KURDISH NEWS WEEKLY BRIEFING, 16- 22 January 2016

NEWS

  1. YPS-Jin declared in Diyarbakır
  2. Some 200,000 at risk in Turkey’s fight against Kurdish militants: Amnesty
  3. European Lawyers Delegation visits Diyarbakir
  4. Vandana Shiva Plants Seeds At Yedikule Gardens
  5. Davutoglu visits: Letter critiques Merkel Turkey policy
  6. Turkey rounds up academics who signed petition denouncing attacks on Kurds
  7. The #WarOnKurds and Academics for Peace
  8. Storm on the Horizon: Is A Turkish ‘Ground Invasion’ of Syria Looming?
  9. Turkey Freaks Out After Russia Insists Kurds Participate in Syrian Talks
  10. Ottawa protests atrocities in Kurdistan
  11. Tommy Sheppard MP attends Scottish solidarity demo
  12. The US is considering a new plan for Syria — and the Kurds ‘will not be happy about it’

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

  1. Turkey in crisis: Renewal of conflict with Kurdish militants is accompanied by a highly toxic political and media climate
  2. Women on the frontlines of Kurdish struggles: An interview with JİNHA women’s news agency
  3. The World’s Eyes are on Turkey
  4. Turkey and Kurds in the Middle East and the ‘Battle for Syria’
  5. Turkey Is Back To Zero In Kurdish Issue
  6. Turkey’s war on the Kurds: Futile repression
  7. LISTEN: Ankara Supports Daesh to Weaken Kurdish Separatists in Turkey
  8. Professor Al-Ali Slams Government of Turkey over Peace Petition
  9. Fredericke Geerdink: Nine questions and answers to shed a light on the violence in Southeast Turkey
  10. How Can You Be So Shameless As To Call The Most Effective Fighters Against ISIS ‘Terrorists’?
  11. Rebuilding Kobanê
  12. Kurds as Peacemakers in the Middle East
  13. Edinburgh RCG supporters stand in solidarity with Kurdistan and Palestine!
  14. Sunni-Shi’a conflict: divine versus government authority

 

STATEMENTS

  1. Turkey: Detention of academics intensifies crackdown on freedom of expression

 

REPORTS

  1. Report On The Conflict Process, Political Situation, And Women In Kurdistan
  2. Turkey: End Abusive Operations Under Indefinite Curfews

 

ACTIONS

  1. Free Women’s Assembly call for solidarity
  2. Law Society questions investigations into Elci’s death
  3. Academics for Peace call for solidarity
  4. Chomsky’s (unintended) reply to Erdoğan
  5. Letters written to PM Ahmet Davutoglu on freedom of expression
  6. Turkey: Leading writers call on David Cameron to defend press freedom in Turkey

 

EVENTS

Visit our Events page

 

 

NEWS

 

  1. YPS-Jin declared in Diyarbakır
    16 January 2015 / Jinha
    Women in Diyarbakır have announced the foundation of the Women’s Civil Defense Units (YPS-Jin). The women’s defense organization YPS-Jin, recently founded in many cities in Northern Kurdistan, has announced the founding of its Diyarbakır units. The Diyarbakır Command of the YPS-Jin released a written announcement on the occasion. The YPS-Jin noted that the ruling AKP power in Turkey had sacrificed the peace process, initiated by jailed PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] leader Abdullah Öcalan, for its own narrow gains. 
  1. Some 200,000 at risk in Turkey’s fight against Kurdish militants: Amnesty
    21 January 2016 / Reuters
    Security operations in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast have put up to 200,000 people at risk, placing them in the crossfire or cutting them off from emergency and basic services such as water, rights group Amnesty International said on Thursday. Round-the-clock curfews amid clashes between security forces and the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have confined people indoors, even forcing some to live with the corpses of dead relatives, for days, it said in a report. Authorities say the curfews are aimed at protecting civilians amid near-daily clashes.
  1. European Lawyers Delegation visits Diyarbakir
    20 January 2015 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
    A delegation of European lawyers will visit Diyarbakir from 21st to 24th January 2016. The 13 participants come from Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Austria. Two European lawyers’ organisations are supporting this initiative, the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH) and the European Democratic Lawyers (EDL) and also the “Unione delle Camere Penali Italiane”

 

  1. Vandana Shiva Plants Seeds At Yedikule Gardens
    17 January 2016 / Seeds of Freedom
    Vandana Shiva has visited the threatened gardens of Yedikule in Istanbul to show support for the resistance there. “This place is our future,” said Vandana. The historical market gardens of Yedikule in Istanbul are under threat, as Istanbul security attempts to raze the area. Support for the gardens and the barricades protecting them has come from eco-feminist writer Vandana Shiva, who visited the gardens with a group of environmental activists today. “You’re standing up for your future here,” said Vandana. She addressed the women of Bostancı: “Mothers, found a university and teach your grandchildren the way you plant these seeds. This is our future.”
  1. Davutoglu visits: Letter critiques Merkel Turkey policy
    21 January 2016 / Deutsche Welle
    Artists, journalists and academics published a letter to Angela Merkel on Change.org Thursday, criticizing her stay-the-course policy in supporting Turkey’s military conflict with Kurds in the country’s southeast . Repeated rights violations and multiple deaths of noncombatants have been documented. “According to reports from human rights organizations, 170 civilians have died in confrontations between the Turkish security forces and fighters for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party PKK since autumn,” the signatories wrote. “The Turkish government has done nothing to ease the conflict – on the contrary: It inflames it.”
  1. Turkey rounds up academics who signed petition denouncing attacks on Kurds
    15 January 2016 / Guardian
    Turkey has been accused of violating academic freedom by rounding up university teachers who signed a petition denouncing military operations against Kurds in the south-east of the country. Police detained 27 academics over alleged “terror propaganda” after they signed a petition together with more than 1,400 others calling for an end to Turkey’s “deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish people”. The US ambassador to Turkey condemned the crackdown as “chilling”. Local media reported that all the group were later released.

 

  1. The #WarOnKurds and Academics for Peace
    16 January 2016 / Transform!
    Academics in Turkey and abroad have condemned the Turkish campaign in the Kurdish provinces. The state’s reaction has been undemocratic and worrisome. On January 13, Turkish President Erdoğan said, to a group of academics:
    “Pick a side. You are either on the side of the Turkish government, or you’re on the side of the terrorists.” A day before, the Turkish Supreme Education Board (YÖK) announced this group of academics would have to face legal action for signing a petition. What is this about? 1,128 academics from 89 universities in Turkey, and over 355 academics and researchers from abroad have signed a text calling on state of Turkey to end state violence in the Kurdish provinces and prepare negotiation conditions. Among them are such noted academics as Tariq Ali, David Graeber, Cynthia Enloe, Alessandra Mezzadri, Slavoj Zizek, Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, Immanuel Wallerstein, Franco Berardi, Etienne Balibar, and David Harvey.
  1. Storm on the Horizon: Is A Turkish ‘Ground Invasion’ of Syria Looming?
    21 January 2016 / Sputnik
    Various reports indicate that Ankara could soon (if it has not already) launch a ground operation in neighboring Syria, which, some say, will target Daesh fighters, but many fear that it will instead be focused on the Kurds – one of the main forces trying to defeat the brutal group. Turkey, which has long been criticized for doing too little to tackle Daesh, is reportedly planning to create a buffer zone on its border with Syria, Stratfor reported on Tuesday. These efforts could already be underway – Turkish forces have started to clear mines along the border near the Syrian town of Jarabulus, which is currently controlled by Daesh.

 

  1. Turkey Freaks Out After Russia Insists Kurds Participate in Syrian Talks
    21 January 2016 / Sputnik
    In the fight against Daesh, few forces have been as effective on the ground as the Kurdish YPG. While Russia has insisted that the group be part of the Syrian peace talks, Turkey has steadfastly refused, calling the YPG a “terrorist group.” Earlier this month, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units retook the Kara-choh oilfield from Daesh, also known as IS/Islamic State. Located in Syria’s Hasakah province, the field provided Daesh with vast amounts of crude that was sold on the illegal oil markets.
  1. Ottawa protests atrocities in Kurdistan
    18 January 2016 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
    We received this press release from our friends in Ottawa, Canada, who gathered today in Parliament Hill to protest the atrocities taking place in the Kurdish regions of Turkey:
    To the Canadian Press and General Public:
    Ottawa – The Kurdish Community will gather in Parliament Hill at 11:00 am on Monday January 18th, 2016 to demonstrate against the Turkish State atrocities in North Kurdistan (Turkey).

 

  1. Tommy Sheppard MP attends Scottish solidarity demo
    18 January 2016 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
    This weekend Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan held a demonstration in central Edinburgh to protest continuing attacks by the Turkish military on Kurdish cities and civilians. The group delivered a letter to the Turkish Consul, which expresses concern for the women and children killed since last summer and calls for the Turkish government to end the curfews in Kurdish towns. The letter was signed by several other union members, Scottish Green party members and activists.  Around 100 people showed up to support the delivery of the letter, including Tommy Sheppard MP, SNP member for Edinburgh East.
  1. The US is considering a new plan for Syria — and the Kurds ‘will not be happy about it’
    14 January 2016 / Yahoo News
    The Pentagon is weighing a new request from Turkey to train and equip Arab rebels fighting in northern Syria, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. The request, which reportedly came just one week before an ISIS-linked suicide bomber killed 10 people in Istanbul, is evidently an attempt to seal a vulnerable stretch of the Turkish-Syrian border that continues to serve as a transit point for foreign fighters and weapons. It is also an attempt to appease Turkey, which has expressed concern to Washington that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) — a militia linked to Turkey’s longtime enemy, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — is taking advantage of its anti-ISIS partnership with the US to gain power and territory along the Turkish-Syrian border.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

  1. Turkey in crisis: Renewal of conflict with Kurdish militants is accompanied by a highly toxic political and media climate
    19 January 2016 / Independent
    Turkey’s popular Beyaz Show took a more sombre turn than usual one evening earlier this month. The live entertainment programme aired a call from a woman who gave her name as Ayse Celik.  She described herself as a teacher from the city of Diyarbakir, the largest city in the mainly Kurdish south-east of the country, where conflict has once again erupted between Kurdish militants and the state. “Are you aware of what is going on in the east, in the south-east of Turkey?” she asked, the line muffled. “Here, unborn children, mothers and people are being killed… What is being experienced here is conveyed very differently [by the media]. Do not keep silent… Children should not die, mothers should not die.” 
  1. Women on the frontlines of Kurdish struggles: An interview with JİNHA women’s news agency
    21 January 2016 / Corporate Watch
    In 2015, Corporate Watch visited Bakur (meaning ‘North’ in Kurmanji), the Kurdish region within Turkey’s borders. We interviewed two journalists from JİNHA (Jin Haber Ajansı), an all-women news agency made up of mostly Kurdish women, based in Amed (Diyarbakır in Turkish). Our meeting with JİNHA took place just after the Turkish election in June 2015. Since our interviews, the Turkish state has begun a new war on its Kurdish population. Cities have been attacked by the police and military with mortars, tanks and helicopters and every day Kurdish citizens are being murdered. People in cities across Bakur have erected barricades in their neighbourhoods to defend themselves against the violence and are trying to organise autonomously from the state.
  1. The World’s Eyes are on Turkey
    19 January 2016 / Left Unity
    Sarah Parker from Haringey Left Unity analyses recent developments in Turkish politics. The situation in Turkey is changing quickly, but to see where things are now, it is useful to look back at the events of the last seven months. On 7 June 2015 the broad left-wing and pro-Kurdish HDP achieved over 13% of the vote in the Turkish general election, apparently a big victory, breaking the electoral threshold to win 80 seats, and depriving President Erdogan’s AKP Party of both his overall parliamentary majority needed for the AKP to govern alone, and the supermajority he needed to move to a stronger presidential system of government.

 

  1. Turkey and Kurds in the Middle East and the ‘Battle for Syria’
    16 January 2016 / Todays Zaman
    As we start 2016 it is appropriate to again ask what challenges lie ahead for Turkey and for Kurds? I say “Kurds” referring to the Kurds in Iraq, Syria and within Turkey itself and its own challenging “Kurdish question.” There are an estimated 9.5 million Kurds in 15 provinces of southeastern Turkey. It seems that Turkey — and by Turkey I mean the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) — and the state’s military, intelligence, security and police institutions intend to emasculate their political and civil institutions. Current differences between Kurds, state institutions and the AKP have intensified since peace talks collapsed in July 2015 and the AKP’s solid victory in the Nov. 1, 2015 general election in which the AKP secured almost 50 percent of the vote. The conflict had intensified even before the election as the AKP ramped up its appeal to Turkish nationalists in efforts to secure their votes and gain acceptance for increasing its war against the PKK and the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK).
  1. Turkey Is Back To Zero In Kurdish Issue
    21 January 2016 / Huffington Post
    Only two decades ago, everything Kurdish was a taboo. Breaking it had predictable consequences. Leading Kurdish lawmaker Leyla Zana, for example, had to spend ten years in prison for her political activism. Ahmet Kaya, a renowned singer, had to leave Turkey for singing in Kurdish. Local media reported that many Kurdish were allegedly thrown into acid wells for demanding more rights and freedoms. The rise of the PKK, a Kurdish rebel group, in the early 1990s was brutal. Militants terrorized civilians in southeastern Turkey. They ambushed conscripts and killed them in summary executions. It financed itself through extortion and smuggling. The Turkish state’s response to quell the uprising in predominantly Kurdish populated provinces was similarly violent. Entire villages were burnt to the ground.
  1. Turkey’s war on the Kurds: Futile repression
    23 January 2016 / Economist
    FOR many years Turkey’s recipe for combating Kurdish nationalism was to pretend that Kurds did not exist. Even as Turkish troops battled the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), government propaganda maintained that Kurds were a subgroup of Turks and that their language, banned from official use, was a dialect of Turkish. To his credit, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, has never indulged in such fantasies. His Justice and Development (AK) party pursued peace negotiations with Abdullah Ocalan, the founder of the PKK, and moderate Kurds. Alas, in recent months, as the world has focused on the tragedy taking place in Iraq and Syria, Mr Erdogan has thrown those achievements away, relaunching Turkey’s war on Kurdish militants with a deadly new ferocity.
  1. LISTEN: Ankara Supports Daesh to Weaken Kurdish Separatists in Turkey
    16 January 2016 / Sputnik
    The Turkish government is providing support to Daesh in an effort to help the extremist group fight separatists from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Kurdish politician told Sputnik Radio. The PKK has long fought for autonomy for Turkey’s ethnic Kurds, who comprise about 20% of the country’s population. Ankara and its Western allies have labeled the PKK a terrorist group… Victories won by the PKK fighting against Daesh in Syria will cause Western governments to become sympathetic to the separatist campaign, said Adem Uzun, an Executive Council member of the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK), a Europe-based coalition formed by exiled Kurdish politicians, lawyers and activists.
  1. Professor Al-Ali Slams Government of Turkey over Peace Petition
    18 January 2016 / Bianet
    I have studied women’s movements and women’s rights activism in the region for the past 20 years as an anthropologist and gender studies expert. Throughout my research I have come across amazing feminist activists and scholars who courageously struggle for equality and social justice. But what I have learnt about and from the Kurdish women’s movement in Turkey has been particularly impressive and moving. There is something very special and precious happening with the Kurdish political movement’s recognition of the centrality of gender equality for wider struggles of democracy, justice and human rights. Knowing how special and precious this development is, I have felt it is extremely painful and tragic to see how the Kurdish women’s movement and the wider political movement is under attack as part of the Turkish state’s ongoing onslaught against Kurds.
  1. Fredericke Geerdink: Nine questions and answers to shed a light on the violence in Southeast Turkey
    19 January 2016 / Beacon Reader
    What is happening in Turkey’s southeast? Do you have some striking examples to explain the situation? There are dead bodies on the streets of Sur, the old city centre of Diyarbakir. Their families have been on hunger strike since 2 January to force the authorities to enable the burial of the dead, but to no avail. On 13 January, the Human Rights Association of Diyarbakir talked to the assistant governor of Diyarbakır, Mehmet Emir, who gave permission to collect the bodies that afternoon. But when the group, including HDP MP Sibel Yigitalp, came to Sur district, the police said they could take the bodies but only if they first brought in any weapons or explosives that were lying in the vicinity of the bodies.
  1. How Can You Be So Shameless As To Call The Most Effective Fighters Against ISIS ‘Terrorists’?
    15 January 2016 / Pasewan
    The British-Kurdish writer Kamal Mirawdeli has written another strong critical letter to the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, after he has seen no change of the British pro-ISIS and pro-Turkish policy following his previous equally critical letters to the British PM. In his 4600-word letter Dr Mirawdeli, while stressing from the start that his letter-writing is no more than a practice in absurdity and self-mutilating experience, nevertheless touches upon important issues that lie at the heart of the current sensitive destabilizing forces and factors that while destroying many nations and communities in the Middle East, have serious consequences for the whole world, especially Europe, which according to Mirawdeli is being increasingly de-Europeanised by the destructive effects of Western-made wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and especially Syria. 
  1. Rebuilding Kobanê
    19 January 2016 / Open Democracy
    We have cleared 1.5 million tonnes of rubble,” Abdo Rrahman Hemo (known as Heval Dostar), head of the Kobanê Reconstruction Board, tells us humbly as we sit in his office in Kobanê city in November 2015. But as we walk through the bombed streets, with collapsed buildings all around us and dust filling our lungs, it’s hard to believe that Kobanê could have been any worse. “We have estimated that 3.5 billion dollars of damage has been caused, he continues. It’s been one year since the US bombing of Kobanê – then partly occupied by Daesh – and most of the buildings are still in tatters. Kobanê is in Rojava (meaning ‘west’ in Kurdish), a Kurdish majority region in the north of Syria that declared autonomy from the Assad regime in 2012.
  1. Kurds as Peacemakers in the Middle East
    5 January 2016 / Carnegie Endowment
    A number of analysts have recently rung alarm bells regarding Washington’s increasingly Kurdish-centric strategy against the Islamic State (IS), warning that empowering the Kurds is creating an imbalance in their relationship with nearby communities. What this argument presents as a problem, however, may instead be an opportunity for the Kurds to play a role in bringing about a sustainable peace in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq.
  1. Edinburgh RCG supporters stand in solidarity with Kurdistan and Palestine!
    19 January 2016 / RCG
    On 16 January, Revolutionary Communist Group supporters in Edinburgh demonstrated alongside Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan protesters, demanding the end to British support for Turkey, the lifting of the ban on the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party which has been proscribed since 1993), and for freedom for Kurdish political prisoners. An open microphone was held, and we spoke about on the long history of British involvement in the region, beginning with the treaties of Sèvres and Lausanne in 1920 and 1923 and continuing to this day with the war in Syria. Britain is paying Turkey £275 million to prevent the passage of refugees into Europe. Turkey is using this as a bargaining chip to get EU membership. No more blood money to Turkey!
  1. Sunni-Shi’a conflict: divine versus government authority
    16 January 2016 / Lexington Herald Leader
    It is clear that most Americans, even Europeans, some Middle Easterners and, indeed, Muslims, do not understand or grasp the political, let alone, theological differences between Sunnis and Shi’a. The major difference is that Shi’a claim a direct relationship with the prophet Mohammad because his daughter, Fatimah, was married to Ali, the cousin of Mohammed. As a result, Shi’a revere Ali and believe that he, being married to Fatimah, possesses sanctity and divinity that enable him and his progeny to be the divine interpreters of God’s (Allah’s) will on Earth. The Shi’a, then, have a blood relationship with Mohammad who was the messenger of Allah. The Sunnis do not.

 

STATEMENTS

  1. Turkey: Detention of academics intensifies crackdown on freedom of expression, 15 January 2016 / Amnesty International

 

REPORTS

  1. Report On The Conflict Process, Political Situation, And Women In Kurdistan, 10 January 2016 / Free Women’s Congress (KJA)
  1. Turkey: End Abusive Operations Under Indefinite Curfews, 21 January 2016 / Amnesty International

 

ACTIONS

  1. Free Women’s Assembly call for solidarity, 18 January 2016 / Free Women’s Assembly. 
  1. Law Society questions investigations into Elci’s death
    21 January 2016 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
    The President of the Law Society, Jonathan Smithers, has written an official letter to the Justice Minister of Turkey, Kenan Ipek, with his concerns about the investigation into Tahir Elci’s assassination in November 2015.

 

  1. Academics for Peace call for solidarity
    13 January 2016 / Change.org
    Sign the petition in solidarity with Academics for Peace in Turkey here
  1. Chomsky’s (unintended) reply to Erdoğan
    The President of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has attacked a petition signed by over 1,200 academics criticising the ongoing police and military operations in manyKurdish towns ordered by the government. Among many things he also said he would like foreign academics to come to Turkey and see for themselves what was really happening. He specifically referred to Professor Noam Chomsky, renowned linguist and social critic, along those he wished to be invited for this purpose.
  1. Letters written to PM Ahmet Davutoglu on freedom of expression
    January 2016 / Middle East Studies Association
    Official letters written to the Turkish government condemning the detention and silencing of Turkish and Kurdish academics.

 

  1. Turkey: Leading writers call on David Cameron to defend press freedom in Turkey
    15 January 2016 / English PEN
    Tom Stoppard, Ali Smith, Ian Rankin, Elif Shafak, Owen Sheers, Sarah Waters andDavid Hare have joined fellow PEN members to write to the prime minister, urging him to raise the crisis facing freedom of expression with the Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, on his visit to London next week.

 

EVENTS

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