KURDISH NEWS WEEKLY BRIEFING, 28 May – 3 June 2016

KURDISH NEWS WEEKLY BRIEFING, 28 May – 3 June 2016

NEWS

  1. PYD leader: SDF operation for Raqqa countryside in progress, Syria can only be secular.
  2. Turkey’s failed Syrian strategy forces Ankara to accept Kurdish-led Manbij offensive
  3. Ignoring Turkey, U.S. backs Kurds in drive against ISIS in Syria
  4. Muslim: our will would not be undermined by siege and starvation
  5. SDF Commander: Our forces are advancing towards Tabqa
  6. Berlin Should Not Stand By Turkey’s Crimes Against Ethnic Minorities
  7. On Swiss visit, Kurdish leader criticises Europe’s inaction
  8. CIZRE the Kurdish district with a population of 130.000 destroyed by Turkish State. CIZRE before the darkest days of its history
  9. Call for International Solidarity by Peace Block: The lifting of parliamentary immunities in Turkey
  10. President Erdogan knows that visa-free travel for Turkey could solve his ‘Kurdish problem’
  11. US, Kurds to clear path toward Raqqa, with or without Turkey
    26th May/Al Monitor

  1. Rojda Felat: The feminist taking on Isis
  2. Almost There
  3. Is this the last nail in coffin of women, minors’ rights in Turkey?

 COMMENT, OPINION, ANALYSIS.

  1. Whipped with cables and brainwashed into fighting and dying for Isis: Liberated Raqqa residents on life under jihadists
  2. This could deal a killer blow to ISIS in Syria, as surprising group launches new offensive.
  3. The US and the EU Support a Savage Dictator
  1. Worldview: Erdogan’s dangerous game
  2. From master to observer – how Turkey became irrelevant in Manbij
  3. War of attrition

 PRESS RELEASE

  1. Iran: Wrongfully imprisoned Kurdish human rights defender’s life hangs in the balance

 ACTION

  1. #DontGoTurkey: Young Kurds and Turks urge Europeans to stop funding Ankara

EVENTS

  1. Westminster Debate ‘Turkey: Analysis on Political Changes and Potential Scenarios for Future’
  2. Westminster Debate with Can Dundar ‘Quo Vadis Turkiye?’

NEWS

  1. PYD leader: SDF operation for Raqqa countryside in progress, Syria can only be secular.

28th May/Ara News

KOBANE – The Democratic Union Party (PYD) co-chair Salih Muslim hosted ARA News in his house in Kobane to discuss the recent developments in northern Raqqa and in the rest of Syria. The PYD co-head dismissed criticism of those who suggest the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) should not lead operations to take northern Raqqa. Muslim is a member of the Kurdish Barazi tribe, born in the village of Sheran in 1951, 7 kilometers from Kobane city. At a young age at secondary school, he started to get interested in politics, and joined the Democratic Union Party (PYD) since its establishment in 2003, and eventually became the co-chair of the party. “In most countries, I would be retired by now, but the situation needs me,” he said, complaining about his age, with a smiling face.

http://aranews.net/2016/05/poyd-leader-current-sdf-operation-recapture-northern-countryside-raqqa-not-city/

2. Turkey’s failed Syrian strategy forces Ankara to accept Kurdish-led Manbij offensive

3rd June/Ekurd Daily

ANKARA,— Islamic State (IS) is on the defensive at the Turkish-Syrian border and Ankara needs to respond to the failure of its Syrian tactics by working with the Kurds, former Turkish diplomat Aydin Selcen told Sputnik.

Amid concerted offensives to liberate the Iraqi cities of Raqqa and Fallujah from IS militants, on Wednesday the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by the United States, also began an offensiveagainst Manbij to free the Syrian city from IS [Daesh]. The city is in the governorate of Aleppo, and is located close to the Turkish border.
http://ekurd.net/turkeys-failed-syrian-strategy-2016-06-03

3. Ignoring Turkey, U.S. backs Kurds in drive against ISIS in Syria

1st June/Washington Post

BEIRUT — A U.S.-backed force of Kurds and Arabs advanced toward an important Islamic State transit town in Syria on Wednesday, brushing aside Turkish opposition to the involvement of Kurds in operations to recapture the strategically vital area.

U.S. commandos are accompanying the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as they push north toward Manbij, backed by intense U.S. airstrikes, as part of an offensive aimed at recapturing the town in Aleppo province, said Col. Chris Garver, a U.S. military spokesman.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/us-backs-kurds-in-drive-against-isis-in-syria-despite-turkish-objections/2016/06/01/7bacf6fa-2808-11e6-8329-6104954928d2_story.html

4. Muslim: our will would not be undermined by siege and starvation

31st May/Hawar News

KOBANΖ Salih Muslim the co-president of the Democratic Union Party(PYD) stated that no one is capable of breaking the will of Rojava people through starvation and imposing siege on them, noting that Kobanî witnesses two phases of progress since it is resisting on the one hand, and reconstructing the city on the other hand, this came in a meeting held with members of councils and communes of the eastern villages and people of the canton.

Salih Muslim the co-president of PYD and Dilber Yousef and an administrative of PYD have met members of councils and communes of the eastern villages of Kobanî to discuss the status quo, evaluate the situation Rojava is going through, and seeking solutions to the plans and opposing policies carried out against Kurds.

http://en.hawarnews.com/muslim-our-will-would-not-be-undermined-by-siege-and-starvation/

5. SDF Commander: Our forces are advancing towards Tabqa

30th May/anf English

The liberation operation launched by SDF forces on May 24 to liberate the north of Raqqa continued on the sixth day with heavy losses suffered by the gangs. Several positions of ISIS gangs were hit by both SDF fighters and fighter jets in the operation supported by the international coalition forces.

With the military campaign launched on the demand of the locals, the region’s residents are moving to safe zones away from the clashes until the north of Raqqa is liberated. More than 100 Raqqa residents reached Mabruka camp in Serêkaniye and escaped ISIS cruelty.

ISIS GANGS ASK FOR REINFORCEMENTS FROM MOSUL

SDF forces continue their advance in the north of Raqqa and have liberated a 5 km wide, 9 km long area.

Panicking in the face of SDF’s advance, ISIS gangs asked for reinforcements from Mosul.

http://www.anfenglish.com/kurdistan/sdf-commander-our-forces-are-advancing-towards-tabqa

6. Berlin Should Not Stand By Turkey’s Crimes Against Ethnic Minorities

2nd June/Sputnik News

Sevim Dagdelen, a Bundestag member from the Left party, said that Germany should stop sell arms to Turkey because of the crimes committed by Turkey against ethnic minorities.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Germany should stop ignoring the crimes committed by Turkey against ethnic minorities and end its military support amid Ankara’s attacks on Kurds, a German lawmaker said Thursday.

Sevim Dagdelen commented on the German parliament Bundestag’s decision to pass a resolution today labelling the killing of Armenians during and after World War I as genocide. The document said the German Empire, Turkey’s key ally at that time, chose to close eyes to this crime.

“We here in Germany…must go still farther. Because the concrete politics have not drawn any conclusions from this,” Dagdelen, a Bundestag member from the Left party, said in a statement.

http://sputniknews.com/world/20160602/1040674833/armenia-genocide-resolution.html#ixzz4AWyWtS50

  1. On Swiss visit, Kurdish leader criticises Europe’s inaction

2nd June/Swiss Info

The head of Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party criticised European policy towards Turkey and called on Switzerland to do more to address repression of the Kurds. He was visting Bern on Thursday.

Selahattin Demirtas, leader of the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party HDP, is an outspoken critics of the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

He pointed out that European criticism of Erdogan’s repression of the Kurds has been silent since the European Union made a deal to send migrants back to Turkey earlier this year. Germany in particular has closed its eyes to Erdogan’s actions, he said.

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/selahattin-demirtas_on-swiss-visit–kurdish-leader-criticises-europe-s-inaction/42199606

8. CIZRE the Kurdish district with a population of 130.000 destroyed by Turkish State. CIZRE before the darkest days of its history

29th April/Kurdish Question

The mass killing of more than 200 Kurds in the town of Cizre in Turkey’s Kurdish region has been reported to the United Nations. The documents were sent to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate.

Speaking to RIA Novosti president of the Human Rights Association Ozturk Turkdogan said, “I spoke to the head of the OHCHR about the Russian position and what is happening in Cizre. We have a report of what has happened there, with testimonies of eyewitnesses who survived. We submitted it to the High Commissioner [for Human Rights].”

According to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) report on Cizre, Turkish state forces in the town have killed 282 civilians since July 2015 with 177 people being burned to death in 3 basements across the town in incidents that have come to be called ‘the basements of atrocity.’

Fighting between Turkish state forces and Kurdish militias broke out in the town in July 2016 after the election victory for the left-wing HDP left the ruling AKP government without a parliamentary majority, bringing about an end to a 2 year ceasefire and negotiations between the state and imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.

http://kurdishquestion.com/video/13

9. Call for International Solidarity by Peace Block: The lifting of parliamentary immunities in Turkey

28th May/People’s Democratic Party Website

After the voting through of a temporary amendment to the Turkish constitution, the prosecution of Members of Parliament can now be fast tracked. Previously any prosecution of a member of parliament required a lengthy process culminating in a vote in parliament itself. After the change, any indictments currently lodged with parliament will be processed immediately and MPs right to appeal to the constitutional court has also been removed.
The main target of these prosecutions will be the MPs of the third largest party in parliament, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). 55 of the 59 HDP MPs face a total of over 400 indictments, the overwhelming majority of all indictments lodged. HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş alone faces 80 indictments.

https://hdpenglish.wordpress.com/2016/05/28/call-for-international-solidarity-by-peace-block-the-lifting-of-parliamentary-immunities-in-turkey/

10. President Erdogan knows that visa-free travel for Turkey could solve his ‘Kurdish problem’

29th May/Independent

Just why is the Sultan of Turkey so impatient to get hold of that visa-free EU travel for his people to visit Schengen Europe? If the EU doesn’t jump to it, he orated last week, the Turkish parliament would scupper the whole deal and – for this was the implication – let that army of Arab refugees set sail again across the Aegean for Greece.  And where was the €3bn Turkey was promised?

What few Europeans asked, however, was whether this travel stuff just might have something more to do with a particular group of Turkish people: the Kurds.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/president-erdogan-knows-that-visa-free-travel-for-turkey-could-solve-his-kurdish-problem-a7055131.html

11. US, Kurds to clear path toward Raqqa, with or without Turkey

26th May/Al Monitor

More fronts are opening up against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria. In Iraq, government forces conducting probes against Mosul, which has been under IS control for two years, are also working to liberate Fallujah, while in Syria a major operation is underway against the IS stronghold of Raqqa.

Summary⎙ Print Because of Turkey’s objections to Kurdish involvement, operational plans against the Islamic State keep changing.

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/05/turkey-syria-raqqa-isis-kurds-menbij.html

12. Rojda Felat: The feminist taking on Isis

29th May/The Independent

A Kurdish woman who has been fighting extremists for three years is spearheading the assault on Isis’ self-declared Syrian capital, Raqqa.

Rojda Felat is the joint commander of an offensive by Kurdish and Syrian rebels on the city – which has been the de-facto capital of the so-called Islamic State since 2014.

In her thirties, she heads the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) made up of around 15,000 Kurdish and Arab fighters, who receive training and support from the US-led coalition. Their aim is to “liberate Syrians from Isis oppression”.

“The Raqqa Liberation Brigade and Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) forces will accompany SFD during the campaign,” Commander Felat said in a statement.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/rojda-felat-the-feminist-taking-on-isis-a7054536.html

13. Almost There

27th May/The World Post

This was a meeting we as a small group of selected journalists had regarded with anticipation. In early May, I was asked via a telephone to join a ‘candid talk’ with Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of Turkey’s Kemalist main opposition, Republican People’s Party (CHP).

The chat with some 20 journalists was cordial and, on some crucial issues, very frank.

Not so surprisingly, many of us wondered how his party would act when the time came to vote to lift the immunities of the deputies in Parliament. In the room there was nobody who doubted that the move was part of the design of President Erdoğan to seize control over the fate of the opposition, in particular pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), but also the very CHP itself. Intent on ‘criminalizing’ the dissent among the elected was utterly clear.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yavuz-baydar/almost-there_b_10164976.html

14. Is this the last nail in coffin of women, minors’ rights in Turkey?

27th May/Al Monitor

On Jan. 14, the Turkish parliament established an investigative commission called “Protecting the Integrity of Family,” with the purpose of investigating the causes of the skyrocketing divorce rates. The Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Turkey’s left-leaning opposition parties, announced their disapproval. Since then the draft report of the commission, nicknamed Divorce Commission, has been making waves in the Turkish media and on the streets.

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/05/turkey-women-and-minor-rights-misogynistic-law.html#ixzz4AGxqZnpk

COMMENT, OPINION, ANALYSIS
1. Whipped with cables and brainwashed into fighting and dying for Isis: Liberated Raqqa residents on life under jihadists

2nd June/The Independent

When Isis first arrived in her village two years ago, Ameena, a 51-year-old Sunni Arab widow with three sons, was happy when they told people to pray. “I thought that they were real Muslims,” she recalls. “But after a few months they started poking their noses into all the details of people’s lives.”

Ameena, who comes from the village of Fatisah north of Isis’s de facto Syrian capital Raqqa, says that it was not only Isis’s emphasis on religion that explains their initial popularity but the fact that they were seen as part of the revolution against President Bashar al-Assad.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-raqqa-syria-kurdish-mosul-fallujah-a7060441.html

2. This could deal a killer blow to ISIS in Syria, as surprising group launches new offensive.

25th May/The Canary

A massive offensive on the capital city of Daesh (Isis/Isil) territory has now begun. But it won’t be British forces leading this battle. Instead, left-wing fighters ignored and isolated by the West for years will be at the forefront of this game-changing ground attack. On 24 May, around 30,000 fighters from a multi-ethnic and multi-religious coalition in northern Syria – known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – began an offensive aimed at pushing Daesh out of the northern parts of Raqqa Governorate and, eventually, out of Raqqa itself. While the SDF wants to protect the territory it controls from Daesh attacks, it also claims its operation comes in response to requests for liberation from Raqqa residents. There are thought to be roughly 5,000 Daesh fighters inside Raqqa, which the group seized in 2013 and has considered its capital since 2014. The SDF is led by the gender-egalitarian, secular and largely-Kurdish YPG, which began life as the defence force of the pluralistic and directly democratic cantons of Rojava in northern Syria. It is vehemently opposed to Daesh and other jihadi groups in Syria.

http://www.thecanary.co/2016/05/25/deal-killer-blow-isis-syria-surprising-group-launch-new-offensive/

3. The US and the EU Support a Savage Dictator

31st May/Strategic Culture

On May 6 a court in Istanbul, acting on the orders of Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan, sentenced the editor of the Cumhuriyet newspaper to five years and ten months in prison for publishing a report about illegal provision of weapons to Islamist terrorists in Syria by Turkey’s secret service. His bureau chief got five years.

Two weeks later Istanbul was host to the World Humanitarian Summit, which was held «to stand up for our common humanity and take action to prevent and reduce human suffering». Attendance included 65 heads of state. It was the usual total waste of time (Oxfam called it «an expensive talking shop» and those who refused to be there included President Putin and the global medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières), but the point is that a humanitarian conference should never have been held in Turkey, which is being transformed into a dictatorship by a president who is well-described by Professor Alan Sked of the London School of Economics as «a volatile, unstable, highly authoritarian personality».

The professor went on to observe that Erdogan «has pursued a civil war in his own country and has clamped down on the opposition and social media at will. Thousands have been imprisoned for merely criticising him. He has ordered the shooting down of a Russian warplane, and his country has been accused by Russia of trafficking secretly in oil with Isis. He cannot be trusted…»

http://www.strategic-culture.org/pview/2016/05/31/us-eu-support-savage-dictator.html

4. Worldview: Erdogan’s dangerous game

27th May/Philly.Com

How do you deal with “allies” who are stabbing you in the back on security issues even as they claim they are helping?

Think Pakistan – which received bipartisan U.S. backing for decades even as it sheltered the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. Or Saudi Arabia, whose citizens and charities still fund jihadis.

Or a Turkish government that is endangering U.S. and European security due to the political ambitions of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The blinders have finally come off with regard to the first two “frenemies.” When a U.S. drone strike killed the top Taliban leader on Pakistani soil last weekend, President Obama was sending Pakistan’s leaders a message: Washington has lost patience with their support for the Taliban (not to mention Osama bin Laden).

Meantime, Congress is now squeezing Riyadh to come clean on any Saudi officials who helped 9/11 hijackers. Now it’s time for a reality check on Turkey.

When it comes to fighting ISIS, Erdogan has long been playing a double game.

http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/trudy_rubin/20160526_Worldview__Erdogan_s_dangerous_game.html

5. From master to observer – how Turkey became irrelevant in Manbij

2nd June/Middle East Eye

KOBANE, Syria – The Islamic State (IS) group is well known for its harsh crackdown on local populations and opponents, but the northern Syrian town of Manbij has been particularly hard hit.

Since IS stormed the strategically key town near the Turkish border in December 2014, there have been almost daily executions. The town’s Kurdish minority has born the brunt of the repression, but IS has also been brutal with the town’s Sunni Arab residents whom it suspects of supporting the Free Syrian Army.

When the tide began to turn against IS late last year, and anti-IS ground forces, backed by US-led anti-IS coalition planes, started making inroads against the militants in northern Syria, there were many cries from inside the city and the Syrian opposition that the town’s liberation should be prioritised.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/analysis-turkey-against-kurdish-led-manbij-offensive-unable-stop-it-1446628977#sthash.5sl6Of3Q.dpuf

6. War of attrition

4th June/The Economist

ASKED how he is feeling these days, Selahattin Demirtas forgoes the pleasantries. “I’m trying to be doing well, given the circumstances,” he says, taking a seat at his office in the Turkish capital, Ankara. Amid unrelenting bloodshed in the Kurdish southeast, Mr Demirtas’s mood has darkened. Only last June, his People’s Democratic Party (HDP) pulled off a major election upset, denying the ruling Justice and Development (AK) party the parliamentary majority it had held for 12 years. Today, the man once hailed as the Kurdish Obama and the saviour of Turkey’s hapless opposition faces spurious terror charges from the government and dwindling support among both Kurds and Turks. If Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were to call a snap vote, say pollsters, the HDP would probably miss the 10% threshold needed to make it into parliament. 

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21699949-hdp-once-hope-turkeys-kurds-has-been-cornered-war-attrition

PRESS RELEASE
1. Iran: Wrongfully imprisoned Kurdish human rights defender’s life hangs in the balance

2nd June/Amnesty International

The life of a wrongfully imprisoned Iranian Kurdish human rights defender and journalist rests in the Iranian authorities’ hands, said Amnesty International. He is gravely ill in hospital nearly a month into an ongoing hunger strike.

The 54-year old prisoner of conscience Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand, who is approaching the end of a decade-long prison sentence on fabricated charges, has been on hunger strike since 8 May. He is protesting against the authorities’ efforts to condemn him to a further prison sentence on a spurious charge of ‘spreading propaganda against the system’ from inside the prison.

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/06/iran-wrongfully-imprisoned-kurdish-human-rights-defenders-life-hangs-in-the-balance/ <https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/06/iran-wrongfully-imprisoned-kurdish-human-rights-defenders-life-hangs-in-the-balance/>

ACTION

  1. #DontGoTurkey: Young Kurds and Turks urge Europeans to stop funding Ankara

2nd June/Russia Today

A group consisting of Turks and Kurds has launched a campaign in Britain to boycott one of Turkey’s main sources of income – tourism. They claim that money spent on holiday is then turned into “missiles, tear gas and sniper [ammo]” used against the Kurds.

The newly-launched campaign dubbed “Don’t Go Turkey” is aimed at fighting “against Turkey for its atrocities committed towards humanity,” as the campaign’s Twitter account puts it. Its organizers call on Europeans, and Brits in particular, “not to spend any of [their] hard earned decent money on Turkish products, Tourism, Airlines or any other investment, as it all goes directly into financing war against the Kurds and supporting ISIS terrorism.”

https://www.rt.com/news/345249-dont-go-turkey-campaign-kurds/

EVENTS
1. Westminster Debate ‘Turkey: Analysis on Political Changes and Potential Scenarios for Future’

Thursday 9th June
http://ceftus.org/2016/05/19/westminster-debate-turkey-analysis-on-political-changes-and-potential-scenarios-for-future/

2. Westminster Debate with Can Dundar ‘Quo Vadis Turkiye?’

Wednesday 29th June
http://ceftus.org/2016/05/23/westminster-debate-with-can-dundar-quo-vadis-turkiye/

Peace in Kurdistan
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
Email: estella24@tiscali.co.uk
http://www.peaceinkurdistancampaign.com
Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie Gingell – Tel: 020 7272 7890

Patrons: Lord Rea, Lord Dholakia, Baroness Sarah Ludford, Jill Evans MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Hywel Williams MP, Kate Osamor MP, Elfyn Llwyd, Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy, John Austin, Christine Blower, NUT General Secretary,  Simon Dubbins. UNITE International Director Bruce Kent, Gareth Peirce, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, John Berger, Edward Albee, Margaret Owen OBE, Prof Mary Davis, Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Mark Thomas, Nick Hildyard, Stephen Smellie, Derek Wall, Melanie Gingell

 

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