EUTCC resolution calls for restart of direct negotiations

The EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) held its 9th International Conference last week In Brussels, with politicians, academics, NGO workers and political activists from Kurdistan, Europe and across the world gathering for two days of discussion. The final resolution, which is reproduced below in full, reflected the main focus of the conference this year by calling for direct negotiations to resume between the Turkish government and the PKK. This echoes the call made made Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Despond Tutu at the recent launch of the International Peace Initiative (IPI). A special resolution was also passed calling for the release of Kurdish politician Adem Uzun from French custody, which is also below.

Prominent MP and Rafto Prize Laureate Ms Leyla Zana opened the conference, and a copy of her speech in English is opening speech (pdf). Also available is Dutch academic Joost Jongerden’s conference paper entitled Rethinking Politics and Democracy in the Middle East (pdf).

FINAL RESOLUTION OF THE 9TH INTERNATIONAL EUTCC CONFERENCE, BRUSSELSTHE KURDISH QUESTION IN TURKEY: TIME TO RENEW THE DIALOGUE AND RESUME DIRECT NEGOTIATIONS

The 9th Annual EUTCC International Conference met on 5-6 December 2012 at the European Parliament in Brussels. All of the presentations elaborated on the findings of the European Commission’s most recent (2012) Progress Report on Turkey’s EU accession process that unfortunately: “The Kurdish issue and . . . the 2009 democratic opening aimed at addressing amongst others the Kurdish issue were not followed through. . . .  Overall, there was no progress towards a solution as regards the Kurdish issue.” Continue reading

Set journalists free in Turkey: EFJ campaign update

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) launched an international campaign to set free all journalists in Turkey. Below is the latest update.

16 Nov 2012 – No release in OdaTV case – Soner Yalçin and Yalçin Küçük stay in prison  (next hearing Dec 27), in Bianet (TR)

16 Nov 2012 – KCK trial: journalists Oktay Candemir and Cigdem Aslan have been released  (pending trial), in Bianet (TR)

16 Nov 2012 – Journalists Stand Up in Solidarity with Turkish Jailed Reporters ahead of ODA TV Trial, in EFJ’s website

15 Nov 2012 – Le Conseil de Paris parraine Soner Yalçin en soutien à la liberté de la presse en Turquie, in EFJ’s website

15 Nov 2012 – Soner Yalçin’a özgürlük istiyoruz (We want freedom for Soner Yalçin), in OdaTV.com  and Milliyet

15 Nov 2012- EFJ/IFJ petition to immediately release Soner Yalcin and other arrested journalists (Oda TV case)

14 Nov 2012 – As trial of 44 journalists resumes, court continues to ban use of Kurdish, in RSF – RWB

12 Nov 2012 – A Asociación de Periodistas de Santiago de Compostela reclama ao goberno turco a liberación da xornalista Zeynep Kuray e dos outros 34 traballadores de medios que permanecen no cárcere, in APSC’s website Continue reading

Joint statement by international observers of the lawyers’ KCK trial

We, as international lawyers representing the undersigned organisations, were in Silivri (Turkey) to observe the continuation of the trial of our colleagues: 46 Kurdish lawyers and 3 members of their staff.

We summarise our concerns around the following issues;

The first hearing for this trial, which started in July 2012 in Istanbul, was monitored by these international lawyers also.

On the 6th November 2012 we observed the second hearing in Silivri/Istanbul.

The dominant issue for the court, the right to use the Kurdish language in defending the indictment charges was yet again denied. This was despite submissions advanced by the defence lawyers and the proposed new changes in the law by the ministry of justice relating to the use of the mother tongue in the law courts.

The right to use the mother tongue has been a central issue in this trial (as in other KCK trials). Its prohibition has recently led to hundreds of Kurdish prisoners joining unlimited hunger strikes in protest. Several of the hunger strikers have now reached their 58th day and are nearing death. On the 6th November we learnt that the lawyers on trial have also now joined the hunger strikes, as have another one thousand political prisoners. Continue reading

Support continues to grow for the hunger strike from across the world

Urgent appeal:

November 10, 2012

 

To the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR),

To the Parliament of the European Union,

To the Parliament of the United Kingdom,

To Amnesty International,

To Human Rights Watch,

To international media outlets, and

To all political parties, trade unions and freedom lovers across the world:

 

The lives of hundreds of Kurdish political prisoners in Turkey must be saved.

We are writing to you regarding the recent wave of mass protests and hunger strikes in Turkey by Kurdish people. 63 Kurdish political prisoners have been on hunger strike for political solution to the Kurdish Question in Turkey since Sept 12th 2012. The hunger strike has been spreading day by day. While by the end of October the number of prisoners on hunger strike reached about 700 in more than 50 prisons, on November 5th spokesperson of the political prisoners declared that from now on 10,000 political prisoners are on hunger strike. Continue reading

Behind the Kurdish Hunger Strike in Turkey

Journalist Jake Hess has written this article for the Middle East Research and Information Project on the on going hunger strikes and their political context:

To hear Mazlum Tekdağ’s story is enough to understand why 700 Kurdish political prisoners have gone on hunger strike in Turkey. His father was murdered by the state in front of his Diyarbakır pastry shop in 1993, when Mazlum was just nine years old. His uncle Ali was kidnapped by an army-backed death squad known as JİTEM (the acronym for the Turkish phrase translating, roughly, as Gendarmerie Intelligence and Anti-Terror Unit) two years later. Mazlum never saw his uncle again, but a former JİTEM agent later claimed they tortured him for six months before killing him and burning his body by the side of a road in the Silvan district of Diyarbakır.

Such experiences have moved thousands of Kurds in Turkey to join the armed rebellion of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK, which has been outlawed since its inception. But Mazlum, along with thousands of others, chose to fight for his people’s rights through the non-violent means of pro-Kurdish political parties, a succession of which have been allowed to operate by the Turkish state before then being shut down. He was first arrested in 2001, when he was 17. Now 28, Mazlum has been in jail for three and a half years, though he has not been convicted of a crime. His trial is deadlocked because Turkish courts refuse to let him or his fellow political prisoners offer their legal defenses in their native Kurdish language. All of them speak fluent Turkish; they are making a political point. Continue reading

2,000 march in support of Kurdish hunger strikers

By Paul Burnham

On Sunday, 11th November, more than 2,000 Kurds marched five miles across North London in solidarity with the Kurdish hunger strikes in Turkish prisons, which have reached their 61st day. The hunger strikes are reaching a critical stage, and some hunger strikers may be near death.

The 680 hunger strikers include elected representatives who have been jailed under the repressive policies of Turkish Prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. They are demanding Kurdish language rights, and the end of the isolation in jail of Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), to help to negotiate a political settlement to the Kurdish Question. Other Kurds have joined the strike by refusing food in solidarity, including MPs belonging to the pro-Kurdish BDP (peace and democracy) party. Continue reading

MPs, academics and many more sign PiK open letter to Erdogan

A list of prominent members of parliament, members of European parliament, academic, trade unionists, political commentators and friends and supporters of the Peace in Kurdistan campaign have signed an open letter to PM Erdogan, in support of demands being made by the political prisoners on hunger strike:

Peace in Kurdistan  Campaign

OPEN LETTER TO TURKISH PRIME MINISTER TAYYIP ERDOGAN

PM Erdogan Must Respond to the Demands of the Kurdish Hunger Strikers

Hundreds of Kurdish prisoners are now taking part in a hunger strike which they have declared is to be indefinite.

This hunger strike began on 12 September, a not insignificant date in Turkey’s political history, with 63 people, including 13 women, in seven prisons. The numbers have grown rapidly with hundreds more Kurdish political prisoners joining the action and it is reported that 600 prisoners are currently on indefinite hunger strike. Continue reading

CENI calls for solidarity with hunger strikers

CENI – Kurdish Women’s Office for Peace has issued this statement on the ongoing hunger strikes by political prisoners in Turkey, which is reaching a critical stage:

 

Call for support for Kurdish prisoners on hunger strike: Freedom for Abdullah Ocalan and all political prisoners!

 

On the 30th anniversary of the military coup in Turkey, a new hunger strike was started by political prisoners in Turkish jails, which has spread day by day and reached a critical level. Continue reading

IN THE GLASSHOUSE, by Norman Paech

NATO-member Turkey supports the rebels in Syria – yet persecutes the opposition movement in its own country

Norman Paech

 

Turkey is in a complex situation, which the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his AKP government, seem to want to cover up. The incontestable economic successes – whereby the completely under-developed rights of the working population have been accepted – make the country a power factor between East and West. The strategic location of Turkey for the transportation of oil and gas from the Caspian region and the Middle East into Europe provides the ever-assertive government with a comfortable negotiating position with the Europeans. This clearly allows Ankara to bring EU-membership into play without having to compromise on the biggest obstacle to its membership so far – the unresolved Cyprus question. Greece is weak and is having its sovereignty rapidly taken away, almost degraded to a protectorate. Why back down against the EU and the UN, when, evidently, a politics of “banging one’s fist on the table” is the only one honoured? This is also apparent in the fact that Erdogan can afford to pick a fight with a state, with which it not so long ago had a distinguished relationship – Israel, the EU’s most controversial protegé. Continue reading

Trials and Tribulations in Turkey

by David Morgan, Peace in Kurdistan

Turkey’s lamentable human rights record and, in particular its attempts to intimidate independent Kurdish organisations through mass show trials, was the theme of an important seminar held by Peace in Kurdistan on 18 September in Garden Court Chambers.

The briefing brought together leading legal experts, media professionals and human rights activists who had all been taking a close interest in the trials of fellow lawyers, journalists, academics and trade unionists taking place in Turkey over recent months.

The trials, which have involved the arrest of thousands of progressive and mainly Kurdish activists, and seen hundreds sent to trial, have collectively become known as the KCK trials after the Kurdistan Communities Union, an umbrella civil society association, which the Turkish state deems to be a front for terrorism.

The trials in fact amount to Turkey’s attempts to criminalise and eliminate all aspects of Kurdish legal political activity and are the state’s response to recent electoral advances made by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, BDP, which has been gaining strength in the largely Kurdish southeast. Continue reading