Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 29 March – 3 April 2014

NEWS
1. Turkish police fire water cannon as thousands protest local election results (VIDEO)
2. Initial Observations from Election Monitors
3. Erdogan declares victory in Turkey election and turns on opposition
4. Kalkan: AKP succeded but did not win
5. Demirtaş: Results show polarized Turkey
6. Tensions High In Ceylanpınar After Elections
7. EU minister photographed during vote-counting: CHP official
8. Female Winners of Municipal Elections
9. Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party BDP won 3 metropolitan cities
10. Kışanak and Anlı thank the people of Amed
11. Electricity cut off in provinces where pro-gov’t firms supply power
12. Reports of violations and attacks coming through
13. Application from lawyers to meet Öcalan
14. ‘Journey to Sun’ begun
15. 250 trees planted and ‘Park of April the 4th’ for Öcalan’s birthday
16. Turkey Convicted of “Unexpected Death of Soldier”
17. Constitutional Court orders authorities to unblock Twitter
18. Documentary Seeks to Explain PKK Popularity among Diaspora Kurds in 1990s
19. Kurdish film director Kazım Öz protests against France
20. Denmark Law Change Likely to Save Kurdish Girl from Deportation

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
21. ANALYSIS: The naked truth of Turkish politics
22. Election results unlikely to decrease polarization in Turkey
23. A referendum on Erdogan’s rule
24. Erdogan won the elections, but will he convince the Turkish people?
25. VIDEO: Turkey elections: Test of Erdogan’s rule?
26. Turkey Election Result A Boost for Syrian Opposition
27. The extraordinary story of 100-year-old Yevnigue Salibian, one of the last people alive who can recall the horror of the Armenian genocide

REPORTS
28. Turkey Local Election Results, 30 March 2014

STATEMENTS
29. KCK: “We salute and congratulate our people for their great success”

 

NEWS

1. Turkish police fire water cannon as thousands protest local election results (VIDEO)
1 April 2014 / RT
Riot police have used water cannon and tear gas to disperse the thousands-strong crowd of protesters surrounding the Supreme Electoral Council in Ankara. The people demanded a recount of local election results, in which the ruling AKP party narrowly won. Days after Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) claimed victory in a very close race in the capital of Ankara, thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets to protest alleged fraud at the polls.

2. Initial Observations from Election Monitors
1 April 2014 / Peace in Kurdistan campaign
We have observed the elections in Istanbul and would like to put on record our concerns about reports of numerous abuses and irregularities that were reported to us on election day at various polling stations. In Istanbul where we were observing the election, the BDP was standing as part of the HDP, an alliance of progressive social movements and individuals who had united to form the new party in October last year. The candidates for the Beyoglu district of Istanbul were an architect who had been leading opposition to urban redevelopment and the sister of a victim of the Roboski massacre.

3. Erdogan declares victory in Turkey election and turns on opposition
31 March 2014 / The Guardian
The Turkish prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan, declared victory for his party in local polls and said he would “enter the lair” of enemies who have accused him of corruption and leaked state secrets. “They will pay for this,” he said. Erdogan, fighting the biggest challenge of his 12-year rule, addressed supporters from a balcony at AKP headquarters, after the end of a long and bitter election campaign in which he had labelled his opponents “terrorists” and an “alliance of evil”.

4. Kalkan: AKP succeded but did not win
1 April 2014 / ANF
PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) Executive Council member Duran Kalkan assessed the results of the 30 March’s local elections at a TV program on Sterk TV.
Kalkan said with the elections, North Kurdistan has become an area to be governed by the BDP, adding; “Kurds have manifested their attitude, which politics they support and what they want.” Kalkan remarked that the BDP has won a significant victory despite all the obstructions and tricks it faced, and the Turkish state’s efforts to hinder the Kurdish democratic politics. He underlined tthat the votes BDP has received constitute one of the most significant results obtained by the Kurdish democratic politics in Kurdistan for over 20 years.

5. Demirtaş: Results show polarized Turkey
31 March 2014 / ANF
In a statement assessing the results of local elections, BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said the results have revealed the presence of a very sharp polarization in Turkey.BDP co-chair said the process of local elections should be discussed for a long time for it didn’t witness any discussion about local elections and passed instead as if a process of general elections. According to Demirtaş, the Gezi uprising of last June, 17 December’s corruption and bribery operation and recently leaked tapes have affected the election process, adding that the results have also revealed that voters predominantly maintained their political view.

