Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 29 November – 6 December 2013

CAMPACC EVENT NEXT WEEK:

State Surveillance, Counter-Terror Powers and Global Securitisation Strategies 

Tuesday 10 December 2013, 6.30-8.30pm

Venue: National Union of Journalists, 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8DP

Speakers:  Michelle Stanistreet, General Secretary, National Union of Journalists (NUJ); Tony Bunyan, Director, Statewatch, journalist and author the The Shape of things to Come; Rob Evans, Guardian journalist and co-author with Paul Lewis of Undercover: the True Story of Britain’s Secret Police; Matthew Ryder QC, Matrix Chambers, representing David Miranda; Dr Nafeez Ahmed author, investigative journalist, international security scholar,  environment writer for The Guardian; latest book, A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It. Les Levidow, CAMPACC

Chair: Kat Craig, Reprieve, Legal Director of the Abuses in Counter-Terrorism (ACT) and Vice-Chair of Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Find out more

 

NEWS
1. Demirtaş: The state should change the attitude towards Öcalan
2. Photos Reveal Torture on Advocate Kozağaçlı
3. Izmir Police Allegedly Files Kurdish and Alevi Students
4. Bayık: the Turkish government has until spring
5. AKP Diyarbakır candidate says territory where Kurds live is ‘Kurdistan’
6. Eight hearing of the case against Kurdish journalists in Istanbul
7. Önder Declared As Istanbul Mayor Candidate
8. Over 50 Syrian Kurdish civilians kidnapped by Islamic-Jihadists: NGO
9. Al-Qaeda in Syria targets Turkmen minority
10. The second phase in Rojava
11. Kurds seek autonomy in a federal Syria: top official
12. Iraq to ‘Unconditionally’ Open Border with Syrian Kurdish Regions
13. MPs are ready to provide support for Rojava
14. Turkey stands by Kurdish oil deal, seeks to appease Baghdad
15. Kurdistan-Turkey pipeline on agenda at oil conference
16. EUTCC sent letter to Öcalan and Erdoğan
17. EUTCC Conference: Europe should act, not just express support
18. Phillips: AKP “Democracy Package” failed to address several issues
19. Aydar: Many things happened since the last EU conference

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
20. When journalists get it wrong – reporting the Kurdish tragedy
21. Turkey’s foreign policy reset will not be easy
22. Will Erdogan visit genocide memorial in 2015?
23. Turkey’s weak poker face in tensions with Iraq
24. Muslim: We will not allow for a second Lausanne
25. What a difference six months makes
26. Exclusive interview with the senior Russian diplomat Bogdanov
27. The United States should accept the inevitable, rising Kurdistan

STATEMENTS
28. PYD: The formation of a preparatory committee to establish the Transitional Self-Management project in western Kurdistan, encompassing all components of the region
29. “Dismantling the walls an indispensable part of the freedom and democracy struggle” – KCK Statement

ACTIONS
30. Resolution on Press Freedom in Turkey

 

NEWS

1. Demirtaş: The state should change the attitude towards Öcalan
4 December 2013 / Kurdish Info
BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said that debates over whether Kurds existed had been replaced by discussions on the position Kurds should adopt in the Middle East and the World. Demirtaş said that the current resolution process had begun in October last year at the initiative of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and Prime Minister Erdoğan, adding: “Today our political delegations visit İmralı. State representatives are also constantly going to the island. Even if the discussions of the delegations with Mr  Öcalan are not officially recorded, they are still recorded. The day will come when they will be seen by everyone.” Demirtaş said these talks were significant: “The important thing is that these talks are taking place, and that those involved are being engaged.”

2. Photos Reveal Torture on Advocate Kozağaçlı
3 December 2013 / Bianet
Photographs have been submitted to the case file, revealing the torture on Selçuk Kozağaçlı, Contemporary Lawyers Association Chairman Selçuk Kozağaçlı, when he refused to give blood and saliva samples during police detention on January 20.  “Selçuk Kozağaçlı has been transferred to police station jail and ordered to submit fingerprint for procedures. ‘Court order is unlawful and I won’t submit fingerprints. I will resist’, he said. He showed resistance to law enforcement authorities. He attempted to give blood samples by squeezing his arms. Following that, law enforcement gradually used force to draw blood samples. He also did the same during fingerprint submission,” police logs said.

