Thursday, March 08, 2007


"Kurds are one of the “domestic enemies” that this system, controlled by the military, needs to create in order to sustain its domination."
~ Eren Keskin.

A Kurdish woman displays a portrait of the jailed PKK Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan during an international women's day demonstration in Istanbul March 4, 2007. Protesters, mostly Kurdish women, marched in Istanbul on Sunday to celebrate the world women's day which falls on March 8. REUTERS/Osman Orsal.

A 77-year-old Kurdish separatist grandmother was arrested in Cizîr for protesting the poisoning of Ocalan, from Reuters:

Turkish authorities brought charges on Thursday against 31 women for demonstrating in support of jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan.

The women, four of them under 18 years old and one as old as 77, had chanted pro-separatist slogans during an unauthorised demonstration on Wednesday in Sirnak province near the Syrian border in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey, officials said.

It was not immediately clear how long they might have to spend in jail if convicted.

More from Hurriyet:

The women were arrested in the town of Cizre outside of the southeastern city of Sirnak, a largely Kurdish area. Shouting slogans in support of Ocalan, the women had gathered March 6 in Cizre to protest what they claim is the poisoning efforts against the man nicknamed "Apo." Entering the local Democratic Society Party building in Cizre, the women were then arrested by Anti-Terrorism teams of security forces, and charged with "shouting slogans and carrying posters and banners in a protest that did not have authority to take place."

For allegedly taking part in an "unauthorized" protest (Note: No protests are "authorized" in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan), no one has any idea how long the women will be imprisoned. The big, brave, "anti-terrorist" security forces historically enjoy state protection for torture and rape of women prisoners, so we have a pretty good idea of what is happening to them right now in detention.

The pro-torture Bush Administration released the State Department's current human rights report on Turkey. Let's see what it says about torture and impunity of security forces:

Courts investigated many allegations of abuse and torture by security forces during the year; however, they rarely convicted or punished offenders (see section 1.e.). When courts did convict offenders, punishment generally was minimal and sentences were often suspended. Authorities typically allowed officers accused of abuse to remain on duty and, in occasional cases, promoted them during their trials, which often took years.

[ . . . ]

According to the September AI report, defendants in cases that were transferred from state security courts, abolished in June 2004, to heavy penal courts often faced the same judges and prosecutors who presided over their cases when they were before the state security courts. The report also found that these judges frequently failed to investigate or take into account allegations that confessions were brought about by torture, and allegations of long periods of "unofficial" detention with no access to legal counsel. The report noted that defendants in these cases were being sentenced on the basis of evidence extracted under torture or other ill-treatment.

The TNP and Jandarma received specialized training in a number of areas, including human rights and counterterrorism. According to the government, the armed forces emphasized human rights in training for officers and noncommissioned officers.

During the first nine months of the year, 715 administrative or judicial cases were opened against security personnel and other public officials on torture, maltreatment, or excessive use of force charges. The decision of "acquittal" or "no need to punish" was reached in all 85 maltreatment or torture cases. Out of 630 "excessive use of force" cases, 10 resulted in prison sentences, one resulted in a temporary suspension, 598 resulted in acquittal or no need to punish, and 21 remained ongoing.

Funny, that part about "human rights training" for national police, jandarma, and TSK. I guess that's why they fired up all those protestors and arrested all those kids during the Amed Serhildan last March. But they were only following Erdogan's orders.

Since the 1990's and PKK's approach to women's rights and politicization of the Kurdish people, Kurdish women have been at the forefront of the women's rights movement in Turkey, something even admitted by TDN:

Comparing the numbers in any political demonstration in Turkey, women with Kurdish background immediately are noticed with their great numbers. This helps the visibility of the rallies, protests and demonstrations, as well as the demands. “Kurdish women have always been sensitive on issues of peace and every kind of violence,” said Fitnat Durmuşoğlu, from the Amargi association, a prominent women organization in the country. “They have always shown their sensitivity. They provided acceleration for the movement.”

More proof of PKK's influence on the politicization of Kurds, and Kurdish women in particular, are the number of women DTP mayors and politicians:

To find women in high ranks is pretty hard in Turkey. But the regions where they are mostly concentrated are the east and the Southeast. “They play a major role in the liberation movement of the women all around Turkey, not only in the region,” says [Pinar} Selek. “They have witnessed every hardship as a woman, but they have also suffered more because of their origin.”

Naturally, TDN fails to mention that many of those same DTP mayors have been arrested in recent days. Here's the BBC report on that:

According to one tally, more than 50 DTP members of the pro-Kurdish DTP have been arrested and at least seven senior officials charged in less than a fortnight, our correspondent says.

Party officials argue they are victims of a sustained campaign of harassment, saying the authorities are trying to close the party down before a general election later this year.

There is one bright spot on this International Women's Day, from Çemçemal in South Kurdistan. An adult education program has been set up for area women, as IWPR reports:

Until three months ago, Miryam Majeed’s early morning routine involved feeding her two children and starting on the day’s chores. But now there is a new task that gets her out of bed and fills her with enthusiasm – she has gone back to school.

Now 29, Majeed from Chamchamal, 60 kilometres south of Sulaimaniah in Iraq’s Kurdish region, never received an education as a child. "My father didn’t let me go to school", she explained.

Now she carries her books to classes four days a week, and spends several hours studying at home.

Majeed counts herself lucky that her husband has backed her in her desire to get an education.

"Illiteracy is like being blind," she said, "I always had to ask other people to read me things."

For Kurdistan, Miryam Majeed has one thing necessary to receive an education: a good husband who supports her thirst for education. Kurdish men are critical to the freedom of Kurdish women.

Kurdistan can no longer afford to keep women from education and the mentality that has forced women to remain illiterate must go. Neither is is acceptable to keep women from education by using the excuse that the education is affiliated with one party or another--and in this case, it's not. Such an excuse is just a cover for continued promotion of patriarchal attitudes. If men fear educated women, then they need to examine themselves to find and eradicate the roots of their problem.

If Kurdish men continue to repress Kurdish women, then don't let them come crying about their own repression, lack of freedom, or yearning for independence. They will not have earned it, and I don't care how many years they have spent in the mountains.

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