الرئيسية » English Articles » The latest nows on the KURD

The latest nows on the KURD

1. DTP complains of unequal treatment in Parliament
2. With Iraq incursion over, Turkish PM scheduled to visit Kurdish-majority region this weekend
3. Sebahat Tuncel a Kurd and member of Turkey’s parliament interview with Al-hurra TV and Sawa Iraqi radio
4. Barzani hopes Talabani’s visit serves for good relations
5. DTP deputy critisize Talabani’s visit
6. KCK’s statements about CPT Report
7. Mashahadani: Kurdistan Has The Right To Sign Oil Contracts
8. Turkey, Iraq discuss joint council
9. Iraqi leaders urge support at Erbil Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union conference
10. Repression Of Kurdish Iranians
11. Turkey intensifies anti-PKK offensive
12. Prosecutor wants charges against Turkish mayors reduced
13. Report: Operations against PKK continue in southeastern Turkey
14. Turkey plans to invest $12 bln in Kurdish package
15. The Kurdistan Region – A Bright Future in the Other Iraq
16. Babacan meets Iraqi counterpart
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1. DTP complains of unequal treatment in Parliament

Wednesday, March 12, 2008
ANKARA – Turkish Daily News

The pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) has complained of unequal treatment in Parliament, arguing that double standards have been applied to its 20 deputies over the immunity enjoyed by parliamentarians.
A delegation led by Ahmet Türk, the DTP’s parliamentary group deputy leader, visited President Abdullah Gül yesterday and Parliament Speaker Köksal Toptan late Monday to express the party’s unease with the situation.
According to Türk, the judiciary ignores the DTP deputies’ right to immunity and continues to prosecute them without waiting for a waiver from Parliament. Turkish lawmakers who enjoy broad immunity rights are exempted from any prosecution unless Parliament lifts his or her immunity. Many DTP deputies face legal proceedings over their statements on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its imprisoned chieftain Abdullah Öcalan.
“A different implementation has been applied to our deputies. The judiciary carries on with the suits without Parliament’s consent. It is clearly in violation of Turkish law,” Türk said, speaking to reporters late Monday.
But Toptan, instead of pacifying the DTP delegation, advised them to control the rhetoric of party officials outside Parliament especially those on the PKK’s activities. The DTP refuses to denounce the PKK and calls on the government to negotiate with the organization.
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2. With Iraq incursion over, Turkish PM scheduled to visit Kurdish-majority region this weekend

