KURDISH NEWS BRIEFING, 7 MAY 2019 – 27 MAY 2019

NEWS

1.We Salute the Resistance
2.Jailed Kurdish artist Zehra Doğan recalls war at Tate Modern
3.Hunger strikes called off after Ocalan sees lawyers – ‘resistance has prevailed’
4.Turkey to attain peace with efforts of PKK leader Ocalan, says pro-Kurdish HDP, 26 May 2019
5.Hunger strikers end action in Turkey after call from jailed Kurdish leader Ocalan
6.Öcalan: I expect the hunger strikes to come to an end
7.Sajid Javid condemned for ‘criminalising’ fighters against Isis
8.Saturday Mothers awarded Human Rights, Peace and Democracy award
9.AKP official blames Istanbul loss on party’s alienation of Kurdish voters
10.CPT Visits İmralı Island Prison
11.France reopens inquiry into 2013 murder of Kurdish militants
12.Today a NATO country sentenced this woman to nearly two years in jail for journalism
13.Prisoners’ mothers tortured with strip searches
14.Blocked from humanitarian aid, Afrin Kurds experience hardships in Serdem Camp
15.Turkey held talks with PKK leader Ocalan in bid to resolve Syria issues

OPINION, COMMENTARY, ANALYSIS

  1. Hunger strikes are over but the Kurds need our support all the more
  2. How would a war between the U.S. and Iran impact the Kurds?
  3. U.S. envoy Jeffrey contradicts Turkish safe zone plans in Syria
  4. How viable is Turkey’s bid for military partnership with Iraq?
  5. Erdogan’s alliance with the deep state
  6. Turkish Democracy Can’t Die, Because It Never Lived
  7. Can PKK leader deliver peace for Kurds in Turkey and Syria?
  8. (Paywall)When Turkey Destroyed Its Christians
  9. “The SDF must acknowledge Turkey’s role in the region” says Kurdish political analyst
  10. Sarah Glynn: Erdoğan’s little helper – Why is Facebook censoring Kurdish solidarity?
  11. The battle of Istanbul will shape Turkey’s future
  12. Why Turkey is building a wall around Syria’s Afrin
  13. Spotlight: No plain sailing ahead for Turkey
  14. They Were ‘Comrades in Arms’ Against ISIS. Now the U.S. Is Eyeing the Exit.
  15. Facebook accused of purging UK accounts speaking up for Kurdish human rights
  16. Turkish election authorities order re-vote in Istanbul
  17. Kurdistan: A State or a State of Mind?

STATEMENTS

  1. Oppose new powers to prosecute returnees from designated overseas areas
  2. The hunger strike is over and a new chapter in Kurdish struggle can begin

ACTION, CAMPAIGNS

  1. Letter: Sajid Javid should not be allowed to criminalise the British heroes of Rojava

  

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NEWS

1. We Salute the Resistance

27 May 2019|International Initiative

Since 2 May 2019, Abdullah Öcalan’s legal team has twice had the possibility to visit one of their clients on İmralı Island, after an almost eight-year ban on all lawyer-client consultations. We salute especially Leyla Güven and all those who were in hunger-strike in Turkey and around the world, who with tremendous determination inspired countless people to support their rightful and just demand to lift the illegal total isolation imposed on Abdullah Öcalan and the other prisoners on İmralı Island.

http://www.freeocalan.org/news/english/we-salute-the-resistance

2. Jailed Kurdish artist Zehra Doğan recalls war at Tate Modern

27 May 2019|Ahval News

London’s most prestigious art gallery, Tate Modern, is currently hosting an exhibit by Kurdish journalist and artist Zehra Doğan. Situated in central London on the banks of the Thames, Tate Modern is a leading global centre of modern art. Not every visitor to the city comes to the Tate, but it’s frequented by locals, and this young artist is currently the talk of the town.

https://ahvalnews.com/turkey-kurds/jailed-kurdish-artist-zehra-dogan-recalls-war-tate-modern

 

3.Hunger strikes called off after Ocalan sees lawyers – ‘resistance has prevailed’

26 May 2019|Morning Star Online

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) parliamentarian Leyla Guven, who started the hunger-strike campaign in November in protest at Mr Ocalan being held in isolation, declared that “resistance has prevailed” as she hailed the collective action by 7,000 largely Kurdish political prisoners in Turkish jails. Mr Ocalan expressed his desire to play a positive role in negotiations in Syria, including on the Kurdish issue, which could be achieved while also maintaining Syria’s territorial integrity, according to the statement.

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/hunger-strikes-called-after-ocalan-sees-lawyers-–-resistance-has-prevailed

 

4. Turkey to attain peace with efforts of PKK leader Ocalan, says pro-Kurdish HDP, 26 May 2019

26 May 2019|Ahval News

The co-chair of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Pervin Buldan on Sunday promised to bring Turkey peace with the efforts of jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan, left-wing news site Gazete Duvar reported. “We promise Mr. Öcalan; we will all together bring peace; we will obtain peace all together. We promise Mr. Öcalan; peace will come to this country, these lands as a result of your efforts’’.

https://ahvalnews.com/abdullah-ocalan/turkey-attain-peace-efforts-pkk-leader-ocalan-says-pro-kurdish-hdp

 

5. Hunger strikers end action in Turkey after call from jailed Kurdish leader Ocalan

26 May 2019|Middle East Eye

Thousands of activists announced the end of their hunger strikes on Sunday after a call from imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan issued through his lawyers after a rare visit. Ocalan, the co-founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who has been in prison on Imrali island since his capture in 1999, issued a letter through his lawyers on Sunday to activists taking part in hunger strikes against his prison treatment.

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/imprisoned-kurdish-leader-ocalan-calls-end-hunger-strikes-turkey

 

6. Öcalan: I expect the hunger strikes to come to an end

26 May 2019|ANF English

Asrın Law Office lawyers advocating Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan held a press conference regarding their meeting with their client on May 22nd. The lawers said: ”We had another meeting with our client Mr. Öcalan on 22 May in the İmralı Island Prison. Mr. Öcalan once again emphasized the importance of the text he previously shared with the public. He expressed his content with the debates on the text with seven points, co-authored by our four clients on 2 May 2019.”

https://anfenglishmobile.com/news/Oecalan-i-expect-the-hunger-strike-action-to-end-35216

 

7. Sajid Javid condemned for ‘criminalising’ fighters against Isis

26 May 2019|The Guardian

More than 40 international volunteers – a third of them British – who fought in Syria against the Islamic State terror group have written to the home secretary, Sajid Javid, to condemn his plans to prosecute UK citizens who remain in the country.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/may/26/sajid-javid-condemned-for-criminalising-those-who-fought-isis?CMP=share_btn_link

 

8. Saturday Mothers awarded Human Rights, Peace and Democracy award

24 May 2019|ANF English

The Istanbul Medical Chamber awarded this years Human Rights, Peace and Democracy Award to the Saturday Mothers. Many physicians and a large number of people joined the award ceremony in Cağaloğlu. The Human Rights Commission of the Istanbul Medical Chamber co-chair Ayse Saral, said: “Galatasaray Square, which is a historical place, once again became historic thanks to the Saturday Mothers. One of the most fundamental elements for building justice is the reconstruction of memory.”

https://anfenglishmobile.com/human-rights/saturday-mothers-awarded-human-rights-peace-and-democracy-award-35165

 

9. AKP official blames Istanbul loss on party’s alienation of Kurdish voters

20 May 2019| Ahval News

The vice chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Administrative Committee blamed the party’s Istanbul defeat in the March elections on the administration’s alienating discourse against Kurdish voters Cumhuriyet newspaper reported. The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, reportedly  told pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party’s (HDP) lawmakers during a campaign speech ahead of the polls, “If you love it so much, then get out of Turkey. Go to Northern Iraq. Kurdistan is there”.

https://ahvalnews.com/turkey-kurds/akp-official-blames-istanbul-loss-partys-alienation-kurdish-voters

                                 

10. CPT Visits İmralı Island Prison

20 May 2019|International Initiative

A delegation of the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out an ad hoc visit to Turkey from 6 to 17 May 2019. The CPT visited the Imrali prison island for the first time since April 2016. On 20 May the CPT released a statement about this visit the details of which are copied below.

http://www.freeocalan.org/articles/english/cpt-visits-imrali-2019

 

11. France reopens inquiry into 2013 murder of Kurdish militants

16 May 2019|Reuters

PARIS (Reuters) – French prosecutors have reopened an investigation into the 2013 murder of three Kurdish militants, a judicial source and lawyer for the families of the dead activists said on Thursday, a case which could impact France’s diplomatic relations with Turkey. France dropped all judicial proceedings related to the killings in Paris in early 2017 after the main suspect, a 34-year-old Turkish national, died of complications arising from a brain tumor a month before his trial was due to open. At the time, French investigators implied that Omer Guney may have been acting on instructions from the intelligence services in Turkey.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-kurds-investigation/france-reopens-inquiry-into-2013-murder-of-kurdish-militants-idUSKCN1SM18U?il=0

 

12. Today a NATO country sentenced this woman to nearly two years in jail for journalism

15 May 2019|The Canary

Today is 15 May. And a Kurdish journalist in Turkey was facing seven years and six months in prison for doing her job. Seda Taşkın worked at the Mesopotamia News Agency for four years. Last night, Taşkın told The Canary: “Tomorrow I have a court hearing to decide whether I will be detained or free”. But at her court hearing, she was sentenced to one year, 11 months and 10 days in jail.

https://www.thecanary.co/feature/2019/05/15/today-a-nato-country-sentenced-this-woman-to-nearly-two-years-in-jail-for-journalism/

 

13. Prisoners’ mothers tortured with strip searches

14 May 2019|ANF English

The mothers who were detained on Thursday and Friday as they were holding a vigil in front of the Bakirköy Prison to draw attention to the hunger strikes and death fasts in prisons against the Imrali isolation were taken to the Istanbul Vatan Police Headquarters Security Department Directorate where they were subjected to strip searches and insults.

https://anfenglishmobile.com/human-rights/prisoners-mothers-tortured-with-strip-searches-34955

 

14. Blocked from humanitarian aid, Afrin Kurds experience hardships in Serdem Camp

14 May 2019|Kurdistan 24

Hundreds of people who were displaced from the Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) region of Afrin continue to experience hardships in a refugee camp in northwestern Syria as their future hangs in limbo. One of the most significant issues Kurds at the Serdem Camp in the Syrian Kurdish canton of Shahba face is access to adequate humanitarian aid, including clean water, medicine, and basic services.

https://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/b92a4f0f-1d0e-482e-84a8-f70b3e96df34

 

15. Turkey held talks with PKK leader Ocalan in bid to resolve Syria issues

10 May 2019|Middle East Eye

On Monday, Abdullah Ocalan’s lawyers shared a short statement signed by the PKK leader.  “The statement itself is proof that Turkish officials have already met Ocalan” one negotiator said. “They reached an understanding for further discussions. This is why Ocalan released this statement.”

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/former-mediator-says-turkey-holds-talks-ocalan-influence-sdf

 

OPINION, COMMENTARY, ANALYSIS

1. Hunger strikes are over but the Kurds need our support all the more
27 May 2019|The National
Millions of Kurds recognise Abdullah Ocalan as their leader but you don’t have to be Kurdish to see the huge impact of his ideas in bringing an empowering grassroots democracy to northern Syria, building bridges between different ethnic groups and – especially – ensuring women can take a full part in society.

https://www.thenational.scot/news/17665827.hunger-strikes-are-over-but-the-kurds-need-our-support-all-the-more/

 

2. How would a war between the U.S. and Iran impact the Kurds?
24 May 2019|Rudaw
Last week, as tensions between Iran and the United States began mounting, I ran into a Kurdish friend from Rojhelat (Iranian Kurdistan). We chatted a bit, and as we parted he quipped “Maybe next time I see you, America will be at war with Iran – and then we can finally get this regime of mullahs off our back!” While it remains hard to gauge how most Iranian Kurds feel about the issue, this friend’s perspective is certainly not uncommon. Throughout modern history, many Kurds in all parts of Kurdistan welcomed the opportunities that came with a sudden crisis or weakening of the states ruling over them.
http://www.rudaw.net/english/opinion/24052019

 

3. U.S. envoy Jeffrey contradicts Turkish safe zone plans in Syria

23 May 2019|Ahval News

The U.S. Syria envoy, Ambassador James Jeffrey, appeared before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday to discuss navigating the Syrian conflict and the conflicting interests of Washington’s allies. Jeffrey said talks were continuing over a proposed safe zone that aims to prevent conflict between two of those allies – Turkey and Kurdish forces that have helped in the coalition against the Islamic State. However, the ambassador referred to U.S. criteria for the safe zone that appear to contradict Turkish demands, meaning the prospect of negotiations coming to a satisfactory conclusion still appears distant.

https://ahvalnews.com/turkey-usa/us-envoy-jeffrey-contradicts-turkish-safe-zone-plans-syria

 

4. How viable is Turkey’s bid for military partnership with Iraq?

22 May 2019| Al-Monitor

Turkey and Iraq have agreed to work on sealing a military cooperation agreement, and although regional developments dictate the solution of bilateral crises, the volatile relationship between the two neighbours calls for tempered optimism.

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/05/turkey-iraq-how-viable-military-partnership.html#ixzz5ogaGFaPc

 

5. Erdogan’s alliance with the deep state

22 May 2019|Asia Times

Most observers of Turkish politics understandably are obsessed with the political power that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accumulated over the past 16 years. They focus exclusively on him and his autocratic tendency. But this fixation creates a false idea that overstates Erdogan’s reach at the expense of the real driver behind Turkish politics: the anti-Kurdish coalition that exists between the Turkish “deep state” and Erdogan himself.

https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/05/opinion/erdogans-alliance-with-the-deep-state/

 

6. Turkish Democracy Can’t Die, Because It Never Lived

22 May 2019|Council on Foreign Relations

Last week, Turkey’s Supreme Election Council annulled Istanbul’s recent mayoral election, triggering many analysts and journalists to declare the end of Turkish democracy. But these pronouncements fail to reckon with a basic historical question: How could something end that never was?

https://www.cfr.org/article/turkish-democracy-cant-die-because-it-never-lived

 

7. Can PKK leader deliver peace for Kurds in Turkey and Syria?

20 May 2019|Ahval News

Turkey’s government may be turning to its public enemy No. 1 to broker a new peace with Kurdish fighters in Turkey and neighboring Syria, the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday. Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has spent the last two decades imprisoned on an island off the coast of Istanbul, with most of that time in solitary confinement.

https://ahvalnews.com/turkey-kurds/can-pkk-leader-deliver-peace-kurds-turkey-and-syria

 

8. (Paywall)When Turkey Destroyed Its Christians

17 May 2019|Wall Street Journal

From 1894 to 1924, a staggered campaign of genocide targeted not just the region’s Armenians but its Greek and Assyrian communities as well Between 1894 and 1924, the number of Christians in Asia Minor fell from some 3-4 million to just tens of thousands—from 20% of the area’s population to under 2%.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/when-turkey-destroyed-its-christians-11558109896 

 

9. “The SDF must acknowledge Turkey’s role in the region” says Kurdish political analyst

16 May 2019|Syria Direct

“The SDF has been flexible and committed to dialogue since the beginning. It’s the Turkish government that has refused to negotiate with the SDF on the grounds that it considers the SDF a terrorist group.  Erdogan, however, has begun to understand that the United States would never permit an invasion of Northeastern Syria, and thus has become reluctantly open to the idea of finding a solution that includes the SDF.”

https://syriadirect.org/news/“the-sdf-must-acknowledge-turkey’s-role-in-the-region”-says-kurdish-political-analyst/

 

10. Sarah Glynn: Erdoğan’s little helper – Why is Facebook censoring Kurdish solidarity?

13 May 2019|Common Space

Sarah Glynn from Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan, who has had her Facebook account shut down along with other activists, says the social media giant’s policy of censoring Kurdish solidarity is actively suppressing attempts to hold Turkey’s authoritarian regime to account.

https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/14229/sarah-glynn-erdo-s-little-helper-why-facebook-censoring-kurdish-solidarity

 

11. The battle of Istanbul will shape Turkey’s future

13 May 2019|European Council on Foreign Relations

It came as a surprise to many international observers when, on 31 March, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost local elections in many of Turkey’s major cities, including Istanbul and Ankara. A city of 16 million people, Istanbul has been the centrepiece of AKP’s financial system and social networks since 1994 – when a young Erdogan became mayor and started his march to power. Few suspected that Erdogan could lose an election there. Yet the vote not only took Istanbul from Turkey’s ruling party but also challenged the notion that Erdogan was invincible and would remain president for life.

https://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_the_battle_of_istanbul_will_shape_turkeys_future

 

12. Why Turkey is building a wall around Syria’s Afrin

13 May 2019|Ahval

Last month, Turkey quietly began building a wall around the northeastern Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin, which it has occupied since early 2018. Amid increased attacks on its soldiers and Syrian militiamen proxies in the enclave, one purpose of the wall is to provide additional security. Yet there are fears the wall could be a major step by Turkey to annex Afrin and prevent the return of the tens of thousands of Kurds who had to leave their homes there as a result of the Turkish invasion.

https://ahvalnews.com/syrian-war/why-turkey-building-wall-around-syrias-afrin

 

13. Spotlight: No plain sailing ahead for Turkey

12 May 2019|Brinkwire (Xinhua)

Tough times lie ahead for Turkey unless policies are readjusted as the country faces increasingly hot foreign policy issues amid an ailing economy and sharp divergences at home, analysts told Xinhua. Political divisions appear to have become sharper after Turkey switched in 2018 to the presidential system, as tension in domestic politics has been heightened further lately when the country’s top election board ordered, in a highly controversial way, a rerun of the mayoral election in Istanbul which was won narrowly by an opposition candidate.

http://en.brinkwire.com/news/spotlight-no-plain-sailing-ahead-for-turkey-as-thorny-foreign-policy-issues-may-take-critica/

 

14. They Were ‘Comrades in Arms’ Against ISIS. Now the U.S. Is Eyeing the Exit.

12 May 2019|The New York Times

Now he is worried about a swift withdrawal, pointing to the American departure from Iraq in 2011, which was followed by the rise of Islamic State. “They must not make the same mistake,” he warned. As the commander of the American-backed militia that fought the Islamic State, Mazlum now oversees forces controlling one-third of Syria and sits at the nexus of clashing international interests in the jihadists’ former lands. The Syrian government has threatened to take the territory back — by force, if necessary. Thousands of Islamic State fighters have gone underground to launch new attacks and plot their comeback.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/12/world/middleeast/syria-sdf-us-islamic-state.html

 

15. Facebook accused of purging UK accounts speaking up for Kurdish human rights

10 May 2019|The Canary

Facebook is apparently in the middle of a huge purge, targeting Kurdish rights activists. The social media platform has banned various groups and suspended administrators’ personal accounts for supposedly ‘breaching community standards’ or ‘using hate speech’. As one Twitter user said: “This is absurd and terrifying. Kurdish people and supporters and associated group pages are *genuinely* being banned from @facebook because they support Kurdish hunger strikers and request Turkey abide by international human rights laws.”

https://www.thecanary.co/global/world-analysis/2019/05/10/facebook-accused-of-purging-uk-accounts-speaking-up-for-kurdish-human-rights/

 

16. Turkish election authorities order re-vote in Istanbul

10 May 2019|World Socialist Website

After weeks of disputation, Turkey’s Supreme Election Council (YSK) has bowed to the demands of the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the AKP (Justice and Development Party)-led government and ordered Istanbul’s March 31 mayoral election be re-run on June 23. However, it did not annul the other elections held simultaneously with the vote for mayor, including for the city’s various districts, a majority of which were by won by the AKP-led People’s Alliance.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/05/10/ista-m10.html

 

17. Kurdistan: A State or a State of Mind?

SPRING 2019|The Cairo Review of Global Affairs

Can the Kurds, the largest ethnicity in the Middle East without their own nation, overcome their internal disunity and find ways to exist as an independent state or as autonomous regions?

https://www.thecairoreview.com/essays/kurdistan-a-state-or-a-state-of-mind/

 

STATEMENTS

  1. Oppose new powers to prosecute returnees from designated overseas areas

28 May 2019|Campaign Against Criminalising Communities

The British government has rushed through the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019.  It created a new offence of entering or remaining in a “designated area” overseas. The offence has a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment, a fine, or both. A “reasonable excuse” defence is available but the onus is on the defendant to provide the reasonable excuse. In other words, this Act has eliminated the presumption of innocence and replaced it with a presumption of guilt.

https://peaceinkurdistancampaign.com/2019/05/28/campacc-oppose-new-powers-to-prosecute-returnees-from-designated-overseas-areas/

 

2. The hunger strike is over and a new chapter in Kurdish struggle can begin

27 May 2019|Peace in Kurdistan

After 200 days, HDP MP Leyla Guven,  along with other Kurdish MPs and thousands of Kurdish prisoners in Turkey, have ended their hunger strikes in response to the breaking of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan’s solitary confinement. In ending her hunger strike, Leyla Guven, whose action in November 2018 started a mass movement, said the strike had achieve its immediate demands. She went on to declare that the struggle would continue by other means.

https://peaceinkurdistancampaign.com/2019/05/28/the-hunger-strike-is-over-and-a-new-chapter-in-kurdish-struggle-can-begin/

ACTION, CAMPAIGNS

1. Letter: Sajid Javid should not be allowed to criminalise the British heroes of Rojava

25 May 2019

Volunteers against Isis who helped liberate Kurdish communities in Syria face up to 10 years in jail after the home secretary’s ultimatum

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/25/sajid-javid-british-volunteers-kurds-rojava-syria

 

Peace in Kurdistan

Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question

Email: estella24@tiscali.co.uk

www.peaceinkurdistancampaign.com

Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie Gingell – Tel: 020 7272 7890

Fax: 020 7263 0596

Patrons: John Austin, Christine Blower, NUT International Secretary, Prof Bill Bowring, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, Jeremy Corbyn MP,  Prof Mary Davis, Lord Dholakia, Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director,  Jill Evans MEP, Lindsey German, Convenor STWC, Melanie Gingell, Rahila Gupta, Nick Hildyard, Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru, James Kelman, Bruce Kent, Jean Lambert MEP, Elfyn Llwyd, Aonghas MacNeacail, Scottish Gaelic poet, Mike Mansfield QC, Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, GFTU, Dr. Jessica Ayesha Northey, International Coordinator, Green Party of England and Wales; Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy, Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Kate Osamor MP, Margaret Owen OBE, Gareth Peirce, Maxine Peake, Lord Rea, Joe Ryan, Stephen Smellie, Steve Sweeney, Dr Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Dr Tom Wakeford, Dr Derek Wall, Julie Ward MEP, Hywel Williams MP.

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