KURDISH NEWS BRIEFING, 18 JUNE – 4 JULY 2019

NEWS

  1. Anna Campbell: Father learns more about Syria fighter’s life before she was killed
  2. Trump: Tacit pledge to protect Syrian Kurds, amid broad US support
  3. Full text of the HDP statement on Öcalan’s letter
  4. (VIDEO) Istanbul voters to choose mayor in election rerun
  5. Karayilan: Kurds’ strength is a determinant in Istanbul
  6. Lawyers convey Öcalan’s message and details of the latest meeting
  7. Journalists call for international support after Turkey arrests 10 in three days

 

OPINION, COMMENTARY, ANALYSIS

  1. Conviction of John Letts and Sally Lane exposes ‘absurdity’ of UK ‘terror’ laws and complicity of the Active Change Foundation
  2. Now is the moment for peace between Kurds and the Turkish state. Let’s not waste it.
  3. (VIDEO) Anna: The Woman Who Went to Fight ISIS
  4. U.S.-backed Kurds to Halt Child Soldier use in Syria
  5. The difficult relationship between the Kemalist CHP and the Kurdish HDP
  6. Opposition aims to curb Erdogan’s powers after election rout
  7. Exclusive – Interview – Views from the Revolution in Rojava
  8. Erdogan Loses Istanbul: Reasons and Implications
  9. Istanbul election: celebrate the hammer blow for Erdogan but hold no illusions in CHP nationalists
  10. Could This Man Save Turkey? Don’t count on it.
  11. Erdoğan’s party defeated in Istanbul mayoral election re-run
  12. Erdogan Turns to Kurds to Win Istanbul Election
  13. Jailed militant leader enters Istanbul election fray
  14. Erdogan faces consequences of his two biggest mistakes
  15. The EU needs a more robust Middle East human rights report
  16. Exclusive Turkish intelligence ‘threatened to disappear me,’ says Ankara politician
  17. Turkey: Democracy might just win after all
  18. The stakes are high in Istanbul’s election rerun

 

CULUTRE, ARTS

  1. Nashville’s Newest Mural Is Colorful, Intricate And Uniquely Kurdish

 

NEW BOOK

  1. The Forgotten Years of Kurdish Nationalism in Iran

 

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NEWS

  1. Anna Campbell: Father learns more about Syria fighter’s life before she was killed

1 July 2019|BBC News

A grieving father whose daughter died while fighting in Syria said travelling to the place where she was killed has helped him to accept her death. Dirk Campbell retraced her steps for a BBC documentary exploring the reasons why she left the safety of her home in Lewes, East Sussex, in 2017. “These are the people that Anna loved, that she went to join, that she fought for,” Mr Campbell said.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-48829987

 

  1. Trump: Tacit pledge to protect Syrian Kurds, amid broad US support

30 June 2019|Kurdistan 24

Speaking to reporters in Japan on Saturday, at the end of the G-20 summit, US President Donald Trump made an implicit pledge to protect Syria’s Kurds against Turkish attack. Asked about Turkey’s impending acquisition of Russia’s S-400 air defense missile system, Trump began his answer by explaining how he had prevented Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces

https://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/20058a5c-6051-4cb9-86cb-5b4dbd340445

 

  1. Full text of the HDP statement on Öcalan’s letter

21 June 2019|ANF English

Co-chairs of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) shared their views and assessments following the statement made by Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan through his lawyers earlier today. The full text of the statement by HDP Co-chairs Pervin Buldan and Sezai Temelli is set out below:

https://anfenglish.com/news/full-text-of-the-hdp-statement-on-Oecalan-s-letter-35756

 

  1. (VIDEO) Istanbul voters to choose mayor in election rerun

21 June 2019|BBC News

When Istanbul chose a new mayor in March, Turkey’s president described the vote as a matter of national survival. But the ruling party’s candidate was narrowly defeated and the new mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, took office. After a successful court challenge, the election was annulled and a rerun declared. Turks are now facing a dramatic second vote on Sunday.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-europe-48698274/istanbul-voters-to-choose-mayor-in-election-rerun

 

  1. Karayilan: Kurds’ strength is a determinant in Istanbul

21 June 2019|ANF English

People’s Defense Central Headquarters Commander Murat Karayilan spoke to ANF about the Istanbul vote to be renewed on June 23 and said, “I believe all Kurdish people and all who favor democracy, Kurds, Turks and everybody else alike, will consider these facts and put their hands on their hearts, to defeat the AKP-MHP in Istanbul once again”.

https://anfenglish.com/news/karayilan-kurds-strength-is-a-determinant-in-istanbul-35753

 

  1. Lawyers convey Öcalan’s message and details of the latest meeting

21 June 2019|ANF English

Asrın Law Office published a written statement about the meeting they had with their client, Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan on Imralı on June 18.

https://anfenglishmobile.com/human-rights/lawyers-convey-Oecalan-s-message-and-details-of-the-latest-meeting-35748

 

  1. Journalists call for international support after Turkey arrests 10 in three days

17 June 2019|Morning Star

Journalists have called for international solidarity and the immediate release of journalists held after raids of the Ozgur Gelecek newspaper and the Etkin News Agency in Turkey last week. Three people were detained in a police raid on the left-wing Ozgur Gelecek newspaper’s Bursa offices last week and materials including computers and other equipment were seized. Sevda Erkilinc, Tongay Okay and Huseyin Camkiran were held on grounds of “spreading terrorist propaganda”.

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/w/journalists-call-for-international-support-after-turkey-arrests-10-in-three-days

 

OPINION, COMMENTARY, ANALYSIS

  1. Conviction of John Letts and Sally Lane exposes ‘absurdity’ of UK ‘terror’ laws and complicity of the Active Change Foundation

3 July 2019|The Interregnum

The British state has secured a ‘terror’ conviction against two parents for sending £223 to their son in Syria, intended to help bring him home to the UK. Human rights group CAGE lashed out at the ‘absurdity’ of terror laws which require no evidence of actual terrorism, as well as the role that the government-funded Active Change Foundation appears to have played in the conviction.

https://theinterregnum.net/conviction-of-john-letts-and-sally-lane-exposes-inhumanity-and-absurdity-of-uk-terror-laws-says-rights-group/

 

  1. Now is the moment for peace between Kurds and the Turkish state. Let’s not waste it.

3 July 2019|Washington Post

Cemil Bayik, one of the five founders of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, penned an opinion piece with the Washington Post. “We are at a critical moment in the conflict between the Turkish state and the Kurdish people. We have an opportunity to move a long-standing dispute toward a lasting solution. If we squander this opportunity, it might not come again for a generation”.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/07/03/now-is-moment-peace-between-kurds-turkish-state-lets-not-waste-it/?utm_term=.b3da81c86d3f

 

  1. (VIDEO) Anna: The Woman Who Went to Fight ISIS

3 July 2019|BBC 2/BBC I Player (available within UK for 11 months)

The story of Anna Campbell, who travelled to northern Syria in secret in 2017. Just eight months after arriving and with no military background, Anna went to the front line to fight with Kurdish YPJ.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0006h6x/anna-the-woman-who-went-to-fight-isis

 

  1. U.S.-backed Kurds to Halt Child Soldier use in Syria

3 July 2019|IPS News

The United States-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have struck a deal with the United Nations to stop using child soldiers across swathes of eastern Syria under their control and to release all youngsters from their ranks, the U.N. announced Monday.

http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/07/u-s-backed-kurds-halt-child-soldier-use-syria/

 

  1. The difficult relationship between the Kemalist CHP and the Kurdish HDP

2 July 2019|Open Democracy

Despite repression and containment, the HDP managed to become an important factor in the elections and thus a serious democratic political force in Turkey. It should be emphasized that the support of the HDP was decisive for the CHP’s victory. Their support made CHP’s victory possible in the first place because the HDP did not nominate its own candidates in major West Turkish cities in order to help CHP candidates win the elections. https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/north-africa-west-asia/difficult-relationship-between-kemalist-chp-and-kurdish-hdp/

 

  1. Opposition aims to curb Erdogan’s powers after election rout

1 July 2019|Al-Monitor

The government’s debacle in local polls in Istanbul and most of Turkey’s other big cities has set the stage for a new power struggle in which the opposition appears bent on trimming Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers. The president, in turn, seeks to debilitate the newly elected opposition mayors.

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/06/turkey-opposition-aims-to-curb-erdogans-powers.html#ixzz5sYN0PufE

 

  1. Exclusive – Interview – Views from the Revolution in Rojava

28 June 2019|London Green Left Blog

A member of the Rojava Internationalist Commune in Northern Syria offered their thoughts to Plan C Kurdistan Cluster in the UK about the past, present, and future of the Kurdish-led direct democratic project of self-administration in Rojava.

https://londongreenleft.blogspot.com/2019/06/exclusive-interview-views-from.html

 

  1. Erdogan Loses Istanbul: Reasons and Implications

25 June 2019|Center for Strategic and International Studies

Imamoglu’s victory was a personal defeat for Erdogan, as his campaign on behalf of Yildirim confirmed the almost universal perception of the race as a referendum on his leadership. Having lost Ankara, the capital, along with a number of other important cities like Adana, Antalya, and Mersin in the March elections, he was unable to accept without a fight the loss of Turkey’s biggest city, despite reliable opinion polls suggesting an even bigger win for the opposition.

https://mailchi.mp/csis/csis-turkey-updatethe-turkish-economy-in-1897497?e=60227ebc84

 

  1. Istanbul election: celebrate the hammer blow for Erdogan but hold no illusions in CHP nationalists

24 June 2019|Morning Star

Celebrations are continuing across Turkey after the crushing defeat for the ruling Justice & Development Party (AKP) in Sunday’s rerun Istanbul mayoral election. Ekrem Imamoglu of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) swept to victory polling about 800,000 more votes than his rival, former prime minister Binali Yildirim of the AKP. The scale of the defeat should not be underestimated. It was the biggest winning margin in an Istanbul mayoral election for 35 years. But a local source urged caution against becoming starry-eyed about Mr Imamoglu and the CHP, saying: “The history of the party shouldn’t be forgotten in the blink of an eye.”

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/w/istabul-election-celebrate-hammer-blow-erdogan-hold-no-illusions-chp-nationalists

 

  1. Could This Man Save Turkey? Don’t count on it.

24 June 2019|Politico

After a decade of repressive rule, Turks are beginning to believe President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is vulnerable. The Turkish economy is in bad shape, his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidates recently lost in elections to lead major metropolitan areas, including a blowout in Istanbul’s mayoral race on Sunday. Meanwhile, a rival has emerged: Ahmet Davutoglu, Erdogan’s former foreign minister and prime minister—and once his hand-picked successor—caused a stir this spring by assailing his former patron’s consolidation of power and announcing that he is planning to launch a new party of his own.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/06/24/ahmet-davutoglu-turkey-tayyip-erdogan-227212

 

  1. Erdoğan’s party defeated in Istanbul mayoral election re-run

23 June 2019|The Guardian

Despite blanket pro-government media coverage, İmamoğlu, a previously anonymous local administrator, stunned the country with his narrow win in March. For Erdoğan, the loss of his hometown, where his political career began in the 1990s, was a personal blow. Embarrassment for president as AKP lose Istanbul to CHP party’s Ekrem İmamoğlu.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/23/erdogan-faces-scrutiny-once-more-as-istanbul-goes-back-to-the-polls

 

  1. Erdogan Turns to Kurds to Win Istanbul Election

21 June 2019|Voice of America

Jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan, in a handwritten letter, called on Kurds to remain “neutral” in Sunday’s vote. “If the Kurds remain neutral, then the opposition candidate, [Ekrem] Imamoglu, will have difficulties in Sunday’s vote,” said international relations expert Huseyin Bagci of Ankara’s Middle East Technical University.

https://www.voanews.com/europe/erdogan-turns-kurds-win-istanbul-election

 

  1. Jailed militant leader enters Istanbul election fray

21 June 2019|Al-Monitor

An unexpected message from Abdullah Ocalan, wo is serving a life sentence for treason, urged Kurds to stay “neutral” and could tilt the outcome in a bitter campaign for control of Turkey’s biggest city.

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/06/abdullah-ocalan-urges-neutral-kurdish-vote-istanbul-election.html#ixzz5reyj65VR

 

  1. Erdogan faces consequences of his two biggest mistakes

19  June 2019|Al-Monitor

Erdogan’s repeat strategic blunders may come to haunt him in the June 23 rerun of the Istanbul vote. About a month and a half ago, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was reportedly confident that his Justice and Development Party (AKP) would emerge victorious from a rerun of the mayoral election in Istanbul, which the main opposition’s candidate, “Some colleagues believe the AKP will get less votes or lose if the election is repeated” said Erdogan. “I believe 100% that we’ll win if the election is repeated”.

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/06/turkey-erdogan-faces-consequences-of-his-biggest-mistakes.html#ixzz5rezYybi7

 

  1. The EU needs a more robust Middle East human rights report

20 June 20 1019|Middle East Institute

In May, the European Council adopted the 2018 iteration of the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World, which summarizes all actions undertaken by various EU bodies and institutions. The EU is selective about the human rights violations its analyzes, especially when it comes to the Middle East, creating the perception that it may be willing to turn a blind eye in some cases for political and economic reasons.

https://www.mei.edu/publications/eu-needs-more-robust-middle-east-human-rights-report

 

  1. Exclusive Turkish intelligence ‘threatened to disappear me,’ says Ankara politician

19 June 2019|Morning Star

Turkish intelligence services sent a chilling threat to an opposition politician warning that they could make her “disappear” at any time days after breaking into her house. Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) executive member for Ankara Betul Koca told the Star that she was approached outside her house by the men who issued the warning because of her political activities.

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/w/hdp-activist-warns-chilling-threats-turkish-intelligence-services

 

  1. Turkey: Democracy might just win after all

19 June 2019|Middle East Institute

The survival of democracy in Turkey. The Justice and Development Party (AKP), in power since 2002, is now stumbling. It depends for support on a narrowly based ultranationalist party with no hope of ever winning a national majority itself. The economy is spiraling downwards, caught in an undertow of financial mismanagement and the illusion, often appearing in desperate times, that printing more money and handing out free credit will somehow solve the problem.

https://www.mei.edu/publications/turkey-democracy-might-just-win-after-all

 

  1. The stakes are high in Istanbul’s election rerun

18 June 18 2019|Middle East Institute

President Erdogan is working hard not to lose the city that made him a national figure a second time. To that end he has changed the party’s election strategy. In the run-up to March, he framed the elections as a matter of “survival” for Turkey. He built the campaign around the issues of terrorism and the Kurds. He promised to once again appoint government administrators for Kurdish-majority towns if the new mayors, like their predecessors, are deemed to have ties to Kurdish militants; told those who wanted Kurdistan to go to northern Iraq; and accused the opposition alliance of cooperating with “terrorists”.

https://www.mei.edu/publications/stakes-are-high-istanbuls-election-rerun

 

CULUTRE, ARTS

  1. Nashville’s Newest Mural Is Colorful, Intricate And Uniquely Kurdish

2 July 2019|Nashvill Public Radio

A new mural in Nashville depicts the baking of flatbread, games of backgammon and calligraphy of Kurdish poetry. The colorful artwork on the side of an international market along Nolensville Pike was unveiled this weekend, and community leaders say they hope it draws people from other parts of the city.

https://www.nashvillepublicradio.org/post/nashville-s-newest-mural-colorful-intricate-and-uniquely-kurdish#stream/0

 

NEW BOOK

  1. The Forgotten Years of Kurdish Nationalism in Iran

This book investigates the forgotten years of Kurdish nationalism in Iran, from the fall of the Kurdish republic to the advent of the Iranian revolution. An original and path-breaking investigation of the period, it sheds light not only on the historical specificity of the phenomenon of nationalism in exile, but also on the political processes and practices defining the development of Kurdish nationalism in the post-revolutionary era.

https://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9783030160685#aboutBook

 

 

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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Hazzard welcomes ruling on pro-Kurdish HDP prisoners

For immediate release

20 November 2018

Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has called called for the immediate release of People’s Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş and other HDP representatives from Turkish prisons. Continue reading

The Trial of Selahattin Demirtas: An Eye Witness Account.

On the evening of the 7th of September 2018 at around 7.30pm having returned to my hotel room in Istanbul I happened to have a news channel on. I noticed as part of the headline news feed running across at the bottom of the screen, the following; “former co-chair of the HDP (Peoples Democratic Party) Sellahattin Demirtas has been sentenced to 4 years and 8 months for the propaganda of a “terrorist” organisation. There was no other commentary about it apart from this simple banner.

What was interesting about this method of reporting was that it deliberately gave no room for context and or analysis for the piece of “news” in question. Based on the backdrop of a complete media embargo on reporting the various prosecutions against Mr. Demirtas it is difficult to therefore regard this as ‘news’. It was rather a continuation of the campaign to criminalise the former pro-Kurdish leader of the HDP, the third largest political party in Turkey and through him an entire people. Unfortunately, this level of misinformation and deployed methods of criminalisation is exactly how the Kurdish civil society movement for peace and human rights is being marginalised by being portrayed as the criminal “other”. My immediate thoughts about the banner ‘news’ was how it completely resonated with the Courts approach and the injustices that we personally observed. Continue reading

HDP Statement on the Demirtas and Onder Verdict, plus the text of the Demirtas speech, which was used in the indictment against him.

To the attention of the Press;

A court has ruled in the case of our former Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş as well as our 26th term Member of Parliament Sırrı Süreyya Önder that brought charges related to the role they played in the peace and solution process. Demirtaş was sentenced to four years and eight months imprisonment, while Önder was sentenced to three years and six months.
The case itself, as well as the verdict released today, is not rooted in law, but is a political verdict. This decision is a clear sign of the government’s politics, which are anti-peace and insist on war. Continue reading

European Lawyers Delegation visits Diyarbakir

Press release

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”

  Continue reading

Kurdish Friendship Group in European Parliament calls for end to violence

The appeal below, signed by 5 MEPs of the Kurdish Friendship Group in the European Parliament, was circulated on the weekend:

The crackdown against the Kurdish people must stop

Call of the EP-Kurdish Friendship Group

For a month now, the Turkish army has been running jointly with the special police forces an operation of unprecedented violence against the towns located in the Kurdish region of Turkey.

10,000 men supported by tanks and helicopters are mobilized for this offensive which virtually turned the country’s Southeast into a war zone.
Continue reading

HDP information on military siege on Kurdish cities

HDP INFORMATION DESK (05.01.2016)

 

Civilian deaths in sieges imposed by the security forces

The first of these sieges, described as “curfews,” was imposed in Varto, starting on 16 August. There are sieges still in course in Cizre, Silopi and Sur districts. “Curfews” have been declared 56 times in 20 districts of 7 cities and so far these “curfews” have totaled 274 days.  In some districts where curfews have been officially lifted, there is still a de facto siege. The most recent situation in 3 districts is as follows: Continue reading

Voter intimidation in Turkey’s Kurdish villages

Melanie Gingell, barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, has written the latest in a series of damning reports about the recent snap election in Turkey, which took place amidst a backdrop of serious violence. Here, she details how voter intimidation became a feature of polling day on 1st November:

The re-run election of 1st November was carried out against a backdrop of extreme state violence particularly in the South East of the country. Thousands of HDP and civil society activists had been arrested and hundreds of HDP offices had been attacked in separate incidents across the country. The mood was extremely sombre and there was little evidence of campaigning by any of the political parties. The two suicide bomb attacks in Suruc and Ankara had inflicted a terrible price on HDP supporters and progressive groups. HDP officials in Diyarbakir said that they had been busy organising funerals in the run up to the election, not campaigning.

Continue reading

Lord Hylton: Assaults on the Living and the Dead in Turkey

Member of the House of Lords, Lord Hylton, took part in an election observation delegation to Turkey’s southeast to witness the November snap general elections. His report recounts the brutal force used by the Turkish state against Kurdish civilians over the course of the summer:

 

In September and October 2015 the Government of Turkey, headed by President Erdogan, launched attacks against their presumed enemies and opponents. These took place in the run-up to the general election of 1st November. The PKK, or Kurdistan Workers Party, has been involved in political and armed struggles against the state. Many ceasefires have been offered, especially since 1999, the date of the capture and imprisonment of the party leader, Abdullah Ocalan. The PKK, with the constitutional pro-Kurdish party, the HDP (Peoples Democratic Party), and other cooperating groups including trade unions, different ethnic and religious communities, human rights and women’s organizations, and opposition parties etc, had long since declared in speeches and in writing that they did not seek to become independent or to separate from Turkey. They only wanted cultural and social autonomy within Turkey. The PKK made a unilateral ceasefire declaration on 10th October to avoid prejudice to the elections.

Continue reading