Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 13 – 21 March 2013

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign is proud to join the Kurdish people in their Newroz celebrations and remains steadfast in its commitment to the search for a peaceful democratic solution to this historic struggle which has inspired generations and peoples throughout the world who are denied the basic rights of liberty and human dignity.

Happy Newroz! Newroz Piroz Be!

 

NEWS
1. Öcalan Calls For Ceasefire, Promotes Politics
2. Öcalan Calls For Weapons To Be Silenced Says It Is Now Time For Politics
3. 2625 Resistance Newroz: Millions marching to Öcalan
4. Öcalan: I’m doing, Parliament must do its duty
5. Wise-men commission may gather outside Parliament
6. Hundreds of thousands celebrate Newroz across Turkey
7. Kidnapped Personnel Returned
8. Making Peace in Turkey’s Southeast
9. Mazlum Doğan’s father: We came to those days through their requitals
10. Şemdinli District Speaks Up on Peace Process
11. Turkish Professor Unmasks Turkey’s Criminal Secrets, Outlines the Eight Phases of the Armenian Genocide
12. Prisoners send aid to Rojava
13. PYD: Hitto does not represent Kurds
14. Kurdish-Turkey oil trade dividing Iraq

COMMENT, OPINION, AND ANALYSIS
15. Turkey should seize offer of peace from Kurdish guerilla leader
16. Kurd Locked in Solitary Cell Holds Key to Turkish Peace
17. Presidential dreaming
18. Podcast: Turkey’s Kurdish Question: A New Hope?
19. Interview with Aysel Tuğluk: Öcalan Has Chosen Turkey as His Ally
20. Turkey, the Gatekeeper for US Policy for Syria
21. Talks at home could help extend Turkish sway into oil-rich northern Iraq
22. Iran Cautious of Turkey’s Kurdish Approach
23. Podcast: Transformation in World Politics: The challenges for global and regional order

NEWROZ 2013
24. Newroz 2013 Celebrations in Finsbury Park, London N4. Sunday 24 March 2013, 1pm – 7pm

 

NEWS 

1. Öcalan Calls For Ceasefire, Promotes Politics
21 March 2013 / Bianet
Peace and Democracy Party deputies Sırrı Süreyya Önder and Pervin Buldan read PKK leader Öcalan’s message to Kurdish people both in Turkish and Kurdish. Calling off arms and appealing PKK’s military wing to leave Turkey, Öcalan pledged for a new era in Turkey. “The struggle has yet to end though. Let the arms silence, opinions and politics speak,” Öcalan said. Here is the full version of Öcalan’s Newroz statement (translated by bianet):
“Let all the oppressed have a free and happy Newroz!
Greetings to all peoples of Middle East and Central Asia who celebrate newroz, the day of revival and rejoice, with the greatest participation in the world…
Greetings to all other peoples of the world who celebrate newroz, the landmark of a new era and sunshine, with enthusiasm and a democratic tolerance. […]”

2. Öcalan Calls For Weapons To Be Silenced Says It Is Now Time For Politics
21 March 2013 / Sabah
The highly anticipated message from Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the PKK terrorist organization, was read aloud at a ceremony held in Diyarbakır for Nevruz, the Kurdish New Year. In his message, Öcalan calls for the silencing of weapons and for politics to dominate, and states, “This is the start of a new era.” The written message provided by Abdullah Öcalan, which comes following a series of ongoing peace talks held with the imprisoned PKK leader to put an end to the terrorist organization’s violent activities in Turkey was first read aloud in Kurdish by Pervin Buldan. Öcalan offered his greetings to the Kurdish public, which he said was one of the most ancient societies to live on Mesopotamian and Anatolian soil.

3. 2625 Resistance Newroz: Millions marching to Öcalan
21 March 2013 / Dicle News Agency
After the message of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Leader Abdullah Öcalan was read, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and Democratic Society Congress (DTK) co-chairs and also on behalf of Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK), Parliamentarian Ertuğrul Kürkçü have made speeches that supporting the message of Öcalan. DTK Co-chair Ahmet Türk, “Kurdish People Leader Dear Abdullah Öcalan’s path is our path. We are with Öcalan’s politics with all our existence and spirit,” said. DTK Co-chair Aysel Tuğluk, “This message is the manifest of freedom and brotherhood,” underlined. BDP Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş stated, “We are backing the will of peace.” BDP Co-chair Gültan Kışanak, “We are going to work harder to settle the requirements of the word and message,” said. Speaking on behalf of HDK, MP Ertuğrul Kürkçü gave the promise of transmitting the messages to the west of Turkey.

4. Öcalan: I’m doing, Parliament must do its duty
20 March 2013 / Dicle News Agency
The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, who visited Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Leader Abdullah Öcalan in Imrali Island, said Öcalan stated to them, “I’m doing my duty, the Parliament must do its duty, as well. The government should not miss this opportunity. This is an uprising, I’m the leader of this uprising.” Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş spoke to Daily Özgür Gündem following the visit he paid to PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan on 18 March together with BDP deputies Pervin Buldan and Sırrı Süreyya Önder. The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, who visited Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Leader Abdullah Öcalan in Imrali Island, said Öcalan stated to them, “I’m doing my duty, the Parliament must do its duty, as well. The government should not miss this opportunity. This is an uprising, I’m the leader of this uprising.”

5. Wise-men commission may gather outside Parliament
21 March 2013 / Hurriyet
The government is likely to take concrete steps next week to form a “wise men’s commission” as part of the ongoing resolution process in line with the outcome of the mass celebration of the Nevruz holiday in Diyarbakır today. “As the government, we are working on the issue of ‘wise men.’ But we should not consider wise men individually. Wise men should represent institutions. The involvement of people representing NGOs, labor unions and businesspeople would positively affect the process. We are working on this issue,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters at a press conference in Ankara on March 19.

6. Hundreds of thousands celebrate Newroz across Turkey
17 March 2013 / ANF
Newroz celebrations have started across Turkey and Kurdistan territory on Sunday with the participation of hundreds of thousands of people demanding freedom for Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan and status for Kurds. Hundreds of thousands have gathered in Istanbul to join the Newroz celebrations organized by Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and People’s Democratic Congress (HDK). BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş and Istanbul deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder will address the people here.

7. Kidnapped Personnel Returned
13 March 2013 / Bianet
The delegation that set off yesterday from Turkey in order to meet eight public officials who had been kidnapped by the PKK has reached the PKK camp. According to the ANF, the delegation first met with an HPG [the People’s Defence Force] delegation under HPG military council member Baver Dersim and then spoke to the kidnapped soldiers. It has been reported that the soldiers are in good health and their health reports were handed over. Hüsamettin Zemberlioğlu from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has said that there have been no problems in the handing over of the hostages.

8. Making Peace in Turkey’s Southeast
17 March 2013 / WSJ Photoblog
Turkey’s central government and Kurdistan Workers’ Party rebels are negotiating a peace deal that could halt a bloody guerrilla war, upend Turkish politics and reverberate across the Middle East. All photographs by Ayman Oghanna for The Wall Street Journal.

9. Mazlum Doğan’s father: We came to those days through their requitals
20 March 2013 / Dicle News Agency
Father of one of the pioneering founders of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Mazlum Doğan, who lighted 3 matchsticks, set himself on fire at the night of Newroz in Diyarbakır Prison on 21 March 1992 and lost his life, spoke to DİHA. Mazlum Doğan’s father Kazım Doğan, “Hayri Durmuş’s bowels and intestines decayed and he died. Even Jesus has not suffered as much as those people. Beforehand, nobody could visit or meet inmates. Speaking Kurdish was prohibited. We came to this era through the sorrow and requitals which they gave,” put into words. Mother Kebre Doğan lived emotional minutes while telling about his son.

10. Şemdinli District Speaks Up on Peace Process
20 March 2013 / Bianet
Local business owners, lawyers, politicians of Şemdinli – a far southeastern district where PKK launched its armed campaign in 1984 – spoke up to bianet and expressed their full support on the ongoing peace process.  A consensus has been made on the fact that Şemdinli suffered immensely during the past three decades and expected the peace with a sense of optimism. Özlem Bala (Local business owner): I wish that everyone united one day to be in solidarity. Because every tear dropped suffered Kurdish and Turkish people deeply. And Şemdinli, where the war first started, suffered the most. Peace is done where the war starts.

