KURDISH NEWS WEEKLY BRIEFING, 6 – 12 December 2014

Urgent Winter Appeal for Kobane

More than 800,000 Kurds from Kobane and Shengal have fled ISIS attacks and face a bitter winter in refugee camps. The UN predicts that many vulnerable people may not survive the winter unless more aid money can be raised. Heyva Sor a Kurdistane, formed in 1993, is the main charity supporting Kurdish refugees, where UN and other agencies have no presence. The temperature is already below freezing and more suitable tents, sheltering containers and heaters are urgently needed, along with more food and medical supplies. Heyva Sor needs donations from the international community to help these refugees and those still stuck in Kobane survive winter.

Please donate to help this vital work continue to save lives

Heyva Sor a Kurdistanê/ Kurdish Red Moon

Donate using Paypal at: http://www.heyvasor.org.uk

or donate using JustGiving: www.justgiving.com/heyvasor

or donate using sms:
to donate £5, text KURD78 £5 to 70070
to donate £10, text KURD50 £10 to 70070

Heyva Sor a Kurdistanê/ Kurdish Red Moon

Fairfax Hall 11 Portland Gardens, London N4 1HU, Registered Charity No: 10 93 741

NEWS
1. KCK: Resolution Project is a serious opportunity
2. Öcalan: Everyone should support the process
3. Erdogan plans Arabic Ottoman lessons in schools
4. HDP leader says nobody can make his daughter take Ottoman courses
5. IPRI releases comprehensive report into status of peace process
6. ‘Press freedom is among core issues for Turkey’s accession to EU’
7. Turkish novelists Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak accused of being Western stooges by pro-government press
8. Cameron says UK and Turkey working hand in glove to stop Isis fighters
9. Turkey assimilates Kurds from Kobanî in AFAD tent city
10. Isis releases drone footage of suicide bombings in Kobani
11. US denies sending arms to Syrian Kurdish fighters
12. Call For International Front In Kobanê
13. International visits to Cizîre Canton continue
14. KHRAG December newsletter published
15. Muslim: We are defending democracy in Kobanê
16. Germany: March in Cologne against PKK ban

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
17. The Vortex: A Turkish city on the frontier of Syria’s war
18. What Kobani Needs
19. The Kurdish ‘Angels of Kobane’ Are Fighting on a Second Front
20. A day in YPJ positions
21. AKP and ISIS: What Is Turkey Preparing In The Hatay?
22. Washington-Ankara Tensions Will Shape Obama’s Legacy in Turkey
23. Isis: the inside story
24. Is the United States Complicit with ISIS?
25. The European Kurds rallying to fight IS

PRESS RELEASES
26. Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive: Ilisu Dam’s construction may be continued after a 4 month halt! Stop Ilisu – stop destruction and instability!

REPORTS
27. Report of the Fact–Finding Mission of the International Peace and Reconciliation Initiative (IPRI) on the Peace Process Relating to the Kurdish Question in Turkey

NEWS

1. KCK: Resolution Project is a serious opportunity
11 December 2014 / ANF
The KCK Executive Co-Presidency has issued a statement emphasising that the “Peace and Democratic Negotiation Process Draft” prepared by Abdullah Öcalan constitutes a serious opportunity for Turkey and the Middle East.” The KCK statement added that all components of the movement had debated the draft submitted by Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan to the HDP delegation on 29 November, and that there was full agreement that the draft should be accepted and implemented as a project of democratisation that would create radical democratisation in Turkey and the Middle East.

2. Öcalan: Everyone should support the process
12 December 2014 / Hawar News
The two-day 11th International Conference on EU, Turkey, the Middle East and the Kurds hosted by the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) started at the European Parliament in Brussels yesterday. Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan sent a message to the conference, which was read out by Nelson Mandela’s lawyer, Essa Mossa.In his message, Abdullah Öcalan drew attention to the fact the 2-year-long process of resolution had reached the stage of negotiation, and called for everyone, first and foremost bodies in Europe, to support the process.

3. Erdogan plans Arabic Ottoman lessons in schools
8 December 2014 / Oman Observer
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed yesterday to make lessons in the Arabic-alphabet Ottoman language compulsory in high schools — a highly symbolic move which enraged secularists who claim he is pursuing an increasingly religious agenda. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, abolished the Ottoman language in 1928, replacing its Arabic alphabet with a Latin one. He also purged the language of many of its Arabic, Persian and Greek words to create a “pure” Turkish closer to the language people spoke. Critics claimed the plan was another bid to roll back Ataturk’s secular reforms, which were based on a strict separation between religion and state.

4. HDP leader says nobody can make his daughter take Ottoman courses
9 December 2014 / Todays Zaman
Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairman Selahattin Demirtaş on Tuesday slammed government plans to teach the Ottoman language in compulsory classes at high schools, saying that nobody, not even the Turkish military, can force his daughter take the course. “It is nonsensical to make Ottoman language courses compulsory. You forced children to say the pledge of allegiance [Andımız] for years as well, but you recently stopped that. If you try to teach it [Ottoman language] by force, nobody, even your whole army, can make my daughter enter the course,” Demirtaş said on Tuesday in an interview with the Bugün daily.

5. IPRI releases comprehensive report into status of peace process
12 December 2014 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
The International Peace and Reconciliation Initiative (IPRI) has released a report from its fact-finding mission into the peace process in Turkey. You can read the executive summary below. The full report is also available for download. A press conference with the authors, Judge Essa Moosa, Francis Wurtz and Osman Kavala, was also held in the European Parliament for the release of this report. You can watch the press conference here.

6. ‘Press freedom is among core issues for Turkey’s accession to EU’
11 December 2014 / Todays Zaman
Kati Piri, the European Parliament’s (EP) new rapporteur to Turkey, said that the EU sees Chapters 23 and 24, which concern freedom of the press and the rule of law, as the core of the EU accession process. Piri stressed that the denial of accreditation to media outlets that are critical of government polices to attend government briefings contrasts with the efforts made by Turkey during the reform process for accession to the EU. She also said that government officials acknowledge that there is a need for further reform for Turkey to make progress in its EU accession bid.

7. Turkish novelists Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak accused of being Western stooges by pro-government press
12 December 2014 / Guardian
Major Turkish authors Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak have been accused by the pro-government Turkish press of being controlled by an “international literature lobby” that has the Turkish government in its sights. An article in the pro-Erdoğan paper Takvim this week includes the claim that this literature lobby selects a few authors from each country and then uses them to attack the government. Images of Shafak and Pamuk have been circulated on social media, bearing the line “they are projects” – implying that they are projects developed by western powers to criticise the Turkish government. Earlier this year, a piece in the pro-government Yeni Akit said the two writers were “not human”.

8. Cameron says UK and Turkey working hand in glove to stop Isis fighters
9 December 2014 / Guardian
David Cameron faced an awkward diplomatic encounter with Turkey’s prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu last night as he promised to share high-level intelligence on Islamic State fighters but his counterpart hit out at foreign “propaganda” about them passing through Turkish territory. On his first trip to Turkey for four years, Cameron said the UK was working “hand in glove” with the country to address the scourge of Isis fighters. During a press conference, the prime minister said some UK citizens are crossing the Turkish border or trying to return home via the same route, and claimed the two countries were working “as closely as we possibly can” to tackle the threat.

9. Turkey assimilates Kurds from Kobanî in AFAD tent city
8 December 2014 / Hawar News
Children from Kobanî staying in the state-run AFAD tent city in the old gendarme station are being taught Arabic instead of Kurdish, their mother tongue. People from Kobanî want their children to be taught Kurdish, saying: “in Arabic they are only being given Koranic lessons. They are not being taught to read and write. We don’t know who is running the school.”

10. Isis releases drone footage of suicide bombings in Kobani
10 December 2014 / Independent
Isis released footage this week of drone footage from Kobani, Syria, purportedly showing the sites of suicide bombings carried out by the militant group. The footage was released on 9 December and appears to show aerial shots of the Syrian border city of Kobani, where Kurdish forces, now backed by US air strikes, have been trying to hold back Isis advances since September of this year.

11. US denies sending arms to Syrian Kurdish fighters
10 December 2014 / Hurriyet
The U.S. State Department has denied supplying U.S. arms to Kurdish forces defending the besieged town of Kobane, insisting that any supplies are from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq. “The United States is not providing U.S. arms to the PYD [the Democratic Union Party],” a department official told the Anadolu Agency on Dec. 9. Turkey views the party as a branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and has condemned arming the People’s Defense Units (YPG) and the Women’s Defense Units (YPJ), the armed wings of the PYD.

12. Call For International Front In Kobanê
8 December 2014 /Rojava Report
Socialist and revolutionary organizations in Turkey have issued a joint statement in which they announced the formation of the Birleşik Özgürlük Güçleri – ‘United Freedom Forces’ or BÖG  – in Kobanê and called for an international front to defend the revolution in Rojava, according to an article from Özgür Gündem. The statement was made made by lyas Hekimoğlu, who spoke in the name of the BÖG. Hekimoğlu, stressing that the resistance in Kobanê had become a 21st century Paris Commune, said “In a Middle East where capitalist barbarism and imperialist interests are pursued with savagery the Rojava Model – which aims at and is building a form of life which is anti-capitalist, communal and on the side of freedom and democracy – is presenting an internationalist way of life to the peoples of the Middle East and the world. Kobanê is not the first, nor will it be the last.”

13. International visits to Cizîre Canton continue
6 December 2014 / Hawarnews
An international delegation including scientists from many different countries has gone to West Kurdistan (Rojava). The delegation, which travelled from South Kurdistan to the Cizîre Canton of Rojava will receive information about the democratic autonomous administrations in Rojava. The delegation, which includes scientists, academics, writers and journalists from several countries, was established to go to examine the “Rojava model”, as it is known. The delegation went to the capital of South Kurdistan, Hewlêr (Erbil), last week. After meeting the Regional Administration and KNK representatives there, they have travelled to Rojava through the Sêmalka border crossing. They are expected to stay in West Kurdistan until 9 December.

14. KHRAG December newsletter published
9 December 2014 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
The Kurdish Human Rights Action Group, based in South Africa, has released its December newsletter and it is available to download here. The newsletter includes an article by a Cape Town activist who recently travelled to north Kurdistan on the invitation of the DTK. Judge Essa Mossa, chairperson of KHRAG and member of the International Peace and Reconcilliation Initiative (IPRI), will be speaking at this year’s EUTCC conference which is taking place this week.

15. Muslim: We are defending democracy in Kobanê
11 December 2014 / ANF
The Kurdish conference that began yesterday is continuing at the European Parliament (EP). Today there is a discussion on: “What are the alternatives to chaos in the Middle East (Security, Stability and Prosperity)?“ The debate is being chaired by Prof. Michael Gunter and Osman Kavala, and the speakers are Prof. Ofra Bengio from Tel Aviv university, Bahar Şimşek from Ankara university, EP deputy Bodil Ceballos, journalist Fréderike Geerdink, Prof. Abbas Vali from Bosphorus university and PYD Co-President Salih Muslim.

16. Germany: March in Cologne against PKK ban
6 December 2014 / eKurd
84 Kurdish, German and Turkish organisations are holding a protest march Saturday in Cologne against the ban on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK. YXK executive Sema Kocatepe has issued a statement calling on all Kurds to attend the demonstration. The march comes a few days before the interior ministers of the 16 German states meet in Cologne on 11 and 12 December to discuss, inter alia, the ban on the PKK. The 84 organisations responded to a call by the Kurdistan Students’ Union (YXK) and the Interventionistische Linke (IL) organisation to set up the “Bündiss Gegen İMK“ platform to protest the ban on the PKK and other anti-democratic measures in Germany.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

17. The Vortex: A Turkish city on the frontier of Syria’s war
8 December 2014 / The New Yorker
Gaziantep, a city in southern Turkey some forty miles from the Syrian border, has become a bustling hub at the center of the Middle East’s latest conflict. It’s a destination for spies and refugees, insurgent fighters and rebel leaders, foreign-aid workers and covert jihadists—all enmeshed in Syria’s multisided war. I recently drove to one of Gaziantep’s upscale neighborhoods, an area of pastel apartment blocks with balconies, and took pictures of American Patriot-missile batteries on a nearby hillside. They were pointed at Syria. The missiles were deployed, last year, to defend against Scuds fired at rebel militias by the government of Bashar al-Assad.

18. What Kobani Needs
5 December 2014 / Middle East Institute
In the ongoing fighting in and around Kobani in northern Syria, it appears likely that the defending Kurdish forces will ultimately prevail and be able to expel the Islamic State (ISIS). However, in order to enable refugees to return, substantial aid and reconstruction efforts will be needed, and more benign Turkish border policies are essential in the meantime. Construction and Housing: In the early days of the Syrian revolution, the regime tried to calm protesters with limited reforms, including the abolishment of “Decree 49,” which had regulated land ownership and construction in border areas and was used in a discriminatory fashion against Kurds.

19. The Kurdish ‘Angels of Kobane’ Are Fighting on a Second Front
10 December 2014 / Newsweek
In the ongoing fight against the terrorists of the Islamic State (ISIS), Kurdish women have had the spotlight turned on them like never before. Since the siege of Kobane by ISIS fighters, images of gun-toting female Kurds have been splashed across the newspaper pages and TV screens of the West. One, possibly mythological, female fighter has drawn particular attention. Dubbed the ‘Angel of Kobani’, she is beautiful and blonde-haired, is reputed to have killed a hundred ISIS fighters and has come to epitomise the media’s portrayal of the Kurdish women involved in the war.

20. A day in YPJ positions
6 December 2014 / Hawar News
YPJ fighters who have been waging an epic resistance for 80 days in Kobanî have not just been defending a city, but are also demolishing the mentality of male dominance. “We are not just fighting here. We are organising a new way of life and war in these emplacements”, the YPJ fighters say. We spent a day in the emplacements of YPJ fighters, who have gained a special place in the hearts of women everywhere with the leadership they have demonstrated in the resistance in Kobanî. We have to walk for 15 minutes across muddy ground under heavy mortar fire to reach the positions of the YPJ fighters. Then a vehicle comes to take us to the south western front where Commander Peyman and the YPJ fighters are stationed.

21. AKP and ISIS: What Is Turkey Preparing In The Hatay?
10 December 2014 / Rojava Report
ISIS functionaries are establishing themselves throughout Hatay province. ISIS schools and centers for jihadi education are being opened, safe houses are being set up, and various organizations are being founded. Facilities belonging to the Turkish army are being used by ISIS functionaries, and camps which are under the administration of the Turkish army and in which thousands of people are now living are being converted into ISIS bases.

22. Washington-Ankara Tensions Will Shape Obama’s Legacy in Turkey
5 December 2014 / Middle East Institute
Turkey-U.S. relations were off to a good start when President Obama launched his campaign to reconcile the United States with the Muslim world in a 2009 speech to the Turkish National Assembly in which he described Turkey as a “model partner.”. Regional dynamics, Ankara’s foreign policy miscalculations, and diverging priorities, however, have driven a wedge between the two allies.

23. Isis: the inside story
11 December 2014 / Guardian
In the summer of 2004, a young jihadist in shackles and chains was walked by his captors slowly into the Camp Bucca prison in southern Iraq. He was nervous as two American soldiers led him through three brightly-lit buildings and then a maze of wire corridors, into an open yard, where men with middle-distance stares, wearing brightly-coloured prison uniforms, stood back warily, watching him.

24. Is the United States Complicit with ISIS?
11 December 2014 / Commentary Magazine
Michael Rubin: Is the United States complicit with the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, or Daash)? The answer to that question is, of course, no, even though the accusation that the United States created ISIS is a staple of both Iranian and Russian propaganda. Frankly, responsibility for the rise of ISIS rests on Turkey, which may have supplied it directly and which knowingly served as a transit hub for jihadists going to and from the Islamic State; Qatar and Saudi Arabia which for so long have funded the religious radicalism which provides the basis of ISIS; and perhaps Syria itself which believed that ISIS’s growth would enable the regime to rally ordinary Syrians around Bashar al-Assad, arguably a less-noxious choice, much in the same way that lung cancer is “better” than pancreatic cancer.

25. The European Kurds rallying to fight IS
10 December 2014 / Open Democracy
Janroj Yilmaz Keles: Kurds, of whom there are estimated to be 30-35m, comprise the largest ethnic community in the Middle East after Turks, Arabs and Persians—and the largest in the world without a state. Most live in the disputed territory of Kurdistan. which covers east and south-eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, west Iran and northern Syria. Various revolts in pursuit of an independent Kurdistan or autonomy within these national borders have wrought no significant political or structural changes, except in Iraq, where Kurds have had a de facto state since 1991.

PRESS RELEASES

26. Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive: Ilisu Dam’s construction may be continued after a 4 month halt! Stop Ilisu – stop destruction and instability! 5 December 2014.

REPORTS

27. Report of the Fact–Finding Mission of the International Peace and Reconciliation Initiative (IPRI) on the Peace Process Relating to the Kurdish Question in Turkey, 12 December 2014.

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