The Associated Press
March 12, 2008

ANKARA, Turkey: The Turkish prime minister plans to travel this weekend to the country’s poor southeast, in an apparent effort to address the concerns of the Kurds, two weeks after the Turkish military ended a ground operation against Kurdish rebels based in Iraq.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said a solution to the conflict with the Kurds cannot rely only on security measures, and that economic support in the southeast region where many of them live and nationwide cultural rights must be part of any solution to a conflict that has dragged on for decades.
But the military objects to most concessions to the Kurdish rebels, whose demands for autonomy and greater freedom to use the Kurdish language are backed by many of their ethnic brethren, even if increasing numbers of Kurds have grown disillusioned with violence as a means of achieving their goals.
Gen. Ilker Basbug, commander of the land forces, last week urged the government to try to discourage Kurds from fighting by improving economic conditions in the region and offering leniency to those willing to lay down their arms.
Turkey’s eight-day incursion targeted rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has been fighting the state since 1984. The operation ended Feb. 29, but the military did not rule out future incursions. The army has more than 200,000 soldiers and 55,000 pro-government village guards dedicated to the fight against an estimated 4,000-5,000 rebels.
In an overnight clash near the town of Sirnak on the Iraqi border, soldiers killed two Kurdish rebels after an unmanned air vehicle detected a small group of guerrillas, private Dogan news agency reported Wednesday. The soldiers, backed by attack helicopters, were continuing to chase the rest of the group, it said.
Turkey’s economic program to build up the southeast is faltering largely because of lack of oversight despite tax and other incentives to businessmen. Blackouts are still common, but the government has improved ruined roads and the dilapidated health care system.
Erdogan said last month that the government was taking steps to clear mines in a large area along the Syrian border and finish an ambitious irrigation project within five years to improve agriculture and energy and create new jobs in the region.
The prime minister was expected to travel to the southeastern cities of Mardin and Sanliurfa over the weekend, his office said. It did not provide details on his schedule.
In both those areas, Kurds are outnumbered by ethnic Turks and Arabs, and the visit there poses less of a security risk to Erdogan while still serving as an expression of his interest in solving the Kurdish problem.
“We are expecting both political and economic reforms,” said Mehmet Kaya, head of the Chamber of Commerce in Diyarbakir, the largest city in the southeast. “The barriers to the Kurdish language should be lifted and both state and private investments should be made in the region.”
Turkey does not recognize Kurds as a minority, and speaking Kurdish was illegal until 1991. At the prodding of the European Union, Turkey has granted some cultural rights to Kurds such as limited broadcasts on television, but advocates say more needs to be done.
The government plans to introduce more television broadcasts in the Kurdish language, according to local media. Kurds are a non-Arab people distantly related to the Iranians.
Some Turkish nationalists fear that increasing cultural rights could lead to the breakup of the country along ethnic lines. They worry that Turkish Kurds could be encouraged by the U.S.-supported Kurdish region in northern Iraq, which has its own government and militia.
Many Kurds have pinned their hopes on Turkey’s push to join the European Union, which has said Ankara’s treatment of the Kurds will be a key factor in its decision on whether to accept the country. But that process could take at least a decade and Kurdish frustration is growing.
Erdogan’s visit comes ahead of a traditional spring festival, Nowruz, celebrated on March 21 by Kurds to express their cultural identity and often to assert anti-government sentiment by raising rebel flags and displaying images of jailed rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan in violation of Turkish law.
The pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, which is facing closure on charges of ties to the rebels, plans to hold celebrations with Kurdish cultural symbols this year. Party officials privately say pro-Kurdish lawmakers could wear the Kurdish baggy pants and other traditional dress, and address crowds in Kurdish.
Police have canceled leave around the country during the festival in anticipation of possible violence. President Abdullah Gul said Wednesday that the conflict with the Kurds was a national problem, and he warned the pro-Kurdish party against aggravating it.
“No one should add problems to the problem,” Gul said. “No one should be counterproductive.”
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3. Sebahat Tuncel a Kurd and member of Turkey’s parliament interview with Al-hurra TV and Sawa Iraqi radio.

The Kurdish MP in the Turkish Parliament Sebahat Tuncel said “that the solution to the Kurdish problem in Turkey will not be through military means and the invasion of Iraqi territory from time to time, but through political and peaceful methods in Turkey.”

07/03/2008

The Kurdish MP in the Turkish Parliament Sebahat Toncel that the solution to the Kurdish problem in Turkey will not be through military means and the invasion of Iraqi territory from time to time, but through political and peaceful methods in Turkey.

The MP Toncel from the Kurdish Democratic Party society Party and vice-chairman of the party in Istanbul said that the solution to the Kurdish issue is possible through the granting Kurds their basic rights and recognition of their national identity.

The MP Bbahat, in a special interview with Alhurra TV (the Free one) channel and will be brodcasted in full later. “Sebahat stated that there are a general trend in Turkey at the present time to solve the Kurdish problem peacefully, and said:

“Of course there is a tendency for the majority of public opinion in Turkey to solve the Kurdish problem by peaceful means far from military solutions. I believe that the development of democracy and commitment to human rights, expansion of freedom of expression and thought, and recognition of the Kurdish cultural and educational rights are enough to resolve the Kurdish problem. The fact indicates that military solutions has failed so far to solving the problem. Therefore, we believe that peaceful dialogue is the only solution to the problem. ”

The MP in the Turkish Parliament said that the Kurds in Turkey, more than 20 million people lack their basic human rights, and there are parties, forces and personalities support their rights and explained:

“In fact there are more than 20 million Kurds live like other members of the Turkish society. They wish that the State recognizes their cultural and social rights and penal sanctions are to be lifted on the use of the Kurdish language, and respect for their identity and special status as Kurds living in this country.”

The Kurdish MP Sebahat said that the military operation carried out by Turkish troops in north of Iraq had been expected, and that the termination speed was correct, and added:

“In fact, we expected that the Turkish forces will lunch the military operation by into northern Iraq to hunt down the PKK elements, but we did not expect it to be at this time in the winter because of cold weather and snow density in the region. We believe that the withdrawal of Turkish troops from northern Iraq fast was true. there was controversy about the scale and duration of the stay in northern Iraq. On the other hand, there was the view in some circles of Turkey that it should not be a hasty withdrawal from Iraq. We in the Democratic Party society from the beginning were against the military operations, they are not a solution to the Kurdish problem and its implications”.

The MP Toncel, one of 22 Kurdish deputies won in the last parliamentary elections in Turkey said that the Turkish military operation in northern Iraq, caused casualties among the Turkish army and the PKK and said:

“There are different figures and data. Figures from the Turkish army says that around 240 elements of the PKK were killed, while sources of the PKK says that about 125 Turkish soldiers and 9 of the PKK members were killed. In fact, we believe that the military operations have negative affect on the nature of the existing relationship between the Kurds and Turks. Also, we believe that many aspects of economic, social and political were damaged by these military operations and this is most important in our view.”

The Kurdish MP in the Turkish Parliament Sebahat Toncel said that the recent military operation of the Turkish army of northern Iraq had not achieved its stated objectives, and explained:

“We can not say that Turkish forces had achieved the goals it wants to achieve within Iraqi territory. We believe that the solution to the Kurdish issue must be within the Turkish territory and not inside Iraqi territory. More than 24 times the Turkish army lunched operations inside Iraqi territory and this is the 25th time that the Turkish army has been unable to achieve its objectives. We believe that the solution to the problem must be done through peaceful means and not through military solutions.”
Translated from Arabic.
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4. Barzani hopes Talabani’s visit serves for good relations

11.03.2008
M. Alihan Hasanoğlu Arbil
Today’s Zaman

Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani yesterday expressed hope that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s recent visit to the Turkish capital will serve as “a step” taken for good relations between the two neighboring countries.
Nearly three years after his election as president of Iraq, Talabani paid his first official visit to Ankara on March 7-8. While Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who met with Talabani on Saturday, said that Turkey and Iraq are ready to open “a new page” in their relations, Talabani reaffirmed he wanted a “strategic partnership” with Turkey in all fields, including economy, trade, culture and politics.
Delivering a speech at the regional Kurdish Parliament yesterday, Barzani, the leader of the largely autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq who has angered Ankara by inaction against presence of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the region, said the PKK issue could be resolved through “peaceful means.”
Barzani added that he hoped that Talabani’s visit to Ankara would serve as an “encouraging element” for peaceful resolution of the issue. Despite making positive remarks concerning Talabani’s visit, Barzani still described Turkey’s recent incursion as “an attack on Kurdistan region and Iraq.” Talabani’s visit came only one week after the Turkish military withdrew troops from northern Iraq following an eight-day-long ground offensive against the PKK.
Over the weekend, Azad Jundiyani, a spokesman for Talabani, said a Turkish delegation would hold “unofficial” talks with Nechirvan Barzani, Massoud Barzani’s nephew and the prime minister of the Kurdish region, in Baghdad. He did not say which Turkish officials would be in the delegation or when the meeting would take place, but stated that the talks will most likely come after a meeting of Arab deputies in Arbil between March 11 and 13.
Officials at the Turkish Foreign Ministry said yesterday a visit by a Turkish delegation to Baghdad was likely to take place shortly as a follow-up to Talabani’s visit. Yet no special meeting with Nechirvan Barzani is scheduled for the moment, the same officials, speaking under customary condition of anonymity, told Today’s Zaman.
In Ankara, government spokesman Cemil Çiçek said after a Cabinet meeting that both sides “put forward their will to cooperate” in the fight against terrorism during the visit and added that the Turkish and Iraqi bureaucrats will be working on ways to build on the consensus reached during the visit to improve relations between the two countries in all areas.
Meanwhile, news reports said that Turkish artillery units fired on PKK camps inside Iraq yesterday as commandos backed by helicopter gunships hunted down PKK members who had crossed into Turkey.
The military fired long-range artillery from near Turkey’s border town of Çukurca for the first time since an eight-day ground incursion by Turkish troops into Iraq ended on Feb. 29, news reports said, noting that the artillery fire lasted about 15 minutes.
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5. DTP deputy critisize Talabani’s visit

10.03.2008
ZEKİ AKSEL IĞDIR
Today’s Zaman

If Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has an ounce of “Kurdish pride,” he should not be cooperating with the Turkish state and the government, a deputy from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) said on Saturday.
DTP Iğdır deputy Pervin Buldan, speaking to her party’s Iğdır branch last Saturday in an event organized to mark March 8, International Women’s Day, made comments during her speech addressing the Iraqi leader, who was in Turkey on a two-day visit.
“Mr. Talabani, if you have the slightest bit of Kurdish pride, you wouldn’t cooperate with the state and government here in Turkey,” she said.
Buldan also expressed her party’s demand for amnesty for Abdullah Öcalan, the founder and leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who has been serving a life sentence since he was captured by Turkish authorities in 1999. The 59-year-old terrorist is the sole inmate on the prison island of İmralı in the Marmara Sea off İstanbul.
She also expressed frustration with a Council of Europe anti-torture panel which last week announced its decision that there was no proof to back claims that Öcalan is being poisoned by his captors, an allegation made by Öcalan’s lawyers last year.
“I hereby protest the [Council of Europe] committee for the prevention of torture, which released a report saying that Mr. Öcalan is not being poisoned. Because we know that he is being gradually poisoned,” she said and vowed that the DTP would trounce the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in the upcoming local elections.
Criticizing a Turkish military ground operation into northern Iraq to crush PKK bases in that country, Buldan said: “We women say to these wars and operations going on, ‘Edi bese’ [enough is enough]. You have conducted 24 operations. What use would it be have if you conducted a 25th, 26th or 27th? Do you think this [problem] would be solved, by staging ground operations or air strikes? We are calling on you for the last time. Come, let’s solve this problem through dialogue together.”
Meanwhile, the Iğdır Police Department Sunday evening filed a complaint with the public prosecutor against Buldan on charges of praising a crime and a criminal in her March 8 speech. The file accuses Buldan of having referred to the PKK as “guerillas” and to Öcalan as “Mr. Öcalan,” which the police say is a sign of respect for the founder of the terrorist group.
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6. KCK’s statements about CPT Report

Kurdish Info
12.03.2008

The KCK’s statement on 10 march, about the CPT report :

“For more than nine years our leader’s health has been under deliberate attack, aside from his intense isolation condition in the sole prison in Imrali Island; on our behalf we have been raising this issue many times.

With the announcement made to the public on 1st March 2007 in Rome, the tests carried out by the experts made on the limited number of hair samples taken from our leader, revealed that the strontium, and chromium levels were well above normal and in medical terms this is known as a chronic poisoning. From this date onwards throughout the country and abroad, our patriotic people, democratic associations, political, cultural organizations, and friends of our people, have shown self-sacrifice, and have carried the issue to many international organization’s agenda including the CPT, and have demanded that independent experts carry out an extensive examination in Imrali.
With long periods of hunger strikes, and many cumulative democratic activities, the issue has been kept on the agenda, with these efforts, and, even though it was late, a CPT committee visited Imrali on 19-22 May 2007 to examine the conditions.After a very long period the CPT, with the approval of the Turkish government, publicised the report on 6th March 2008. First of all we don’t find it normal for a late visit to Imrali on an urgent and important matter like this, and the lateness of the report being publicised. We think that the respondent of the matter, the CPT, should reveal the reasons behind the lateness of the report and the difficulties experienced due to Turkish government.

As the report from the CPT contains scientific data and is very extensive, we will closely analyse the report with the help of experts, and in the near future we will reveal our views enclosing all the details. Our view is that although the part of the report about the poisioning contains some missing parts and represents a shallow approach, it reaches the same results as those announced on 1st March 2007. The report shows that on our leaders body the strontium, magnesium and barium levels are well above normal, but the report does not touch sufficiently on the factors and reasons which can lead to these levels. Nonetheless, they have stated that every three months the metal levels in the body is to be examined which indirectly shows that the danger has not yet passed. This shows that his health is still under serious threat.

Nevertheless, there are factors in the report which is thought provoking; the fact that blood and urine tests has not been done, in the report after examination, although ambiguity in the right lungs was revealed an x-ray has not been taken, the source of the discomfiture in the ear, nose and throat has not been explicated, and only the hair samples examined, in the report external factors were shown a possible factor that can affect his health in a negative way and it was stated that every six months the paint of the room where he is staying is renewed, but samples of the paint had not been examined, all these are thought provoking. There isn’t enough consideration of these factors; and in these respects the report is deficient.

With all of these, CPT’s results from the visit and its requests from the government are important. These are as follows:
• the prisoner immediately receives a comprehensive ENT examination (including a specialised endoscopic examination and, if necessary, a CT scan) and, if appropriate, palliative/reparatory surgery;
• the prisoner immediately receives an X-ray examination of the thorax;
• the prisoner is provided with the psychiatric consultations required by the developments in his mental condition;
• the current daily medical checks imposed on the prisoner are replaced by less frequent medical consultations with the same doctor. The intervention of specialists should be co-ordinated by that doctor. The nature of, and reasons for, this new approach should be fully explained to the prisoner in advance, by the doctor appointed to carry out the examinations;
• the laryngoscope is in working order and that the doctors on duty receive the training necessary to use both the laryngoscope and the defibrillator.
• the prisoner is allowed to move freely between his cell and the adjoining room during the day;
• he has access – from time to time – to a larger exercise area equipped with basic facilities (e.g. shelter from the elements, a bench, sport equipment);
• he is able to have a television set (rented or purchased) in his cell and to enjoy a basic range of activities.
• the prisoner can receive “table visits” once a month from members of his family, if necessary by amending the relevant legal provisions, and that there is some flexibility in allowing him to aggregate unused visiting periods (due to the difficulties of access to Imralı Island);
• the prisoner can speak on the telephone to members of his family (calls being subject to monitoring and, if necessary, interrupted).

In the report from the CPT certainly one of the important findings is that all sorts legal and human rights of our leader are trampled and his intense isolation has been mostly revealed. As stated in the report, there is no doubt that our leader is in intense isolation and as the report states “this direction has been chosen by them (Republic of Turkey) purposely from 1999 onwards”.

The CPT’s suggestions on changes in the reports publicised on 1999, 2001 and 2003, has not been fulfilled, (not even a single suggestion) and with every passing day the conditions are worsening, which can be seen in the reports. In this situation, as stated in the report, the isolation ‘whatever the conditions, firmly, there can be no excuse to keep a prisoner for eight and a half years under these isolation conditions’ this observation is important and displays the reality unequivocally.

As stated in the report, the Turkish government from the applications of its attitude towards our leader is at the parting of the ways. The part of the report on isolation was written on 2nd July 2007 considering this, the 8 months period after this have shown clearly the stance of the Turkish government on the parting of the ways. The Turkish government is determined to deepen the isolation towards our leader. As a matter of fact, the Minister of Justice’s first reaction shows that the discriminatory and illegal isolation applications will continue and accordingly demonstrated that they will not follow the CPT’s report.

In its entirety, the report reveals that the CPT does not have the power to change the situation. As a result of this, the European Council and other institutions must step in.

Once again we call the European Council, not to just consider Turkish state’s concerns but to consider Kurdish people’s concerns and impose the necessary sanctions on the Turkish state’s illegal and inhumane actions against our leader. The CPT is an organisation of the European Council and it is their responsibility to apply the decisions of the CPT. In this role, we call on them to exercise their responsibility.

In view of some of the weaknesses of the health examinations, our movement and our people have achieved some success in exposing the threat to the health of our leader, in bringing it to the attention of the public and having inspectors sent over. The first stage of our move to protect the health and life of our leader has clearly resulted in important advantages. We can state that at least the attempts towards endangering the life of our leader have stopped. However, the threat has still not disappeared, and until all the doubts about the health of our leader have gone away we will continue to place our attention and efforts towards this.

The struggle of our movement, people and their friends has had serious achievements and advantages in the current situation. However, the duty for our people continues. Taking the ongoing threat towards the health of our leader into consideration, it is clear that the continuation of this kind of struggle is necessary. The report released into the health conditions of Ocalan by the CPT holds that the threat towards his health and his conditions of isolation need to be recognised officially. With the confirmation of this report, until secure precautions are taken and his conditions of isolation are lifted, our duty and efforts will continue. Until we have achieved an outcome we will continue with our ‘Edi Bes’e campaign with new and stronger civil action.

Therefore it is definitely necessary to continue with the slogan ‘live and let live our Leader Apo’ within the framework of the ‘Edi Bese’ campaign and intensify it. Otherwise, it can be seen that the isolation, poisoning and campaign of destruction will not end. Our people and democratic and political organisations need to be very alert against the moves of the Turkish state to defeat our aims by their claims that the accusations of poisoning were falsified.

Our policy is for the lifting of the isolation on our Leader, for him to receive proper treatment and for his accommodation to be changed and to focus on the freedom of our Leader and the democratic solution of the Kurdish problem. Our moves will continue until these aims are accomplished. As a result, it will be the best and most realistic policy that Newroz and other important days to be celebrated within this framework.
On this basis, we call all our people to be sensitive against the policy of aggression towards our Leader and to continue the struggle.
Kurdish Info 12.03.2008 translate from original version
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7. Mashahadani: Kurdistan Has The Right To Sign Oil Contracts

Arbil, Mar. 10, (VOI) – Speaker of the Iraqi parliament said in a press conference, in Arbil on Monday, that the Kurdistan region has the right to sign oil contracts with foreign companies.

“This is according to the Iraqi Constitution,” Mahmoud Mashahadani said, adding “in the constitutional amendments committee, some parties demand having a central control over Iraq’s oil resources, and we are on our way to changing some constitutional contexts.”

Mashahadani did not explain whether the constitutional amendments would approve these demands.

In 2007, Kurdistan’s regional government signed 15 contracts with foreign companies; a matter that engendered a political problem between the regional cabinet in Arbil – capital city of Kurdistan region, and the central government in Baghdad – capital city of Iraq.

Iraqi Minister of Oil Hussein Shahristani considered the contracts “illegal,” based on the fact that they were approved prior to enacting the Oil and Gas Law, and he decided to deprive foreign companies that signed those contracts from investments in the oil sector in other areas of Iraq.
“The federal court will make the conclusive decision concerning the oil contracts that Kurdistan has signed with some foreign companies,” Mashahadani said.

Regarding the Oil and Gas Law, Mashahadani said “We finished with around 90% of the law, but some technical and economic attributes remain, and for these we are waiting for the coming parliamentary term to proceed in discussions.”

Many parliamentary and political parties oppose the Oil and Gas Bill, drafted in July 2007 by the Iraqi federal government of Premier Nouri al-Maliki.

Mashahadani is affiliated with the Iraqi Accordance Front (IAF), which is one of the entities that opposes the oil and gas bill, saying that this Act offers unprecedented “privileges” for foreign investors to construct oil and gas facilities and refineries they can exploit over a period that can reach up to 50 years, and that this legislation will allow the regions of Iraq to dominate the resources owned by the public.
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8. Turkey, Iraq discuss joint council

ANKARA, Turkey, March 11 (UPI) — The Iraqi president wrapped up his visit to Turkey with proposals of bilateral trade deals and a collaborative council to handle the issue of terrorism.

Jalal Talabani ended a recent trip to Ankara only a week after Turkish forces withdrew from northern Iraq targeting members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known by its Kurdish acronym, PKK.

Talabani spent the final day of his visit discussing economic and trade relations with Turkey as the northern Iraqi border is considered one of the safest routes for trade into Iraq, Voice of America said.

But the trip was largely overshadowed by security issues, with Ankara accusing Baghdad of being lax on terrorists and Baghdad condemning Ankara for violating its sovereignty.

Talabani met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the meeting with the Iraqi president proposing the establishment of a supreme council to resolve touchy issues between the two countries.
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9. Iraqi leaders urge support at Erbil Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union conference

11 Mar. 2008

Erbil, Kurdistan–Iraq (KRG.org) – The Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (AIPU) conference opened today in Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani welcomed the parliamentary delegates from 18 Arab countries. He said, “This conference is an exceptional event that will enhance Iraqi-Arab relations.” He added, “We are pleased to have you in Erbil, the Northern gateway to the new federal, democratic and unified Iraq.”

With Iraq scheduled to host the AIPU, Erbil was selected as host-city for its record of safety and security.

President Talabani said that the progress experienced in Iraq today was the result of concerted military action coupled with great political cooperation and national reconciliation. He pledged that efforts by the parliamentary blocs, the Presidency Council and the Council of Ministers would continue.

He said, “We are building a new country for Arabs, Kurds, Chaldeans, Assyrians, the religious and the secular, for all sects and ethnicities and we are pleased that you are joining us and showing solidarity with our cause.”

Dr Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, Speaker of the Council of Representatives (Iraq’s parliament), said, “We ask for the support of our Arab brothers as we face internal, regional and international economic and political challenges. While we continue to fight against terrorism we also focus on human rights, civil society and economic development.”

In a meeting yesterday at the Kurdistan National Assembly, Dr Mashhadani called for the governments of Arab countries to more actively support Iraq’s reconstruction and development efforts. Few Arab countries currently maintain embassies in Baghdad or full diplomatic relations with Iraq.

Mr Abdulhadi Al-Majali, Presdient of the AIPU, welcomed the assembled parliamentary delegates and expressed his hope that the conference would help forge strong ties between the assembled countries. Mr Nuraddin Boshkuj, Secretary General of the AIPU, thanked President Talabani, President Barzani and the Kurdistan Regional Government for hosting the conference and welcomed the delegates to the “beautiful city of Erbil.”

Also attending the opening session at Erbil Convention Centre were Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani; Kurdistan Region Vice President; Speaker of the Kurdistan National Assembly and his Deputy; two Deputy Speakers of the Iraqi Council of Representatives; the KRG’s Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, and members of the diplomatic community.

This 50th session of the 13th AIPU conference will run until 14 March. Representatives from 18 Arab countries are taking part. The AIPU conference meets once every two years to deal with common issues and to adopt and amends the union’s statutes.
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10. Repression Of Kurdish Iranians

04 March 2008
VOA

In recent days, international human rights monitors have expressed concern over the many instances of governmental abuse visited on members of Iran’s Kurdish minority, including journalists, women’s rights activists, and labor leaders. The press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders cited the death sentence passed on free-lance journalist and Kurdish cultural rights activist Adnan Hassanpour, who has been convicted of the so-called crime of “undermining national security.” Other Kurdish Iranian journalists detained by the regime include Mohammad Sadegh Kabovand, Kaveh Javanmard, Ako Kurdnasab, and Ejlal Ghavami.
Farzad Kamangar is a Kurdish Iranian teacher and human rights activist, who has also been sentenced to death on charges of endangering national security. Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch says, “Kamangar was tortured, subjected to unfair trial, and now faces execution. His case illustrates how human rights abuses have become routine in Iran.”
Amnesty International is calling on the Iranian government to stop its harassment of women’s rights defenders who peacefully work to change Iran’s discriminatory gender laws. Amnesty cited, among other cases, the imprisonment of two Kurdish Iranian women’s rights activists, Ronak Safarzadeh and Hana Abdi, who were arrested last fall and remain in detention without charge or trial.
The government’s treatment of Kurdish Iranian labor leaders is also being highlighted by human rights monitors. Mahmoud Salehi has been detained without adequate medical care since last April. Amnesty International says that Mr. Salehi, a founding member of the Saqez Bakery Workers’ Association, is a prisoner of conscience. In addition, labor rights activists in Iran have protested the lashing sentences recently handed down to eleven workers who participated in last year’s May Day celebrations in Sanandaj.
The United States calls on the government of Iran to cease the systematic oppression of the Iranian people, including ethnic minorities. The U.S. is concerned about the growing number of cases in which the death sentence is imposed after trials that were neither fair nor transparent. “The Iranian people deserve liberty,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. “We will continue to work with the international community . . .to focus attention on the Iranian regime’s continued abuse of its own citizens.”
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11. Turkey intensifies anti-PKK offensive

The New Anaotlian / Ankara
12 March 2008

Turkey has intensified its war against the PKK organization in southeastern Turkey deploying more combat forces.

Reinforcements have been dispatched to the region to join the operations that are underway in Bestler-Dereler region, Gabar, Kato and Kupeli mountains.

Operations, backed by Sikorsky helicopters, particularly intensified along the Turkish-Iraqi border.
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12. Prosecutor wants charges against Turkish mayors reduced

The Associated Press
March 11, 2008
ANKARA, Turkey: A state prosecutor asked a Turkish court on Tuesday to reduce the charges against 50 mayors who are being tried for allegedly aiding and abetting a Kurdish terrorist group.
The prosecutor requested the lesser charge of “praising a crime and criminal” and prison sentences of two years, far less than the 15 years he had demanded when the trial began last year in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated southeast.
The prosecutor, whose name was withheld by the media to protect his security, also asked that all charges be dropped against three other mayors being tried.
The 50 mayors still being prosecuted are accused of supporting Kurdish rebels by asking Denmark’s government to keep a Kurdish television station operating there.
The mayors, mostly from the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, were indicted in 2006 after writing a letter to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen asking him to keep the Roj TV station, which is banned in Turkey, on air in Denmark.
Turkey argues the station is a propaganda machine for the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. Rebel commanders often joined the station’s broadcasts by satellite telephone from their mountain hideouts in northern Iraq, and the station broadcasts images of rebels training or attacking Turkish soldiers. The PKK has been listed by the European Union and the United States as a terrorist organization.
The mayors have denied supporting the PKK rebels, calling their letter to Denmark’s government an act of free speech.
It was not immediately clear what may have motivated the prosecutor’s decision to reduce the charges and sentences he is seeking against the 50 mayors.
But the trial is seen as the latest test of freedom of speech in Turkey, which has been under pressure from the European Union to strengthen the rights of its Kurdish minority and eliminate limits on free speech.
Muharrem Elbey, a lawyer for one of the defendants, Diyarbakir’s Mayor Osman Baydemir, also told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the prosecutor was reacting to strong evidence presented by the defense.
Still, Elbey said, the mayors reject the lesser charge because while the mayors supported a TV station that broadcasts in Kurdish, they “never praised its contents.”
The court adjourned the trial until April 15.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Society Party faces possible closure for alleged links to the PKK.
On Tuesday, the chief prosecutor’s office gave Turkey’s High Court written arguments calling for the party’s closure on the ground that it has become a “focal point for activities against the state’s independence and the territorial integrity of the country.”
No date has been set for that trial.
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13. Report: Operations against PKK continue in southeastern Turkey

ANKARA, March 12 (Xinhua) — Operations launched by the Turkish security forces in southeastern Turkey to neutralize the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) are continuing, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported on Wednesday.
Reinforcement units have been dispatched to the region to join the operations that are underway in Bestler-Dereler region, Gabar, Kato and Kupeli mountains, according to the report.
It added that operations, backed by Sikorsky helicopters, particularly intensified along the Turkish-Iraqi border.
Turkey has been fighting with the PKK, which took up arms against Turkey in 1984 with the aim of creating an ethnic homeland in southeastern Turkey.
More than 30,000 people have been killed in the over-two-decade conflict between the Turkish army and the PKK.
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14. Turkey plans to invest $12 bln in Kurdish package

March 11, 2008
The New York Times

Turkish government is planning a broad series of investments worth as much as 12 billion dollars in the country’s southeast, in a new economic effort intended to create jobs and drain support for separatists PKK, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview with The New York Times (NYT) on Tuesday.

According to the report Erdogan said they plan to invest 11-12 billion dollars over five years to build two large dams and a system of water canals, complete paved roads and remove land mines from the fields along the Syrian border.
Erdogan reminded in the interview that Deputy Prime Minister Nazim Ekren is in charge of visiting the largely Kurdish cities. Erdogan is expected to deliver the long awaited economic and political package to improve Kurdish population’s life standards on April 6 in a visit to southeastern cities, a former adviser has said on Monday.
Erdogan added the fight against PKK is not only military means but also has socioeconomic aspects. Turkey conducted an eight-day ground offensive into Iraq against PKK positions, and Erdogan told NYT the United States had been fully behind it. “Turkey is not a guest,” Erdogan added. “Everyone who has entered Iraq until now will stay for a while and go away, but we will stay. We are the most important door for northern Iraq to open up to the world. We are the healthiest door” he said.
“I can openly and freely say that this short process has been done with the total understanding of Turkey, the United States and the central government of Iraq. But the fight is not only this. It also has a socioeconomic part, a psychological part, a cultural part”, Erdogan said. “We have relatives in northern Iraq. And people living there have relatives in our southeastern region. With whom will we have good relations other than with ourselves?”

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15. The Kurdistan Region – A Bright Future in the Other Iraq

March 12,2008
PR Newswire

WASHINGTON D.C. 12/03 (COM) = SML Strategic Media announces the publication
of a sponsored section entitled “The Kurdistan Region – A Bright Future in the
Other Iraq” in Foreign Affairs Journal.

http://www.foreignaffairs.org/sponsored_sections/country_focus/kurdistan/

Featured in the November/December 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs, this report
focuses on the Region’s emergence as a beacon of peace and development in Iraq.
It examines the reality on the ground in the one part of Iraq that is not only
functioning, but also flourishing.
Produced by Foreign Affairs’ partner, SML Strategic Media, “The Kurdistan Region
– A Bright Future in the Other Iraq” provides in-depth analysis on it economic
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Featuring interviews with:
President, H.E. Masoud Barzani
Prime Minister, H.E. Nechirvan Barzani
Deputy Prime Minister, H.E. Omer Fattah
Minister of Natural Resources H.E. Ashti Hawrami
Head of the Department of Foreign Relations, H.E. Falah Mustafa Bakir
Head of the KRG Board of Investment, Mr. Herrish Muharam
For further information please contact: info@smlstrategicmedia.com
===============
16. Babacan meets Iraqi counterpart

The New Anatolian / Ankara
12 March 2008

Turkish FM and Chief Negotiator for EU talks Ali Babacan met his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari in Dakar on Tuesday.

During their meeting, Babacan informed Zebari that efforts have been speeded up to open Turkey’s new consulate general in Basra.

Babacan and Zebari exchanged views on the upcoming meeting of countries neighboring Iraq, to be held in Kuwait on April 22nd.

The issue of Turkey’s recent ground operation against terrorist organization PKK also came up during Babacan’s meeting with Zebari. Babacan told Zebari that the goal of the operation was reached and the operation came to an end.

Zebari reiterated that Turkey and Iraq should hold direct talks regarding fight against terror.

Babacan is in Dakar to attend the meeting of foreign ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).