Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 18 – 14 January 2014

NEWS
1. New developments in Paris killings threaten to derail PKK peace talks
2. French prosecutors ask Turkey for details about Paris murder suspect
3. KCK Case Defendants Apply to Constitutional Court
4. KESK trial begun with police attacking crowd
5. Turkey is fighting PYD: Erdogan
6. Kurds solidify autonomy in Syria on eve of peace talks
7. Syrian Kurds Announce Local Government in Cizire
8. Syria’s Kurds will declare self-rule in all Kurdish regions within a week
9. Iran pleased with PYD transitional administration
10. PYD to open representative office in Baghdad
11. Syria Daily: Assad Delegation and Opposition Refuse Direct Talks
12. Internal Syrian opposition group rejects Geneva 2 talks
13. Syrian Kurds protest exclusion from Geneva II talks
14. Salih Muslim: The solution is democratic autonomy
15. Christians and Kurds Form Coalition in Syria
16. VIDEO: Russian TV visit Qandil Mountains
17. Program of the 11th International Symposium against Isolation

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
18. Ocalan: My real role in Kurds’ struggle for freedom
19. Special Report – Amid Syria’s violence, Kurds carve out autonomy
20. The rise of Syria’s Kurds
21. What Are the Prospects for Syria’s Kurds After Assad?
22. The Kurds and Geneva II
23. The Lausanne II Talks
24. Lines of the Game: Geneva II to End the Syrian Opposition?
25. Between Paralysis and Fatigue: The “Geneva 2” Negotiations on the Syrian Civil War
26. Hastily drawn colonial map is producing a century-late explosion
27. Guns, Widows, & What You Don’t Hear About Syria: An interview with Margaret Owen
28. Kurdish women fight for equality in Syria
29. Sidelined Syrian Kurds look for new allies

STATEMENTS
30. KCK: ‘These murders couldn’t have taken place without the support of intelligence services”

REPORTS
31. Human Rights Watch World Report 2014: Turkey – Growing Intolerance for Dissent

ACTIONS
32. Turkey: Trials against trade unionists

BOOKS
33. The Rise of Turkey: The Twenty-First Century’s First Muslim Power

 

NEWS

1. New developments in Paris killings threaten to derail PKK peace talks
21 January 2014 / Al Monitor
On Jan. 10, 2013, three women, members of the Kurdish diaspora in Europe, were found shot and killed in an information center run by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Paris. The brutal executions sparked outrage among Turkey’s Kurds and raised serious concerns that an attempt was underway to sabotage peace talks between the PKK and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan himself described the assassinations as an attempt to wipe out the peace process.

2. French prosecutors ask Turkey for details about Paris murder suspect connections
22 January 2014 / Todays Zaman
Paris prosecutors conducting an investigation into the assassination of three female members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have asked Turkish officials to provide the names of the owners of 57 telephone numbers that the prime suspect, Ömer Güney, had called during his stay in the city. In a news story reported in the Vatan daily on Wednesday, prosecutors Jeanne Duye and Christophe Teissier sent a rogatory letter, a special request to Turkish officials to solicit crucial information that the prosecutors have deemed highly relevant and necessary for the probe.

3. KCK Case Defendants Apply to Constitutional Court
20 January 2014 / Bianet
Peace and Democracy Party applied to the Constitutional Court for the release of defendants in KCK case their release, saying that their long arrest periods violated the Constitution Articles 19 (on individual freedom and security rights) and 67 (on right to elect, be elected and involve in political activities).  “My clients are elected mayors and municipal assembly members who have been jailed for five years. Not only that their individual rights have been violated but also their rights to represent people,” Tahir Elçi told bianet.

4. KESK trial begun with police attacking crowd
23 January 2014 / ANF
The first hearing of 56 executives and members of the KESK trade union federation, 29 of them in custody, has begun today at the 16th High Criminal Court at the Çaglayan courthouse in Istanbul. Police have attacked a group of unionists and families of the defendants demonstrating outside the courthouse. One person was injured. The police operation against the Public Employees Union Confederation (KESK) on 19 February 2013 in Istanbul was described as a “DHKP-C operation”. The 56 defendants are accused of “membership of an illegal organisation” and “being a leading member of an illegal organisation”. Three people in custody who are not KESK members are also on trial.

