KURDISH NEWS WEEKLY BRIEFING, 14 – 20 March 2014

Make this Newroz a genuine celebration of peace

19 March 2015

Newroz is traditionally the most cherished date in the Kurdish calendar, but this year it has taken on an added significance.

 It is the first Newroz since the historic victory of the Kurds in Kobane against the ISIS menace. The ultimate success of the courageous Kurdish men and women fighters in the battle for the strategically important city of Kobane has inspired people worldwide with a passionate sense of justice and this victory can now be understood as a historic turning of the tide in the fortunes of the Mideast and in the fate of all the peoples of the region.

Read the rest of Peace in Kurdistan Campaign’s Newroz message

NEWS

  1. Breaking! Ocalan’s Message To Be Read At Amed Newroz
  2. The peace process in Turkey: Where are we at?
  3. KCK head sets out 6 conditions for laying down arms
  4. Erdoğan: Turkey never had a Kurdish problem
  5. NY Times says Erdoğan has become authoritarian and Turkey drifting away from NATO
  6. Fidan admitted MİT faction executed 3 PKK women in Paris, KCK head claims
  7. Turkish Teachers Face Police Repression
  8. Making a women’s revolution: News from women’s struggles in Turkey and Kurdistan
  9. Turkey’s Kurds mobilise to help ISIL victims
  10. Syriza to take part in Kobanê reconstruction
  11. Turkish tankers carrying ISIS oil
  12. Rojava Goes To The Polls
  13. Ivana Hoffmann and Konstandinos Erik Scurfield—two martyrs who will remain forever with us
  14. Konstandinos Erik Scurfield: Father pays tribute to his son
  15. Body of ex-Royal Marine who was first Briton killed fighting against ISIS has been returned to his family 
  16. Vasiliki Scurfield addresses Newroz reception in Parliament
  17. Speech Of Vasiliki Scurfield, Mother Of Konstandinos Scurfield
  18. Hundreds Mourn YPG Fighter Konstandinos Erik Scurfield As His Body Returns To The UK
  19. Veteran journalist Cemal receives prestigious Louis M. Lyons Award from Harvard

 

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

  1. Women Up in Arms: Zapatistas and Rojava Kurds Embrace a New Gender Politics
  2. The Rojava revolution
  3. Kurds unite to build Kurdistan in defiance of Islamic State
  4. Kobane pays high price for defeating IS
  5. No Kurdish question!
  6. Volunteering with the Kurds to fight IS
  7. Life under Isis: Why I deserted the ‘Islamic State’ rather than take part in executions, beheadings and rape – the story of a former jihadi
  8. The U.S.-Turkey Partnership: One Step Forward, Three Steps Back

 APPEALS

  1. PYD: We have a common responsibility to prevent another genocide

ACTIONS

  1. FREE SHILAN OZCELIK NOW!
  2. Amnesty Internaitional: Syria – turn the lights back on
  3. Die Linke motion on lifting the ban on the PKK

 

NEWS

 

  1. Breaking! Ocalan’s Message To Be Read At Amed Newroz
    19 March 2015 / Kurdish Question
    Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Sirri Sureyya Onder, who is also a member of the Imrali Committee that visits Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan for the development of the resolution process of the Kurdish question in Turkey, has declared, following their last meeting with Ocalan today, that Ocalan’s message will be read out at the Amed (Diyarbakir) Newroz on March 21st.

 

  1. The peace process in Turkey: Where are we at?
    10 March 2015 / Turkey Harvest
    The following article “Peace process in Turkey: Where are we at?” was written by Amed Dicle and appeared in Özgür Gündem. It has been translated by Kurdish Question into English and we have done some minor editing. We thank Özgür Gündem, DİHA news service and Kurdish Question for their great work. We have written much on this blog about the issues brought forward here. We will add that Imrali Island is where Abdullah Ocalan is being held, that Qandil is at the heart of the area held by the guerrilla movement and kindred organizations and that much of the context here forms around the peace or resolution process initiated by Abdullah Ocalan and the political options which arise from this

 

  1. KCK head sets out 6 conditions for laying down arms
    16 March 2015 / Todays Zaman
    Cemil Bayık, the head of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) and also the “number two” man in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), said in an interview published on Monday in the Taraf daily that they have six conditions that the government should meet for the PKK to lay down its arms. Bayık told the daily that there is currently no situation that requires an armed struggle, adding: “But this does not mean we will lay down our weapons. When the chaos that is engulfing the Middle East is taken into consideration, disarming is not possible.”

 

  1. Erdoğan: Turkey never had a Kurdish problem
    16 March 2015 / NRT
    In a sharp deviation from his remarks in a historic speech delivered in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir in 2005, where he first acknowledged the existence of a Kurdish problem in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has now said Turkey never had a Kurdish problem, noting that Kurds enjoy all the rights and everything else enjoyed by Turks. “My brothers, there has never been any problem called the Kurdish issue in this country. Yet, there are intentional efforts to keep this on the agenda. … We ended it [the problem] in a speech I made in Diyarbakir in 2005 and that is it.”

 

  1. NY Times says Erdoğan has become authoritarian and Turkey drifting away from NATO
    14 March 2015 / Todays Zaman
    The New York Times has claimed that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has become increasingly authoritarian and that he is causing NATO’s only Muslim member to drift away from the international alliance. The paper said in an editorial on Friday that Turkey’s commitment to the alliance has never seemed “more ambivalent than it does now.” Turkey has angered its Western allies, particularly the United States, with its unwilling to join a global coalition to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), and has stepped up anti-Western rhetoric, which finds a receptive audience among the electorate which supports the current government

 

  1. Fidan admitted MİT faction executed 3 PKK women in Paris, KCK head claims
    15 March 2015 / Todays Zaman
    Cemil Bayık, the head of the Kurdistan Communities’ Union (KCK), has reportedly said that Hakan Fidan, head of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), admitted that a group within the intelligence body was responsible for the execution of three Kurdish women linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Paris in 2013.

 

  1. Turkish Teachers Face Police Repression
    16 March 2015 / Teachers Solidarity
    Yesterday we reported on the arrest of Iranian teachers involved in fighting for democracy and public education. Today we hear that teacher union activists and leaders have been arrested yet again in Turkey by the forces of the Erdogan government. Turkish teachers joined other activists in February in strikes and protests against the increasing ‘islamisation’ of education in the country. According to one of the main organisers of the protests, ‘Islamization is a central strategy of the neo-liberal government of Tayyip Erdogan. The ruling elite believe that those opposing them are secular or at least ‘not Muslim enough’ so ‘they think that if they Islamize the education, a new generation will be formed in line with the new regime.’

 

  1. Making a women’s revolution: News from women’s struggles in Turkey and Kurdistan
    16 March 2015 / Turkey Harvest
    We have some news concerning women’s struggles in Turkey and North Kurdistan today, including a story about a teacher who has been sentenced to 5 months in prison for holding a box cutter to a schoolgirls’ throat; news from the International World March of Women, which arrived in Izmir; plus reports from three women who attended International Women’s Day celebrations and conference in Kurdistan – Argentinian Magadalena Roggi; Egyptian activist Salma Said; and Siham Qiru, Assyrian official in the Economy and Trade Ministry of the Cizire Canton.

 

  1. Turkey’s Kurds mobilise to help ISIL victims
    14 March 2015 / Journal of Turkish Weekly
    Turkey’s Kurdish population continues its aid campaign to help those displaced by ISIL. An aid campaign organised by Kurds in Turkey’s southeast provinces to help victims of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continues at full speed even after the border city of Kobane, Syria, was liberated from the terror group.

 

  1. Syriza to take part in Kobanê reconstruction
    9 March 2015 / Turkey Harvest
    Afroditi Stampouli, Syriza MP, celebrated March 8, International Women’s Day, in Suruç with women from Kobanê and says Syriza is working to support the reconstruction of the city. Afroditi, a Syriza member with her roots in the ecological left, works as part of Syriza’s Women’s Network. She attended the March 8 celebrations in the tent city in Suruç, where tens of thousands of Kobanê residents currently live. “I’m here because of the historic resistance that Kurdish women have shown against fascist and authoritarian regimes,” she said. “I’m here to build better relationships with them and to say ‘we’re with you.'”

 

  1. Turkish tankers carrying ISIS oil
    19 March 2015 / ANF
    Sadik Al Hiseni, the head of the security committee in the city of Diyala in Iraq, says they have arrested several Turkish tankers trying to take ISIS oil out of the province of Salahuddin. Sadik Al Hiseni, the head of the security committee in the city of Diyala, told Sumeria news today that joint security forces comprising Shia militias and Iraqi army forces had stopped several Turkish tanker trucks in the district of Al Zirke that were carrying oil for ISIS from Hamrin and Al Buijil.
  1. Rojava Goes To The Polls
    14 March 2015 / Rojava Report
    Voters in 12 cities across the Cizîrê Canton of Rojava went to the polls yesterday in order to elect municipal councils, explains an article in Özgür Gündem. Polls opened at 8:00 AM local time and voters were able to cast their ballots until 08:00 in the evening. 160 polling stations were opened in Dêrik, Girkê Legê, Tirbespiyê, East Qamişlo, West Qamişlo, Amûdê, Dirbêsiyê, Serêkaniyê, Hesekê, Til Koçer, Çilaxa and the towns of Ebu Raseyn. The voting marks the first time free elections have taken place in the region on this scale.

 

  1. Ivana Hoffmann and Konstandinos Erik Scurfield—two martyrs who will remain forever with us
    15 March 2015 / Turkey Harvest
    Thousands of people bid farewell to MLKP (Marxist Leninist Communist Party) fighter Ivana Hoffmann (Avaşin Tekoşin Güneş), who lost her life fighting ISIS attacks in the Cizirê Canton of Rojava, West Kurdistan, on March 7, in the German city of Duisburg yesterday. The commemoration was organized by the Kurdish Women’s Movement in Europe (TJK-E) and the Socialist Women’s Union (SKB) and started with a march from Amtsgericht Hamborn to the Duisburg Cemetery. Some five thousand people joined the march, including representatives of many left-wing and socialist organizations, TJK-E, SKB, Rojava’s Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Germany, the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) and others.

 

  1. Konstandinos Erik Scurfield: Father pays tribute to his son
    14 March 2015 / BBC News
    The father of the first Briton to be killed while fighting against Islamic State (IS) has paid tribute to his son. Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25, an ex-Royal Marine from Barnsley, died near the Syrian city of Qamishli. His coffin was handed over to his father and uncle in a ceremony involving hundreds of Syrian Kurds. Chris Scurfield told Jim Muir it was a shock when his son went to fight alongside the Kurds.

 

  1. Body of ex-Royal Marine who was first Briton killed fighting against ISIS has been returned to his family 
    14 March 2015 / Daily Mail
    The body of an ex-Royal Marine who was the first Briton to be killed while fighting against ISIS has been returned to his family in a ‘comforting’ ceremony attended by hundreds of Syrian Kurds. Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, from Barnsley, was shot dead on March 2 while fighting in Syria alongside Kurdish forces in the frontline village of Tel Khuzela.  The 25-year-old’s body was given to his father and uncle in a ceremony on the Syria-Iraq border involving hundreds of Syrian Kurds flying their brightly coloured flags.

 

  1. Vasiliki Scurfield addresses Newroz reception in Parliament
    19 March 2015 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
    The Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) held an event in parliament on 17 March, to celebrate Newroz, the Kurdish New Year. The event was hosted by MP Mike Gapes. The speakers were Vasiliki Scurfield, the mother of Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, Michelle Allison, KNK UK women’s representative, Dr Alan Semo, PYD UK representative, and Dr Mohamed Kanyany, former KRG MP.

 

  1. Speech Of Vasiliki Scurfield, Mother Of Konstandinos Scurfield
    18 March 215 / Kurdish Question
    I would like to start by taking this opportunity to thank the Kurdish people from the Rojava region for looking after my son and honouring him and for their support in his repatriation and the financial assistance they’re giving us for this. I’d also like to thank the people from the Kurdish region of Iraq and particularly the Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talibani for their support of my husband during this difficult time and for pulling out all the stops to expedite the paperwork so that we can bring Kosta home.

 

  1. Hundreds Mourn YPG Fighter Konstandinos Erik Scurfield As His Body Returns To The UK
    20 March 2015 / Kurdish Question
    Hundreds of people gathered today at Manchester Airport to welcome YPG fighter Konstandinos Erik Scurfield as his body arrived back in the UK. Konstandinos Scurfield died in battle against ISIS gangs on March 2nd 2015 and became the first British People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighter to lose his life in Rojava-Western Kurdistan (Northern Syria). People started gathering from 9am at Manchester Airport Cargo Terminal to wait for Konstandinos’ body as it arrived from Istanbul. Carrying photos of Mr. Scurfield and waving YPG, Kurdish and Abdullah Ocalan flags people shouted, “Who is the symbol of humanity, resistance and fraternity? – Kosta!”

 

  1. Veteran journalist Cemal receives prestigious Louis M. Lyons Award from Harvard
    13 March 2014 / Todays Zaman
    Harvard University has named Turkish journalist Hasan Cemal as the 2015 recipient of the Louis M. Lyons award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism, presenting the award to the journalist at a ceremony at the university on Thursday. Cemal received the award at Walter Lippman House in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from Harvard’s Nieman Foundation in recognition of “a long career dedicated to championing freedom of the press in Turkey and as a representative of all Turkish journalists working today under increasingly difficult conditions.”

 

 

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

 

  1. Women Up in Arms: Zapatistas and Rojava Kurds Embrace a New Gender Politics
    19 March 2015 / Truth Out
    Resistance and strength manifest like weeds through cracks in Chiapas, Mexico and transnational Kurdistan where the respective Zapatista and Kurdish resistance movements are creating new gender relations as a primary part of their struggle and process for building a better world. In both places, women’s participation in the armed forces has been an entry-point for a new social construction of gender relations based on equity.

 

  1. The Rojava revolution
    15 March 2015 / Open Democracy
    News of the fight of the Syrian Kurds has reached many homes in Europe and the US over the last year as TV channels around the world have covered the resistance of the Kurds against Daesh (self-proclaimed “Islamic State”) in Kobane. The fighting was indeed a great human endeavor, often portrayed in heroic, almost mythological terms. Behind the men and women fighters of this heroic resistance lies a large but still unknown political and cultural revolution which is in full effervescence in Rojava, Syrian Kurdistan.

 

  1. Kurds unite to build Kurdistan in defiance of Islamic State
    15 March 2015 / Sydney Morning Herald
    “Welcome to Rojava,” the border official says as she hands back my passport and offers me a sweet-smelling jonquil plucked from the small vase on her counter. Along with a family of refugees, I have just crossed the border from Iraqi Kurdistan into north-eastern Syria, taking a boat across the fast-flowing Tigris River that forms the frontier between the two countries. Rojava – the name Kurds have given to the collection of three Kurdish-run enclaves or cantons in Syria – is both a region and an ideal. After decades of repression under the Assad regime, the Kurds of Syria – now around 15 per cent of the population – are establishing elected governments involving all faiths and ethnicities, men and women.

 

  1. Kobane pays high price for defeating IS
    14 March 2015 / Green Left Weekly
    A largely unknown region to the rest of the world became one of the most talked about globally in recent months. Kobane is a town that suffered a too-harsh fate. Innocent civilians never think that one day they would face massacres — except that being a Kurd in a town like Kobane (in a largely Kurdish area in the north-west of the Syrian state), means you face such things. Kobane is in the Syrian-Turkish frontier, with a Kurdish majority. The town has about 45000 citizens, mostly farmers. Before September last year, citizens in Kobane thought President Bashar Assad’s regime was their main problem.

 

  1. No Kurdish question!
    17 March 2015 / Todays Zaman
    President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said: “My brothers, there has never been any such problem as the ‘Kurdish question’ in this country. And yet there are deliberate efforts to keep this on the agenda.” This is a cheap political maneuver aiming at gaining the sympathy of Turkish nationalists, no doubt. But these few sentences tell us a lot about the handicaps facing Turkey in dealing with the Kurdish question.

 

  1. Volunteering with the Kurds to fight IS
    15 March 2015 / BBC News
    Syria’s Kurds are engaged in a bitter battle with the forces of Islamic State (IS) in the north of their country – and increasingly foreign volunteers are finding themselves on the front lines. “Can you not show my face,” the young man asked, as we stood in the Kurdish hospital in Syria. “I don’t want my mum knowing I’ve been shot.” I’ll call him Sam. He’s from the south of England and is in his early 20s. He’s short and slight. Standing in his camouflage gear and boots, he came up to my shoulder. With blue eyes and sallow skin, he looked 16.

 

  1. Life under Isis: Why I deserted the ‘Islamic State’ rather than take part in executions, beheadings and rape – the story of a former jihadi
    16 March 2015 / Independent
    Hamza is a 33-year-old from Fallujah, a city ruled by Islamic State 40 miles west of Baghdad, who became an Isis fighter last year after being attracted by its appeal to his religious feelings. Two months ago, however, he defected, after being asked to help execute people he knew – and being appalled by invitations to join in what amounted to rape of captured Yazidi women.

 

  1. The U.S.-Turkey Partnership: One Step Forward, Three Steps Back
    12 March 2015 / Centre for American Progress
    President Barack Obama made a large political investment in Turkey in 2009 for a series of compelling reasons, which he laid out in a speech to the Turkish parliament during his first overseas trip as president. His administration recognized that Turkey’s role would be essential to tackling a series of challenges important to the United States, including stabilizing Iraq, solidifying a sanctions regime to pressure Iran to negotiate on its nuclear ambitions, and combating terrorism.

 

 

APPEALS

 

  1. PYD: We have a common responsibility to prevent another genocide, 16 March 2015.

 

 

ACTIONS

 

  1. FREE SHILAN OZCELIK NOW!
    A Change.org petition has been set up calling for the release of Shilan Ozcelik, who is being held on remand in Holloway Prison under terrorism charges. Sign here

 

  1.  Amnesty Internaitional: Syria – turn the lights back on

 

  1. Die Linke motion on lifting the ban on the PKK, which was debated in February, can be read in full here.

 

 

 

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