6. Tensions High In Ceylanpınar After Elections
1 April 2014 / ANF
Tensions are high in the town of Ceylanpınar, located in Urfa Province on the Turkish-Syrian following Turkish municipal elections March 30th. Ceylanpınar forms a conurbation which the town of Serêkaniyê – on the largest towns in the Cizrê Canton of Rojava – and is also referred to as Serêkaniya Serxet, or ‘Serêkaniyê above the border.’ Tensions in the town stem from accusations of election fraud directed against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), including allegations that ballots cast in favor of the BDP were burned. Thousands have gathered in the town center in front of government offices, while a large number of armored military vehicles have been seen in the area and checkpoints have been set up to control access in and out.

7. EU minister photographed during vote-counting: CHP official
2 April 2014 / Hurriyet
Turkey’s EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu was photographed alongside a police chief and election official counting votes after the March 30 local elections, an official from the main opposition official Republican People’s Party (CHP) said April 1. Devrim Kök, the head of the CHP’s Antalya provincial office, shared the photograph with journalists at the Antalya courthouse, after both his party and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) filed official complaints regarding the controversial vote counting in Antalya.

8. Female Winners of Municipal Elections
3 April 2014 / Bianet
According to the unconfirmed results of the local elections, 4 provinces- 3 metropoles- have woman mayors from 81 provinces. Februniye Akyol, a young woman, will hold the co-chairman position along with Ahmet Türk in Mardin Metropolitan Municipality. Diyarbakır province elected the candidate from Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) while Aydın province elected its candidate from Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) and Antep province elected from Justice and Development party (AKP). Hakkari province chose its candidate from BDP. The candidates were all women.

9. Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party BDP won 3 metropolitan cities
31 March 2014 / eKurd
According to unofficial results the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has won 11 cities, including 3 metropolitan municipalities, 68 districts and 23 sub-districts at the local elections. BDP fielded candidates in 22 provinces at the elections which took place yesterday. BDP Co-President Selahattin Demirtaş said the party had achieved its goals and forced the AKP into retreat in Kurdistan. According to unconfirmed results the BDP has increased its number of municipalities to 102, including its gaining of three more cities. In some districts debate continues over the results. While the BDP lost votes in some provinces compared with the elections of 2009, it achieved record high votes in others.

10. Kışanak and Anlı thank the people of Amed
31 March 2014 / ANF
Following the count at the Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipal Mayoral elections, which the BDP won by a large margin, the victorious co-candidates thanked the voters. Gülten Kışanak spoke first, saying: “I extend my gratitude to all the people who worked on the campaign, in the offices, the neighbourhood commissions, who perhaps shouted slogans, or held a placard. This was a victory for all our people. We will now endeavour to be worthy of this ancient city. We will serve as co-Mayors for everyone in this city, those with votes and those who are not yet old enough to vote. We say everything for Amed.”

11. Electricity cut off in provinces where pro-gov’t firms supply power
2 April 2014 / Hurriyet
While Energy Minister Taner Yıldız blamed the power blackouts during the vote-counting after the March 30 local elections on cats, the electric switches are actually controlled by businessmen implicated in the Dec. 17 corruption investigation, daily Birgün has reported. Widespread blackouts affected more than 20 provinces in Turkey as ballot counting continued on election night. Although the government described the outages as normal, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has cried “foul play.”

12. Reports of violations and attacks coming through
30 March 2014 / ANF
Reports of election violations and attacks against BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) observers have started to come from polls in Kurdistan following the beginning of the voting time for today’s local elections. BDP observers have found AKP-stamped voting papers in polls in Bitlis and Midyat. A total of 11 people have been wounded in attacks of AKP members, soldiers and village guards in Derik, Çaldıran, Siirt, Tutak and Siverek. In Ovakışla town in Ahlat district of Bitlis, AKP members attempted  to cast their votes out in the open. In Goçkar village of Amed’s Kulp district, village guards are reportedly not allowing CHP’s observers into the village and forcing people to cast their vote out in the open.

13. Application from lawyers to meet Öcalan
3 April 2014 / Dicle News Agency
The lawyers of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Leader Abdullah Öcalan applied for a visit of their client at the Bursa Public Prosecutor’s Office. PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan’s lawyers İbrahim Bilmez, Sabahattin Kaya, Muharrem Şahin and Mehmet Bayraktar applied for a visit of their client at the Bursa Public Prosecutor’s Office. In case of a positive response by the Imrali Prison Administration, the lawyers are expected to meet Ocalan tomorrow.

14. ‘Journey to Sun’ begun
3 April 2014 / Dicle News Agency
People from Turkey and Kurdish regions have started to take their way to the village of Amara, the birthplace of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Leader Abdullah Öcalan, to mark the 65th birthday of Öcalan on April 4. This year’s events in Amara, in Urfa’s Halfeti district, have been organized by TUHAD-FED (the Associations of Help for Prisoners’ Families Federation) under the slogan “Free Leader, Free Kurdistan”. The two-days-events will start in Halfeti where thousands are expected to gather today to celebrate Öcalan’s birthday. TUHAD-FED said 65 artists will take to the stage during this year’s celebrations as Öcalan turns 65.

15. 250 trees planted and ‘Park of April the 4th’ for Öcalan’s birthday
3 April 2014 / Dicle News Agency
While only one day left fot the birthday of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Leader Abdullah Öcalan, the celebrations began. Apart from celebrations, Kurdish people plants trees every year on the birthday of Öcalan. Öcalan’s birthday approaches and Kurdish people celebrate it by various activities. Movement of Revolutionary Youth planted 250 trees in Hesekê for birthday of Öcalan. Members of the movement took the trees from People’s Municipality of Hesekê and planted them at Maryr Canfîda Academy’s Park that is in Kelasê neighborhood and Şehîd Delîl Mihemed Park in Miftî neighborhood. The movement stated that they will continue planting trees in Rojava.

16. Turkey Convicted of “Unexpected Death of Soldier”
3 April 2014 / Bianet
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued a verdict on an application on Tuesday regarding the case with Yılmaz Köse, a private who allegedly committed suicide during his compulsory military service. Previously, Turkish Armed forces stated that he committed suicide. ECHR found Turkey guilty. Relying on Article 2 (right to live) of European Convention of Human Rights, Turkey was obliged due to “the inadequate nature of the investigation”. Turkey will pay to Köse’s father 10,000 Euros in respect of non-pecuniary damages.

17. Constitutional Court orders authorities to unblock Twitter
2 April 2014 / Hurriyet
The Constitutional Court has ordered authorities to unblock Twitter, saying the decision violated the rights of users who had appealed the decision. Regarding individual complaints, the court has unanimously ruled the ban is a violation of free speech guaranteed by Article 26 of the Constitution. “Everyone has the right to express and disseminate his thoughts and opinion by speech, in writing or in pictures or through other media, individually or collectively,” the article states.

18. Documentary Seeks to Explain PKK Popularity among Diaspora Kurds in 1990s
31 March 2014 / Rudaw
The life of a young female fighter, who was killed at the age of 25 in clashes, is the main focus of a documentary film aimed at understanding the motives that led many young Diaspora Kurds to join the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the 1990s.
“Gulistan was a young woman I met when I immigrated to Canada,” explains 27-year-old Montreal-based Kurdish filmmaker Zayne Akyol, about the character of her film. “I was five years old; she was about 18. Her brother went to Turkey before her to fight with the PKK. To Gulistan, he was an idol. She had been in Quebec for a year, and the idea sprouted in her mind to join her brother.”

19. Kurdish film director Kazım Öz protests against France
1 April 2014 / Kurdish Info
Kurdish film director Kazım Öz protested at the French government’s attitude regarding the murders in Paris last year of Sakine Cansız, Fidan Doğan and Leyla Şaylemez by refusing to accept an award at this year’s 36th Cinéma du Réel Film Festival awards ceremony on Saturday. Öz’s film “He Bû Tune Bû” (Once Upon a Time) was one of 11 documentaries deemed worthy of an award amongst 40 films shown.

20. Denmark Law Change Likely to Save Kurdish Girl from Deportation
31 March 2014 / Rudaw
Songul Yuksel, a Kurdish girl who attracted huge media attention over laws that were set to deport her back to Turkey, may be able to stay in Denmark after the Danish government reached a consensus with almost all parliamentary parties about loosening the country’s immigration laws. That means that a revision of the law will grant citizenship to approximately 30 children who have been deported. The Danish government wanted 18-year-old Yuksel deported to Turkey on grounds she cannot successfully integrate, despite speaking Danish fluently and being among the best in her high school class and having her family in Denmark.