5. Turkey is fighting PYD: Erdogan
23 January 2014 / Kurdpress
Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country is fighting Syria pro- Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as well as al- Qaeda and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Addressing a press conference after his meeting with EU officials in Belgium, Erdogan claimed parallel states and lines are trying in and out of Turkey to introduce the country as a terrorist supporter “while Turkey is fighting different group among them the PKK, al- Qaeda, the PYD and the communist group of DHKPC.” “Introducing Turkey as a terrorist supporter is a heinous plot against our country’s benefits,” he added. The remarks came the day Syrian Kurds, and the PYD as the armed wing providing security in Kurdish regions, declared autonomous administration in the Kurdish region of Cezire and are due to complete their autonomy project by declaring it in two other regions.

6. Kurds solidify autonomy in Syria on eve of peace talks
21 January 2014 / Reuters
Kurds in Syria declared a provincial government in the north of the country on Tuesday, consolidating their geographic and political presence on the eve of peace talks in Switzerland at which they will not be represented. The municipal council will run affairs in one of three administrative districts set up by Kurds, who have seized upon the chaos of Syria’s civil war to assert control in the northeast of the country. The body, which will preside over an area including the cities of Hassaka and Qamishli, has its own president and ministers of foreign affairs, defence, justice and education, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

7. Syrian Kurds Announce Local Government in Cizire
21 January 2014 / Rudaw
Syria’s Kurds, who unilaterally declared autonomy last month over three provinces, said Tuesday they have formed a municipal council in one of those regions. The Kurdish canton of Cizire said that the local government would have its own president and 22 ministries. The declaration came after a meeting of the Legislative Assembly of Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) in Amude.  Similar councils are to be named for the other two cantons, Afrin and Kobani. According to Firatnews, 52 parties, civil society organization, youth and women’s movements and 15 independent individuals attended the assembly meeting. The 22 ministries declared by the Gizire canton include the ministries of foreign relations, defense and youth affairs.

8. Syria’s Kurds will declare self-rule in all Kurdish regions within a week
23 January 2014 / Hurriyet
Syrian Kurds, who have already declared “transitional democratic autonomy” in one of the three Kurdish-majority areas of northern Syrian (Rojava), are now set to declare self-rule in the other two Kurdish regions within a week, local politicians have said. “The preparations in the other two regions are still continuing; we will declare democratic autonomy in Afrin and Kobani,” Zohat Kobani, one of the prominent leaders of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), told daily Hürriyet. Rojava Kurds first declared autonomy in Jazeera.

9. Iran pleased with PYD transitional administration
18 January 2014 / Bas News
The Iranian government is pleased with the PYD’s declaration of a local transitional administration in the Kurdish areas of Syria.  Iranian Radio Farda reported that the Iranian government and President Bashar al-Assad are pleased with last week’s declaration of an interim government. Iranian media agencies are praising the efforts by the PYD in fighting extremists in northern Syria. According to these media outlets, the People’s Protection Unit (YPG) have defeated extremists in 16 villages of Syria’s Kurdish region.

10. PYD to open representative office in Baghdad
22 January 2014 / Bas News
The Democratic Union Party (PYD) plans to open a representative office in the Iraqi Capital Baghdad. Ja’afer Hannan, a PYD representative in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, told BasNews the aim of opening party representative offices is to foster stronger relationships with all neighboring countries. The PYD is considered the strongest Kurdish Party in Syria, however some refer to the party as the Syrian branch of Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

11. Syria Daily: Assad Delegation and Opposition Refuse Direct Talks
24 January 2014 / EA Worldview
President Assad’s delegation at the Geneva II conference has refused to enter direct talks with the opposition Syrian National Coalition. United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi had hoped the discussions could begin on Friday afternoon, but both Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem and senior Assad advisor Bouthaina Shaaban made clear on Thursday that there could be no exchange unless the opposition renounced “terrorism”. Shaaban went farther and said the Coalition, led by Ahmed Jarba, only represented a small number of the Syrian people. The Coalition also refused direct discussions unless the regime delegation accepted a June 2012 clause for a transitional governing authority, one which the opposition insists will not include President Assad. “We have explicitly demanded a written commitment from the regime delegation to accept Geneva 1. Otherwise there will be no direct negotiations,” opposition delegate Haitham al-Maleh said.

12. Internal Syrian opposition group rejects Geneva 2 talks
16 January 2014 / Reuters
Syria’s centrist internal opposition group, which rejects the armed insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad, said on Thursday that it will not attend peace talks in Switzerland next week, in a setback for the negotiations. Khaled Dahowd, an executive member of the National Coordination Body (NCB), accused Russia and the United States of rushing the conference to promote their own interests in the region, rather than those of the Syrian people. The NCB has tense relations with the main umbrella opposition body in exile, known as the National Coalition, which is rife with internal divisions and will only decide whether it will send representatives at a meeting on January 17. The peace talks are set to start in Montreux on January 22.

13. Syrian Kurds protest exclusion from Geneva II talks
24 January 2014 / Your Middle East

Syrian Kurds protested Thursday their exclusion from UN-brokered peace talks in Switzerland, and vowed to forge ahead with their own freedom drive in territories they control. “Some forces are trying to exclude us from the solutions they are looking for, and they’re not representing anybody,” said Saleh Muslim, leader of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD). “We will continue our struggle until we get our democratic rights,” he told reporters in Geneva, where the Syrian government and opposition were to hold separate meetings with the UN mediator on Friday, two days after angry exchanges at the so-called Geneva II international peace conference in the Swiss city of Montreux.

14. Salih Muslim: The solution is democratic autonomy
24 January 2014 / ANF
Salih Muslim, the co-president of the PYD, has held a press conference in Swiss Press Club in Geneva, Switzerland, where peace negotiations between the Syrian government and Western-sponsored opposition opened this week. The PYD, which demanded that Kurds we recognized as independent party at any talks, is not participating in the talks. Muslim was joined at the press conference by TEV-DEM coordinating committee member İlham Ehmed, Hanibal Yacoubu of the Syriac Unity Party, and the President of the Syriac Unity Council Bessam İshak. İshak spoke first, pointing out that together Kurds and Syriacs accounted for 20% of the Syrian population, saying that “these were among the first groups who developed a opposition in Syria and are important, organized forces. But until today they have been kept out of the political arena. This is the approach today and it continues. That we were kept out of the Geneva-2 Conference is also a demonstration of this.”

15. Christians and Kurds Form Coalition in Syria
23 January 2014 / AINA

Jubilee Campaign USA and Jubilee Campaign Netherlands are jointly announcing with Law & Liberty Trust the alliance of the Syriacs and Kurds of Syria for the strategic purpose of representing both minorities at the negotiation table in Geneva. We are also revealing the new initiative for the Christian Coalition for Syria which will bring together global Christian entities to create a relevant support front for Christians in Syria. On this day of the “Geneva II” talks on Syria, we are writing to ask for your participation and support for this newly formed movement called the Christian Coalition for Syria (CCFS) and its goals.

16. VIDEO: Russian TV visit Qandil Mountains [Russian]
21 January 2014 / Youtube
Russian TV visited PKK headquarters in Kandil Mountain after Syrian Kurd declared Autonomy for Kurdish people in Northern Syria (West Kurdistan)

17. Program of the 11th International Symposium against Isolation
24 January 2014 / IPAI
A two day conference in Amsterdam featuring sessions on political prisoners across the world; the prosecution of the CHD lawyers in Turkey; occupation and new forms of struggle; imperialist interventions and more.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

18. Ocalan: My real role in Kurds’ struggle for freedom
20 January 2014 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
I am writing in response to an editorial published in your newspaper on the occasion of Nelson Mandela’s death (5 December). The article drew comparisons between Mandela, Nehru, Aung Sang Suu Kyi and me. Such comparisons belying a hegemonic mindset demonstrate a lack of understanding of the reality of those faced with struggling for freedom. In describing me as “feared and worshipped”, I detect hostility towards those who are forced to rely on their self-belief in their struggle against slavery, massacres and policies of denial. Since I have been imprisoned under conditions of solitary confinement on an island for the last 14 years, it is difficult to see how I can be credibly described as a source of fear for anyone except perhaps my captors.

19. Special Report – Amid Syria’s violence, Kurds carve out autonomy
22 January 2014 / Reuters

In the northeast corner of Syria, a pocket of stability is emerging amid the country’s civil war. Here the talk is of building, not bombing. Local leaders have launched projects to revive normal life and encourage people to stay. They are creating a regional administration, producing cheap fuel, subsidising seeds for crops and trying to restore electricity to an area that had lost power for nearly 24 hours a day. And so far they are fighting off the forces of both President Bashar al-Assad and the rebels who want to oust him.

20. The rise of Syria’s Kurds
23 January 2014 / Al Jazeera
Syrian Kurds declared an autonomous government in northern Syria on Tuesday, a move that follows in the footsteps of Iraqi Kurds who have established what scholars often describe as a prosperous “quasi-state” thanks to the US-led wars in Iraq in 1991 and 2003. Though the declaration of autonomy by Syrian Kurds defies both Turkey and the US, its timing is ideal and nobody seems to be able to reverse the move in a region mired in turmoil. Coming just a day before the Geneva II conference, where Kurds have no direct representation, the announcement has raised further doubts about the effectiveness of world powers to find a top-down solution for Syria’s increasingly multi-dimensional conflict.

21. What Are the Prospects for Syria’s Kurds After Assad?
24 January 2014 / Rudaw
The Democratic Union Party (PYD), which was able to take control of the country’s Kurdish regions in a deal with the Damascus regime, faces formidable challenges in sustaining its rule over Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan). To begin with, Rojava is surrounded by unwelcoming players. In addition, PYD leaders are pursuing policies that are earning them no favors. With the survival of Bashar al-Assad hanging in the balance, the Kurds of Rojava need external support to survive. Despite the complex predictions of the situation in a post-Assad era, the current internal voices against the Kurds will become louder.

22. The Kurds and Geneva II
20 January 2014 / Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

The Syrian Kurds have failed to get support from the United States and Russia to have an independent delegation for the upcoming Geneva II Syrian peace conference, slated to begin on January 22. They now fear that the Kurdish issue will be ignored in the conference, despite the fact that Kurds control a significant part of northern Syria, including many oil-producing areas. At first it was unclear if the Syrian Kurdish political organizations could solve their differences, which have been exacerbated by tension between Kurdish groups in Iraq and Turkey. Competition between Kurdistan Democratic Party leader Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the main Kurdish party in Turkey, over the leadership of the Kurds, were at the core of the differences between Kurdish parties in Syria.

23. The Lausanne II Talks
23 January 2014 / Rudaw

The long-awaited “Syrian peace conference” is going on in Switzerland as I write this week’s column.  Dubbed “Geneva II” after meetings on Syria in Geneva last year, the United States describes the main goal of the conference as “establishing a transitional administration to govern Syria by mutual consent,” and hence stop the fighting. The Russian foreign minister tried to cast a positive light on what has been, by all accounts, a very poor first day for the conference: “For the first time in three years of the bloody conflict, the sides – for all their accusations – agreed to sit down at the negotiating table.”

24. Lines of the Game: Geneva II to End the Syrian Opposition?
22 January 2014 / Al Akhbar

Geneva II is a surreal conference, not much different than the surrealism of the top artists who once lived in the magnificent city of Montreux, Switzerland. The official Syrian delegation heads to the conference to assert the regime’s legitimacy in the fight against terror, only to discover that Saudi and international traps have been laid for it and its ally Iran. The opposition delegation heads to Montreux seeking to delegitimize the regime, only to find out that an international plot has been hatched to end its role and lay the foundations of a more representative opposition framework for future negotiations.

25. Between Paralysis and Fatigue: The “Geneva 2” Negotiations on the Syrian Civil War
23 January 2014 / Institute of National Security Studies

On January 22, 2014 representatives of the international community once again reconvened in Switzerland in an attempt to broker a negotiated agreement to end the bloody Syrian civil war. Since the last round of international talks in June 2012 (“Geneva 1”), the situation in Syria has deteriorated drastically. While the humanitarian situation has gotten worse, none of the warring parties is substantially closer today to a military victory than at the time of the Geneva 1 talks: on the contrary, despite a number of tactical victories by the regime, the painful stalemate continues and the conflict has become even more fragmented, with conflicts underway between the regime and the opposition, as well as within different segments of the anti-Assad camp. Against this discouraging outlook, the article examines what could be the best outcome of the Geneva 2 talks.

