Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 17-21 August 2015
In partnership with Peace in Kurdistan Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question www.peaceinkurdistancampaign.com
photo credit: Defense One
18 August 2015 / Middle East Eye
The military wing of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) warned that it will send in guerilla fighters to combat the state if violence against Kurdish youth activists from the Turkish government continues. The announcement comes as a number of Kurdish areas in southeast Turkey declared autonomy from the central government, dismissing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government as illegitimate.
21 August 2015 / Kurdish Question
'Political genocide' operations by the temporary AKP government, which is dragging the country into war by putting war policies into practice, continue across North Kurdistan and Turkey. Dozens were detained in today’s house raids, while four people were remanded in custody in Hakkari and Mersin. Moreover, police forces tortured family members in a house raid in Lice district of Amed.
20 August 2015 / Reuters
When Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan called a ceasefire with Turkey two years ago, residents of the village of Sigire slaughtered a sheep to celebrate what they believed was the start of a new era of peace. Their homes and orchards in the mountains of northern Iraq had been on the frontline of a war between the Turkish state and Ocalan's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) for more than three decades. "We felt our lives were beginning again," said 54-year-old Mam Bashir from Sigire, which is around 20 km (12 miles) from the Turkish border.
19 August 2015 / Jinha News
The group Women's Freedom Assembly reported from the town of Silvan that they have observed "war in every sense of the word" in the area of Northern Kurdistan (in Turkey). A group of women activists and politicians from the Women's Freedom Assembly headed to the town of Silvan yesterday morning, where heavy clashes took place as police and soldiers tried to enter resisting neighborhoods. Women's Freedom Assembly member Nimet Tanrıkulu shared the activists' observations, based on meetings with local people and especially women.
19 August 2015 / Middle East Eye
High-profile members of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) and other pro-Kurdish parties were arrested on Wednesday as violence in Turkey’s southeast threatened to spiral out of control.
Eight Turkish soldiers were also killed on Wednesday in a bomb attack on a military vehicle in the southeastern province of Siirt, the latest attack launched by supporters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) since hostilities with the government renewed in July.
18 August 2015 / Defense One
It was nearly midnight on July 23 when a slew of Turkish police officers raided Mehmet Cedinkaya’s home and detained his 17-year-old mentally disabled son, Azat. Earlier that day in their poor neighborhood in Diyarbakir, the de facto capital of the country’s southeastern Kurdish region, assailants had fatally shot one police officer and injured another. Azat was one of 17 suspects taken into custody. “He doesn’t even know how to talk or count,” said Cedinkaya when I spoke with him a couple weeks later. “He’s just a boy who was playing outside on the street [at the time of the attack], and they took him to terrorize us. … This is all a part of Turkey’s war against the Kurds.”
20 August 2015 / Kurdish Question
Since Turkish President Erdoğan's new wave of attacks in Kurdistan in the wake of Turkey's June election, people of all ages have joined the effort to defend and govern themselves in the area. Since the 1990s, the Turkish state has used tactics of denial, assimilation and annihilation in the Northern Kurdistan region. Although the promises of peace that the AKP made when it came to power awakened hope in many, 13 years later the promises have remained on paper.
18 August 2015 / Daily Mail
Kurdish activists have taken to Twitter to condemn Turkish police after photos of the naked and bloodied corpse of a female militant was leaked, apparently by members of the country's special forces. Kevser Elturk was killed on August 10 during a gun battle between Turkish forces and members of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the rural town of Garto. After being shot dead by the Turkish forces, Elturk - who used the nom de guerre Ekin Van - appears to have been stripped and photographed. Leaked images of her naked corpse have since gone viral, with Kurdish activists furious at the attempt to humiliate the dead female fighter.
18 August 2015 / Al Monitor
Over the past decade, many of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s adversaries were blamed for cooking up coups in Turkey against “the constitutional order.” Some were imprisoned, for months or even years, after highly controversial investigations and indictments. It has also been a dominant theme of the pro-Erdogan propaganda machine to depict all elements of the Turkish opposition as pawns of a global conspiracy to topple Erdogan with a coup. Few could imagine that Erdogan himself would be blamed for a coup.
20 August 2015 / Hurriyet
Turkey has accused the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) of “openly supporting terrorism” by making “written and visual propaganda” of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) during a broadcast on Aug. 20. “Such broadcasting about an organization which is listed as a terrorist [organization] by many countries, particularly EU countries, is open support for terrorism,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Aug. 21.
20 August 2015 / Hurriyet
A special operations team of police has re-raised a Turkish flag removed by militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in front of a medical facility in Diyarbakır’s Silvan district with the accompaniment of Islamic chants and gunfire, Turkish media reported Aug. 20.
19 August 2015 / Middle East Eye
Turkey’s political scene is sinking into ever deeper disarray. In Ankara, attempts to form a coalition government after the 7 June elections have finally broken down. This weekend President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gains the right to dissolve parliament and call early elections. It will be a desperate no-holds barred struggle between the parties.
21 August 2015 / Press TV
The Syrian Justice Ministry is planning to sue Turkey over what Damascus describes as Ankara’s support for terrorists. Syria says it has plenty of evidence to prove Turkey’s involvement in the crisis. Some Turkish analysts believe Ankara’s policy toward its southern neighbor was wrong right from the beginning. Press TV’s Verenia Keet brings us the story from Istanbul.
