KURDISH NEWS WEEKLY BRIEFING, 13 – 18 December 2014

Final Resolution of 11th EUTCC Conference in European Parliament

The 11th EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) conference, on EU, Turkey and the Kurds was held 10-11 December 2014 in the European Parliament, under the theme “THE CHAOS and CRISIS IN THE MIDDLE EAST: NEW REGIONAL ORDER AND THE KURDS“. The conference was opened with messages from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Mr. Abdullah Öcalan and the president of the European Parliament, Mr. Martin Schulz. EU parliamentarians, civil society activists, journalists, academics and politicians from across Turkey, Europe, America and the Middle East attended the conference. The conference provided an opportunity for in depth discussions regarding the Kurdish question in Turkey. In particular it discussed the peace process between the Turkish state and the PKK.

You can find an archive of all the speeches, messages and videos from this years EUTCC conference here

NEWS
1. PKK threatens to make content of settlement talks public
2. Turkey Rejects Autonomy in Peace Process with Kurds
3. South African women visit KJAR in Kandil
4. Women in tent cities get organised in the spirit of YPJ
5. 822 bodies in 47 mass graves in Siirt
6. PKK and PAJK inmates in Muş prison issue appeal
7. Abdullah Öcalan’s message to the EUTCC Conference
8. Arrests of Turkish journalists widely condemned across the world
9. EU Council questions Turkey’s respect to media freedom with recent arrests
10. HRW warns Turkey’s security bill undermines rights
11. Salih Muslim: ISIS-Turkey relations should be investigated
12. Female fighters battle for freedom and equality in Syria: TRFN
13. Two leading Iraqi Kurdish parties are taken off US terrorism list
14. Two Leading Iraqi Kurdish Groups Fighting The Islamic State To Be Taken Off U.S. Terror List
15. Report: 27th Day Of Hunger Strike By Kurdish Political Prisoners In Urmiye’s Central Prison

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
16. My Impressions Of Rojava
17. Kurdish female fighters battle for freedom and equality in Syrian Kurdistan
18. Can Turkey under Erdoğan any longer be deemed a reliable western ally?
19. The stakes of Kobani
20. The Fight Against ISIS on the Border Between Turkey and Syria
21. Visionary Failure: on Turkey’s Foreign Policy
22. In Turkey, A Child Is A Terrorist
23. Kurdish Peace Process: Is it Resolution or Deception Process?
24. How Iraq Became a Proxy of the Islamic Republic of Iran


NEWS

1. PKK threatens to make content of settlement talks public
12 December 2014 / Todays Zaman
The top executive body of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has threatened to share with the public details of a draft negotiations plan, a roadmap to resolve Turkey’s Kurdish issue, if a delegation of pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) is not allowed to visit the imprisoned leader of the PKK within a day or two. “We will have to make public all that is included in the draft negotiations, which we said we accepted and would act in line with, if the AKP [the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party)] government does not act responsibly and the HDP delegation does not go to İmralı [Island to visit the leader of the PKK] within a day or two,” the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) said in a statement on Friday.

2. Turkey Rejects Autonomy in Peace Process with Kurds
11 December 2014 / Prensa Latina
The Turkish Government denied today in an incisive way the possibility of discussing autonomy with the Democratic Party of the Peoples (HDP) as part of the peace process with the Kurds. According to the newspaper Hürriyet Daily News, the Turkish deputy prime minister, Yalcin Akdogan, said that during the conversations with the HDP, intermediary in the negotiations with the outlawed Party of the Workers of Kurdistan (PKK), topics such as autonomy or the general amnesty will not be tackled. On his side, the deputy chief of the delegation of the HDP in Istanbul, Sirri Süreyya Onder, aimed that the draft of the dialogue project sent by the leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, includes issues like the democratization of the local administrations, but it does not speak specially about ‘autonomy’.

3. South African women visit KJAR in Kandil
15 December 2014 / Kurdish Info
A delegation of different women’s organizations from South Africa has visited the East Kurdistan Free Women’s Community (KJAR) in the Medya Defence Areas and spoken to women guerrillas. The delegation said they had arranged the visit to see Kurdistan and meet Kurdish women guerrillas. In a news item on Newroz TV that broadcasts to Iran and East Kurdistan, Samanta Osmal, Leme Kotze, Tumn Solivade and Lin Payine said they had come to meet the women guerrillas of the Kurdish Freedom Movement that they had heard about through the international media. The South African women said they were happy to have made the acquaintance of Kurdish women guerrillas and were given information regarding the struggle of the KJAR.

4. Women in tent cities get organised in the spirit of YPJ
17 December 2014 / ANF
Women from Kobanê, who had to take flight to Suruç following the attacks of the ISIS gangs on the town, are now organising themselves under women’s assemblies in the tent cities they are staying, and continuing here their works they started to organise in the wake of the revolution in Rojava. Women from Kobanê have gathered together in 5 tent cities in Suruç and formed women assemblies in order to discuss their problems and produce solutions.

5. 822 bodies in 47 mass graves in Siirt
14 December 2014 / ANF
The Human Rights Association (IHD) Siirt branch has called for a commemorative memorial to be built in Newala Qeseba (Kasaplar Deresi), saying there are 47 mass graves in the province containing 822 bodies. The Siirt branch of the IHD announced the findings of a report into mass graves yesterday in the Newala Qeseba (Kasaplar Deresi – Butchers’ Valley) area, where there are the bodies of more than 200 PKK fighters, including founding member Mahsum Korkmaz (Agit) and Armenians massacred in 1915. A large crowd was present, including executives of the IHD and MEYA-DER and members of the DBP Siirt branch, with a banner bearing the words: “Mass graves are a crime against humanity – Newala Qeseba should be protected” and photographs of some of those who died in ‘unsolved murders’ were carried.

6. PKK and PAJK inmates in Muş prison issue appeal
15 December 2014 / ANF
Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Kurdistan Women’s Liberation Party (PAJK) inmates of Muş prison have issued a statement condemning new measures introduced by the prison authorities and called for the public to be aware of this.  PKK and PAJK prisoners in Muş prison sent a written statement through the Van branch of TUYAD-DER, drawing attention to recent rights violations in all jails in Kurdistan and Turkey, saying: “While the AKP Government continues to use delaying tactics in the process of resolution, in the prisons we, the PKK and PJAK prisoners, are being subjected to intimidation. The prison authorities are trying to introduce new rules that are contrary to human dignity. They have stepped up body searches on leaving the blocks and when we go for visits or to see lawyers.

7. Abdullah Öcalan’s message to the EUTCC Conference
15 December 2014 / Kurdish Info
“Dear guests, For the past two years now we have been working on the democratic solution and peace process with determination and hope, and are now entering a historical period in which these efforts have brought us to the negotiating stage. This process of democratic negotiation will not only bring a fair and permanent solution to a century-old problem, but at the same time, the democratic political consequences of this will enhance and promote peace in the Middle East and will serve to ensure the joint democratic futures of the peoples of the Middle East…”

8. Arrests of Turkish journalists widely condemned across the world
16 December 2014 / Guardian
The arrests of journalists in Turkey have been deplored by international human rights organisations, press freedom groups and UK journalists’ bodies. Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the arrests will harm media freedom and chill free speech. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) called it a “brazen assault on press freedom and Turkish democracy.” The New York-based Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) described“the heavy-handed actions” as smacking of “political vengeance.” The Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI) saw the arrests as “part of a trend by Turkey’s government in recent years to use terrorism accusations to bring its critics to heel.”

9. EU Council questions Turkey’s respect to media freedom with recent arrests
16 December 2014 / Todays Zaman
The European Union Council has said recent police raids and the detention of a number of journalists and media representatives in Turkey call into question the respect for freedom of the media, which it characterized as a “core principle of democracy.” In its conclusions of the General Affairs Council meeting on Dec. 16 in Brussels, which will be presented to the EU Summit on Dec. 18-19, the EU Council said it regrets that the response by the government to the alleged cases of corruption in December 2013 cast serious doubts over the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, and demonstrated an increasing intolerance of political opposition, public protest and critical media.

10. HRW warns Turkey’s security bill undermines rights
13 December 2014 / ANF
The Turkish government’s proposed expansion of police powers to search and detain and for the use of firearms would undermine human rights protections, warned Human Rights Watch, remarking that a number of the proposals in a draft security bill would circumvent the role of prosecutors and judiciary in ways that directly undercut safeguards against the arbitrary abuse of power. According to the HRW, the new security bill would stiffen penalties for people involved in some protests and allow provincial governors to instruct police to focus on particular crimes and perpetrators, seemingly usurping the role of prosecutors and judges.

11. Salih Muslim: ISIS-Turkey relations should be investigated
18 December 2014 / Kurdish Info
Democratic Union Party (PYD) Co-President Salih Muslim who spoke to ANF reacted angrily to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s comment that Turkey did not support ISIS, proposing that an independent international commission be set up to carry out an inquiry.
Q: What is the current situation in the cantons of Rojava? Is there still a threat of attack?
A:There is war and struggle in Rojava. While military defence against attacks is continuing efforts are also being made to establish a system, which is gradually coming into being. All the institutions and people are involved in this system. The defence of this unique system is being undertaken by the people of Rojava from Tel Kocher to Afrin.

12. Female fighters battle for freedom and equality in Syria: TRFN
16 December 2014 / Reuters
Every night before 27-year-old Arin goes to bed, she hangs her Makarov, a Russian semi-automatic pistol, from a steel coat rack by the entrance to her one-bedroom apartment in a small, dusty town on the Syrian border with Iraq. The pistol was an award for her success on the front line in the battle to protect Kurdish areas of northeastern Syria and is a far cry from her life a year ago when she was working as a nurse in Cologne in Germany. “This is a bloody war,” Arin, using only her combat name, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at the almost deserted apartment block in Til Kocher in northeastern Syria.

13. Two leading Iraqi Kurdish parties are taken off US terrorism list
13 December 2014 / Middle East Eye
Two leading parties in the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) were removed from the US terrorist list late on Friday. Brett McGurk, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Syria, confirmed on his Twitter account on Saturday that the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) had been removed. “Congress has passed the NDAA [The National Defense Authorisation Act] w/a provision removing PUK & KDP from the list of designated organisations under US immigration laws”, wrote McGurk.

14. Two Leading Iraqi Kurdish Groups Fighting The Islamic State To Be Taken Off U.S. Terror List
12 December 2014 / Huffington Post
Two of the leading political parties representing the Middle East’s stateless Kurdish population will soon be removed from a U.S. list of potential terrorist groups, in a move that U.S. and Kurdish officials say will resolve a long-standing dispute between Washington and a community that has proven to be one of its favored partners in the region, most recently in the fight against the militant group known as the Islamic State.

15. Report: 27th Day Of Hunger Strike By Kurdish Political Prisoners In Urmiye’s Central Prison
16 December 2014 / Rojhelat
On Thursday, 20th of November 2014, 27 Kurdish political prisoners in Urmiye’s central prison started a large scale hunger strike to condemn transfer of dangerous convicts to ward of political prisoners, as well as transfer of political prisoners to non-political wards and also to protest inhumane pressure by intelligence office inside the prison. Firat News Agency has prepared and published a detailed report on prisoner’s hunger strike as well as condition of Urmiye’s central prison and this report has been translated by Rojhelat.info.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

16. My Impressions Of Rojava
15 December 2014 / Kurdish Question
From December 1 to 9, I had the privilege of visiting Rojava as part of a delegation of academics from Austria, Germany, Norway, Turkey, the U.K., and the U.S. We assembled in Erbil, Iraq, on November 29 and spent the next day learning about the petrostate known as the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), with its oil politics, patronage politics, feuding parties (KDP and PUK), and apparent aspirations to emulate Dubai. We soon had enough and on Monday morning were relieved to drive to the Tigris, where crossed the border into Syria and entered Rojava, the majority-Kurdish autonomous region of northern Syria.

17. Kurdish female fighters battle for freedom and equality in Syrian Kurdistan
16 December 2014 / Medhaj News
Every night before 27-year-old Arin goes to bed, she hangs her Makarov, a Russian semi-automatic pistol, from a steel coat rack by the entrance to her one-bedroom apartment in a small, dusty town on the Syrian border with Iraq. The pistol was an award for her success on the front line in the battle to protect Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdish areas of northeastern Syria) and is a far cry from her life a year ago when she was working as a nurse in Cologne in Germany. “This is a bloody war,” Arin, using only her combat name. “But we need to fight it, we need to protect our women and children or nobody else will defend us.”

18. Can Turkey under Erdoğan any longer be deemed a reliable western ally?
15 December 2014 / Guardian
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s politics of paranoia has taken another ugly twist with the arrest of more than 30 opposition journalists, media workers, former police chiefs and investigators on palpably flimsy conspiracy charges. The Turkish president’s latest coup – nobody in Istanbul doubts he personally ordered the nationwide raids – highlights a bigger, awkward question for the EU and the US: can Turkey under Erdoğan any longer be deemed a reliable, democratic western ally?

19. The stakes of Kobani
December 2014 / Roads and Kingdoms
It’s midnight and bitterly cold when Muhammed Sik’s corpse arrives from the border. Mourners stand at a petrol station 15km outside Diyarbakir, Turkey’s unofficial Kurdish capital, rubbing their hands together to keep warm. When the coffin arrives, they lead the way to the city’s morgue accompanied by the wail of the siren: another ‘martyr’ has arrived. Sik was killed by ISIS militants in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani in late October. He had left his home near Diyarbakir to defend neighboring Kurds from the tightening ISIS siege, but was trapped by the jihadists. His body was found riddled with bullet wounds to the neck, sides and leg.

20. The Fight Against ISIS on the Border Between Turkey and Syria
15 December 2014 / Time
In recent weeks, the town of Kobani in Syria has become a symbol of resistance against Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) militants. A battle to control the border city has raged for over two months between ISIS and Kurdish fighters, as the town occupies a strategic position on the Turkish border that, if it were to fall, would allow ISIS to control much of the region.

21. Visionary Failure: on Turkey’s Foreign Policy
13 December 2014 / Research Turkey
Following Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s election as Turkey’s president in August 2014, the governing Justice and Development Party announced that the new prime minister would be Ahmet Davutoğlu, an international relations scholar who rose to prominence as foreign policy advisor to Erdoğan in the 2000s, and has served as Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2009. Pundits attribute his meteoric rise in domestic politics to his ability to earn Erdoğan’s trust in a fast-changing political landscape. Davutoğlu and his team are hailed as foreign policy visionaries in the government circles, so one expects his nomination as prime minister to be an acknowledgment of their achievements in that area, too. Yet, it is precisely the unravelling of that vision that will challenge the new government.

22. In Turkey, A Child Is A Terrorist
14 December 2014 / Alliance for Kurdish Rights
First a picture of a boy. Then a black flood overlaid with meter upon meter of red, yellow and green fabric, moving in waves on the shoulders of those beneath it. Finally pale hands, dark hands, wrinkled, callused, steady hands performing a wonted act, the tendons pressing against the worn skin carrying the coffin. On the sixth of December, 2013 Kurds in the Gever district of Colemêrg (Yüksekova in Hakkari, Turkey) gathered to demonstrate against continuing attacks on the graves of PKK guerillas. Being a permanent component of any Kurdish assembly, the Turkish police was present and armed with the standard kit for rallies: tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons. Clashes erupted between the police and protesters, leaving two to die at the hands of the Turkish police: Veysel İşbilir and Mehmet Reşat İşbilir.

23. Kurdish Peace Process: Is it Resolution or Deception Process?
16 December 2014 / eKurd
Since coming to power in 2002, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has promised to resolve Turkey’s Kurdish problem and in the last several years it has initiated a ‘Resolution Process’ which has been commended by many Kurds and non-Kurds alike. It was a bold step that broke many taboos and placed the Kurdish question firmly on Turkey’s national agenda.  However, progress has been very slow which has in turn led to criticism that the ‘Resolution Process’ is not honest. The AKP rejects these criticisms and insists the process in genuine despite the lack of tangible results.  This raises an interesting question about the extent to which the AKP might be more interested in the process of negotiations than in meaningful change.

24. How Iraq Became a Proxy of the Islamic Republic of Iran
December 2014 / The Tower
The United States and its Western allies have recently undertaken airstrikes and other military measures against the Islamic State (I.S., also known as ISIS or ISIL) in Iraq. Contrary to the spirit of most statements coming out of Washington, however, this military action cannot be properly viewed as simply an effort to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State—mainly because the Western actions are limited only to air strikes, which would be ineffective on their own in achieving that end. Rather, this campaign is quite obviously meant to help the main ground forces currently fighting the I.S.—namely, the Iraqi government and Shia militias in Iraq—in the hopes that the Islamic State may be defeated through their combined efforts.

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