Tag Archives: Kurd

Turkish President Continues ‘Vicious Campaign’ Against Dissidents

President Tayyip Erdoğan wants the country to redefine its anti-extremism law to include journalists, politicians, and academics

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-16-2016

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan has unleashed what Human Rights Watch dubs "a harsh campaign vilifying the academics...terming them vile, equal to terrorists, base and dark." (Photo: Agencia de Noticias ANDES/flickr/cc)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan has unleashed what Human Rights Watch dubs “a harsh campaign vilifying the academics…terming them vile, equal to terrorists, base and dark.” (Photo: Agencia de Noticias ANDES/flickr/cc)

Representing a further crackdown on free expression in Turkey, President Tayyip Erdoğan said this week he wants the Turkish parliament to redefine the country’s anti-extremism law to include journalists, politicians, and academics.

“It is not only the person who pulls the trigger, but those who made that possible who should also be defined as terrorists, regardless of their title,” Erdoğan said on Monday, one day after a suicide bomb attack in the country’s capital of Ankara killed at least 34 people and wounded 125 others. Continue reading

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The Lure of a Laptop vs. Kalashnikov

Editorial Note: Kani Xulam is organizer of “A Vigil for King’s Dream in Kurdistan,” a peace vigil taking place in Washington, DC, across the street from the Turkish Embassy. Occupy World Writes is sending two members to spend some time on the front lines of this event and bring you exclusive interviews, photos and information. Their trip begins today.

Written by Kani Xulam. Published 3-15-16 in Rudaw. Republished here with Author’s permission.

Tuğba Hezer serves as MP in the Turkish parliament. Image via Twitter.

Tuğba Hezer serves as MP in the Turkish parliament. Image via Twitter.

Some Kurds think the successes of Turkish leaders are gains for Kurdish masses.

Not me!

Greater Turkish successes delay freedom for the Kurds and stall liberation of Kurdistan in the greater Middle East.

When Turkish leaders blundered with their bizarre claim that Muslims first discovered the Americas and built mosques before churches arose there, I laughed at their absurdity—and felt that I might live to see the dawn of Kurdish freedom!

But last month was no laughing matter when Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s prime minister, rained fire and brimstone on Tugba Hezer, a Kurdish member of the Turkish parliament, and threatened to throw her out of parliament.

What was Ms. Hezer’s horrible crime?

She apparently attended a wake to offer her condolences to the family of Abdulbaki Somer, a Kurdish militant who detonated his explosive-laden car beside a bus carrying Turkish officers in Ankara, killing himself and 29 Turks.

For a sitting member of the Turkish parliament to attend the wake of a “murderer” is “treasonous” and aids and abets “terrorism” against Turkey, thundered Mr. Davutoglu!

Rhetoric aside, he has a point.

Why did Ms. Hezer go to the wake of Abdulbaki Somer?

After examining her background, it seems she has a point too.

Tugba Hezer is young and impetuous.

Confrontation is as natural to her as swimming is for a duck.

But Kurds can’t afford to always be confrontational.

It is not the unbending oak tree that survives gale-force winds, but the flexible eucalyptus.

Winning with wisdom should be our ultimate goal—not the temptation for instant gratification.

Tugba Hezer, who is still a member of the Turkish parliament, can defuse the controversy with an apology to Parliament

She hasn’t asked for my help, but here it is anyway:

Mr. Speaker, and my fellow parliamentarians:

I come before you to apologize for my rash judgment to visit the wake of a Kurdish militant who sought solutions in senseless death.

I am deeply sorry for compounding your pain and suffering.

It was our duty to nudge him towards a culture of life.

We failed.

We paid a heavy price.

There is an alternative.

A treasured Turkish expression notes, “The moment you stop your losses, you are making profit.”

How do we profit from our goal of happiness in this land of primarily Turks and Kurds?

Let’s start with my case.

I am an accident of history, but the Kurds are a fact of Turkey as well as the greater Middle East.

In 1930, my ancestral village of Sor, part of the verdant Zilan Valley in Turkish Kurdistan, was marked for extinction.

The village had not committed a crime, but a few of its sons had apparently given aid and comfort to some fighters of the Agri rebellion against Turkey.

The Turkish government thought eradicating the inhabitants of Zilan Valley would teach the Kurds a lesson in subservience.

Impartial historians say 15,000 Kurds were cruelly executed by Salih Omurtak, the Turkish military commander.

My Great-grandfather Yunus miraculously survived the bloody massacre and nurtured a family that includes me.

I grew up with tales of brutality that have devastated my psyche.

I am not much different than 40 million Kurds who live in the Middle East.

History has taught us one constant, unwavering truth about persecution:

There is no pulpit like the martyrs’ graves!

Our Great Saladin said the same thing with different words: “Spilt blood never sleeps.”

Killing Kurds in Amed, in Zilan Valley, in Dersim, in Mahabad, in Halabja, and in Kobani did not extinguish the spark of freedom.

It only added fuel to the fire!

That fire of freedom translated itself into six million votes for Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the June election of last year that catapulted me into the position of becoming a spokesperson for Kurds.

Turks and Kurds don’t have to fight—they need to talk, to turn this country into an amazing place for all and a place of refuge for the unfortunates of Syria and Iraq as well.

Perhaps some of you have had a chance to read Jeffrey Goldberg’s recent interview with President Obama who confides to the reporter his least favorite place in the world: the Middle East.

What does President Obama see in the Middle East that escapes our eyes?

He sees that we have imprisoned ourselves in lies and refuse to look at the world rationally.

Our newspapers, instead of nudging us towards a semblance of truth, turn us into blinds with seeing eyes such as when Hurriyet boasts, “Turkey belongs to the Turks!”

He sees young Kurds and Turks posing for cameras not with their laptops, but with Kalashnikov rifles!

The computers, we don’t need him to tell us, can launch our youth toward the unlimited expanse of outer space; the Kalashnikovs will only hurl them into a cold, limited hole six feet under!

“Only when all contribute their firewood,” says an old Chinese proverb, “can they build up a strong fire.”

Let us all lay our peaceful firewood upon the hallowed altar of justice, and set ablaze a bonfire of freedom that will gloriously elevate Turkey upon a majestic pedestal of liberty that will amaze the world.

Kani Xulam during a protest in Washington, DC. Image via kurdistan.org

About the Author:
Kani Xulam is a political activist based in Washington D.C. He is the founder of the American Kurdish Information Network (AKIN) 

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Missed Chance to ‘End Dictatorship’ as Erdoğan Claims Victory in Turkey

“I’m horrified,” said one young voter in Instanbul. “I don’t want to live in this country anymore because I don’t know what is awaiting us.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-1-2015

Photo via Twitter

Photo via Twitter

Amid the backdrop of intensifying war in neighboring Syria and increasing political tensions internally, voters in Turkey devastated the hopes of moderate and progressive reformers—some of whom clashed with riot police on Sunday—as news spread the nation’s much-maligned rightwing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had reclaimed power as his Justice and Development Party (AKP) had received enough support to re-establish single-party control over the government.

As the Guardian reports:

Continue reading

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Observing World Kobane Day while the Kurdish struggle continues

save-kobaneToday, November 1, 2015 is World Kobane Day. Most everyone remembers the battle for the Kurdish town last fall. Most everyone remembers the victory the Kurds gained after months of war against ISIS (Daesh) terrorists attempted to overtake the town. One year later, we pause to not only pay tribute to those who sacrificed everything in the struggle; we also are cautious that much is being overlooked or suppressed in the media regarding Turkey’s ongoing Kurdish question.

Kobane grabbed the world’s attention after being attacked in mid-October of 2014. Early on, Turkey predicted the city would fall to Daesh “within days.” Despite Turkey’s porous border regarding extremists wanting to join the Islamic State, they refused to allow Kurds across the border to help defend the Syrian town directly across from them.

After months of fighting and with the assistance of coalition forces airstrikes, the Kurds won back Kobane. The news crews left, and what remained of the city was mostly a pile of rubble where once stately buildings and beautiful homes had stood. Resourceful people, the Kurds set about rebuilding their town. It will take years and untold amounts of work and money, but these people will succeed.

But that is not the end of the story. Kobane is just one small glimpse regarding the Kurdish struggle in what was once glorious Kurdistan. Seen as a threat to Turkey’s sense of “one nation, one people,” since 1923 the government has engaged in an intentional direct assault against an entire ethnic group within its own borders.

Since Turkey’s elections on June 7, the pro-Kurdish party came in third, evidently thwarting the plans of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in reaching the supermajority of 367 seats to be able to change the Constitution, granting him unlimited power and a position for life. In an apparent attempt to rectify this supposed miscarriage of the democratic process, Erdogan called for another snap election for November 1, seemingly to try once again to get his permanent dictatorship.

As the elections in Turkey approached, violence against the Kurds has only escalated. An actor, Haci Lokman Birlik, was murdered by Turkish security forces. Turkish officials released a jarring video showing Birlik’s body being dragged through the streets behind a police vehicle. The pro-government newspaper “claimed that dragging dead bodies in the streets was ‘routine practice’ around the world, a security measure to check if the body was booby-trapped.”

Cemeteries are being blown up across Kurdistan, destroying the history of families, communities and lives around them.

When the bodies of 13 Kurdish fighters killed in Syria in a battle against Daesh were brought to Turkey’s border gate in the Kurdish province of Sirnak for burial, the Turkish authorities refused to give the dead bodies to their families. Protests were held and for 10 days families had to agonizingly wait while the bodies were held in a refrigerator truck at the border.

Those journalists who dare to attempt to cover these stories end up with their own extrajudicial killings, offices raided or bombed, families tortured, and long stays in Turkish prisons.

On August 9, Abdullah Demirbas, the former mayor of the Sur municipality in Diyarbakir, was arrested by Turkish authorities … [and] a list of charges were filed against him.” The report goes on to list Demirbas’ “crimes” as doing his job as mayor. “Most unforgivable in the eyes of the Turkish authorities, however, was: “For printing a children’s book and tourist brochures in Kurdish,” according to the same profile, “Demirbas was accused of misusing municipal resources. For giving a blessing in Kurdish while officiating at a wedding ceremony, he was accused of misusing his position … and for proposing that his district should employ Kurdish-speaking phone operators and print public-health pamphlets in Kurdish, he was accused … of aiding a terrorist organisation.”

On October 10, two bombs exploded at a peace rally in Ankara. 102 people were killed and over 400 were injured. The Turkish government is placing blame on the Kurdish community for these bombings. In actuality, security at the rally was so heightened that the only perpetrators of such an act would have been the security officials themselves or parties related to them.

And most recently, just as President Barack Obama announced sending troops to assist the Kurds in Syria, “Turkey’s military fired on U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters in northern Syria in a bid to keep them from advancing toward the border, the Turkish prime minister said Tuesday. The comments by Ahmet Davutoglu were the first time that Turkey has confirmed the use of force against ethnic Kurdish militias in neighboring Syria.” How long before a Turkish soldier kills an American while shooting at a Kurd? What happens when a NATO country starts killing the troops of another NATO country? And how will Russia, also a player in the Syrian theater of war, react?

From a recent article, “What Turkey is engaging in appears an attempt at historicide, just as al-Qaeda and ISIS have done in Bamiyan and Palmyra and throughout Iraq — and as the Palestinian Authority did last week with the help of a duplicitous UNESCO by labeling the Jewish holy sites of Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs as Muslim sites. They have been trying permanently to delete the memories of entire nations.”

Will the Turkish election on the same day as World Kobane Day matter? For the Kurds, most likely not. Regardless of the outcome, the Turkish officials will exact on the Kurdish people within their own population what has always been given them: no rights, no peace, no language, no protection, no freedom and no future. They will seek revenge for the Kurds having attempted to gain rights to exist in their original homelands through the democratic process.

As Turkey continues to slide away from any resemblance of a peace process and returns more toward the mistreatment reminiscent to that of the years leading to the coup, more towns in southeast Turkey will suffer the fate of Kobane. But this time it won’t be Daesh doing the damage; it will be the Turkish government continuing its attempt to rid itself of anyone that is not a Turk.

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‘Mourning and Rebellion’: Unions, Opposition Strike and March in Wake of Deadly Bombing in Turkey

‘We are in mourning, we are in protest, we are on strike.’

By Sarah Lazare, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-12-2015

Photo via Iconosquare

Photo via Iconosquare

As anger and suspicion towards the Turkish government mounts in the wake of a deadly bomb attack over the weekend, the country’s largest labor union and the left-wing People’s Democratic Party (HDP) launched a nationwide strike on Monday to “protest the fascist massacre and to commemorate the death of our friends.”

From the University Medical Hospital in Istanbul to the main square in Adana, located in the country’s south—workers, students, and pro-Kurdish campaigners staged mass protests and pickets across the country, in the first of a two-day general strike. Employees of the municipality of Maltepe walked joined in the work stoppage, holding signs that read, “We are in mourning, we are in protest, we are on strike.” Continue reading

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