KURDISH NEWS WEEKLY BRIEFING, 16 – 22 May 2015

NEWS

  1. Kurdish political party launches colourful election campaign in Turkey
  2. Bomb blasts hit pro-Kurdish HDP party in south Turkey, six wounded
  3. What does the Turkish electorate think about HDP?
  4. Turkey’s AKP isolates Kurdish PKK leader to end peace talks: delegation
  5. IHD: HDP targeted by 114 attacks during the election campaign
  6. Journalism is persona non grata in Turkey
  7. Turkish intelligence helped ship arms to Syrian Islamist rebel areas
  8. Kurdish women fighters wage war on Islamic State in Iraq [Photo report]
  9. British Lord: I Admire The Self-Administration In Rojava
  10. Kurdish fighters expel ISIS radicals from major stronghold in Syria
  11. Islamic State extremists execute 65 civilians north Syria, mostly Kurds
  12. Probe into Paris Kurd killings finally complete
  13. Demands in European Parliament for PKK to be removed from ‘terror list’
  14. Turks, German charged in Berlin over spying for Turkey
  15. Ex-patriots in London urged to use their vote this month in crucial Turkish general election

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

  1. What do attacks on Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party mean?
  2. Kurds abandon AKP
  3. Turkish Kurds hope election gambit creates bulwark against Erdogan
  4. The Kurd who’d save Turkey from Erdoğan
  5. The Threat Posed By UNSC Resolution 2178 To The PKK, Kurdish Diaspora, Peace Process And Civil Liberties
  6. In Kobane, site of key defeat of Islamic State, rebuilding is a Kurdish affair
  7. Iran’s Kurds Rise Against Regime
  8. The Bubble Burst, Now What?
  9. Resolution for Families of Kurdistan’s Disappeared?

ACTIONS

  1. Three months on, Saman Naseem’s fate still hung in suspense

EVENTS
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NEWS

  1. Kurdish political party launches colourful election campaign in Turkey
    19 May 2015 / Middle East Eye
    Watermelons. Cigarettes. Pizzas. Hotel rooms. Guerilla fighters. These are just a few of the objects (and people) who have been involved in a colourful campaign for Turkey’s Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to draw support in anticipation of the country’s elections on 7 June. In a grassroots campaign, supporters of the HDP from around Turkey have taken to Twitter posing with a wide array of objects forming the initials of the party, to show their support for a political party rapidly taking on the status of kingmakers in Turkey.
  1. Bomb blasts hit pro-Kurdish HDP party in south Turkey, six wounded
    18 May 2015 / Reuters
    Simultaneous bomb blasts hit the offices of a pro-Kurdish party in two cities in southern Turkey on Monday, three weeks before a parliamentary election, attacks which a party leader blamed on President Tayyip Erdogan. The explosion in Adana wounded six people and appeared to have been caused by a package sent to the office of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), a party official said. No one was wounded by the bomb in nearby Mersin, thought to have been concealed in flowers delivered to HDP’s offices.
  1. What does the Turkish electorate think about HDP?
    20 May 2015 / Middle East Eye
    The upcoming 7 June elections will be a decisive moment for Turkish politics. On one hand, it will be a testing moment for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) under the new leadership of Ahmet Davutoglu, especially in the wake of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ascension to the presidency. On the other hand, the country is witnessing the efforts of the Kurdish political movement to become a nationwide force and shape up the current outlook of Turkish politics. The 10-percent election threshold is the biggest obstacle for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) acquiring a fair representation in the parliament.
  1. Turkey’s AKP isolates Kurdish PKK leader to end peace talks: delegation
    20 May 2015 / eKurd
    The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is isolating the imprisoned Kurdish leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, putting the peace process at grave risk, according to a delegation that recently applied to visit Ocalan. After visiting senior officials of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), a political umbrella group linked to PKK, in the Qandil Mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan Region, members of the delegation warned in a press conference in Diyarbakir on May 19 that Ocalan was being “isolated” by the AKP.
  1. IHD: HDP targeted by 114 attacks during the election campaign
    20 May 2015 / ANF
    IHD (Human Rights Association) has released a report regarding the attacks against political parties during this year’s election campaign between 23 March and 19 May. According to the IHD report, attacks on political parties have reached the peak during the last two months. 114 attacks were conducted against political parties during the election campaign, 126 of which targeted the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party), 32 members of which were also subject to torture and ill treatment. 7 attacks were carried out against AKP (Justice and Development Party), 4 against CHP (Republican People’s Party) and 1 against MHP (Nationalist Movement Party).
  1. Journalism is persona non grata in Turkey
    May 2015 / European Federation of Journalists
    A new documentary called Persona non grata*, directed by Tuluhan Tekelioğu and supported by the Platform for Independent Journalism (P24), puts the lights on the poor working conditions of journalists in Turkey. From the basic court reporter to the star columnists of mainstream newspapers, all journalists in the country are currently struggling between legal harassments, political pressures, increasing self-censorship, pressures to quit jobs for covering sensitive issues or pressures to avoid affiliation to a professional trade union movement.
  1. Turkish intelligence helped ship arms to Syrian Islamist rebel areas
    21 May 2015 / Reuters
    Turkey’s state intelligence agency helped deliver arms to parts of Syria under Islamist rebel control during late 2013 and early 2014, according to a prosecutor and court testimony from gendarmerie officers seen by Reuters. The witness testimony contradicts Turkey’s denials that it sent arms to Syrian rebels and, by extension, contributed to the rise of Islamic State, now a major concern for the NATO member. Syria and some of Turkey’s Western allies say Turkey, in its haste to see President Bashar al-Assad toppled, let fighters and arms over the border, some of whom went on to join the Islamic State militant group which has carved a self-declared caliphate out of parts of Syria and Iraq.
  1. Kurdish women fighters wage war on Islamic State in Iraq [Photo report]
    20 April 2015 / IB Times
    Islamic State (Isis) militants overpowered Kurdish forces in the Sinjar area of Iraq last August and proceeded to purge its Yazidi population – an ancient, predominantly Kurdish people who follow their own religion – killing hundreds and taking thousands captive. Ever since the Islamic State took over Mount Sinjar and declared its cross-border caliphate last year, many Yazidis have joined forces with PKK fighters and Kurdish peshmerga fighters from Iraq to fight Islamic State and free the rest of Sinjar.
  1. British Lord: I Admire The Self-Administration In Rojava
    31 May 2015 / Kurdish Question
    A member of the British House of Lords, Lord Raymond Jolliffe of Hylton visited Jazira (Cizire) Canton in Rojava and met governors Hadiye Yousef and Sheikh Hamidi Dham Hadi, Head of the Foreign Commission, a number of ministers as well as officials in the Canton, discussing the Democratic self-management in Jazira, particularly with respect to the joint coexistence of all components, as well as attacks on the province by the ISIS gangs. During his journey in Jazira Canton, Lord Hylton visited the self-management institutions and said he was convinced that the democratic autonomy model could be a solution to the Syrian crisis and the Middle East region as a whole.
  1. Kurdish fighters expel ISIS radicals from major stronghold in Syria
    21 May 2015 / Ara News
    Following fierce battles with the militant fighters of the Islamic State (IS/ISIS), the Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) announced Wednesday that they gained control of the Mount Abdulaziz (Mount Kazhoan) west of Hasakah, in northeastern Syria. The YPG’s General Command issued a statement, of which ARA News received a copy, saying that their forces seized control of both the hills of Izaa and Robar, and liberated a number of new villages in the countryside of Hasakah subsequent to IS withdrawal from Mount Abdulaziz.
  1. Islamic State extremists execute 65 civilians north Syria, mostly Kurds
    22 May 2015 / Ara News
    Militants of the Islamic State (IS/ISIS) executed more than 65 civilians in northern Syria on Wednesday, local sources reported.  At least 56 Kurdish civilians were summarily executed by the radical group in the city of Manbij in the northern countryside of Aleppo, and nine other civilians were shot dead in Deir ez-Zor.  In Manbij, a local source told ARA News (on the condition of anonymity) that IS jihadists executed a group of Kurdish civilians who were held in an IS detention center in the city. “The Kurdish victims descended from Kobane, Jarabulus and Manbij in Aleppo countryside. The terrorists executed them on charges of cooperating with the anti-IS forces,” the source reported.
  1. Probe into Paris Kurd killings finally complete
    21 May 2015 /eKurd
    French police’s investigation into the 2013 assassination of three Kurdish women politicians in Paris’ Kurdish institute is complete. If there is no objection from the parties involved within one month, a trial will begin in the case. An attacker entered the Kurdistan Information Center in Paris on January 9th, 2013 and killed Sakine Cansız (among the founders of the PKK – Kurdistan Workers’ Party), and Kurdish activists Fidan Dogan and Leyla Soylemez.
  1. Demands in European Parliament for PKK to be removed from ‘terror list’
    21 May 2015 / Kurdish Question
    The AP 2014 Turkey Progress Report has been debated in the European Parliament. MEPs called for peace talks with the PKK to continue and for the organisation to be removed from ‘terror lists’. Calls were also made for Abdullah Öcalan to be released.
    ‘Peace talks with the PKK should continue’
    In the report prepared by Dutch Social Democrat Kati Piri, the rapporteur expressed unconditional support for efforts to find a lasting peace between the Turkish government and the PKK and for the socio-economic and political harmonisation of Kurdish society.
  1. Turks, German charged in Berlin over spying for Turkey
    21 May 2015 / Press TV
    Federal prosecutors in Germany have charged two Turks and a German with spying on critics of the Turkish government. According to a statement issued Thursday, two Turks identified as Muhammed Taha G., 58, and Ahmet Duran Y., 59, and German Goksel G., 34, are charged with spying on critics of Turkey, including minority Kurds. The three suspects have reportedly been involved in gathering information on the German residents between February 2013 and December 2014 and sending it to the Turkish secret service. In keeping with the German privacy laws, the last names of the suspects were not disclosed.
  1. Ex-patriots in London urged to use their vote this month in crucial Turkish general election
    18 May 2015 / East London Lines
    Turkish expatriots in Eastlondonline boroughs are being urged to vote in the Turkish general election. The election is expected to be the catalyst of great political change in the country and as such could have an effect on more than just the next four years. This is the first time Turkish citizens living in the UK will get to vote in their home country’s general election, following a 2012 regulation that allows Turkish citizens to cast their votes in the country where they reside. Previously, Turkish residents were only able to vote in Turkey, or at Turkish customs gates when leaving the country.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

  1. What do attacks on Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party mean?
    19 May 2015 / Al Monitor
    As Turkey’s fateful June 7 election approaches, harassment of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) — the “wild card” in the elections — has escalated. At the end of last week, social media reported that 122 attacks had targeted HDP election offices and bureaus in 60 of Turkey’s 81 provinces, or three-fourths of the country. The digital news platform Diken published what it called “The Map of Shame” showing where the HDP has been targeted.  The harassment reached its most dangerous level at the beginning of this week. On May 18, simultaneous bomb attacks hit the party’s bureaus in the Mediterranean cities of Adana and Mersin. Adana is the fourth-largest city in Turkey and Mersin is among the top 10; both have large Kurdish populations.
  1. Kurds abandon AKP
    20 May 2015 / Al Monitor
    With only weeks to go before Turkey’s June 7 general elections, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is using every means to stop the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) from passing the 10% threshold to enter parliament. The HDP, for its part, is bent on overcoming the barrier and spoiling President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s dream of becoming an omnipotent, executive president. While campaigning on a brand-new platform of nationwide appeal, the HDP is resorting also to the oldest of vote-pulling methods.
  1. Turkish Kurds hope election gambit creates bulwark against Erdogan
    20 May 2015 / Dalje
    Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP is campaigning as the only party that can stop President Erdogan’s drift towards authoritarianism. In an interview with dpa ahead of the June 7 election, the party’s leader also warns that the peace process with the Kurds has stagnated. When he first became politically active, at the age of 19, Selahattin Demirtas was convinced the beliefs he advocated would land him in jail. He describes his time as a human rights lawyer as “dangerous work,” with a grin of irony. “When I was young, I thought I would spend most of my life in prison,” he says in an interview in Istanbul, looking out over the blue Marmara Sea.
  1. The Kurd who’d save Turkey from Erdoğan
    19 May 2015 / Politico
    On Turkish television last summer, a politician in an open-collared shirt performed a song in Kurdish and Turkish, while strumming a classical bağlama lyre. Selahattin Demirtaş, the 42 year-old co-chairman of the left-wing People’s Democratic Party (HDP), was pursuing an unconventional campaign strategy for the presidency. Demirtaş ran against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who at the time had been Turkey’s prime minister for 11 years, and won just under 10 percent of the vote — a surprise for many Turks for whom the mere idea of a pro-Kurdish candidate, let alone one who sang publicly in Kurdish, seemed unthinkable.
  1. The Threat Posed By UNSC Resolution 2178 To The PKK, Kurdish Diaspora, Peace Process And Civil Liberties
    8 May 2015 / Kurdish Question
    Part VII of Surveillance, Targeting and the Criminalisation of Kurds
    In recent months, even as human rights and civil liberties organisations, lawyers, concerned members of the public and Kurdish community representatives and politicians from centre-left-right parties in the EU states and the US have called on their respective governments and the EU to decriminalise the PKK, President Obama, Turkish ministers and publicly unaccountable intelligence, NATO and US-UK military circles have exerted their leverage at the the Fifth Ministerial Plenary of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) – “an action-oriented platform committed to strengthening international cooperation and mobilizing expertise and resources to address civilian-focused counterterrorism priorities”[i] – and at the UN Security Council (UNSC) to pass UNSC resolution 2178.
  1. In Kobane, site of key defeat of Islamic State, rebuilding is a Kurdish affair
    18 May 2015 / CS Monitor
    The convoy of bulldozers and dump trucks bearing water and sewer pipes gets a hero’s greeting of honking horns as it passes through this last Turkish town before the Syrian border. Its destination: the ruins of Kobane. In January, that northern Syrian city saw what was at the time a rare defeat of Islamic State (IS) militants, after a 4-month battle with tenacious Kurdish defense forces supported by heavy US airstrikes. The battle grabbed headlines as IS fighters vowed never to retreat, and American forces pummeled them with 428 airstrikes – remarkably, 76 percent of all the US firepower expended against IS in Syria in 2014.
  1. Iran’s Kurds Rise Against Regime
    20 May 2015 / Iran Focus
    This past week, the Kurdish city of Mahabad was the scene of intense anti-regime protests, following the suspicious death of a young Kurdish woman. The protests were spurred after the death of Farinaz Khosrawani, a 25 year old Kurdish woman, who died after a fall from the 4th floor of a hotel in which she was employed. According to various reports, Khosrawani’s death was allegedly related to her resistance of an attempted rape by a member of the Iranian intelligence ministry. The incident served as a boiling point for tensions among the ethnic Kurds of the city, who set fire to the hotel in question, and resulted in protests and clashes with security forces.
  1. The Bubble Burst, Now What?
    14 May 2015 / Kurdistan Tribune
    Just a brief glance through our history confirms that Kurdistan has tackled and overcome many obstacles. This is such a vital time of the realigning of powers in the region and the emergence of the terror organisation ISIS. Yet I find it troubling that the most dangerous and urgent problem is one of our own doing: the Economy. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) must deal with this by seeking genuine solutions and amending its policies, rather than by what they are doing: sticking their heads in the sand, denial or diverting attention through talk of independence.
  1. Resolution for Families of Kurdistan’s Disappeared?
    20 May 2015 / Commentary Magazine
    Iraqi Kurdistan might be the toast of town today. With at least four separate lobby firms and a multimillion dollar budget, it continues to promote itself as stable, secure, and democratic; an oasis of sanity in an insane region. The reality is more nuanced. Kurdistan is stable, but security is based on a devil’s bargain. Iranian influence is as great in Iraqi Kurdistan as it is in Baghdad. Qods Force chief Qassem Soleimani has free reign in Kurdistan and is a frequent visitor to both Sulaymani and Erbil.

ACTIONS

  1. Three months on, Saman Naseem’s fate still hung in suspense
    Amnesty International
    Urge Iran’s Head of Judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, to ensure that the authorities stop Saman Naseem’s execution, establish the truth about his whereabouts and conduct a judicial review of his case.
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