KURDISH NEWS WEEKLY BRIEFING, 19 – 25 September 2015

NEWS

  1. Trauma, Terror and Defiance After 9 Day Shoot-to-Kill Seige of Cizre: Human Rights Lawyer Reports
  2. Margaret Owen on the 9 Days of Curfew in Cizire, S.E. Turkey
  3. Death toll rises to 4 in Beytüşşebap
  4. Shengal people fighting poverty and cold call for help
  5. Syrian Kurdish leaders planning to capture last border crossing with Turkey held by Isis
  6. ISIS on the verge of losing its constant stream of foreign fighters boosting its ranks as Syrian Kurds prepare to capture the last Turkish border crossing held by the Islamists
  7. ‘This is revenge for the Yazidi girls’: How three brave female fighters killed 10 ISIS jihadis a day on the frontline in Iraq
  8. 140 communes formed in Cizre as part of building of self-rule
  9. Kurds punished for success against ISIS —again
  10. Women warn UK government of dangers to Kurds
  11. Save Hasankeyf! Save the Iraqi Marshes! Stop the Ilisu Dam! Demonstration at the UK Commission for UNESCO
  12. Public Forum ‘Kurdish Question Under European Union Law’
  13. Kurds To Begin Hunger Strike For Freedom Of Ocalan

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

  1. Syria civil war: Kurdish leader says collapse of Assad regime ‘would be a disaster’ despite its treatment of his people
  2. In Qamishli, a new dawn for Syrian Kurds
  3. Kurds demand answers after battles in Cizre
  4. New Kurds on the Block: The Rise of Turkey’s Militant Youth
  5. Has Turkey Become a Fascist State?
  6. The revival of Turkey’s ‘lynching’ culture
  7. Diyarbakir update: A blog by Stephen Smellie
  8. Turkey Needs to Practice in Turkey What It Preaches in Cyprus
  9. As Turkey’s students head back to class, many fear escalating violence
  10. Soaring bad debts sound alarm in Turkey

EVENTS

See our events page

NEWS

  1. Trauma, Terror and Defiance After 9 Day Shoot-to-Kill Seige of Cizre: Human Rights Lawyer Reports
    22 September 2015 / Pasewan
    A UK delegation of international observers travelled to Cizre last week following the recent siege imposed on this majority-Kurdish town by Turkish security forces. Barristers Margaret Owen and Melanie Gingell, and public health specialist Dr Shatha Besarani were invited by the Amed Kurdish Women’s Council (KJB) as part of an effort to bring the crisis in Cizre and across Turkey’s southeast to world attention. Melanie Gingell spoke to The Pasewan about what she saw.
  1. Margaret Owen on the 9 Days of Curfew in Cizire, S.E. Turkey
    21 September 2015 / International Criminal Law Bureau
    Our UK delegation of two human rights barristers, myself (patron of Peace in Kurdistan), and Melanie Gingell, with health practitioner, Dr. Shatha Besarani were Invited by the Kurdish Women’s Council of Diyarbakir to visit Cizire, the mainly Kurdish town in Southeastern Turkey, and Sur, a poor district in Diyarbakir where there has been such violence in recent weeks.
  1. Death toll rises to 4 in Beytüşşebap
    25 September 2015 / ANF
    In addition to the bombardment by Turkish jets, troops at Gendarmerie Command conducted artillery fire in Beytüşşebap district of Şırnak since last night. The attacks by Turkish forces left some 10 houses and one mosque unusable. After entering the district in armored vehicles, state forces rained bullets on all the workplaces at district center, as a result of which around 20 workplaces were damaged and 4 others became unusable. While two yet-unidentified people were wounded in the attacks, armed forces also opened fire on the buildings of the HDP and DBP.
  1. Shengal people fighting poverty and cold call for help
    24 September 2015 / ANF
    Êzîdî people continue fighting hunger, poverty and cold as they still maintain their lives on Mount Shengal since the massacre perpetrated by savage ISIS gangs against their community in Shengal town in South Kurdistan last year. The people say it is only PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) that is helping them. A woman by the name of Naam İlas told the followings as to what they are going through at the moment; “One year has passed since the massacre. We spent last winter and this summer under challenging circumstances of cold and hot weather.
  1. Syrian Kurdish leaders planning to capture last border crossing with Turkey held by Isis
    21 September 2015 / Independent
    Syrian Kurdish leaders plan to capture the last border crossing point between Syria and Turkey held by Isis, making it impossible for jihadist volunteers from Europe and elsewhere to reach Isis-held territories. The seizure of the frontier town of Jarabulus on the Euphrates River is certain to anger Turkey, which is already alarmed by the rise of a Syrian-Kurdish state-let in northern Syria, aided by US air strikes and fielding strong military forces.
  1. ISIS on the verge of losing its constant stream of foreign fighters boosting its ranks as Syrian Kurds prepare to capture the last Turkish border crossing held by the Islamists
    22 September 2015 / Daily Mail
    ISIS extremists are on the verge of losing their stream of foreign volunteers after it emerged Syrian Kurds are preparing to capture the last Turkish border crossing point held by the Islamists. Fighters believe capturing the Syrian town of Jarabulus would prevent jihadists from outside the region reaching Islamic State strongholds further south. Officials in the Kurdish enclave Kobani say they ‘have plans to liberate’ the town and that it would be ‘in coordination with the US’.
  1. ‘This is revenge for the Yazidi girls’: How three brave female fighters killed 10 ISIS jihadis a day on the frontline in Iraq
    22 September 2015 / Daily Mail
    Three courageous women have told how they formed an armed all-female fighting unit and killed up to 10 ISIS jihadis a day to stop the Yazidi genocide on embattled Mount Sinjar. The women took the extraordinary decision to leave behind their lives in Turkey and travel to Kurdistan, northern Iraq, to end the bloodshed of Yazidis being slaughtered there. ‘When we heard ISIS were coming to Sinjar and killing women, we came to stop the humanitarian crisis,’ Roza, 22, the youngest of the group, told MailOnline.
  1. 140 communes formed in Cizre as part of building of self-rule
    24 September 2015 / ANF
    In Cizre district of Şırnak, which was sort of devastated by Turkish state forces during the nine-day curfew between 4-12 September, which left 21 civilians dead, people haven’t given up on the idea of self-rule, the declaration of which was responded by the state with brutal attacks that directly targeted civilians under the name of “fight against the terrorist organization”, which clearly hints PKK. Local people have formed 140 communes affiliated to neighborhood assemblies for the rebuilding of life in the town. As parts of efforts to establish self-rule based on self-force against the centralist and repressive regime on August 15, the inhabitants of the district are now rebuilding life based on a system defending democracy, ecology and women’s liberation through a 17-person Constituent Assembly.
  1. Kurds punished for success against ISIS —again
    21 September 2015 / World War 4 Report
    The Rojava Kurds of northern Syria continue to be punished for their success against ISIS. Their ground offensive has throughout the summer been driving ISIS back towards Raqqa, the “Islamic State” capital. The autonomous Rojava cantons, previously cut off from each other by areas of ISIS control, are now linked by swaths of liberated territory. This dramatically contrasts recent ISIS gains in central Syria. Now Middle East Eye reports that the Rojava Kurds’s YPG militia is advancing on Jarabulus, the last ISIS-controlled town on the Turkish border. The account cites the widespread perception among the Kurds that the Turkish government has been conniving with ISIS: “Taking the Jarabulus crossing would be a major advance for the YPG since they are convinced that IS gets supplies of recruits and weaponry through Turkey. YPG officials claim the crossing is open, and IS has no need for smugglers or breaks in the border fence.”
  1. Women warn UK government of dangers to Kurds
    25 September 2015 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
    On Wednesday 23rd September at 4pm, a delegation of women delivered an open letter signed by a coalition of prominent women’s rights activists to 10 Downing Street. The letter urgently calls on David Cameron to use his influence with the Turkish government to stop the violence being perpetrated against Kurdish civilians in the south east of the country. The delegation includes Michelle Allison (Kurdistan National Congress), Evrim Yilmaz (Roj Women Assembly) and human rights barrister Melanie Gingell, who has just returned from a fact-finding mission to Cizre, south east Turkey, which has been under curfew for several days and which has been a flashpoint of violence between Turkish security forces and Kurdish civilians in recent weeks.
  1. Save Hasankeyf! Save the Iraqi Marshes! Stop the Ilisu Dam! Demonstration at the UK Commission for UNESCO
    21 September 2015 / Kurdish Solidarity Network
    Today (Monday) we gathered in London to demonstrate at the UK Commission for UNESCO’s office. We demonstrated in solidarity with our Kurdish friends as part of World Hasankeyf Day, which was yesterday. We chose to move our action to the Monday so that UNESCO’s office would be open. Our message was simple: for UNESCO to help us to save Hasankeyf and the Iraqi Marshes, and for UNESCO to acknowledge the urgency of starting dialogues with Turkey about these precious places before they disappear forever under the waters of the Ilisu dam. Our intention was to deliver letters to key UNESCO UK-Commission staff.
  1. Public Forum ‘Kurdish Question Under European Union Law’
    21 September 2015 / Centre for Kurdish Studies
    This event organised by the Centre for Kurdish Progress in partnership with the Centre for Turkey Studies hosted Barrister Professor Bill Bowring of of Birkbeck College University of London and a Barrister and Mr Atilla Balikci of the Centre for Criminal Law and Criminology within Paris X Nanterre University as keynote speakers. Ms Margaret Owen who had recently returned from Cizre as part of a Women’s Delegation invited by the Women’s Congress of Diyarbakir shared her observations.
  1. Kurds To Begin Hunger Strike For Freedom Of Ocalan
    22 September 2015 / Kurdish Question
    Members of Freedom for Öcalan Initiative and representatives of Kurdish institutions in Europe will go on a five-day hunger strike to demand freedom for Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan. The hunger strike will begin outside the European Council at 11:00 on September 28 and last till October 2. The activists who will join the hunger strike have issued a statement titled ‘Call to Humanity’ announcing the purpose of the action.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

  1. Syria civil war: Kurdish leader says collapse of Assad regime ‘would be a disaster’ despite its treatment of his people
    24 September 2015 / Independent
    The overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad by Isis and rebel groups that are affiliated to al-Qaeda would be a calamity for the world, says the Syrian Kurdish leader Saleh Muslim. In an interview with The Independent he warned that “if the regime collapses because of the salafis [fundamentalist Islamic militants] it would be a disaster for everyone.” Mr Muslim said he was fully in favour of Mr Assad and his government being replaced by a more acceptable alternative. But he is concerned that Isis and other extreme Islamist groups are now close to Damascus on several sides, saying that “this is dangerous”.
  1. In Qamishli, a new dawn for Syrian Kurds
    25 September 2015 / Middle East Eye
    It’s strange at first sight to find a statue of Hafez al Assad, Syria’s former strongman, firmly ensconced in the centre of a roundabout in this Kurdish city, the capital of an autonomous Kurdish-run quasi-state which has emerged from Syria’s civil war. Similar symbols have been torn down by angry crowds in most Syrian towns and cities from which the government’s combat divisions have retreated. Equally unexpected is the display of two large photographs of Hafez’s son, Bashar al Assad, the current president, in the window of the local branch of Syrianair. Nearby, a policeman in the peaked cap and neat white shirt uniform that are familiar from central Damascus, directs hooting traffic through the crowded bazaar area during the rush before this week’s Eid al-Adha festival.
  1. Kurds demand answers after battles in Cizre
    18 September 2015 / Al Monitor
    At the entrance of the Nur neighborhood in Cizre, the Oytun family’s house stands as a grim testament of the bloodshed that unfolded in this mainly Kurdish city after Turkish authorities cut it off from the outside world in early September. The walls of the two-story house are riddled with bullets, and a pile of large rocks blocks the entryway. One has to climb over the rocks to enter the courtyard, where the house’s mistress Kevser Oytun stands with tearful eyes, showing journalists a handful of bullets. She says she extracted them from the walls. A hole gapes in the bathroom door. The refrigerator, too, is riddled with bullet holes, as is the closet where she keeps the bedding. Even the mattresses in the closet are perforated. “What wrong did I do to deserve this?” she asks, no longer able to control her tears.
  1. New Kurds on the Block: The Rise of Turkey’s Militant Youth
    23 September 2015 / Foreign Affairs
    For years now, the Turks have anxiously watched the chaos engulfing Syria and Iraq. But now the country is facing its own potential civil war. In late July, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) made the ill-advised decision to discontinue two-and-half years of peace negotiations with the Kurdish militants and launch a military campaign against them. Since then, the Kurdish regions, one quarter of Turkey’s territory, have become active conflict zones, with the military and police facing regular attacks from Kurdish rocket-propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices.
  1. Has Turkey Become a Fascist State?
    22 September 2015 / Counterpunch
    Seventy years after the defeat of Nazi Germany, fascism has reemerged with a vengeance. This resurgence can be seen all over Europe and the former Soviet bloc, perhaps most notably in Ukraine where Nazism masquerading as nationalist patriotism has effectively embedded itself in the political and military institutions of the country, all with the backing of the United States and European Union. From racist rhetoric and xenophobia in Western Europe, to torch-lit parades with fascist iconography in Greece and Ukraine, this virulent disease is once again infecting the body politic of the European continent.
  2. The revival of Turkey’s ‘lynching’ culture
    22 September 2015 / Al Monitor
    Turkey’s collective memory is heavily burdened with state-provoked, politically motivated mob violence attempts against minority groups, colloquially described as “lynching.” In recent weeks, hundreds of violent incidents have heralded the resurgence of the mob violence culture as the country’s climate grows more toxic by the day, with political actors fanning hatred and normalizing violence. In Turkey’s near history, mobs targeted mainly Armenians, Syriacs, Jews, Greeks, Alevis and Kurds. As Tanil Bora, author of the book “Turkey’s Lynching Regime,” puts it, “When it comes to Alevis and Kurds, this has always been a ‘free shot’ area. The ‘lynching’ of leftists has always been permissible. Police and ‘sensitive citizens’ act on the basis of this knowledge.”
  1. Diyarbakir update: A blog by Stephen Smellie
    22 September 2015 / Stephen Smellie
    A delegation of 5 activists from Scotland have been travelling south eastern Turkey this week to find out more about he political situation and what support is needed. Stephen writes about the experiences here: Since the Turkish general election in June 2015 the situation facing the population in the Kurdish south east region has gone from bad to worse. An election result that saw the Kurdish based HDP break through the electoral barrier, achieve 13% of the national vote and gain 80 representatives to the parliament, was heralded internationally as a signal that the peace process had been successful and that an opportunity had been created to progress to a lasting peace and possibly change Turkey’s policy towards the struggle against ISIS.
  1. Turkey Needs to Practice in Turkey What It Preaches in Cyprus
    20 September 2015 / Gatestone Institute
    The Turkish Cypriots are sort of like the “Kurds” of Cyprus — with the emphasis on the sort of. Like the Kurds in Turkey, the Turkish Cypriots are a sizeable minority in Cyprus — and that may be just about where the similarity ends. The Greek Cypriots, the original Cypriots, like the Kurds in Turkey, have a provenance that is deeply rooted in history. They happen to have, in fact, an uninterrupted, well-documented Greek and Christian cultural footprint that dates back over three millennia. Modern Cyprus was born in 1960 out of geostrategic concerns after an anti-colonial struggle, the aim of which was union with Greece. In Turkey, similarly to the Greeks in Cyprus, the Kurds who have lived mostly in north Kurdistan, the eastern part of the country, have a history as its indigenous people of over a thousand years.
  1. As Turkey’s students head back to class, many fear escalating violence
    23 September 2015 / Al Monitor
    Turkey’s universities and secondary schools, which went on summer vacation in June, are scheduled to reopen Sept. 28. However, growing violence is raising doubt about whether the 5.5 million university students and close to 10 million secondary school students will be resuming studies. School originally was scheduled to start Sept. 14. The government delayed the opening for two weeks until after the Eid al-Adha religious holidays. Although government officials said the delay was designed to encourage domestic tourism, it wasn’t difficult to grasp the real reason for the decision: escalating violence.
  1. Soaring bad debts sound alarm in Turkey
    23 September 2015 / Al Monitor
    The deterioration in Turkey’s real economy is accelerating, with political uncertainty, early elections and bloody conflict with Kurdish militants taking their toll on the economy in general. Statistics by the Banks Association of Turkey Risk Center show a dramatic increase in both the number and value of bounced checks, especially in August, when the Kurdistan Workers Party stepped up its terror attacks. The problem seems to be particularly rife in the predominantly Kurdish provinces in the east and southeast, where since August 2014 the number and value of bounced checks increased by up to 115%, well above the national average, with local economies struggling amid the simmering unrest.


EVENTS

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