Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 1 – 7 March 2013

NEWS
1. Turkish PM berates media for coverage of Kurdish peace process
2. BDP Executive Board gathers in Ankara
3. Kışanak: We are working for the release of Turkish prisoners
4. PKK’s Captives Interviewed
5. PM Erdogan’s Remarks on Imrali Process Are Concerning, IPI Says
6. KCK to respond to Öcalan within ten days
7. In pictures: Kurds mourn slain activists
8. KCK main trial resumes in Istanbul
9. 10 Associations Face Closure Trial in Van Province
10. Set journalists free in Turkey: EFJ campaign update
11. 164 Human Rights Organizations to Meet in Istanbul in May
12. Barzani: We are ready to play our role for peace in Turkey
13. On the Ground Activities in western Kurdistan
14. Basque parliament urges Turkey to work for peace with Kurds
15. Prison sentences asked for Kurdish politicians in France
16. Protecting Workers Rights – Gerry Adams
17. From Rosa to Sakine: the International Women’s Movement and the Struggle of Kurdish Women

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
18. Ocalan Signals Openness to Talks With Turkey on Kurdish Issue
19. Turks and Kurds look to Good Friday accords as template for peace
20. Locked in a fateful embrace: Turkey’s PM and his Kurdish prisoner
21. PKK leader’s reading of the Arab Spring and ‘new’ Mideast
22. The message of Sinop
23. Turkey’s Negotiations with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and Armed Drones
24. Turkey Renews Focus on Ending Its Long Conflict With Kurds
25. Turkey and the Kurds: the era of mass hypnosis is over

STATEMENTS
26. At the forefront of the struggle
27. “To all women, who are searching for truth, justice and love”, Ocalan

 

NEWS

1. Turkish PM berates media for coverage of Kurdish peace process
4 March 2013 / Reuters
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has accused the country’s media of trying to undermine a nascent Kurdish peace process and called on journalists to censor themselves if they love their nation, prompting a rare rebuke from a normally compliant press. In a heated public speech over the weekend, Erdogan condemned an article in the daily Milliyet newspaper, which published a transcript of a meeting last month between militant chief Abdullah Ocalan and Kurdish politicians. Ocalan, head of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), has been holding peace talks with Turkey since October on his island prison and met a delegation of Kurdish politicians late last month to discuss the negotiations.

2. BDP Executive Board gathers in Ankara
4 March 2013 / ANF
Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) central executive board and parliamentary group have gathered at the BDP head office in Ankara on Monday. The meeting, closed to the press, will reportedly handle Öcalan’s letters and recent developments in the process of talks with the Kurdish leader for a solution to the Kurdish problem. Among the letters written by Öcalan, one was sent to Kandil, one to Europe and one to BDP and HDK (People’s Democratic Congress). After BDP received the letters on 26 February, the letters to Kandil and Europe were delivered to both addresses on the 27th. Following the Party Council and Central Executive Board meeting of BDP, a delegation of the BDP and Democratic Society Congress (DTK) went to Federal Kurdistan Region on the 27th to have talks with relevant political authorities here about Öcalan’s letter. The delegation’s most siginificant meeting was that with Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council President Murat Karayılan and other KCK executives on Saturday.

3. Kışanak: We are working for the release of Turkish prisoners
4 March 2013 / ANF
Speaking after the central executive board and parliamentary group meeting of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) at the BDP head office in Ankara on Monday, co-chair Gültan Kışanak said that they had held the meeting to form opinions in order to make contribution to the ongoing process of talks for a solution to the Kurdish problem. Kışanak pointed out that they were facing the responsibility of coming up with a solution for a vital issue, adding; “We have come up to this point by going through challenging times which made Kurds suffer great difficulties and pains as well as violations of their rights and freedoms. Well aware of the fact that we are witnessing a historic phase now, the executives of our party are trying to develop practical proposals and debates concerning the steps necessary for the process of talks to advance and to lead to a democratic life. We will continue to hold meetings and to focus our works on this purpose”.

4. PKK’s Captives Interviewed
6 March 2013 / Bianet
Firat News Agency has released a series of interviews with 8 state workers – including Turkish army officers, a prospective governor and policeman – who are being held as captives by PKK since 2011. Family members of captive workers expressed their concerns to Hürriyet newspaper. On February 23, during the meeting with Kurdish deputies on peace talks, PKK leader Öcalan said “both PKK and Turkish state held captives”. On the same day, Kurdish deputies reportedly received a letter from Öcalan which appealed the release of PKK’s captives in Qandil Mountain in 10 days. On Saturday, Peace and Democracy Party Co-Chairperson Gültan Kışanak confirmed Öcalan’s statement in a press conference. Firat News Agency also cited the caption dates of aforementioned Turkish state workers.

