“The police and military are using every kind of violence against the Kurds. They are using tanks and heavy armoured vehicles. They have flattened houses, historical places, mosques. They use helicopters and technological weapons, night vision binoculars and drones. They don't let families get to the bodies of youths who were killed. Corpses remain on the streets for weeks.” Baran, a Kurdish political activist who now lives in exile, described the massacres taking place in Kurdish cities in Turkey. Baran is from Amed, or Diyarbakır in Turkish.
Flag of PKK with image of Abdullah Ocalan. Millions of Kurds view Abdullah Öcalan as their political representative. His freedom is directly linked to a democratic and peaceful solution to the war in Turkey.
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.
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.
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.
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.