Wednesday, December 31, 2008


"I was slapped because I spoke Kurdish – I couldn’t even speak Turkish!"
~ Mehmed Uzun, speaking about his first day at school.

Hevallo is ending the year with a bit of absurdity and so will I. Somehow, it seems a fitting ending.

The bit of absurdity we're both referring to is TRT 6 or, as they call it in North Kurdistan, Korucu TV.

First of all, let's remember that Korucu TV (TRT 6) is illegal according to Turkish broadcasting law as laid out by the RTÜK (High Commission for Radio and Television). From Bianet:

“If the ruling party wants to make a contribution that promotes the freedoms then it should revise the article in the Constitution that regulates broadcasting in local languages.”

Ahmet Birsin, broadcasting coordinator for the “Gün Radio-TV”, thinks that forming a Kurdish TV channel in the Turkish Radio and Television (TRT), TRT 6, is an investment by the government for the coming elections.

According to the regulations of the Supreme Council of the Radio and Television (RTÜK), the TV channels can broadcast in local languages only four hours a day and they need to have subtitles in Turkish. Birsin told bianet that the TRT 6 is planning to broadcast in Kurdish 24 hours a day and there were no subtitles in the test broadcasting. He thinks that if they are not going to revise the law and thus the regulations, then this will mean no positive contribution for the private channels that broadcast in Kurdish.

Not only is there a restriction on the amount of hours per week that local-language programming may be aired, but educational programming that teaches Kurdish language is forbidden (here, p. 22). These rules date back, at least, to 2003. In addition to the absurdity of Kurdish language being used illegally by the state on Korucu TV (TRT 6), we also have the absurdity of the same Kurdish language being referred to as an "unknown language" by the TBMM:

The Democratic Society Party, or DTP, submitted a motion to Parliament on Friday in relation to the incident that Kurdish was defined in parliamentary records as an "unknown language."

[ . . . ]

"Are there categories as known and unknown languages in our legislation? If there are, what is the legal base for this? What is meant by unknown language? " DTP Şırnak deputy Hasip Kaplan asked Parliament Speaker Köksal Toptan. "You know that Azerbaijan President İlham Aliyev’s speech, which he delivered in the Parliament’s General Assembly, was recorded in Azerbeijani dialect. Taking into consideration two different approaches toward Kurdish and Azerbaijani languages, do you not think that rather than constitutional Turkish identity, ethnic Turkish identity is given priority?" he asked.

Özgür Gündem has taken notice of the absurdity, too:

Kurdish is banned for Kurds but free for the state

In Turkey, according to law, the letters W, Q and X are on the banned letter list. While on bayram celebration days primarily DTP mayors and thousands of people were punished for using these letters in greeting cards and signs on the streets, PM Erdoğan violated this law by giving a statement to TRT's Kurdish channel.

There is no ban on Mehmetçik-media

PM Erdoğan's video message to TRT 6, which will broadcast in Kurdish, said "TRT 6 bi xer be", came out on most of the Turkish dailies' front pages. While most of the newspapers picked the Kurdish phrase for their headlines, this recalls the Kurdish boy called Welat, who was not allowed to enter Turkey at Atatürk Airport because of the first letter of his name. However, according to officials and laws, the letters W, Q, and X are still banned. In several places because these letters are considered as "organization propaganda" [i.e. the big bad PKK], thousands of people faced penalties. For putting greeting message signs on the streets, primarily the DTP mayors and several people's cases are still ongoing in the courts.

Newspapers' "unknown language" mistakes

Another important point in today's dailies is the usage of the letters. To the extent the two big newspapers of the Doğan Group put the same headline with an extra X. While the Star newspaper came out with the headline of "TRT şeş bi xêr be". Radikal came out with the headline, "TRT Şeş bi xwêr be" Both, however, were written incorrectly. Primarily Sabah, Milliyet, Hürriyet, Taraf, Akşam, Zaman, and all the other dailies had such mistakes in addition to violating the law by using the banned letters. Despite the prime minister and newspapers violating the law, in the birth registration departments, the names which include such letters are still not being registered and the parents cannot give the names they want to their children.

I also found Hürriyet's English translation of "bi xêr be" amusing:

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan recorded his message to be broadcast on TRT 6 in Turkish and then in Kurdish said, "TRT Şeş bi xw?r be" (Let TRT 6 be beneficial).

It looks like they're translating literally.

And, while Ahmet Birsin, quoted in the Bianet article above, believes, with reason, that Korucu TV is a campaign tactic for the AKP, I have no doubt that it is also an attempt to steal viewership away from Roj TV:

Analysts say the state-run news channel is aimed at taking viewers from the Kurdish Roj TV, a satellite station based in Belgium that is popular with many of the country's estimated 14 million Kurds but has angered Turkey for broadcasting statements by rebel commanders.

[ . . . ]

Turkey is seeking to weaken the rebels who have criticized the government for a lack of broadcasts in the Kurdish language, said Nihat Ali Ozcan, an analyst based at the Economic Policy Research Institute in Ankara and an expert on the rebel group.

"Turkey is changing its policy on Kurdish language broadcasts to cut support to the rebels and create an alternative to the Roj TV," said Ozcan.

Turkey is not changing its policy; it's just running Korucu TV illegally. And good luck with stealing viewers from Roj TV; it's going to be very hard to pull viewers away from news about the activities of their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, nephews, nieces, and cousins in the mountains. With all the atrocities committed against the Kurdish people by the AKP government in the last six years, and the reception Katil Erdoğan received recently in The Southeast, let's hope Korucu TV is a huge campaign fail for AKP.

By the way, Happy New Year to Rastî readers and the other Kurdish bloggers out there.

Ser Sala Hewe Pîroz Bît û Yeni Yılınız Kutlu Olsun!

Monday, December 29, 2008


"Many of us believe that wrongs aren't wrong if it's done by nice people like ourselves."
~ Author Unknown.

Mmm hmmm . . . AKP parliamentary deputies are "outraged" and "horrified" about Israel's ongoing bombing of Gaza. Speaker of the TBMM, Köksal Toptan said:

"I should also state that we have been horrified to hear statements that these kinds of attacks will continue. That's why attacks should be immediately halted, and the entire world, particularly the UN Security Council, should find a clear and quick path toward making this happen."

Oh, yeah, well naturally he'd say that since Turkey is a temporary member of the UN National Security Council.

AKP and MHP parliamentarians are also withdrawing from the TBMM's Turkish-Israeli friendship group because they are suddenly concerned about shaking "bloody hands". That's a good one. Even richer is Erdoğan's concern that Israeli actions constitute a "crime against humanity"--this from the same son of a bitch who gave the green light for TSK to shoot Kurdish women and children indiscriminately during the Amed Serhildan, claimed that assimilation was a "crime against humanity" during a visit to Germany, and did absolutely nothing while his security forces beat Kurdish women and children during Newroz earlier this year.

In an opinion piece titled, "The aircraft that bomb Gaza train in Konya" Nuh Gönültaş at Bugün, reports that the Turkish public is saying Hitler was justified . At the end of the piece, Gönültaş asks:

"What does it mean for Turkey to make [military] deals with Israel and then oppose Israel for the things it's doing to Palestinians?"

Oooohh . . . Gönültaş hits the bullseye. The Israeli air force has been training at Konya since 2001, but the Turkish-Israeli military alliance goes back to the mid-1990s when the Clean Break Strategy was first proposed to the Netanyahu government by the American neocons. By 1996, the first cooperative military moves were made between Israel and Turkey:

The first agreement on military cooperation was signed, amid the utmost secrecy, on 23 February, 1996, in Tel Aviv by Deputy Chief of the General Staff Çevik Bir and the leadership of the Israeli Defense Ministry. For the first time in the history of relations between the two countries, it provided for interaction of their armed forces in implementing military training programs; joint land, naval, and air maneuvers; creation of a joint group on military-strategic studies; training flights by Turkish aircraft in the Israeli air space and Israeli aircraft in the Turkish air space; briefing of Turkish pilots; and intelligence sharing, especially in combating terrorism (in particular, joint monitoring on the borders with Syria, Iran, and Iraq). Furthermore, Israel pledged to help Turkey in modernizing and beefing up its borders with these three countries to protect it against Kurdish insurgents.

Robert Fisk has more:

Professor Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Centre for strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, first revealed the extent of Turkish-Israeli co-operation in a remarkable - but largely unpublicised - lecture at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington five months ago. He spoke only vaguely of the joint listening posts on the Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian borders but described them as "an important facet of our intelligence gathering capability". There was also, Professor Inbar added, "co-operation on terror".

The alliance was a Turkish idea, initiated in 1997 when the Turkish air force commander arrived without warning to see the Israeli ambassador in Ankara with the words - according to Professor Inbar - "we want to invite the Israeli chief of the air force to come to Turkey to visit". It wasn't all plain sailing. When the Turkish navy paid its first official visit to the Israeli port of Haifa last year, the Israelis had not bothered to send a naval representative to meet it; and Turkish officers were astounded when the Israeli harbourmaster refused to let their ships into port unless they agreed to pay harbour dues.

But Israeli planes are now training in Turkey, using Turkish bombing ranges, just as Turkish pilots are now flying in the skies over Israel. The Americans chair a regular meeting of Turkish and Israeli intelligence officers in Tel Aviv and on at least one occasion last year a Jordanian officer was also present. If Jordan's new King Abdullah was to upgrade this relationship, it would further isolate Syria. Mr Netanyahu's government has long believed - wrongly - that President Assad can be blackmailed into making peace without handing back the occupied Golan Heights if Syria was sufficiently intimidated.

And he goes on to explain more about the realities of the Israeli-Turkish relationship:

Back in 1982, Turkey condemned Israel's invasion of Lebanon as aggression until Israel furnished Turkey with intelligence files on the Armenian ASALA extremist group. Much to Turkey's delight, Mr Ocalan's PKK are always referred to by the Israelis as "terrorists"; Israel has expressed sympathy for Iraqi Kurds - but never for the millions of Kurds who live under Turkish military oppression. Israel supports only a limited form of autonomy for the Kurds of Iraq; which is not surprising since that is precisely the limited freedoms it wishes to give the Palestinians.

Now it's ironic that Erdoğan's government, which plays the Eternal Victim so well in order to drum up international support for it's severe repression of Kurds via the Big Lie which labels the Kurds of Turkish-occupied Kurdistan and their only defenders, the PKK, as "terrorists" because Erdoğan's government paid host to HAMAS' leadership in Ankara in early 2006. It's ironic because HAMAS is clearly a member of that exclusive club known as The List. Yes, it's ironic because it's the same List that Turkey always refers to in its 30-year-long losing war against Kurdish freedom fighters.

Well, it's either irony or hypocrisy and I guess it doesn't matter too much that HAMAS was elected by the Palestinians because we all know that democracy itself is merely a media event. A fantasy. Another Big Lie.

Of course, Turkish concern for Gaza is, like most things in Turkey: a show. Money is going to continue to pass under the table. Turkey and Israel will continue their joint military training and cooperation because they are integral components of the US military-industrial-congressional complex. So there's nothing to see here, folks. Move along, move along.

Meanwhile, the Turkish air force continues to bomb civilian areas of South Kurdistan, thus creating the de facto buffer zone for which both the paşas and the AKP so desperately lust--and screw Iraqi territorial sovereignty.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


"Realistically speaking, Turkey's only alternative is to resolve the issue through political dialogue. There has never been any political dialogue in order to bring about a solution to the Kurdish issue, and this is the sole reason why the problems Turkey faces today are weightier than ever."
~ Abdullah Öcalan, 1999.

Taraf has an interview with a committee member from PKK's Foreign Relations Committee, Ahmet Deniz. From Taraf:

"Without PKK there will be no permanent solution"

PKK Foreign Relations Committee member Ahmet Deniz, who evaluated the recent issues related to the Kurdish question for Taraf, stated that there will be no possibility for a permanent peace without PKK and he said the unilateral ceasefire is still de facto in effect.

PKK Foreign Relations Committee member Ahmet Deniz evaluated the issues about disarming PKK and a solution for the Kurdish question for Taraf. Deniz said that for a permanent solution to the Kurdish question, PKK must be recognized as the party to engage in talks. Mentioning that the unilateral ceasefire is still in effect, Deniz said, "We want a happy, honorable peace."

A ceasefire contribution to a solution without PKK

Ahmet Deniz noted that they [PKK] are watching very carefully improvements that are without PKK's involvement, and that neither the KRG nor Turkey had contacted them officially yet; however, they keep in touch with some close friends in the KRG on various subjects for an exchange of ideas.

Deniz said they are watching closely the conference that may be held by various Kurdish groups; however he believes the conference will not contribute to a solution if PKK does not attend.

Deniz mentioned that in order to contribute to a peace process, PKK continues its unilateral ceasefire that was declared on the last kurban (Kurban Bayramı) and that it did not change its defense position.

Laying down arms is easy

Remarking on the meaninglessness of a demand for PKK to lay down arms without taking any step, Deniz said, "If it gets to that point, laying down arms is a pretty easy job." Underscoring the necessity of an honorable peace for themselves, Deniz said, "In this perspective, Mr. Talabanî's words are very important. We want to see the sincerity of steps taken and want to believe that there is no trick in them. As a goodwill gesture, we continue to maintain the unilateral ceasefire that we have declared to the public. Despite this, the process is moving very slowly."

We are not imposing

For the solution of the problem Deniz said they are avoiding an imposition, however the state must not be indifferent. "At this point, Abdullah Öcalan's attitude is clear. We are followers of this attitude. Let the state take one step toward us and we are ready to take two. The state must not ignore us, its citizens. While there is such a straight and easy way it is not good for the state to go to others for a solution. We say that we are going to evaluate any demand anyway.. Why don't they listen to us?"

An honorable peace

Noting that the Kurdish people want an honorable peace, Ahmet Deniz said, "We want a happy and honorable peace. It is very important for us not to damage our honor. Everyone must learn a lesson from previous mistakes. While getting so close to a solution, while catching such a good chance, Deniz mentions the necessity of taking advantage of this. "We only want the coming suggestions to be just, realistic and genuine," said Deniz. Stressing that they are realize the problem cannot be solved with methods involving violence, Deniz said weapons must be mutually silenced.

Ahmet Deniz stated that in the coming days, one of the PKK leaders, Murat Karayilan, will have a comprehensive explanation regarding recent improvements.

TESEV report is positive

PKK Foreign Relations Committee member Ahmet Deniz said they believe the report that was prepared by TESEV, titled, "A Roadmap for the Solution of the Kurdish Question: Suggestions from the Region to the Government," will contribute to the solution of the Kurdish question. He said, "We support such studies; we consider the report that voiced the people's demands as a goodwill gesture and want the state to hear this study." Emphasizing that, on this issue, NGO's and elites have very important roles, Deniz said, "Reports like TESEV's last report may affect seriously the way leading to a solution to the problem."

Barzanî: Kurds will not shed Kurds' blood

Mentioning Turkey's attitude change toward KRG, Mesûd Barzanî said, "With the exception of war, we are ready to support all kinds of peaceful solutions." Barzanî said they will not allow the shedding of the blood of Kurds by Kurdish hands. Barzanî, after a meeting with his advisors, said, "Turkey changed its attitude toward the Kurdish government and Kurdish region. Turkey and Kurds moving close is on the agenda. I hope the relationship improves in a way that favors mutual benefit for the two parties." Referring to a conference that will be held by the Kurdish parties in Northern Iraq, Barzanî said they will endeavor to have a common policy after this conference. Citing the necessity of defending constitutional gains, Barzanî said, "We want a democratic, federal Iraq."

Well . . . I wonder how long it will be before the paşas and lapdog Turkish parties are on Taraf's case for this? I mean, it's not every Turkish daily that will publish something like this and there's no Turkish daily that will get away with it for long.

By the way, I had mentioned in an earlier post that Taraf was having problems generating the revenue needed to conduct their daily operations because of a lack of businesses willing to advertise in the paper. At the time, someone had commented if there were a way to help Taraf "stay open and running", although I did not see the comment until much later.

As a reply, I would say that if anyone wants to help Taraf, send one of their writers an email and ask them what they need. If you can only communicate in English, I suggest an email to Yasemin Çongar.

Friday, December 26, 2008


It is worthwhile to live and fight courageously for sacred ideals.
~ Norbert Capek.

The Kurdish people lost a friend on Wednesday. Harold Pinter, nobel laureate, passed away at the age of 78. Hevallo memorializes Pinter with a reminder of Pinter's reaction to the capture of Öcalan.

I would like to point out a story I found about Pinter and his confrontation with a US ambassador to Turkey:

In March 1985, Pinter and American playwright Arthur Miller went to Turkey to express solidarity with dissident writers, many of whom were imprisoned.

[ . . . ]

Then they went to the capital, Ankara. They asked for meetings with several government ministers, including Prime Minister Özal, but were refused.

U.S. Ambassador Robert Strausz-Hupé, an arch conservative Ronald Reagan political appointee, hosted a dinner for them. The 30 guests at a long table in the ambassador’s residence ran the gamut of Turkish society: journalists, members of parliament, a doctor who was a leading human rights activist, some dissidents, the French ambassador, someone from the Turkish foreign ministry.

Erdal Inönu was there as the leader of the social democratic opposition. As a graduate student at Caltech, in Pasadena, California, Inonu had gone to Los Angeles to see “Death of a Salesman,” and was very pleased to sit near Miller. Nazli Ilicak, a conservative journalist who had been briefly jailed by the junta that ruled from 1980 to 83, was opposite Pinter.

Miller was a calm man; Pinter was somewhat emotional. Near the end of dinner, the rising sound of an argument between Pinter and Ilicak attracted everyone’s attention.

When Ilicak was in prison, common prisoners there told her of being tortured with electricity. She hadn’t believed such things went on before, but then she understood that there was torture in Turkey, not only for political prisoners. However, she was also viscerally anti-leftist.

“Mr. Pinter, this is none of your business,” she told the British playwright. “This is a Turkish problem and it is going to be solved by Turks. Turks have to remain and face the realities of their country. You come here and listen to what the leftists tell you and you can go home and put it all into a profitable play.”

Pinter shouted his reply: “That is an insult and was meant as an insult and I throw it back in your face.”

When the dinner was over, Strausz-Hupé stood up, tapped his water glass, and made a short speech welcoming the distinguished playwrights and thanking his guests. He talked about the developing democracy in Turkey. He looked at Pinter, “This demonstrates that all viewpoints are welcome here. Here is democracy, right here, and we are proud of it. Imagine this happening in a communist country.”

Miller answered him: “I’m a playwright, so I observe people, and I must say what I see. That’s the only way to be successful in my field, and I must be truthful to what I see. What I see here is something reminiscent of an era I represented in one of my plays, “‘The Witches of Salem.’ In that play, I represented the state of affairs in a place in the states where the people in that city were taken in a sort of hysteria. They thought they had the right to punish people for their ideas, just to prevent them from doing bad things, to save them from devils. But essentially it was simply their ideas they were criticizing and this took the form of torture and crimes against other people, and it was a mass hysteria which lasted for some time.”

“And what I see now in Turkey is something similar to that event. The ruling regime in Turkey is suppressing people, is oppressing people for their ideas. This is clearly and certainly against democratic principles. If there is such a practice in a country, this country cannot be called democratic.”

Miller went on: “The ambassador gave the impression that democratic practices may change from country to country according to historical, cultural differences, but there are some principles without which a democracy cannot be called a democracy no matter in which country you are, and if you oppress people for their ideas, by putting them in prison, by torturing them, you can’t convince anyone there is democracy in that place. In Turkey I have seen that situation. I am sorry I must say this.”

Strausz-Hupé was quite taken aback by this speech. He replied, “Well, if I were occupying my university post as I was before I became ambassador, if I had that freedom, I would also engage in the analysis of the situation and I could prove to you that democratic practices may change from place to place.”

“In any case, I can tell you that there is democracy in Turkey still, because we are discussing these questions freely. You are criticizing Turkish practice freely, and you are not afraid you will be suddenly attacked and taken to the Politburo or the KGB, so at least you can make your criticism freely. But in any case, it’s better if I leave the floor to the Turkish politicians who can tell you better than I can of the situation in Turkey.”

He looked at Organ Soyzal, an MP from the ruling party, but Soyzal didn’t want to say anything.

Then Inonu interjected, “I would like to say some things. I am so happy to see Mr. Miller, a distinguished playwright I have always admired. Thank you for the frankness with which you expressed your observations. All the things you said were true.” He raised his glass and called on everyone to toast the visitors.

Then, they went to the sitting room for coffee.

“There can be lot of opinions about anything,” remarked Strausz-Hupé.

“Not if you’ve got an electric wire hooked to your testicles,” riposted Pinter.

Strausz-Hupé was furious: “Mr. Pinter, you are a guest in my house.”

Pinter concluded he was being thrown out. “I have insulted your ambassador and have been asked to go,” he told Miller. “We’d better get going.” They went off for a brandy with the French ambassador, Eric Rouleau, who had been a journalist for “Le Monde.”

[ . . . ]

Three years later, Pinter wrote “Mountain Language.” Based on the repression of Turkey’s Kurds – called “Mountain Turks” by the Turkish government which refused to recognize their ethnicity, the play describes a brutal society that forbids a minority of its population to speak its own language.

For the playwright, it was another act against political repression.

I have lived amidst eternity --
Be grateful, my soul --
My life was worth living.

Rest in peace, old friend.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.
~Bill Morgan, Jr.

Our friends in the mountains have some new photos posted online from early December. Here's a sampling:

Heavy snowfall has blanketed North Kurdistan. Here are some photos from the region, from Radikal:








Tuesday, December 23, 2008


"The policy of denial, assimilation and eradication has affected people. Only the Kurds resisted. They still resist."
~ Ahmet Türk.

Mmmm . . . It looks like there was yet another altercation in the TBMM between Turkey's only opposition party, the DTP, and everyone else, from the Armenian paper, Asbarez (Thanks to the heval who sent the link!):

A Turkish parliament member's request Sunday that the legislature apologize to Armenians for the “events of 1915” has caused an uproar in parliament, with members hurling personal insults at one another.

Democratic Society Party (DTP) member Osman Euzcelik (Osman Özcelik) brought the matter up during parliament's discussion of the education ministry budget and went on to recall the Armenian massacres by using the Kurdish word that describes Genocide.

He also said that he had heard stories about the Armenian killings as child growing up in Turkey and added that the killings were planned by the sultan of the Ottoman Empire and were carried out by groups called Hamiddiye, which also had Kurdish members.

Euzcelik likened the campaign to kill Armenians to the current campaign waged against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

“These groups killed a large number of Armenians. A lot of times they would line up the Armenians and shoot them in the chest. All Armenians of Martin were killed and some fled to Syria,” said Euzcelik, who added that his grandfather's family provided refuge for Genocide survivors.

Nevzad Pakdil, who was presiding over the parliament session, interrupted Euzcelik, blasting him for “insulting the society in which you live.”

Euzcelik said that he was apologizing to Armenians on his own behalf.

Pakdil intervened again attempting to stifle the parliament member. Members of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) applauded the Pakdil while another DTP member, Surru Saken (Sırrı Sakık) directed his anger to Paktdil by saying, “Mr. Chairman, you represent the Marash district and you know full well the extent of the tragedy that unfolded there.”

This comment prompted a member of the AKP to walk toward DTP members and begin screaming at his fellow parliamentarians. Another parliament member intervened to stop what could have become a physical altercation.

“Should we not talk about the facts? There is not one Assyrian left,” screamed another DTP member during the commotion, which was followed by several DTP members leaving the parliament.

The unprecedented demonstration in Parliament came less one a week after 200 Turkish intellectuals launched an internet petition apologizing to the Armenians for what they called the "injustice" of the "Great Catastrophe" of 1915. The petition, which sparked controversy in Turkey, had garnered over 20,000 signatures by Monday, stirring a media storm on the topic and challenging long-held taboos on the Armenian Genocide. It has drawn the ire of Turkey's ultra nationalists, provoking also Turkey's powerful generals, former diplomats, the Foreign Minister, and the Prime Minister to denounce the campaign.

Asbarez also provides a link to a recent ANCA statement on the attempts to confront the Armenian Genocide in the TBMM.

And while we're on the subject, another non-event that has been going around Turkish media is the alleged scandal against AKP's Abdullah Gül by İzmir's CHP parliamentarian, Canan Arıtman. Apparently, she implied that Gül's mother was Armenian and the press has taken the news and run with it. This has cause considerable mental anguish for Gül, who is now suing Arıtman for 1YTL. From Bianet:

President Abdullah Gül filed a mental anguish lawsuit against Canan Arıtman, Izmir deputy for the People’s Republican Party (CHP), in the amount of 1 YTL (about 0.5 euro).

CHP deputy Arıtman had implied that President Gül’s mother was Armenian, when the President had made the comment about the campaign to apologize to the Armenians that ability to discuss every opinion is the policy of the state.

Arıtman had continued her comments after the reactions to her initial comments: “When some people agree with or support the claim that we committed the crime of genocide against the Armenians, the others would ask them if they were Armenians. They would ask this question even if that person is a president.”

President Gül claims that his identity as a statesman, which he has been trying to maintain with utmost responsibility and meticulousness, was defamed.

Oh, right. As if the worst thing that could be said about anyone is, "Your momma's an Armenian"? Well, this is the AKP, the party of "Love it or leave it!", the party that has done more than any other to encourage the normalization of racism in Turkish society. Naturally, I could say something about Gül's mom that would cause him considerably more "mental anguish" and it wouldn't have anything to do with her being an Armenian.

The increase in racism within Turkey is just one of the subjects DTP parliamentarian Sebahat Tuncel recently discussed with Jake Hess at ZNet (again, thanks to the heval who sent the link):

Sebahat Tuncel is a prominent Turkish Kurdish human rights activist, member of parliament and foreign affairs representative for the Democratic Society Party (DTP), one of Turkey's largest and most important leftist and pro-Kurdish formations. On the streets of Diyarbakır - the center of the Kurdish movement in Turkey - she's known as an especially tenacious and courageous advocate for freedom and human rights.

Although she calls for a peaceful, negotiated solution to the Kurdish issue within Turkey's existing borders, the Turkish state is evidently intimidated by Tuncel. Young and articulate, she was elected to parliament from a prison cell in July 2007 - having been incarcerated for supporting the armed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a charge commonly used to suppress dissent in Turkey - and has been targeted for assassination by the Ergenekon organization, a shadowy paramilitary group with links to the Turkish military. Although she was released from prison upon being elected, the proceedings against her continue.

The Turkish constitutional court is currently considering shutting down the DTP on the basis of its alleged connections to ‘terrorism' and ‘separatism.' You can DTP's proposed solution to the Kurdish question here.

The following interview, which took place in November 2008, focuses on the DTP's struggle for a peaceful and democratic solution to the Kurdish issue in Turkey. In it, Tuncel critiques the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), discusses recent events in the region, the rise of what she calls ‘fascism' in Turkey, and the many challenges facing the DTP, including the closure case. It's presented here in the interest of increasing international public awareness of the DTP, which is usually marginalized in Western commentary on Turkish affairs.

The DTP has been in parliament working for a democratic solution for more than a year now. Reflect on the experience so far. What do you consider to be the party's greatest achievement? Are you more or less optimistic now than you were in July 2007 [when the last elections took place] that the Kurdish issue can be settled in a peaceful, negotiated way?

Before the elections of 2007, the atmosphere was more relaxed and optimistic in terms of a solution to the Kurdish problem than it is now. The AKP and Erdoğan were claiming that the Kurdish problem was their problem, that they would take some steps toward a peaceful solution to the issue. As you know, the AKP was challenging the military over the headscarf issue, and because of this challenge, people were thinking that it would be the first government to try to challenge the military's role in politics. Because of this, the AKP was powerful all around Turkey, including in the Kurdish region. But when the AKP announced its sixteenth government program, it became obvious that they wouldn't be confronting the military over the Kurdish issue.

Seventy-five Kurdish AKP deputies were elected in July 2007, and they created the impression that after the DTP came to the parliament the two parties could work together to solve the Kurdish problem. But then, afterwards, as I said before, they announced the government program, and in this program they supported the war against the PKK in northern Iraq. The first thing they said to the DTP was, ‘you should first call the PKK a terrorist organization, and then we can sit at the table and talk about this issue.' And then they authorized cross-border operations in northern Iraq. As a result, they showed that they're a party of war. The AKP has surrendered to the military more than any other Turkish government.

There was a bargain over the headscarf issue. Since AKP wasn't closed down, they decided to go along with the military politically, and during this period AKP became the first party to ask the general commander of the Turkish army to parliament and talk with a ministerial council. This means that the military is managing and administering the [government's approach to the Kurdish issue] and giving orders to the ministries.

While the AKP and Erdoğan are saying that the biggest problem in Turkey in terrorism and telling Europe and the US that he supports democracy and freedom, the AKP is actually the one that is terrorizing people in the Kurdish region of Turkey. They have given greater authority and leeway to the security forces, to ‘resolve' this issue through terrorizing people.

In light of recent developments we can say that the AKP government is really the government of war. In his recent [November 2008] visit to the US, Mr. Erdoğan stated that ‘I am proud of my people' - meaning nationalist demonstrators who go into the streets, meaning those people who were throwing stones at DTP buildings and harassing Kurdish artists or attempting to lynch Kurdish students at schools.

And this political chaos is still going on. For instance, in his recent speech in Hakkari, Mr. Erdoğan said ‘love Turkey or leave it. The concept of one state, one nation and one flag is essential for us, if you accept it accept it. If not, you must leave.' This simple statement shows how fascistic the AKP is in its core.

In his latest statement - saying that [normal people] can ‘defend' themselves and use weapons [against demonstrators] -- could bring Turks and Kurds against each other, and that would be the result of AKP policies.

All this unrest was caused by the mistreatment of Mr. Ocalan, who is held [in solitary confinement] in a high-security prison on Imralı island. He has been tortured, confined to progressively smaller cells, his head was shaved and there was an incident with poisoning.

Three and a half million Kurds who live in Turkey have said that Mr. Ocalan is their political representative. The maltreatment of the people's representative resulted in such an organized reaction by Kurds. The mistreatment of Ocalan was a provocation of the AKP government.

Now, violence is everywhere, organized by everybody. We now know that one-hundred children were arrested in the first few days after the November 1-2 sit-down protest in Diyarbakır. The police are treating Kurds violently not only in the streets, but in the prisons as well. Right now Kurdish political prisoners are being attacked by ordinary prisoners in the prison - the guards see this going on but they don't prevent it. Another face of the violence is the violence against the DTP, such as the closure trial and the attempts to marginalize us politically. All this shows that fascism is rising in Turkey.

A few years ago, it was only ultra-nationalist people who were saying that you should either ‘love or leave' your country. But now, if you look at Turkey in general, you can see that most people are saying that. So, in the public, there's a general tendency to isolate Kurdish people and rally people under the idea of a unitary Turkish state, without recognizing other cultural identities.

The DTP and PKK have both called for a peaceful, democratic solution to the Kurdish issue within Turkey's existing borders. Why has the state refused to negotiate with the DTP? Who benefits from the continuation of the conflict?

The PKK is not insisting on the continuation of this war. They've announced ceasefires five times. The last time they did so was when the DTP asked them to do so. However, these efforts were not welcomed by the state, and the reason they don't want to solve the issue is the state's interests in the Middle East. They have interests in Iraq and its petroleum resources, and they want to have a pretext for intervening there. The continuation of the war with the PKK provides the state with such a pretext. The problem of PKK ‘terrorism' wins Turkey sympathy in the international arena, as well. It helps Ankara resist pressure to expand freedoms, democratization and recognition of human rights.

The PKK is saying that it is prepared to accept a solution within Turkey's borders, that Kurds and Turks can live together. The war could end easily, according to the PKK, if its efforts at negotiation were recognized. But since there are still some interest groups who want the war to continue, the war is continuing. So, paradoxically, it could be easy to end the war, but at the same time it is not easy.

Do you think the DTP is going to be closed? What are you going to do if it is?

The outcome of the closure trial will be a political decision, not a legal one. In the current environment it seems likely that we will be shut down. But a significant group of people are against the closure, so we'll see what happens. We're prepared for the closure; we have a replacement party established already.

Procedurally, it's not important for DTP if we're closed down, but it will be important in that there will be a rupture if that happens. The anger of the Kurdish people is increasing intensely now, and this anger will be heightened. The slogans in demonstrations have changed incrementally over the last year, because of the policy of war by the AKP. Last year, Kurdish people were speaking out, saying ‘long live peace'. Now, they're shouting, ‘the rebels are shooting and Kurdistan is being established' and ‘Erdoğan is a murderer.'

After the last election, Mr. Erdoğan said that 55% of people in Diyarbakır supported him. But when he came here a few weeks ago, people shut down their shops. People are changing their minds.

During the 1990s, scores of politicians connected to pro-Kurdish parties were murdered, tortured, and harassed in every way. What kind of conditions do you work under now? Is the DTP able to go about its business in a normal way? Do you feel safe?

In terms of human rights violence and torture even normal people in the street do not feel safe from violence, it's common everywhere in Turkey. You can be shot and killed at any moment. As you can see on the news, Ahmet Ozcan, a youngster at the age of 20 was shot and killed by the police during a recent demonstration in Ağrı; also, in Antalya a boy named Çağdaş traveling on his motorcycle was shot by the police.

Violence and threats against Kurdish politicians and parties are still common. Because the DTP is equalized with terrorism and because of the rise of fascism, there is always a risk that we'll be assassinated. Even though there are risks, we are not giving up. We know that there are risks, and we're always threatened with e-mails and trials. The DTP is mission is a democratic and peaceful solution of the Kurdish question and it has always stood by the Kurdish people and struggled for the rights of the Kurds. Whatever the consequences may be - death, re -imprisonment - it is our mission to achieve these goals.

For every word we utter they open a new case against us. Although under law an MP cannot normally be tried, there are cases against us still going on. Although there are those risks we believe in peace, freedom and democracy and we will not give up on our struggle. We are stronger than these threats, and we will struggle for freedom, for democracy and for peace.

I don't feel safe. It has been revealed that the Ergenekon organization was targeting [DTP co-chairperson and MP] Ahmet Turk, [DTP member and Mayor of Diyarbakır] Osman Baydemir and myself for assassination. At any moment, someone from Ergenekon could come and kill.

Last time we spoke you told me the DTP was trying to open a political bureau in Washington. What's the status of that project?

We're planning on opening the bureau within a few months, but it will depend on the outcome of the closure trial, for sure.

Go, Sebahat, you go, girlfriend!

If you liked the interview with Heval Sebahat, go on over to ZNet and let Jake know.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home."
~ Edith Sitwell.

Here's wishing a Happy Şeva Zistanê to all, especially to our Rojhelatî brothers and sisters, many of whom still celebrate Şeva Zistanê like they do Newroz. Here's a little something on this ancient holiday, from Wikipedia:

The Night of Winter (Kurdish: Şeva Zistanê) is an unofficial holiday celebrated by communities throughout the Kurdistan region in the Middle East. The night is considered one of the oldest holidays still observed by modern Kurds and was celebrated by ancient tribes in the region as a holy day. The holiday falls every year on the Winter Solstice. Since the night is the longest in the year, ancient tribes believed that it was the night before a victory of light over darkness and signified a rebirth of the Sun. The Sun plays an important role in several ancient religions still practiced by some Kurds in addition to Zoroastrianism.

Several small religious communities in Kurdistan share similar ideas in regards to Şeva Zistanê. In Zoroastrianism, the belief of light over darkness is well-documented by scholars of the religion. The Winter Solstice is assumed to be the night when Ahriman is at the peak of their strength. The following day is celebratory as it is assumed Ahura Mazda, the Lord of Wisdom, has claimed victory. Since the days are getting longer and the nights shorter, this day marks the victory of light, or the Sun, over the darkness or evil.

In modern times, communities in the Kurdistan region still observe the night as a holiday. Many families prepare large feasts for their communities and the children play games and are given sweets in similar fashion to modern-day Halloween practices.

From this day on, the days will get longer. There's more on international winter solstice celebrations, also at Wikipedia.

Let me also draw your attention to a possible peace summit to be held by Kurds from Turkey and Iraq in Europe. From Reuters (thanks, heval!):

Kurdish leaders from Turkey and Iraq will hold a peace conference aimed at ending decades of violence by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrilla group, the head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish party said.

Ahmet Turk, leader of the Democratic Society Party (DTP), said the conference, which would take part in Europe or in Iraq, was agreed during a recent trip to northern Iraq, where he met Iraq's President Jalal Talabani and other Iraqi Kurdish leaders.

Turkey, the European Union and United States consider the PKK a terrorist organisation. The group has bases in northern Iraq from where it launches attacks on Turkey in pursuit of an independent Kurdish homeland.

"Kurds will hold a conference and discuss the conditions of a peace process," Turk told Reuters in an interview late on Thursday. "Kurds have to focus on a peace process and put forward a common understanding on the issue."

Turk said the PKK had been invited, but a spokesman for the rebel group in Iraq said it welcomed the conference but it would not attend. Turk did not say when the conference would happen.

The DTP seeks more cultural and political rights for Turkey's Kurds and has insisted a democratic solution should be found. The conference could exert some pressure on the PKK to voice willingness to put down its arms.

Turkey has long complained that Iraq is failing to curb PKK fighters who cross the border to launch attacks against it, but Baghdad and Ankara have recently stepped up contacts to fight Kurdish separatist guerrillas.

I have seen no word of this news in Turkish media or in Turkish-language Kurdish media, so we'll have to wait to see what happens. If I do see something more, I'll do an update.

And for those of you who enjoy online games, don't miss Sock and Awe.

Cejin pîroz bê! Bayramınız kutlu olsun!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


"I look at an ant and I see myself: a native South African, endowed by nature with a strength much greater than my size so I might cope with the weight of a racism that crushes my spirit."
~ Miriam Makeba.

It looks like there was a war of words in the TBMM recently:

Under the roof of this parliament some people, who do not want the prime minister to visit some cities in the country, have emerged, Erdogan said in his speech to parliament.

"While we were implementing our democratic right and I, as the prime minister of Turkey, was attending some ceremonies (in the southeastern provinces), it was very interesting to see some people, who couldn’t accept this, setting cars on fire and breaking the windows of my party's building. Is this democracy? Is this freedom? Is this human rights? You can't attain freedom or democracy like this, the path of democracy is the polls," Erdogan added. His words incited reaction from DTP deputies.

Of course it's not a democracy! Of course it's not freedom! Of course it's not human rights! That's the whole point, bonehead! One thing is for certain, Mr. Başbakan, the response you received to your little visit to the Southeast is a classic example of "what goes around, comes around."

Hasip Kaplan, DTP parliamentarian from Şırnak, hit the bullseye:

A deputy from the DTP, Hasip Kaplan, referred to Erdogan as "Le Pen", in reference to the far-right French politician. "You are the Le Pen. You raised Nazism in this country," Erdogan replied to Kaplan.

"You are the Nazi and you represent Nazism. We have democratic rights. You cannot address us like this," Kaplan said in response to Erdogan's criticism.


DTP leader Turk slammed Erdogan in his speech, rejecting the claims that they want to divide the country and urged for official recognition of the Kurdish identity.

"We defend the brotherhood of nations. We believe this could only be ensured by showing respect to citizens' identities and cultures. The one who is disrespectful and raises the chauvinism is you (Erdogan)," Turk added.

We know that Ahmet Türk is correct; Erdoğan the Bonehead is the one who goes around telling everyone, "Love it or leave it!" and supporting those who would take shotguns after DTP . . . and this is the same guy who had the nerve to go to Germany and talk about how "assimilation is a crime against humanity".

But Kurds are not the only ethnicity Erdoğan has a problem with. Here's something on the Armenians and the "Apology Campaign":

Around 200 Turkish academics, writers and journalists launched a website issuing an apology to the Armenians regarding the 1915 incidents and calling for people to sign on in support.

The efforts of the intellectuals drew fierce reaction in Turkey.

"I neither accept nor support this campaign. We did not commit a crime, therefore we do not need to apologize," Erdogan said, adding the issue is still being discussed by historians.

More on the campaign here. The Armenian view is at PanARMENIAN. Make note of the irony at the end of the piece:

The only «oddity» in all this story is that the petition has not been signed by Orhan Pamuk, Taner Akcam, Elif Safak, Ragip Zarakolu – those who for publicly mentioning the Armenian Genocide were brought to trial under Article 301 and were forced to leave Turkey.

An item over at Info-Turk carries quotes from some of the intellectuals who have signed the campaign, as they respond to Kerdoğan's remarks. Here are a couple those replies:

Writer Adalet Ağaoğlu: “What is expressed here is our shame. Erdoğan should tell us why Hrant Dink was killed, instead of this.”

“Racism and Turkism still continue. Since Dink was killed for the same reason and while everyone was aware about the murder plan, these are not the sentences to be uttered. The campaign is the expression of the shame we feel about the mentality that has been alive since the Ottomans.”

Musician Aylin Aslım: “When it suits him he claims the 800 year old heritage, and when it does not suit him he says he did not do it. This is how an adolescent would act and his words about the campaign make as much sense as this kind of behavior does.”

Why is this important for Kurds?

Lawyer Tahir Elçi: “Neither the Kurdish problem nor the other existing problems can be solved before Turkey faces the Armenian problem. The state has so far not taken any steps in connection with this problem.

Since PanARMENIAN brought up the subject of Article 301, let me point you to an article at Bianet that discusses the criminal charges filed against Osman Baydemir and Nejdet Atalay--both DTP--for using the expression "PKK guerrillas" to describe PKK guerrillas.


Don't forget to check Hevallo, who's got his opinion posted about the EU's attempts to criminalize the Kurdish people and recent raids on Kurdish homes in London (emphasis Hevallo's):

The latest and most damaging example of this is a report released by the European Security and Defence Assembly swallowing wholesale the 'terrorist' label pinned on the PKK by the Turkish State.

There are parts of the report which are almost verbatim of the regular psychological warfare briefs of the Turkish Army's psychological warfare department that even many Turkish journalists and intellectuals are challenging and rejecting.

The report was put together by the now President elect of the European Security and Defence Assembly, UK's Robert Walter. Put aside the fact that this Robert Walter has been lobbying in the UK Parliament for an arms company with direct links to Turkish security forces that are responsible for the most horrendous crimes against humanity.

Although there are serious contradictions in this report, like the fact that at one point in the report the author states that the conflict between Turkey and the Kurdish people is a CIVIL WAR, the main thrust of the report is that the PKK are terrorists and that the European countries must start to help the Turkish Security Forces and crack down on Kurdish people who support the Kurdish resistance in European countries!

Could it be a coincidence then, that recently, only days ago, some members of the Kurdish community in London had their homes raided and their houses ransacked under some spurious warrant of 'anti terrorist' legislation. Kurdish mothers fainting at the shock of UK police supporting the Turkish Security Forces in criminalising the Kurdish people.

Go boyfriend. You go!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


"If the Ergenekon investigation doesn't pass east of the Euphrates, the Kurdish problem will never be solved."
~ Ahmet Türk.

A month ago Nuh Gönultaş at Bugün wrote about some interesting information from supreme Ergenekon weirdo, Tuncay Güney, in a piece titled, "Where are JITEM's acid death wells?":

The black box, Tuncay Güney's life story and his relations, is not known whether or not it is real. He, who first disclosed Ergenekon and has become a legend.

Güney's most important trait is his close nine-year relationship with Veli Küçük, who was the deep paşa of the 1990s.

The book written by journalist Faruk Arslan, who lives in Toronto, titled Black Box: Ergenekon's Unknown Name Tuncay Güney, in which the mysterious witness makes shocking statements.

Güney claims that thousands of Kurdish citizens, who were killed by JITEM as extrajudicial murders for harboring PKK, were thrown into acid-filled wells, in which their corpses dissolved. Thus their bodies were never found.

This is quite an original and new information.

Güney advises looking at the BOTAŞ complex which JITEM had used in the Southeast in the 1990s, to find acid-filled death wells.

For years no one knew where the graves were of more than 18,000 citizens, most of whom were Kurdish and were killed by "unknown perpetrators"; no one questions or dares to question.

Güney claims that although there are very few people who know where these acid-filled wells are located in the Southeast, and Veli Küçük is one of them, but Küçük does not tell.

However, Güney gives a specific address in the book: "The places where JITEM and Kucuk's group used were these places. For a clear address, when you go towards the Habur border, close by Mardin's old town Cizre, on the left there is a complex that is guarded by soldiers. If you dig there, there will be a lot of bodies. BOTAŞ has enterprises in Diyarbakır, Batman, Adıyaman and these places should also be checked."

As a response to the question where did they find the acid, Güney replied in a classic way: "There are several factories in İzmit. Even Küçük's greeting is an order for them. Besides, for drug-trafficking they needed acid. They had become experts in bringing acid."

For more on that, see 32. Gün from November 2008, in which Güney reiterates the claim about the acid-filled wells. Note that I've provided the link for the first in a series of fourteen videos of that particular edition of 32. Gün.

Now it looks like the Şırnak state prosecutor is going to investigate the claims of the acid-filled wells.

The complaint was initially made by the head of the Şırnak Bar Association, based on the book by Faruk Arslan, mentioned in the Nuh Gönultaş piece . Before the state prosecutor's decision to go ahead with the investigation of the acid-filled wells, the Şırnak Bar Association vowed to move to open the wells at the first opportunity as soon as their exact locations were identified. The bar association will now be able to do just that. From Zaman:

Şırnak Bar Association chief Nuşirevan Elçi says: "This situation gave us hope. Turkey must face its past in order to have a bright future. If there are illegal implementations, these must come before the judiciary. The relatives of those murdered by unknown perpetrators don't know whether or not they are dead these last 15-20 years. This situation puts those people in pain. If this event is disclosed, these people will cease hoping. For Turkey's bright future, these kinds of works must be done. Especially within this context I see the Ergenekon investigation as a new era."

In the past, DTP has said that unless Ergenekon was investigated east of the Euphrates, their would be little hope for a solution to the Kurdish question in Turkey. Now let's wait and see how much of this is truly investigated and the results revealed. Then we'll find out, too, if Ergenekon's mysterious "black box" has any credibility.

Monday, December 15, 2008


"In order to stop the continuous taking of our resources – people, land, water and children- we have no choice but to claim our own destiny."
~ Phyllis Young, Founder, Women of All Red Nations.

Last year the Lakota Sioux, a native American people, declared their intention to withdraw from all treaty obligations with the US because the US had never honored the agreements.

In December 2007, the Lakota declared their sovereign nation status and now there's an update on the situation of the Lakota, in an interview with Russell Means, the chief facilitator of the Republic of Lakota. Listen here for a discussion of how US treatment of the native peoples has inspired repressive and genocidal regimes around the world. The interview will also explain clearly why the native Americans remain the poorest people in the US. It's an amazingly simple equation.

In addition to treaty violations, the US has enacted a number of laws that directly target native peoples, in order to genocide them culturally or otherwise:

* Homestead Acts - for settlers only that gave them title to 160 acres of "underdeveloped" land outside the original 13 colonies; 1.6 million in all got around 270 million acres, or 10% of all US land between 1862 - 1886;

* Allotment Acts - various "act(s) to provide for the allotment of land in severalty to Indians on the various reservations and to extend the protection of the laws of the United States over the Indians, and for other purposes;" for example, the 1887 Dawes Act that distributed mostly unwanted and unviable land in Oklahoma; it was done by dividing reservations into privately-owned parcels to destroy Native cultures, impose western values, and achieve forced assimilation;

* the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 to force citizenship on all Native Americans; the words of one spoke for many: "United States citizenship was just another way of absorbing us and destroying our customs and government; how could these Europeans come over and tell us we were citizens in our country; we had our citizenship;" it's "in our nations;" forcing their citizenship on us "was a violation of our sovereignty;"

* the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act (aka the Wheeler-Howard Act or the Indian New Deal); it reversed Dawes provisions and created what Native Americans call the first Apartheid Act that still applies; the 1964 Bantu Development Act copied this law and institutionalized black and white separation in South Africa; the same practice exists now in Occupied Palestine, in US inner cities, and wherever else white supremicists want unwanted people kept out of their restricted spaces;

* forced relocations continued during the 1950s and 1960s;

* Supreme Court rulings against Native American religious practices; in City of Boerne v. Flores (June 1997), the Court ruled against the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act that prohibited the government from "substantially burdening" a believer's religious practices; the Court held that this act attempted to overturn its own First Amendment interpretation; in Employment Division v. Smith (April 1990), the Court ruled that Oregon could deny unemployment benefits to a person fired for violating a state prohibition on the use of peyote, even for a religious ritual; in other words, this and similar practices aren't protected under the First Amendment freedom of religion provision; and

* Native Americans on reservations aren't entitled to the same constitutional rights (like free speech, religion, assembly, and due process, etc.) as other Americans even though they're legal citizens; non-Indian people when on reservations (so-called "tribal trust status lands") also relinquish these rights while there; in addition, "tribal sovereignty" benefits leaders alone, not their people, and tribal chiefs get their authority from the Interior Secretary and US-run Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

The article linked above also quotes from the Republic of Lakota website, which contains a number of interesting facts and statistics about the effects of the genocide to date:


* Lakotah men have a life expectancy of less than 44 years, lowest of any country in the World (excluding AIDS) including Haiti.
* Lakotah death rate is the highest in the United States.
* The Lakotah infant mortality rate is 300% more than the U.S. Average.
* Teenage suicide rate is 150% higher than the U.S national average for this group.


* Median income is approximately $2,600 to $3,500 per year.
* 97% of our Lakotah people live below the poverty line.
* Many families cannot afford heating oil, wood or propane and many residents use ovens to heat their homes.


* Unemployment rates on our reservations is 85% or higher.
* Government funding for job creation is lost through cronyism and corruption.


* Elderly die each winter from hypothermia (freezing).
* 1/3 of the homes lack basic clean water and sewage while 40% lack electricity.
* 60% of Reservation families have no telephone.
* 60% of housing is infected with potentially fatal black molds.
* There is an estimated average of 17 people living in each family home (may only have two to three rooms). Some homes, built for 6 to 8 people, have up to 30 people living in them.


* More than half the Reservation’s adults battle addiction and disease.
* Alcoholism affects 8 in 10 families.
* Two known meth-amphetamine labs allowed to continue operation. Why?


* The Tuberculosis rate on Lakotah reservations is approx. 800% higher than the U.S national average.
* Cervical cancer is 500% higher than the U.S national average.
* The rate of diabetes is 800% higher than the U.S national average.
* Federal Commodity Food Program provides high sugar foods that kill Native people through diabetes and heart disease.


* Indian children incarceration rate 40% higher than whites.
* In South Dakota, 21 percent of state prisoners were Native, yet they only make up 9% of the population.
* Indians have the second largest state prison incarceration rate in the nation.
* Most Indians live on federal reservations. Less than 2% of Indians live where the state has jurisdiction!


* Only 14% of the Lakotah population can speak the Lakotah language.
* The language is not being shared inter-generationally. Today, the average age of a fluent Lakotah speaker is 65 years.
* Our Lakotah language is an Endangered Language, on the verge of extinction.

A study (in .pdf) from Harvard University listed a number of factors that have traditionally been used to explain continuing poverty among native American populations, especially on reservations, as follows:

• Tribes and individuals lack access to financial capital.
• Tribes and individuals lack human capital (education, skills,
technical expertise) and the means to develop it.
• Reservations lack effective planning.
• Reservations are subject to too much planning and not enough
• Reservations are poor in natural resources.
• Reservations have natural resources, but lack sufficient control
over them.
• Reservations are disadvantaged by their distance from markets
and the high costs of transportation.
• Tribes cannot persuade investors to locate on reservations because of
intense competition from non-Indian communities.
• Federal and state policies are counterproductive and/or discriminatory.
• The Bureau of Indian Affairs is inept, corrupt, and/or uninterested in
reservation development.
• Non-Indian outsiders control or confound tribal decision-making.
• Tribes have unworkable and/or externally imposed systems of
• Tribal politicians and bureaucrats are inept or corrupt.
• On-reservation factionalism destroys stability in tribal decisions.
• The instability of tribal government keeps outsiders from investing.
• Reservation savings rates are low.
• Entrepreneurial skills and experience are scarce.
• Non-Indian management techniques won't work on the reservation.
• Non-Indian management techniques will work, but are absent.
• Tribal cultures get in the way.
• The long-term effects of racism have undermined tribal self-confidence.
• Alcoholism and other social problems are destroying tribes' human

The authors of the study note that the factors listed above are not equally weighted, do not apply across the board, or may even be insignificant. Certainly, many of these factors are not brought up in the interview with Russell Means.

Much, however, is made of forced assimilation, so that it would appear to be a significant factor in the situation of native American peoples today. Amnesty International has information on the legacy of native American boarding schools, schools that were specifically designed for forcibly assimilate the native peoples of the US and destroy their cultures:

The schools were part of Euro-America's drive to solve the “Indian problem” and end Native control of their lands. While some colonizers advocated outright physical extermination, Captain Richard H. Pratt thought it wiser to “Kill the Indian and save the man.” In 1879 Pratt, an army veteran of the Indian wars, opened the first federally sanctioned boarding school: the Carlisle Industrial Training School, in Carlisle, Penn.

“Transfer the savage-born infant to the surroundings of civilization, and he will grow to possess a civilized language and habit,” said Pratt. He modeled Carlisle on a prison school he had developed for a group of 72 Indian prisoners of war at Florida's Fort Marion prison. His philosophy was to “elevate” American Indians to white standards through a process of forced acculturation that stripped them of their language, culture, and customs.

[ . . . ]

Physical hardship, however, was merely the backdrop to a systematic assault on Native culture. School staff sheared children's hair, banned traditional clothing and customs, and forced children to worship as Christians. Eliminating Native languages—considered an obstacle to the “acculturation” process—was a top priority, and teachers devised an extensive repertoire of punishments for uncooperative children. “I was forced to eat an entire bar of soap for speaking my language,” says AIUSA activist Byron Wesley (Navajo).

The loss of language cut deep into the heart of the Native community. Recent efforts to restore Native languages hint at what was lost. Mona Recountre, of the South Dakota Crow Creek reservation, says that when her reservation began a Native language immersion program at its elementary school, social relationships within the school changed radically and teachers saw a decline in disciplinary problems. Recountre's explanation is that the Dakota language creates community and respect by emphasizing kinship and relationships. The children now call their teachers “uncle” or “auntie” and “don't think of them as authority figures,” says Recountre. “It's a form of respect, and it's a form of acknowledgment.”

Many of the policies of forced assimilation and cultural genocide, and even the economic policies, will sound familiar to the Kurdish people and perhaps the solutions sought by the Lakota can inspire solutions for the Kurdish people. Those interested can keep up with news from the Republic of Lakota through their website,

Sunday, December 14, 2008


"Congress cannot look the other way; it must demand an independent investigation and independent prosecutor. Congress is duty-bound by the Constitution not only to hold the President, Vice President and all civil officers to account, but it must also send a message to future presidents that it will use its constitutional powers to prevent illegal, and immoral conduct."
~ Caroline Fredrickson, ACLU.

Here's a Sunday evening documentary for you, titled "Torturing Democracy". There's a website for the documentary, hosted at George Washington University. The website also contains an annotated transcript which is available in .pdf.

As you watch the video, remember that the US has not been at war since the Second World War and it is not at war now. Only Congress has the power to declare war and it has not done so since 11 December 1941 (see Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution for more).

Run time just over an hour.

All three parts here.

Compare with PKK's treatment of its prisoners:





"Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow . . . "

~ Juliet, Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2.

Remember all thos photos from 2003, in which Iraqis beat statues and photos of Saddam with their shoes? It looks like it's a political tradition:

And dumbbell Dana Perino got a black eye out of it? PRICELESS!

If it had been a Kurdish mother launching the shoes, Bush would have easily had one shoe firmly lodged in each nostril at that close distance. When you need something done right, better ask a Kurdish woman to gt it done instead of screwing around with amateurs.