KURDISH NEWS WEEKLY BRIEFING, 14 – 20 May 2016

NEWS
1. Turkish opposition leader speaks out as MPs debate legal immunity law
2. Activists Petition UN to Try Turkey’s Erdogan for War Crimes
3. Revolutionary youth and women initiatives founded for ‘Revenge’
4. NATO, Turkey challenge Russia on Black Sea
5. EU wants close cooperation with new Turkish gov’t: Mogherini
6. 1ST LEAD Kurds cry foul as Turkish bill lifting lawmaker immunity moves ahead By Shabtai Gold
7. Will Turkey let UN officials snoop in the southeast?
8. Has Europe had enough of Erdogan?
9. Kurdistan National Congress calls on Kurds to open their borders
10. PKK voided the Sykes Picot Agreement a quarter of a century ago
11. “We don’t fight for death… we fight for life.” An Interview with YPJ Commander Nisrîn Abdullah
12. US-led coalition spokesman confirms training of Arab fighters to join battle for Raqqa

OPINION, COMMENTARY, ANALYSIS
1. The World Humanitarian Summit: A Fig Leaf That Covers State Crimes In Turkey And Beyond
2. Merkel’s Deal with Turkey in Danger of Collapse
3. Turkish opposition MP accuses Ankara of ignoring ISIL locations – Zinar Demeni talks to RT International
4. Rojava revolution: re-shaping masculinity Part 4
5. Mazlumder Cizre Report
6. New Publication by Corporate Watch: Struggles for Autonomy in Kurdistan


STATEMENTS, PRESS RELEASES
1. Final resolution of the conference on a future constitution for Syria, Schlaining II, Austria
2.  Erdogan attempts to ‘correct’ election outcome by stripping MPs of immunity
17th May/Green European Free Alliance
3. MEP call on members of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey not to support the amendment
4. Kurdish Politician Arrested In Turkey
5.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL  – PRESS RELEASE

REPORTS
1. PUBLIC FORUM THE KURDISH QUESTION AND THE CHAOS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

———————–

NEWS
1. Turkish opposition leader speaks out as MPs debate legal immunity law
17th May/The Guardian
A push by the Turkish government to strip parliamentarians of their immunity is a clear attempt by the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to target opposition MPs and risks inflaming tensions in an already highly polarised country, the co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic party (HDP) has said.
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/17/turkish-parliament-debates-president-erdogan-draft-law-to-strip-mps-legal-immunity <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/17/turkish-parliament-debates-president-erdogan-draft-law-to-strip-mps-legal-immunity>

2. Activists Petition UN to Try Turkey’s Erdogan for War Crimes
17th May /Telesur
A rally on Saturday will deliver a petition to the United Nations to try the Turkish president for crimes against Kurds and civilians around the Middle East.
Activists, intellectuals and politicians are asking the United Nations try Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for war crimes against Kurds and alleged commerce with the Islamic State group.
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Activists-Petition-UN-to-Try-Turkeys-Erdogan-for-War-Crimes-20160517-0037.html <http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Activists-Petition-UN-to-Try-Turkeys-Erdogan-for-War-Crimes-20160517-0037.html>

3. Revolutionary youth and women initiatives founded for ‘Revenge’
20th May/ANF News
Revolutionary Youth Initiative and Revolutionary Women Initiative were founded with the slogan of ‘Revenge’
In their announcement, the initiatives called upon everyone to “Go out to the streets and organize revolutionary actions”. The initiatives announced their goals and emphasized that they would gain great victories with a great resistance and a spirit of revenge.
http://anfenglish.com/news/revolutionary-youth-and-women-initiatives-founded-for-revenge <http://anfenglish.com/news/revolutionary-youth-and-women-initiatives-founded-for-revenge>

4. NATO, Turkey challenge Russia on Black Sea
20th May/ Hurriyyet Daily News
Turkey will soon elect a new leader for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and therefore a new prime minister who will introduce a new cabinet with new names to crucial ministerial posts. However, the current government’s three ministers dealing mostly with foreign policy and security issues, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, EU Minister Volkan Bozkır and Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, are likely to keep their seats, barring any last-minute surprise.
All three ministers are busy with their already announced programs, trying to make sure Turkish diplomacy is well-functioning, although there is political uncertainty in the absence of an effective government.
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/nato-turkey-challenge-russia-on-black-sea-.aspx?PageID=238&NID=99297&NewsCatID=429 <http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/nato-turkey-challenge-russia-on-black-sea-.aspx?PageID=238&NID=99297&NewsCatID=429>

5. EU wants close cooperation with new Turkish gov’t: Mogherini
20th May/ Hurriyyet Daily News
The European Union’s foreign policy chief said on May 19 that she expects the new Turkish government to endorse the EU-Turkey deal reached with the previous government and to continue close cooperation to address the refugee crisis.
“We concluded an agreement with the Turkish government, not with one person,” Federica Mogherini told German <http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/tag/German> daily Die Welt, dismissing speculations about the future of the deal after the impending departure of Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/Default.aspx?pageID=238&nID=99420&NewsCatID=351 <http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/Default.aspx?pageID=238&nID=99420&NewsCatID=351>

6. 1ST LEAD Kurds cry foul as Turkish bill lifting lawmaker immunity moves ahead By Shabtai Gold, dpa
17th May/Europe Online Magazine
Istanbul (dpa) – The first round of a vote that could lead to more than 130 members of the Turkish legislature losing their legal immunity began Tuesday, with the country‘s pro-Kurdish party calling the push an attack on its deputies.
Parliamentarians facing potential prosecution come from all four parties in parliament, but the pro-Kurdish Peoples‘ Democratic Party (HDP) would be most disproportionately affected, with about 50 of its 59 members in parliament at risk.
Committee-level discussions about the move – which is being organized by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) – have led to fistfights. Debate in the main plenary is also likely to be heated.
The government says the move is intended to remove immunity from those who have existing police dossiers.
http://en.europeonline-magazine.eu/1st-leadkurds-cry-foul-as-turkish-bill-lifting-lawmaker-immunity-moves-aheadby-shabtai-gold-dpa_455970.html <http://en.europeonline-magazine.eu/1st-leadkurds-cry-foul-as-turkish-bill-lifting-lawmaker-immunity-moves-aheadby-shabtai-gold-dpa_455970.html>

7. Will Turkey let UN officials snoop in the southeast?
17th May/Al-Monitor online
Turkey’s US and European allies continue to maintain a near silence over the country’s steady descent into a human rights nightmare, even as respected global watchdogs chronicle the abuses taking place there on an almost daily basis. Whether it is silencing the media, torture during detention or mass violence against civilians in the mainly Kurdish southeast, according to rights defenders, Turkey is beginning to resemble the Middle East dictatorships that it was once touted as a model for them to follow.
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/05/turkey-united-nations-investigate-human-rights-violations.html#ixzz49CDKvPPx <http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/05/turkey-united-nations-investigate-human-rights-violations.html#ixzz49CDKvPPx>

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/05/turkey-united-nations-investigate-human-rights-violations.html <http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/05/turkey-united-nations-investigate-human-rights-violations.html>

8. Has Europe had enough of Erdogan?
16th May/Al Monitor online
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is not only the head of a leading European country who has stood firm against mounting domestic and foreign criticism of the deal she masterminded with Turkey to curb the flow of refugees into the Schengen zone. Merkel is also the de facto leader of the European Union. The deterioration of the relationship between Turkey and Germany will have a very strong imprint on the already troubled relations between Ankara and Brussels.
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/05/turkey-european-union-visa-free-travel-dream-collide.html#ixzz49CDh9t2u <http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/05/turkey-european-union-visa-free-travel-dream-collide.html#ixzz49CDh9t2u>

9. Kurdistan National Congress calls on Kurds to open their borders
16th May/Aranews
The Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) is to protest the closure of borders between the Kurdish areas of Syria and Iraq on Monday afternoon while the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot agreement is approaching.
“In the past, the Kurds were not active regional players; they were not organized and had little power. However, today the people of Kurdistan are organized, have political tools and power, and therefore play an active role in the Middle East,” the KNK said.
http://aranews.net/2016/05/kurdistan-national-congress-calls-kurds-open-borders/ <http://aranews.net/2016/05/kurdistan-national-congress-calls-kurds-open-borders/>

10. PKK voided the Sykes Picot Agreement a quarter of a century ago
14th May/Anf News
Sykes-Picot Agreement is 100 years old. The agreement was signed between Britain-France and Tsarist Russia in secret.
The agreement signed in World War I circumstances foresaw in essence how the three “imperialist states” would share the Middle East after the war. With the 1917 Socialist revolution in Tsarist Russia that changed the course of history, the Sykes-Picot Agreement started serving British and French interests. The October Revolution was in essence an objection against war and imperialist allocation.
http://anfenglish.com/features/pkk-voided-the-sykes-picot-agreement-a-quarter-of-a-century-ago <http://anfenglish.com/features/pkk-voided-the-sykes-picot-agreement-a-quarter-of-a-century-ago>

11. “We don’t fight for death… we fight for life.” An Interview with YPJ Commander Nisrîn Abdullah
May 17th/Plan C
To understand the YPJ you have to understand the Kurdish women and our history. In Kurdish history women fighters are not new. We have had 28 revolutions and in all of them women have had important roles, and some of those women have became symbols for the struggle.
http://www.weareplanc.org/blog/we-dont-fight-for-death-we-fight-for-life-an-interview-with-ypj-commander-nisrin-abdullah/ <http://www.weareplanc.org/blog/we-dont-fight-for-death-we-fight-for-life-an-interview-with-ypj-commander-nisrin-abdullah/>

12. US-led coalition spokesman confirms training of Arab fighters to join battle for Raqqa
19th May/Ara News
US-led coalition spokesman Colonel Steve Warren on Wednesday confirmed that a group of 200 Arab fighters is being trained by the US for future operations in Raqqa, the de facto capital of the radical group of Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.
Recently, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced that the battle for Raqqa would begin soon.
http://aranews.net/2016/05/us-led-coalition-spokesman-confirms-training-arab-fighters-join-battle-raqqa/ <http://aranews.net/2016/05/us-led-coalition-spokesman-confirms-training-arab-fighters-join-battle-raqqa/>

OPINION, COMMENTARY, ANALYSIS
1. The World Humanitarian Summit: A Fig Leaf That Covers State Crimes In Turkey And Beyond
11th May/Social Europe
The World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) will be held under UN auspices in Istanbul from 23-24 May 2016. While the participants are entertained Turkish style, the government of Turkey will continue to be a major destabilising force in Syria and kill its own civilian citizens in Kurdish towns and cities in the name of fighting terrorism. This is a tragic sign of the extent to which moral, institutional and political decay has pervaded national and international politics alike.
https://www.socialeurope.eu/2016/05/world-humanitarian-summit-fig-leaf-covers-state-crimes-turkey-beyond/ <https://www.socialeurope.eu/2016/05/world-humanitarian-summit-fig-leaf-covers-state-crimes-turkey-beyond/>

2. Merkel’s Deal with Turkey in Danger of Collapse
13th May/Spiegel online
On Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was standing on a stage in Ankara raging against the European Union. “Since when are you controlling Turkey?” he demanded. “Who gave you the order?” He then accused Brussels of dividing his country. “Do you think we don’t know that?” It sounded as though he was laying the groundwork for a break with Europe.
http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/merkel-refugee-deal-with-turkey-in-danger-of-failure-a-1092331.html <http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/merkel-refugee-deal-with-turkey-in-danger-of-failure-a-1092331.html>

3. Turkish opposition MP accuses Ankara of ignoring ISIL locations – Zinar Demeni talks to RT International
17th May/Russia Today broadcast.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlcRmIfVJjo&feature=youtu.be <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlcRmIfVJjo&feature=youtu.be>

4. Rojava revolution: re-shaping masculinity Part 4
9th May/ Open Democracy
Rojava’s battle with ISIS stronghold  Raqqa is not simply a military one, but an ideological one in which the position of women could not be more polarised. Part 4
While I am in Rojava in northern Syria, the very first women’s art and culture festival takes place over four days. In a rundown theatre, a large number of women of all ages and ethnicities read/perform poetry which is impossible to translate simultaneously except in broad brush strokes. So I learn that the poems are mostly political – pondering on the war, the Kurdish question, women’s subordination and the tragedy of fellow Syrians abandoning the country and becoming refugees. Unfortunately, the poems are delivered either in plangent tones or at ear-piercing volume, defeating all my attempts to be a sympathetic listener.  The paintings, by contrast, speak in a universal language
https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rahila-gupta/rojava-revolution-reshaping-masculinity <https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rahila-gupta/rojava-revolution-reshaping-masculinity>

5. Mazlumder Cizre Report
11th May
A curfew which was imposed on town of Cizre in the southeastern province of Şırnak at 11 p.m. on December 14, 2015 with an announcement from the Şırnak Governor’s Office. It remained in place until 5 a.m. on March 2, 2016 when it was announced that the curfew would be partially lifted but would still remain in place between 7:30 pm and 5 am. The December-March blanket curfew, a curfew imposed on Cizre for the fourth time in the space of a few months, lasted for 78 days and six hours and all entry to the town was completely blocked during this period. It was impossible for any rights group to send a delegation to the town to monitor the clashes [between the Turkish security forces and the armed Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H) which in December 2015 became
http://ufilter.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/mazlumders-cizre-investigation-and.html

6. New Publication by Corporate Watch
STRUGGLES FOR AUTONOMY IN KURDISTAN
& CORPORATE COMPLICITY IN THE REPRESSION OF SOCIAL MOVEMENTS IN ROJAVA & BAKUR
The Turkish War of Independence, led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (meaning ‘Father ofthe Turks’), was fought against the Allies, forcing them to renegotiate the partitioning. In 1923, the Treaty ofLausanne was signed and the Republic ofTurkey was founded with Atatürk as its first president, and with no recognition ofany separate Kurdish region. Massive political, social, cultural and religious changes were implemented by Atatürk in an ideology known as Kemalism, with Turkish nationalism and secularism at the core. ‘Turkification’ processes were carried out and all minority populations in Turkey were oppressed. People were forced to speak Turkish, even ifit wasn’t their mother tongue. Dervish lodges, Sufi brotherhoods and centres for teaching Kurdish were shut down.
https://corporatewatch.org/sites/default/files/Struggles%20for%20autonomy%20in%20Kurdistan.pdf <https://corporatewatch.org/sites/default/files/Struggles%20for%20autonomy%20in%20Kurdistan.pdf>

STATEMENTS, PRESS RELEASES
1. Final resolution of the conference on a future constitution for Syria, Schlaining II, Austria
29th April 2016
By invitation of the “International Peace Initiative for Syria – http://www.peaceinsyria.org ”, Syrian personalities – politicians, jurists and activists of the civil society – reflecting diverse political streams from different Syrian regions and constituents came together to deliberate on a set of constitutional principles. The conference aimed to be a contribution to the endeavor of drafting the constitution for a future Syria in an effort to achieve a consensus between the different sectors of the Syrian society.
http://www.peaceinsyria.org/downloads/FINAL%20DECLARATION%20OF%20THE%20CONFERENCE%20_with%20signatures.pdf <http://www.peaceinsyria.org/downloads/FINAL%20DECLARATION%20OF%20THE%20CONFERENCE%20_with%20signatures.pdf> >

2.  Erdogan attempts to ‘correct’ election outcome by stripping MPs of immunity
17th May/Green European Free Alliance
By stripping a large group of MPs of their immunity, President Erdogan is trying to ‘correct’ the electoral outcome in his favour.  Leaving the opposition open to spurious legal challenges will both weaken it and remove a crucial critical voice from the Turkish parliament.  President Erdogan’s aim is clearly to secure the necessary parliamentary majority to allow him to change the constitution to his ends and to move towards an even more authoritarian presidential system.
http://www.greens-efa.eu/turkey-15555.html <http://www.greens-efa.eu/turkey-15555.html>

3. MEP call on members of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey not to support the amendment
“SILENCING OPPOSITION IS NOT THE WAY TO DEAL WITH PROBLEMS”
We, the undersigned members of the European Parliament, are deeply concerned about the recent amendment on the lifting of the legislative immunity of 129 members of parliament out of 550. The way it is presented in the public opinion by the government representatives proves that this bill is clearly targeting members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP – Halkların Demokratik Partisi) where 46 out of 59 MPs will be affected. Opposition is an integral part of democracies and a core value of the European Union. Silencing democratically elected opposition MPs for their political statements is the obstruction of parliament and against democratic principles.
Excluding democratically elected members of the parliament is not the way to deal with the Kurdish problem. On the contrary, if adopted, this bill will further aggravate already intense conflict in the Kurdish region (South-East) of Turkey.
We urgently call on members of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey not to support this amendment, which will move Turkey away from its EU path.”
http://en.hdpeurope.com/?p=2780 <http://en.hdpeurope.com/?p=2780>

4. Kurdish Politician Arrested In Turkey
16th May/GMB Newsroom
Kurdish Politician And Peace Campaigner Arrested By Turkish Police After Speaking At House Of Commons Launch Of “Freedom For ?calan Campaign”
GMB demands Kamerun Yuksek’s immediate release and calls on Foreign Secretary to intervene.
The Co-chair of the Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP), Kamuran Yuksek, has been arrested and imprisoned after speaking at the launch of the trade union campaign to free Abullah Ocalan in the House of Commons on April 25th and making a statement to the press.
http://www.gmb.org.uk/newsroom/archive/newsroom/kurdish-politician-arrested-in-turkey.html <http://www.gmb.org.uk/newsroom/archive/newsroom/kurdish-politician-arrested-in-turkey.html>

5. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL  – PRESS RELEASE
13th May/AI
Armed groups surrounding the Sheikh Maqsoud district of Aleppo city have repeatedly carried out indiscriminate attacks that have struck civilian homes, streets, markets and mosques, killing and injuring civilians and displaying a shameful disregard for human life, said Amnesty International.
The organization has gathered strong evidence of serious violations from eyewitnesses, and obtained the names of at least 83 civilians, including 30 children, who were killed by attacks in Sheikh Maqsoud between February and April 2016. More than 700 civilians were also injured, according to the local field hospital. Video evidence seen by Amnesty International shows artillery shelling, rocket and mortar attacks carried out by the Fatah Halab (Aleppo Conquest) coalition of armed groups in the area, targeting the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG) controlling the area.
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/05/syria-armed-opposition-groups-committing-war-crimes-in-aleppo-city/ <https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/05/syria-armed-opposition-groups-committing-war-crimes-in-aleppo-city/>

REPORTS
1. PUBLIC FORUM THE KURDISH QUESTION AND THE CHAOS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
9th May/Centre for Kurdish Progress
Dr Michael Gunter opened with discussing the responsibility, or rather irresponsibility of NATO countries. The US continues to support Turkey against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). They continue to maintain that a unified Iraq and Syria lead to peace and stability, and the US and the EU keep the PKK on the terrorist list. Despite the broken situation in Turkey, Dr Gunter stressed that the peace process is not back at square one. The international recognition of the Kurdish question has resulted in a new permanency that was unfathomable even a decade ago.
http://www.kurdishprogress.org/public_forum_the_kurdish_question_and_the_chaos_in_the_middle_east <http://www.kurdishprogress.org/public_forum_the_kurdish_question_and_the_chaos_in_the_middle_east>

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