3. Izmir Police Allegedly Files Kurdish and Alevi Students
27 November 2013 / Bianet
Izmir police allegedly applied to secondary school administrations, demanding the lists of students with Kurdish and Alevi background.  “Police reportedly told teachers that they would talk to family members to keep their children off from crime,”  Abdullah Tunalı, local administrator of Eğitim-Sen in Izmir, told bianet.  “We sent messages to our members not to disclose any information regarding the profile of students.”  Previously, police authorities in the western province of Izmir launched a project called “School Police”. Choosing Izmir as its pilot region, the project aimed to “prevent acts of violence in schools”.  Tunalı claimed that civilly-dressed police officers visited public schools and held interviews with student advisors regarding the matter.

4. Bayık: the Turkish government has until spring
4 December 2013 / ANF
KCK Co-chair Bayık states that they have given the government until spring, and that in order to galvanise the processletters have been sent to Öcalan and Erdoğan.
We are allowing them until spring
KCK Co-chair Cemil Bayık answered questions put to him by Necip Çapraz from Yüksekova Haber. Bayık drew attention to the fact that the AKP government had not responded to KCK President Öcalan’s demands for proper negotiations, and instead of taking steps towards this was trying to produce arguments to justify its stance. Bayık added that the AKP’s mentality was not one of resolution, adding: “It can’t openly reject it and tries to portray itself as in favour of a resolution. It apparently says, ‘we have come to an agreement with Apo, and we will implement it bit by bit in the future.’

5. AKP Diyarbakır candidate says territory where Kurds live is ‘Kurdistan’
4 December 2013 / Hurriyet
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s candidate for the Diyarbakır mayoral seat has said the territory where Kurds live in Turkey is called Kurdistan.
“I wouldn’t hesitate to call every territory where Kurds live Kurdistan. I myself am Kurdish as well, and I live there,” Galip Ensarioğlu said late Dec. 3, speaking in an interview on broadcaster CNN Türk. However Ensarioğlu, who is preparing to run for the post during March 2014 local elections, asserted that his remarks did not imply the necessity of a sovereign Kurdistan state.

6. Eight hearing of the case against Kurdish journalists in Istanbul
3 December 2013 / Infoturk
The eight hearing of the so-called “KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) Press Committee” case is being resumed at Istanbul 15th High Criminal Court in Silivri Prison Complex. 46 workers of the Kurdish press, including those for Dicle News Agency (DİHA), Fırat News Agency (ANF), Özgür Gündem, Azadiya Welat, Demokratik Modernite and Fırat Distribution, were arrested in the scope of a KCK operation on 20 December 2011. Twenty among them are under arrest ever since. The hearing which is also being monitored by many journalists and press workers began on Tuesday with ANF (Fırat News Agency) reporter Zeynep Ceren Kuray’s statement of defense.

7. Önder Declared As Istanbul Mayor Candidate
4 December 2013 / Bianet
People’s Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairs Sebahat Tuncel and Ertuğrul Kürkçü held a press conference, declaring their prep work to the upcoming municipal elections in March 2014.  While Tuncel underlined that the continuation of peace process and the need for a new constitution must not be sacrificed for the elections, Kürkçü announced Sırrı Süreyya Önder as their Istanbul mayor candidate.  Candidates for Izmir and Ankara, on the other hand, will be determined by people’s initiative, they declared. They also added that they will run also under HDP in Malatya, Erzincan and Maraş, and under BDP in Mersin.

8. Over 50 Syrian Kurdish civilians kidnapped by Islamic-Jihadists: NGO
5 December 2013 / eKurd
Islamic-jihadists in northern Syria have kidnapped more than 50 Kurds in the past three days, in the second such case of mass hostage-taking since July, a monitoring group said Thursday. The kidnappings come months into major battles for control of several parts of northern Syria that have pitted Kurdish fighters against jihadists, chiefly the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS). “In the past three days, ISIS has kidnapped at least 51 Kurds in the towns of Minbej and Jarablus,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Among the hostages were nine children and a woman, said the Britain-based group, adding that there was no information on where they had been taken. Minbej and Jarablus are located in Aleppo province, which is home to a Kurdish minority. The kidnappings come weeks after Kurdish fighters further east, in the Kurdish region [western Kurdistan],www.Ekurd.net expelled jihadists after battles that lasted several months.

