KURDISH NEWS WEEKLY BRIEFING, 10 – 16 January 2015

NEWS
1. Twelve-year-old shot dead in Turkey’s Kurdish southeast
2. Death toll in Cizre turmoil rises to six as 12-year-old boy shot dead
3. Police kill two teenagers in Cizre and the people and their organizations react
4. Two political murders, a mining company and the oppression of women—some news and comments on Turkey and North Kurdistan today
5. Öcalan sends letter to Assyrian-Syriac-Chaldean people
6. KCK: Every death in prison is a murder
7. ‘This is what being a Kurd is about’
8. Turkey PM speaks of press freedom despite crackdown
9. European Parliament accepts resolution on freedom of expression in Turkey
10. Groups rally in Paris for assassinated Kurdish women on 2nd anniversary
11. ISIS losing ground in symbolic Kobani battle
12. Lawyers in solidarity with Rojava Revolution to visit Cizire Canton
13. Kurdish PYD leader invited to Moscow peace talks over Syria
14. Today’s report from Rojava, Mount Sinjar and the refugees
15. ISIS: Baghdadi Orders Execution of 56 Fighters after Kurdish Defeat in Erbil
16. Gunter: ‘Post-state entities reshaping Middle East map’
17. New book on ‘The Kurdish Spring’ published
18. Oil prices fall below $40; shockwaves for producers

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
19. ‘Welcome to Stalingrad. Welcome to Kobane’: Inside the Syrian Town Under Siege by the Islamic State
20. Surfer Vs. ISIS
21. The AKP, the Kurds and the siege of Kobane
22. Dispossession In Rojava And Possible Solutions
23. Kurds demand unity amid battle against Islamic State
24. How Cizre became a combat zone?
25. Turkish Kurds’ electoral strategy is a high-wire act
26. Explaining the Turkish Military’s Opposition to Combating ISIS
27. Yazidi refugees in Turkey: back to their homeland?
28. A visit to the front: Iraq’s Kurds bolster defense outside Kirkuk
29. The Kurds’ Big Year

STATEMENTS
30. Joint statement of the international academic delegation to Rojava

EVENTS
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NEWS

1. Twelve-year-old shot dead in Turkey’s Kurdish southeast
15 January 2015 / Reuters
A 12-year-old boy was shot dead in Cizre in southeast Turkey on Wednesday, the sixth person to be killed in the largely Kurdish town in the last three weeks, security sources said. Local witnesses said police teams were traveling through the area at the time he was shot. However, Interior Minister Efkan Ala told broadcaster Haberturk that police had not fired guns or tear gas and said an investigation had been launched.

2. Death toll in Cizre turmoil rises to six as 12-year-old boy shot dead
14 January 2015 / Todays Zaman
A 12-year-old boy was shot dead in the southeastern district of Cizre, in Şırnak province, on Wednesday, the sixth death in the troubled district since Dec. 27, 2014. In an effort to soothe tension that has been escalating in the area for weeks, Democratic Society Congress (DTK) Chairman Hatip Dicle and Şırnak lawmakers from the Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), Selma Irmak and Faysal Sarıyıldız, went to the district to hold talks with civil society organizations. Dicle also addressed a small gathering in the district on Wednesday. When the crowd dissipated, it was discovered near the Yasef neighborhood that 12-year-old Nihat Kazanhan had been shot in the head and gravely wounded. He was taken to Cizre State Hospital, where he later died.

3. Police kill two teenagers in Cizre and the people and their organizations react
15 January 2015 / Turkey Harvest
Fourteen-year-old Ümit Kurt was shot and killed by police last week in Cizre. Abdullah Kurt, the father of Ümit Kurt, has told Turkish media, “My son was working for 20 Turkish Liras (a day) for spending money. He never hurt anyone. As he was trying to earn his bread, he was shot in the heart and killed. I will pursue the killers in both worlds.” He made his comments to Radikal yesterday, the day that that 12-year-old Nihat Kazanhan was shot dead by police in Cizre. The police have claimed that they did not shoot Ümit Kurt. Abdullah Kurt challenged this by saying,  “When my son was shot, there was nobody on the street except an armored personnel carrier. If they didn’t shoot him, who did?

4. Two political murders, a mining company and the oppression of women—some news and comments on Turkey and North Kurdistan today
13 January 2015 / Turkey Harvest
We have two political murders to discuss this evening and some other news which we believe sheds more light on living and working conditions in Turkey and North Kurdistan. Perhaps the major news for us today is that an Istanbul court has arrested two policemen involved in the inquiry into the 2007 assassination of progressive Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink. We have been giving thumbnail sketches this case almost weekly for some time now and repeat in our posts that this case has been kept alive by popular mobilizations and great legal work. This latest news further exposes cracks in the government’s efforts to delay and obstruct justice, or may signal a willingness on the state’s part to throw someone under the bus.

5. Öcalan sends letter to Assyrian-Syriac-Chaldean people
13 January 2014 / ANF
Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan has sent a letter to the Assyrian-Syriac-Chaldean people, emphasising the importance of their participating in the construction of a democratic common nation in their ancestral homeland. The letter noted that the calamities caused by capitalist modernity, the latest representative of the central system of civilisation, had begun to be seen by all the peoples of the world, in particular in the Middle East, and that there were important lessons to be learned from the tragedies of the exploited peoples targeted.

6. KCK: Every death in prison is a murder
13 January 2014 / ANF
KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) Executive Council Co-Presidency has issued a statement reacting to the increasingly ongoing deaths of political prisoners in Turkish jails. Recalling that five revolutionary inmates have lost their lives in prison within the past two weeks, KCK stressed that the AKP state intended to make the situation of ill prisoners a matter of negotiation. KCK Executive Council Co-Presidency pointed out that the AKP state’s oppressive, fascistic and revengeful policies disregarding universal law and human rights continued to be imposed on revolutionary inmates in Turkish prisons. The KCK statement also emphasised that hundreds of inmates who remain in jail despite being in a life-threatening situation are also further denied treatment while they cannot even meet their needs by themselves.

7. ‘This is what being a Kurd is about’
10 January 2015 /Al Jazeera
Mulkiye Demir Kilinc, a 32-year-old Turkish Kurd and mother of two, is going to jail for selling books. She was charged with aiding a terrorist organisation when she sold some books in 2011 to a man accused of belonging to the militant Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). At the time, she was working in a bookstore in the Mesopotamia Culture Centre (MKM) in Istanbul, which promotes Kurdish culture.

8. Turkey PM speaks of press freedom despite crackdown
16 January 2015 / EU Observer
Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday (15 January) said freedom of speech is as much valued in Turkey as in the West so long as it doesn’t insult Islam. He spoke as prosecutors launched an investigation into the Cumhuriyet newspaper after it published four pages from Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine whose Paris office was attacked by Islamist extremists for its Mohammed cartoons. “Freedom of the press does not mean freedom to insult,” Davutoglu said in Ankara, before heading to Brussels for talks with EU Council president Donald Tusk on Turkey’s stalled EU-membership bid.

9. European Parliament accepts resolution on freedom of expression in Turkey
16 January 2015 / Good Morning Turkey
The European Parliament approved a resolution on freedom of expression in Turkey on Jan. 15, with most of the 593 members of the parliament voting for the measure’s adoption. Out of the 593 MEPs, 511 of them approved the resolution titled “Freedom of expression in Turkey: Recent arrests of journalists, media executives and systematic pressure against media,” 11 voted against, while 31 MEPS abstained. The resolution condemns the recent police raids and the detention of a number of journalists and media representatives on Dec. 14, 2014 in Turkey, stressing that “these actions call into question the respect for the rule of law and freedom of the media.”

10. Groups rally in Paris for assassinated Kurdish women on 2nd anniversary
11 January 2015 / Hurriyet
A group marched in central Paris on Jan. 10 in protest at the fact that the suspects of the killing of three Kurdish women have still not been brought to justice, on the second anniversary of the assassinations.   The group gathered at the Democratic Society Center, near the Gare du Nord train station, from where they marched to Stalingrad Square, before leaving a wreath in front of the Kurdistan Information Office, where the murders took place.  Sakine Cansız, 55, a founding member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK); Fidan Doğan, 32, a spokeswoman for the organization in France and Europe; and a trainee named Leyla Şaylemez, 25, were killed in Paris on Jan. 9, 2013.

11. ISIS losing ground in symbolic Kobani battle
15 January 2015 / Al Arabiya
With more than a thousand militants killed and territory slipping away, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group is losing its grip on the Syrian border town of Kobani under intense U.S.-led airstrikes and astonishingly stiff resistance by Kurdish fighters. It is a stunning reversal for ISIS, which just months ago stood poised to conquer the entire town – and could pierce a carefully crafted image of military strength that helped attract foreign fighters and spread horror across the Middle East.

12. Lawyers in solidarity with Rojava Revolution to visit Cizire Canton
13 January 2015 / ANF
Members of the initiative of “Lawyers’ Solidarity with the Rojava Revolution” departed yesterday from Istanbul in order to visit the Cizire (Jazireh) Canton of Rojava between 13-17 January. The members of the solidarity initiative will be in Suruç at the border with Rojava between 17-18 January. The Lawyers’ Solidarity Group organised a press conference before their departure for Cizire in the office of the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association. The delegation is composed of lawyers from bar associations from Istanbul and Ankara as well as from Lawyers for Solidarity, Lawyers for Democracy, from SDP, Lawyers Office for the Oppressed, Açılım Lawyers Office and Asrın Lawyers Office.

13. Kurdish PYD leader invited to Moscow peace talks over Syria
16 January 2015 / eKurd
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that talks will be held in Moscow between the Syrian regime and opposition groups between January 26-29. Deputy Foreign Minister Mihail Bogdanov said delegations would arrive on January 26, adding that there would be talks with representatives of the opposition on 27 January, followed by a meeting of the opposition with representatives of the Syrian government on 28 January.

14. Today’s report from Rojava, Mount Sinjar and the refugees
13 January 2015 / Turkey Harvest
Once again we will talk here about the revolution in Rojava and the struggle in Sinjar and we will deliberately mix up our items in order to underscore the continuity and mass work of the liberation movement.
28 communes established in 12 days
The women of Tirbespiyê city (Cizîre Canton, Rojava) established 28 communes in 12 days. Seventeen of them are in the city, 4 in the villages of the Sinciqê region and 7 are in the Aliyan region. The women started their campaign on January 2. The communes were established through meetings in which hundreds of Kurdish, Arab and Assyrian women attended. The communes also formed several committees.

15. ISIS: Baghdadi Orders Execution of 56 Fighters after Kurdish Defeat in Erbil
15 January 2015 / IB Times
Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ordered the execution of 56 of his fighters after ISIS troops were defeated by Kurds in northern Iraq. ISIS fighters were defeated in the south of Erbil, which is the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region, and the fighters were executed on Baghdadi’s command in Mosul, Saeed Mamozini, an official in the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), told Al Arabiya.

16. Gunter: ‘Post-state entities reshaping Middle East map’
15 January 2015 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
The urgency of the present situation facing the people of Kobane and the longer term implications of the transformation of the Middle East were issues addressed at the public meeting in the House of Lords on 12 January which was jointly organised by Peace in Kurdistan Campaign and Kurdistan National Congress (KNK). Titled The Collapsed State Systems in Syria & Iraq and the Rise of ISIS & the Kurds, the meeting discussed the Kurdish role in the fight against ISIS and the alternative model offered by the establishment of the self-administration in Rojava.

17. New book on ‘The Kurdish Spring’ published
15 January 2014 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
David L. Philips, Director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, has released his latest book titled The Kurdish Spring: A New Map of the Middle East, which will be available in February from Transaction Publishers. Here is a bit more about the book: Kurds are the largest stateless people in the world. An estimated thirty-two million Kurds live in “Kurdistan,” which includes parts of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Iran—today’s “hot spots” in the Middle East. The Kurdish Spring explores the subjugation of Kurds by Arab, Ottoman, and Persian powers for almost a century, and explains why Kurds are now evolving from a victimized people to a coherent political community.

18. Oil prices fall below $40; shockwaves for producers
14 January 2015 / Rudaw
Oil prices fell below $40 Wednesday, as Kuwait reportedly sold a barrel of crude at $38.9, according to the state-run Kuwait News Agency.  If verified, this is the lowest price for Brent crude in nearly six years.   Falling prices have sent shockwaves among oil producers, also heavily affecting Iraq and its autonomous northern Kurdistan Region. Iraq’s state budget dropped from 174 trillion Iraqi dinars (about $145 billion) in 2014 to 120 trillion Iraqi dinars (about $100 billion) this year.  In an with Rudaw published early this month, Iraq’s Finance Minister Hosyar Zebari said that the country has a difficult year ahead due to serious financial shortfalls.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

19. ‘Welcome to Stalingrad. Welcome to Kobane’: Inside the Syrian Town Under Siege by the Islamic State
13 January 2015 / Vice
“Welcome to Stalingrad. Welcome to Kobane,” said a Kurdish militant, starting his car. A mad dash across the closed Turkish border had just brought us into the majority Kurdish Syrian town, then nearing its 100th day of fighting off a brutal siege by the Islamic State. The jihadists have blitzed it since mid-September from the south, west, and east after taking over all the nearby towns, sending wave after wave of fighters for more than three months.

20. Surfer Vs. ISIS
14 January 2015 / Surfer
Not long ago, Dean Parker spent the bulk of his days soaked in the tropical warm-water peaks of Central America. At 49, the Florida native thought he’d carved out a small slice of paradise for himself as a surf instructor in Costa Rica. No wetsuits, no stress, plenty of waves—you know, the dream. One quiet evening, Parker found himself overcome with emotion as he set before his television set. On screen, a Western reporter was reporting on the situation facing the Yazidi people—an ethnic Kurdish minority—in Northern Iraq. These headlines had been on the news for weeks, but this particular story pulled at Parker.

21. The AKP, the Kurds and the siege of Kobane
13 January 2015 / InternationalV iewpoint
“Zero problems with the neighbours” – such was the motto of Turkish diplomacy directed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs (and current Prime Minister) Ahmet Davutoglu since 2009. This goal of “normalization”” of Turkey’s relations with the neighbouring countries was paradoxically accompanied by the “neo-Ottoman” motivation to establish a politico-cultural and economic hegemony over the countries of the Middle East. But the crisis today around the resistance of Kobane shows that these goals seem far from being achieved. Yet, at the beginning of the wave of revolutions in the Arab countries, the Turkey of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, erected into a “Muslim Democratic” model by the Western imperialisms, appeared to be well placed to show an example to these Muslim societies at full boiling point. Its fraternal relations with the Muslim Brotherhood movements seemed also to favour its ascent in the region.

22. Dispossession In Rojava And Possible Solutions
January 2015 / The Kurdish Question
Rojava becomes more important both in the regional and international context. Since the ISIS’s attempt to occupy Kobanî, the media and political actors of the world have paid more attention to the social, political and military developments in Rojava. It happened thanks to the international mobilization for saving Kobanî and support for the YPG (People’s Defense Units) and the YPJ (Women’s Defense Units) against radical Salafist organization, the ISIS, who tried to expand its so called ‘Islamic State’ into Western Kurdistan (Rojava). The struggle of Kurdish forces, some FSA (Free Syrian Army) units and Peshmerga forces still continues in Kobanî. It has been more than 100 days of resistance and recent reports from the region indicate that the ISIS is pushed back and leaves many loses behind.

23. Kurds demand unity amid battle against Islamic State
13 January 2015 / ECFR
Outside the morgue at Diyarbakir cemetery in eastern Turkey, Hanifi Cam waits for the body of his 24-year-old daughter, Gulsum, to be draped in Kurdish nationalist red, yellow and green. Gulsum was a Kurd from Turkey, but she trained with militants from the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in the Qandil Mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan, and died in combat in Kobane, a Kurdish-run town in Syria. As the bodies of Kurdish children killed in Syria or Iraq come home for burial in Turkey, feelings of cross-border Kurdish solidarity are growing in their communities, despite the deeply divided nature of the Kurdish nationalist movement.

24. How Cizre became a combat zone?
11 January 2015 / Al Monitor
When I stepped off the plane at Serafettin Elci Airport, the taxi drivers who surrounded me wanted to talk about what was going on in Cizre [in predominately Kurdish southeastern Turkey] rather than bargaining for a fare. They all asked the same question: “There is a war going on here. Nobody even writes about it. Why are you so late in coming?” When we entered Cizre, it reeked of heavy pepper gas. In the town, with shop shutters closed, people don’t go out unless they have to. Apart from bakeries and pharmacies, almost all other shops are closed.

25. Turkish Kurds’ electoral strategy is a high-wire act 
14 January 2014 / Al Monitor
As Turkey’s controversial president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, mulls plans to boost his executive powers the country’s Kurds have emerged as key players in a high-stakes gamble that could either bolster the country’s shaky democracy or suck it into chaos. The drama is centered on parliamentary elections to be held June 7. Few doubt that Erdogan’s Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has held power since 2002, is headed for a fourth straight electoral victory. But it is unlikely to muster the 376 seats needed to unilaterally rewrite the constitution in ways that would enable the president to tighten his grip. Should Erdogan cling to his ambitions, the AKP will need to turn to another party for its support. And this is where the Kurds enter the picture.

26. Explaining the Turkish Military’s Opposition to Combating ISIS
15 January 2015 / Washington Institute
While Ankara’s decision for or against fighting ISIS will be a political one, the military’s lingering resentment toward the AKP, the PKK, and Arabs could be a formidable obstacle to Turkish intervention. In all the discussions about Turkey not being particularly supportive to the coalition fighting the “Islamic State”/ISIS, little has been said about the military’s role in shaping the government’s policy. In part this reflects the ruling Justice and Development Party’s diminution of the military’s role in policy formulation since 2002, and the ascendancy of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) for the implementation of Syria policy.

27. Yazidi refugees in Turkey: back to their homeland?
14 January 2014 / RoarMag
Last month Ayşan Sönmez visited the refugee camps of the displaced Kurds from Kobani in Suruç, Turkey. This is her report from her recent visit to the Yazidi refugee camps in Diyarbakir and Mardin.
The price of oil has hit rock bottom and the dollar has skyrocketed against the Turkish lira. In the meantime a war is raging just across the border and the Yazidis have been displaced for something like the 74th time in their history. Indeed, isn’t this how things stand?

28. A visit to the front: Iraq’s Kurds bolster defense outside Kirkuk
15 January 2015 / McClatchy
The bridge not far from the village of Khrabarut doesn’t look like much – a single concrete track over a drainage canal about 100 yards long – but it’s turned into a pivotal landmark in the fight between Kurdish forces and the Islamic State southwest of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. “Whoever controls that bridge controls the area right now,” said one Kurdish fighter at a nearby checkpoint before pointing off in the distance to a plume of flame where an oil well burned off excess natural gas. “And that’s why.”

29. The Kurds’ Big Year
12 January 2015 / Foreign Affairs
(Registration required) For the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, 2014 was more momentous a year than any since the region won autonomy, in 1991. On December 9, 2014, Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), reaffirmed his commitment to Kurdish statehood after making a historic call for an independence referendum on June 30, 2014. Barzani’s announcement came after the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham’s (ISIS) incursion into northern Iraq earlier that month, which effectively eliminated Baghdad’s control over the disputed territories of Kurdistan.

STATEMENTS

30. Joint statement of the international academic delegation to Rojava, 15th January 2015.

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