Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 15 -21 February 2014

NEWS
1. Kurds clash with Turkish police at protests for rebel leader’s release
2. Kurds clash with police in southeast Turkey
3. Turkish intelligence MIT number in Omer Guney’s telephone: Paris Kurd killings
4. Turkish Gov’t Seeks Broader Power for Spy Agency
5. Onder: Disrupting Peace Process in Turkey Will Not Benefit Anyone
6. Rojava-Iraq border post officially opened
7. Iraqi Kurdish government snubs Syrian Kurdish group
8. Interview with Ramziya Mohammed: Kurds will no longer be condemned to poverty amidst wealth: Syrian Kurdistan’s Jazeera
9. Syrian Kurdistan model on agenda in Swedish parliament
10. Thousands mark 15th anniversary of Ocalan arrest in Strasbourg
11. Interview with Jonathan Spyer: Kurdish Issue and Politics in Contemporary International Relation

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
12. Should Abdullah Öcalan Be Freed?
13. Kurds who became ‘village guards’ and fought PKK rebels in Turkey to be disbanded – but they fear a betrayal
14. Erdogan Loses It: How the Islamists Forfeited Turkey
15. Turkey spoils emerging market story as politics go haywire
16. Economic Liberalisation, Internal Migration and Income Inequality, A Case Study for Turkey
17. The Women Of Rojava Have Broken Their Chains
18. Women join the Kurdish fight in Syria
19. Syria’s Kurds follow their brothers in bid for autonomy
20. Refugees Ski Too, in Iraq
21. The U.S. Gets the Kurds Wrong—Again
22. Open the door to the Kurds
23. ‘Some Perspectives on Genocide’

STATEMENTS
24. KCK Statement on The 15th anniversary of the international conspiracy against Leader Abdullah Ocalan

NEWS

1. Kurds clash with Turkish police at protests for rebel leader’s release
15 February 2014 / Reuters
Thousands of Kurds demonstrated in towns across south east Turkey on Saturday, some clashing violently with riot police as they called for the release of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan on the 15th anniversary of his capture. Ocalan, leader of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), is viewed by nationalist Turks as responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people in the group’s 30-year war with the Turkish army. But for many of Turkey’s estimated 15 million Kurds, the 64-year-old represents their bitter struggle for greater cultural and political rights.

2. Kurds clash with police in southeast Turkey
15 February 2014 / Al Jazeera
Thousands of Kurds have demonstrated in towns across southeast Turkey, some clashing violently with riot police as they called for the release of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan on the 15th anniversary of his capture. In the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir, about 100 protesters hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at police, who in turn fired tear gas and water cannons on Saturday. Shops kept their shutters lowered in a sign of protest and thousands took to the streets holding up recent photographs of their jailed leader, Reuters news agency reported “The PKK is the people and the people are here,” they chanted.

3. Turkish intelligence MIT number in Omer Guney’s telephone: Paris Kurd killings
21 February 2014 / eKurd
It has emerged that one of the numbers registered in the phone belonging to Paris Kurdish massacre suspect Ömer Güney is that of the MIT (Turkish Intelligence) Erzurum Regional Office. Kurdish activists Sakine Cansaız Fidan Doğan and Leyla Söylemez, were assassinated in Paris on Jan. 9, 2013. A few days after the murders, French police detained Ömer Güney, an ethnic Turk, Cansız’s driver. His computer and mobile devices were seized by the police and he was jailed pending trial.

4. Turkish Gov’t Seeks Broader Power for Spy Agency
21 February 2014 / Fars News Agency
The bill aims to give the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) the authority to carry out missions and surveillance both in Turkey and abroad without the need for a court order, Al-Alam reported. The MIT, which reports to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will also have unlimited access to all documents – from personal information to data on public or banking sector – pertaining to national security. Any journalist who publishes MIT documents face up to 12 years in prison – seen as a fresh attempt by Erdogan to stifle dissent. Erdogan has come under fire at home and abroad for what critics see as increasingly authoritarian policies, including curbs on the judiciary and the Internet.