5. PM Erdogan’s Remarks on Imrali Process Are Concerning, IPI Says
6 March 2013 / Bianet
The International Press Institute (IPI) and its affiliate, the South East Europe Media Organization (SEEMO), released a statement yesterday, expressing its concerns overPM Erdogan’s critical remarks on the publishing of Imrali peace process talks outlines by Milliyet newspaper. “The job of journalists is to report on matters of public interest, which we believe include information on the potential resolution of a conflict that has dragged on for nearly three decades and claimed more than 40,000 lives,” Anthony Mills, IPI Deputy Director, said.

6. KCK to respond to Öcalan within ten days
2 March 2013 / ANF
Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and Democratic Society Congress (DTK) delegation have returned to Hewler, capital city of Federal Kurdistan Region, after paying a visit to Kandil where they met Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council President Murat Karayılan and other KCK executives on Saturday. Following the visit to Media Defense Areas, the delegation, consisting of BDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Gültan Kışanak, Democratic Society Congress (DTK) co-chairs Ahmet Türk and Aysel Tuğluk, BDP deputies Altan Tan and Sırrı Süreyya Önder, held a press conference at the BDP office in Hewler. Speaking here, Kışanak said that they had to make their visit to Kandil one day later than they had planned because of the heavy bombing by the Turkish army.

7. In pictures: Kurds mourn slain activists
4 March 2013 / Al Jazeera
Thousands of Kurdish women have marched in the southeastern region of Turkey, commemorating three Kurdish women assassinated in France in January. The rallies on Sunday were part of a series of events planned for the week to observe the upcoming International Women’s Day. The largest demonstration was held in Diyarbakir, the region’s biggest city, which has been torn apart by clashes between the army and pro-Kurdish armed group Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) for more than 30 years. Thousands of women shouted slogans protesting the death of the three women.  PKK members Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Soylemez were shot dead at the Kurdistan Information Bureau in Paris on January 10. Gultan Kisanak, the female co-leader of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), also attended the demonstration initiated by Democratic Free Women Movement, a Kurdish NGO. BDP has 29 members in parliament.

8. KCK main trial resumes in Istanbul
4 March 2013 / ANF
The fourth hearing of Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Istanbul main trial has begun this morning at Istanbul 15th High Criminal Court in Silivri Prison Complex. 205 politicians (118 are in prison), are tried in the scope of the so called KCK Istanbul case. The politicians, academics and human rights defenders on trial were arrested in a KCK operation which targeted BDP provincial and district offices, politics academies and institutions in Istanbul between 5 and 28 September 2011. Speaking at today’s hearing, defendant lawyer Ercan Kanar asked the court board to allow three days time for the defense of suspects, defending that very litte time is allocated to the defense of a number of defendants. The chief judge rejected Kanar’s request, saying that the court will act in line with its own program, according to which 205 suspects will be allowed to defend themselves one day long, from 14 to 15 March.

9. 10 Associations Face Closure Trial in Van Province
28 February 2013 / Bianet
A chief prosecutor has filed closure lawsuits on 10 local associations in Van province, charging them for their linkages with PKK. Among these associations, women rights advocacy teams, sick inmate solidarity groups and Kurdish language culture centers were listed.  In the declaration of charges accepted by a local district court this morning, Chief Prosecutor Canip Cihangir charged the aforementioned associations for their linkages with PKK according to secret witness testimonies. “This is the first time that KCK prosecutions are targeting local associations. It always aimed individuals before,” Murat Timur, Van Bar Association Chairperson, said.  Timur also added that there has been an ambivalence on which association activities were related to PKK linkages.

10. Set journalists free in Turkey: EFJ campaign update
7 March 2013 / Peace in Kurdistan campaign
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) pursues its international campaign to Set Free all Journalists in Turkey.

11. 164 Human Rights Organizations to Meet in Istanbul in May
6 March 2013 / Bianet
International Federation for Human Rights will host its 38th international conference in Istanbul. Alongside with representatives from Turkey, 164 human rights organizations from more than 100 countries will gather in Istanbul between May 23 and 27 to discuss human rights challenges, Turkey’s new constitution and the ongoing peace process on the Kurdish problem. On May 23-24, a public international forum on “Political Transitions and Human Rights: Experiences and Challenges” will address issues of institutional reforms, challenges to fighting impunity, the negative consequences of economic crises or of globalization on human rights, challenges to women’s rights, to freedom of religion, opinion or conscience, and to discrimination against minorities On May 25-27, the internal congress of FIDH will enable its 164 member organizations from more than 100 countries, to exchange best practices and define FIDH strategic orientations, as well as elect its international board.

