Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 22 – 28 March 2013

NEWS
1. Karayılan: Everybody should play their role for peace
2. Turkish PM Erdoğan a chance for peace: Leading PKK figure
3. Ocalan warns of provocation within the PKK
4. Kurdish Politicians Ask Erdogan For Assurances in Talks With PKK
5. At least seventy people detained in Diyarbakır
6. Kürkçü: “Parliament Missed Opportunity”
7. After more than 743 days in prison still no freedom for Odatv journalist Yalçin Küçük
8. Set journalists free in Turkey: EFJ campaign update
9. Guerrillas: warplanes activity is a provocation
10. Iraqi Kurdistan: European Parliament Commemorates Genocide
11. KON-KURD member arrested
12. Orkan’s arrest condemned at WSF
13. Hélios Teles joins “Art for Öcalan” with “Struggle”
14. Thousands celebrate Newroz in London

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
15. Podcast: Turkey and Ocalan strike a deal
16. Kurdish Independence:
Negotiations with Turkey Are a Dead End
17. Kurdish New Year’s Resolutions
18. Guerrillas and Civilians Converge for Peace
19. Insight: Hopes, suspicions over peace in Kurdish rebel hideout
20. Kurds in Syria Celebrate Their New Year with Hope and Defiance
21. Syria Kurds help Shiite, Sunni fighters negotiate: NGO
22. Syria’s Kurds, deeply divided, may determine the war’s outcome
23. After 10 Years of Iraqi Conflict, Only Kurds Emerge as Winners
24. Lawyers of jailed Kurdish leader set to face judges once again
25. Release Kurdish Diplomat Mr Yilmaz Orkan
25. EUTCC calls for the release of Yilmaz Orkan

ACTIONS
26. Send birthday greetings to Abdullah Ocalan!

REPORTS
27. Turkey: Decriminalise dissent – Time to deliver on the right to free expression

 

NEWS

1. Karayılan: Everybody should play their role for peace
28 March 2013 / ANF
Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council president Murat Karayılan and member Ronahi Serhat answered journalists’ questions on a program on Nuçe Tv on Wednesday. We publish some parts of the interview.
How would you summarize the message of Öcalan’s call which closely concerns all Kurds in four parts of Kurdistan as well as the countries in the Middle East region?
He proposes to develop a new line and a new perception in the region and this means the beginning of a new process.
He grounds his proposal on a solution involving both Kurds and Turks, the two larger nations in the region, and the principle of a common life. His perspective which will also lead to the beginning of a new process in the Middle East aims to form a Confederation of Middle East Peoples in the process of time.

2. Turkish PM Erdoğan a chance for peace: Leading PKK figure
28 March 2013 / Hurriyet
“Erdoğan is a chance for peace.” These remarks belong to Zübeyir Aydar, one of the most influential names in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an executive of the organization’s European wing and a board member of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK). While acknowledging that a leader with major electoral support such as Erdoğan has taken a significant risk to solve the Kurdish problem, Aydar said PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was the only name with such a power on their side to make things happen, adding that that is why he is much more hopeful that there will be results this time, in contrast to the failed Oslo process before.

3. Ocalan warns of provocation within the PKK
26 March 2013 / World Bulletin
Following the Nowruz holiday celebrations in Diyarbakır, the second stage of the solution process between the Turkish government and the PKK was begun. While the PKK insists on legal safeguards during the process of the withdrawal of PKK members from Turkey, 4 critical steps are predicted during the second stage of the solution process.  Abdullah Ocalan will not be associated with the Parliament, and the step-by-step progress of the withdrawal process will be enabled alongside the consideration of the long-term legal drawbacks of the legal safeguard of withdrawal. The Wise Men Committee composed of 7 persons and sub-committees will assume a role in this issue. The sub-committees will also serve an advisory role during the crisis period.

4. Kurdish Politicians Ask Erdogan For Assurances in Talks With PKK
25 March 2013 / Al Monitor
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan remains cautious in engaging Turkish parliament in any way on the steps taken in talks with the jailed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan, which got under way in Oct. 2012, and denies sharing direct information with any of the parliamentary political parties on this issue. While the Erdogan government stresses that the process is very sensitive and needs encouragement and support from all segments of society, Gultan Kisanak, pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chairwoman, however, is asking for legal guarantees that they will not face any legal ramifications for helping the government’s initiative, and therefore, calls for assurances acknowledged and approved by parliament.

5. At least seventy people detained in Diyarbakır
27 March 2013/ Dicle News Agency
Over 70 people including members and executives  of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have been taken into custody as a result of simultaneous police raids in Diyarbakır early Tuesday.  According to the report taken from Peace and Democracy Party (BDP)  Diyarbakır Provincal Organization, the operation targeted a number of  houses in the districts of Bağlar, Yenişehir and Sur. Executives and members  of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have also been taken into custody  in the operations. It has been stated that the operations are the continuation  of “KCK” operations. Detainees have been taken to the police headquarters.

6. Kürkçü: “Parliament Missed Opportunity”
28 March 2013 / Bianet
Reacting to the ratification of Uludere report in a parliamentarian commission yesterday, Peace and Democracy Party deputy Ertuğrul Kürkçü said the parliament missed the opportunity to be the constituent force of the peace ongoing process. “Unfortunately, we were unable to prevent it from happening since commission members from AKP outnumbered the other parties,” he said. On March 6, a parliamentary commission in charge of investigating Uludere incident – a Turkish military air strike that killed 34 civilians in December 2011 – ratified its draft report without the approval vote of commission members from opposition parties.

7. After more than 743 days in prison still no freedom for Odatv journalist Yalçin Küçük
24 March 2013 / The Spark
Odatv journalist Yalçin Küçük was sent back to prison last Thursday after a hearing lasting some four hours. The 76 year old is accused of establishing and administering an armed terrorist organisation, being a member of an armed terrorist organisation, inciting hatred among the public, procuring confidential documents relating to state security and attempting to affect the judiciary. Although all other journalists at Odatv internet news station facing similar charges have been released, the authorities just don’t want to release Yalçin, who has now spent over 743 days in prison. He maintains that the case is an excuse to bully independent and critical journalists and an attack on press freedom and freedom of expression.

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

9. Guerrillas: warplanes activity is a provocation
27 March 2013 / ANF
Speaking at a press conference with the press in West Kurdistan on Monday, Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council President Murat Karayılan said that all the guerrilla forces in North Kurdistan would abide by the ceasefire announced on 23 March. Referring to the Turkish warplanes flying over the guerrilla-controlled Media Defense Areas during the press conference, Karayılan said the activity of Turkish warplanes was meaningful in terms of timing. Karayılan said they sided with peace, but that they were also ready for war should the Kurdish issue not be solved. Asked about the process of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan’s liberation and the withdrawal of guerrilla forces from Turkish borders, Karayılan said this process involved three phases, and that their main purpose was to ensure Öcalan’s liberation.

10. Iraqi Kurdistan: European Parliament Commemorates Genocide
28 March 2013 / UNPO
On the occasion of the Halabja/Anfal anniversary, a three-day Halabja Exhibition has been opened in the EP. The event was organized in cooperation with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) as part of the KRG’s global campaign for recognition of the Kurdish Genocide. The exhibition is supported by the deputy chair of the EP Subcommittee on Human Rights, MEP Joanna Senyszyn. Members of the European Parliament from different political groups attended the opening of the exhibition, among them Hans-Gert Pöttering, former EP President, Ana Gomes, Socialists and Democrats Foreign Affairs Coordinator, Struan Stevenson, Chair of the EP-Iraq Delegation, Jürgen Klute, Chair of the EP-Kurdish Friendship Group and MEP Jim Higgings. Many diplomats, representatives of European and Kurdish NGOs and political parties were also present.

11. KON-KURD member arrested
26 March 2013 / ANF
KON-KURD (Confederation of Kurdish Associations in Europe) deputy president and member of the KNK (Kurdish National Congress) Yılmaz Orkan has been taken into custody this morning in Belgium. Ozkan was detained at Brussels airport while awaiting to board the plane which would have taken him to Tunisia where he was to attend the World Social Forum. It is understood Ozkan was arrested on a warrant issued by Spain. KON-KURD immediately released a statement asking for Ozkan to be released. Spanish Interior Ministry confirmed the warrant was issued in relation with the last operation which led to the arrest of 6 Kurds in Spain and 17 in France on 6 February. Most of the detained Kurds at the time were released one or two days later.

12. Orkan’s arrest condemned at WSF
28 March 2013 /ANF
A number of organizations at the World social Forum (DSF) in Tunisia, has condemned in a statement the arrest fo Yilmaz Orkan, at the International Airport of Brussels last Sunday, 24th March 2013. Orkan was on his way to the forum.
The associations write: “Yilmaz Orkan is a member of the International Council of DSF, the Kurdish Network and the worldwide Network of Collective Rights of People (RMDCP). This arrest, ordered by Spanish State requested by the Europol, under an accusation that he’s among the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which is on EU’s list of terrorist organizations. We denounce this practice as a tool of criminalization of the Kurdish peoples struggle for their basic rights”.

13. Hélios Teles joins “Art for Öcalan” with “Struggle”
27 March 2013 / Art for Ocalan
Hélios Teles, painter from Brazil living in London, joined the “Art for Öcalan” campaign with his painting “Struggle”. He stated: “In my early years, in Brazil, working for the land-reform movement I saw much injustice and my time as a Councillor was spent trying to right some of the wrongs that were so prevalent there. I see an extension of this by supporting the campaign to free Abdullah Öcalan and I pray that this will help lead to Democracy and Peace.”

14. Thousands celebrate Newroz in London
26 March 2013 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
Despite the freezing weather, thousands of members of the Kurdish community came out to celebrate Newroz, Kurdish New Year, in Finsbury Park last Sunday. ‘Free Ocalan and Status for the Kurds’ was the slogan for the day, it was chanted by the crowds and a huge banner at the front of the stage proclaimed the same message. Jeremy Corbyn MP, Simon Hughes MP, MP for Tottenham David Lammy, and Member of the European Parliament Jean Lambert, as well as Father Joe Ryan of the Westminster Peace and Justice Commission, and representatives of the Basque, Baloch and Tamil community, all took to the stage to express their solidarity with the Kurdish struggle for peace and justice.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

15. Podcast: Turkey and Ocalan strike a deal
27 March 2013 / WBEZ Worldview
Michael M. Gunter, professor of Political Science at Tennessee Tech University and Secretary General of the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUCC) gives his views on Ocalan’s ceasefire announcement and peace talks between the PKK and the Turkish government. For WBEZ Worldview.

16. Kurdish Independence: Negotiations with Turkey Are a Dead End
26 March 2013 / Spiegel Online
How do we go forward? How realistic is imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan’s dream of a ceasefire between Kurds and Turks, the withdrawal of all armed forces and a joint future in a new, democratic republic? If the rights of the Kurds and their status as equal citizens of this country are recognized, the problem is solved, isn’t it? I think it won’t be that easy to make this dream come true. Indeed, the Kurdish question goes beyond cultural rights and civic equality. We Kurds entered the stage of history as a belated people. This conflict primarily has to do with the birth of a nation — with the fundamental yearning to belong to a certain geographical region, where one was born, and the desire for political self-determination. One cannot understand the Kurdish question without understanding these aspirations.

17. Kurdish New Year’s Resolutions
27 March 2013 / International Herald Tribune
Last Thursday was the start of the Kurdish New Year and, if all goes according to plan, the advent of a new era in Turkey’s relationship with its own Kurdish population. In Diyarbakir, the largest city in southeastern Turkey, a few hundred thousand people converged to listen to a proclamation, read — first in Turkish, then in Kurdish — on behalf of Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party, also known as P.K.K. It was time, the message said, “for the guns to be silent and for ideas and statecraft to speak.” In short, Ocalan was calling for the end of an armed insurrection that has lasted almost three decades, killed some 40,000 people, cost Turkey hundreds of billions of dollars and stood in the way of the country’s ambition to be a regional powerhouse.

18. Guerillas and Civilians Converge for Peace
22 March 2013 / IPS
It was only seven in the morning when Mohamed Abdi spread out a rug a few metres away from an artillery crater, up in the Qandil mountains of northern Iraq. This Iraqi Kurd from Suleimaniyah, 260 kilometres northeast of Baghdad, was ready to celebrate the Newroz – the Kurdish and Persian New Year – along with his family. They had travelled here for what promised to be the most special Newroz festival in years — not only for its setting in these imposing snow-capped mountains but for bringing a long-awaited message from Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). “Last year there were much less people here, probably because of a fear of bombs. Maybe it’s crowded because we are talking about peace this time,” this former ‘peshmerga’, an Iraqi Kurdish soldier, told IPS.

19. Insight: Hopes, suspicions over peace in Kurdish rebel hideout
27 March 2013 / Reuters
Shattered stone houses recall Turkish air strikes on Kurdish rebels holed up in the Qandil mountains of northern Iraq. Life is harsh amid the snowcapped peaks, supplies are sparse and armed forays across into Turkey perilous in the extreme. Yet rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan, who declared a ceasefire from his Turkish prison cell last week, may not find it easy to coax his fighters down as part of any deal to end a conflict that has taken over 40,000 lives. “There are mixed feelings,” said Ocalan’s military commander, Murat Karayilan, in a hamlet below the Qandil range. “Hundreds of my comrades lost their lives at my side.

20. Kurds in Syria Celebrate Their New Year with Hope and Defiance
24 March 2013 / Vice
When I first got to the large field overlooking the northern Syrian town of Afrin, I wasn’t quite ready for the scale of the celebration I had come to witness. Nawruz is the Persian New Year, the beginning of the Iranian calendar that is celebrated by the Kurdish diaspora as well as Persians and Zorastrians around the world on the vernal equinox. Afrin is only around 25 miles northwest of Aleppo, the rubble-strewn city at the center of Syria’s bloody civil war. But on March 21, the towns felt worlds apart.

21. Syria Kurds help Shiite, Sunni fighters negotiate: NGO
28 March 2013 / Al Arabiya
Syrian Kurds in the northern province of Aleppo have helped Sunni rebel fighters negotiate a settlement with Shiite residents in two flashpoint villages, a monitoring group said. Sunni “rebels and Shiite fighters from the popular committees of Zahraa and Nabul have entered into talks, several months into a siege by insurgents of the two villages,” said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman. “The talks were initiated by the Kurdish popular committees,” he told AFP. Though large swathes of Aleppo province have fallen out of the hands of the regime in recent months, the province is home to a variety of ethnic and religious groups, and has seen clashes pitting rebels against Kurds and Shiites.

22. Syria’s Kurds, deeply divided, may determine the war’s outcome
27 March 2013 / The Globe and Mail
Kurds, numbering more than two million, are a critical group in the greater Syria conflict. So far, they have sided with neither the regime in Damascus nor revolutionary forces fighting President Bashar al-Assad. For decades they have been seeking greater autonomy from the Syrian state and, depending on how the current conflict plays out, they stand to be the great winners – or losers – of the Syrian revolt. The Syrian Kurds are more and more dominated by Kurdish parties outside of Syria: the Turkish-based Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Iraq-based Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The KDP-affiliated parties are more open to negotiations with the Syrian national opposition, while the PKK is more reluctant to support a Turkish-supported opposition. But this could change.

23. After 10 Years of Iraqi Conflict, Only Kurds Emerge as Winners
26 March 2013 / Al Monitor
The conflict between Iraqi Kurds and the government in Baghdad has persisted over several stages. Throughout the 20th century, the Kurds did not stop asking for their right to self-determination, in terms of an equal identity in Iraq and recognition of their own language, history and culture. The year 2003, however, marked the start of another stage, one that liberated them from the shackles of the century that reached the peak of its harshness during the rule of former President Saddam Hussein.

STATEMENTS

24. Lawyers of jailed Kurdish leader set to face judges once again, Peace in Kurdistan Press Release, 26 March 2013.

25. Release Kurdish Diplomat Mr Yilmaz Orkan, Confederation Of Kurdish Associations In Europe (Kon-Kurd), 27 March 2013.

25. EUTCC calls for the release of Yilmaz Orkan, 27 March 2013.

ACTIONS

26. Send birthday greetings to Abdullah Ocalan! We urge you to send greetings to Abdullah Ocalan as an expression of friendship and solidarity to mark the occasion of his birthday on 4 April 2013 at this historic moment in history for the Kurdish people.

REPORTS

27. Turkey: Decriminalise dissent – Time to deliver on the right to free expression. Report by Amnesty International, March 2013.

 

 

 

 

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