Resisting censorship in Turkey

This timely meeting took place on 30 November at the Free Word Centre in London. Peace in Kurdistan, like Pen, is determined to keep a focus on  what is happening in Turkey and to not allow the mass violations  to happen under the cover of the currently more newsworthy invasion of  North East Syria.

The situation for writers and journalists  in Turkey continues to deteriorate and independent media has been all but wiped out and at least 117 journalists are behind bars, making Turkey the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.

The audience heard stories of writers, artists and activists from Turkey who continue their work despite mounting pressure to self-censor. Award-winning writer Burhan Sönmez, investigative journalist Nurcan Baysaland lawyer Gökhan Ahiwill shared experiences of being harassed and imprisoned for their work, and discussed how people in Turkey remain determined to speak out in the face of censorship. The event was
moderated by author, journalist, translator and Chair of English PEN Maureen Freely

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

Patrons: John Austin, Baroness Blower of Starch Green, former GS NUT, Prof Bill Bowring, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, Jeremy Corbyn MP,  Prof Mary Davis, Lord Dholakia, Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director,  Jill Evans MEP, Desmond Fernandes, Lindsey German, Convenor STWC, Melanie Gingell, Christopher Gingell, Rahila Gupta, Nick Hildyard, Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru, James Kelman, Bruce Kent, Jean Lambert, Elfyn Llwyd, Aonghas MacNeacail, Scottish Gaelic poet, Mike Mansfield QC, Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, GFTU, Dr. Jessica Ayesha Northey, Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy, Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Kate Osamor MP, Margaret Owen OBE, Ali Gul Ozbek, Former Councillor and Mayor of Haringey; Gareth Peirce, Dr Felix Padel, Maxine Peake, actor, Trevor Rayne, writer, Lord Rea, Joe Ryan, Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, Stephen Smellie, Jonathan Steele, Steve Sweeney, Gianni Tognoni, General Secretary Permanent People’s Tribunal, Dr Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Dr Tom Wakeford, Dr Derek Wall, Julie Ward MEP, Hywel Williams MP.

 

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NEWS IN BRIEF Update –Turkish invasion of Rojava/North East Syria – No 8 |  18 – 27 Nov 2019

NEWS IN BRIEF Update – Turkish invasion of Rojava/North East Syria – No 8

No 8  18 – 27 Nov 2019

For all of the latest developments, see these sources:

Rojava Information Center:

 https://twitter.com/RojavaIC

https://rojavainformationcenter.com

ANF English:

https://anfenglishmobile.com/

Hawar News:

 https://www.hawarnews.com/en/

Women Defend Rojava:

 http://womendefendrojava.net/en/ Continue reading

NEWS IN BRIEF Update – Turkish invasion of Rojava/North East Syria – No 7 9 – 17 Nov 2019

For all of the latest developments, see these sources:

Rojava Information Center:

https://twitter.com/RojavaIC

https://rojavainformationcenter.com

ANF English:

https://anfenglishmobile.com/

Hawar News:

https://www.hawarnews.com/en/

Women Defend Rojava:

http://womendefendrojava.net/en/

 

NEWS

‘No Friends But the Mountains.’ What Life Looks Like for the Kurds of Syria, Now That the U.S. Has Pulled Back
14 Nov 2019 | Karl Vick, TIME
The modern Middle East was formed exactly 100 years ago when, in the wake of World War I, the victors began creating new countries. Among the populations deemed deserving of nationhood — along with Armenians and Azeris — were the Kurds.
https://time.com/longform/kurds-syria-refugees/ Continue reading

Turkey’s planned attack on Rojava/North-East Syria must be stopped

Turkey’s armed forces are massed along the border with north-east Syria awaiting the order to invade. President Erdogan intends to use military force to establish a so-called ‘safe-zone’ 30km deep and 480km long (19 miles by 300 miles) inside Syria, on land that is home to over three-quarters of a million mainly Kurdish people. These people are to be killed or evicted from their towns and villages and replaced with over one million of the 3.5 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey. Such a plan, if carried out, will result in enormous violence and will drive the Middle East deeper into chaos and destruction. President Erdogan and his AKP-MHP government are a danger to us all.

Following a telephone conversation between US President Trump and Erdogan on 6 October the White House issued this statement: ‘Turkey will soon be moving forward with it long- planned operation in Northern Syria. The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operations, and United States’ forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial “Caliphate”, will no longer be in the immediate area.’ President Erdogan understood that this was the signal from the US that he had asked for and long been preparing for, saying on 7 October: ‘We made a decision. We said, “One night we could come suddenly”. We continue with our determination…It is absolutely out of the question for us to further tolerate the threats from these terrorist groups.’

President Erdogan brands any manifestation of Kurdish political representation or aspiration to democratic rights as terrorism, be it in Turkey, Syria or elsewhere. The Kurdish people in Syria, their political representation in the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and their military defence in the form of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), have made no threat or challenge to the territorial integrity of either Turkey or Syria. They have complied with US-led mechanisms to ensure that Turkey’s border is secure and in doing so have dismantled defences near to Turkey’s border. No military actions against Turkey have come from Rojava/north-east Syria. However, the Kurdish people, along with the different ethnic communities that live in the area that is now threatened, have insisted they have the right to defend themselves if they are attacked. An SDF spokesperson said, ‘We will not hesitate to turn any unprovoked attack by Turkey into an all-out war on the entire border to defend ourselves and our people.’ The PYD calls for ‘a democratic dialogue and negotiation process inclusive of all parties towards ending the civil war in [Syria]’ and points out that a Turkish military incursion with enforced demographic change are crimes against humanity according to international law.

In July 2012, the Kurdish people and others in Rojava rose up and established a democratic, gender equal, secular, ecological and non-sectarian administration with inter-ethnic cooperation. It became and remains a beacon of hope for the Middle East – a beacon that Turkey and others want to extinguish. In January 2018 the Turkish state and it auxiliaries attacked Afrin, the western-most canton of Rojava, and occupied it. Since then Afrin has been subject to terror and ethnic cleansing. Erdogan has spoken of his ambition to reclaim territories lost to the Ottoman Empire after the First World War. The attack on Afrin and an invasion of Rojava would be part of realising that ambition.

Under President Trump’s agreement with Erdogan, Turkey will take responsibility for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past few years. This is diabolical; it is well documented that the Turkish state has collaborated with and armed ISIS, and sought to use the jihadis against both Syrians and the Kurds. Some 11,000 SDF young men and women have been killed fighting ISIS. The Kurds and their allies are guarding thousands of ISIS captives, including about 2,500 from Europe and elsewhere and 10,000 and more from Iraq and Syria. Al Hol camp in north-east Syria holds approximately 70,000 people. There remain ISIS sleeper cells across the region. If Turkey invades, the ISIS captives will not be secure or detained.  Senior former US and British national security professionals have recently warned of the threat of a resurgent ISIS. That threat, the threat to the peoples of the entire Middle East, and the threat of repetitions of atrocities like September 11, 2001 in the US, of the Madrid commuter rail system, of the Bataclan theatre in Paris, and the Manchester Arena, will become all the more real and apparent as a consequence of permitting a Turkish invasion.

The British, European and US governments must tell President Erdogan and Turkey clearly and with one voice, ‘No, you must not invade,’ and they must back this demand with real and immediate sanctions if Turkey continues its threats.

8 October 2019

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: John Austin, Christine Blower, NEU International Secretary, Prof Bill Bowring, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, Dr Cynthia Cockburn, Jeremy Corbyn MP,  Prof Mary Davis, Lord Dholakia, Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director,  Jill Evans MEP, Lindsey German, Convenor STWC, Melanie Gingell, Christopher Gingell, Rahila Gupta, Nick Hildyard, Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru, James Kelman, Bruce Kent, Jean Lambert, Elfyn Llwyd, Aonghas MacNeacail, Scottish Gaelic poet, Mike Mansfield QC, Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, GFTU, Dr. Jessica Ayesha Northey, Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy, Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Kate Osamor MP, Margaret Owen OBE, Ali Gul Ozbek, Former Councillor and Mayor of Haringey; Gareth Peirce, Dr Felix Padel, Maxine Peake, actor, Trevor Rayne, writer, Lord Rea, Joe Ryan, Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, Stephen Smellie, Jonathan Steele, Steve Sweeney, Gianni Tognoni, General Secretary Permanent People’s Tribunal, Dr Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Dr Tom Wakeford, Dr Derek Wall, Julie Ward MEP, Hywel Williams MP.

 

 

KURDISH NEWS BRIEFING, 6 SEPTEMBER 2019 – 7 OCTOBER 2019

NEWS

  1. Democratic Confederalism discussed in Rome
  2. Urgent call for Hasankeyf and the Tigris Valley
  3. Xerîb Hiso: Erdoğan has taken the decision to go to war
  4. Dutch MPs warn against possible Turkish attack against Syrian Kurds
  5. Congress rapporteurs meet with suspended HDP mayors in Amed
  6. Abdi: Erdoğan’s concern is not about security but about invasion
  7. HDP: Permanent mobilization against trustees until 19 October
  8. ‘We deserve support’: Reinvented north-east Syria strives for stability
  9. Erdogan’s demographic engineering plans in Syria mirror those of Assad time – FT
  10. Syria’s Kurds protest exclusion from constitutional committee
  11. Turkey must resist emotional politics to find peace and democracy – Gultan Kisanak
  12. Daesh makes resurgence in Syria, captures town, attacks Kurdish and Russian forces
  13. UN Excludes one third of Syria, mostly Kurds, from Constitution Committee
  14. Memorial in London for Mehmet Aksoy
  15. KNK: Autonomous Administration should join constitutional team
  16. Maxmur Refugee Camp under embargo for two months
  17. Increase in Turkish-linked jihadist cells in Syria, study finds
  18. Pro-Kurdish leader Demirtas could be released soon, lawyer says
  19. Devastating all dissent in Turkey
  20. PEN America condemns u.s. decision to bar entry to austrian academic
  21. Gen. John Allen hails Kurdish role in fighting ISIS
  22. (VIDEO) Justice system and human rights status in Turkey discussed at UN
  23. Berlin Conference for a new Turkey ends today
  24. Delegation from NE Syria visits the US
  25. Former British fighter who fought alongside Kurds commits suicide

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CELEBRATING 15 AUGUST 1984

PEACE IN KURDISTAN

Statement, 15 August 2019

For Kurdish people the 15 August is celebrated as the Day of Resurgence and Resistance. On 15 August 1984, Liberation Units of Kurdistan, led by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with its guerrilla commander Mahsum Korkmaz, launched the armed struggle for freedom.  This was six years after the founding of the PKK.

In the circumstances there was no option for the PKK but to resort to armed struggle if any manifestation of the Kurdish desire for identity and recognition was to be maintained and fulfilled. On 12 September 1980, the Turkish armed forces, led by General Kenan Evren, seized power in Turkey in a military coup. One of the chief aims of the coup was to crush the Kurdish movement. The constitution was suspended, parliament was abolished, all political parties and trade unions were banned and martial law was imposed throughout Turkey. Hundreds of thousands of people were tortured, thousands disappeared, up to 650,000 people were arrested, films were banned, journalists imprisoned and killed and newspapers prevented from publishing. Many death sentences were passed; the PKK had 122 death sentences passed against its members. The PKK withdrew some of its members from Turkey to Lebanon and Syria and began political and military preparations, which culminated in the 15 August actions. Kurdish resistance has gathered and spread since. Continue reading

 The Ilisu Dam: a critical juncture Open Letter to the Foreign Secretary.

Rt. Hon. Dominic Raab MP
Foreign Secretary
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
Whitehall
London SW1A 2AH

7 August 2019

Dear Foreign Secretary,

 The Ilisu Dam: a critical juncture

Over the past two decades, we have written to your predecessors on numerous occasions (most recently on 10 June 2019) to express our grave concerns over the adverse environmental, social and geopolitical impacts of the Ilisu Dam on the River Tigris in Turkey, which is now nearing completion.
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Statement of the Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA) Concerning Turkey’s Threats

The Turkish state has permanently and continuously launched its threats of aggression on the DAA areas of north and east of Syria, and these threats have increased recently by the mobilization of Turkish military forces on the northern border of Syria in the east of the Euphrates, aiming to foil the democratic project and destabilize the state of security and coexistence among the components of the Syrian people.

What happened in Afrin more than a year ago, when the Turkish regime and the terrorist militias implementing the Turkish agenda launched aggression on the city is the best witness to the hypocrisy and lies of this regime through displacement and looting. Continue reading

Defend Maxmur Camp from Turkish Aggression

We call on the UN, its member states and all its institutions and agencies to fulfil their duties and take action to enforce the law by holding Turkey to account for its actions.

PEACE IN KURDISTAN

Statement, 23 July 2019
Last Friday, it was reported that Turkey had launched air strikes on the Maxmur refugee camp, located in the Kurdish region of Iraq, over which the UN flag flies. This brutal military action targeted civilians but was met with total silence and utter inaction from the international community. This is an outrage as is the fact that the liberal media turned a collective blind eye. The lack of response from Iraq and the Kurdish regional authorities is equally an outrage. Continue reading

The Ilisu Dam: a critical juncture: Open Letter to Jeremy Hunt MP

Rt. Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP
Foreign Secretary
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
Whitehall
London SW1A 2AH

10 June 2019
Dear Foreign Secretary,

 The Ilisu Dam: a critical juncture

Over the past two decades, we have written to your predecessors on numerous occasions to express our grave concerns over the adverse environmental, social and geopolitical impacts of the Ilisu Dam on the River Tigris in Turkey, which is now nearing completion. The Turkish Government has now announced its intention to start filling the reservoir on or after 10 June 2019.

You will recall that in 2001 the UK construction company Balfour Beatty, which had been seeking UK  export credit support for the project, withdrew from the project after parliamentarians, experts and non-governmental organisations had expressed their opposition.  Since then, other EU companies have also withdrawn due to environmental, human rights, cultural heritage and other concerns.

The dam was planned without consultation with downstream states, in contravention with international customary law.  Even today, decades after construction began, there is no agreement between Turkey, Syria and Iraq on downstream flows; this despite expert reports suggesting that operation of the dam, in conjunction with a further planned project at Cizre, could reduce the flow of the Tigris during dry years to a trickle. There is a very real fear that the project could seriously jeopardizing the water supply of major Iraqi towns, and put agriculture downstream at risk. The UNESCO site of Mesopotamian Marshes in southern Iraq would be threatened with drying out due to reduced downstream flows. The potential for the dam to exacerbate existing regional conflicts, not least over water, is thus severe, a threat recognised by the FCO under previous administrations.

The dam is opposed internationally. Indeed, the announcement of the proposed filling of the reservoir caused protests in Turkey, Iraq, continental Europe and the UK. A particular focus of concern is the loss of the ancient city of Hasankeyf, a site of international historical and cultural importance whose flooding (should the reservoir be filled) would be a loss not just to the region but to humanity as a whole. The threat posed by the Ilisu Dam project prompted the World Monuments Fund to list the city on its 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world. Continue reading