5. Onder: Disrupting Peace Process in Turkey Will Not Benefit Anyone
16 February 2014 / Rudaw
Interview: Sırrı Sureyya Onder, co-chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey, is also a member of the government delegation that has been talking with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in the Qandil mountains and with Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK leader jailed on Turkey’s Imrali island. This places him in the unique position of knowing the thinking of all the parties engaged in the Ankarak-PKK peace process. In this interview with Rudaw, Onder speaks about Ocalan’s prison life, the leader’s thinking about events in Syria’s Kurdish regions and a delayed Kurdish Congress that was due to gather all Kurdish groups from around the world for talks on adopting a common Kurdish agenda.

6. Rojava-Iraq border post officially opened
19 February 2014 / ANF
The border post at Til Koçer (Ya’rubiyya) between West Kurdistan and Iraq has been officially opened following talks with the Iraqi government.  Spokesperson for the Cizîre Canton administration, Ciwan Mihemed, announced that agreement had been reached with the Iraqi government. According to this agreement, the first between West Kurdistan and a neighbour, priority will be given to the movement of daily necessities through the border crossing. Representatives of the Cizîre Canton administration went to Federal Kurdistan on 12 February and from there to Baghdad. All the major parties in South Kurdistan, apart from Massoud Barzani’s KDP, recognise the democratic autonomous administrations set up in the three cantons, Cizîre, Kobani and Afrin, of West Kurdistan in January this year.

7. Iraqi Kurdish government snubs Syrian Kurdish group
18 February 2014 / Al Monitor
On Feb. 3, Salih Gedo, the unofficial foreign minister of the new Kurdish administration in Syria, announced a diplomatic mission to open relations between the Kurdish administration in Syria with Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Iran and Turkey. But the KRG refused to meet the new minister and rejected the recently announced Kurdish administration in Syria.

8. Interview with Ramziya Mohammed: Kurds will no longer be condemned to poverty amidst wealth: Syrian Kurdistan’s Jazeera
18 February 2014 / eKurd
Ramziya Mohammed, Finance Minister of the Jazeera [Cizîre] Canton, has spoke with ANF about the work of her ministry and the development of a new economic model in Rojava [Syrian Kurdistan] more generally. Mohammed told ANF that a financial policy will be implemented and natural resources will be put to use in a way that is in line with the needs of the people. “Everyone except for the Kurds had the right to use and manage our rich natural resources. Kurds were condemned to poverty while surrounded by all kinds of wealth” – said Mohammed – “Together with the system of Democratic Autonomy the people are building their own, independent economies.”

9. Syrian Kurdistan model on agenda in Swedish parliament
21 February 2014 / eKurd
The proclamation of autonomy by the people of Rojava [Syrian Kurdistan] is currently being debated in the Swedish parliament. The debate follows the release of the Swedish Government’s 2014 Foreign Policy Declaration as different parties within parliament are offering their views on Swedish foreign policy. Bodil Cebellos, the foreign-policy spokesperson of the Environmental Party/The Greens, referred to the proclamation of Democratic Autonomy in Rojava by saying that it could “cut the Gordian knot in Syria.”

10. Thousands mark 15th anniversary of Ocalan arrest in Strasbourg
19 February 2014 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
Forty thousand people rallied in Strasbourg this weekend to demand the release of Abdullah Ocalan on the fifteenth anniversary of his capture, reports ANF. Below are some pictures of the demonstration, in which people joined from all over Europe.

