Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 2 – 9 MAY 2014

NEWS
1. Lice District Mayor Receives Prison Sentence
2. Diyarbakır court sentences Turkey’s youngest mayor to over four years in jail
3. Ertugrul Kürkçü: HDP will become the third power
4. Turkey’s “Not Free” Rating in “Freedom of the Press 2014”
5. Barricades and tear gas prevent Turkish journalists from covering May Day demonstrations
6. Three Journalists Released after Eight-year Imprisonment
7. Senior PKK Leader Says Group No Longer Seeks a Kurdish State
8. Forty two years ago, Deniz, Yusuf, Hüseyin
9. ISIS activities in Turkey confirmed by Governor’s report
10. Syrian Kurd leader urges Turkey to join fight against jihadists
11. Freelance journalist working in Kurdistan responds to RSF allegations against PYD
12. Another on-the-ground journalist questions RSF report on press freedom in Rojava
13. Kurdish Initiative proposes a project for democratization in Syria
14. 11 killed in suicide attacks in Rojava

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
15. Kurds, democrats and leftists; a family saga?
16. PKK won’t support Erdogan’s presidential bid
17. New Mayor’s Arrest in Turkey Underscores Continuing Persecution of Kurds
18. Turkey’s Spy Agency provided with carte blanche for human rights abuses
19. State Dept. rejects Davutoglu’s denial of media watchdog report
20. The Process of Democratic Solution and the Socialist Struggle in Turkey
21. A Reply to Mr. Erdogan

REPORTS
22. File on Turkey: Democratic Resistance in Turkey, 1972

 

NEWS

1. Lice District Mayor Receives Prison Sentence
7 Amy 2014 / Bianet
Diyarbakır 4th High Criminal Court sentenced Lice Co-Mayor Rezan Zuğurli to 4 years and 2 months in prison for “not being a member of an organization but committing crime for them” this morning.  In 2012, Diyarbakır Prosecutor’s Office started an investigation on Zuğurli, claiming that she participated in 3 different demonstrations during the years 2010 and 2011. On May 15, 2012, the court arrested Zuğurli and released her 13 months later. Her case continued with the request of 35 years of prison sentence.

2. Diyarbakır court sentences Turkey’s youngest mayor to over four years in jail
7 May 2014 / Hurriyet

Rezan Zuğurli, who was elected as co-mayor of Diyarbakır’s Lice district from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) a month ago, was sentenced to over four years in prison May 7 for participating in three rallies in 2010 and 2011. The 25-year-old student became Turkey’s youngest ever mayor after winning the March 30 elections with fellow co-mayoral candidate Harun Erkuş with a record 91 percent of the votes. The Diyarbakır 2nd High Criminal Court found Zuğurli guilty on charges of committing crimes “on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)” even while admitting that she was not a member of the group.

3. Ertugrul Kürkçü: HDP will become the third power
7 May 2014 / Dicle News Agency
Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) Co-chair Ertuğrul Kürkçü has said in the parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday that people of Turkey do not have to choose between “nationalist authoritarianism” and “ Islamist authoritarianism”, reacting to a call of forming a single bloc together with CHP and MHP in the upcoming presidential elections against AKP’s candidate. Kürkçü criticized the call from former Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal for the CHP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to unite against the AKP in the presidential elections and said “We do not accept these camps. We will not become a part of this”, adding that HDP will be nominating its own presidential candidate. Kürkçü said HDP will nominate a candidate of the oppressed and the outcast people of the country, adding that HDP will be the third power representing the common will and struggle of people.

4. Turkey’s “Not Free” Rating in “Freedom of the Press 2014”
5 May 2014 / Freedom House
Freedom House has noted complaints by the government of Turkey about Turkey being ranked “Not Free” in our report, Freedom of the Press 2014. The government’s objection that the ranking does not take into account events occurring in 2014 is misplaced, as made clear by the report. The report evaluates events that occurred during 2013. The rating does not take into account events that occurred in Turkey since January 1, 2014. They include the government’s recent releases of journalists in the Ergenekon and KCK cases, regressive changes to Turkey’s Internet law 5651, the blocking of Twitter and YouTube, and the law increasing the powers of the National Intelligence Agency.

5. Barricades and tear gas prevent Turkish journalists from covering May Day demonstrations
6 May 2014 / IFEX
Turkish authorities banned May Day celebrations in Taksim Square on the claim that they would “influence freedom of movement” and enabled precautions which demolished citizens’ right to information and civilians’ and tourists’ freedom of movement. In the Taksim district, there were police and gendarmerie barricades everywhere. The circulation and freedom of journalists, photojournalists and photographers were obstructed because they didn’t have yellow press badges. The movements of tourists were obstructed because their entry was “forbidden”. By 4 pm local time on 1 May 2014, 12 journalists were already injured because of gas canisters and plastic bullets used by police. Some journalists were affected by tear gas and chemical water, and some were targeted.

6. Three Journalists Released after Eight-year Imprisonment
8 May 2014 / EFJ
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has today warmly welcomed the release of Turkish journalists, Füsun Erdoğan, Bayram Namaz and Arif Çelebi, who had been behind bars for almost eight years since September 2006.
‘‘We welcome the fantastic news that Füsun Erdoğan, Bayram Namaz and Arif Çelebi, have finally been released and can now return to their families, loved ones and colleagues,’’ said Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, EFJ President.
The lawyer representing the three journalists had submitted an appeal earlier this year following legal changes to the maximum of period of detention, but the appeal had been rejected.

7. Senior PKK Leader Says Group No Longer Seeks a Kurdish State
7 May 2014 / Rudaw
Mustafa Karasu, a senior leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, said that the PKK has abandoned its policy of seeking a Kurdish state and is now aiming for democratic rule in the Kurdish regions and focusing on the work of MPs in the Turkish parliament. “Previously, we had a view to creating a national state, but we abandoned it,” the Dicle News agency quoted Karasu as saying. He said that, despite his party’s leftist ideologies, its leaders had always believed in establishing a national state. “But in the end we realized that it was wrong,” he said. “Now, we are working for a democratic life and finding our fate in freedom, without establishing a state.” Karasu said his group is seeking to solve the Kurdish question through a process of democratization in Turkey.

8. Forty two years ago, Deniz, Yusuf, Hüseyin
6 May 2014 / ANF
Forty two years ago, on 6 May 1972, Deniz Gezmiş, Yusuf Aslan and Huseyin Inan were hanged in Ankara. Their trial had began on July 16, 1971. Gezmiş and his comrades were sentenced to death on October 9 for violating the Turkish Criminal Code’s 146th article, which concerns attempts to “overthrow Constitutional order”. According to legal procedure, a death sentence must be endorsed by Parliament before being sent to the President of the Republic for final assent. In March and April 1972 the sentence was placed before Parliament and in both readings the sentence was overwhelmingly approved.

9. ISIS activities in Turkey confirmed by Governor’s report
6 May 2014 / ANF
A reported submitted by Hatay Governor Celalettin Lekesiz to the Interior Ministry confirms that Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) gangs from Syria use Turkey like a back yard. The Hatay Governor complains in his report of increasing ISIS activity and requests that preventive measures be taken. It has been no secret for quite some time that Turkey is providing support to armed groups in Syria. It recently emerged that gangs that receive shelter, arms and financial and intelligence backing from Turkey for their attacks on Kurds, were supported in their attack on the predominantly Armenian town of Kasab. It was reported that the Al Qaeda affiliated groups gained access to the town via Turkey.

10. Syrian Kurd leader urges Turkey to join fight against jihadists
6 MAY 2014 / Al Monitor
After prolonged tensions, relations between Turkey and the Syrian Kurds are showing signs of a thaw. Border crossings to Turkey controlled by the largest Kurdish militia group known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG) were long sealed by the Turkish side. But the restrictions have been eased for the delivery of humanitarian relief. Officials from the self-administered Syrian Kurdish region called Rojava traveled to Ankara in March, where they met with Western diplomats and held back-channel talks with the Turkish government. They also meet regularly with UN officials based in the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep to coordinate aid efforts. This wouldn’t be possible without Ankara’s blessing.

11. Freelance journalist working in Kurdistan responds to RSF allegations against PYD
6 May 2014 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), one of the world’s leading media freedom organisations, reported last week that it has recorded a ‘growing number of abuses’ by the PYD against reporters and journalists working in Rojava. They allege that the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the local security forces (Asayish) have been perpetrating ‘abuses on a large scale’, claiming ‘the PYD and its henchmen have no qualms about arresting or even abducting news and information providers whom they see as too critical in order to silence them and intimidate the others.’ Peace in Kurdistan Campaign received a copy of a letter written to RSF by freelance journalist Karlos Zurutuza, who has worked in Kurdistan for many years, responding to the RSF. Given that the picture drawn in the reports entirely contradicts his experience in the region, he felt obliged to write to the organisation and make his experience public.

12. Another on-the-ground journalist questions RSF report on press freedom in Rojava
6 May 2014 / Kurdistan Tribune
Like other colleagues, I also read the Reporters without Borders report dated 1st May on abuses against fellow reporters in Syria´s northeast and I´d also like to comment on the issue as I’ve been reporting from the ground since the beginning of the conflict in March 2011. First of all, I would like to stress my deepest rejection and concern over any kind of abuse against fellow reporters, either in Syria or elsewhere. Since the beginning of the Syrian war, I have travelled on four occasions to Kurdish controlled areas in Syria. During all my time in Afrin region, northern Aleppo province, I have never faced any trouble to meet people from all walks of life or political ideas, being always able to move freely around the area. This scenario is very much in the antipodes of the one RSF depicts in its report.

13. Kurdish Initiative proposes a project for democratization in Syria
8 May 2014 / Hawar News
Nine Kurdish parties, Kurdish Left Party (PÇKS), Democratic Union Party (PYD), Kurdish Democratic Left Party (PÇDKS), Kurdistan Communist Party, Kurdistan Liberal Union Party (PYLK), Kurdistan Green Party, Kurdistan Democratic Party, Kurdish Democratic Peace Party (PADKS) and TEV-DEM agreed on taking initiative for democratization of Syria. In a meeting in Qamişlo, the parties agreed to form a Kurdish Initiative that is going to launch a project on Syria’s democratization process. Îlham Ehmed, co-chairwoman of TEV-DEM stated that there two important points for democratization:
1- A democratic, multi-party and central Syria
2- Creation of a new constitution for rights of minorities, Kurdish autonomy and democratic solution for the issues based on international human rights declarations.

14. 11 killed in suicide attacks in Rojava
4 May 2014 / The Kurdish Question
The YPG Press Centre reports that 11 people were killed and 11 wounded in two car bomb attacks carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Serêkaniyê (Ras al-Ayn) district of West Kurdistan. The first attack targeted a YPG centre on the outskirts of Serêkaniyê, followed by a second attack in the Tel Halaf district 4 kilometres away which targeted the police station. According to the YPG Press Centre, one YPG fighter was killed in the first attack, while 4 police and 6 civilians were killed in the second attack. 11 people, including children, were wounded in the two attacks. The YPG blamed ISIS gangs for the attacks, stressing they came immediately after successful YPG operations in the area.

 

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

15. Kurds, democrats and leftists; a family saga?
5 May 2014 / Hurriyet
The latest peace process, which was launched a year ago, created a new and mostly unspoken tension between the Kurdish movement and its liberal, democrat and leftist supporters, on the one hand, and between Alevis and Kurds, on the other. First of all, the jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan’s emphasis on “historical ties and Islamic solidarity or brotherhood” in last year’s Newroz declaration ignited uneasiness among secular democrats, leftists and Alevis. In addition, the rumor of Kurdish support for the presidential system in return for Kurdish rights increased skepticism. Then, the Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP) initial reluctance to participate in the Gezi demonstrations also resulted in controversy.

16. PKK won’t support Erdogan’s presidential bid
8 May 2014 / Al Monitor
A senior PKK official has ruled out supporting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the presidential elections. Riza Altun, a co-founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), told Al-Monitor, “There is no such thing as supporting the AKP administration and siding with it during the presidential election.”Kurdish support is important for Erdogan’s presidential candidacy. His advisers and members of the AKP realize that without Kurdish support, he will not be able to become the next president. That’s why some say 47 Kurdish activists were released on April 13 as a gesture toward the PKK.

17. New Mayor’s Arrest in Turkey Underscores Continuing Persecution of Kurds
9 May 2014 / Rudaw
Rezan Zugurli, Turkey’s youngest-ever mayor who was elected as the co-mayor of the Lice district of Diyarbakir from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), has been sentenced to more than four years in prison for “crimes on behalf of” the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Zugurli, who is 25 and a student at Dicle University, was sentenced to four years and two months in jail for “committing crimes on behalf of the PKK without being a member of that organization,” according to the Turkish Penal Code. During campaigning for the March 30 local polls, in which she received a record 88.77 percent of the votes, Zugurli said she had decided to engage in politics and join the elections “to test the veracity of the peace and resolution process.”

18. Turkey’s Spy Agency provided with carte blanche for human rights abuses
9 May 2014 / Article 19
On 17 April, the Turkish Parliament passed a law increasing the power and immunity of the National Intelligence Agency (MİT). The new law amends the previous law dating back to 1983, clearly aiming towards making the MİT more powerful and less accountable. In short, the law negatively impacts on freedom of press, decreases government accountability, increases the state’s capacity to monitor its citizens and makes MİT operatives immune from prosecution, regardless of any human rights abuse they might commit.

19. State Dept. rejects Davutoglu’s denial of media watchdog report
7 May 2014 / Al Monitor
Ministers of foreign affairs are, generally, treated as officials tasked to perform the act of realpolitik. Therefore, they are presumably exempt from paranoid behavior that many politicians may display. However, one such minister of foreign affairs, Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey, who was until recently considered to be a skilled realpolitik actor, demonstrated that he is not an exception to paranoia that is spreading like wildfire among the Turkish leaders that Turkey is targeted by an international — i.e., Western — conspiracy.

20. The Process of Democratic Solution and the Socialist Struggle in Turkey
The Kurdish Question
No one can doubt the socialist identity of the Kurdish freedom movement and the socialist identity of the Kurdish people’s leader Mr. Abdullah Ocalan. The Kurdish freedom movement and its leader define themselves as the inheritors of all the socialist strugglers in human history. Of course there are differences between the PKK and other socialist organisations in Turkey. The PKK has restructured itself as a result of extensive self-criticism and a thorough criticism of classical socialism and its practiced forms. It sees classical socialist theory as insufficient. The PKK believes that classical socialism is not anti-capitalist enough and is too involved with the state; whereas the state is a tool of suppression.

21. A Reply to Mr. Erdogan
9 May 2014 / The Armenian Mirror-Spectator
On April 23, 2014, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan sent a message of condolence to the Armenians worldwide, in eight languages, for their forefathers who lost their lives in 1915. As this was an unprecedented and unexpected gesture by a Turkish statesman, Armenians in Armenia, Diaspora and within Turkey reacted with a wide range of emotions and opinions. Some dismissed it as a cynical move and a new version of continued denial of the Genocide; some saw it as a smart political move and an effective delay tactic to avert the pressures of the upcoming centennial of the genocide next year; others optimistically saw it as a change in direction by Turkey in facing its history, hoping for increased dialogue and resolution of issues, and a few sycophants went as far as taking out newspaper ads thanking the prime minister, or suggesting that he be made a candidate for Nobel Peace Prize.

REPORTS

22. File on Turkey: Democratic Resistance in Turkey, 1972. Infoturk.

 

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