Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 9 – 15 November 2013

NEWS
1. Öcalan: Process on but at critical stage
2. Barzani’s visit to Diyarbakır reflects Turkey’s self-confidence: FM Davutoğlu
3. Diyarbakır meet key to Kurdish peace: PM Erdoğan
4. Kurds Discuss Peace, Democracy and Solution Models in Ankara
5. Turkey’s Terrorism Report
6. Press Conference Allegations on Imralı Island
7. European court condemns Turkey for bombing Kurds in 1994
8. Demirtaş: EU should review the list of terrorist organisations
9. Yaşar Kemal: First Duty of Art is Uprising
10. Syrian Kurdish Party declares transitional government
11. Kurds move a step closer towards autonomous state in Syria
12. Syrian Kurds make fresh military gains after declaring self-rule
13. Kurdish Declaration of Autonomy in Syria Rejected by Turkey, Larger Opposition
14. Turkey warns against Kurdish autonomy in Syria
15. Iraqi Kurdish leader slams ‘lone wolf’ PYD
16. Suicide bomb at Kurdish Red Crescent office in Kobani (Rojava/Syria)
17. YPG: 19 villages rescued in “Serêkaniyê Martyrs” operation
18. Turkey touts ‘Kurd payment solution’
19. Iranian Kurd leader says West shouldn’t be fooled by Rouhani, Alexandra Hudson
20. Berlin to rally against ban on PKK

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
21. The US should reconsider PKK terror designation
22. Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan’s Mutual Interests
23. Erdoğan gets ready for a new Kurdish move
24. Turkey’s Fix for the “Kurdish Problem”: Ankara’s Challenges
25. VIDEO: Cases – The Condition of Kurds in Turkey
26. The sons feared lost to al-Qaida in Syria
27. Turkey’s energy ambitions override political concerns
28. The collapse of Turkey’s Syria policy
29. Kurds Declare Independence in Syria
30. Syrian Kurds announce the creation of their autonomous region

ACTIONS
31. Petitions for Turkey’s oppressed lawyers and journalists

 

NEWS

1. Öcalan: Process on but at critical stage
11 November 2013 / Kurdish Institute
BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) Parliamentary Group president Pervin Buldan, BDP deputy Idris Baluken and HDP (Democratic People’s Party) spokesperson on negotiation and solution process and vice president Sirri Süreyya Önder have returned from the Imrali island where they have visited Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan today.  Speaking to Sterk TV in the evening, Sirri Süreyya Önder quoted the Kurdish leader as saying that “The peace process is continuing and has reached a critical point now. Despite all negative developments, we are determined on our will for peace.”

2. Barzani’s visit to Diyarbakır reflects Turkey’s self-confidence: FM Davutoğlu
13 November 2013 / Hurriyet
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani’s visit to Diyarbakır, an overwhelmingly Kurdish city, is a reflection of Turkey’s “self-confidence,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has suggested.  Davutoğlu said Barzani was invited to Diyarbakır by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan some time ago, and added that this should be considered as part of Turkey’s “normalization process.”  “There will be a wedding ceremony in Diyarbakır and a very positive atmosphere will be created. This is in fact a part of our normalization and reflection of self-confidence. In the past, there were those who were against any contact between Kurds inside Turkey and outside, as if it would be the end of the world,” he told journalists upon returning from Iraq late on Nov. 11.

3. Diyarbakır meet key to Kurdish peace: PM Erdoğan
14 November 2013 / Hurriyet
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has expressed hope that an upcoming meeting with Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani in Diyarbakır over the weekend will be a historic occasion that crowns an ongoing resolution process in the country. “We will experience a historic process in Diyarbakır this weekend,” Erdoğan told reporters yesterday in reference to the upcoming visit of the president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Nov. 16. The two leaders will attend a collective wedding ceremony where around 300 couples already living together will officially get married and will together open some facilities in Diyarbakır, which is the biggest province in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish-populated southeastern Anatolian region.

4. Kurds Discuss Peace, Democracy and Solution Models in Ankara
12 November 2013 / Rudaw
The Kurdish issue is not a security issue and it stems from the denial of Kurdish rights, speakers agreed at a conference in Ankara that gathered politicians and activists from the Kurdistan Region, Turkey, Syria and Iran. “The core idea of the Kurdish issue is that the states under which Kurds live did not accept Kurds as they are but as they wanted them to be,” Hemin Hawramy, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)’s foreign relations told the conference, titled “Kurds Discussing Peace, Democracy and Solution Models.”

