Thursday, December 17, 2009

UPDATE ON TURKISH POLITICS

“The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth.”
~ Albert Camus.


Check out these retards as an example of what is passing for politics in Turkey these days:


"Let kids watch the prime minister!":

Regarding MHP chairman Bahçeli, [in recent days] Erdoğan said, "Keep your children away from the TV when Mr. Bahçeli talks." When Bahçeli was reminded of this statement, Bahçeli said, "Apparently he doesn't listen to us very well. There is no need for such polemics. What if I say, "I suggest that children watch Mr. Prime Minister. Let them always watch him. I think they will have as much amusement as if they are watching Walt Disney movies."


Of course, Bahçeli then goes on to engage in polemics.

Forget about Disney, however; Turkish politics more closely resembles the inhabitants of Bikini Bottom from SpongeBob SquarePants:


(Credit: bobiler.org)

Notice the resemblance between Squidward Tentacles and Bahçeli?



































Now we just need the creators of SpongeBob to add a character that looks like Deniz Baykal.

Yes, boys and girls, the inmates really are running the asylum.

That is all.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

THE TURKISH LOBBY, THE NEOCONS, AND THE CRUSADE TO FREE THE ERGENEKON TERRORISTS

"The enlargement of the Ergenekon investigation will improve the standards of our democracy. Not only the Ergenekon on the western side of the Euphrates River, but also the one on the eastern side should be investigated, and a real 'clean hands' operation should be started."
~ Ahmet Türk.


A very interesting video was brought to my attention by a reader in the comments section here.

Let's take a look:




Wayne Madsen makes some interesting speculations about Katil Erdoğan's visit to Washington last week, which ended up with the resignation of Turkey's ambassador to the US, Nabi Şensoy.

Madsen speculates that Obama spoke to Katil Erdoğan about the Ergenekon prosecutions with the intent of dropping them and freeing the Ergenekon terrorists. He points out that the paşas would like to see an end to the prosecutions. We know that the Ergenekon terrorists were actually sponsored by the US as part of the CIA's Gladio stay-behind program and that the charges they face today are minor in comparison to the terror they carried out against the Kurdish people in The Southeast--for which they are not being prosecuted.

Madsen mentions that Turkish lobby organizations in the US, like the American Turkish Council (ATC), have been trying to influence the US government into pressuring the AKP to drop the Ergenekon issue. Although I have not seen evidence of the ATC's overt involvement in this particular aspect of influence peddling, there is a Turkish organization that has been working on exactly this matter and it has a relationship with the ATC. That organization is the ARI Foundation.

As was brought up in comments in a post on Sibel Edmonds' website, the ARI Foundation hosted a seminar last month for the US Congress in which the members of the foundation urged Congress to "intervene urgently to stop the trial . . . " From VoltaireNet:


. . . [O]n 18 November 2009 a seminar was held at the U.S. Congress to deny the existence of Ergenekon, putting it down as a myth invented by the Erdogan Government to discredit Army Chief of Staff, General Mehmet Yaşar Büyükanıt, and the U.S.-friendly officers in his entourage, in the hope of imposing an Islamic state.

The participants stressed that the United States should intervene urgently to stop the trial, but should not do so openly since it would feed into the "conspiracy theories" purporting that NATO has set up a "Deep State" in Turkey which has manipulated or attempted to manipulate public institutions for decades.

The seminar was organised by the ARI Foundation, a low-profile think-tank bent on promoting relations between Washington and Ankara. Actually, ARI is a front for the Atlanticist-Israeli lobby. In accordance with Robert Strausz-Hupé’s policies, ARI is promoting a Tel-Aviv-Ankara axis under NATO auspices for the control of the Middle East.


The piece mentions the ARI Foundation's connections to the Israeli lobby, especially the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). WINEP was founded by former US ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, who started his "public service" career as a research director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC. Indyk also served as a founding director for WINEP.

Yurter Özcan, the president of the ARI Foundation, works with Turk neocon Soner Çağaptay, who is the director of WINEP's Turkish "Research" Program.

The first of ARI Foundation's symposia was presented in 2002 and featured Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum. Other contributors to their symposia include AIPAC spy Steve Rosen, who now works with Daniel Pipes' Middle East Forum.

Former Florida congressman Robert Wexler has also been involved with the ARI Foundation. Wexler is a co-founder of the Caucus on US-Turkish Relations who recently resigned his congressional seat to take a temporary job with a minor pro-Israeli think tank while he waits out the one-year ban that former congressmen must wait before taking up lucrative lobbying jobs. My money says that, as soon as Wexler passes the one-year mark, he'll slide right into a nice, cushy, lobbying job for the Turkish government.

Also involved with the ARI Foundation is Zeyno Baran, an Ergenekon defender at the very neoconservative Hudson Institute.

For tax purposes, the ARI Foundation lists Gunay Evinch (Günay Övunç) as it's contact person. Övunç is, of course, the current president of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA). The ARI Foundation has conducted anti-Armenian Genocide propaganda in conjunction with the ATAA, and you had better believe that if an organization or person is anti-Armenian Genocide, they're anti-Kurd as well.

Furthermore, those who've been moaning the most about the suffering paşas, current and retired, are the Israelis and neoconservatives. Here's a sample from a recent column in the Jerusalem Post:


TURKEY'S BREAK with the West; its decisive rupture with Israel and its opposition to the US in Iraq and Iran was predictable. Militant Islam of the AKP variety has been enjoying growing popularity and support throughout Turkey for many years. The endemic corruption of Turkey's traditional secular leaders increased the Islamists' popularity. Given this domestic Turkish reality, it is possible that Erdogan and his fellow Islamists' rise to power was simply a matter of time.

But even if the AKP's rise to power was eminently predictable, its ability to consolidate its control over just about every organ of governance in Turkey as well as what was once a thriving free press [Haha, good one! -- Mizgîn], and change completely Turkey's strategic posture in just seven years was far from inevitable. For these accomplishments the AKP owes a debt of gratitude to both the Bush and Obama administrations, as well as to the EU.

The Bush administration ignored the warnings of secular Turkish leaders in the country's media, military and diplomatic corps that Erdogan was a wolf in sheep's clothing. Rather than pay attention to his past attempts to undermine Turkey's secular, pro-Western character and treat him with a modicum of suspicion, after the AKP electoral victory in 2002 the Bush administration upheld the AKP and Erdogan as paragons of Islamist moderation and proof positive that the US and the West have no problem with political Islam.

[ . . . ]

In Turkey itself, the administration's enthusiastic embrace of the AKP meant that Erdogan encountered no Western opposition to his moves to end press freedom in Turkey; purge the Turkish military of its secular leaders and end its constitutional mandate to preserve Turkey's secular character [Turkey is not secular; read the constitution -- Mizgîn]; intimidate and disenfranchise secular business leaders and diplomats; and stack the Turkish courts with Islamists. That is, in the name of its support for its water-downed definition of democracy, the US facilitated Erdogan's subversion of all the Turkish institutions that enabled liberal norms to be maintained and kept Turkey in the Western alliance.


So, yeah, we all know that Turkey was an absolute paradise while under absolute paşa rule, but if the JPost writer wants to blame the Bush administration, she'd damn well better blame her neoconservative colleagues. Here's a blast from the past (circa 2004) from the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, published by Daniel Pipes' Middle East Forum:


While Erdogan and other AKP leaders unabashedly affirm their private religious convictions, they advocate secularism in the conventional Western sense of the term. "Before anything else, I'm a Muslim . . . I have a responsibility to God, who created me, and I try to fulfill that responsibility, but I try now very much to keep this away from my political life, to keep it private," Erdogan told the New York Times last year. "A political party cannot have a religion, only individuals can . . . religion is so supreme that it cannot be [politically] exploited or taken advantage of," he explained.[5]

[ . . .]

Ironically, the old line Kemalists, who for 80 years preached about the need to modernize and Westernize Turkey, have in many ways become the reactionaries in Turkey, while the "Islamists" have taken the lead in promoting Western-style reforms. In spite of the dismal electoral fortunes of nationalist political parties in 2002, the Kemalist elite continues to dominate not only Turkey's military, but also its civilian bureaucracy, judiciary, and media. The so-called "deep state" in Turkey has resisted many of the changes introduced by the AKP.

[ . . . ]

Turkey, a country of about 70 million Muslims, most of whom are religious, is ruled today by a conservative party with an Islamic pedigree and a humane, tolerant, and democratic track record. Can we generalize from the AKP's experience? Not without some care. Turkey is quite different from the rest of the Middle East, whether Arab or Persian. What works in Ankara will not necessarily work in Tehran, Damascus or Baghdad. Nonetheless, there are definitely lessons to be learned.


Read the whole thing because it contains an accurate description of how the Bush administration pushed aside long-time American allies in Turkey . . . you know, the paşas, in favor of Islamists. Then think about how the US has always chosen Islamist regimes over secular ones. Do the terms "Afghan mujahedin" or "Taliban" ring any bells? In 2004, it would appear that everything was sweetness and light, with the pro-Israeli neoconservatives praising AKP and Katil Erdoğan to the heavens. What a difference a few years makes among fascists! But for the pro-paşa, pro-Israeli neoconservative opinion on Ergenekon, check the AEI's Michael Rubin or the Middle East Forum or the columnist section of the Jerusalem Post, and all those who cooked up the Clean Break.

In any event, we can see that Madsen is totally correct when he emphasizes the links between the Turkish and Israeli lobbies, and it's extremely unfortunate that more people in media aren't talking about the fact.

Did Obama actually talk to Katil Erdoğan about releasing the Ergenekon terrorists? I doubt it. Obama and Erdoğan certainly had more pressing matters to talk about, like coordinating NATO's heroin industry in Afghanistan in order to keep Goldman Sachs alfoat. The US has backed the AKP and Fethullahçı from AKP's initial rise to power and Gülen's movement provides some inside access to The Grand Chessboard of Central Asia. Certainly Gülen was deeply involved with the Ergenekon terrorists but it no longer serves his purposes to have anything to do with them nor does he have any need to try to save them from prosecution. Besides, Gülen is a valuable asset to the US right these days.

Gülen's disciples have followed his command to "work patiently and to creep silently into the institutions in order to seize power in the state". The paşas no longer force out Islamists from the TSK's officer corps. Fethullahçı moles inside the Turkish general staff leaked the information about the coup attempts metnioned by Madsen. Gülen's star slowly rises while that of the paşas slowly sets, and who is hosting Gülen? Who is protecting him? Who was it that approved Katil Erdoğan as the leader of Turkey while Erdoğan was banned from holding political office?

Let the CIA worry when Tansu Çiller is arrested.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A BAD MOON RISES OVER TURKEY

I see the bad moon arising.
I see trouble on the way.
I see earthquakes and lightning.
I see bad times today.
~ John Fogerty.


This weekend, Yüksekova and Hakkari led the way on payback for the new realities on the ground in Turkey.

Below is a video from Yüksekova showing the protests in the city this weekend. Please note that although it may be possible for some people to mistake the police in this video for Israeli security forces and the protestors as Gazans, this is not the case.

Although, it's also possible for some to ask me what the difference is between Turkish and Israeli security forces and I'd have to say, "None."




Here's a similar video (hat tip: Özgür Gündem), which shows a pack of Turkish--not Israeli--police severely beating one Kurd--not a Palestinian.




In Beytüşşebap, Molotov cocktails and stones were thrown at the Kaymakam's headquarters and the post office building. There were also clashes with police. My sources indicate that no DTP party members intervened to end the beating of two not-so-lucky police in Beytüşşebap. There's a tiny bit from ANF on that here: http://www.firatnews.com/index.php?rupel=nuce&nuceID=18508 and something at Özgür Gündem.

The word from the region is that not only did the Kurds of Hakkari beat the shit out of two Turkish police, the people had also disarmed the police. In a moment of irony, if not for the intervention of DTP party members, the goat-smelling asses of these two police would have been torn to pieces by the crowd. You can see a video of those police getting what they so richly deserve, here.

Better luck next time.

Radikal had a number of photos from Hakkari, here. Below is a selection:












(I'm sorry, Mr. Police, but if you really love your fascist regime, you'll have to part with much, much more of your blood than that.)


In another item, I noticed that Radikal was reluctant to show the faces of two fascists who shot Şevket Aslan, a Kurdish youth who was attending a protest against DTP's closure in İstanbul Beyoğlu, but ANF had no such qualms. Here are the photos:





(Source: http://www.firatnews.com/gallery/index.php?rupel=galeri&gid=2491)

The images were captured by an AFP photographer. I hope they are spread around as much as possible so that these two hyenas can meet with an untimely end.

Human Rights Watch released a statement on DTP's closure. It says, "Blah, blah, blah, blah", which is exactly the same thing the ECHR is going to say about DTP's closure when their case finally makes its way through all the bullshit legal hurdles of the world's finest "democracies".

Excuse me for a moment while I vomit.

To end on a positive note, almost 800 new guerrillas have joined HPG in the last nine months (Source: http://www.firatnews.com/index.php?rupel=nuce&nuceID=18013). That's almost 100 new recruits per month. With any luck, by the spring we may see an increase in that average.

Friday, December 11, 2009

OUR HOPE, OUR GUERRILLAS

"All oppression creates a state of war."
~ Simone de Beauvoir.





Unsurprisingly, the Turkish constitutional court has banned DTP.

The following DTP politicians have been banned from participating in politics for five years:


Abdulkadir Fırat
Abdullah İsnaç
Ahmet Ay
Ahmet Ertak
Ahmet Türk
Ali Bozan
Ayhan Ayaz
Aydın Budak
Ayhan Karabulut
Aysel Tuğluk
Bedri Fırat
Cemal Kuhak
Deniz Yeşilyurt
Ferhan Türk
Fettah Dadaş
Hacı Üzen
Halit Kahraman
Hatice Adıbelli
Hüseyin Bektaşoğlu
Hüseyin Kalkan
Hilmi Aydoğdu
İzzet Belge
Kemal Aktaş
Leyla Zana
Mehmet Salim Sağlam
Mehmet Veysi Dilekçi
Metin Tekçe
Murat Avcı
Murat Taş
Musa Farisoğlulları
Necdet Atalay
Nurettin Demirtaş
Orhan Miroğlu
Sedat Yurttaş
Selim Sadak


Before the decision by the constitutional court, DTP had widely announced throughout Turkish media that all its parliamentarians would resign from the parliament if a decision to close were reached. If DTP holds to its word, such an evacuation of its parliamentarians from the TBMM will result in early elections, within three months' time.

It appears that there is no longer a political party that speaks for the Kurdish people, in spite of the overwhelming support that the DTP received in the 29 March elections.

Since this is the case, as it was with every other pro-Kurdish party before the DTP, there is only one organization that can speak for the Kurdish people and it spoke so loudly a few days ago that all of Turkey heard it. From HPG (Source: http://www.hpg-online.com/tr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=546:tokat-eylemi-bir-birimimizin-kendi-nisiyatifiyle-gercekletirdii-misilleme-eylemidir&catid=37:anakarargah-alamalar&Itemid=300):


The Tokat operation is an operation that one of our units conducted on its own initiative

Thursday, 10 December 2009 15:08

To the press and the public!

The annihilation operations by the Turkish state and army against our forces, who have been in an inactive position since the beginning of April by the decision of our organization, the oppression against the Kurdish people, the assimilation policies against democratic associations, and the attacks against our Leader Apo through his living conditions, have not reduced but have increased day by day.

In this sense, as a retaliation against the recent operations that have been conducted [by Turkish forces] against one of our young patriots, Aydın Erdem's martyrdom in Amed (Diyarbakır), and the "grave" policies conducted against our Leadership, one of our units under our Dersim state conducted a retaliation operation under its own initiative on 7 December in Tokat's Reşadiye district, Sazak region, which resulted in 7 TSK deaths and 3 wounded.

Throughout the inactivity period our forces demonstrated great sensitivity and responsibility against the attacks conducted by the Turkish state's system. However, it should be very well known that the Kurdish People's Defense Forces guerrillas are very sensitive about our Leadership and martyrs. If martyrs and our Leadership is the case, each one of our units has the right to use their initiative.

10 December 2009

HPG Headquarters Command


The HPG units from Dersim that conducted this operation reached into an area of Turkey well known as a stronghold of MHP. There are no local HPG units in the Tokat area. HPG reached where Turkey thought it was most safe.

Hold on to your seats and get ready for more of the same. If you think you're safe, you're probably not.

Do I need to mention that the "Kurdish initiative" is dead?


Bijî Gerîla!

Çok Yaşa Gerilla!

Çok Yaşa Önder Apo!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

WITHOUT TURKEY'S KURDS, THERE IS NO SOLUTION

"In 1993, a ceasefire was declared by the Kurdish opposition. The EU tried to pressure Turkey to respond constructively to it. Instead, the Turkish government, with crucial US support, escalated the war. That led to years of further atrocities and destruction."
~ Noam Chomsky.


Here's an opinion piece on the current situation in Turkey from Radikal's Oral Çalışlar:


There won't be any solution without Turkey's Kurds


With the recent days' events (DTP's closure case, the reaction after Öcalan was transferred to a smaller cell, and, finally, the seven troops who were killed in an ambush in Tokat), the Kurdish "initiative" is in a sharp curve.

I prefer to call it a sharp curve rather than an impasse. The conditions for the solution to the Kurdish question are available despite all the barriers.

Most of Turkish society's preference, despite everything, still favors a solution. I can see most of the Kurds also want a solution. I think the ones who don't want a solution among Turks are not the majority. It is not possible that death and war be the desire of the majority.

Of course, whatever the conditions are, it is a must that the "initiative" be based on a right strategy and the process must be managed very well based on this strategy. From the days that the first steps were taken for the Kurdish "initiative" some mistakes have been made. If these mistakes can be identified and lessons can be learned from previous mistakes, the "Kurdish initiative" can be on track again.

When I listen to the sides carefully, I can reason the events went on as follows:

The government--maybe it would be better to call it the state--got into the feeling that it could squeeze PKK and "would be able to convince" it by reaching an agreement with Northern Iraq's Kurdistan administrators and with US support to take PKK down from the mountains and empty the Maxmur camp.

The government conceived that the international conjuncture was available. It made some alliances with Iran, Syria, the Kurdistan administration in Northern Iraq, the Iraq government and the US for a solution in the region and to disarm PKK. The government thought these alliances would be sufficient. It presupposed the problem would be solved with these alliances.

DTP states that the government did not inform it about the road map and deliberately mentioned that it does not know what AKP is trying to do. Kongra-Gel chairman, Zübeyir Aydar, who I met in Brussells, stressed that they have not received any information regarding bringing PKK down from the mountains.

This stoppage could be overcome by talking to DTP. However, the severe criticism by the opposition and nationalistic protests pushed the government to inactivity.

In this ambiguous situation, the judiciary and police moved forward and several big operations have been conducted against DTP. Tens of DTP administrators were imprisoned.

The scenes occured after 34 PKK members, who entered from Silopi based on Ocalan's call, scared the government more. and this resulted in a slow down in the initiative the government started by taking some risks. Slowing down put DTP on the target. An approach could be summarized as "DTP is the common target." occured. Despite all its weaknesses, DTP is a party consisting of legal representatives from Turkey's Kurds. They are the ones who can contribute the most for a solution of the question if they are left with enough room. However, the different voices coming from them were reflected in an exaggerated way that can trigger reaction from the public. The west of Turkey was conditioned negatively against DTP.

However this is a fact that the Kurdish question is Turkey's own internal problem. In a hierarchichal rank, the first addressees of this problem are Turkey's Kurds. For them, the most effective power is DTP. Turkey's Kurds, in a way, are the leaders of all Kurdish culture. DTP is the representative party of the struggle for Kurdish identity in Turkey. They should be the first and prioritized addressees for this problem. To bring PKK down from the mountains, Öcalan is one of the most important possibilities. It is possible for Öcalan to contribute toward solving the problem.

The power that rules Turkey does not move from this point of view, despite the fact that it sees this reality.

In recent days, scenarios such as "there are other Kurds, we can settle the matter with them" are produced. If you go to Diyarbakir or any other place in The Southeast, you will see that the demand of identity that DTP voices is the common demand of all Kurds--no matter what parties they vote for.

It is a must to see we cannot get anywhere with the "Good Kurds/Bad Kurds" duality. The demands of almost all the Kurds are common. Despite their different political approaches, different political preferences, there isn't any difference, in essence, in their identity demands.

All this requires stressing the following: For the success of the Kurdish initiative, it is necessary to include Turkey's Kurds in the process. Without them, a result cannot come about.


What I have said for a long time: "It is necessary to include Turkey's Kurds in the process. Without them, a result cannot come about."


Amin.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

DTP CLOSURE HEARING BEGINS

"Democracy is only a dream: it should be put in the same category as Arcadia, Santa Claus, and Heaven."
~ H. L. Mencken.


Turkey's constitutional court began its hearing today on DTP's closure case, a case that was first submitted back in November 2007. Here is DTP's statement on the hearing, from the DTP office in Washington DC:


TO INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC OPINION

On 20 November 2007, a lawsuit was opened at the Constitutional Court demanding the closure of the Democratic Society Party (Demokratik Toplum Partisi – DTP) . On 8 December 2009, the Constitutional Court will meet and issue a decision regarding the closure case, which has been continuing for two years. If the case - which has been hanging over our party like Democles’ sword for two years – ends in a decision in favor of closure, it won’t be the first time it’s happened to parties doing politics in the name of the Kurds of Turkey. As HEP, DEP, OZDEP, and HADEP were closed, DEHAP decided to dissolve itself as its own closure case was pending. The reason for the demand to close these parties has been their approach to the Kurdish Problem.

The closure case against DTP conflicts with universal legal principles. Likewise, despite the 10% election threshold intended to obstruct the representation of Kurds in parliament, the DTP succeeded in electing 22 parliamentarians by fielding independent candidates in the 22 July 2007 elections, and subsequently formed a parliamentary group with 21 deputies. Our party has made big contributions to Turkish democracy through our effective opposition in parliament, active participation in legislative activities, and introduction of a democratic struggle for the country’s democratization. In order to solve the Kurdish problem in a democratic, peaceful and conciliatory way, by submitting extensive projects in the Turkish Grand National Assembly, our party has spearheaded the development of debate on a solution to the Kurdish problem.

With its presence and active opposition, DTP has exerted great effort to overcome the authoritarianism and narrow-minded mentality in Turkey. It has expressed the importance of the self-expression of different identities and cultures at every turn. It’s struggled to bring democracy to a pluralistic point. The current basis of the Constitution of the Turkish Republic is “one language, one nation, one culture”. This approach is stated in the constitution. The state’s evaluation of all identities and cultures other than “Turkishness” as “the other”, “enemy”, and “separatist” has caused many tragedies and created much pain since the establishment of the republic. The massacres in Dersim, Maras, Sivas, Corum, and Gazi are a few examples. The policies of denial, destruction, and assimilation imposed on Kurds during the Republic’s 86 year history have resulted in 29 Kurdish rebellions. Kocgiri, Sheik Said, Agri, Dersim and various other Kurdish rebellions were suppressed in a very bloody way. Believing that their painful history is not destiny, that democracy and peace will eventually be established on the thousands of years old land of Mesopotamia, and that different nations will definitely live equally and freely together, Kurdish people have never given up the struggle for freedom, democracy, and peace.

After the 29 March 2009 local elections, debate of the Kurdish Problem in Turkey – called by its true name for the first time -- caused hope to grow among Turkish society. Discussions about the resolution of the Kurdish Problem stating that the process would be democratic and peaceful and not based on repression, destruction or denial generated hope. The belief in the existence of an option other than “dying and killing” and the possibility of a diplomacy based on the idea “to live and to let live” affected not only Kurds but all other communities positively. Notwithstanding the AKP’s insistence on excluding our party from the process, our party always shared its opinions and suggestions on turning the process into peace and democracy with public opinion. Despite our party’s efforts for democracy and peace, the AKP government defended waves of repression and arrests against our party and also prepared the ground for attempted lynchings against us through its statements. While intensifying repression of our party, AKP also increased military operations and granted approval for cross-border operations. Using the slogan “may the mothers stop crying,” policies the government carried out during the democratic opening process have caused many mothers to cry.

Even if the AKP’s arguments about the Kurdish issue are different, substantially it has imposed the state’s policy of solution-less deadlock without taking into consideration the will of Kurds and has striven to stifle the Kurds’ democratic opposition. This mentality is the fundamental reason for the closure against our party, which does political work on behalf of the Kurdish people. The subject of the closure case is our party’s perspective on the solution to the Kurdish question. At every opportunity, our party has defended the idea that the Kurdish Question is not a “terror” issue as claimed by Turkish state, but rather a question of a people’s freedom and exercise of legal, democratic rights. Our party believes that PKK is a result of the Kurdish issue and not a cause of it. Additionally, our party believes that the PKK and its leader Mr. Abdullah Öcalan must be included in the process in order to provide a permanent, democratic and peaceful solution. We have clearly submitted our perspectives on this issue to Turkish and international public opinion because of our responsibility regarding it. Demanding closure of a party because it doesn’t support the official state ideology and criticizes the state’s policies is incompatible with any democratic perspective, morality or law.

In this context, it is clear that main aim of AKP government’s project – first called the “Kurdish Opening,” later the “Democratic Opening” and later the “National Unity Project” -- is the elimination of Kurdish democratic opposition. The government’s long-imposed policies of refusal, denial and annihilation have become a fine-tuned approach of elimination with the so-called democratic opening. The emergence of our party’s closure case during this opening is a result of this approach.

During the closure case against the AKP, the head of the Constitutional Court stated the need to revise current legal provisions regarding closure of political parties and to bring existing procedures for closure of parties into line with modern democratic norms. To do this requires a majority in parliament, and this was the duty of the AKP government, which had a majority in parliament. AKP has stayed aloof to the closure process and hasn’t fulfilled its responsibility. Additionally, it’s tried to provide suitable conditions for DTP’s closure through its statements and conduct.

Despite all pressures, anti-democratic practices and inequalities, DTP pooled more than 2,500,000 votes and won 98 municipalities in Kurdish-inhabited areas in the 29 March 2009 local elections. DTP also has the fourth-biggest party group in parliament. The aim of our party’s closure is to push Kurds out of democratic politics, and closure wouldn’t express any other meaning. The possible closure verdict of 8 December won’t be a legal verdict; it will be a political one.

Finally, pushing the Democratic Society Party out of democratic politics would deepen the chaos and process of crisis in Turkey. It would weaken the Kurds’ belief in parliamentarian politics. The 1994 removal of DEP deputies from parliament and their subsequent imprisonment for tens of years is fresh in the memory of our people. Closing DTP wouldn’t bring any benefit to democracy in Turkey and would have negative effects on Turkey’s EU accession process and foreign politics.

We call on all of international public opinion to stand in solidarity against the closure of the Democratic Society Party in order to prevent closure of the democratic political channels which have been developed by the Kurdish people and to develop democracy in Turkey.


In addition to demanding a closure of DTP as a party, chief prosecutor Yalçınkaya also demanded that the court ban a number of DTP politicians from politics:


In the 121-page indictment, the chief prosecutor also demanded the top court ban 219 members of the DTP from politics, including DTP leader Ahmet Türk, along with deputies Aysel Tuğluk, Sebahat Tuncel, Osman Özçelik, İbrahim Binici, Sevahir Bayındır and Fatma Kurtulan. Under the Constitution, a majority of votes is required to outlaw a political party and in this case at least seven out of 11 members at the top court are needed to outlaw the DTP.


If the court decides not to ban DTP, there is still a possibility of a de facto ban on the party if the court decides to ban individual politicians from participating in politics. If most of DTP's politicians were not Kurds, no ban of any kind would even be considered after the fiasco of the AKP closure case.

So far, the only world leader who's spoken out against the closure of the DTP is the former Danish PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen. It should be remembered that it has been Denmark that has refused to cave into Turkish demands for the closure of Roj TV.

Now we'll wait to see what happens but, in any case, the "Kurdish Initiative" is effectively dead.

Friday, December 04, 2009

FRIDAY UPDATES: TURKISH LOBBY, ARMENIAN GENOCIDE, KURDS


"No national security considerations can be an excuse for the annihilation of a population by means of forced displacement and massacres."

~ DTP parliamentarian Selahattin Demirtaş on the Armenian Genocide.


A few updates:

First, Sibel Edmonds, Peter B. Collins, and I have a chat together over at Sibel's place.

Second, at the end of October it was announced that Brent Scowcroft would be stepping down as the chairman of the American Turkish Council (ATC), to be replaced by Richard Armitage.

I have been doing some digging into Armitage's background and will have three posts up at Sibel's Boiling Frogs Post. The first is here and the second is here. The third installment will be up in the very near future.

Finally, there is a very good interview with Taner Akçam at The Armenian Weekly. The focus of the interview is the Turkish protocols with Armenia, but Akçam is also asked quiestions about the wider picture. Akçam compares the Armenian situation of the past with the current Kurdish situation:


VEK: Will any of these developments impact current discussions related to the Kurdish Opening in Turkey?

TA: Definitely. We can only understand the Turkish-Armenian protocols if we consider the big picture. The Kurdish issue certainly is another part of this big picture. The Kurdish Opening is a direct product of the transition we are experiencing in Turkey. In terms of the Armenian issue, the Turkish government should follow the exact same steps that it has pursued regarding the Kurdish issue. If we examine how the Turkish government has been trying to solve the Kurdish issue, we will find ways to solve the Armenian issue. For example, what does it mean when we discuss the concept of acknowledging the truth? Until 2000 or 2002, or even as late as 2007, the Turkish government denied that the Kurdish people even existed. I was put in prison in 1975 because I wrote about the Kurds in Turkey. So acknowledgment of the truth is a central aspect in solving the Kurdish Question. With the reforms introduced after 2002, the Turkish government has acknowledged that there are Kurds living in Turkey. It should be the same for Armenians; something terrible happened and a crime occurred in 1915. By acknowledging the existence of the crime you can solve 1915.

Secondly, in the process of solving the Kurdish Question, the government has tried to establish justice. If you want to solve a problem related to injustices in the past you have to rectify it. There must be a way of compensation for this injustice. There are two possibilities, two ways of establishing justice: One is retributive justice, which is exactly what is going on in the Kurdish areas right now. Some officers have been charged with killing Kurdish civilians in the past, and those officers have been detained or lost their positions. In addition, mass graves have been opened up. This is important for the establishment of justice. In the case of the Armenians, this approach is useless because the killings happened 100 years ago. But there is another way of approaching justice; justice can be achieved through the principles of restorative justice. Restorative justice can also play a role in the Kurdish issue. Many perpetrators are fearful that the crimes they have committed will be disclosed. You can follow the South African model and give amnesty to those who reveal their crimes, for instance.

I see a very strong correlation not only regarding the solution but also regarding the origins of the Kurdish and Armenian issues. If I may put it bluntly, the Armenian issue was the Kurdish issue of the 19th century. Or the Kurdish conflict today is the Armenian conflict of the 19th century because in both cases the same mentality produced similar outcomes. In both centuries, the Turkish and the Ottoman governments considered the democratic demands of minority groups as a security threat. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, Armenian demands for social reform and equality were framed as a trap for the Ottoman state’s pursuit of security and territorial integrity. In the 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s, and even until very recently, the Turkish state considered the Kurdish demands for cultural rights and equality as a challenge to its national security and territorial integrity. In both cases, the demands of the minority groups were suppressed. This caused the radicalization of both minority groups, and this very radicalization is ironically creating the security problems the governments were most scared of. The separatist movements and the challenges to territorial integrity became a problem as a direct consequence of governmental policies to repress these minorities. The parallels between the two cases are important to consider.


The interview is fairly long but it's definitely an excellent read. And lets remember DTP's position on the Armenian Genocide as stated by Selahattin Demirtaş in the TBMM:


“During the last period of the Ottoman Empire, in 1915-16, the Union and Progress Party systematically pursued a policy of extermination of the Christians who had been the native peoples of the country for centuries.”

[ . . . ]

No national security considerations can be an excuse for the annihilation of a population by means of forced displacement and massacres,” he said. “Governments, in an effort to clear themselves of the guilt, resorted to denial and to distortion of historical facts to conceal the truth. They rewrote the history. In school books, Armenians are portrayed as hostile figures, exaggerating the incidents of violence by Armenian activists and never telling the truth about the massacred Armenians.”

“The word ‘Armenian’ has been used as an insult in this country,” continued Demirtas. “Even the president of the Republic of Turkey was accused of having secret Armenian ancestors, as if this was a sin. They did this to humiliate him. And what a shame that the president himself answered this ‘accusation’ in such a way as to confirm the humiliating connotation of the word, by trying to prove that this was not true.”

Demirtas suggested the formation of a history committee, consisting of independent historians from both sides, that would aim at revealing historic truths. “Without doing this, no real policy of peace can be pursued in foreign or domestic policy and no real resolution can be reached by ignoring the tragedy, by acting as if the loss of lives was a result of unwanted adverse circumstances. I know that what I say upsets those who remain loyal to the status quo. However for us to avoid recognizing historical truths just for the sake of the status quo would mean betraying our conscience and taking a politically unethical stance. So Turkey should lead the way to uncover the historical facts instead of continuing to carry the burden of a tragedy caused by the Committee of Union and Progress. In order for truly friendly relations between the two countries, it should be acknowledged that this is the only way for mutual trust.”


The author of the piece, Ayşe Günaysu, notes the following:


This was a first for the Turkish Parliament. There may be parts in Demirtas’ speech where one would disagree. But for me, these points of disagreement are less important than the declaration— in the Turkish Grand National Assembly—of the systematic extermination of Armenians in 1915. And it was a Kurdish MP who made this happen. The Kurds, some of whom actively took part in the Armenian Genocide, were also the first in Turkey to talk and write about the genocide of the Armenians and Assyrians.


Again, it's long but is another excellent read. And to Selahattin Demirtaş, I have this to say: You go, heval, you GO!!

Unfortunately, it looks like the Kurdish "opening" that Taner Akçam refers to is about to collapse.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

OPPRESSION: CONTINUED . . .

"A desire to resist oppression is implanted in the nature of man."
~ Tacitus.


Having mentioned the murder of Kurds in Iran by the mullahs yesterday, it's rather coincidental that the following was in my inbox today:


I am a twenty-seven year Kurdish woman who has been sentenced to death by the Iranian Judiciary authority for my political activities. After I was given death sentence last year I appealed and my case was reviewed by the Iranian High Court. The High Court sustained the lower court’s decision.

I am under constant torture and humiliation. I was put on an orchestrated trial without a legal representation and after a few minutes I was sentenced to death. I don’t have a lawyer to defend me. The Court only dedicated a few minutes to my case. The Court told me that I was an “Enemy of God,” and in a short period of time all enemies of God would be hanged. All the judges in my trial voted for my execution.

I asked the Judge if I could say good-bye to my mother. He told me “shut up.” The Judge rejected my appeal and refused to let me to see my mother. Since I cannot defend myself, I ask all advocates and activists of human/women’s rights to campaign on my behalf and support me. I need your help.

Zaynab Jalalian


Zaynab's crime? She's a Kurd.

You can see the document at the KNCNA website, under the homepage heading "Documents and letters".

I wanted to point out that last week PRI's The World program aired a segment on The Forbidden Letters in Turkey. Mahmut Alınak--I love this guy--was quoted. A TSK'er insisted that people who use The Forbidden Letters should be imprisoned. Of course, the TSK'er should logically include himself among the imprisoned, if we consider a defense that Diyarbakır's mayor, Osman Baydemir, used in a recent court case against him for using The Forbidden W:


[Murharrem] Erbey [of the Diyarbakır İHD] said his client [Osman Baydemir] asked everyone, “Do you log onto the justice ministry’s website?” The judge and the prosecutors said yes. Then he asked “What do you type when you go there?” The answer was something like “www dot gov dot TR. Then the mayor said, “Aren’t you breaking the law? Every time you type W three times and you go to the site hundreds of times a day. But when W is used in the Kurdish context it’s a crime.”



Touché, Heval Osman!

You can visit the site and read the transcript of the segment or listen to it via mp3.

Let me add that if the nationalists want to be consistent about The Forbidden Letters, some of the Alparen Ocakları types need to go around knocking The Forbidden W off the BMW's of the elites.

Monday, November 30, 2009

HYPOCRISY AND MURDER

"I have never been afraid of death, even now that I feel it closest to me. I can sense it and I'm familiar with it, for it is an old acquaintance of this land and this people."
~ Ehsan Fattahian.


Awww . . . Boo-Hooo-Hooooo! The mullahtocracy has seized Shirin Ebadi's Nobel prize medal:


Iran has confiscated the Nobel peace medal and diploma of Shirin Ebadi, the human rights lawyer who is one of the hardline regime’s most outspoken critics. Her bank account has also been frozen on the pretext that she owes almost £250,000 in tax.

[ . . . ]

In 2003 Dr Ebadi became the first Iranian and first Muslim woman to win the peace prize, which was awarded for her campaign for democracy and human rights. She was abroad during President Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in June and has spent the past five months travelling the world to draw attention to the regime’s alleged electoral fraud and suppression of the opposition. “I am effectively in exile,” she said recently.

She revealed the loss of her Nobel medal in an interview on Radio Farda, a US-backed Persian language station. She said that the regime had frozen her bank accounts and pension, as well as those of her husband, who is still in Tehran. She continued: “Even my Nobel and Légion d’honneur medals, my Freedom of Speech ring and other prizes, which were in my husband’s safe, have been confiscated.”


Too bad Ebadi is not Kurdish because, if she were, she would have lost a lot more than a medal given out to global elites:


According to several reports, Kurdish activist, Ehsan Fattahian, was executed today, November 11th 2009, in Iran. Ehsan was transferred to a solitary ward in Sanandaj prison late yesterday before being executed. Family members, friends and activists gathered outside the prison in protest of his execution. Despite numerous calls from human rights organizations and activists across the world, Ehsan’s sentence was carried out and he was executed.

Ehsan Fattahian was arrested in July 2008 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for his membership in a banned opposition group in Iran. During the appeals process, his sentence was changed by the provincial appeals court to execution for being an “enemy of God” for his activities. None of the activities that Ehsan was engaged in were proven to be violent or connected to any violence and despite reports of Ehsan’s undergoing brutal torture while in the custody of Iranian authorities, he refused to confess to the allegations against him that he helped carry arms or that he participated in an armed struggle. Furthermore, Ehsan’s new sentence was never subject to appeal as required by international law.


Then there's the case of Farzad Kamangar:


Security agents arrested Mr. Kamangar around July 2006 in Tehran. Mr. Kamangar was held incommunicado for seven months, and even after that, contacts to his family were very limited; there have been none since the beginning of the Persian New Year, 21 March 2008. Being held incommunicado violates Principle 19 of the United Nations Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1988.

Mr. Kamangar has been denied access to his lawyer, before, during and after his trial, which violates Principles 17 and 18 of the Body of Principles, as well as Article 14 (3) (b) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the Islamic Republic of Iran ratified on 24 June 1975

While the charges against him have been changed in the course of his case, Mr. Kamangar has been denied any and all information concerning the case against him. This violates Article 9 (2) of ICCPR, as well as Principles 10 and 11 of the Body of Principles.

Evidence confirmed by multiple sources strongly suggests that Mr. Kamangar has been tortured during his detention.


Or the case of Zeynab Jalalian or Shirkuh Moarefi.

And where are all the great defenders of democracy, the same ones who became so agitated for the defense of democracy following the Iranian elections in July? Why have they not become just as agitated over the imprisonment, torture, and execution of Kurds under Iranian brutality? Why haven't they twittered brutality that targets Kurds? Obama found the murder of Neda "heartbreaking" but where are his remarks about the Tehran regime's unjust murder of innocent Kurds?

We must forget these hypocrites. Instead, let us remember the words of Ehsan Fattahian, written two days before his murder:


. . . [I]n my last visit with my prosecutor he admitted that the death sentence is unlawful, but for the second time they gave me the notice for carrying out the execution. Needless to say that this insistence on carrying a death sentence under any circumstance is the result of pressure from security and political forces from outside of the judiciary department. Said people look at life and death of political prisoners only from the point of view of their paychecks and political needs, nothing else matters to them other than their own goals, even if it is about the most fundamental right of other human beings, their right to live. Forget international laws, they completely disregard even their own laws and procedures.

But my last words: If in the minds of these rulers and oppressors my death will get rid of the “problem” called Kurdestan [the province], I should say, what an illusion. Neither my death nor the death of thousands like me will be remedy to this incurable pain and perhaps would even fuel this fire. Without a doubt, every death points to a new life.


Even as the rest of the world closes its eyes, we will never forget.

ŞEHÎD NAMIRIN!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

UPDATES FROM DIYARBAKIR'S IHD OFFICE

"Today's human rights violations are the causes of tomorrow's conflicts."
~ Mary Robinson.


Here are a couple of statements from the Diyarbakır IHD office. The first is an update on the human rights situation in the Kurdish region of Turkey:


PRESS STATEMENT

27 October 2009

(Give the Republic’s biggest project a chance)

Dear press members

Although we’ve seen partial advancements regarding democracy and human rights in Turkey in recent times, we can still say that there are serious problems concerning the exercise of basic rights and liberties. Two forms of power are needed for human rights to find life in a country; the first is the power of Democratic Public Opinion, and the second is the power of the law. If these two forms of power don’t exist in a given country we can’t mention human rights. When we look at practices in Turkey in recent years, it’s clear that there are very serious complications obstructing the exercise of each of these forms of power.

In the European Union progress report released on 13 October 2009, it says that Turkey has made progress in the areas of economic competition and statistical and scientific research, but that there’s a chequered picture in the areas of human rights and democracy.

According to the EU report, with respect to the primacy of human rights and democracy, the protection of minorities, civil and political rights, civil oversight of expenditures on security forces, reform of the constitution, freedom of assembly and protest, freedom of belief, reform of local administration, the independence of the country’s forensic medical foundation, the independence of the judiciary, children being punished with sentences of 25 years in prison, the use of languages other than Turkish, the right to unionize, the rights of disabled people, the Kurdish question, the Cyprus question, the question of cultural rights, the problem of novels and discrimination, in some areas we’re still witnessing serious fluctuations – that is, regression – instead of halts to violations.

Fourteen days after the 29 March 2009 local elections, a major operation was carried out against the Democratic Society Party (Demokratik Toplum Partisi – DTP). Three operations have been carried out against the party in the last six months. More than 1,000 people have been detained. Due to a judicial decision prohibiting access to files concerning the situation of the detained people, 450 DTP members and activists have remained under arrest for months without knowing what they’re being charged with. The principle and practice of being released pending trial is violated for DTP members and child victims of the Turkish Anti-Terror Law. There country’s prison population now exceeds 120,000. In the last four years, security forces have increased the use of disproportionate force against children and children’s deaths have increased as a result. In the latest EU progress report this matter is raised by mentioning police officers who have been “acquitted” after facing trial for “killing outside legitimate self-defence”.

In recent years the army’s repression and tutelage over politics, the judiciary, media and society have reached extraordinary dimensions. The military very frequently goes before the press and makes statements on all varieties of political issues. In the EU progress report it’s requested that the 1997 EMASYA secret Protocol on Security, Public Order and Assistance Units be terminated.

When we look at our table of confirmed violations in the East and Southeast Anatolia region, we can’t say that a heart-warming picture emerges. When we evaluate violations in the last nine months of the year 2009, we see an erratic picture. The number of lives lost in clashes has decreased compared to last year, but we’ve observed that these losses continue and that there’s been a sharp increase in extrajudicial killings as well as murders carried out by unknown perpetrators.

We’ve also seen that the number of people killed and injured by mines and stand-alone explosive articles has increased. A serious increase of complaints regarding torture and maltreatment has been seen again. An increase in incidences of interference in and beatings at social actions has been confirmed in the last nine months. The disproportionate use of force has been triggered by a failure to open sufficient inquiries against those who use excessive force, the abscence of anger control, and the forcing of security forces to work excessive overtime hours.

It seems that everything changed for the worse following the Prime Minister’s July 2005 action and greatly important speech on the Kurdish question in Diyarbakır, especially in 2008, when violations reached their highest levels. Violations decreased considerably in the first three months of 2009 and have continued to increase since April. At a time when a democratic solution for the Kurdish question is being debated, we’re curious as to why violations are increasing non-stop.

In recent years the government has introduced an extremely hardline approach to policy and matters related to children. Slapping children with sentences of between 10 and 25 years in prison due to their flashing of the ‘V’ for victory sign with their fingers or for throwing stones, the aquittal of those responsible for the death of Uğur Kaymaz, the 28 September killing of Ceylan Önköl with an artillery shell, and the fact that those responsible for the loss of 18 month-old Mehmet Uytun’s life - who died as a result of a gas bomb that was deployed as his mother was breastfeeding him on the balcony of their home in Cizre – still haven’t been found, has damaged the trust of the region’s people in the state and judiciary and increased mistrust between local people and the state. Why has there been a serious increase in children’s deaths? Why haven’t the perpetrators been tried following these deaths? What’s the explanation for the fact that 98% of judicial and administrative inquiries opened about security forces between 2003 and 2008 ended in their favor and that 2% ended with light punishments?

The increase in human rights abuses in recent times has been caused by intensified operations and clashes in northern Iraq and Turkey’s Eastern and Southeastern regions, the repression of peaceful and nonviolent social movements and political parties, and the growth of hardline nationalism.

We find the work the government’s doing concerning the ‘Democratic opening’ to be meaningful and positive. However, the rapid increase in human rights violations that this process has coincided with perturbs us. We don’t understand the extreme reaction that’s been shown to the return of those who came from Kandil and Mahmur. They returned with the goal of opening the clogged political process and were met with a peaceful gathering, without throwing a single stone, initiating any violent rallies or shouting anti-state slogans. We think that there needs to be an end to the speeches to the effect that after this, every word and every step taken must be taken within an approach that considers all of the emotions in Turkey, that those who are going to contribute to a solution must be ‘more careful’, and that ‘we’ll turn back, we’ll start from the beginning.’

If we turn away from a Democratic solution to the Kurdish Question – the Republic’s biggest project – our country will be brought back a hundred years, and if there’s a solution it’ll be the end of an era and we’ll move into a bright period. It’ll be brought closer to Europe. We’re either going to forget the pain of the past and open a new page or we’re going to dig new graves. Believing in everyone’s dream of peace, from now on we request that prejudices and the past be left aside, that work be done to stop the flow of blood, and that steps be taken mindful of the weight of every word and action.

With our respect,

Muharrem Erbey, Attorney at Law

Vice President of the Human Rights Association

President of the Diyarbakir Branch of the HRA


The second statement, below, is an IHD statement on the murder of Ceylan Önkol:


PRESS STATEMENT

13 October 2009

(Why aren’t those who killed Ceylan being investigated?)


On 28 September 2009 at 11:30, 12 year-old Ceylan Önkol lost her life as a result of being fired upon while tending sheep. The incident occured in Xambaz hamlet near Şenlik village in the Lice district of Diyarbakır province. A Human Rights Delegation drafted a report after visiting the village where the incident took place and gathering everyone’s statements. Ceylan’s mother, father, older brother and indeed every witness asserted that they had heard a humming and vooming-type sound that came from the direction of Tabantepe police station, followed by an explosion. Even this assertion implies that a mortar had been fired at that time. They didn’t know the exact type of weapon that was used, but the family identified the item as a mortar shell. But the type of artillery doesn’t change the identity of the perpetrators. The perpetrators are the ones who have these very special weapons.

The UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child was published in Turkey’s official gazete in 1994 and went into effect in the country the same year. The Convention’s sixth article states: ‘1. States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life. 2. States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.’ The state has to protect and safeguard children. The fact that perpetrators aren’t being tried in an active and effective way as the number of children’s deaths increases leaves us human rights defenders concerned.

In the criminal report it says that a mortar had been fired before the incident occured. But that contention can’t be used to absolve the suspects of responsibility for Ceylan’s death. Has even the most minor inquiry about the perpetrators been carried out up until now? What was the sound that was heard before the explosion, and why was it heard by everyone? Is the topic of the mortar that had been fired before being removed from the line of inquiry?

Do sounds like that emerge when mortar shells are tampered with while they’re on the ground? According to the witness statements, was there or was there not a humming and vooming sound after it was fired? How come the criminal report that wasn’t given to Serdar Çelebi and Keziban Yılmaz (the Önkol family’s lawyers and members of the Human Rights Association’s Steering Committee) by the Lice public prosecturor’s office was given to the entire press in a surreptitious way? We’re interested in the answers to these questions.

In this region, we’ve seen other incidents resulting from articles that resemble unexploded ordinance and remants of war being tampered with or hit with a rock in areas where there are children. We showed that such incidents resulted in the child’s hand being severed and her entire body wounded.

In conclusion, we’ve been told that this incident result from Ceylan hitting an unexploded shell with a farming tool that she was holding in her hand. The report prepared by the criminal investigation unit at Diyarbakır Metropolitan Police Headquarters was not objective, and when the case file comes to the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, we’re going to object as the Human Rights Association and as the family’s lawyers.

We’re going to request that research be done to determine whether or not it’s possible to ascertain that a bomb had been deployed or not by looking at the components of the case file.


Muharrem Erbey, Attorney at Law

Vice President of the Human Rights Association, President of the Diyarbakır branch of the HRA

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

WOMEN IN TURKISH POLITICS

"We take action both for the woman raped in Istanbul or the woman stoned to death for adultery in Iran. But this is not enough. For this is not simply women's problem, the source of this politics is the male mentality."
~ Sebahat Tuncel.


Hürriyet's English news is moaning over the lack of women politicians in Turkey:


The lack of political representation for Turkish women is the heaviest factor dragging on Turkey’s quest for gender equality, according to a global index that puts the country in 129th place out of 134.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2009 comes as a disappointment, with Turkey falling two places compared to last year’s ranking.

For a country whose NGOs, women’s groups and government are constantly launching initiatives in an attempt to close the gap, the poor ranking shows that Turkey lags desperately behind due to its lack of political empowerment and participation of women in Parliament.


The article quotes an AKP female parliamentarian, Özlem Türköne, and some other non-governmental Turkish women, but it completely ignores the one party with the largest number of women politicians for its size in Turkey: the DTP.

In the local elections of 29 March, DTP's women mayors took 14 cities (See: http://www.firatnews.com/index.php?rupel=nuce&nuceID=5302 ) and it has 8 women parliamentarians: Ayla Akad Ata, Aysel Tuğluk, Gülten Kışanak, Pervin Buldan, Emine Ayna, Sevahir Bayındır, Fatma Kurtulan, and Sebahat Tuncel. Why did the Horrible Hürriyet ignore these women politicians? Was it because they're Kurds?

What does this say about the differences between Kurdish men and Turkish men, if so many Kurdish women are able to run for public office and and succeed? Moreover, what does this say about the influence of the PKK's emphasis on gender equality on the Kurdish people?

Part of the reason for the success of Kurdish women politicians in Turkey is the fact that the DTP has a quota for women:


Gabriela Cretu (PES, RO) asked which Turkish political parties supported women's rights most. In reply, Yesim Arat pointed to the Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), which has a quota for women and thus more elected women politicians than in "developed" regions of Turkey.


The idea of a quota for all Turkish parties was not addressed at all by the Horrible Hürriyet, even though the DTP parliamentarians have made proposals to impose a 40% quota for women on political parties in Turkey.

Of course the situation of Kurdish women in Turkey is still difficult. Many families still forbid girls from going to school, which is an unacceptable situation, as is the reality of "honor" suicides or "honor" murder. Living situations in the villages continues to be extremely difficult for women. Still, the Kurdish women politicians are proof that good education for girls can make a huge difference for all Kurdish women.

And I'm willing to bet that all of our women politicians had parents that supported and, perhaps, sacrificed for their educations. Not only are these women the models for all Kurdish girls, but their parents are the models for all Kurdish parents.

In the meantime, a Turkish judge has convicted Aysel Tuğluk for "spread[ing] the propaganda of a terrorist organization" for a speech she gave in 2006, in which she praised the signature campaign for Öcalan. Tuğluk's lawyer will be preparing an appeal.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

SIBEL EDMONDS LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE

"We have it in our power to begin the world over again."
~ Thomas Paine.


Congratulations to Sibel Edmonds for launching her new website today. It's called Boiling Frogs: Home of the Irate Minority. With this website, she is expanding her horizons:


For the last few months I have been either in meetings or on the phone with many veteran investigative journalists and producers. We’ve been talking about the current sorry state of our media. We’ve been discussing the lack of bold and independent investigative reports and exposés. We’ve been sharing our views on ways to do something about it. We’ve been talking business: How can we collaborate and form a venue where we can present some of the significant stories, cases, news, and editorials that have been covered up, blacked out, or simply designated as radioactive topics too hot to touch?

[ . . . ]

After months of these discussions I decided to stop the ‘talk & complain’ cycle, and come up with an idea, a tangible objective, and a goal to follow and move (hopefully forward!) towards; to actually do something about it. At least try to do something about it. And with this came the decision to get this website designed and made functional, have some of these well-respected journalists and others come on board in support of this project, make arrangements to offer my Podcast Interview Series more frequently, and work on other ingredients – which you will hear more about once we are up and operational.

[ . . . ]

This project, these objectives, can only be accomplished with your support. Your voices, your ideas, and your suggestions in the comment section are all needed in order to make this site truly rich, informative, and effective; so please go ahead and register, and become a member of our ‘irate minority club.’ Your active participation in getting our information and messages out, and in bringing others here in search of a home for the irate minority, is the only way to build up our numbers, thus make our collective voices audible. And only through you contributions can I:

Purchase and publish investigative news stories and exposés
Bring to you in-depth commercial free Podcast interviews
Present independent editorials and analyses
Showcase original editorial cartoons
Facilitate lively discussions
Maintain and Manage this Website

I cannot do this without you. Going with foundational and organizational funding always comes with many strings attached. And that would defeat our purpose here. Reaching out to large corporations comes with its own baggage, and that too would defeat my purpose. That leaves me and you.

Please join me here at ‘Boiling Frogs Post,’ home of the irate minority, and please contribute what you can in order to make these goals a reality. Many thanks for all you do.


So go on over there. Take a look around. Lend whatever support you're able to lend. You won't regret it.

Last Friday Sibel posted her most recent podcast with Peter B. Collins, which was an interview with former FBI counter-intelligence officer John Cole.

Yesterday, Sibel and John Cole appeared in a joint interview with Scott Horton. They discuss Central Asia, counter-intelligence investigations into Israeli activity in the US, and all the usual suspects.

I highly recommend those interviews, but be warned: If you listen, you may end up becoming one of the irate minority.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL

"Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire."
~ W. B. Yeats


Here's the next movie I must see:





It's about a Turkish teacher's first year in a Kurdish village. It's Turkish title is İki Dil Bir Bavul (Two Languages One Suitcase) but it looks like it will have a different name for English audiences: On The Way To School. I prefer the Turkish title.

Ece Temelkuran of Milliyet had this to say after seeing the film, which debuted in Turkey last Friday:


At first glance the movie tells how a Kurdish child grows, how he learns Turkish, how he is crushed, how he tries to stand up.

Eskiköy and Doğan made a movie like cotton. They opened the door to the lives of Kurdish children, who have not anything to play with but only rocks, and who start to live [like a football game] defeated 5 to 0. . . If you look very carefully, this movie whispers why these children go to the mountains when they grow up. At the end of the movie, such a story of the people comes out that you want to press this movie to your heart.


The website for the film is here.

There is information about the film available in English, and here's the synopsis from the film's Press Kit:


The young Turkish teacher Emre Aydin has been appointed by the government to go teach at a school in a remote and impoverished Kurdish village. He arrives in the village at the beginning of the school year to a few unpleasant surprises. There’s no running water in the village and the students don’t show up for class. ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL follows Aydin during the entire academic year. The camera observes him and his students in a fly-on-the-wall kind of way, and we can see how tough an assignment it is for Aydin to teach here. Many families only speak Kurdish at home, so learning Turkish isn’t only hard for the kids, but it’s also a sensitive matter as far as the strained relations between Kurds and the Turkish state are concerned. Aydin feels like a foreigner in his own country, but he’s determined to accomplish the task at hand. For the most part, he’s a friendly and patient instructor, but when students write Kurdish words in their notebooks, he loses his cool and kicks them all out of class. He proceeds to grab his cell phone and call home, where his mother lovingly gives him her ear.


From an interview with the film makers, Özgür Doğan and Orhan Eskiköy:


BD: In On the Way to School is Emre the teacher, a hero or an anti-hero?

Eskikoy: "He's just an average sort of guy. We chose him because he's the kind of person who is very open with his feelings. The way he walks around talking to himself at times is the way he is. We didn't need to interview him to be able to show that he didn't want to be there and that he felt alone in the village. Or to see how the lack of communcation between him and the villagers eventually led him to become fed up with teaching them."

[ . . . ]

BD: The children come across in a very innocent way. They show no self-consciousness about being filmed. How did you achieve this?

Dogan: "One reason is that for the children the teacher is the absolute authority. So when he is in the room all of their attention is focused on him and we are of no importance. They also have had little contact with cameras and media.

BD: Why did you want to make this film:

Eskikoy: "We were curious about Kurdish children and wanted to understand what they are going through. Telling their story is a way for us to better understand them and get others to understand their situation. There are about eleven to fifteen million Kurds in Turkey today. They don't have the right to be educated in their language, no TV stations or school of their own. Their culture is completely unrecognized."


There's more in Zaman:


The film is a simple and profound piece of work that depicts the one-year journey of the 20-something primary school teacher Emre Aydın from the western city of Denizli who has been appointed to teach in southeastern Urfa’s remote Kurdish village of Demirci. Here’s the catch: Aydın, who cannot speak Kurdish, will have to teach Turkish to a classroom of kids who do not speak a word of the state’s official language. After all, the language spoken in their homes is Kurdish, although most of the adults can speak Turkish. Aydın, being the well-intentioned epitome of the image the republic has set for teachers since its foundation, patiently struggles to bring “civilization” to the provinces by means of primarily teaching the official Turkish language. God knows Aydın tries, and the kids try (they truly love and respect their teacher) but, much like the country’s current policy in dealing with the Kurdish populace, the school year ends without much success. But how could it not? Beyond the fact that the kids speak Kurdish amongst themselves, their lives are limited in the fields of a desolate village prone to constant power cuts where water is a luxury. Except for the presence of the teacher, the state has forgotten them.


When Zaman interviewed Doğan and Eskiköy, it asked what the experience was like for them to film in the Kurdish region since the experience for the teacher was extremely frustrating. Eskiköy answers:


Since Özgür knows the region a lot better than I do, he wasn’t surprised. As for me, it was different and slightly shocking, since the Kurdish life that I had envisaged was not what I later saw.


Özgür Doğan knows the region better because he is a Kurd from the region.

And that's why, when he received the award for the Best First Film at the 46th International Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, Özgür Doğan said "I am receiving this award in memory of Ceylan Önkol, who was not able to learn her second language because she was killed by a bomb. Gelek Sipas." Doğan's acceptance can be viewed at CNNTürk, at the 58 second mark.

Among its other awards, İki Dil Bir Bavul (On the Way to School) received the Grand Jury Yılmaz Güney Prize at the Adana Golden Boll Film Festival.