Kurdish News Weekly Brefing, 19 – 25 October 2013

NEWS
1. Öcalan: Second phase should be deeper and more comprehensive
2. Kurdish rebels threaten new fight in Turkey as Syria clashes intensify
3. Deputy PKK Commander: Turkey Has Stopped the Peace Process
4. Mass graves in Kurdish Turkey may hide chemical weapon victims
5. Kurdish Women’s Movement held 6th Assembly
6. Turkey PM lashes out at Ocalan and BDP leader
7. Whoever ends Kurdish bid will pay the price: Turkish PM Erdoğan
8. EU to restart Turkey membership talks in move to encourage reforms
9. 3 ECHR Convictions in 3 Weeks
10. Three new hydroelectric power plants on the Dicle
11. Sırrı Önder speaks about HDP
12. Ocalan: PJAK and Iran should enter negotiation to solve the Kurdish question
13. “Hostages of the peace process”: UK lawyers condemn Turkey’s anti-terror law
14. Lift that ban!
15. Insight – French investigation into Kurdish murders eyes Turkey connections
16. PYD: On the ground activities in western Kurdistan and Syria
17. Syrian Kurdish Leaders Want Erbil at Geneva II Talks
18. Kurds and Islamic-Jihadists clash in Syrian Kurdistan, near Iraq border

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
19. Turkey’s Kurdish Peace Effort At Crossroads
20. INTERVIEW-Kurdish rebels threaten new fight in Turkey as Syria clashes intensify
21. The politics of Kurdish identity in Turkey
22. Doubts rise over Turkey’s ties to the west
23. The Kurdish Malala
24. Ankara’s Wall is (and always has been) Illegitimate
25. Cause and catalysts of the civil war in Syria
26. Photos: Between Syria and Iraq: a refugee’s point of view
27. Syrian Kurdish Leader Discusses Son’s Killing by Jihadists
28. Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a “New Middle East”

NEWS

1. Öcalan: Second phase should be deeper and more comprehensive
22 October 2013 / ANF
PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) leader Abdullah Öcalan’s brother Mehmet Öcalan spoke to DIHA (Dicle News Agency) about the meeting he had with the Kurdish leader on Monday. Mehmet Öcalan said the Kurdish leader talked about the peace process, approaching local elections and the HDP (People’s Democratic Party) Congress to take place in capital Ankara on 27 October. The Kurdish leader said he has received the letters KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) executives in Kandil have recently sent to him. Öcalan- his brother said- expressed his appreciation for the non-conflict environment maintained for one year now, but added that the first phase of the democratic resolution process ended on 15 October from his point of view. “In the current phase I cannot estimate the direction of the process but the second phase should be deeper and more comprehensive”, Öcalan quoted the Kurdish leader as saying.

2. Kurdish rebels threaten new fight in Turkey as Syria clashes intensify
22 October 2013 / Reuters
Kurdish rebels are ready to re-enter Turkey from northern Iraq, the head of the group’s political wing said at his mountain hideout, threatening to rekindle an insurgency unless Ankara resuscitates their peace process soon. Accusing Turkey of waging a proxy war against Kurds in Syria by backing Islamist rebels fighting them in the north, Cemil Bayik, a founding member of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) told Reuters the group had the right to retaliate. Syria’s civil war has complicated Turkey’s efforts to make peace with Kurdish militants, but Ankara strongly denies backing any rebel faction against Kurds in Syria and has held regular talks with the head of a Syrian Kurdish group close to the PKK.

3. Deputy PKK Commander: Turkey Has Stopped the Peace Process
19 October 2013 / Rudaw
Mustafa Karasu, deputy commander of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) said on Friday that Turkey “has literally stopped the peace process.” “We did what we had to do,” said Karasu. “But now we have stopped withdrawing our guerrillas. We will not give up our struggle on mere words from Turkey.” Karasu, an ethnic Turk who is also known as Huseyin Ali, reacted to a decision by Turkey’s Ministry of Justice last week that barred Selahattin Demirtas, co-chairman of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) from visiting the jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. “The BDP is an important party in Turkey and its leader cannot be removed from the delegation list just because he has criticized Turkey,” said Karasu.

4. Mass graves in Kurdish Turkey may hide chemical weapon victims
21 October 2013 / Voice of Russia
Some 300 mass graves have been discovered in eastern Turkey. Kurds, who died in an armed struggle between the Turkish army and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, are supposedly buried there. They may have been victims of chemical attacks, Raci Bilici, head of the Diyarbakir branch of the Human Rights Association, said in an interview with the Voice of Russia. According to Raci Bilici, human rights activists will insist on sending international experts to the site for a thorough investigation:We did a colossal job to discover mass graves in Turkey’s Kurd-populated areas. We found around 300 mass graves containing the remains of thousands of people. Our work is continuing and the number of discovered graves is increasing. This is our part of an investigation.”

5. Kurdish Women’s Movement held 6th Assembly
21 October 2013 / ANF
Kurdish Women’s Movement (KJB-Koma Jinen Blind) has held its sixth General Assembly in Media Defense Areas. The general assembly which was attended by 120 delegates ended with a decision to initiate a new process of activity under the motto ‘Women on Action for Their Leader and Freedom’. In a statement released on Monday, KJB Coordination vowed commitment to the memory of all martyrs of Kurdish women’s freedom struggle. KJB stated that the General Assembly ended with an agreement to establish a joint struggle platform with other women’s movements in the region. The Coordination stressed that is was an urgent duty for women to form a self-defense mechanism against all kinds of attacks targeting women and children.

6. Turkey PM lashes out at Ocalan and BDP leader
21 October 2013 / Kurdpress

Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at the recent remarks by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan and Selahattin Demirtas, the co-leader of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). In response to recent critical remarks from Demirtas about not being allowed to be visit Ocalan as part of the ongoing settlement process and Ocalan’s remark who said the BDP delegation should decide who should meet him, Erdogan said at a party meeting on Tuesday: “It is the government that has the authority to decide on that. No one has the right to set a direction for the government or the Ministry of Justice.” “When [the government] deems it suitable, it will agree to send [a delegation to Imrali]. When it doesn’t deem it suitable, it won’t. Everyone needs to know his place,” Erdogan said in his speech at the party meeting.

7. Whoever ends Kurdish bid will pay the price: Turkish PM Erdoğan
25 October 2013 / Hurriyet
Whichever side breaks the ongoing Kurdish peace bid will “pay the price for its actions,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, pledging never to be the one to end the process.  “We’re determined to keep the solution process going,” Erdoğan told a group of journalists in the plane on way back from his visit to Kosovo. “The side to break the process will pay the price. We will never be the side to break it.” Erdoğan’s vow to maintain determination over the ongoing process to end the three-decade-long conflict came amid Kurds’ rising skepticism of the government’s keenness to sustain the dialogue, with increasingly loud remonstrations coming from Kurdish political actors.

8. EU to restart Turkey membership talks in move to encourage reforms
21 October 2013 / Guardian
The European Union is to reopen membership talks with Turkey, more than three years after freezing negotiations, in an attempt to boost the prospects for democratic reforms amid fears that the country is taking an authoritarian lurch under its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. EU foreign ministers will formally decide on Tuesday to resume negotiations in two weeks’ time, senior diplomats said, following a U-turn by Germany, which, until last month’s election, favoured shelving the talks. Germany is generally opposed to Turkey joining the EU, along with France and several others. The last obstacle to re-engaging with Turkey was overcome on Monday at the meeting of foreign ministers in Luxembourg when the Dutch shifted position.

9. 3 ECHR Convictions in 3 Weeks
23 October 2013 / Bianet
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) convicted Turkey of violating the freedom of expression in the case of Bülent Kaya. The applicant was convicted by a Turkish court of “praising crime and criminals” due to his public speech as the audience was shouting slogans favoring PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. The ruling was issued on October 22, which said that Turkey violated Convention Article 10 regarding the freedom of expression. Turkey was ordered to pay 860 euros for pecuniary damages, 4,000 euros for non-pecuniary damages and 500 for court expenses.  In 2003, Bülent Kaya made a public speech at a protest organized by a political party. A criminal court convicted Kaya of “praising crime and criminals”, sentencing him to 3 months of prison. In 2008, the sentence was commuted to a fine of 2,000 liras. Kaya reportedly paid the fine in July 2008.

10. Three new hydroelectric power plants on the Dicle
24 October 2013 / ANF
Despite reactions to the ongoing construction of hydroelectric power plants (HES) in Amed’s Kulp and Silvan districts, the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning and the General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works (DSİ) have taken action for building three new hydroelectric power plants on the Dicle River passing through the city of Amed. The hydroelectric power plants are planned to be built among neighborhoods and villages located 3 to 30 kilometers to the city centre. The building of the dams for the plants, projected by Eser Energy and Electricity Generation Incorporated Company, is planned to be finished within the next two years. The Environmental Impact Assessment (ÇED) report has already been approved for the first HES dam, Dicle-l, to be built in the Sarılı neighborhood of Yenişehir district, in an area between İlbaş, Sivritepe and Tanışık villages. The cost of the project is planned to reach TL 57,945 million.

11. Sırrı Önder speaks about HDP
24 October 2013 / ANF
Sırrı Süreyya Önder  – a BDP MP from Istanbul – sat down with reporters from DİHA in order to talk about the newly formed HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party), its goals, and his reasons for joining. Önder, along with four other MPs from the BDP, will officially join the HPD during the upcoming party conference. The HDP and the BDP will run in an alliance, with the former running candidates in the West of the country and the latter running candidates in Kurdish regions. Önder, who sat down for the interview following his last meeting with the BDP group of MPs, explained among other things why he made the decision to change parties. One the main reasons, he said, was the insistence of Abdullah Öcalan: “Every since we have been meeting with Mr. Öcalan he has always underlined this insistently. Because he was strongly emphasizing the fact that we had taken the enthusiasm of resistance from them [the established opposition].

12. Ocalan: PJAK and Iran should enter negotiation to solve the Kurdish question
21 October 2013 / Rojhelat
In his recent meeting with the dispatched board of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) the Kurdish national leader Abdullah Ocalan stated that the cease fire between Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK) and Islamic Republic of Iran is not enough. PJAK’s aim, he said, should be focused on advancing the current procedure toward negotiation with the government for solving the Kurdish question politically. Idris Baluken the Vice President of BDP faction in Turkey’s parliament who held a meeting on Monday, October 14 with Ocalan in Imrali, in an interview with the Ozgur Gundem newspaper revealed new information from the meeting. According Mr. Baluken the Kurdish national leader in the meeting expressed his hopefulness about the Kurdish issue in Eastern Kurdistan and suggested that the PJAK and Islamic Republic of Iran should attempt to solve the Kurdish question through negotiation.

13. “Hostages of the peace process”: UK lawyers condemn Turkey’s anti-terror law
25 October 2013 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
Turkey’s anti-terror legislation has come under fire once again as five lawyers who recently returned from Istanbul gave a damning critique of one of Turkey’s now notorious ‘KCK trials’ at a public event held a Garden Court Chambers. The lawyers formed part of a 6-person strong delegation that observed the trial of 46 Kurdish lawyers, who are being prosecuted for their work defending imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan.  What they witnessed, they told the meeting, was a political show trial taking place in the context of peace talks between Ocalan and the Turkish government that reveals far more about authoritarianism in Turkey than the supposed criminality of the defendants. The meeting was chaired by Bill Bowring, Professor of Law at Birkbeck University.

14. Lift that ban!
25 October 2013 / ANF
Tatort Kurdistan, an association of German activists, have organized a demo to take place in the German capital Berlin on 16 November to demand the removal of the ban the German state has imposed on the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) for 20 years now. During the demo which will be joined by Kurds living in Germany as well as German NGOs and individuals, demonstrators will call on the German government to support the democratic resolution process and to end its criminalization policy against Kurds. On 26 November 1993, German Interior Minister Manfred Kanther of the Helmut Kohl government announced the ban on the PKK with a special bulletin prepared by the federal prosecution office. Dozens of Kurdish associations and establishments were closed and a systematic criminalization policy against Kurds was put into effect after the introduction of the ban on the party.

15. Insight – French investigation into Kurdish murders eyes Turkey connections
23 October 2013 / Reuters
French investigators trying to solve the murder of three Kurdish activists in Paris have collected evidence about the chief suspect’s connections to Turkey, four sources with knowledge of the investigation told Reuters. Police sources told Reuters the magistrate in charge of the case was about to lodge a formal appeal for information to Turkey about Omer Guney, a Turkish immigrant placed under formal investigation for the triple murder eight months ago. The move could mark a turning point in the case, which has become a rallying cry for Europe’s large population of ethnic Kurds. It comes after disclosures that Guney took at least three trips to Turkey and made dozens of phone calls to contacts there in the months before the killings, lawyers with access to investigation files told Reuters.

16. PYD: On the ground activities in western Kurdistan and Syria
23 October 2013 / Support Kurds in Syria

  • People Protection Units (YPG) campaign
  • Armed groups affiliated to Islamic State of Iraq and Sham & Al-nusra front
  • Shame wall between Rojava and north Kurdistan
  • Hundreds of people come back to their homes in Rojava
  • Cultural & educational activities

Details – People Protection Units (YPG) campaign:
Media center for the people protection unit, YPG, issued a statement about the bombing carried out by armed groups in Demhat martyr camp outside Tirbespîyê. Two YPG members lost their life, together with two members of a cultural association, one civilian from northern Kurdistan (southeast Turkey) and one civilian from west Kurdistan (northern Syria). The statement assured that YPG are capable to push back all attempts of aggression against our people and that they will prevail. The statement added that this was a desperate attempt since the radical islamist groups experienced heavy losses during the Eid celebration.

17. Syrian Kurdish Leaders Want Erbil at Geneva II Talks
24 October 2013 / Rudaw
Syrian Kurdish leaders say it would help their cause if the Kurdistan Region attends the much delayed Geneva II conference, where a political settlement will be sought to end the crisis in Syria after more than two years of civil war. “The participation of the Kurdistan Region will be highly significant for Syrian Kurds,” says Mustafa Cuma, head of the Democratic Freedom Party of Syria. A delegation at the presidential level would strengthen the Kurdish position at the conference, he says. “The Kurdistan Region is linked to Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava),” Cuma says. “It enjoys great influence there and has stood by Rojava.” The Geneva II peace conference is an initiative of the United Nations, with the aim of ending the war in Syria through a political solution. The conference has been delayed several times, and there is still no firm date for when it could take place.

18. Kurds and Islamic-Jihadists clash in Syrian Kurdistan, near Iraq border
24 October 2013 / eKurd
Fierce clashes erupted in Syria overnight between Kurdish fighters and Arab-Islamic jihadists near the Iraqi border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday. “The clashes began around midnight (2100 GMT Wednesday) and lasted around 12 hours, with the Kurds advancing in the direction of Al-Yaarubia, an area controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) and other jihadist groups,” the Britain-based monitor said. “The Kurds have managed to take two villages controlled by the jihadists but it will be difficult to capture Al-Yaarubia from ISIS,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. The Al-Yaarubia border crossing with Iraq is seen as a key supply route for arms and fighters. ISIS has carried out attacks on both sides of the border. Also clashes broke out between the Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG) and ISIS near the Kurdish city of Efrin of in Syrian Kurdistan on Thursday, Firat news reported.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

19. Turkey’s Kurdish Peace Effort At Crossroads
24 October 2013 / Al Monitor
It all began on March 21, 2013, when a message from Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned for life on Imrali Island, was read to a massive crowd of Kurds who had come to celebrate the Newroz holiday in Diyarbakir’s main square. Ocalan declared the end of the armed struggle era and called on PKK militants to leave Turkey. As expected, the PKK complied and the withdrawal process began soon after. But it didn’t take long before both the Turkish government and the PKK began expressing a lack of confidence toward the other side, accusing each other of undermining the process.

20. INTERVIEW-Kurdish rebels threaten new fight in Turkey as Syria clashes intensify
22 October 2013 / Thomson Reuters
Kurdish rebels are ready to re-enter Turkey from northern Iraq, the head of the group’s political wing said at his mountain hideout, threatening to rekindle an insurgency unless Ankara resuscitates their peace process soon. Accusing Turkey of waging a proxy war against Kurds in Syria by backing Islamist rebels fighting them in the north, Cemil Bayik, a founding member of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) told Reuters the group had the right to retaliate. Syria’s civil war has complicated Turkey’s efforts to make peace with Kurdish militants, but Ankara strongly denies backing any rebel faction against Kurds in Syria and has held regular talks with the head of a Syrian Kurdish group close to the PKK.

21. The politics of Kurdish identity in Turkey
October 2013 / Your Middle East
There are two major options for Turkey, either it assumes multiculturalism as business as usual where the dominance of Turkishness remains intact, or it engages in a serious dialogue with the Kurds that necessarily entails the relinquishment of naturalized and unearned Turkish privileges, writes Barzoo Eliassi.  When Kurds are discussed in academic and journalistic contexts, they are mainly referred to as a “minority” with claims and politics that challenge the authority of the four nation-states Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria.

22. Doubts rise over Turkey’s ties to the west
21 October 2013 / Financial Times
Has Turkey, a member of Nato for 61 years, parted company with the west? It is a question Turkey’s allies have begun to face. Three issues have converged to create the doubt: Ankara’s decision to buy a Chinese missile defence system; its alleged ambivalence towards al-Qaeda affiliated fighters in Syria; and, most recently, allegations that Turkey betrayed Iranians spying for Israel to Tehran. US officials have been most vocal about Ankara’s decision to buy missile defence from a Chinese group subject to Treasury sanctions for $3.4bn, in preference to US-made Patriot missiles or a system sold by an Italo-French consortium.

23. The Kurdish Malala
19 October 2013 / Rudaw
The world knows Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head by Taliban terrorists because she advocated education rights for girls. The world should know Medya Ormek, a 14-year-old Kurdish girl who defied Turkish bigotry and risked prison for wanting to teach in her native language. Malala Yousafzai’s book deal has earned her family $3 million.  The United Nations lionized her in the General Assembly, as did President Obama at the White House. But very few know Medya Ormek, the Kurdish girl barely ten years old when Sadi Gegin, a Turkish prosecutor, threatened to jail her in 2009. Her crime: she wanted to preserve Kurdish language by teaching it in her home.

24. Ankara’s Wall is (and always has been) Illegitimate
21 October 2013 / Rojava Report
In a new article from Özgür Gündem, the paper talks about the history of the division of Northern and Western Kurdistan, and the growing illegitimacy of Ankara’s policies surrounding the border. Among other issues, the article discusses the history of the border. Until the break-up of the Ottoman Empire, Kurdish communities lived undivided in the region. The current border came into existence on October 21st, 1921, when Franklin Bouillon and Yusuf Kemal Bey signed the Ankara Treaty on behalf of the French Empire and the Turkish Provisional Government, after which French forces were forced to withdraw from positions north of the current border.

25. Cause and catalysts of the civil war in Syria
23 October 2013 / Peace and Conflict Monitor
The causes and catalysts of the current civil war in Syria are many and varied, including narratives that range across religion, poverty, past repression, and ideology. Understanding why the conflict began is only possible when these causes are considered together as a holistic whole rather than as stand-alone explanations. However, this is not to deny that some causes and catalysts have been more significant than others. Whilst early triumphs of civil society movements in Tunisia and Egypt greatly helped to catalyse opposition to the government in Syria, they only serve to mask the critical and much more important underlying change in the social dynamic created by the ideological drift of the Ba’ath Party

26. Photos: Between Syria and Iraq: a refugee’s point of view
More than 2,1 Million Syrians are currently registered as refugees, according to the UN’s Refugee Agency. For many Syrians fleeing civil war, neighboring Iraq is just a short boat ride away.

27. Syrian Kurdish Leader Discusses Son’s Killing by Jihadists
23 October 2013 / Al Monitor
Salih Muslim, the co-chair of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria, gave an interview to Taraf only days after his youngest son, Shervan, was killed while fighting in the ranks of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) against radical Islamists in Syria. Muslim, who buried his son in Kobani, had been expected to be angry. But on the contrary, we found him to be in a calm and thoughtful mood.
TarafMy condolences. It’s a hard time for you. Could you tell us how the tragic incident occurred?
Muslim:  You know that my children have been involved [in the struggle]. Shervan was the youngest — I mean, my youngest son — 21 years old. I have a daughter, Pervin, who is actually the youngest of all, only 19 years old. Shervan had been taking part in regular clashes since the attacks against us began one and a half years ago. Two months ago, he started fighting in the front lines to avenge Dilovan, his friend and also a relative of ours, who was martyred.

28. Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a “New Middle East”
21 October 2013 / Global Research
The term “New Middle East” was introduced to the world in June 2006 in Tel Aviv by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (who was credited by the Western media for coining the term) in replacement of the older and more imposing term, the “Greater Middle East.” This shift in foreign policy phraseology coincided with the inauguration of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Oil Terminal in the Eastern Mediterranean. The term and conceptualization of the “New Middle East,” was subsequently heralded by the U.S. Secretary of State and the Israeli Prime Minister at the height of  the Anglo-American sponsored Israeli siege of Lebanon. Prime Minister Olmert and Secretary Rice had informed the international media that a project for a “New Middle East” was being launched from Lebanon.

 

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