KURDISH NEWS WEEKLY BRIEFING, 17 – 23 January 2015

NEWS
1. Former Turkish minister: Jailed Kurdish leader Ocalan should be allowed to address supporters on TV
2. Tensions flare between Turkey’s Kurds
3. Turkish Interior Ministry admits to possible police hand in boy’s death
4. Turkish president says he is aware of ‘plot’ in Cizre
5. Turkish military says MIT shipped weapons to al-Qaeda
6. Turkey Threatens to Block Social Media Over Released Documents
7. Eren Keskin Sentenced to 10 Months Due to Article 301
8. HDP Proposes Truth and Facing Commission
9. Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds
10. Kobane battle: Kurdish fighters ‘capture strategic hilltop’
11. ‘Mistenûr is liberated, now for Kobanê’
12. KNK: Syrian forces aiming for another ethnic cleansing in Haseke
13. Europol set up special unit to combat PKK
14. Boris Johnson tracks fight against Isis and builds trade ties in Kurdistan

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
15. How Turkey misread the Kurds
16. Turks, Kurds push for peace breakthrough despite new surge in violence
17. Kurdish Anger Simmers as Turkey Accused of Killing Unarmed Teenagers
18. Turkey loses its direction
19. Kurdistan: Why International Support is Crucial
20. War on Isis: Flood of jihadi volunteers to Syria ‘unstoppable’, warns Turkish Prime Minister
21. The Islamic State Has Sleeper Cells Throughout Turkey. Does Erdogan Care?
22. Kobani hospitals overflow as battle continues
23. Syrian Kurdistan: Is Hasakah the next Kobani?
24. The Last Tattooed Women of Kobane

STATEMENTS
25. KNK Statement: Syrian Regime forces attack on Kurdish people in the city of Haseke

BOOK REVIEWS
26. Out of Nowhere: The Kurds of Syria in Peace and War by Michael M. Gunter

ACTIONS
27. EDM tabled in UK parliament expresses ‘concern’ about state censorship and arrests in Turkey

EVENTS

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NEWS

1. Former Turkish minister: Jailed Kurdish leader Ocalan should be allowed to address supporters on TV
22 January 2015 / eKurd
Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), should be moved out of jail, placed under house arrest and granted media access to address his supporters, a former Turkish minister said. “The Turkish government should make arrangements for Ocalan to address his supporters twice a month on TV,” said Mehmet Salim Ensarioglu, who was minister of state in the 1990s, when there was an all-out war between the PKK and the Turkish state.

2. Tensions flare between Turkey’s Kurds
22 January 2015 / Deutsche Welle
Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by fatal confrontations between Islamist and nationalist Kurds. The violence was sparked by fighting just across the Syrian border, where terror group “Islamic State” is continuing to lay siege to the Kurdish city of Kobani. The clashes are resurrecting decades-old wounds between religious and secular Kurds.

3. Turkish Interior Ministry admits to possible police hand in boy’s death
20 January 2015 / Hurriyet
Turkey’s Interior Ministry has admitted that police might have been responsible for shooting dead 12-year-old Nihat Kazanhan in Cizre last week, despite earlier claims by PM Ahmet Davutoğlu that police were not involved. “According to the first findings of inspectors, there are suggestions that some of the security forces inside vehicles at the scene might be at fault in the incident,” the ministry said in a statement released Jan. 20.

4. Turkish president says he is aware of ‘plot’ in Cizre
20 January 2015 / Hurriyet
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has suggested there is a plot behind the ongoing unrest in Cizre, a town near the border with Syria and Iraq, where tension peaked after a 12-year-old boy was shot last week, the sixth person to be killed in the town in the last three weeks. “Today, we are aware of the incident that is being attempted to be carried out in Cizre and we are taking our measures accordingly,” Erdoğan said on Jan. 20 in a speech that was dominated by references to alleged dark plots carried out by the Gülen movement.

5. Turkish military says MIT shipped weapons to al-Qaeda
15 January 2015 / Al Monitor
Secret official documents about the searching of three trucks belonging to Turkey’s national intelligence service (MIT) have been leaked online, once again corroborating suspicions that Ankara has not been playing a clean game in Syria. According to the authenticated documents, the trucks were found to be transporting missiles, mortars and anti-aircraft ammunition. The Gendarmerie General Command, which authored the reports, alleged, “The trucks were carrying weapons and supplies to the al-Qaeda terror organization.” But Turkish readers could not see the documents in the news bulletins and newspapers that shared them, because the government immediately obtained a court injunction banning all reporting about the affair.

6. Turkey Threatens to Block Social Media Over Released Documents
16 January 2015 / New York Times
Turkish officials threatened to shut down Twitter in the country unless the social-media company blocked the account of a left-wing newspaper that had circulated documents about a military police raid on Turkish Intelligence Agency trucks that were traveling to Syria last January. The demand came on Thursday, a day after a local court in Adana, a southern Turkish province, issued an order barring coverage of the investigation, hinting at the possibility of an overall ban on social media networks where documents on legal proceedings of the raid have been circulated.

7. Eren Keskin Sentenced to 10 Months Due to Article 301
22 January 2014 / Bianet
Çerkezköy 1st Assize Court convicted human rights advocate Eren Keskin to 10 months of prison due to Article 301 when she said “The [Turkish] state has the brutal mentality to massacre a 12 year old child. Turkey must account…Turkey’s history is dirty”, referring to the death of Uğur Kaymaz in the southeastern province of Mardin.  On November 4, 2011, Justice Ministry allowed an investigation into Eren Keskin who testified in June 2014. Similar sentences have been issued on hundreds of human rights activists, journalists and intellectuals in Turkey including Hrant Dink.

8. HDP Proposes Truth and Facing Commission
14 January 2014 / Bianet
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Group Interim Presidents Pervin Buldan and İdris Baluken submitted a proposal to form a “historical truth and facing commission” for the establishment of societal peace and justice. The proposal statement also underlined on the parliament regarding this task.  “This step is essential for the development of democratic political culture and resolution of historical issues.”

9. Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds
20 January 2014 / VOA
The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country’s pro-Kurdish movement. Nearly 4,000 Yazidis who fled to Turkey have found sanctuary at the Cinar refugee camp in Diyarbakir. The camp is one of 11 set up by local authorities under the control of the pro-Kurdish HDP party.

10. Kobane battle: Kurdish fighters ‘capture strategic hilltop’
19 January 2015 / BBC News
Kurdish fighters battling Islamic State (IS) militants in the town of Kobane on the Syria-Turkey border have captured a strategic hilltop, reports say. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and local officials said Kurdish units gained control of the hill after fierce clashes. The Mishtenur hill overlooks the embattled town. Monitors from the Observatory said its capture meant that key IS resupply routes were within the line of fire. The Observatory said 11 Islamic State fighters were killed and large quantities of weapons and ammunition were seized.

11. ‘Mistenûr is liberated, now for Kobanê’
22 January 2015 / ANF
Biharin Kendal, one of the YPJ’s commanders in Kobanê, said that with the taking of Mistenûr Hill the first stage of the operation to liberate Kobanê had been completed. During fighting in October when YPJ fighter Arîn Mirkan made the supreme sacrifice Mistenûr Hill gained a symbolic importance in addition to its strategic significance. YPG/YPJ forces launched an operation to drive ISIS gangs out of Kobanê a month ago, and after cleansing many strategic points of the gangs, Mistenûr Hill, too, has now been liberated. By taking Mistenûr the YPG has established a dominant position over the whole of Kobanê city, the Aleppo road, and roads used by ISIS to bring in reinforcements.

12. KNK: Syrian forces aiming for another ethnic cleansing in Haseke
22 January 2015 / ANF
Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) Commission of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement calling attention to the recent attacks of the Syrian regime on Kurdish people in the city of Haseke city in Cizire Canton of West Kurdistan, Rojava. KNK remarked that since ISIS lost its power in Haseke, where there were Syrian regime forces in the centre of the city but failed in their defence against ISIS, some of the so called anti regime groups and Arabs who were supporting ISIS until very recently, now have changed sides, towards the regime forces whose defence were restricted only in their own territories.

13. Europol set up special unit to combat PKK
22 January 2015 / Delist the PKK
This article first appeared in Firat News: It has emerged that the European Union law enforcement agency, Europol, has set up a special unit to coordinate action against the PKK. It has been learned that the unit, called the “Target Group Bazaar” and set up under the auspices of the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), last met in November. German Left Party deputy Andrej Hunko has called on the German Government to end its efforts to eliminate the Kurdish movement.

14. Boris Johnson tracks fight against Isis and builds trade ties in Kurdistan
22 January 2015 / Guardian
Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, has gone to Kurdistan to examine firsthand the progress being made to push back the forces of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. City Hall, in London, declined to give details of the visit, for security reasons, but said the trip was also meant to strengthen economic ties between London and Kurdistan.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

15. How Turkey misread the Kurds
20 January 2015 / Al Jazeera
Residents of the Kurdish-majority city Cizre, in southeast Turkey near the borders with Iraq and Syria, walk with one eye on the ground, navigating the ditches and blockades created by youth who wanted to block the entrance of Turkish police into the city. Walls in Cizre are covered in graffiti, tributes to Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), and to Kobane, a Kurdish-run town in Syria that has been precariously holding out against an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) advance for over four months.

16. Turks, Kurds push for peace breakthrough despite new surge in violence
20 January 2015 / Reuters
A spate of killings, a looming general election and war next door in Syria are complicating efforts to end the 30-year Kurdish insurgency in Turkey just as a breakthrough in peace talks looks close. Jailed militant leader Abdullah Ocalan may call an end to his Kurdistan Workers Party’s (PKK) armed struggle in Turkey by March, some close to the process say. But some also say unrest in the mainly Kurdish southeast suggests the PKK is flexing its muscles as it looks to stamp its authority in the region.

17. Kurdish Anger Simmers as Turkey Accused of Killing Unarmed Teenagers
21 January 2015 / Vice
On January 6, a 14-year-old Kurdish boy was shot dead by special forces in the town of Cizre, southeast Turkey. Umit Kurt was killed as he walked home from his job as a painter and decorator at around 5pm. He was passing through an area previously controlled by the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), the youth wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The neighborhood had just been opened up after a peace agreement made with the local police and a PKK order to stand down.

18. Turkey loses its direction
20 January 2015 / Cihan
Turkey has long been moving in an uncertain direction, raising concerns over a potential crisis that may erupt in this NATO member country, which borders one of the world’s most dangerous regions — the Middle East — and which, at the same, is engulfed in turmoil. There is a deepening political divide in the country, with a population sensitive to Islam on one hand and on the other a secular segment of society, who have never been given a chance to compromise on basic democratic values. Added to the concern is the renewal of fierce clashes taking place in the country’s restive Kurdish-dominated eastern and southeastern regions, having the potential to turn into an all-out sectarian war.

19. Kurdistan: Why International Support is Crucial
28 December 2014 / Bianet
The reference to the term Kurdistan represents exactly that what is going on today concerns all four parts, with specific focus on the Kurds in Syria and Iraq. Beyond any doubt, the role of the Kurds in Turkey and specifically of the PKK Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan, Kurdistan Workers’ Party) movement has been also important in the support of the Kurdish confrontation of Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (داعش, IS, July 2013).

20. War on Isis: Flood of jihadi volunteers to Syria ‘unstoppable’, warns Turkish Prime Minister
21 January 2015 / Independent
President Barack Obama says that the US is to go on the offensive in Iraq, providing close air support to the Iraqi army when it attacks Isis forces. But Iraqi sources say that the Iraqi army, badly beaten by Isis last summer, is failing to reconstitute itself despite US efforts to retrain it. Even when supported by air strikes, it has made little headway and many of its combat units remain grossly understrength.

21. The Islamic State Has Sleeper Cells Throughout Turkey. Does Erdogan Care?
21 January 2015 / New Republic
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is famously ambivalent about the threat of the Islamic State (IS). Last fall, he equated the terrorist organization, which has killed tens of thousands, with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which no longer participates in armed rebellion against the Turkish state. “For us, the PKK is the same as ISIL,” Erdogan said. “It is wrong to consider them as different from each other.” Turkey still does not allow U.S. planes to use Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey to bomb IS targets, nor does it directly act against the terrorist threat right on its southern border.

22. Kobani hospitals overflow as battle continues
15 January 2015 / Al Monitor
It was not easy for Al-Monitor to enter Kobani. The random shelling by the Islamic groups, on the one hand, and the closure of the border crossings by Turkish forces on the other, made it difficult for us to get any news about what was happening across the border. The invasion of the city and the security cordon that was imposed on it — aimed at intimidating citizens — resulted in the displacement of about 200,000 people from Kobani and its surrounding villages. Most of them fled to the Turkish city of Suruc.

23. Syrian Kurdistan: Is Hasakah the next Kobani?
22 January 2015 / Al Monitor
In a newspaper interview in November 2013, Salih Muslim, the co-chairman of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party of Syria (PYD) had predicted: “The situation in Hasakah is sensitive. If pushed, it could lead to Kurdish-Arab clashes.” News reports from the northeast Syria town of Hasakah, which we don’t usually hear much about, proved Muslim’s warnings were on the mark. Clashes that erupted in Hasakah on Jan. 17 between the PYD’s military wing, the People’s Defense Units (YPG) and National Defense Forces, an auxiliary of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s army, couldn’t be halted and inflicted casualties on both sides.

24. The Last Tattooed Women of Kobane
21 January 2015 / National Geographic
Last fall, photographer Jodi Hilton visited Syrian refugee camps in Turkey, across the border from Kobane, Syria. There, she encountered women who displayed the last of a fading art form—deq facial tattoos. I interviewed her about her experience photographing the women who bear these disappearing symbols.

STATEMENTS

25. KNK Statement: Syrian Regime forces attack on Kurdish people in the city of Haseke, 21 January 2015.

BOOK REVIEWS

26. Out of Nowhere: The Kurds of Syria in Peace and War by Michael M. Gunter, Review by William Eichler, London School of Economics.

ACTIONS

27. EDM tabled in UK parliament expresses ‘concern’ about state censorship and arrests in Turkey. Write to your MP and urge them to sign the EDM!

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