Sunday, April 15, 2007


"While at the trial, the mission learned that the evidence uncovered during the investigation of the Umut bookstore bombing supports the claim that there are parties unaligned with Kurdish nationalism using unlawful political violence in the region. Further, the mission concluded that the events surrounding this particular incident —irrespective of the eventual verdict for or against the three accused— put into question the authorities’ will to carry out an effective investigation to uncover the real facts of the case."
~ KHRP, Semdinli Bombing Trial Observation Report.

Serhado has a new CD out, thanks to the hevals at KurdishInfo:

Serhados' "Xewna Jiyan" is now out in the stores both in Kurdistan and in Turkey.

22-year-old Serhado, was born in the Swedish capital of Stockholm with a blood-line originating from Midyad in the Merdin province of northern Kurdistan. He grew up with his mother, his older brother and younger sister in the segregated suburb of Sollentuna in Stockholm, not seeing much of his father during his childhood as his father was working for the Kurdish TV channel MED-TV in Belgium.

More at the link, plus a link to Serhado's website at which you can download one of the songs from the CD. Is Serhado, and the other Kurdish rappers, the dengbêj of Kurdistan's future? I would love to see interaction between the older generation of dengbêj and the younger because art and music, like history, does not have abrupt endings and beginnings. Nor do these things occur in a vacuum, but there is always some degree of continuity. Therefore it would be interesting to know how the young dengbêj draw upon tradition while embracing new and non-Kurdish forms of their art and what advice or comments the older dengbêj would have for the younger.

At zReportage, you can check out a new photo slide show of the women of PKK, in a short photo essay by Anastasia Taylor-Lind titled, "Kurdish Amazons." Click on the View Slide Show or you can view the photos individually (but in smaller format). Check out the kitten. As noted in the text that accompanies the photos, "With their camps in the mountains and an emphasis on education and equality, the PKK aims to offer an alternative model for Kurdish and Middle Eastern women." More on that from last November.

In a TDN article carried on KurdishInfo, it appears that military prosecutors have put their boots down on Nokta magazine, which broke the story of the paşa's diary and the two planned coups from 2004:

Police with search warrants on Friday raided a magazine that ran a story about two alledged coups planned in 2004 by senior officers in the military for possible information on an ongoing investigation.

The police closed all the entrances to the building before launching the search. The prosecutor's office in Istanbul's Bakırköy district acted on behalf of the military prosecutor's office.

CNN-Türk reported that the police were also searching for information linked a another case that involved a report prepared by the Office of the Chief of General Staff on the positions of various journalists and newspapers. The report was leaked to the press. Reports also said that the police were seizing the magazine's computers.

In the March 29 issue of the magazine, it was claimed that the commanders of the army, navy and the air force, together with the gendarmerie chief, planned two separate coups in 2004. The information was based on the supposed diaries of retired Navy Commander Özden Örnek, who denied owning such diaries.

The article claimed that the chief of general staff of the day, retired Gen. Hilmi Özkök, had opposed the top commanders.

Geez, what a shock!

While the raid and confiscations at Nokta are not surprising, shades of Ferhat Sarikaya and Semdinli in Amed certainly are surprising. According to a report in TNA, the Amed Bar Association will file a criminal complaint against Yaşar Paşa (Buyukanit) for interfering in the legal process of the Semdinli bombing investigation:

Diyarbakir Bar is preparing to file a criminal complaint against Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit claiming that his statements regarding the Semdinli Case may affect the judicial process.

Diyarbakir Bar head Sezgin Tanrikulu stated on Friday that referring opinions of the Chief of General Staff and his making statements frequently can only be explained with the unique character of Turkish democracy.

Buyukanit commented on Semdinli case at the press conference held on Thursday stating that the accusations targeted to Buyukanit have nothing to do with his personality, but the Turkish Armed Forces itself. "A legal murder was committed that will go down in history of law," said Buyukanit on Thursday.

". . . [U]nique character of Turkish democracy"--what a euphemism that is! More from the Gulf Times:

The remarks by the chief of the General Staff (on Semdinli) were aimed at influencing the legal process,” the head of the Diyarbakir Bar Association Sezgin Tanrikulu said in a statement, announcing the decision to take legal action against Buyukanit.

The particular article of the TCK (Turkish penal code) that Tanrikulu is invoking is Article 288:

A person who explicitly makes a verbal or written declaration for the purpose of influencing the public prosecutor, judge, the court, expert witness or witnesses until the final judgement is given about an investigation or prosecution will be imprisoned for a term from six months to three years. If this offence is committed through the press or media, the penalty to be imposed shall be increased by one half.

Now, there have been journalists charged with Article 288 for simply writing about investigations or trials. Hrant Dink and others at Agos newspaper had been charged with Article 288. More on all of those charges at IFEX.

However, as Article 288 clearly states, you don't have to simply write about these things, but you can be charged for talking about them, too. In the case of Yaşar Paşa, the one person with the most power in Turkey, and whose every word is reported on in the Turkish press . . . well, since Yaşar Paşa knows all of this very well, then I think it can easily be argued that his offence was committed through the press and media and should result in the increased penalty.

Let's review what happened with Ferhat Sarikaya and the Semdinli investigation, including Yaşar Paşa's meddling in the affair, from HRW:

In late February, Sabri Uzun, Director of the Police Security Intelligence Bureau, raised concern about possible military involvement in the bombings in Şemdinli when he was questioned by a parliamentary commission. He indicated in coded but quite clear terms that the November 1 explosion had possibly been the work of people within the security forces, and expressed doubt that the gendarmes indicted for the bookshop attack could have been in Şemdinli without the knowledge of higher ranking officials, as claimed. Within a month Sabri Uzun was removed from his post. This administrative sanction appears to be an attempt to intimidate any other public officials who might be considering providing information to the parliamentary commission, or offering testimony in the Şemdinli prosecutions.

On March 3, 2006, the prosecutor in the Şemdinli bombing case, Mr Ferhat Sarıkaya, issued an indictment, in which he also proposed that further investigations be carried out to determine whether senior military officers had ordered the attack on the bookshop. The indictment suggested that a motive for the original killing may have been “[t]o bring the local [Kurdish] population to a state where it can be lured with ease into action … then exaggerating this threat beyond its true level, in order to prepare the way for violent measures by the state and to permit emergency rule to take precedence over the administrative system in the region … permitting security chaos in the region to be used to apply pressure on the political authority, and thereby … to frustrate Turkey’s fundamental political directions—the modernizing project, the EU process—and to protect the power and place of the core political/bureaucratic governing elite.” The indictment also referred by name to a general who had reportedly described one of the alleged perpetrators as “a good offıcer.” On March 20, the Office of the Chief of General Staff issued a statement that the indictment was “political … aiming to undermine the Turkish Armed Forces and the fight against terror,” and made a complaint against the prosecutor. By April 21, the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors had taken Prosecutor Sarıkaya off the case, removed him from his job, and stripped him of his status as a lawyer for “abuse of his duty and exceeding his authority.”

The general referred to by name was none other than Yaşar Paşa, Land Forces Commander at the time.

This is going to be very interesting to watch. Will the charges go through? Will Sezgin Tanrikulu go the way of Ferhat Sarikaya? Will every lawyer in Amed be rounded up and arrested à la DTP? Will the paşas resurrect their coup plans from 2004? Are Yaşar Paşa's brayings about an invasion of South Kurdistan a distraction from the charge of influencing the legal process?

Stay tuned.

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