Thursday, April 10, 2008


"I asked a Burmese why women, after centuries of following their men, now walk ahead. He said there were many unexploded land mines since the war."
~ Robert Mueller.

Gordon Taylor has another piece on the guerrillas--an epitaph for Şehîd Halil Uysal:

Halil seems to have had an affinity for his chosen terrain. His PKK code name was Halil Dağ ("Halil Mountain"), and he wrote about his mountains as well as photographing them. I used a lot of images from the PKK's website (see some of them here), and it now seems likely that quite a few of those were actually made by Halil. But it is as a filmmaker that Halil won his biggest audience. Hevallo, at this post, gives a synopsis of the three films that Halil made while living in the mountains, and provides video clips as well.

I have not, I confess, ever seen Halil's films. Turkish newspapers have dismissed them as propaganda, and by their standards of course they are correct. But to Turkish nationalists anything (including this post) is vicious pro-terrorist propaganda when it dares to depict the soldiers of the PKK as human beings. Well, guilty as charged. The young man above looks like a human being to me.

Toprağı bol olsun. Rest in peace, Halil Bey.

Şehîd nemirin!

What have I been complaining about for a while? Among other things:

The Initiative for a Turkey without Mines has said that despite its promise to destroy its stock of landmines by 1 March, Turkey has not completed the operation.

Making a statement before the First International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on 4 April, the initiative said that, still, every three days a person was wounded or killed by a landmine in Turkey.

[ . . . ]

The Ottawa Convention was negotiated ten years ago and ratified by Turkey in 2003. According to the convention, Turkey is supposed to have cleared all the landmines in the ground by 2014.

[ . . . ]

Between 1950-55 and 1984-94, 1 million mines were buried in Turkey. There are a further 3 million mines stored which need to be destroyed.

As I've written previously, the Ankara regime has made no effort to clear mines from The Southeast, nor has it followed proper mine protocol.

It's amazing that the Ankara regime does absolutely nothing to improve the situation of its own citizens. The regime got involved with compliance for the Ottawa Treaty way back in 2000. Here we are in 2008, and still nothing has been done, and this is all supposed to be taken care of by 2014.

I have one piece of advice: Don't hold your breath.

See how well Turkey complies with the treaties to which it's signatory?

More mine news, this time from South Kurdistan:

De-mining operations continue but have been slowed due to natural difficulties and lack of military maps of planted mines.

Landmines are everywhere in Kurdistan Region. The mines, nearly three for every person in Kurdistan Region, were laid mostly against Kurdish armed movements since the 1960s, more so than at any other time during regional wars over the past three decades.

The Iraqi government announced recently that nearly 25 million mines lay unearthed over the entire country. Sources from the Kurdistan Region Mine Action Agency (MAA) say that most of those- nearly 12-15 million- are in the region.

There were 18 mine victims in Kurdistan during the first three months of 2008; 4 died and 14 were wounded, including two de-miners. Eight of them were in Suleimaniya and the rest were in Duhok and Erbil, according to information provided by Ako Aziz, MAA director of Mine Risk Education.

In 2007, 13 people, mostly villagers, were killed and 36 were wounded due to explosives and mine explosions. Most occurred in Chamchamal west of Suleimaniya, Zakho in Duhok province, and in Choman northeast of Erbil.

[ . . . ]

On the anniversary of International Mine Ban Treaty of Ottawa, on April 4, the MAA handed over nine minefields to landowners. The MAA alone has cleaned 1.5 square kilometers of 4,000 land mines and 9 square kilometers of 11,500,000 other unexploded ordnance.

Much de-mining operation time is spent on preparations for removing mines because of lack of basic data.

"Unfortunately, we don't have military maps [of the planted mines]; very, very little has reached us," said Barzani [Siraj Barzani, head of the MAA]. "For example, for a landmine that needs to be cleaned in nine months, we spend several months on preparatory works." Many of the minefields are located in hard-to-reach mountainous areas where it is hard to transport equipment, and conditions may have changed the positions of the mines over the years.

Credit where credit is due: Bravo to KRG for continuing to slog it out in their battle with the mines. Now, of course, there are all those cluster bombs to clear, too.


Phil West said...

Hello Mizgin,
I have been reading your blog for quite a while now and I agree with many of your posts, and I think you are a courageous and forthright woman. I would like you to comment about the recent conviction of Leyla Zana in a court in Amed for saying that the Kurds have three leaders - Barzani, Talabani, and Ocalan. In my view (and you may not agree) Barzani and Talabani have shown that they are not worthy of such an honor, although certainly Ms. Zana (whom I otherwise respect) is entitled to her views.

Phil West

Anonymous said...

Mr. Phil West, if you've been reading Mizgin's blog for quite some time, her opinion about Barzani and Talabani shouldn't be a mystery to you.

What else do you expect from her -- should she bash anyone who calls Barzani and Talabani a Leader?

my oh my, the plot thickens...


Hamo said...

It seems to me Turks are doing what ever they can to make Kurdish Independence as quick as possible. How else would we explain all of these abuse, torture and killings of not just ordinary civilian Kurds but well known Kurds in public eye? I guess this is why some people called it in the past "Dirty War". I wonder who would most benefit from the growing and long war within the region surely won't be the people who suffer daily from these violence’s but namely arms and drug dealers. Continuation of backward, fascistic regimes in the region would be another explanation why the violence is increasing by the regional fascist armies such as Turkish, Iran and Syrian forces.

Mizgîn said...

"I wonder who would most benefit from the growing and long war within the region . . . "

Lockheed Martin, among others, Hamo.

Phil, Leyla Zana spoke the truth and anyone who speaks the truth in Turkey is prosecuted. The Kurds in South Kurdistan have Barzani and Talabani as their leaders. Kurds in the North have Ocalan.

Remember, too, that before Talabani went recently to Ankara, Zana said publicly that he should come with "honor". I guess he failed at that because no DTP was present during Talabani's "unofficial" visit--"unofficial" because Talabani is a Kurd. Apparently, the objection of DTP (and Zana) had to do with the timing of the visit.

As for the "worthiness" of the Southern leadership, well, they are there, in leadership positions and to a great extent, so far, they have failed in the responsibilities of leadership.

I mean, there are Barzanis in the US who are not happy with the way things have been going.

Recently, the KRG voted to stay within Iraq and Barzani announced the news. On this, it is difficult to criticize them--in spite of the fact that 98% of the Kurdish population of the South wants independence--because at this point there is no practical means of securing an independent South. There is also a way to overcome the problem of borders, and that is the idea of confederalism as proposed by Ocalan.

The Southern leadership is in a position to bring the situation of Kurds in Syria, Turkey, and Iran to public light by at least being more vocal about it, but they are not doing this. On the contrary, over the last few years they have repressed popular demonstrations against various incidents--such as the murder of Shivan Qaderi by the mullah regime in 2005.

There was a lot of potential strength there that they have squandered.

However, I believe the Southern leadership are more easily capable of changing than is the Turkish regime (in addition to the big problem of the 80+ years of brainwashing the Turkish public, which is a huge monster). However, they will never change if they are not criticized.