26. Hastily drawn colonial map is producing a century-late explosion
25 January 2014 / The Australian Times
FROM his farmyard porch, Abu Hussein watches the war pass back and forth across a border that his great-grandfather, toiling the same land a century ago, would not have recognised.”It was always safe here,” he said of the farm that straddles the Turkish-Syrian border, beside the village of Bilkimez. “Then three years ago there were a few skirmishes at night between smugglers, Syrian rebels and Turkish soldiers. Next came refugees, crossing my land as they fled fighting in Syria. “Then Syrian artillery landed in my fields. Then came foreign fighters, Sunnis, many of them, passing through here into Syria to fight their jihad.”

27. Guns, Widows, & What You Don’t Hear About Syria: An interview with Margaret Owen
17 January 2014 / Bad Housekeeping
Margaret Owen is the octogenarian director of NGO Widows for Peace through Democracy. I went to her house in London where she fed me baklava while showing me photos of her grandchildren & of the impossibly tiny boat on which she had crossed the Iraqi border the week before. For a woman whose organisation has ‘Peace’ in the title she gets a surprising glint in her eye whilst describing attractive women wielding semi-automatic weapons, and speaks at such a pace that I can only include a harshly reduced version of her conversation here – which is a shame because what she has to say gives an intriguing glimpse into international relations and the status of widows across the world.

28. Kurdish women fight for equality in Syria
22 January 2014 / Reuters
Like her five sisters before her, Ahin left school to help her mother at home. Now she’s training to fight. At a remote Kurdish militia base on the grassy rolling hills near Syria’s border with Iraq, the stocky 19-year-old jumps and crawls with rows of women in olive green fatigues. Their commander barks an order, and they take position and aim their Kalashnikovs. The training camp is a powerful sign of the way Syria’s Kurds are working to create an autonomous region. While both Islamist rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have sidelined women, in this Kurdish area, men are happy to fight alongside them. Kurdish military leaders say about a third of the Kurds’ fighting force are women. Many, like Ahin, would never have dreamed of taking up arms until recently.

29. Sidelined Syrian Kurds look for new allies
17 January 2014 / Deutsche Welle
Syria’s Kurds are locked in conflict with both the Assad regime and Islamist extremists. Their pleas for help have, so far, fallen on deaf ears in the West – and they haven’t been invited to the Geneva peace talks. The Kurds won’t be offered a platform in Switzerland. For a while, they had hoped to be able to send a delegation to the “Geneva Two” peace conference on Syria at the end of January. But they were not invited. The conference had previously raised hopes of making progress on the generations-old Kurdish question. “We won’t allow Geneva Two to become another Lausanne,” Saleh Muslim, co-chairman of the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), had said at the start of December. He was referring to the conference held in the Swiss city of Lausanne in 1923, in which the international community reneged on the prospect of Kurdish autonomy that had been raised shortly before.

STATEMENTS

30. KCK: ‘These murders couldn’t have taken place without the support of intelligence services”, 19 January 2014.

REPORTS

31. Human Rights Watch World Report 2014: Turkey – Growing Intolerance for Dissent, January 2014.

ACTIONS

32. KNK International Appeal for the Geneva II conference
The Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) has put together an international appeal to demand the inclusion of the Kurdish Supreme Council in the Geneva II Peace conference, which is scheduled to take place tomorrow. Hundreds of people, including Nobel Prize winners, members of Parliament from dozens of countries, academics and lawyers have all signed the appeal, calling for the Kurds of Rojava to have a voice in the peace process and a say in the future of Syria.

33. Turkey: Trials against trade unionists
The TUC condemns in the strongest of terms, the Turkish government’s anti-union attacks as well as the abuse of the Turkish legal and judicial system by the authorities. It is An abuse that hinders the trade union movement and in particular the Confederation of Public Sector Workers’ Unions (KESK) […]”

BOOKS

34. The Rise of Turkey: The Twenty-First Century’s First Muslim Power, by Soner Cagaptay.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: