KURDISH NEWS UPDATE, 19 – 23 December 2014

NEWS

  1. Kobanî Canton Justice Minister: We will seek international justice
  2. YPG issues a statement on Kobanî and Şingal (Sinjar)
  3. HPG-YBS: Operation to liberate Sinjar continues
  4. HPG Sinjar Command: We will play our role for the freedom of Sinjar
  5. KCK greets the liberation of Sinjar
  6. Communist spirit: Kurds to avenge rape/killing of Yazidi women and children
  7. Backed by U.S. Airstrikes, Kurds Reverse an ISIS Gain
  8. Kobanî people return to their homeland
  9. Representatives of European trade unions in Suruç
  10. Der Spiegel reporter says threats in Turkey ‘worse than the Taliban’s’
  11. World still doesn’t fully grasp Gülenist threat, warns journalist jailed by group
  12. ‘Erdoğan sent the agents to Germany for PKK and Gülen movement’
  13. HDP co-chair heads to Moscow for talks on regional issues
  14. Iraq: Yezidi women and girls face harrowing sexual violence
  15. AI: Dire conditions expose gaps in humanitarian assistance in KRG
  16. Investigation into 10 German deputies who held PKK flag
  17. Protesters call for press freedom in Turkey
  18. Memed Aksoy speaks at Assata Shakur event in London

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

  1. Kurdish group fighting Islamic State tells America: Stop calling us terrorists
  2. Voices questioning the PKK’s continued listing growing louder
  3. “A revolution in daily life”
  4. Impressions of Rojava: a report from the revolution
  5. What the Zaman Raid Means for Turkey’s Media
  6. Endangered Turkish journalist speaks in Chicago—was anyone listening?
  7. Turkey’s Inside Man
  8. The Islamic State and Partisanship in Turkey
  9. How the West’s campaign against IS lets the region off the hook
  10. VIDEO: Stephen Kinzer, US Foreign Policy in the Middle East and the Arab Spring
  11. VIDEO: Sectarianization: ISIS, the Syrian Conflict & the Future of the Middle East
  12. VIDEO: Matthew Barber on ISIS, Yazidis, and the Enslavement of Thousands of Women 
  13. Iran as an Occupying Force in Syria

PRESS RELEASES AND STATEMENTS

  1. IFJ/EFJ Condemn mass Arrest of Turkish Journalists
  2. Turkey: ARTICLE 19 expresses concern about arrest of journalists

NEWS

  1. Kobanî Canton Justice Minister: We will seek international justice
    20 December 2014 / Hawar News
    There have been arrests of people wounded during the resistance in Kobanî and who went to Turkey legally after the ISIS attack launched from the Mürşitpınar border gate on 29 November. Kobanî Canton Justice Minister Awaz Ali said the arrests in Turkey of people wounded in ISIS attacks on Kobanê were in contravention of international law. Ali added: “If Turkey does not change its stance we will have to go to international courts.” The Minister stressed that “Injured people we have sent to Turkey for treatment have been arrested in violation of international law”, calling on Turkey to put an end to this state of affairs.
  1. YPG issues a statement on Kobanî and Şingal (Sinjar)
    21 December 2014 / Hawar News
    YPG (People’s Defense Units) or West Kurdistan (Rojava) issues a statement on the ongoing clashes both in Kobanî and in the region from Cezaa (Jaza’h) to Şingal (Sinjar). Full text of the statement is given below:
    “For the Media and Public Opinion: The brutal attacks by the ISIS / Daesh terrorists who attempt to occupy Kobani continued yesterday on the 96th day. Yet the operation initiated on December 18th by our forces of the People’s Defense Units and the Women’s Defense Units YPJ against the terrorist groups is effectively continuing[…]
  1. HPG-YBS: Operation to liberate Sinjar continues
    21 December 2014 / ANF
    HPG (People’s Defense Forces) Sinjar Command and YBŞ (Sinjar Resistance Units) Command has announced in a written statement that the Operation to Liberate Sinjar launched on 19 December continued. According to the statement, the northern side of the Mount Sinjar has been cleansed of ISIS gangs as part of the operation which is being carried out by forces affiliated to the HPG and YBŞ that have advanced up to the entrance of the Sinjar town centre at around 11 am yesterday. Fierce clashes erupted between HPG-YBŞ forces and the ISIS gangs at the entrance of Sinjar, with Kurdish forces having hit the ISIS positions and entered two neighborhoods of the town.
  1. HPG Sinjar Command: We will play our role for the freedom of Sinjar
    20 December 2014 / ANF
    The HPG (People’s Defence Forces) Sinjar Command has announced that the Sinjar – Rojava corridor has been reopened. The HPG Sinjar Command issued a written statement, saying operations were continuing for the liberation of the entire northern part of Sinjar, and that Sinjar town had been surrounded. “Our forces will play a necessary role in the liberation of Sinjar and will be open to coordination with peshmerga forces,” the statement emphasised.
  1. KCK greets the liberation of Sinjar
    21 December 2014 / ANF
    KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) Executive Council Co-Presidency has released a statement greeting the liberation by Kurdish forces of the Sinjar town in South Kurdistan yesterday.
    “Our people and the public opinion should know that our guerrilla forces will continue their operations until South Kurdistan and Rojava is entirely cleansed of the ISIS fascism”, underlined the KCK. The KCK Executive Council Co-Presidency greeted and celebrated the HPG (People’s Defense Forces) YJA Star (Free Women’s Troops) YPG-YPJ (People’s/Women’s Protection Units) and YBŞ (Sinjar Resistance Units) forces that have “been deployed at strategic points of Sinjar and waged a battle against the ISIS fascists for five months now, and cleansed Sinjar of ISIS gangs and liberated the town as result of a heroic operation yesterday”.
  1. Communist spirit: Kurds to avenge rape/killing of Yazidi women and children
    22 December 2014 / Medhaj News
    The YJA STAR (Free Women’s Troops) Central Command has said it will take revenge for Êzidî (Yazidi) women by inflicting a mortal blow on the fascism of ISIS. The Command has issued a statement regarding the ‘Liberation operation’ carried out in Sinjar. The YJA STAR Central Command saluted the liberation of Şingal by the guerrilla forces, saying their heroic resistance to ISIS attacks had created a spirit of freedom, adding: “On 3 August ISIS fascism perpetrated a massacre of the Êzidî Kurds in Şingal, abducting hundreds of women and children. From the beginning our HPG-YJA STAR guerrillas and YBŞ forces were the only hope of the people of Şingal. Four over 4 months the guerrilla forces have carried out a spirited resistance.”
  1. Backed by U.S. Airstrikes, Kurds Reverse an ISIS Gain
    18 December 2014 / The New York Times
    Kurdish forces, backed by a surge of American airstrikes in recent days, recaptured a large swath of territory from Islamic State militants on Thursday, opening a path from the autonomous Kurdish region to Mount Sinjar in the west, near the Syrian border. The two-day offensive, which involved 8,000 fighters, known as pesh merga, was the largest one to date in the war against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, according to Kurdish officials. It was also a successful demonstration of President Obama’s strategy for battling the extremist group: American air power combined with local forces doing the fighting on the ground.
  1. Kobanî people return to their homeland
    21 December 2014 / Hawar News
    Three months after the historic YPG/YPJ resistance to ISIS attacks on Kobanî began, and as the gangs are being forced back, the people who took refuge in Suruç and other places have begun to return. On the 98th day of the resistance by the YPG and YPJ fighters, the ISIS gangs have to a great extent been forced into retreat. With the advance of the YPG/YPJ fighters the civilians who left Kobanî at the height of gang attacks have begun to return to the city. Although the gangs are continuing to fire mortars, 4 families returned with their children yesterday and were taken to safe areas by officials of the People’s House (Mala Gel). The families said that after 3 months away they were happy to have returned to Kobanî.
  1. Representatives of European trade unions in Suruç
    17 December 2014 / ANF
    The visits of the international organisations to the Suruç district of Urfa to show their solidarity with the Kobanê and Sinjar resistances and to assess the situation and the needs of the refugees from Kobanê and Sinjar who have been forced to leave their houses, continue. Recently the representatives of two of the biggest trade unions in Europe, from RMT and ETF, have paid a visit to Suruç. Following meetings with authorities in Suruç, the delegation of the trade unions went to the village of Mehser at the border, where the the resistance vigil in solidarity with Kobanê continues since the beginning of ISIS attacks three months ago. The delegtaion was welcomed by the villagers chanting the slogan “Biji Berxwedana Kobanê, (Long Live Kobanê resistance”.
  1. Der Spiegel reporter says threats in Turkey ‘worse than the Taliban’s’
    20 December 2014 / BGN News
    Hasnain Kazim, the Der Spiegel magazine reporter for Turkey, attended the 7th German-Turkish Journalists roundtable meeting. During his speech, Kazim underlined that although he loves Turkey, as a foreign media member he stated that he faced hard circumstances. He noted that he received many death threats while working in Pakistan. “Even the threats were not as intense and heavy as the ones in Turkey,” he added. Kazim added that Der Spiegel, like many western media magazines, has no press relationship with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).
  1. World still doesn’t fully grasp Gülenist threat, warns journalist jailed by group
    21 December 2014 / Daily Sabah
    An investigative journalist, Nedim Şener, who has been targeted and arrested by members of the Gülen Movement in the police and judiciary in the past years after writing a book about the misconduct of police officers affiliated with the movement in Hrant Dink’s murder, told Daily Sabah that the Gülen Movement has two different faces – one for Turkey and another for abroad. This has led to the change of perception while evaluating the movement and its activities worldwide.
  1. ‘Erdoğan sent the agents to Germany for PKK and Gülen movement’
    21 December 2014 / ANF
    As the repercussions of the arrests of three Turkish agents in Germany continue, a sorce in the German intelligence services told Bild newspaper that Turkish president Erdoğan had sent the agents for the PKK and Gülen movement. The newspaper added that one of the three, Muhammed Taha Gergerlioğlu, was a close confidante of Erdoğan. Last week the Federal Prosecutor in Karlsruhe announced that 3 Turkish citizens had been detained for espionage. Two were arrested at Frankfurt airport as they entered Germany, while the other was detained at his home in Wuppertal.
  1. HDP co-chair heads to Moscow for talks on regional issues
    22 Dece,ber 2014 / Hurriyet
    Co-Chair of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş departed on Dec. 22 for a five-day visit to the Russian capital city of Moscow where he is expected to hold talks on regional conflicts, with a particular focus on the battle against jihadists in Rojava, the Kurdish region in the northern part of Syria. Demirtaş will be accompanied by Nazmi Gür, the deputy co-leader of the HDP in charge of external affairs, during the visit, the party’s press office announced Dec. 21. Government officials, members of the Russian Parliament, political parties, civil society organizations and media outlets will be among Demirtaş’s contacts in Moscow, the HDP said, without elaborating.
  1. Iraq: Yezidi women and girls face harrowing sexual violence
    23 December 2014 / Amnesty International
    Torture, including rape and other forms of sexual violence, suffered by women and girls from Iraq’s Yezidi minority who were abducted by the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS), highlights the savagery of IS rule, said Amnesty International in a new briefing today.  Escape from hell- Torture, sexual slavery in Islamic State captivity in Iraq provides an insight into the horrifying abuse suffered by hundreds and possibly thousands of Yezidi women and girls who have been forcibly married, “sold” or given as “gifts” to IS fighters or their supporters. Often, captives were forced to convert to Islam.
  1. AI: Dire conditions expose gaps in humanitarian assistance in KRG
    19 December 2014 / Amnesty International
    A lack of coordination and major gaps in humanitarian assistance is causing untold hardship for many of the 900,000 people displaced by the conflict in Iraq who are sheltering in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), said Amnesty International.  Delegates from the organization who have just returned from a visit to the KRI found that many displaced people lacked basic items they need to survive the winter such as blankets, warm clothes and heating.  Thousands are living in poorly equipped camps or informal settlements in dire conditions.
    “There are shocking gaps in the humanitarian response. As a result, scores of people are living in ill-equipped camps or buildings with no walls and no shelter from the cold, wind or rain. Children are running around in thin clothes in the freezing cold. In some camps, toilets and clean water are inadequate.”
  1. Investigation into 10 German deputies who held PKK flag
    21 December 2014 / eKurd
    The Berlin Public Prosecutor’s Office has initiated a criminal investigation into ten deputies from the Left Party (Die Linke) who held up a PKK flag last month. The prosecutor’s office accepted the photograph shared by the deputies on social media in support of parliamentarian Nicole Gohlke, whose immunity was lifted on account of unfurling a PKK flag, as evidence of a ‘crime’. The Federal Parliamentary Immunity Commission in Munich removed the immunity of Left Party deputy Nicole Gohlke after she unfurled a PKK flag at a solidarity night for Kobanê in Munich on 18 November. Following this, the Left Party deputies unfurled a PKK flag in the Federal Parliament in protest on 13 December.
  1. Protesters call for press freedom in Turkey
    19 December 2014 / NUJ
    The NUJ sent support to a Downing Street protest against media oppression in Turkey. Last week, Turkish police arrested more than 20 journalists including Ekrem Dumanli, the editor-in-chief of Turkey’s largest circulating newspaper Zaman and Hidayet Karaca, the chairman of Samanyolu Media Group. They also arrested the directors, producers and even scriptwriters of a popular TV series. It is now estimated that 60 to 70 per cent of the media in Turkey is controlled by the government. Earlier this year the Turkish government banned YouTube and Twitter in Turkey because it could not control and censor its content. Now, the government is taking similar steps against another group of independent media outlets.
  1. Memed Aksoy speaks at Assata Shakur event in London
    23 December 2014 /Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
    Kurdish activist Memed Aksoy was recently invited by the Tri-Continental Anti-Imperialist Platform to speak on the Rojava revolution and the historic resistance of the Kurdish people in Kobane. The inspiring event was dedicated to the life and works of Assata Shakur and featured contributions from Black Panther activists and spoken word artists. You can watch Memed’s presentation at the event below.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

  1. Kurdish group fighting Islamic State tells America: Stop calling us terrorists
    22 December 2014 / Global Post
    When the United States joined the fight against the Islamic State in September this year, it inevitably wound up with some strange bedfellows. From the Shia militias that killed US troops by the hundreds during the most violent days of the Iraq war, to Iran — Washington’s public enemy number one. Then there is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group unknown to most Americans until a few months ago. The PKK’s decades-long fight for autonomy for Turkey’s Kurds receives little attention in the West. This is especially the case since the most violent days of its guerilla campaign wound down.
  1. Voices questioning the PKK’s continued listing growing louder
    23 December 2014  / Delist the PKK
    At the end of a busy year, we wanted to bring your attention several articles that have appeared in US media in recent months that question the PKK continued listing as a terrorist organisation. Most recently, the Global Post’s Richard Hall spoke with Cemil Bayik on a visit to the Qandil Mountains about the PKK’s continued listing on international terrorism lists, in particular in the context of the group’s centrality in the fight against ISIS in the region.
  1. “A revolution in daily life”
    22 December 2014 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
    Across the domains of government in the canton of Cizire, people are working, mostly on a voluntary basis, to make ambitious transformations to society. Doctors want to build a modern free healthcare system but also, they told us, to collect and disseminate suppressed local knowledge about healing and to change the conditions of life in general. They aim, they said, to build a way of life free of the separations – between people and between people and nature – that drive physical and mental illness. Academics want to orient education to ongoing social problems. They plan, they said, to abandon exams and destroy divides between teachers and students and between established disciplines. The new discipline of “jinology” (the science of women) constructs an alternative account of mythology, psychology, science and history.
  1. Impressions of Rojava: a report from the revolution
    16 December 2014 / Roar Mag
    In early December an international delegation visited Rojava’s Cezire canton where they learned about the ongoing revolution, cooperation and tolerance. 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 UK, and the US. 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.
  1. What the Zaman Raid Means for Turkey’s Media
    17 December 2014 / The New Yorker
    Late last Saturday night, Celil Sağır left his home, in an Istanbul suburb, for the offices of the Turkish media group Zaman, where he works as the managing editor of the English-language daily Today’s Zaman. Earlier that week, an anonymous Twitter user, going by the name Fuat Avni, who claims to be part of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s inner circle, had warned that there would be a police operation against media outlets that were seen to be loyal to Fethullah Gülen, a Pennsylvania-based Turkish imam whose vast network of followers occupy influential roles across Turkish institutions, including government and media.
  1. Endangered Turkish journalist speaks in Chicago—was anyone listening?
    19 December 2014 / The Bleader
    Turkish journalist Kerim Balci was advised that the reason the Chicago media paid no attention to his visit here is that Wednesday was an unusual news day. “Particularly because of the old lady who passed away,” Balci explained to me, a reference to the funeral of Judy Baar Topinka. Besides, he went on, the audience he was speaking to wasn’t in Chicago anyway; it was back home in Turkey. Well, maybe. I can remember a time when there were enough reporters to go around, enough space in the papers to spare a Balci a few inches, and enough of a sense of Chicago as part of a wide and interesting world for a city editor to send somebody over to the Turkish consulate to hear what he had to say[…]
  1. Turkey’s Inside Man
    19 December 2014 / Foreign Policy
    In the informal hierarchy of the Gulen movement — a powerful if opaque Islamic group with numerous followers in Turkey’s media, police, and judiciary — Huseyin Gulerce used to be as close as it gets to the top. In the 1990s, he headed Zaman, a top-selling Gulenist newspaper currently in the crosshairs of a government-backed terror probe, and the Writers and Journalists Foundation, the movement’s public relations arm. He first met the movement’s leader, the Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, in the summer of 1980. During his years as editor of Zaman, he says, the pair would meet every week. After Gulen moved to the United States in 1999, fleeing charges of conspiring to overthrow Turkey’s secular order, of which he was later acquitted, Gulerce traveled to see him “twice per year, on average,” he says. He became known, at least in those days, as Gulen’s point man in Turkey.
  1. The Islamic State and Partisanship in Turkey
    17 December 2014 / Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
    The war in Syria has not only tested Turkey’s economic and institutional ability to absorb over 1.1 million refugees, but has deepened latent tensions between secularists, leftists, Kurds, and Islamists. In particular, the increasingly visible presence of the Islamic State (IS) in Turkey has polarized the country, with opponents of the Erdogan government saying its support of the Syrian opposition has allowed IS to flourish, even generating homegrown support for militant Islam.
  1. How the West’s campaign against IS lets the region off the hook
    22 December 2014 / Middle East Eye
    Ultimately, the West’s strategy against IS – which asks little of regional power players – may make it more difficult to displace the group or the sentiments that feed it. The decision by US president Barack Obama to assemble an international coalition and launch air strikes in Iraq and Syria in response to the rise of the self-named Islamic State group (IS) makes him the fourth consecutive US president to embark on military action in the region. The track record so far is hardly encouraging, as the success of IS so stunningly testifies. The rather rapid assembling of more than 60 countries, including many from the region, behind the coalition might have suggested a shared vision and prioritisation of the threat posed by this new and particularly rabid strain of extremism.
  1. VIDEO: Stephen Kinzer, US Foreign Policy in the Middle East and the Arab Spring
    9 December 2014 / Youtube
    Stephen Kizner speaks with the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.
  1. VIDEO: Sectarianization: ISIS, the Syrian Conflict & the Future of the Middle East
    5 December 2014 / Youtube
    A panel of Syria scholars jointly convened by the University of Denver’s Center for Middle East Studies and the Aspen Institute’s Middle East Programs on October 1, 2014 at the University of Denver’s Anderson Academic Commons. The panel includes Joshua Landis, Professor of International Relations and Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, Steven Heydemann, Vice President of Applied Research on Conflict at the United States Institute of Peace, and Marwa Daoudy, Assistant Professor of International Relations at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies.
  1. VIDEO: Matthew Barber on ISIS, Yazidis, and the Enslavement of Thousands of Women
    Matthew Barber discusses the kidnap of Yezidi women last summer with the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.
  1. Iran as an Occupying Force in Syria
    17 December 2014 / Middle East Institute
    It is no longer accurate to describe the war in Syria as a conflict between Syrian rebels on the one hand and Bashar al-Assad’s regime forces “supported” by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRG), Hezbollah, and Iraqi militias on the other. Most major battles in Syria—along the frontlines of regime-held areas—are now being directed and fought by the IRG and Hezbollah, along with other non-Syrian Shi‘i militias, with Assad forces in a supportive or secondary role.

PRESS RELEASES AND STATEMENTS

  1. IFJ/EFJ Condemn mass Arrest of Turkish Journalists
    15 December 2014 / European Federation of Journalists
    The International Federation of Journalists and its regional group, the European Federation of Journalists, today condemned the shock raid on Zaman newspaper and Samanyolu TV media resulting in the arrest of at least 31 persons including journalists and media executives. Within the 31 people’s group there are 4 journalists, 11 media workers (scriptwriters, producers and technical advisors) and 16 police officers, according to the last update. “We are appalled by this brazen assault on press freedom and Turkish democracy” said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. “One year after the exposure of corruption at the heart of government, the authorities appear to be exacting their revenge by targeting those who express opposing views.”
  1. Turkey: ARTICLE 19 expresses concern about arrest of journalists
    15 December 2014 / Article 19
    On 14 December, at least 24 people were arrested in police raids on a leading newspaper and TV station in Turkey. ARTICLE 19 has expressed concern over the arrests. Director of Programmes David Diaz-Jogeix said: “ARTICLE 19 is concerned about the emerging trend of repressing dissenting media outlets in Turkey, restricting freedom of information and freedom of expression.”
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