Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 14 – 20 June 2013

Panel Discussion

Turkey, peace talks and the PKK

Freedom and Justice for the Kurds

Friday, 28 June 2013, 6.30pm

Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A
(closest tube Holborn)

With Professor Bill Bowring, human rights lawyer Gareth Pierce, Professor Michael M. Gunter, barrister Melanie Gingell and more.

Free and open to all!
More information here.

NEWS
1. VIDEO: Istanbul Rising
2. Subcomandante Marcos sends a message to Gezi Resistance
3. TTB: 7822 people wounded in Gezi Park protests
4. Police to consider protesters in Istanbul’s Taksim Square terror organization members: Minister
5. VIDEO: Joan Baez salutes the Gezi resistance in Turkish and sings “Imagine” for the people of Turkey
6. Police Raids ESP, ETHA, Özgür Radio, Atılım Newspaper
7. Diyarbakir conference announces demands from government
8. Abdullah Öcalan: I Have 50 Percent Hope
9. Demirtaş: Peace process faces the risk of deadlock
10. Kurdish rebel commander warns Turkish state sabotaging peace
11. World and regional situation not ready for Turkey Kurds independence: Layla Zana
12. Wise People conclude new constitution needed immediately
13. Government works on legal reform for Kurdish solution
14. Middle East Women’s Conference
Final Resolution
15. Iranian Kurdish Struggle Linked to Turkey, Syria
16. Huge Turkish solidarity protest in Harringay as Taksim Square cleared

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
17. The Battle for the Heart of Istanbul Is Raging On
18. Welcome to the Turkish Republic of Police State
19. The PKK’s tentative peace with Turkey
20. Turkey: Dilemma of the Kurds
21. Kurds Uneasy About Turkish Protests
22. Turkey’s Terrorism Confusion
23. Fourth Annual Conference on Turkey
24. Kurds Advance, Into the Unknown

STATEMENTS AND PRESS RELEASES
25. International monitors to observe fifth hearing in mass trial of lawyers

ACTIONS
26. EDM 151: Turkey, Peace Talks and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK
27. Turkey Petition: Stop police violence – allow the protests!

NEWS

1. VIDEO: Istanbul Rising
12 June 2013 / Vice
On Friday, May 31, Turkish riot police fired tear gas and pepper spray into a peaceful protest held to save Gezi Park, one of the last green areas in central Istanbul. This set off the biggest civil uprising in the history of the Turkish Republic, calling for Prime Minister Erdogan’s resignation. The unrest has spread like wildfire to more than 60 cities where protests are still ongoing. We landed in Istanbul the day it all kicked off.

2. Subcomandante Marcos sends a message to Gezi Resistance
17 June 2013 / ANF
Subcomandante Marcos wrote a letter of solidarity with the Taksim Gezi Park resistance and the uprising across Turkey. The letter by the leader of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), Mexican rebel movement fighting for the rights of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, reads:
To the all citizens of the world, Fellows, Sisters, Women, Men, Homeless People, Poor People,
They asked us how many people the Zapatas are and we told them there are hundreds of thousands out there who are fighting for their rights and freedoms. Now today, we hear that on the Anatolian lands, the land of Turks, Kurds, Circassians, Armenians, the Lazs, and many more than i can count, thousands of masked people who wants to live in honor are hailing for freedom. Like Kurdish fellows who were in an honorable fight. We knew that we were not alone, there were millions of us out there and we weren’t alone since we have started fighting.

3. TTB: 7822 people wounded in Gezi Park protests
18 June 2013 / ANF
Turkish Doctors’ Union (TTB) said in a written statement on Tuesday that four people were killed and 7822 people wounded, 59 severely, as a result of brutal police attack against Gezi Park protestors across the country. The figures were grounded on the reports by private and public hospitals and medical care centers. According to the Union, injuries were caused by tear gas leading to superficial inflammation and breathing problems, tear gas canisters fired at close range, rubber bullets leading to injuries in musculoskeletal system and intra-abdominal organs, head trauma, eye injury and loss of sight. TTB said all the injuries they ascertained by 17 June had been caused by police violence.

4. Police to consider protesters in Istanbul’s Taksim Square terror organization members: Minister
17 June 2013 / Hurriyet
Everyone who enters Istanbul’s Taksim Square, the heart of nearly 20-day-long protests against the government, will be considered a member or a supporter of a terrorist organization, Turkey’s European Union minister said in a televised interview late last night. “I request our citizens who supported the protests until today kindly to return to their homes,” Egemen Bağış said in an interview on broadcaster A Haber.  “From now on the state will unfortunately have to consider everyone who remains there a supporter or member of a terror organization,” he said. “Our prime minister has already assured [activists] about their aim with the protests. The protests from now on will play into the hands of some separatist organizations that want to break the peace and prioritize vandalism and terrorism.”

5. VIDEO: Joan Baez salutes the Gezi resistance in Turkish and sings “Imagine” for the people of Turkey.
17 June 2013 / YouTube

6. Police Raids ESP, ETHA, Özgür Radio, Atılım Newspaper
18 June 2013 / Bianet
Around 5 am local time this morning, police raided several buildings of Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP), Özgür Radio, Etkin News Agency and Atılım newspapers, detaining scores of individuals.   Police raids on ESP included the party headquarters as well as apartments of party members and leaders.  Peace and Democracy Party deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder was visiting Alp Altınörs from ESP as police raided his apartment.  Police search resumes in ETHA office where journalists Arzu Demir and Derya Okatan are waiting.  “Early morning, a special team with snow masks and rifles raided my apartment. They had me and my wife lay on the floor. We had to remain like that until they searched our IDs…” ETHA Editor İsminaz Ergün said on the police raid. 

7. Diyarbakir conference announces demands from government
18 June 2013 / Kurdpress

The two-day conference Diyarbakir ended on Monday with a declaration listing the demands of Turkey’s Kurds including freedom for the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, and special autonomous status for Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated regions, Zaman daily said.  Titled “North Kurdistan Unity and Solution Conference,” the conference released a declaration and announced the demands of the Turkey Kureds from Ankara government. Read out by Kurdish politician Aysel Tugluk, an independent deputy of Van, and co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) organization, the declaration stated that “The peoples of Kurdistan have the right to determine their own status in the form of autonomy, federation or independence.” The declaration demanded freedom for Ocalan and also that the PKK be taken off of Turkey’s and other international organizations’ list of terrorist organizations.

8. Abdullah Öcalan: I Have 50 Percent Hope
14 June 2013 / Bianet
Mehmet Öcalan told about his recent visit to his brother Abdullah Öcalan, PKK leader who is currently in solitary confinement in Imrali Island. Some of the highlights from the meeting are as follows:
* A. Öcalan said the first step of the process is over even though some of his demands have not been realized. “We hope the second step will be more positive. This is our expectation, hope. We will transition to the second step in the days to come. We don’t know how it will unfold. I have 50 percent hope,” he said.
* A. Öcalan: “At least they must have put off the village guard system. Why are they building gigantic headquarters? They are hiring new village guards. If the process will end good, their is no need to hire village guards. There is no need to build tower-like headquarters. They will not contribute to the process.” 

9. Demirtaş: Peace process faces the risk of deadlock
18 June 2013 / ANF
Speaking at the parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said that the peace process faced the risk of deadlock because of the practices of the ruling AKP government. We can make no headway by acting with a mentality that prevents the breathing of democratic politics, he underlined. Demirtaş criticized Diyarbakır public prosecutor for ruling the ongoing Roboski case out of its jurisdiction and transferring the case to the military prosecutor of the chief of General Staff. “Do you have to wait for 18 months to understand that you lack jurisdiction?”, he asked, addressing to the public prosecutor and remarked that “We know the prosecutors and law-enforcement officers conducting the investigation, and the Prime Minister are responsible for the Roboski massacre which everyone, from the PM to Uludere Command, are trying to cover up. The solution process will make no progress unless light is shed on Roboski massacre”.

10. Kurdish rebel commander warns Turkish state sabotaging peace
19 June 2013 / Reuters
A top Kurdish militant commander warned on Wednesday a fragile peace process had been jeopardized by increased military activity and a lack of concrete steps by the government, including the continued detention of Kurdish politicians. Members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) began a withdrawal from Turkish territory to bases in northern Iraq last month, part of a deal brokered between the state and the group’s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan earlier this year aimed at ending a conflict that has claimed 40,000 lives since 1984. “The state is doing what it can to sabotage this process. It is preparing for war. This is creating serious problems for us,” Murat Karayilan, the PKK commander based in northern Iraq, told the Firat news agency, which is close to the rebels.

11. World and regional situation not ready for Turkey Kurds independence: Layla Zana
19 June 2013 / Kurdpress
The Kurdish independent deputy of southeastern province of Diyarbakir Layla Zana said the world and regional situation does not allow the independence of the Turkey Kurds, T24 news portal said.  Addressing a two-day Diyarbakir conference, Zana said she wished full independence of the Kurds from Turkey but the ideal is not always possible. “The present political situation of the world and the region never allows the independence of the Kurds and we should not step towards the move”, Zana said in “Northern Kurdistan Unity and Solution” conference.  She added the Kurds should think of ways and plans which are in line with the demands of the people and the situation of Turkey and the region.

12. Wise People conclude new constitution needed immediately
18 June 2013 / World Bulletin
The wise people commision designated by the government to debate the settlement process with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in seven geographical regions of Turkey has concluded that a new civilian, democratic constitution is needed for a permanent solution to the problem. The committee is expected to submit their final reports, which summarize the two-month study of each group from the seven regions, to the prime minister in the near future. The chair of the Marmara region committee, Professor Deniz Ülke Arıboğan, emphasized the need for a new constitution, saying: “At least some articles must be changed. I do not know whether the current Parliament is able to make a new constitution from scratch, but even changing some articles would be a positive development.” The chair of the Black Sea region committee, Professor Yusuf Şevki Hakyemez, also said the primary demand of the people they talked to in the Black Sea region was for a new constitution.

13. Government works on legal reform for Kurdish solution
18 June 2013 / Hurriyet
The Turkish government has started working on a package of legal steps to be submitted to Parliament in the context of an initiative to find a political solution to the country’s painful Kurdish issue, a Justice Ministry source who asked not to be named told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday. The high-level source also said that the work had been carried out on the basis of a plan submitted by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) to Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin on June 10, and that the draft is expected to be ready to be submitted to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in two to three weeks’ time. “That will start the second phase of the process,” the official said. “Following the completion of the pull-back of militants.”

14. Middle East Women’s Conference Final Resolution
18 June 2013 / Peace in Kurdistan campaign
Between 31 May and 2 June, the first Middle East Women’s Conference took place in Amed (Diyarbakir). This event, organized by the Free Democratic Women Movement was titled ‘Jin – Jiyan – Azadi’ (women – life – freedom) and was dedicated to the three Kurdish women political activists who were murdered in Paris on 9 January, Sakine Cansız, Fidan Doğan and Leyla Şaylemez. For three days, 250 women from 26 Middle Eastern and North African countries discussed their experiences in the fight for liberation patriarchal power systems and shared their perspectives on the current political developments in the region.

15. Iranian Kurdish Struggle Linked to Turkey, Syria
14 June 2013 / Al Monitor
On June 6, near the northwestern border of Iran, Yusuf Hamzelu, a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was killed by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Iran’s Mehr News Agency reported. He was buried in Zandan on June 10. However, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), PKK’s Iranian branch, denied the news report in a media release and actually accused Iran of hiding the fact that the Iranian soldier was killed by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Syria. There have been claims before that Iran is actively assisting Syria’s embattled president Bashar al-Assad. The Lebanese Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, has also been actively supporting Assad’s operations against Syrian rebels, which led to Assad retaking Qusair near the Lebanese border.

16. Huge Turkish solidarity protest in Harringay as Taksim Square cleared
16 June 2013 / Indymedia
Organisers dealing with the police in Harringay were told that a planned solidarity march in north London would not be authorised. They went ahead anyway, and at 5pm on Saturday evening more than 2000 people assembled with banners, pots, pans and whistles at manor house. their own stewards expertly redirected traffic without incident as they marched the length of green lanes and through wood green to the civic centre where they held a rally listening to speeches from various Turkish organisations and other supporting groups. Bizarrely, the police were completely absent. not one cop in sight, and despite the numbers, the march passed with the minimum of disruption and of course completely peacefully.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

17. The Battle for the Heart of Istanbul Is Raging On
17 June 2013 / Vice
Early on Saturday night, the protest village of tents and flags that had been set up in Istanbul’s Gezi Park was razed, and its inhabitants emphatically tear-gassed and cleared, at the behest of Turkey’s combative Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In response, anti-government protesters (mostly, but not exclusively, made up from Turkey’s young urban middle class) took to the country’s streets all weekend, building barricades and clashing with riot police, with crowds of several thousands blocking major highways and bridges in an effort to join them.

18. Welcome to the Turkish Republic of Police State
19 June 2013 / Hurriyet
Turkey has become a country where the ruling party representing half of the country’s electorate is exercising the state’s police (and military if needed) force in the most brutal way on the other half of electorate, who launched a massive uprising against the government’s growing authoritarian inclinations.  How we have managed to arrive at this point surely requires a substantial analysis. I leave this task social and political scientists but my reading of this behavior is as follows. At the core of this behavior lies the “us and them” policy/rhetoric of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose purpose is to discriminate against those who do not share the conservative lifestyle of a pious Muslim and create a sort of “neighborhood pressure” on them.

19. The PKK’s tentative peace with Turkey
19 June 2013 / Foreign Policy
Murat Karayilan’s mustached face soured as he read from the daily intelligence report prepared by his field commanders in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the rebel group that has fought Turkey since 1984.  The Turkish army is flying Cobra attack helicopters even as PKK guerrillas withdraw from Turkey to camps in northern Iraq, the report said. U.S. drones still buzz over the PKK’s mountain strongholds. Turkish military operations continue near the Iraqi border, the militants have written.  Karayilan, chairman of the executive council of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the umbrella formation that encompasses the PKK, denounced these and other “provocations,” but insisted they will not upset the tentative peace process with Ankara as long as there are no attacks.

20. Turkey: Dilemma of the Kurds
15 June 2013 / Middle East Online
The world’s attention is focused at the moment on Taksim Square in Istanbul and the popular uprising against the government of Recip Tayyip Erdogan. Everyone is saying that the anti-authoritarian rebellions that have been sweeping the world, and lately particularly the Middle East, have now reached Turkey, long acclaimed as a “model” government that would be impervious to such uprisings. As with similar uprisings, the focus is on the authoritarian behavior of the government, and for some, its commitment to neo-liberal economic policies. Thus far, what started as a tiny protest of environmentalists against the government’s intention to eliminate the last major green area inside Istanbul in favor of a development project caught on and attracted daily more and more people to Taksim Square in Istanbul and similar sites all over Turkey.

21. Kurds Uneasy About Turkish Protests
13 June 2013 /IHT Rendezvous
Turkey’s historically marginalized Kurdish community has been largely absent from the anti-government protests that drew thousands to Taksim Square in Istanbul. “Turkish protests, Kurdish indifference,” read a headline at the Kurd.net Web site this week above an article by Kani Xulam, a Washington-based Kurdish activist. “Do we not want to curb the power of sultan wannabe prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan?” Mr. Xulam asked. “Apparently not.” “In Taksim Square, where are the Kurds?” asked Jenna Krajeski in a New Yorker blog. “With some notable exceptions, Kurds, usually Turkey’s most robust anti-government protesters, had been absent,” she wrote.

22. Turkey’s Terrorism Confusion
17 June 2013 / Commentary
One of the bedrocks of the U.S.-Turkey partnership has been U.S. provision of so-called counter-terrorism assistance to Turkey. In theory, the counter-terrorism assistance is meant to allow Turkey to counter its Kurdish insurgency, long led by the Kurdistan Workers Party, better known by its Kurdish acronym, the PKK. However, for the past three months, the Turkish government and PKK have been in active peace talks and the truce between them has held. I have written before about how a lack of a universal definition of what terrorism is hampers the fight against it. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will label the PKK as terrorists, but somehow say that Hamas is not a terrorist group. Indeed, as the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Jonathan Schanzer pointed out, Erdoğan took time out from managing the state response to protests by liberals, secularists, trade unionists, educators, and others to meet with senior Hamas leaders today.

23. Fourth Annual Conference on Turkey
14 June 2013 / Middle East Institute
Podcasts are available of each session of last week’s conference on Turkey, organised by the Middle East Institute and held in Washington DC. Speakers included: Rep. Ed Whitfield, Robert Ford, US Ambassador to Syria, representatives from Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Aliza Marcus and more.

24. Kurds Advance, Into the Unknown
18 June 2013 / Inter Press Service
A ban on political and even social gatherings, a bar on Kurdish language and culture; uprooting people, forced disappearances and a ‘caste’ of hundreds of thousands of local Kurds deprived of citizenship… life for Kurds in pre-war Syria was probably as dire as it is today for their kin in Iran. About 40 million Kurds comprise today’s largest stateless nation. Numbering around three million in Syria, they are the biggest minority in the country, as many as the Alawites, the ethno-religious group of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. After decades of brutal repression at the hands of President Assad and earlier his father president Hafez Assad, Syrian Kurds had attempted to revolt in 2004. So it came as no surprise that they joined the uprising in March 2011. A few months later they were shaking off the control of Damascus by manning their own checkpoints and ensuring an area where social centres, Kurdish schools and political parties – both new and those in hiding for decades – would pop up in their dozens.

STATEMENTS AND PRESS RELEASES

25. International monitors to observe fifth hearing in mass trial of lawyers, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign, 18 June 2013.

ACTIONS

26. EDM 151: Turkey, Peace Talks and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – Write to your MP!

27. Turkey Petition: Stop police violence – allow the protests! In partnership with the International Trade Union Confederation and DISK, the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions in Turkey.

 

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