5. Turkey’s Terrorism Report
15 November 2013 / ANF
When the Kurdish Issue is in question, Turkish courts are quick to label the political opposition with ‘Terrorism.’  As a result of Anti-Terror laws, thousands of Kurds have been charged or are waiting for the outcome of their trials or appeals against convictions. The Turkish Government has been criticised countless times by Human Rights groups for violations in relation to freedom of expression, freedom of organisation and freedom of association however yet again it is the Turkish Government who uses the ‘Terrorism’ word most irresponsibly. There are still thousands of people who have been imprisoned because they have shown an interest in solving the Kurdish Issue or have been active political members of groups who have undertaken political activity to represent or defend Kurds.

6. Press Conference Allegations on Imralı Island
15 November 2013 / Bianet
According to an article by Namık Durukan in Milliyet newspaper, Turkish authorities will soon enable journalists, NGO representatives and Wise People Delegates to meet Abdullah Öcalan on Imrali Island in order to contribute the ongoing peace process.  The article also went on to say that some of the decisions taken after a series of negotiations between Turkish officials and Öcalan will also be implemented. According to that, an international observation committee will be formed – a delegation that is expected to meet Öcalan on Imrali Island in the days to come. One of the decisions also concern meeting journalists – a demand that Öcalan has pressed for the past few months.

7. European court condemns Turkey for bombing Kurds in 1994
12 November 2013 / Global Post
The European Court on Human Rights Tuesday ruled that Turkey bombed two Kurdish villages in 1994, killing 33 people in an attack Ankara blamed on Kurdish separatists. The Strasbourg-based court ordered Turkey to pay 2.3 million euros ($3.1 million) to 38 plaintiffs whose relatives were killed in the bombing and urged “further investigative steps into the incident.” “The court concluded that the Turkish government had conducted an aerial attack killing 33 of the applicants’ relatives and injuring three of the applicants themselves,” the ECHR said in a statement.

8. Demirtaş: EU should review the list of terrorist organisations
14 November 2013 / ANF
Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has held a press conference at the European Parliament today after participating a conference discussing the Kurdish question in the French Parliament on Wednesday. Demirtaş who was invited to the EP by MEP Jürgen Klute, member of the German Die Linke party, said the meeting at the EP handled the ongoing democratic resolution process in Turkey. Referring to the ongoing talks between Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan and the Turkish state, Demirtaş said they believed the government must take more courageous steps in order for the achievement of democratisation and its permanency in Turkey.

9. Yaşar Kemal: First Duty of Art is Uprising
14 November 2013 / Bianet
Author Yaşar Kemal has been awarded with Bjørnson Prize by Norway’s Literature and Freedom of Expression Academy.Dedicated to the memory of Norwegian poet Bjornstjerne Bjørnson, the selection of this year’s recipient has been announced last month. On November 9, an award ceremony has been organized in Molde with the participantion of Yaşar Kemal who received the prize from Bjørnson Academy President Knut Ødegård.  Following the award ceremony, Norway’s Capellen Publishing House Editor-in-Chief Aase Gjerdrum made a presentation on Yaşar Kemal’s literary works.

10. Syrian Kurdish Party declares transitional government
12 November 2013 / Al Monitor
The Democratic Union Party (PYD), affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), on Monday, Nov. 11, announced from the unofficial Syrian Kurdish capital of Qamishli that it would form an interim transitional administration, despite objections from Turkey. The plan is based on a PYD project announced in July 2013, that would include the formation of a interim government, elections and a constitution. The Kurdish parties from Syria were holding meetings with Kurds, Arabs, Christians, and Chechens, to discuss the project. The announcement comes after the People’s Defense Units (YPG) made several military gains in the province of Hasakah and captured the Iraqi border crossing in Yaroubiya on Oct. 24.

11. Kurds move a step closer towards autonomous state in Syria
12 November 2013 / Middle East Online
Syrian Kurds in the northeast have formed a transitional autonomous government, they said in a statement Tuesday, after making key territorial gains against jihadists in recent weeks. The latest declaration comes amid a general strengthening of Kurdish rights in neighbouring Turkey, and increasing moves towards independence by Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region. The announcement was made after talks in the mostly-Kurdish town of Qamishli, and comes after Kurdish leaders announced plans to create the temporary government in July. The transitional autonomous government involves the division of Syria’s Kurdish region into three areas, each with its own local assembly, as well as representatives to a regional executive body.

12. Syrian Kurds make fresh military gains after declaring self-rule
13 November 2013 / Reuters
Kurdish militias seized another seven villages in northeastern Syria, activists said on Wednesday, a day after the fighters’ political wing announced an interim administration that aims to carve out an autonomous Syrian Kurdish region. Kurds, often described as the world’s largest stateless ethnic group, number about 30 million, concentrated in parts of Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq. While they have had partial autonomy in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991, nationalist movements have long been suppressed in Turkey, Syria and Iran. In the chaos of Syria’s 2-1/2 year civil war, Kurds there have captured most Kurdish-dominated cities. They have made major territorial gains in recent weeks, driving out the mostly Arab Islamist rebel units in their areas and paving the way for their long-declared plans for independent governance.

13. Kurdish Declaration of Autonomy in Syria Rejected by Turkey, Larger Opposition
14 November 2013 / Rudaw
Turkey rejected a unilateral declaration of autonomy over Syria’s Kurdish lands by the country’s dominant Kurdish group, while the larger opposition representing the Kurds said the move was an “anti-revolution and supportive of” the Damascus regime. On Tuesday, leaders of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) announced an interim government over Syria’s Kurdish areas in the northeast.  It said Kurdish, Arab and Christian leaders had agreed to turn Syrian Kurdistan – or Rojava – into three semi-independent provincial areas, within a larger Kurdish autonomy in the northeast. “Such autonomy cannot be declared unilaterally,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu on Turkey’s NTV.  PYD leader Salih Muslim has visited Turkey several times over the past months for talks with Turkish officials about the status of Kurds in a future Syria.

14. Turkey warns against Kurdish autonomy in Syria
15 November 2013 / Al Libnan
Turkey on Friday warned that it would not accept this week’s declaration of provisional self-rule by Kurds in neighboring war-torn Syria. “Turkey cannot permit a fait accompli, there is no question of accepting such a thing in Syria,” Turkish President Abdullah Gul said in televised comments in eastern Turkey. “We cannot allow Syria, which is faced with major chaos, to disintegrate,” Gul said. For three decades, Turkey has been embroiled in a deadly Kurdish insurgency on its soil. It shares a border with Syria and fears a de facto Kurdish state there — similar to one already established in neighboring Iraq — could provide a rear base of operations for Turkish Kurd guerrillas. On Monday, Kurdish militia dominated by a party close to Turkey’s main Kurdish grouping declared provisional self-rule in Syrian areas under their control.

15. Iraqi Kurdish leader slams ‘lone wolf’ PYD
15 November 2013 / World Bulletin
Head of the autonomous Kurdish government in Iraq’s north, Masoud Barzani, has called on Syrian armed Kurdish group Democratic Union Party (PYD) to put a stop to its “unilateral policies” which he says benefit neither itself nor the Kurdish people in northern Syria. Barzani issued a written statement on Thursday critical of what he says PYD’s “fait accomplis” in claiming near-autonomy in the northern region and the group’s failure to abide by binding agreements previously agreed-upon among Kurds. “PYD claims to have achieved revolution in Rojava (northern Syria). Against whom? All they did was claim ownership of territory handed to them by the (Syrian) regime,” Barzani said in his statement. PYD is alleged to be trying to carve out an autonomous Kurdish entity in Syria’s north.

16. Suicide bomb at Kurdish Red Crescent office in Kobani (Rojava/Syria)
12 November 213 / Kurdish Institute
At least 11 people were killed in a suicide attack on the office of the Kurdish Red Crescent in Kobani on monday 11th of November. Among the victims there are several children. The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham is suspected of being behind the attack.  According to Kurdpress the blast killed  at least 15 people. News from Kurdspress: A huge blast on Monday afternoon at the center of Syrian northern Kurdish city of Kobani left at least 15 people killed and many others wounded. […]

17. YPG: 19 villages rescued in “Serêkaniyê Martyrs” operation
14 November 2013 / Kurdish Institute
People’s Defense Units (YPG) Press Office has released a statement about the “Serêkaniyê Martyrs” operation which was launched on 1 November against the al-Qaeda linked ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and the armed groups supporting them. YPG said the first phase of the operation has succeeded, adding that it was aimed at clearing the area between Serêkaniyê and Til Temir of gang groups. YPG remarked that 19 villages and many hamlets have been rescued in the operation so far, including the villages of Micêbra, Hilêwa Sîsan, Tilcamûs, Qatof Simalî, Qatof Wistanî, Qatof Cinûbî, Çikêma, Til Diayb, Esediyê, Bîr Nûh, Qisêr, Bîe Elzad, Siyade, Sefih, Misrafa, Helbiyê, Moberd, Edûla and Tilhermel, as well as the Sefrani petrol station and El-Sefih wheat silo.

18. Turkey touts ‘Kurd payment solution’
15 November 2013 / Upstream
The Ankara government is reportedly looking to broker a solution to an oil payments row between the Baghdad regime and the separatist Kurdistan region as a Turkish state-owned entity targets exploration blocks in the northern Iraqi play. Turkey is currently in talks with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for joint exploration on 13 oil and gas blocks in the semi-autonomous region, the country’s Energy Minister Taner Yildiz was reported as saying by Reuters on Friday. State-backed Turkish Energy Company (TEC), established to operate in Kurdistan, is aiming to partner with a third party in six of the blocks, though talks for potential contracts have not yet been finalised, Yildiz added.

19. Iranian Kurd leader says West shouldn’t be fooled by Rouhani, Alexandra Hudson
4 November 2013 / Kurdish Institute
The leader of an armed Iranian Kurdish group says new President Hassan Rouhani is taking advantage of the West’s wary optimism towards him to step up pressure on citizens at home, particularly Kurds, and has markedly increased executions.  The election in June of Rouhani, a relative moderate and a former chief nuclear negotiator, has created a diplomatic opening between Iran and a group of six world powers which are trying to persuade it to curb its nuclear program. Rouhani even spoke by phone to U.S. President Barack Obama in late September, in the highest-level contact between the two countries in three decades. Abdul Rahman Haji-Ahmadi, the Germany-based leader of the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), told Reuters in a written interview that Rouhani “belongs completely to the core system” of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and bringing him to the fore was Tehran’s attempt to get out of political deadlock.

20. Berlin to rally against ban on PKK
14 November 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

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

21. The US should reconsider PKK terror designation
10 November 2013 / American Enterprise Institute
Michael Rubin: The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) began an insurgency and terrorist campaign against Turkey in 1984, and the United States designated the group to be a terrorist entity 13 years later largely out of deference to Turkey. Turks may insist that the PKK remains a terrorist group, and Kurdish supporters may say it never was, but at their core, such arguments revolve around a debate with regard to the definition of terrorism which the international community, despite decades of concern about the tactic, has yet to resolve. The PKK is not the only Kurdish group which the United States has saddled with a terror label. After the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the U.S. government re-interpreted the Immigration and Nationality Act to prohibit members of so-called “Tier III” terror organizations, those like the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) which had engaged in past armed struggle but had never been formally designated terror groups.

22. Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan’s Mutual Interests
15 November 2013 / Rudaw
In a few days, Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani will visit Diyarbakir.  By the time you read this, he may already be there or have completed his visit.  Diyarbakir, or Amed for the Kurds, is the largest predominantly Kurdish city in the world.  It is also an important electoral district in Turkey.  In the forthcoming Turkish municipal elections, the city is expected to divide its votes between Turkey’s Peace and Democracy (BDP) pro-Kurdish party and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

23. Erdoğan gets ready for a new Kurdish move
11 November 2013 / Hurriyet
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is going to meet with Masoud Barzani, the head of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Oct. 16 in the predominantly Kurdish-populated city of Diyarbakır in Southeast Turkey, as announced by his office yesterday. Up until last week Erdoğan was supposed to be in İzmir that for the startup ceremony for a port for oil and oil products trade together with İlham Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan. First it was announced that Erdoğan would not go to İzmir but meet Aliyev in Ankara. Later on Aliyev’s program was officially announced as Nov. 12-14; Aliyev is expected today in Ankara.

24. Turkey’s Fix for the “Kurdish Problem”: Ankara’s Challenges
Fall 2103 / Middle East Quarterly
From the beginnings of modern Turkey, the Kurds have been considered outsiders, often not even allowed to speak their own language without the threat of punishment. With Mustafa Kemal Atatürk modeling the nascent republic on the somewhat ethnically homogeneous European nation-states of the time, and the constitution declaring that “the Turkish state, with its territory and nation, is an indivisible entity,”[1] there was little room for permitting, and certainly not encouraging, the open expression of disparate ethnic or national identities within Turkey’s borders. Instead, Ankara’s answer to the “Kurdish question” has been, more often than not, to deny the existence of the Kurds altogether and simultaneously to attempt to pacify the region militarily, crushing all dissent while forcibly assimilating its “mountain Turk,” that is Kurdish, population.

25. VIDEO: Cases – The Condition of Kurds in Turkey
14 November 2013 / Cases
The show CASES, produced by Aly Sleem and hosted by Farah Atoui, deals with human rights violations regardless of any political affiliation/agenda. We stand by oppressed people everywhere so we aim to tackle their cases professionally from both humanitarian and legal perspectives. Our objective is to raise awareness and to speak out for those who have no voice. We were glad to host from Beirut: George Labaki, PhD, Professor of Law at Notre Dame University; By Skype from Denmark: Naila Bozo, Editor of Alliance for Kurdish Rights; By Phone from Austria: Aziz Sardar, PhD, Middle Eastern Politics

26. The sons feared lost to al-Qaida in Syria
11 November 2013 / Guardian
Fatih Yildiz never thought that one day he would have to plead with al-Qaida commander for the lives of his two sons. After a frantic week of searching for them in the blasted ruins of northern Syria, the retired Turkish government official was at his wit’s end. “I swear, if I had had a gun I would have shot that man,” Yildiz told the Guardian. The problem was that the commander – a fellow Turk from Trabzon on the Black Sea coast – could not understand why he wanted his sons back. “They are here to be martyred,” the jihadi leader yelled at Yildiz, who had tracked down his sons to a training camp near Aleppo. “Are you an infidel to try and take that from them? They will be rewarded in paradise.”

27. Turkey’s energy ambitions override political concerns
13 November 2013 / The National
Amid an increasingly violent and crisis-ridden region, Turkey has emerged as a significant energy broker – and the partnerships it is seeking will have far-reaching ramifications for the ever-changing tides of diplomacy in the Middle East. It is no secret that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, has bold ambitions for his country’s regional and international standing. Traditional adversaries, like Israel and the Kurds in northern Iraq, are now the backbone of Turkey’s strategic future. But how fragile are these relationships? A strategically placed but energy-poor country, Turkey wants to create a network of gas and oil pipelines criss-crossing through its territory on the way to lucrative European markets. The only problem is that the energy resources are in regions that Turkey has traditionally had tense relationships with, namely Israel and Iraqi Kurdistan.

28. The collapse of Turkey’s Syria policy
12 November 2013 / Al Ahram Weekly
Catastrophic for Syria and disastrous for Turkey — the consequences of Turkey’s intervention in Syria over the past two years can be summed up in this way. While not admitting that they were wrong, the architects of this policy, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, now appear to be backing off, at least to the extent of tightening border security and seeking to repair the damage they have caused to relations with neighbouring states. In early August Davutoglu visited Tehran, and now President Hassan Rouhani of Iran has been invited to Ankara. So has Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, with Davutoglu due to visit Baghdad in a few days’ time. Both Davutoglu and Erdogan have also shut down the vociferous support they have been expressing for the deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government. Now they seem to agree that what happens in Egypt is the business of the Egyptian people.

29. Kurds Declare Independence in Syria
13 November 2013 / Front Page Mag
This is an interesting development. Assad is in no shape to do anything about it right now and is hoping that the various Sunni Jihadist groups begin pressing down harder on the Kurds to give him some breathing room. Considering that Turkey is terrified of Kurdish autonomy and is backing the Sunni forces, that is inevitable. But Iraq, Assad’s Shiite ally, also has a serious Kurdish autonomy problem. But then again it also has a serious Sunni Jihadist problem too. If Assad makes a full comeback, no Kurdish autonomous state is likely to survive for long. It might be different with American backing, but that won’t come. Not under Obama.

30. Syrian Kurds announce the creation of their autonomous region
13 November 2013 / Asia News

Syria’s tragic situation is getting even more complicated. The country’s Kurds have announced the “formation of a transitional civil administration for the area of Western Kurdistan-Syria.”  Yesterday’s announcement by the Kurdish Democratic Union (PYD) was made in Qamishli, north-eastern Syria, and comes after Kurdish forces successfully seized border posts with Iraq, hitherto occupied by jihadist groups. In July, Kurdish leaders had already announced plans to create a provisional government in the region after Syrian government forces decided to pull out a year ago to prevent Kurds from joining the rebels. Syrian Kurds represent 10-15 per cent of the country’s population, and are concentrated in the country’s north-eastern Syria, next to Turkish and Iraqi Kurdistan. Language, culture and a desire for a state of their own connects people in all three areas (four if we consider Iran’s Kurdish region).

ACTIONS

31. Petitions for Turkey’s oppressed lawyers and journalists
This week we received information about two important petitions that need your support. The first is a Change.org petition for Selçuk Kozağaçlı and his colleagues at the Progressive Lawyers’ Association in Turkey who have been in detention without bail since their arrest in January this year. The second calls for justice for journalists in Turkey and is one the European Federation of Journalists’ (EFJ) many efforts in the last two years to oppose government repression of journalists and media workers in Turkey.
Please sign and share!

 

 

 

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