12. Barzani: We are ready to play our role for peace in Turkey
5 March 2013 / ANF
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has said it is ready to do what it can in order to support the process of dialogue in Turkey.
KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani told the press in Hewler/Erbil that its government “support this peace process. We are ready to play every role reserved for us. We hope that the problem will be solved in peace and democracy.” The press conference was joined by Ahmet Türk, deputy and co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK). The two met at Barzani’s house in Selahaddin. Türk said the meeting was part of the ongoing solution process. All parties should act sensitively in a bid to finalize the process through peace, Türk said. “Belief in peace will solve everything,” he said.
“We want Kurdish parties to play their part. Kurds are working for peace, but peace is not simply unilateral. Turks and Kurds need each other in the Middle East.”

13. On the Ground Activities in western Kurdistan
28 Feruary 2013 / PYD Info
Girkê Legê: the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria held a meeting in the city
The Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria held an expanded meeting yesterday in the town of Girke Lege in order to discuss the recent developments in the region. Ahmed Suleiman of the Central Committee, pointed out the role of the Kurdish people in the Syrian revolution, and condemned the reaction of some of the opposition parties which are ignoring the Kurdish cause. Suleiman stressed the role of the Supreme Kurdish Council in representing the Kurdish will and that it should play an active role in voicing the Kurdish cause in the Syrian opposition. He also praised the role of the military committee, supervised by the Supreme Kurdish Council and called on all parties to join them to protect western Kurdistan. […]

14. Basque parliament urges Turkey to work for peace with Kurds
5 March 2013 / ANF
The Basque Parliament has condemned today, with the votes of Euskal Herria Bildu y Partito Nacionalista Vasco, the killing in Paris of 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 on 9 January. The original text presented by Euskal Herria Bildu addressed three main points. Besides condemning the three deaths and show solidarity with the families of the three militants and Kurdish people, it asks Turkey to commit to a negotiated solution to end the “suffering the people of Kurdistan and Turkey have endured for so many year”. It also calls for the recognition of the Kurdish national reality and urges the Council of Europe to intervene in the conflict.

15. Prison sentences asked for Kurdish politicians in France
1 March 2013 / ANF
Three to five years in prison has been asked for 18 Kurdish politicians whose trial is going on since their detention in 2007 in France. The action of objection in the trial was held from 11 to 27 February. The court decision on Kurdish politicians will be announced on 23 April 2013. Speaking in court following the two-days lasting defense statements by lawyers, Kurdish politician Nedim Seven demanded light beeing shed on the execution of Sakine Cansız, Fidan Doğan and Leyla Şaylemez in Paris on 9 January. Seven remarked that the French court trying them was a political act, adding; “None of the trials of Kurds will go beyond making a political decision unless the 30 years-old war between the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), Kurds and the Turkish state is taken to trial at an international and independent court. Just like the former decision, the new decision to be made will also be a political one because of the political character of the case”.

16. Protecting Workers Rights – Gerry Adams
3 March 2013 / ANF
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD speaking on Saturday’s Sinn Féin organised conference ‘A century of workers in struggle 1913 -2013’said: “100 years after the Lockout this state is only one of three EU member states in which workers have no legislated right to workplace representation – have no right to sit across from their employers and negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment. Workers have no right to collective bargaining. The government claimed that current legislation provides adequate protection. Workers deserve protection and they don’t have that. They deserve the legal protection of the government, particularly a government which has a Labour party component.

17. From Rosa to Sakine: the International Women’s Movement and the Struggle of Kurdish Women
6 March 2013 / Roj Women
Roj Women Association organized a panel for International Women Solidarity Day at the Kurdish Community Center in North London in the evening of Sunday 3 March. Our slogan, “From the Mirabal Sisters to Rosa, from Rosa to Sakine: your words are our words, your ways are our ways” reflected how the Kurdish Women see their struggle as connected to the struggle of women across the world.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

18. Ocalan Signals Openness to Talks With Turkey on Kurdish Issue
3 March 2013 / Al Monitor
Milliyet, one of the most influential dailies of Turkey, rattled public opinion last Thursday. Milliyet headlined the notes of the meeting between three parliamentarians from the Peace and Democracy Party [BDP] and the PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan at the prison on Imrali island where he is serving a life sentence. In journalism jargon, Milliyet scored a true scoop. But in Turkey’s fragile and even volatile political climate, it is impossible for such a news report to be received as pure news. The opposition immediately went on the offensive. Devlet Bahceli, leader of the Nationalist Action Party [MHP], the rigid and passionate representative of Turkish nationalism, alluded to the notes of the meeting with Ocalan, accusing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of “treason” because of the steps he had taken for a solution to the Kurdish issue.

19. Turks and Kurds look to Good Friday accords as template for peace
1 March 2013 / Guardian
While Turkish and Kurdish leaders wait for the music to start in their fragile “peace process”, they have already jointly taken to the dance floor, warily exploring whether enemies can become partners. Two places they have been doing this are Britain and Ireland, with politicians from both sides visiting London, Belfast and Dublin to learn about the methodology and psychology of negotiations that led to the breakthrough Good Friday accords under Tony Blair. “Although there are historical differences between Northern Ireland and Turkey, it was very important. I learned a lot,” said Ayla Akat, a Kurdish MP who took part. She recalled meetings Jonathan Powell, Blair’s chief of staff, and learning of his “bicycle theory” of conducting negotiations. “You’ve got to keep pedalling or you fall over.”

20. Locked in a fateful embrace: Turkey’s PM and his Kurdish prisoner
1 March 2013 / Guardian
A couple of hours south of the marinas of Istanbul in the middle of the Sea of Marmara sits Imrali island, a no-go area sealed off by the Turkish state. The island is Turkey’s most high-security prison – its the equivalent of Alcatraz or Robben Island in South Africa – adapted to incarcerate one man, Abdullah Öcalan, the founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) – an armed group of Kurdish fighters engaged in an insurrection against the Turkish state for 30 years. Public enemy No 1 to the Turks, lionised by the Kurds, Öcalan has been demonised by Ankara for most of the 14 years he has been in solitary confinement on the island. The prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, even said recently he would have liked to have seen Öcalan executed.

21. PKK leader’s reading of the Arab Spring and ‘new’ Mideast
2 March 2013 / Hurriyet
The fledgling peace efforts between the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish state have taken a new turn with the second visit by deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the leak of the alleged “official prison records” of their meeting. The daily, which published the records, said the records were not “served” to them, and the source of the leakage remained a mystery as this article was being penned.  The governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) pointed at the BDP for the release of the documents and labeled the disclosure as “an attempt to sabotage” the peace talks. There is quite many who think otherwise, suggesting the leakage is part of the “transparency” of the ongoing process.

22. The message of Sinop
22 February 2013 / Kurdish Matters
‘Kurdistan does not exist!’ When you write about the Kurdish issue, now and then Turks feel the need to tell you with exclamation marks that a place called ‘Kurdistan’ doesn’t exist. Not only when I use the term – which I don’t do so often – but also just randomly. Sometimes, I take the trouble to answer that countries are not only defined by official borders, and that Kurdistan definitely does exist in the hearts, minds and dreams of many Kurds. Since this week’s events in the Black Sea Coast cities of Sinop and Samsun, I think it even exists in the minds of nationalist Turks. Unconsciously but unmistakably.

23. Turkey’s Negotiations with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and Armed Drones
26 February 2013 / Turkey Wonk
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recently re-intiated peace talks with Abdullah Ocalan and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). Erdogan’s AKP, like Turgut Ozal’s Motherland Party, has sought to address Turkey’s Kurdish Issue – or the Kurds’ Turkey Problem – by focusing on the two groups’ shared muslim identity, rather than the previous policy of forced ethnic assimilation. Erdogan has previously engaged the PKK in peace talks, however, these efforts were unsuccessful. During the previous round of negotiations, Erdogan opted to hold the talks in secret, rather than subject himself to the inevitable backlash from Turkish nationalists (An important AKP voting bloc by the way).

24. Turkey Renews Focus on Ending Its Long Conflict With Kurds
5 March 2013 / New York Times
When three prominent Kurdish women activists were murdered in Paris in January, analysts worried that the killings would derail the fledgling peace talks, begun late last year. Just the opposite appears to have happened, as both sides have moved forward with more determination to end one of the region’s most intractable conflicts, which has claimed almost 40,000 lives over nearly three decades. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has become such a forceful advocate for peace that he said he would drink “hemlock poison” if it meant an end to hostilities. His nominal opponent, Abdullah Ocalan, the Kurdish militant leader, recently released a letter from his jail cell calling for a cease-fire by March and the withdrawal of fighters from Turkish territory by August.

25. Turkey and the Kurds: the era of mass hypnosis is over
7 March 2013 / Guardian
Since the start of this year, the Justice and Development party (AKP) has emerged from what looked like an impasse over Turkey’s three-decade-long Kurdish conflict. The pace of change has been intense. But slow-motion progress in the background has often been overlooked: over the course of 15 years the public debate, backed by small-scale reforms, has evolved from the archaic militarist jargon of “there are no Kurds here, only mountain Turks”. Ankara is now conducting direct negotiations with the jailed PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan – once demonised as a baby killer and chief terrorist by a venomously nationalist “mainstream” media.

STATEMENTS

26. At the forefront of the struggle, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign Solidarity Statement, 7 March 2013.

27. “To all women, who are searching for truth, justice and love”, Ocalan, Greetings message to International Women’s Day rally in Diyarbakir, 3 March 2013.

 

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: