KURDISH NEWS WEEKLY BRIEFING, 30 October – 6 November 2015

PUBLIC EVENT

Turkey elections held amid an atmosphere fear and state violence: UK observers report back

Armed police at a polling station in Sur, Diyarbakir

Armed police at a polling station in Sur, Diyarbakir

Date and time: Monday 9 November, 6.30pm

Where: Committee Room 3A, House of Lords, Westminster SW1A 0AA

Hosted by: Lord Hylton
Speakers: Prof. David Graeber; Margaret Owen; Melanie Gingell, among others.

THIS EVENT IS FREE AND OPEN TO ALL. FIND OUT MORE HERE

NEWS

  1. HDP election observation of Turkish snap elections, November 2015
  2. HDP Objects To Turkey Election Results In Six Cities
  3. Turkish election campaign unfair, say international monitors
  4. Elections in Turkey offered voters variety of choices, but process was hindered by challenging security environment, incidents of violence and restrictions against media, international election observers say
  5. 80 percent of minorities in Turkey cannot express themselves openly: Survey
  6. Crowe raises concerns over Turkish elections – Sinn Fein International
  7. VIDEO: President Erdoğan: the Turkish strongman silencing journalists
  8. NY Times says Erdoğan directly responsible for much of Turkey’s insecurity
  9. World’s leading media editors ask Erdoğan to respect critical media
  10. 19 US senators ask Kerry to urge Turkey to implement freer media, polls
  11. Two more civilians killed by police in Silvan
  12. Turkish Justice Ministry to classify violence against women as a ‘petty crime’
  13. International Peace Bureau Italy Awards Annual Prize To Abdullah Öcalan
  14. HDP proposes regional parliaments for the new term
  15. Global Rally for the freedom and reconstruction of Kobane
  16. As Kurds advance against ISIS, Turkey intensifies ‘provocative attacks’ on Kurdish headquarters north Syria
  17. Rojava’s Kobane Canton Declares Laws for Kurdish Women
  18. ISIS Oil Exports Worth $500 Million a Year ‘Conducted through Turkey’

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

  1. The Meaning of AKP’s Victory in Turkey
  2. Turkey elections: AKP wins big, HDP here to stay
  3. Erdogan Expected to Tighten Grip on Turkey After Party’s Unexpectedly Decisive Victory
  4. Erdoğan’s election win means he can dictate terms to EU on refugees
  5. Nov 1 elections: A sad picture for women
  6. Turkey elections: Erdogan victory risks making country an authoritarian state sliding into Syrian mire
  7. Shady Tactics By Erdogan
  8. Kurdish Highlanders Fear the Sky
  9. Wartime Election Makes Kurdish Peace in Turkey More Distant
  10. Turkey Goes to War
  11. U.S. and Turkey on a Collision Course in Syria
  12. Here’s The Latest Potentially Fatal Flaw In Obama’s ISIS Strategy
  13. Will AKP victory change Turkey’s foreign policy?

STATEMENTS

  1. The Turkish General Election and the International Day of Kobané

REPORTS

  1. International Press Institute (IPI) Turkey Inter-Election Press Freedom Report
  2. Scottish delegation to Kurdistan calls for peace process to be renewed
  3. HRW: Turkey: No Answers for Kurdish Victims – Acquittals in Landmark Prosecution for ‘90s Security Force Killings

BOOK REVIEW

  1. Kurds A Modern History by Michael Gunter.

NEWS

  1. HDP election observation of Turkish snap elections, November 2015
    4 November 2015 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
    On 1 November 2015 Turkey’s snap election saw the AKP re-gain their majority in the National Assembly following an intense few months of state-sponsored violence and pre-election media crackdowns. With concerns over police intimidation and election fraud, the HDP called for independent observers to witness the election take place. Hundreds of volunteers from across Europe took part and Peace in Kurdistan Campaign helped to facilitate two groups from the UK, who travelled to some of the areas worst effected by the violence. A raft of reports are surfacing that question the possibility of any kind of free election given the atmosphere in which they were held, including from the European Council and the OSCE. Independent observation of polling on the day, however, more intimately reveals what voting was really like in Kurdish cities and towns – as well as the reaction to the final results.
  1. HDP Objects To Turkey Election Results In Six Cities
    5 November 2015 / Kurdish Question
    The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is preparing to object to election results in six cities across Turkey and North Kurdistan following the November 1 general election in which they have currently gained 59 parliamentary seats. HDP vice co-president and Adana deputy Meral Danis Bestas said they had lost seats by 4,968 votes in Adana, by 98 in Mersin, by 198 in Dersim, by 1000 votes in Antalya, by 4,000 votes in Erzurum and by 2,226 in Ardahan and would object to these results.
  1. Turkish election campaign unfair, say international monitors
    2 November 2015 / Guardian
    International observers of Turkey’s parliamentary elections have criticised the climate of violence and fear that preceded the vote, saying the security environment, arrests of opposition activists and stifling of press freedoms combined to make the campaign unfair. The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has said he deserved respect from the whole world following Sunday’s result. But the international election observation mission that monitored the polls expressed serious concerns at a press conference in Ankara on Monday.
  1. Elections in Turkey offered voters variety of choices, but process was hindered by challenging security environment, incidents of violence and restrictions against media, international election observers say
    2 November 2015 / OSCE
    The 1 November early parliamentary elections in Turkey offered voters a variety of choices. At the same time, the challenging security environment, particularly in the southeast of the country, coupled with a high number of violent incidents, including attacks against party members, premises and campaign staff, hindered contestants’ ability to campaign freely, international observers said in a statement issued today. Restrictions on media freedom remain a serious concern, the observers said.
  1. 80 percent of minorities in Turkey cannot express themselves openly: Survey
    3 November 2015 / Hurriyet
    Eighty percent of minorities in Turkey say they cannot express themselves openly on social media, while 35 percent said they are subject to hate speech on the same platform, according to a recent survey conducted by a minority organization funded by the European Union.  Four-fifths of minorities with Greek, Armenian, Jewish and Syriac origins said they could not freely express their ideas on social media, according to the survey conducted by the Yeniköy Panayia Greek Orthodox Church, Bilgi University and the Konda pollster company.
  1. Crowe raises concerns over Turkish elections – Sinn Fein International
    5 November 2015 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
    Sinn Fein’s international office released this press release today detailing their concerns over the election in Turkey. Sean Crowe TD, foreign affairs spokesperson for Sinn Fein, also used his priority question to challenge the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs on his view of Turkey’s elections. You can read Mr Flannagan’s surprising response here.
  1. VIDEO: President Erdoğan: the Turkish strongman silencing journalists
    29 October 2015 / Channel 4
    President Erdogan of Turkey isn’t even on the ballot in Sunday’s rerun of a general election. But his party is, and its hoping to win back its majority – after losing it back in June after 12 years in power.
  1. NY Times says Erdoğan directly responsible for much of Turkey’s insecurity
    31 October 2015 / Todays Zaman
    The New York Times has written that Turkey’s president is directly responsible for much of the climate of insecurity engulfing Turkey since its last election in June, denouncing a fierce crackdown on the media and blaming the president for undermining democratic achievements over the last decade. In an editorial published two days before the Nov. 1 election, the NY Times asked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to listen to voters, abandon his dreams of an “imperial presidency” and allow the ruling party to form a coalition government with opposition parties.
  1. World’s leading media editors ask Erdoğan to respect critical media
    30 October 2015 / Todays Zaman
    At least 50 editors from the world’s leading media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Süddeutsche Zeitung and Agence France-Presse (AFP), signaled alarm this week over the fate of Turkey’s press freedom, urging the Turkish president to respect his country’s independent and critical media. The signatories of an open letter addressed to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan raise profound concerns about what they say are “deteriorating conditions” for press freedom in Turkey, just days before elections slated for Nov. 1.
  1. 19 US senators ask Kerry to urge Turkey to implement freer media, polls
    31 October 2015 / Todays Zaman
    Nineteen United States senators have sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, demanding that he urge Turkey to improve media freedom and ensure that Sunday’s parliamentary election is free and fair. Eighteen senators joined Sen. Chuck Schumer, a leading Democrat, as he initiated the sending of the letter to Kerry, which expressed concerns about the Turkish government’s approach towards press freedom ahead of the Nov. 1 election.
  1. Two more civilians killed by police in Silvan
    4 November 2015 / ANF
    After the murder by police of Müslüm Tayar (22) and Sertip Polat (in his 20s) yesterday, 24-year-old Engin Gezici and his aunt İsmet Gezici were also killed by special operation teams in Silvan district of Amed today. As Turkish state forces intensified their attacks in Tekel neighborhood, 24-year-old Engin Gezici, father of three, was deliberately killed by police. Gezici’s aunt İsmet Gezici who rushed to the scene on hearing about the incident, was also targeted by police bullets, which left her heavily wounded in the stomach.
  1. Turkish Justice Ministry to classify violence against women as a ‘petty crime’
    31 October 2015 / IKROW
    IKWRO opposes a draft proposal from the Turkish Justice Ministry under which violence against women and girls will be considered a ‘petty crime’ and jail-time can be avoided by paying a fine. We, the Iranian & Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO), along with women’s organisations in Turkey, are deeply concerned by a draft proposal from the Turkish Justice Ministry which, if passed, will allow perpetrators of crimes punishable by five years imprisonment, to engage in negotiations with prosecutors to reduce their sentence to one year, postpone their sentence, do community service or pay money to avoid jail time.
  1. International Peace Bureau Italy Awards Annual Prize To Abdullah Öcalan
    30 October 2015 / Kurdish Question
    The International Peace Bureau (IPB) Italy has awarded its annual Peace Prize to Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan. Announcing the award, the IPB-Italy voiced solidarity with the Kurds in their fight for the affirmation of their identity, and offered Abdullah Öcalan, the founder of the social model called “Democratic Confederalism” recognition for the ceaseless work he has done, which today continues from the prison of İmralı, where he has been in solitary confinement for 16 years.
  1. HDP proposes regional parliaments for the new term
    6 November 2015 / ANF
    During the new term, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) will be giving priority to democratic and civil constitution on the basis of the “Constitution Draft” presented by BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) in 2011. The draft by BDP involves decentralized parliamentary system, regional parliaments and assemblies. The new, democratic and civil constitution proposed by HDP defends “a parliamentary system which attributes authorities to local administrations” and puts forward proposals such as local assemblies, regional parliaments and regional presidency.
  1. Global Rally for the freedom and reconstruction of Kobane
    4 November 2015 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
    Thank you to everyone who took part in the Global Rally for Kobane on 1st November – now World Kobane Day. It is the second year in a row that thousands of people in dozens of countries have raised their voices for Kobane, which still suffers the consequences of a brutal 6 month ISIS siege which caught the conscience of many across the world. This time, over 400 separate actions took place in over 25 countries as far apart as India and Brazil, Denmark and Australia, Venezuela and Afghanistan, all calling for people and governments to support the reconstruction of Kobane and the lifting of the blockade.
  1. As Kurds advance against ISIS, Turkey intensifies ‘provocative attacks’ on Kurdish headquarters north Syria
    3 November 2015 / Ara News
    Since the withdrawal of the Syrian regime’s forces from major parts of the Kurdish areas in July 2012, Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) have seized territories in northern Syrian to fill in the security vacuum.  Forces loyal to the Assad regime only hold some security bases and administrative offices in the Syrian Kurdish region.  Kurds have established three autonomous “cantons” in northern Syria since the civil war broke out in 2011. They deny aiming to establish their own “nation state”. The YPG forces helped establish an auto-administration in the Kurdish areas near the border with Turkey.
  1. Rojava’s Kobane Canton Declares Laws for Kurdish Women
    4 November 2015 / Kurdish Project
    The Kobane Canton Women’s Assembly declared a set of women’s laws last week.  According to the laws, underage marriages, arranged marriages (berdel) and polygamy have all been banned in Kobane. According to the report by Zêrîn Kurtay and Rabîa Eto for the female-operated JINHA news agency, the laws in the Kobane Canton — one of three cantons in Rojava (the Kurdish region in northern Syria) — will be spread through education and through neighbourhood assemblies.
  1. ISIS Oil Exports Worth $500 Million a Year ‘Conducted through Turkey’
    1 November 2015 / Global Research
    The lion’s share of Islamic State illegal oil exports is conducted through Turkey and Kurdish areas. Although Washington could curb the illegal traffic, it has chosen to focus on other issues, a former CIA officer told the Sputnik news agency. “It’s a question of priorities. They have never allocated enough resources to do so. Other goals and missions have been rated as having more urgent calls on intelligence and tactical resources,” John Kiriakou, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) counterterrorism officer and US Senate Foreign Relations Committee senior investigator, told Sputnik.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

  1. The Meaning of AKP’s Victory in Turkey
    2 November 2015 / Morning Star
    After elections, money markets are sometimes the best political barometers. On Monday, the Turkish Lira leapt by 3 percent against the US dollar as the markets opened. A new period of stable single-party rule is opening in Turkey after five months of uncertainty and violence following the deadlock in the June general elections. But while the economic outlook may have improved,Turks are coming to terms with a political earthquake which leaves President Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of  his lieutenant, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, vastly strengthened and the opposition in pieces.
  1. Turkey elections: AKP wins big, HDP here to stay
    5 November 2015 / Roar Mag
    On Sunday, the ruling AKP secured a surprise majority with 49 percent of the national vote in Turkey’s snap elections. This result gives them a sizable majority in parliament, with almost five million more votes for the neoliberal Islamist party than at the previous elections in June. To many, it was a complete shock. Former party leader and current president Erdoğan had waged a determined crackdown on all opponents in what many saw as a desperate attempt to cling onto power. His increasingly repressive attacks on opponents was interpreted as a sign of his imminent departure as the dominant force in Turkish politics, a position he has held for 13 years. Instead, the emphatic victory of AKP has given Erdoğan a mandate to continue at the helm of the country.
  1. Erdogan Expected to Tighten Grip on Turkey After Party’s Unexpectedly Decisive Victory
    1 November 2015 / Vice
    Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) won an unexpectedly decisive victory in the country’s snap general elections on Sunday. It was the second parliamentary vote in six months after June polls saw the Islamist AKP denied a majority for the first time since it took power 13 years ago, largely due to the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) crossing the 10 percent threshold required to secure parliamentary seats. The result blocked Erdogan’s plans to alter the constitution and transfer executive powers to his office, but created a hung parliament.
  1. Erdoğan’s election win means he can dictate terms to EU on refugees
    2 November 2015 / Guardian
    Europe is praying that the return of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) to a solid parliamentary majority will help it cope with the mass movement of people northwards and westwards from the Middle East. There is a strong chance the prayers will end in tears. On Monday, the European commission had only good things to say about the triumph of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s irascible leader. Sunday’s election “reaffirmed the strong commitment of the Turkish people to democratic processes”, Brussels said. “The EU will work with the future government to enhance the EU-Turkey partnership and cooperation across all areas.” 
  1. Nov 1 elections: A sad picture for women
    3 November 2015 / Hurriyet
    The losers of the Nov. 1 elections were again women. According to unofficial figures, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has 34 women deputies, while the Republican People’s Party (CHP) has 21, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has 23 and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has three, equaling 81 women deputies in total. In this case, there was a fall in the number of women deputies in all parties except the CHP. In the June elections, the AKP had 41 woman deputies in parliament; now they have 34. The number of woman deputies from the HDP fell from 32 to 23 and in the MHP, from four to three.
  1. Turkey elections: Erdogan victory risks making country an authoritarian state sliding into Syrian mire
    30 October 2015 / Independent
    Turks vote on Sunday to choose a new parliament amid fears that Turkey is turning into an authoritarian one-party state and political, ethnic and religious polarisation is so great that the country is becoming permanently unstable. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), in power since 2002, need to elect just 18 more MPs to win back the majority in parliament that they lost in the last election on 7 June. If they succeed, then Mr Erdogan will be able to expand his already extensive power over the state, security forces, media and judiciary.
  1. Shady Tactics By Erdogan
    3 November 2015 / Morning Star
    Certainly the world has to accept that his religious-conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) has swept back into power. But there can be no respect for the combination of authoritarianism, scaremongering and military posturing that made AKP victory possible. The poll triumph belongs officially to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, but his campaign was devised and carried through by the president who is intent on concentrating further personal powers in an executive presidency.
  1. Kurdish Highlanders Fear the Sky
    6 November 2015 / IPS
    You can find those popular Turkish chocolate and orange biscuits, and there are also shovels for the coming winter snow. There’s also no shortage of those popular watches boasting the face of Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). From his small shop in the village of Zergely, Iraq, Rinaz Rojelat sells virtually everything the local villagers cannot grow in these rugged mountains. But these are hard times, Rojelat claims. The banner on display outside his shop pays memory to the eight neighbours he lost to a Turkish air raid last August. The rubble of their houses, just a 100 metres away, is also an eloquent reminder of the tragic episode.
  1. Wartime Election Makes Kurdish Peace in Turkey More Distant
    5 November 21015 / Bloomberg
    Turkey’s governing AK Party is sending mixed signals about its willingness to reopen peace talks with the Kurds after an election that was marked by an escalation in a decades-old conflict. The government and the armed militants of the PKK have both dropped hints they’re ready for dialogue even as they vow to prolong fighting. The question is whether they can make up lost ground: since June, the peace process has unraveled and government airstrikes and PKK raids have left hundreds dead, turning the largely Kurdish southeast back into a battlefield.
  1. Turkey Goes to War
    6 November 2015 / Counterpunch
    A landslide victory in Turkey’s November 1 snap elections has removed the last obstacle in President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s drive to war.  The surprise outcome of the balloting, which was widely denounced as “unfair and marred by fear and violence by international election observers”,  has given Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) 49 percent of the vote restoring single-party rule in Ankara. Shortly after the election results were announced, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called on Turkey’s political parties to scrap the existing constitution in order to grant President Erdogan nearly-limitless executive authority.
  1. U.S. and Turkey on a Collision Course in Syria
    2 November 2015 / Huffington Post
    Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatens “all necessary measures” to prevent Syrian Kurds from advancing west of the Euphrates River. The People’s Protection Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) is America’s principal ally fighting ISIS in Syria. Attacking the YPG puts Turkey and the US on a collision course. The US and the PYD have been steadily deepening their cooperation, beginning with the battle for Kobani in October 2014. US war planes bombed ISIS and dropped weapons to besieged Kurdish fighters defending the city. The YPG was joined by Kurdish fighters from across the region, including the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).
  1. Here’s The Latest Potentially Fatal Flaw In Obama’s ISIS Strategy
    5 November 2015 / Huffington Post
    The U.S. acknowledged on Wednesday that it has been supporting Kurdish forces in Syria with American aircraft deployed in Turkey, adding another tangle to its strategy to defeat the Islamic State group that hints at the precariousness of the entire campaign. Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the U.S. campaign against the extremists in Iraq and Syria, detailed that decision in a press briefing on Wednesday. The U.S. announced on Oct. 30 that it had based A-10 fixed-wing aircraft at Turkey’s Incirlik air base in the country’s southeast, Warren said.
  1. Will AKP victory change Turkey’s foreign policy?
    3 November 2015 / Al Monitor
    The Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Nov. 1 landslide electoral victory stunned secular and liberal Turks, not to mention international observers. Even AKP officials admit they were not expecting such a turnout after losing their parliamentary majority in the June elections. One of the questions now being asked is what the victory, and the manner in which it reinforces President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s position, will mean for Turkey’s foreign policy at such a critical moment in the Middle East, especially in regard to Syria.

STATEMENTS

  1. The Turkish General Election and the International Day of KobanéKNK Press Release, 3 November 2015.

REPORTS

  1. International Press Institute (IPI) Turkey Inter-Election Press Freedom Report, 31 October 2015.
  1. Scottish delegation to Kurdistan calls for peace process to be renewed, 5 November 2015
  1. HRW: Turkey: No Answers for Kurdish Victims – Acquittals in Landmark Prosecution for ‘90s Security Force Killings, 5 November 2015.

BOOK REVIEW

  1. Kurds A Modern History by Michael Gunter. http://www.markuswiener.com/books/kurds-a-modern-history/
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: