Sunday, May 18, 2008


"The evidence suggests that the GAP project has not delivered the growth and the benefits promised by the State to everyone in the region, because it has not adequately tackled the effects on women, children and men of an unequal land distribution in a landlord system (doubling as a political/religious system), the effects of armed conflict (including forced displacement), lack of provision of literacy in Kurdish and the export of much of the electricity and other goods generated out of the region."
~ The Cultural and Environmental Impact of Large Dams in Southeast Turkey.

Hevallo mocks the Queen and the Turkish first lady in a dialog that positively drips black humor. He's also got a post on Ahmet Türk's recent statement that has been twisted out of all recognition by the Turkish media. There's also been an objection to the hype at Kurdish Aspect. Taraf has carried a bit of clarification of Türk's statements, which appeared in an interview with Soranî-speakers who may have been with PUK Media. Türk is a Kurmancî speaker. Basically, Türk says that PKK is not the cause of the Kurdish question in Turkey, but is a result of the Ankara regime's longstanding policies. In the Taraf article, Hasip Kaplan, DTP Şirnak parliamentarian and Kamuran Yüksek, DTP's vice chairman, were present with Ahmet Türk during the interview in South Kurdistan, and both back up Türk's clarification.

On another subject, the dramatic increase in global food prices is no longer news to anyone who has to shop for food. In North Kurdistan, the price of rise increased from about 1.2 YTL/kilo last year to 5 YTL/kilo during the first part of this year. The AKP government blamed this increase on commodities speculators and encouraged the population to substitute bulghar for rice. As a result, the price of rice in North Kurdistan seems to have stabilized for the time being at around 2 YTL/kilo.

However, it's not only commodities speculators who are affecting the prices of food staples, as described in Britain's Independent at the beginning of the month:

Giant agribusinesses are enjoying soaring earnings and profits out of the world food crisis which is driving millions of people towards starvation, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. And speculation is helping to drive the prices of basic foodstuffs out of the reach of the hungry.

The prices of wheat, corn and rice have soared over the past year driving the world's poor – who already spend about 80 per cent of their income on food – into hunger and destitution.

The World Bank says that 100 million more people are facing severe hunger. Yet some of the world's richest food companies are making record profits. Monsanto last month reported that its net income for the three months up to the end of February this year had more than doubled over the same period in 2007, from $543m (£275m) to $1.12bn. Its profits increased from $1.44bn to $2.22bn.

Cargill's net earnings soared by 86 per cent from $553m to $1.030bn over the same three months. And Archer Daniels Midland, one of the world's largest agricultural processors of soy, corn and wheat, increased its net earnings by 42 per cent in the first three months of this year from $363m to $517m. The operating profit of its grains merchandising and handling operations jumped 16-fold from $21m to $341m.

Similarly, the Mosaic Company, one of the world's largest fertiliser companies, saw its income for the three months ending 29 February rise more than 12-fold, from $42.2m to $520.8m, on the back of a shortage of fertiliser. The prices of some kinds of fertiliser have more than tripled over the past year as demand has outstripped supply. As a result, plans to increase harvests in developing countries have been hit hard.

Prior to its article on agribusiness criminality, the Independent ran an article on the myth (or PR campaign?) of the high yields of genetically-modified crops.

Then there's the myth of the IMF and the devastating results of its food policies--designed specifically to enhance the profit margin of agribusiness:

The food crisis is essentially a structural problem. It goes much deeper than this kind of perfect storm scenario that a lot of people have been painting. It has to do with three decades or more of structural adjustment programs, trade liberalization policies that have forced many countries to dramatically alter their food production and to shift to becoming, in many cases, import-dependent. So there's been this move to push production into places that they say is more efficient, and the advice given by agencies like the World Bank and the IMF has been to say, "Let others look after your food production. They can do it more efficiently. You focus on other things."

[ . . . ]

And in the midst of all this, in the global food system that's been created over the last few decades, we have some corporations that sit in the middle of it all and who really have taken a stronger and stronger position in managing the food system. They're the ones who are profiting immensely now from this food crisis. So even though we're in a situation where millions of people can no longer afford to fulfill their basic food needs, you have corporations making record profits, a company like Cargill, which is one of the world's biggest grain traders.

Of course, the temporary relief provided by a boycott of rice and subsitution of bulghar in North Kurdistan may be short-lived, as North Kurdistan (as well as South Kurdistan) is currently suffering through a severe drought. Things are so bad that farmers from Mardin have petitioned DTP to request that the TBMM declare the regions around Mardin as disaster regions. The Mardin area produces 22% of Turkey's barley, wheat, chickpea, and lentil crop and the drought is killing these crops.

It's ironic that Mardin's farmers should be calling for a declaration of a disaster region when GAP has been operating since the late 1980s with the promise of irrigating The Southeast. Yet it's only the area around Urfa that benefits from GAP irrigation while the rest of The Southeast thirsts for water not only for crops, but for the peoples' livestock as well.

So much bullshit, so little time. But, then, what this really is is the continuation of Ankara regime policies to destroy the livelihood and culture of the Kurds of Turkey.

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