9. Al-Qaeda in Syria targets Turkmen minority
3 December 2013 / Al Monitor
As al-Qaeda-linked fighters push for control over northern Syria, they have singled out a new and vulnerable target: the country’s small Turkmen minority. Over the past two months, the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has been menacing a cluster of Turkmen villages wedged between the Turkish province of Hatay and the Mediterranean Sea. The Turkmen call the area  “Bayir,” which means “cliff” in their native Turkish. On a recent night, I stood with a group of Turkmen fighters on the Turkish side of the border and watched a Syrian army tank positioned on a nearby mountain shell the villages at a slow but steady pace. “We used to live in peace in our orchards, now we are being attacked from all sides,” said Omar Abdullah from the Omar al-Mokhtar brigade. “The regime bombs us with MiGs [Russian-made fighter jets] from the air, with tanks from the land and with ships from the sea, and now we are being attacked by ISIS,” he said.

10. The second phase in Rojava
4 December 2013 / ANF
Rojava has moved on to the second phase of its project of Temporary Administration. The Constitutive Assembly, meeting for the second time, has decided to establish the regions of Efrîn, Kobanê and Cizîrê as three autonomous regions.  Aldar Xelîl, a member of the Kurdish High Council, indicated that this decision was taken as a result of Rojava’s current conditions, and highlighted that this was just an initial step in the formative of Rojava’s Administration. Xelîl said “On the subject of its formation we are insistent. No matter what the circumstances we will accomplish this. We will do it out of the need to keep the promise we made to our people.”

11. Kurds seek autonomy in a federal Syria: top official
2 December 2013 / Journal of Turkish Weekly
Syria’s Democratic Union Party (PYD) hopes to create an autonomous Kurdish region in a federal Syria, PYD leader Saleh Muslim has told Agence France-Presse in an interview. Speaking during a visit to France, Muslim confirmed that a commission was in the process of preparing a Constitution for the northeastern and northwestern regions of Syria that are majority Kurdish. “The [Syrian] Kurdistan region will be divided into three autonomous provinces: Kobani [center], Afrin [west] and Qamishli [east],” he said, speaking through a Kurdish-French translator. “The goal is not to secede, but the Kurds want a federal system in Syria.”

12. Iraq to ‘Unconditionally’ Open Border with Syrian Kurdish Regions
4 December 2013 / Rudaw
The Iraqi government has decided to “unconditionally” open its western border with the Syrian Kurdish town of Til Kocer, according to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the dominant Kurdish group in Syria. Jafar Akashi, the PYD spokesman in Erbil, told Firat News that Iraq decided to open the border in order to allow humanitarian aid for people across the border. The Til Kocer border crossing – the most strategic held by Syrian Kurds to date – was seized by the PYD’s Peoples Protection Units (YPG) in October after weeks of fierce fighting with the radical Jabhat al-Nusrah and other jihadist groups. Akashi said that, at a meeting of PYD and Iraqi leaders, Baghdad had acknowledged the need to open the border to people in desperate need of food and medicine.

13. MPs are ready to provide support for Rojava
5 December 2013 / Dicle News Agency
A number of parliamentarians from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan visited PYD bureau in Sulaymaniyah. MPs showed their willingness to provide all forms of support to the development and success of the self-administration promoted democracy in Ava, displaying their support and their support for the project.  A number of parliamentarians from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in the South Kurdistan visited Democratic Union Party (PYD) bureau in Sulaymaniyah. MPs showed their willingness to provide all forms of support to the development and success of the self-administration promoted democracy in Ava, displaying their support and their support for the project. Critics continued regional authorities shut Saemalka crossing.

14. Turkey stands by Kurdish oil deal, seeks to appease Baghdad
2 December 2013 / Reuters
Turkey said on Monday it stood by a bilateral oil deal with Iraq’s Kurdistan region that bypassed central government but sought to appease Baghdad by drawing it into the arrangement. Reuters reported Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan signed a multi-billion-dollar energy package last week, infuriating Baghdad which claims sole authority over oil exports and is wary of any move that could extend political autonomy in the region. Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz met Iraqi deputy prime minister for energy, Hussain al-Shahristani, in Baghdad on Sunday to try to mend ties with a federal government which says independent Kurdish oil exports would be illegal. The affair has soured relations between Ankara and Baghdad.

15. Kurdistan-Turkey pipeline on agenda at oil conference
3 December 2013 / Press TV
Kurdish officials have once again reiterated their commitment to the Iraqi central government at an oil and gas conference in Arbil. The Kurdistan Region’s new independent oil pipeline via Turkey is high on the agenda at the conference. Kurdistan’s regional prime minister says the pipeline will not pose a threat to any country.  Barzani says the pipeline will let Kurdistan contribute money to Iraq’s income. But Kurdistan’s contributions will probably not start for a long time. The region wants to use the oil money for alleged unpaid expenses by Baghdad and compensation for Saddam Hussein’s genocide of Kurds. Iraq’s central government has threatened to cut Kurdistan’s budget if the exports go ahead.