 

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

21. ANALYSIS: The naked truth of Turkish politics
31 March 2014 / Hurriyet
Here is the naked truth: Half of the corruption claims in any other democratic country would be enough to collapse the government; in Turkey it cost only a 5 point drop in support for Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan in the March 30 local elections. It is also true that Turkey hasn’t experienced an election with so many fraud claims in decades. Power outages in critical districts of critical cities like Istanbul and Ankara on election night; the replacement of poll box observers of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) during the vote count, allegedly by street bullies to intimidate observers from other parties, especially in Ankara; attempts to prevent poll observers from being in the room during voting, especially in the east and southeast of the country…

22. Election results unlikely to decrease polarization in Turkey
30 March 2014 / Al Monitor
Turkey’s polarization has reached such levels that, despite hopes that the March 30 elections would soften it, initial results indicate just the opposite is likely. It was difficult to talk of a definitive early trend because two major news agencies were reporting widely divergent results. The reports of the semi-official Anatolian Agency clashed with the numbers from the Cihan News Agency, which is owned by partisans of the Gulen movement. This only confused Turks excitedly trying to learn what was happening from their TV screens. While Anatolian gave the impression that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government was winning a thunderous victory, Cihan, which in earlier elections gained a reputation for reliable coverage, was reporting very different figures.

23. A referendum on Erdogan’s rule
31 March 2014 / The Economist
TURKEY’S prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claimed victory after his party performed strongly in nationwide local polls that were billed as a referendum on his rule. With 98% of the ballots counted, his ruling Justice and Development (AK) party had bagged just over 45% of the vote. This strong showing in the face of corruption allegations against Mr Erdogan, his children and senior AK officials gives Mr Erdogan a mandate to run for the presidency when it becomes free in August.

24. Erdogan won the elections, but will he convince the Turkish people?
1 April 2014 / The Guardian
Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, passed a very critical test on Sunday with a sweeping victory in the municipal elections, which were really about the country’s political direction and existential choice. If the results were seen as sort of a dress rehearsal for next year’s general elections, the Justice and Development party (AKP), which has ruled the country for 12 years, proves once more that it still lacks a formidable foe, and feels even more encouraged to enhance its power.

25. VIDEO: Turkey elections: Test of Erdogan’s rule?
3 April 2014 / Al Jazeera
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned his enemies in politics and the state that they would “pay the price”, after celebrating an emphatic victory in local elections. Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development party – the AK Party – won 45 percent of the vote. The main opposition, the Republican People’s Party, gained around 30 percent, while the Nationalist Movement Party polled just over 15 percent. Guests on today’s Inside Story: Taha Ozhan – president of SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research; Fadi Hakura – a specialist on Turkey at Chatham House; Barcin Yinanc – Opinion editor of the Hurriyet Daily News

26. Turkey Election Result A Boost for Syrian Opposition
3 April 2014 / Wall Street Journal blog
Syria’s opposition had been crossing their fingers ahead of Turkey’s municipal polls on Sunday, worried that a loss for the ruling Justice and Development Party would mean a loss for the Syrian revolution. The governing AKP party declared a decisive victory, despite the opposition claiming that the elections were tainted. Under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has become somewhat of a nerve center for the Syrian revolution and the opposition doesn’t want to see it any other way. Sunday’s polls are seen as a referendum on Mr. Erdogan’s rule and the prime minister is expected to run in presidential elections this summer.

27. The extraordinary story of 100-year-old Yevnigue Salibian, one of the last people alive who can recall the horror of the Armenian genocide
30 March 2014 / The Independent
She was a child of the Great War, born on a faraway killing field of which we know little, one of the very last witnesses to the last century’s first genocide, sitting in her wheelchair, smiling at us, talking of Jesus and the Armenian children whipped by the Turkish police whom she saw through the cracks in her wooden front door. It’s not every day you get to meet so finite an observer of human history, and soon, alas, we will not see her like again in our lifetime.

 

REPORTS

28. Turkey Local Election Results, 30 March 2014, KNK Dossier, 30 March 2014.

 

STATEMENTS

29. KCK: “We salute and congratulate our people for their great success”, KCK Statement, 2 April 2014.

 

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