19 August 2015 / Al Monitor
It may not be a bright idea to introduce yourself as from Turkey to people you meet in the areas controlled by the Syrian army. Alevi, Sunni or Christian, it doesn’t make a difference. They are all enraged. But I always introduced myself as a Turk in my travels from Damascus to Aleppo, from Homs to Tartus and from Latakia to Kesab. Almost everybody I met started the conversation, "We like Turkey and Turkish people,” but inevitably ended it with critical remarks against the Ankara government, particularly President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Many leveled serious charges against Turkey, including supporting terror and plundering.
17 August 2015 / Al Monitor
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem’s recent visit to Oman signals Damascus’ heightened interest in negotiating an end to its 4½-year-old civil war, an interest rendered more urgent by a series of on-the-ground setbacks for the Syrian army. Moallem met Aug. 6 with his Omani counterpart, Yusuf bin Alawi in Muscat, Oman, to discuss “constructive efforts” aimed at ending the Syrian crisis. Syria’s state-run news agency reported the two diplomats “agreed to continue cooperation and coordination to achieve the shared goals of their peoples and governments.”
14 August 2015 / Al Monitor
Until last month, the impression among Iran experts was that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is not directly involved in his country’s Middle East policy, with his full concentration on reaching a nuclear deal with six world powers. With a deal in hand, Iran’s Middle East policy appears to be going through some changes. According to an Iranian official who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, much attention will now be given to diplomacy in the region. He said, “Every problem has a solution and the nuclear issue proved that. Therefore, it is important to come out with some creative ideas to end the bloodshed in the region.”
COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
On July 24th, highlighting the first Turkish air strikes against the Islamic State and news of an agreement to let the U.S. Air Force use two Turkish air bases against that movement, the New York Times reported that unnamed "American officials welcomed the [Turkish] decision... calling it a 'game changer.'" And they weren't wrong. Almost immediately, the game changed. Turkish President Recep Erdogan promptly sent planes hurtling off not against Islamic State militants but the PKK, that country's Kurdish rebels with whom his government had previously had a tenuous ceasefire.
The mother’s face reveals a mix of emotions: grief for the loss of her 17-year-old son, shot while sitting on the front step at 9 a.m.; gratitude for the condolences of the people who fill her courtyard five days after the fatal event; and wariness of the foreign journalist who is visiting for the first time. Zeynep Tamboga lives in a modest, two-story house in Silopi’s Basak district, which earned notoriety Aug. 7 when its young residents held off the police for four hours. The provincial governor’s office accused the youths of belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), saying they attacked the police with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades from barricades and ditches dug to obstruct armored cars.
19 August 2015 / Al Monitor
The US State Department denies it has been in talks with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), contrary to a PKK leader's comments published Aug. 17 in the Daily Telegraph of London. State Department spokesman John Kirby, in his daily briefing Aug. 17 in Washington, was asked about the newspaper's interview with Kurdish political leader Cemil Bayik, who said the PKK would accept a cease-fire with Turkey under US guarantees. Bayik referred to indirect talks with the United States.
18 August 2015 / Bloomberg Press
As Turkey heads toward its second general election in six months, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s campaign against the surprise victor of the first ballot may backfire -- again. The pro-Kurdish HDP won 13 percent of votes in June, helping to deny a wounded ruling party the supermajority it sought to transform Erdogan’s office into the nation’s power center.
19 August 2015 / BBC Newsnight
The ongoing war against IS in the Middle East is rarely out of the headlines. Less familiar however is the story of Yazidi women soldiers who have joined the banned Kurdistan Workers Party - or PKK - and its affiliates to take up arms against their persecutors. The BBC's Jiyar Gol has gained exclusive access to one of them to show us how the PKK women learn to fight.
19 August 2015 / World War 4 Report
Reports from the PKK-aligned Kurdistan National Congress indicate an internal war by the Turkish state against the Kurds in the country's east, approaching levels of violence not seen in 20 years. Several villages in Diyarbakir province are said to be under heavy shelling by the Turkish army. Many of these villages are reported to be currently burning, with many injured, and an unknown number killed. After hours of shelling, Turkish soldiers reportedly entered the village of Kocakoy, Lice-Hani district, putting homes to the torch—sometimes with families still inside, resulting in further loss of life.
September 2015/ Live Encounters
The summer of 2015 has also seen the rise of Jeremy Corbyn MP to almost super star status as a candidate in the battle for the leadership of the Labour Party following the party’s shock election defeat in May. Despite being the oldest candidate in the race, he has attracted mass support from young people because his message of free education, jobs and housing reflects their concerns. His success has been described as “Corbymania” and is widely attributed to his honest approach to politics. Many of the young people who have found his message appealing have never been politically engaged before; so the long term challenge will be to ensure that they don’t become disaffected in future.
18 August 2015 / Todays Zaman
This seems unlikely to be the case, despite the certainty and speculation about the “artificiality” of the boundaries of Middle Eastern states (as well as African states). This is especially true regarding Iraq and Syria, which are the prime examples of states whose boundaries are changing as a result of developments over the past 12 years. Many of the reasons for these assertions are of course embedded in the preferences of the states and people asserting them.
19 August 2015 / Venezuela Analysis
As Turkey ramps up its bombing of Kurdish forces in northern Syria, VA sits down with Mehmet Ali Dogan, a Kurdish anthropologist and documentary filmmaker from Turkey, who is spokesperson for the Kurdistan-Latin America Solidarity Committee. Dogan is a veteran of the Kurdish liberation struggle, enduring six years as a political prisoner in the jails of the Turkish state. In recent years, he has lived in Latin America, first Bolivia and now Argentina, where he has sought to draw links between counter-hegemonic Latin American integration spearheaded by Venezuela under Hugo Chavez and Kurdish efforts to unify Kurdish and other ethnic communities in Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq.