24 February 2013 / The Daily Telegraph
AROUND 150 Kurdish women in the war-wracked northern Syrian province of Aleppo have set up a fighting battalion, a monitoring group said on Saturday. “The Kurdish popular committees have set up the first women’s battalion, comprising some 150 women fighters. The battalion is named the Martyr Rokan Battalion,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. “While women are now fighting alongside the rebels, pro-regime forces and Kurdish militia, this is the first women’s battalion as such,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman. The Observatory circulated an amateur photograph of the battalion, showing scores of members in military fatigues, standing in rows before their female leadership.

11. Turkey calls on Parliament not to approve Bildu text
26 February 2013 / ANF
The Turkish Embassy in Spain has asked the President of the Parliament of Gasteiz to make every effort to prevent the adoption of a motion law by EH Bildu on Kurdistan. The PNV has tabled an amendment which is not far from the original text.The Basque daily Gara’s journalist, Iñaki Iriondo, writes that “The presentation by EH Bildu of a motion to the Parliament of Gasteiz to condemn the deaths of three Kurdish militants in Paris and show solidarity with the Kurdish people, calling for dialogue to achieve a just and democratic peace, has generated an unusual reaction of the Turkish Ambassador in the Spanish state. The ambassador has sent a letter to the president of the regional chamber asking for the proposition to be rejected”.

12. Turkey censures Basque parliament bill
27 February 2013 / Press TV
Turkey has censured the Spanish Basque parliament over passing a bill that calls for an obstruction to Turkey’s European Union membership bid. In a letter to Basque Parliament Speaker Bakartxo Tejeria on Tuesday, Turkish Ambassador to Spain Ayse Sinirlioglu expressed Ankara’s discontent over the bill, Today’s Zaman reported. She stated that the bill, which holds the Turkish government accountable for the murder of three female Kurdish activists in Paris earlier this year, includes serious allegations and misinformation about Turkey and must be dropped.  Sinirlioglu also referred to Turkey’s good relations with Spain and the autonomous community, warning that the parliament’s move could greatly damage the ties.

13. SORTU call for the release of Öcalan
27 February 2013  ANF
Last weekend saw the foundational Congress of abertzale left new political party SORTU after a decade of banning. Friendly parties from all over the world attended the Congress.  The Congress approved a Resolution on International affairs. In it the Basque party underlined, among other things, its support for the Kurdish people. “We reaffirm – the statement reads – our support for the struggle of the Kurdish people. In this respect, we call for the end of the repression against political activists, lawyers, journalists, etc. of Kurdish nationality and the release of their leader Abdullah Ocalan, as well as the opening of a dialogue and negotiation process that will lead to a fair and lasting peace”.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

14. Part of Turkey’s Territory is Kurdistan
24 February 2013 / Al Monitor
As it happens every time I travel to the southeast corner of Turkey, this time too I had the feeling that I wasn’t only in another land but in another planet. The heaviest snowfall of last 20 years had covered the entire region with purest white, filling one with incredibly enchanting and mystical sensations. This is what happens every time I travel to Hakkari. Hakkari is the only Turkish province that has common borders both with Iran and Iraq. It wouldn’t be out of place to call this province, “the hotbed of Kurdish insurgency.” The first bullet of the PKK’s armed struggle that began in 1984 was fired in this province’s town of Semdinli that abuts both Iran and Iraq. Even today, the province the most troubled corner of Turkey.

15. Erdoğan’s Deadly Pro-Life Agenda: Recruiting Unborn Turks in the War on Kurds
28 February 2013 / Roj Women
The fact that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent decision to wage war against women’s right to abortion in Turkey was borne out of the controversy surrounding the Uludere massacre, in which 34 Kurds were killed by Turkish F16s in December 2011, is no coincidence. Following much criticism and a prolonged investigation of the incident, Erdoğan suddenly re-directed his rhetoric of blame-shifting and evading a public apology to the victim’s families during a speech in May 2012 to the Women’s Branch Congress of his Justice and Development Party (AKP). In it he condemned both abortion and Caesarean births, infamously announcing: “I know these are steps taken to prevent this country’s population from growing further. I see abortion as murder, and I call upon those circles and members of the media who oppose my comments: You live and breathe Uludere. I say every abortion is an Uludere.”

16. Turkey’s Foray Into the Fertile Crescent
27 February 2013 / New York Times
The biggest open secret in Ankara is that Turkey detests Iran, which it sees as undermining its interests in Syria and Iraq. Turkish leaders will not admit this publicly, for their country desperately needs Iranian natural gas and oil to continue its phenomenal economic growth. But Ankara increasingly regards both Iraq and Syria as arenas for proxy conflict with Iran; in the former, Turkey backs the Sunni Arabs and Kurds against the central government in Baghdad under Shiite Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, seen by Turkey as an Iranian puppet; in the latter, Ankara supports the rebels against the Tehran-backed Assad regime.

STATEMENTS

17. PIK Statement: Protest at Mass Arrest of Trade Unionists in Turkey, 22 February 2013.

ACTIONS

18. Stop censoring Kurdish activity on Facebook! Sign this petition to put an end to monitoring and censorship of private Facebook accounts.

 

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