KURDISH NEWS WEEKLY BRIEFING, 20 – 26 June 2015

Witnessing HDP victory in Turkey: Election monitors report back

Where: Committee Room 6, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
When: Tuesday 7 July 2015 // 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Hosted by Kate Osamor MP

Speakers:

Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Lecturer in Political Sociology in Department of sociology at Cambridge University
Melanie Gingell, human rights lawyer; barrister, Doughty Street Chambers
Bronwen Jones, family and immigration barrister, Mansfield Chambers
John Hunt, journalist, writer, and editor
Sean Hawkey, photojournalist and Green Party member
Derek Wall, International Coordinator of the Green Party of England and Wales

NEWS

  1. Islamic State kills at least 145 civilians in Syria’s Kobani – monitor
  2. ISIS Re-Enters Kobani Amid Major Assault On Syrian Kurdish Cities
  3. ISIS militants disguised as Kurdish fighters infiltrate Syrian town
  4. Syria crisis: IS makes deadly return to Kobane
  5. KCK: Perpetrators of the Kobanê massacre will be brought to account
  6. Turkey accused of allowing Islamic State fighters to cross its border in Kobane attack
  7. Pro-Kurdish party says Kobani ‘massacre’ reflects Turkey support for Islamic State
  8. Prosecutor says weapon-laden MİT trucks made 2,000 trips to Syria
  9. Kurds find Islamic State group tunnel near Turkish border
  10. Kurds Capture Syria Military Base From ISIS Near Raqqa Stronghold
  11. PYD seeks to soothe Turkey’s concerns over Kurdish enclave in north Syria
  12. Kurdish militia wants Syrian rebels to lead attack on Islamic State HQ
  13. Leader of Turkish party backed by Kurds strives for equality for all ethnic groups
  14. War against ISIS: New recruits include a tailor, medical student
  15. Strathclyde students honour Kurdish leader imprisoned for 15 years
  16. Freedom For Öcalan Vigil Enters Third Year
  17. Turkey Deports Western Journalists Reporting At Syria Border

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

  1. The Kurds Are Building a Country With Every Victory Over ISIS
  2. ISIL wants to act as Turkey’s proxy: Analyst
  3. Turkey Chooses ISIS Over the Kurds
  4. Turkey‛s Twisted Logic: Fearing Kurds More Than ISIS
  5. Turkey Should Welcome Kurdish Gains in Northern Syria
  6. Erdogan sees threat from Kurdish gains in Syria
  7. Kurds eye new corridor to Mediterranean
  8. What Turkey’s Election Means for Syria
  9. Turkey’s parliament: Coalition dreaming
  10. Meet the Women of the HDP: Gender, Resistance and Radical Democracy
  11. Turkish judiciary halts school firings
  12. Turkey: Hope and Fear
  13. Rojava: The Real Fight Against Isis
  14. VIDEO: Anarchy Lives: Rojava
  15. Why join Islamic State?

STATEMENTS

  1. Statement of the YPG June 25: Attacks by Daesh (ISIS) Terrorists on Northern Kobane

ACTIONS

  1. CENÎ Call For Solidarity With Zeynep Jalaliyan And All Political Prisoners In Iran

NEWS

  1. Islamic State kills at least 145 civilians in Syria’s Kobani – monitor
    26 June 2015 / Reuters
    Islamic State fighters killed at least 145 civilians in an attack on the Syrian town of Kobani and a nearby village, in what a monitoring group described on Friday as the second worst massacre carried out by the hardline group in Syria. Fighting between the Kurdish YPG militia and Islamic State fighters who infiltrated the town at the Turkish border on Thursday continued into a second day, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group and a Kurdish official said.
  1. ISIS Re-Enters Kobani Amid Major Assault On Syrian Kurdish Cities
    25 June 2015 / Huffington Post
    Islamic State militants launched major attacks in northern Syria on Thursday after a string of recent setbacks, storming government-held areas in a mostly Kurdish city and setting off deadly car bombs as they pushed into a border town they were expelled from six months ago. The two-pronged counteroffensive left dozens of people dead or wounded. On one front, Islamic State fighters advanced early in the morning into the northeastern city of Hassakeh, long split between Syrian Kurds and government forces, capturing parts of it.
  1. ISIS militants disguised as Kurdish fighters infiltrate Syrian town
    26 June 2015 / CNN
    ISIS militants disguised as Kurdish security forces infiltrated Kobani on Thursday and killed “many civilians,” said a spokesman for the Kurds in Kobani. Idriss Nasan, speaking to CNN by phone from the Kurdish-held city in northern Syria, described a complex attack Thursday morning in which ISIS militants entered Kobani from the east and west in disguise. “They were wearing YPG (Kurdish security forces) uniforms, so when people saw them they did not fear them, and they (ISIS) opened fire. Many civilians lost their lives,” he said.
  1. Syria crisis: IS makes deadly return to Kobane
    25 June 2015 / BBC
    Islamic State fighters have attacked the Syrian city of Kobane, months after being driven out in a symbolic battle that made international headlines. They detonated car bombs and launched an assault. Kurdish media say at least 50 civilians have been killed, including 20 in a nearby village. IS has recently suffered a string of defeats to Kurdish forces. But in another attack on Thursday, it seized parts of the key north-eastern city of Hassakeh.
  1. KCK: Perpetrators of the Kobanê massacre will be brought to account
    26 June 2015 / ANF
    KCK Executive Council Co-Presidency stated that peoples of Turkey, the Middle East and the entire world should be assured that the perpetrators of the massacre in Kobanê that claimed the lives of Kurdish men and women would be brought to account. KCK Executive Council Co-Presidency stated that fascist ISIS gangs tried to revenge their defeat against YPG/YPJ by brutally massacring civilians during the holy month of Ramadan in Kobanê. KCK assured peoples of Turkey, the Middle East and the entire world that the perpetuators of the massacre would be brought to account.
  1. Turkey accused of allowing Islamic State fighters to cross its border in Kobane attack
    25 June 2015 / The Telegraph
    Turkey has been accused of allowing Islamic State jihadists to cross its border to attack the Kurdish town of Kobane. Twin car bombs exploded close to the crossing point with the Turkish town of Mursitpinar, and Kurdish activists and residents claimed they had come across the border, despite its being heavily policed on the Turkish side. Convoys of cars carrying up to 40 Isil fighters – reportedly using the uniform of Kurdish YPG militia as a guise – then attacked Kobane from three sides in the early hours of Thursday morning.
  1. Pro-Kurdish party says Kobani ‘massacre’ reflects Turkey support for Islamic State
    25 June 2015 / Reuters
    Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party described an Islamic State attack on the Syrian border town of Kobani as a massacre and blamed it on Turkish state support for the militants, comments that will fuel tension in Ankara amid attempts to form a government. Islamic State fighters launched simultaneous attacks against the Syrian government and Kurdish militia overnight, with at least one car bomb in an area near the border crossing with Turkey. Hospital officials said at least 15 people were killed and 70 wounded. “The Turkish government has supported ISIL for years. Today’s massacre is a part of this support,” said Figen Yuksekdag, the co-leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), referring to Islamic State.
  1. Prosecutor says weapon-laden MİT trucks made 2,000 trips to Syria
    13 May 2015 / Todays Zaman
    A pro-government prosecutor who was appointed to the case regarding the alleged transport of weapons and munitions to Syria via trucks belonging to Turkish intelligence filed for a verdict of non-prosecution regarding the case and admittedted that weapon-laden trucks made 2,000 trips to Syria, according to the lawyer of one of the defendants of the case. Lawyer Hasan Tok, the legal counsel for former Adana Provincial Gendarmerie Regiment Commander Col. Özkan Çokay, who was at the scene when trucks belonging to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) were searched in January 2014, said that Prosecutor Ali Doğan stated in court that trucks owned by MİT made at least 2,000 trips to Syria.
  1. Kurds find Islamic State group tunnel near Turkish border
    23 June 2015 / Philstar
    Kurdish forces have discovered a 400-meter (440-yard) long tunnel dug by Islamic State group militants near the Turkish border with Syria, a spokesman for the militia said yesterday. Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, discovered the half-completed tunnel after they captured the border town of Tal Abyad last week, spokesman Redur Khalil said. He said it wasn’t clear whether it was eventually meant to lead into Turkey as the tunnel splits into two different directions at one point. A tunnel linking Turkey to IS-held territory might offer some insight into the many ways in which Muslim radicals from around the world have slipped across the Turkish border to reach the fanatical group, whose territory straddles Syria and Iraq.
  1. Kurds Capture Syria Military Base From ISIS Near Raqqa Stronghold
    23 June 2015 / Huffington Post
    Backed by U.S.-led airstrikes and buoyed by battlefield successes, Kurdish fighters kept up an offensive through northern Syria on Tuesday, driving Islamic State militants out of a town near the extremists’ de facto capital of Raqqa. The capture of Ein Issa came just hours after the Kurdish forces had overrun a nearby military base, increasing the pressure on the Islamic State group less than two weeks after it lost the strategically located town of Tal Abyad on the Turkish border, severing a vital supply line.
  1. PYD seeks to soothe Turkey’s concerns over Kurdish enclave in north Syria
    24 June 2015 / Todays Zaman
    As reports began claiming that the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its Kurdish militia forces had seized the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) base near Syria’s city of Raqqa, high-ranking PYD officials have attempted to ease Turkey’s concerns of a Kurdish autonomous region being formed in the void left by ISIL. Turkey, a country with its own sizable Kurdish minority, is uncomfortable with the gains made by Kurdish militia in Syria, fearing it could inflame separatist sentiment among its own Kurdish population. Only recently, Salih Müslim the co-chair of the PYD, the political wing of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), spoke to the ANHA news agency stating that Turkey need not fear the YPG and that it must get over its “phobia of Kurds.”
  1. Kurdish militia wants Syrian rebels to lead attack on Islamic State HQ
    24 June 2015 / Reuters
    A Kurdish militia leading an attack on Islamic State strongholds in Syria so far has no plan to extend the assault to the group’s de facto capital of Raqqa city, and such an advance should be led by Syrian rebels, a Kurdish leader said on Wednesday. The comments by Saleh Moslem, leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), indicated there is no imminent offensive on Raqqa city by the Kurdish-led forces that have made swift gains against the jihadists backed by U.S.-led air strikes. Backed by smaller Syrian rebel groups, the Kurdish YPG militia moved to within 50 km (30 miles) of Raqqa city on Tuesday with the capture of the town of Ain Issa in northern Syria, backed by U.S.-led air strikes
  1. Leader of Turkish party backed by Kurds strives for equality for all ethnic groups
    25 June 2015 / Asahi Shimbum
    A political party supported by minority Kurds increased its number of seats in the Turkish parliament from 29 to 80 in the June 7 general election, meaning the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) now holds the “casting vote” among bigger parties to establish a coalition government. The sharp increase of the HDP led the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to lose its majority in the 550-seat parliament. In a June 12 interview with The Asahi Shimbun, HDP party leader Selahattin Demirtas said he aims to make equality for all ethnic groups in Turkey a reality.
  1. War against ISIS: New recruits include a tailor, medical student
    24 June 2015 / CNN
    The Kurdish fighting force known as the YPG has been battling the advance of ISIS and, aided by airstrikes from the U.S.-led coalition, has succeeded in taking back some territory. But not every member of the YPG is a career soldier. CNN spoke to some of the new recruits about their lives before they joined the cause, and what they left behind. Born and raised in France, Amara Erdal was studying to be a doctor. She went to Syria without telling her parents and when she called to say where she was, her mother burst into tears. Now, though, she says, they support her for what she is doing to defend their Kurdish homeland. Erdal joined the YPJ, the women’s wing of the Kurdish force, three months ago in the hopes of rebuilding Rojava — the Kurdish name for northeastern Syria. “I don’t want to return to France, I want to stay in Rojava and fix things here,” she says.
  1. Strathclyde students honour Kurdish leader imprisoned for 15 years
    22 June 2015 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
    Leading Scottish writer James Kelman was among the speakers at a ceremony to honour imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan held at the University of Strathclyde Students Association (USSA) in Glasgow on Saturday 20 June.
    Kelman reflected on history and recalled how: “The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) had been a legitimate political party until the Turkish State began its operation to have the party criminalised as a terrorist organisation. In the 1990s they discredited PKK by blaming them for a massacre in an attempt to influence members of the European Parliament. This was later exposed as a fabrication of the truth, but the Turkish State succeeded in its aim, and the PKK leadership, including Abdulla Ocalan, was outlawed as a result.”
  1. Freedom For Öcalan Vigil Enters Third Year
    24 June 2015 / Kurdish Question
    Speaking at the press conference held on the third anniversary of the ‘Freedom for Öcalan Vigil’, PACE United European Left Group chair Tiny Kox called for the immediate release of the PKK leader. The vigil action held in front of the European Parliament demanding the freedom of the Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan has left 3 years behind. A highly participated press conference was held in front of the European Parliament today in order to mark the 3rd anniversary of the longest permanent action of Kurdish people living in Europe.
  1. Turkey Deports Western Journalists Reporting At Syria Border
    25 June 2015 / Kurdish Question
    Four European journalists were arrested in Mürşitpınar located in the Suruç district of Urfa at the Turkey (North Kurdistan) Syria border, and deported after being accused of “entering Turkey illegally.” Bianet reported that three Italian and one French journalist were arrested in Mürşitpınar on June 18. Giuseppe Acconcia from the Italian newspaper Il Manifesto and Samuel Forey from the French newspaper Le Figaro were deported on June 20. V.P. and R.C. from the Italian TV channel RAI have also faced the same charges and procedures.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

  1. The Kurds Are Building a Country With Every Victory Over ISIS
    23 June 2015 / Time
    Ethnic Kurds—who on Tuesday scored their second and third significant victories over ISIS in the space of eight days—are by far the most effective force fighting ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. But they appear to intent on keeping all the ground they’ve taken from the militant group for their own national project, endangering the larger cause of keeping these two battered nation-states in one piece, and raising the prospect of another war patiently waiting at the conclusion of the current one.
  1. ISIL wants to act as Turkey’s proxy: Analyst
    26 June 2015 / Press TV
    Press TV has interviewed Dr. E. Michael Jones, an Indiana-based editor of Culture Wars Online Magazine, to discuss remarks made by the co-leader of Turkey’s HDP party, slamming Erdogan and the current Turkish administration for supporting ISIL Takfiri terrorists. What follows is a rough transcription.
    Press TV: First of all, I would like to get your opinion on the remarks of the co-leader of the People’s Democratic Party who blames Turkey for its support of ISIL which has resulted in the massacre we are seeing in Kobani today.
    Jones: I think what we are seeing here is the battle in the middle of a political campaign in Turkey right now. If you remember, the Erdogan government lost the election at the beginning of the month. It lost the election largely because of news reports that they were supporting ISIL. So now they are in the process of forming another government.
  1. Turkey Chooses ISIS Over the Kurds
    24 June 2015 / World Affairs Journal
    Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is furious that the Kurds in Syria are advancing against ISIS. Ponder the ramifications of that sentence. Turkey is a member of NATO. On paper, at least, it’s one of America’s greatest allies. ISIS, meanwhile, is the world’s most deranged army of psychopaths. Even Al Qaeda disowns it. The Kurds, though, are America’s most reliable allies in the Middle East alongside the Israelis. So our nominal ally thinks it’s a problem when one of our real allies makes gains against the most vicious terrorist army on the planet.
  1. Turkey‛s Twisted Logic: Fearing Kurds More Than ISIS
    23 June 2015 / World Crunch
    The Turkish government and its accomplices weren’t disturbed when the ISIS terror group was banging on the gates of Turkey’s border. But now that the Kurds are experiencing a victory over the brutally violent organization, government officials are suddenly mourning its defeat in the northern Syrian border city of Tal Abyad. Officials in Ankara are nurturing a number of irrational conspiracy theories about the Kurds, including the notion of impending ethnic cleansing of Arabs and Turkmen via U.S. bombardment, the possible creation of an independent Kurdish state, the opening of an energy corridor to the Mediterranean, even the ultimate disintegration of Syria and Turkey. There is no end to the “deep strategy” constructs when Kurds are involved.
  1. Turkey Should Welcome Kurdish Gains in Northern Syria
    25 June 2015 / Centre for American Progress
    Syrian Kurdish rebel forces fighting under the banner of the People’s Protection Units, or YPG—along with a brigade from the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army, or FSA, and Assyrian Christian fighters—captured the town of Tel Abyad in northern Syria from Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, last week. The offensive was enabled by persistent coalition air strikes coordinated with YPG fighters on the ground.
  1. Erdogan sees threat from Kurdish gains in Syria
    21 June 2015 / Al Monitor
    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is reportedly angered by the victory June 15 of Syrian Kurdish and rebel fighters over Islamic State (IS) forces in Tell Abyad, a Syrian town close to the Turkish border. The influx of more than 23,000 Syrian refugees to Turkey as a result of the latest fighting brings the total number to nearly 1.8 million, the most Syrians hosted in any country, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Fehim Tastekin wrote June 14, “Erdogan’s anger with the operation to oust IS from the region became evident when he said on June 11, ‘The West, which is hitting Arabs and Turkmens of Tell Abyad from the air, is sadly settling the PYD [Democratic Union Party] and PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party] terror organizations in their places.’”
  1. Kurds eye new corridor to Mediterranean
    22 June 2015 / Al Monitor
    When the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) expelled the Islamic State from Tell Abyad, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, other Justice and Development Party (AKP) leaders and the pro-government media reacted hysterically. Among their frenzied scenarios: “Kurdish state in the making in northern Syria with US assistance,” “Kurdish ethnic cleansing of Arabs and Turkmens,” “Corridor opening to move Northern Iraq oil to Mediterranean.” One about the Democratic Union Party went further: “PYD more dangerous than [IS].”
  1. What Turkey’s Election Means for Syria
    25 June 2015 / Counterpunch
    The June 7 parliamentary election in Turkey could have a huge impact on the conflict in Syria. The invincible image of President Erdogan has been cracked. There is a real chance that the election might lead to substantive change in Turkish foreign policy promoting the war in Syria. Even though Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the most votes, they lost their majority in parliament and must now find a coalition partner. Turkey’s new parliament was seated for the first time on Tuesday June 23.
  1. Turkey’s parliament: Coalition dreaming
    27 June 2015 / Economist
    THE inauguration of Turkey’s new parliament on June 23rd was a heady day for this wobbly democracy. Pious Muslim women were able to take the oath with their heads covered for the first time without being harassed by secular dinosaurs. Three Armenians, two Yazidis, a Syriac, a Roma and numerous Kurds and Alevis (and a total of 96 women) made for the most colourful chamber in the republic’s 92-year history. And though an openly gay candidate for the People’s Democracy party (HDP) did not win, his party easily cleared the 10% threshold imposed in the 1980s to keep small parties out.
  1. Meet the Women of the HDP: Gender, Resistance and Radical Democracy
    24 June 2015 / The Bullet
    Following a period of increased political violence in the Kurdish regions of Turkey leading up to the federal elections of 2015, the worst being a recent bombing of the HDP rally in Diyarbakir (Amed) which left at least three people dead and hundreds wounded, there has been a watershed of party politics in Turkey. For the first time since 2002, there is evidence of the demise of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s despotic rule over the country since he was not able to form a majority government. More importantly, the radical left-wing, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), passed the threshold of 10 per cent (a barrier implemented during the 1980 military coup, with the precise purpose of keeping the Kurds out of parliament), thereby becoming the first pro-Kurdish party to enter the Turkish parliament.
  1. Turkish judiciary halts school firings
    24 June 2015 / Al Monitor
    Education has become one of the Turkish government’s main playgrounds. Over the past 13 years, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has had five education ministers, with the incumbent, Nabi Avci, presiding over arguably the most chaotic era Turks have ever seen in the education system. Last year, Avci introduced the Transition from Elementary to Secondary Education (TEOG) system, which involves a centralized nationwide exam and is intended to determine which high schools students attend after 8th grade. In the ensuing confusion, many students found themselves at imam-hatip religious schools — which teach the Quran and train Muslim clergy — usually against their wishes. 
  1. Turkey: Hope and Fear
    23 June 2015 / Huffington Post
    Two weeks have passed since the legislative elections of June 7 marked a major shift in the recent history of Turkey. The Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP in Turkish), headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, lost its parliamentary majority, declining to 258 out of 550 seats. Opposition parties of the left and right profited from AKP’s setback. The secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), in the first category, rose to 132 members. The ultra-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), with an ugly history of political and ethnic violence under the name of the “Grey Wolves,” nonetheless elected 80 deputies, an increase of 29. But the wonder of the polls was the emergence of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), a coalition of Kurds, secularists, leftists, heterodox Alevi Muslims, and former supporters of the AKP, with 80 lawmakers. 
  1. Rojava: The Real Fight Against Isis
    22 June 2015 / Carol Mann
    All my life, I have been a pacifist, totally opposed to any form of militarism, armies, soldiers, indeed the very ethic of war. Today, for the first time, writing here in Rojava, I must relent, make an exception – which I hope will be the last. As Daesh (ISIS) sweeps victoriously through territory after territory with the rest of the world wringing their hands, one unrecognized army is actually doing something about it. Certainly not the most trained, nor the most equipped or even the most experienced. Antique kalashnikovs and random weapons seized from the fallen enemy is all they have to fight with. What they lack in the modern arts of war, they make up for in determination. This is the army of Rojava, the autonomous Kurdish region of north-east Syria that has declared a state of revolution in their territory, composed of three separate cantons, Kobane, Jezire and Afrin.
  1. VIDEO: Anarchy Lives: Rojava
    3 June 2015 / Films for Action
    There is place where sex, creed and ethnicity do not harbor division. A place where everyone is military trained so that having a police force becomes obsolete. A place where civilian females, instead of asking for permission, instead of waiting for outside help, have taken up arm against their aggressors, against those who intend to rape, enslave and murder them. This is a place that’s giving birth to its own freedom, in spite of the oppressive forces that surround it.This is a place of sincere revolution, and it’s been happening for years. And it’s happening now. This is Rojava. 
  1. Why join Islamic State?
    July 2015 / London Review of Books
    On 16 June, Kurdish militiamen, with the support of US airstrikes, captured the town of Tal Abyad in northern Syria, a major crossing point on the Syrian-Turkish border. Its fall is damaging to Islamic State: it cuts the road linking the caliphate’s unofficial Syrian capital at Raqqa, sixty miles to the south, to Turkey and the outside world. Down this road have come thousands of foreign volunteers, many of whom became suicide bombers. Now the movement is all the other way: some 23,000 Arab and Turkmen refugees have fled into Turkey to escape the advancing Kurds. Some passed children over tangles of barbed wire before following through a hole cut in the border fence.

STATEMENTS

  1. Statement of the YPG June 25: Attacks by Daesh (ISIS) Terrorists on Northern Kobane

ACTIONS

  1. CENÎ Call For Solidarity With Zeynep Jalaliyan And All Political Prisoners In Iran
    *** JOIN THE WEEK OF ACTION FROM 20TH TO 26TH OF JUNE 2015 ***
    *** FREEDOM FOR ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS IN IRAN ***
    *** JOIN THE PROTEST POSTCARD ACTION ***
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