11. Turkish Professor Unmasks Turkey’s Criminal Secrets, Outlines the Eight Phases of the Armenian Genocide
14 March 2013 / USA Armenian Life
Ankara is fast at work to counter the wave of intra-national and international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. But is it successful? Recently a damning Turkish documentary surfaced on Youtube.com unmasking the eight phases of the 1915-1923 genocide. Professor Ugur Ümit Üngör, a lecturer at the Department of History at Utrecht University and at the Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam, revealed the Turkish-documented inner workings of Turkish-masterminded and executed government policies of mass deportations, dispossession, and annihilation against the Armenians then living under Ottoman yoke.

12. Prisoners send aid to Rojava
15 March 2013 / ANF
Prisoners jailed in Diyarbakır D Type Closed Prison have sent 33 packets of clothes to show their solidarity with the people of Rojava. The packets have been sent via their families and DİYAR TUHAD-DER (Diyarbakır Solidarity Union of Prisoners’ Families). DİYAR TUHAD-DER activists have delivered the packets to the commission looking after the aid campaign in Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality.

13. PYD: Hitto does not represent Kurds
20 March 2013 / ANF
Salih Muslim, co-chairman of the main Syrian Kurdish party, the PYD, said the prime minister elected by the National Coalition Syrian (CNS) does not represent the Kurdish people. “Ghassan Hitto does not represent the Kurds. It has nothing to do with the Kurds. The fact that he is of Kurdish origin does not mean he represents the Kurds” said Muslim.
The opposition Syrian National Coalition has chosen Western-educated former businessman Ghasssan Hitto as provisional prime minister in a vote on Tuesday at a meeting in Istanbul. Hitto, who according to a Reuters witness received 35 votes of around 50 cast by coalition members, will be in charge of forming a government to fill a power vacuum in Syria arising from a two-year-long revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.

14. Kurdish-Turkey oil trade dividing Iraq
20 March 2013 / World Bulletin
Rising oil trade between Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey threatens to split Iraq in two, a senior Iraqi official said, as the autonomous region ignores Baghdad’s threats of tough action against what it terms illegal exports. Oil lies at the heart of a long-running feud between the central government and the autonomous Kurdistan region. Baghdad says it alone has the authority to control exports and sign contracts, while the Kurds say their right to do so is enshrined in Iraq’s federal constitution. “If oil from Kurdistan goes through Turkey directly, that will be like dividing Iraq. This is our big concern,” Iraq’s Deputy National Security Adviser Safa al-Sheikh Hussein said on the sidelines of an Iraq conference. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) started on the path towards economic independence early this year by exporting small volumes of crude oil by truck to Turkey.

COMMENT, OPINION, AND ANALYSIS

15. Turkey should seize offer of peace from Kurdish guerilla leader
21 March 213 / Guardian
Turkey’s public enemy number one did the Turkish government a big favour on Thursday. Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed Kurdish guerrilla leader and a man the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once said he would have liked to have seen hanged, called a ceasefire in one of the world’s worst and longest-running conflicts: 30 years of bloodletting between the Turkish army and Kurdish militants. Speaking via political subordinates in the south-eastern city of Diyarbakir from his prison cell on an island in the Sea of Marmara, Öcalan spoke of the dawn of a new era where ideas and politics would prevail over guns and bombs.

16. Kurd Locked in Solitary Cell Holds Key to Turkish Peace
15 March 2013 / Wall Street Journal
Abdullah Ocalan has spent 14 years in solitary confinement in an island prison about 20 miles south of here, but he is negotiating a peace deal that could halt a bloody guerrilla war, upend Turkish politics and reverberate across the Middle East.  Mr. Ocalan, leader of the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, has been imprisoned since his capture by Turkish Special Forces in 1999. His hair and mustache are whitened with age. No one besides a handful of government officials, politicians, lawyers and family members has seen his face or heard his voice in more than decade.

17. Presidential dreaming
16 March 2013 / The Economist
ZEHRA CACAN sits on the edge of a fresh grave strewn with flowers and prays quietly. In it lies her 30-year-old son, whose nom de guerre, Serxwebun, means insurrection in Kurdish. He died in January in a clash with the Turkish army on the Iraqi border. Hundreds of his fellow fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) are also buried in the Yenisehir cemetery in Diyarbakir. Their graves are distinguished by the red, yellow and green ribbons adorning their headstones. A few years ago it would have been unimaginable that rebels’ graves could be marked or that a grieving mother could speak in Kurdish. “We cannot believe how free Kurds are here. Back in Syria we were afraid to speak Kurdish even with our relatives,” says Yarin Abi, a newly arrived Syrian Kurdish refugee.

18. Podcast: Turkey’s Kurdish Question: A New Hope?
21 March 2013 / Brookings Institute
On March 20, the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings (CUSE) hosted a discussion to explore important questions related to Turkey’s Kurdish minority. Featured speakers included Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow Ömer Taşpınar, author and journalist Aliza Marcus, and Gönül Tol of the Middle East Institute. Brookings TUSIAD Senior Fellow Kemal Kirişci provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion. The event is part of the TUSIAD U.S.-Turkey Forum at Brookings.

19. Interview with Aysel Tuğluk: Öcalan Has Chosen Turkey as His Ally
15 March 2013 / Bianet
A delegation from the pro-Kurdish parliamentary Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has been meeting with Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), in Imralı, a prison island. Following this visit, last week Aysel Tuğluk and Ahmet Türk, the co-chairs of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) met with various Kurdish organisations in order to receive feedback on the process and inform Öcalan.

20. Turkey, the Gatekeeper for US Policy for Syria
18 March 2013 / Asbarez
“Islamaphobia is a crime against humanity, like Zionism, Antisemitism, and Fascism.”
– Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey
All eyes are on Syria. After two years of a “popular” revolt against a dictatorial government, the result is total devastation of a country, almost seventy thousand dead, and over three million people displaced. The focus is Syria. The West has designated Syria as a pariah state, a tyrannical dictatorship, on which sanctions have been put in place. The president of Syria is deemed to be undesirable. Life as we know it, has stopped in Syria. Syrian president Bashar Asaad’s loyalties to Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia are no longer tolerated.

21. Talks at home could help extend Turkish sway into oil-rich northern Iraq
19 March 2013 / Financial Times
President Lyndon Baines Johnson used to say he had one great skill – an understanding of power, “where to look for it and how to use it”. As events this week are likely to demonstrate, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, believes he has the same gift. Mr Erdogan is on a northern European swing this week, but in the southeast of Turkey history is on the march. On Thursday, before thousands of celebrants, Leyla Zana, one of the icons of the Kurdish movement, is due to read out a message proclaiming a ceasefire in a conflict that has killed 35,000 people over three decades and a road map for the months ahead.

22. Iran Cautious of Turkey’s Kurdish Approach
20 March 2013 / Al Monitor
For some time Turkey has been searching for ways to solve its Kurdish issue under the label of “the solution process.” Despite the optimism generated by this label, both the government and the Peace and Democracy Party [BDP] (along with other elements of parliament’s Kurdish wing) have shown prudence. One reason for this cautious optimism is Ankara’s concern that power brokers who do not want Turkey to solve this issue might sabotage the process. Many insist that no country in the region, or anywhere in the world for that matter, would like to see Turkey prosper after solving the Kurdish issue. Turkey’s most frequently mentioned adversary is Iran.

23. Podcast: Transformation in World Politics: The challenges for global and regional order
7 March 2013 / LSE Public Lecture
Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Ahmet Davutoglu recently spoke at this lecture at the London School of Economics. A podcast of the full lecture is available here.

NEWROZ 2013

24. Newroz 2013 Celebrations in Finsbury Park, London N4. Sunday 24 March 2013, 1pm – 7pm
Come and join us to celebrate the Newroz Festival – Kurdish New Year – which will be taking place in Finsbury Park this coming Sunday afternoon to early evening.

 

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