Freedom of speech in Turkey is deteriorating at a rate of knots. This week, a British academic was deported from the country with no trial and three academics were arrested, all accused of disseminating terrorist material. Earlier this month, Zaman — a widely-read newspaper critical of the regime — was seized and placed under control of a board of trustees by an Istanbul court.
On March 17, after a two-day meeting held in the town of Girkê Legê (Al-Muabbada) in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan), a Constituent Assembly established a “Rojava-Northern Syria Democratic Federal System”. The Constituent Assembly was attended by 31 parties and 200 delegates representing Rojava's Kobanê, Efrîn and Cizîrê cantons and the Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian, Syriac, Armenian, Turkmen and Chechen peoples of Girê Spî (Tal Abyad), Shaddadi, Aleppo and Shehba regions.
Chris Stephenson in the Istanbul court house shortly before his arrest on March 15. Update: Supporters in Istanbul reported that Chris Stephenson was deported on March 16. There are unconfirmed reports that he will be charged in absentia to prevent his return. British academic Chris Stephenson, of Istanbul's Bilgi University, is in detention awaiting deportation after being arrested on March 15 when he went to an Istanbul court to support three other detained academics.
Turkish military bombardment of Sur, Diyarbakır. The Turkish government has a post-war plan to offer Kurds high-end housing in exchange for civil obedience. Sur is a district in Turkey's southeast, part of the Kurdish capital Diyarbakır, that has been exposed to a round-the-clock curfew since December 2.
Parliamentarians from the Kurdish-led left-wing Peoples Democratic Party (HDP), Osman Baydemir, Ali Atalan and Faik Yağızay, used a press conference in the European Parliament hosted by the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) to draw attention to the Turkish state’s war against the Kurdish population.
The European Left Parties Solidarity With Kurdish People conference was held in the Kurdish city of Amed in south-eastern Turkey on February 20. It was organised by the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Democratic Society Congress (DTK), the Party of Democratic Regions (DBP) and the Free Women’s Congress (KJA). The conference released a declaration, published below. It is reprinted from ANF News. * * *
A “cessation of hostilities” in Syria, sponsored by the United States and Russia, came into force on February 27. Only some of the internal and foreign participants in Syria's multi-sided conflicts signed on. The air wars that the US and Russia are waging in Syria are both officially directed against ISIS. But in reality, Russia is keen to protect its ally, the dictator Bashar al-Assad, while the US and its regional allies, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, have given money, weapons and logistical and diplomatic support to his opponents since the civil war began in 2011.
Cizre, March 2. Photo: Hatice Kamer/BBC. The following report for BBC Turkish by Hatice Kamer in Cizre was translated for Green Left Weekly by I Zekeriya Ayman.
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Kurşunlu mosque in Amed. Damage is from bombardment by the Turkish military. The following statement was released by Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairs Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş on March 1.
* * *Across 58 separate curfews imposed in several neighbourhoods of the 21 districts of 7 Kurdish provinces, 290 citizens have so far lost their lives.
Protestors knock down police barricade in Amed, March 2. Photo: Kurdish Question. Thousands of people marched to the Sur district of Kurdish city of Amed (Diyarbakir in Turkish) in Turkey's south-east Sur district from all corners of the city on March 2 to break the three-month siege and curfew by Turkish state forces.