16. EUTCC sent letter to Öcalan and Erdoğan
3 December 2013 / ANF
The EUTCC (European Union Turkey Civic Commission) has sent a letter to Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, asking them to send a message for the 10th International Kurdish Conference. Turkey, the Kurds and the Imrali Peace Process: An Historic Opportunity. This is the title of the 10th conference on EU, Turkey and Kurds which will be held at the European Parliament in Brussels on 4 and 5 December, and will be the occasion to talk about the state of the current process in Turkey towards a peaceful solution of the Kurdish question. The letter, reportedly sent to Öcalan and Erdoğan by EUTCC chair Kariane Westrheim and EUTCC secretary general Michael Gunter, saluted the İmralı talks and voiced concerns over the deadlock it is currently facing.

17. EUTCC Conference: Europe should act, not just express support
5 December 2013 / Infoturk
The 10th conference on Europe, Turkey and the Kurds, opened this afternoon at the European Parliament. Opening the two days conference EUTCC (European Union Turkey Civic Commission) president Kariane Westrheim, said “it is not enough for the European Union to say we support the current process of talks. Facts should follow words. – she added – And one of these facts could be lifting the PKK from the terrorist organizations list” The opening speeches reiterated how the Imralı peace process is an “historic opportunity” to put an end to the conflict. Independent Kurdish MP Leyla Zana listed some of the necessary steps needed to facilitate the process of dialogue: “It is important that sick prisoners are released from jail – she said – It is also important to change the anti terrorism law and to take a more comprehensive step on the release of political prisoners.”

18. Phillips: AKP “Democracy Package” failed to address several issues
6 December 2013 / ANF
Speaking on the second and final day of the 10th Conference on Europe, Turkey and the Kurds, David L. Phillips said AKP so called “democracy package” failed to eliminate race, ethnicity, language or religion as the constitutional basis for citizenship and to amend or repeal Article 8 of the Anti-Terrorism Law, which offers too broad a definition of terrorism, Article 301 of the Penal Code, which makes it a crime to “denigrate Turkishness,” as well as articles 215, 216, 217 and 220 that have been used to limit freedom of expression.nPhillips who is currently Director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, also underlined that the package failed to release members of the Union of Kurdish Communities (KCK), thousands of whom were arrested between 2009 and 2011 for pro-Kurdish activities and face charges for “membership of a terrorist organization.” And in the end it failed to offer a plan for disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating the PKK, including amnesty arrangements.

19. Aydar: Many things happened since the last EU conference
6 December 2013 / ANF
Speaking at the 10th Conference on Europe, Turkey and the Kurds, at the European Parliament, Zübeyir Aydar, Member of the Executive Board of Kurdistan National Congress, remembered that “a year ago, when the 9th conference commenced right here, there was at that time no conditions for any sort of dialog. On that day, in my speech, I stated that ‘if here is was an opportunity for negotiations, the Kurds will respond in a positive light’. This is what happened. 22 days after the 9th conference, Turkish prime minter Mr Tayip Erdogan publicly confirmed that he had been meeting with Mr Abdullah Ocalan”.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

20. When journalists get it wrong – reporting the Kurdish tragedy
6 December 2013 / Your Middle East
International coverage of the Kurdish conflict in Turkey is an astounding evidence of irresponsible journalism. Most of the information delivered reflects anything but a correct understanding of how, where and why the conflict began in the first place, who are the people behind it, and what are the political motivations of the forces involved. Correctly answering the outlined questions are basic journalistic guidelines, but they mean next to nothing when it comes to reporting Turkey’s Kurds. Turkey’s Kurdish armed uprising first began in 1984, several years after the Turkish junta outlawed Kurdish language, culture and officially defined Kurds as, ”Mountain Turks”, in the education curriculum. The junta had also abolished the parliament and banned the constitution, followed by mass arrests and execution of thousands of liberal/left activists across the country, Turks and Kurds alike.

21. Turkey’s foreign policy reset will not be easy
1 December 2013 / Al Monitor
Turkey’s foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, was a shining star until the Arab Spring bloomed and misguided developments followed. In the course of the change that began in Tunisia and culminated in the toppling of the Hosni Mubarak regime in Egypt and reached the borders of Syria, everyone in the world was familiar with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s formula of “zero problems with neighbors policy.” That formula was seen as illustrating the success of Turkey’s foreign policy achievements under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s premiership.

22. Will Erdogan visit genocide memorial in 2015?
1 December 2013 / Al Monitor
“It is very likely for the prime minister to go to Armenia, lay a wreath at the so-called Armenian genocide memorial and apologize to Armenians.” This earth-shattering prediction is not based on information or reports. It’s the accusation of a Turkish nationalist against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan has done so many things to upset us, this nationalist is saying, don’t be surprised if he apologizes to the Armenians. True. Erdogan’s trip to Diyarbakir, his use of the word “Kurdistan” and admitting openly that his government is negotiating with Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan, are all breaking important taboos for Turkey. Can Erdogan break a similar taboo on the issue of the Armenian genocide?

23. Turkey’s weak poker face in tensions with Iraq
4 December 2013 / Al Monitor
I heard the sensational news report around noon Saturday: “As of last night [Friday, Nov. 29], Iraq has closed all its air space, including the Kurdish region, to planes registered in Turkey.” While I was checking the reliability of the report, the real shocker appeared on Hurriyet’s website: “According to the exclusive news Hurriyet.com has [received], the tension between Ankara and Baghdad has reached a breaking point after it was revealed that an agreement had been signed between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on the sale and transport of Kurdish oil. Reports we have say the Baghdad central government has closed the Northern Iraqi air space to private planes coming from Turkey. Turkish sources said they have heard similar reports and they were now checking its veracity with the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority and waiting for an answer.”

24. Muslim: We will not allow for a second Lausanne
6 December 2013 / ANF
The co-President of the Party of Democracy Unity (PYD) Salih Muslim has repeated the desire that the High Kurdish Council participate in the second round of Geneva talks as an independent party, saying “we will not allow for a second Lausanne. They are trying to play the same game but Kurds will not be deceived as in 1923. We will neither betray our martyrs nor oblige ourselves to the United States or the Turkish state. The Kurdish people are obliged to none but themselves. While there is still remains one Kurd in Kurdistan we will fight for our freedom.” Kurds want to participate in the Second Geneva Conference, which aims to bring the conflicting parties in Syria the negotiating table, as an independent party and not as a part of any opposition group.

25. What a difference six months makes
5 December 2013 / The Hill
I first visited Domiz refugee camp in May 2013. Situated near the city of Dohuk in northern Iraq, and spread out over 1.5 million square meters of land which once housed an army base, the camp accommodates around 45,000 Syrian Kurds who have escaped from the conflict in their homeland, the border of which is just 70 kilometers away. That first visit was a profoundly depressing one. In a report written for UNHCR, the UN’s Refugee Agency, I observed that the camp was “critically congested,” and noted that “while UNHCR has advocated for the allocation of additional land by the government, this has for the most part not occurred.” The report went on to say that “the camp is below standards in many sectors and the living situation in many parts of Domiz is unacceptable.”

26. Exclusive interview with the senior Russian diplomat Bogdanov
5 December 2013 / World Bulletin
The Russian president Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to the Middle East, Mihail Bogdanov, expressed his views on the Syrian crisis, relations with Kurdish groups, and the Palestinian conflict. When it comes to the Middle East, the name of one Russian diplomat has been repeated more frequently than others. He is responsible for many issues ranging from the Syrian civil war and Palestinian-Israeli negotiations to relations with Iraq and the Arab Spring. He is Mihail Bogdanov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister. He is also due to attend the Geneva II peace talks as President Putin’s special envoy to the Middle East.

27. The United States should accept the inevitable, rising Kurdistan
4 December 2013 / eKurd
An inevitable result of the tumult of the past decade in the Middle East is that the Kurds, previously a minority in several countries, are moving steadily toward establishing their own nation. The Kurds are 30 million largely Sunni Muslims, with their own language, living mostly in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. The governments of these countries have sometimes found them troublesome as a minority, with irredentist tendencies and a persistent desire for their own state. They remained under control in these places until the first and second American invasions of Iraq, in 1991 and 2003, when the United States took the Kurds under its wing. For instance, the U.S. Air Force maintained an expensive “no fly” zone over the Kurds’ region after the first Gulf War.

STATEMENTS

28. PYD: The formation of a preparatory committee to establish the Transitional Self-Management project in western Kurdistan, encompassing all components of the region, 30 November 2013.

29. “Dismantling the walls an indispensable part of the freedom and democracy struggle” – KCK Statement. 5 December 2013. https://peaceinkurdistancampaign.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/dismantling-the-walls-an-indispensable-part-of-the-freedom-and-democracy-struggle-kck/

ACTIONS

30. Resolution on Press Freedom in Turkey, World Association of Newspapers and News publishers. 3 December 2013.

 

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