11. Interview with Jonathan Spyer: Kurdish Issue and Politics in Contemporary International Relation
18 February 2014 / Rojhelat
Rojhelat.info: How do you define Kurdish issue? Is it possible to give specific or general definition?
Jonathan: Yes, I think it is. The Kurdish issue is the problem of a large, culturally and linguistically distinctive people of around 40 million who for various reasons have not yet achieved self-determination, and who as a result find themselves divided between a numbers of Middle Eastern states. The problem has been compounded by the fact that all the states in question have been governed by oppressive regimes committed to one or another supposedly unifying ideology which negated the national and cultural claims of the Kurds. Kurdish resistance to oppression has been met with the utmost cruelty, producing a tragic and as yet un-solved situation which is one of the central issues facing the Middle East.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

12. Should Abdullah Öcalan Be Freed?
14 February 2014 / Commentary Magazine
On February 15, 1999, a Turkish commando operation captured Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan in Nairobi, Kenya. Öcalan had been on the run since international pressure on Syria had forced Syrian leader Hafez al-Assad to demand Öcalan no longer call Syria his home. Michael M. Gunter, a professor of political science at Tennessee Technological University and a prolific author regarding the Kurdish issue, interviewed Öcalan at his Damascus residence shortly before the PKK leader departed Syria.

13. Kurds who became ‘village guards’ and fought PKK rebels in Turkey to be disbanded – but they fear a betrayal
16 February 2014 / Independent
Dressed immaculately in a dark blue suit and with his hair perfectly combed, Seymus Akbulut was sitting in front of a portrait of Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s founding father, and a huge Turkish flag. On his desk were two more Ataturks: one on a silver plate, one a glass statuette in a red velvet box. “We love Ataturk,” he said. “Whatever the state wants us to do, we do it.”

14. Erdogan Loses It: How the Islamists Forfeited Turkey
9 February 2014 / Foreign Affairs
The Turkish state changed hands a decade ago, when Islamic conservatives (supported by the liberals) prevailed in elections against the country’s old guard, the rightist nationalists known as Kemalists. It may be about to do so again. The conservative alliance of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the movement of Fethullah Gülen, a Muslim cleric who leads his congregation from self-imposed exile in the United States, has imploded. As it does, the military is gearing up to insert itself into politics once more.

15. Turkey spoils emerging market story as politics go haywire
19 February 2014 / The Telegraph
Turkey is the first big domino to fall in emerging markets, a cautionary tale for investment tourists who came late to the party and skipped the political fine print. Its catch-up growth model reached exhaustion in 2007. The consumption boom that followed has been driven by inflows of hot money, all too like the earlier bubbles in Ireland and Spain.  Its showcase Muslim democracy came off the rails when police opened fire last June on demonstrators in Istanbul’s Taksim Square and cities across the country, killing six and injuring 8,000. Amnesty International accused the government of human rights violations on a “huge scale”.

16. Economic Liberalisation, Internal Migration and Income Inequality, A Case Study for Turkey
16 February 2014 / Research Turkey
Income inequality in the labor-abundant industrializing countries has not decreased in the recent decades in contrast with the predictions of the Stolper-Samuelson theorem (World Bank Development Indicators). The Stolper- Samuelson theorem suggests that as countries start trading with each other, income inequality decreases in the industrializing countries as production moves towards unskilled-labor intensive products, increasing the demand for unskilled labor.  This paper seeks to illustrate that the supply-side determinants of labor markets, along with labor market policies have a significant impact on income inequality. Taking Turkey as a case study, this paper presents a qualitative analysis on sources of income inequality in the transition period to open-economy.

17. The Women Of Rojava Have Broken Their Chains
16 February 2014 / Rojava Report
In a report carried by ANF, Jina Zekioğlu interviews members of a 6-women committee from the Cizîre Canton in Rojava which is currently on a visit to Diyarbakir. The committee is meeting with various local organizations in an attempt to develop joint-projects and to improve cooperation between women’s organizations in Rojava and North Kurdistan.  Zekioğlu spoke with the six women – Necah, Axin, Sadia, Jînda, Nora and Mona – about the Rojava Revolution and the role that women are now playing in transforming politics and society. Below is the second part of Zekioğlu’s report, translated into English. Part one can be found here.

18. Women join the Kurdish fight in Syria
19 February 2014 / Deutsche Welle
About 200 women and girls of the People’s Defence Unit (YPG) in Kurdish Syria stand at the ready on a sandy stretch of ground behind a small hill – tense, staring straight ahead, their Kalashnikov rifles in hand. “This is the brigade’s military base,” Warsin explains. A year ago, Warsin, now 25, joined the Kurdish militia near Qamishli, the unofficial capital of the northern Rojava region of Syria, which is mainly settled by Kurds. Weapon in hand, she is clad in a typical Palestinian scarf and a protective vest. Roj, a petite young woman who fought against the al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front on the Iraqi border, stands beside her. Last winter, the YPG militia drove the Islamists out, Roj proudly states, adding that they managed to chase out Bashar al-Assad’s troops a year before that.

19. Syria’s Kurds follow their brothers in bid for autonomy
18 February 2014 / Hareetz
“This is our country and we’ll fight for it,” a young Kurd holding a Kalashnikov tells a foreign reporter making a documentary on Syria’s autonomous Kurdish province. They chat next to a makeshift checkpoint staffed by young, uniformed women guards, who are also armed with rifles.The movie shows a female Kurdish fighter checking cars and passengers’ IDs. A patch denotes her unit – the People’s Protection Units – established by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, which controls the province. “She will later be killed in a battle with jihadists,” the reporter notes.

20. Refugees Ski Too, in Iraq
16 February 2014 / IPS
No one here has heard of the Sochi Winter Olympics. But the snow conditions are perfect in these Kurdish mountains of Iraq and 11-year-old Syrian refugee Hassan Khishman is thrilled to glide on skis for the first time. “It’s brought back the good times with friends in Syria,” the Syrian Kurd boy tells IPS after sliding down a tiny slope. Located on the Iranian border around 300 km northeast of Baghdad, the mountain village Penjwin was known as a major hub of refugees fleeing Saddam Hussein’s campaigns. Smugglers’ caravans still cross these rugged border valleys with all sorts of goods packed on mule backs. Mines continue to pose a major concern.

21. The U.S. Gets the Kurds Wrong—Again
13 February 2014 / Wall Street Journal
As the Syrian civil war approaches its fourth year, prospects for peace seem dim. The negotiations this week in Geneva are showing as little progress as those late last month, for two clear reasons: First, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s hope that a resurgent Assad regime would offer concessions is a fantasy. Second, there is little correlation between the moderate opposition groups who have Mr. Kerry’s diplomatic blessing and the extremists who hold increasing sway inside Syria.

22. Open the door to the Kurds
15 February 2014 / Washington Post
AS BLOODSHED in Iraq and Syria has steadily escalated, the importance to the United States of one regional ally has been growing. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq, which controls an autonomous enclave bordering Iran, Turkey and Syria, is democratic, secular, pro-Western and a determined enemy of the al-Qaeda forces that operate on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It wasn’t surprising that KRG President Massoud Barzani was booked for a visit to Washington and a likely meeting with President Obama last month. By the same token, his abrupt decision to postpone the trip is cause for concern.

23. ‘Some Perspectives on Genocide’
18 February 2014 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
By Desmond Fernandes: Presented at the ‘Holocaust Commemoration and Genocide Awareness’ meeting, the House of Commons, Committee Room 16, Westminster, 4th February 2014. Organised by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) and hosted by Mr Virendra Sharma, MP. Desmond Fernandes, in his presentation, highlighted some of the key perspectives of Raphael Lemkin (who coined the neologism genocide), Khatchatur Pilikian, Gregory Stanton and John Docker on genocide.

STATEMENTS

24. KCK Statement on The 15th anniversary of the international conspiracy against Leader Abdullah Ocalan, 15 February 2014.

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