الرئيسية » English Articles » The latest news on the KURDS

The latest news on the KURDS

1. Iran Fires Artillery at Kurdish Villages in Northern Iraq
2. Iranian Artillery Resumes Shelling Kurdistan Region Border Areas
3. Mayors from Kurdistan of Turkey to Participate in Commemoration of Hallabja Chemical Bombardment
4. Kurdish mayor goes on trial in Turkey
5. “PKK supports any meetings that tend to solve the Kurdish issues” Ahmed Daniz
6. Indictment targets AK Party, Gul and Erdogan
7. PM Erdogan’s ruling party faces closure
8. Turkish Army troops in stepped-up action against PKK warriors
9. Turkish incursion into Northern Iraq: Military Fiasco, Political Debacle
10. Enough Is Enough!
11. Halabja commemoration in New England-NEKA
12. Iraqi archbishop death condemned
13. What kind of a plan are we talking about?
14. Northern Kurds expect more than AKP’s economic measures
15. Iran wants joint action with Iraq, Turkey against PKK
16. Iranians vote in general election
17. U.S. accuses Iran of violating human rights
============
1. Iran Fires Artillery at Kurdish Villages in Northern Iraq

By VOA News
13 March 2008

Iraqi officials say Iranian forces have fired artillery at several northwestern Iraqi villages suspected of harboring Kurdish rebel bases.
The officials say Iran’s military shelled the villages in Iraq’s Sulaimaniyah province near the Iranian border for about an hour Thursday. No injuries were reported, but the officials say villagers in the region were terrified.
Iran has not confirmed the artillery strike.
Iraqi officials say Iranian forces appeared to be targeting bases of Kurdish militant group PJAK (the Party for Freedom and Life in Kurdistan). Iran blames the separatists for deadly attacks in northwestern Iran.
Iranian officials say security forces killed a number of militants in Iran’s northwestern province of Kurdestan during battles Wednesday. The officials accused the militants of trying to disrupt Friday’s elections in the province for the Iranian parliament.
PJAK is believed linked to Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.
Turkey accuses PKK militants of using suspected strongholds in northern Iraq to launch attacks against government troops in Turkey.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP.
============
2. Iranian Artillery Resumes Shelling Kurdistan Region Border Areas

PUKmedia
14-03-2008

Today the Iranian artillery once again resumed shelling Kurdistan region border areas including Aliya Resh, baste, Shinawa and Marradu in Pishder area.
The bombardments resulted in damages and casualties, but caused panic among the local citizens.
Azad Wsu, director of Zharawa sub-district in the area confirmed the news to PUKmedia
============
3. Mayors from Kurdistan of Turkey to Participate in Commemoration of Hallabja Chemical Bombardment

PUKmedia
14-03-2008

It is expected that on March the 15th several mayors of the Kurdish cities from the Kurdistan of Turkey will arrive in the Kurdistan Region to participate in the 20th commemoration of Hallabja chemical bombardment and the Conference of the World Municipalities of Peace.
Mayors of Hakari, Diyar Bakir, Shirnakh, and Baitu Shabab and other s will arrive in Zakho tomorrow and they will be welcomed there, Khidir Karim mayor of Halabja told PUKmedia.
===============
4. Kurdish mayor goes on trial in Turkey

February 14, 2008
Reuters
DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — A Kurdish mayor went on trial yesterday for publishing a story book in the Turkish and Kurdish languages. Turkey has eased some restrictions on the Kurds’ language and culture in recent years but human rights groups say it must do more. “From the cultural viewpoint, I believe publishing a book in Turkish and Kurdish is not a crime,” Osman Baydemir, mayor of Diyarbakir, told the court. “Kurdish is a reality in this country just like Turkish, it should also be used in the public arena,” he said.

Turkish nationalists fear encouraging the Kurdish language will undermine national unity and security, and play into the hands of Kurdish PKK rebels who have been battling security forces in the southeast for more than two decades. State prosecutors have focused on the use in the Kurdish book of the letters Q, X and W, which do not exist in the Turkish alphabet. Turkish and Kurdish are unrelated languages.

“I believe the ban on letters not used in the Turkish alphabet is far behind the conditions of our time … Moreover, everyone uses these letters now in their daily life on the Internet,” said Baydemir. Prosecutors are seeking a jail sentence of up to three years for Baydemir and three other defendants in the case, which was later adjourned until May 16.
==============
5. “PKK supports any meetings that tend to solve the Kurdish issues” Ahmed Daniz

March 14, 2008
Kurdishaspect.com

Ahmed Daniz: If they think about military solution in Baghdad, we will response to them as we have done in the past.
Delegations from Iraq, Turkey and the United States are to meet in the next few days in Baghdad to discuss PKK issues. PKK officials welcome the initiative if it tends to solve the Kurdish issue peacefully and are ready to be a part of the negotiations. Ahmed Daniz, head of the external relations of the PKK said, “PKK is ready to peacefully solve the Kurdish issue, but (the problem is) Turkey demands that PKK should disarm without any guarantees.”
“If Turkey recognizes the rights of Kurds, solves the Kurdish issues then it is very normal that PKK disarms itself.” he said. Regarding the meeting that is scheduled to be held in Baghdad Daniz said, “PKK supports any meetings that tend to solve the Kurdish issues.”
Daniz warned that PKK will fight back if military option is taken, “with the support of the Kurdish people we will response to them like we did in the past.” he said.
Translated from Sbeiy
=============
6. Indictment targets AK Party, Gul and Erdogan

The New Anatolian / Ankara
15 March 2008

Hasim Kilic, chief judge of the Turkish Constitutional Court, said the indictment of the lawsuit that was filed earlier on Friday for the closure of ruling Justice & Development (AK) Party, asked 71 individuals, including Turkish President Abdullah Gul and PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to be banned from politics.

Speaking to reporters outside the Constitutional Court, Kilic recalled that the Chief Public Prosecutor filed a law suit at 4:30p.m. asking AK Party to be shut down on the grounds that it was the center of anti-secularist actions.

Kilic said the indictment would be handed out to Constitutional Court members on Monday, and added that the process would begin after that.

Noting that he did not have a chance yet to examine the indictment thoroughly, Kilic said, “I have seen President Gul, PM Erdogan and former Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc on top of the list of people, whom the indictment asks to be banned from politics.”
===============
7. PM Erdogan’s ruling party faces closure

Friday, March 14, 2008
ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
Chief Public Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalçinkaya has filed a court request for the closure of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), accusing the party of “being the focal point of anti-secular activities.”
Yalçınkaya had earlier warned AKP that its members’ declarations and activities ran against secularism.
A Constitutional change last year brought stricter criteria for party closure. A party needs to be a “focal point” for anti-constitutional activities.
Yalçınkaya underlined Erdoğan’s speech in Spain at the alliance of civilizations summit to the effect that “no ban could be imposed on political symbols,” advocating entry of Islamic headscarf to universities. Prosecutor asserted that symbols explicitly representing allegiance to a religious belief swill break up public order.
A recent government attempt to lift a decades-old ban on wearing the Islamic headscarf in universities again prompted the opposition to accuse the government of having Islamist motives.
Erdogan, like many others in his party, were involved in Turkeys political Islam movement and was jailed in the past for reciting, at a political rally, a poem a court deemed to be inciting religious hatred.
Yalçınkaya’s reasons for demand to the Constitutional Court for AKP’s closure are similar to ones that led disbanding of Turkey’s former Islamic parties, like Welfare Party (RP) and Virtue Party (FP).
============
8. Turkish Army troops in stepped-up action against PKK warriors

ISTANBUL, March 14 (KUNA) — Regular Turkish military forces have stepped up action against die-hard warriors of the rebel Kurdish group, the Workers Party of Kurdistan, in the border southeastern regions.
The “CNN Turk” network quoted a statement by the Turkish Army as saying that the government military forces killed 21 gunmen of the Kurdish group, also known as the PKK, in the frontier areas.
Gunship helicopters were involved in the army’s combing operations in the rugged, mountainous regions, and military reinforcements were called in.
The Turkish Army has recently carried out a major mop-up operation against bases and hideouts of the PKK, penetraing deep into northern Iraqi territories.
Today’s reports indicated that the latest clashes centered in the Sirnak province.
The PKK has been fighting for self-rule in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast since 1984, in a conflict that has claimed more than 37,000 lives.

============
9. Turkish incursion into Northern Iraq: Military Fiasco, Political Debacle

Canadian Dimension Blog,
March 13th, 2008
E-Bulletin No. 89.

The February incursion of the Turkish army into northern Iraq has ended in a terrible debacle for both U.S. and Turkey. The two allies are at loggerheads once again, after the thaw in their relations achieved at the White House talks between Bush and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan on 5 November 2007. The Turkish government and the army are the object of unprecedented criticism by the bourgeois media and also by ordinary people. And, to add insult to injury for the USA, only three days after the withdrawal of Turkish troops from northern Iraq on February 29, a triumphant Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, the President of Iran, was shown on television screens around the world in Baghdad, presumably all smiles for having achieved the feat of being the first Iranian president to visit Iraq under U.S. occupation, 29 years after the Islamic revolution and 20 years of the deadly war between the two countries.
The whole episode of the Turkish incursion was played out as a miserable mismanagement of a crisis situation by the two allies, the U.S. and Turkey. Although the latter had been bombing the PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party) bases in the north of Iraq since 16 December last year, an incursion into the region of Turkish combat troops on 21 February came as a surprise to the whole world, especially in the midst of winter, given the circumstances of the extremely rugged and mountainous terrain. The operation was greeted with unreserved support by the USA. No lesser a figure than Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice immediately voiced “absolute solidarity” with the Turkish war effort. The U.S. had already extended lavish support to several rounds of Turkish bombing efforts by providing real time intelligence and clearance to enter Iraqi airspace, as well as clear diplomatic approval. But nothing that was said publicly had been as strong as Rice’s words. Yet, only five days later, American support seemed to disappear.
The American Rebuke
Robert Gates, the U.S. Defense Secretary said loud and clear, from India a day before he was to arrive in Turkey, that Turkey should leave northern Iraq as soon as possible. It was a message that he repeated the next day in Ankara on at least four different occasions. Turkish dignitaries (including the military chief of staff) chose to play with fire and declared that the Turkish army would leave only when its job was finished (only to withdraw the next morning at four a.m!). Bush also intevened from Washington, adding his own voice to that of Gates, saying twice, in response to reporters’ questions, that Turkey should leave “as soon as possible.”
It is perhaps too early to totally dissect the dynamics behind this pitiful comedy. The evidence shows that at the beginning the U.S. had supported the wrong operation. Apparently, the permission given to Turkey covered a brief incursion into northern Iraq to inflict some damage on the PKK before the spring, with a few hundred troops or a thousand at most engaged in battle. It turned out that the number of Turkish troops was much higher – ten thousand according to some sources. As the operation unfolded, the most influential Turkish media declared that the objective was Kandil, the mountains where the headquarters of the PKK are located. The Kandil mountains are a good 200 kilometres from the point of entry of Turkish troops into Iraq. All this raised the ire of the Iraqi Kurds (who at the beginning had only made minor noises), and even the central government of Iraq. Not wishing to fall out with these allies, the U.S. then turned around and started chiding Turkey for having misinformed its ally and mentor. This becomes transparent in a brief sentence in Gates’ declaration in Ankara: “The key point” he said, “is transparency, cooperation, and communication.”
Behind this comedy of errors lies, of course, a key contradiction of U.S. policy in Iraq. The U.S. is trying to simultaneously entertain close relations with Turkey, its longtime NATO ally, and its newly-found friends Barzani and Talabani, the Iraqi Kurdish leadership. However, Turkey, having oppressed the Kurds on its own territory for decades, fears any moves towards autonomy or independence for the Kurds in other Middle Eastern countries. So it could not but have chosen to conceal information from Iraq, where the Kurds are part of the power structure, and the USA. This deep-seated contradiction in U.S. Iraq policy had already caused relations between the U.S. and Turkey to chill from 2003 to 2007, aggravated by the fact that Turkish parliament rejected on 1 March of that year a governent motion which practically aimed to make a Northern Front possible during the Iraq war.
The 5 November 2007 meeting at the White House had overcome the rift, with the U.S. clearly giving in to Turkish requests for permission to go after the PKK in Iraqi territory, probably in return for undisclosed commitments on the part of the Turkish government regarding Afghanistan and/or Iraq and/or energy transport routes (read the isolation of Russia). However, the rapprochement between the two countries may turn out to be extremely short-lived. Given the immense humiliation and anger now felt by the population in Turkey, it is impossible for this turn of events not to inflict damage on U.S.-Turkey relations. Both sides of course flatly deny that the Turkish decision to withdraw had anything to do with U.S. pressure. But not a single soul in Turkey is prepared to believe these pious incantations. So damage there must be. Only time will tell whether the geniuses of crisis management on both sides wil be able to contain the damage.
Military Fiasco
The aims of the Turkish military incursion were never stated clearly. This led to exaggerated expectations on the part of Turkish public opinion that the PKK was going to be dealt a serious, if not final, blow. Jingoistic media discourse of the “Objective Kandil” kind further reinforced these unrealistic expectations. This explains the bitter disppointment felt by the Turkish public at large, poisoned as it has been by chauvinistic propaganda toward the Kurds for years now (on the Kurdish question and the rights of Kurds, including self-determination, see Bullet No. 68). It would not be realistic to think that the Turkish army had really set its eyes on dealing the PKK a definitive blow. The top brass, after all, has repeatedly made clear over time that military incursion into Iraq will not finish off the PKK, which by most estimates has a total of around five thousand guerrillas inside Turkey and over the border in Iraq.
Whatever the targets originally set, the Turkish army cannot be said to have achieved any serious military results in this week-long incursion. Official army figures for PKK casualties stands at arouns 230, while admitted army casualties amount to a mere 27. The PKK, for its part, claims that Turkish casualties rise to 125 and its own loss is only in the tens. No matter where the truth lies regarding this aspect of the matter, the fact that the Turkish military totally failed in achieveing its own targets is clearly proved by the case of the Zab base of the PKK. For days the Turkish army fought a battle with guerrilla forces around this critically important base. It was unable to conquer it and evict the PKK. In the light of this, it sounds surreal for the Turkish general staff to declare in an official statement that the withdrawal decision was taken because the military aims of the operation had been fulfilled.
Why, one is tempted to ask, did the Turkish army battle the guerrilla forces for days in Zab if the taking of that base was not among the aims of the operation? Or conversely, if the taking of the Zab base was so important, why was it that the army suddenly folded and left? The fact that a Turkish helicopter was felled by the guerrillas and many rank officers lost their lives are further evidence of the military fiasco suffered by the Turkish army. It was a fiasco not because the Turkish army was defeated by the PKK, but because there was a stalemate. Given the overwhelming striking power of the Turkish military, second in the Middle East to that of Israel alone, this can only be seen as a failure, and so it will be perceived by the masses in Turkey. The prestige of the Turkish military, an institution much revered and feared, is probably at its lowest ever. This episode bears marked resemblance to the historic defeat suffered by Israel in its attempted invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 2006. (Ironically, Turkey is one of the countries that had sent troops to Lebanon in the wake of that episode to help Israel save face!)
Mounting Political Tensions
Turkey is now entering a very delicate phase. All the contradictions that have marked Turkish social and political life in the recent period are now coming to a head. Alongside the tension deriving from the Kurdish question there is the pressure of the U.S. on Turkey to get involved in its permanent war in the Middle East and Eurasia. The conflict between the two wings of the Turkish bourgeoisie, the pro-Western-secularist and the semi-Islamist, a conflict that had been dormant under the impact of the centrality of the Kurdish question, has again broken out into the open with the initiative of the government to lift the ban on the wearing of the headscarf by university students. And, for the first time in longer than a decade, workers’ struggles seem to be rising, albeit timidly, as a major economic crisis in the world economy appeares to be developing and one that will surely hit Turkey as well.
Last year was marked by the serious tension in Turkey due to the prospect of the election of a major leader of the pro-Islamic government party as president, a process interrupted by a military pronunciamiento but finally consummated after the electoral victory of the government party. An explosive year seems promised again for Turkey, next to which the tensions of 2007 will look pale. •
Sungur Savran is editor of the newspaper Isci Mucadelesi (Workers’ Struggle) in Istanbul, Turkey (www.iscimucadelesi.net).
=============
10. Enough Is Enough!

3/12/2008
Y OKTAY EKSI
HURRIYET

Democratic Society Party (DTP) group leader Ahmet Turk yesterday addressed his deputies about the PKK and Turkey’s recent cross-border land operation against it. During the Spanish Civil War, Spaniards used to express their weariness at war by saying, ‘Ya Basta!’ in other words, ‘Enough is enough!’ All Turks would agree with Turk saying this. After all, if it were enough to utter those words, there would be no problem. But many things are needed to live up to this ‘enough.’ Firstly, those using weapons against the state should declare they have abandoned this and give it up.
Does Turk have news to announce on that issue? If not, and if the state security forces and terrorists are painted as equal in seeking a solution, then even if we said ‘enough’ a thousand times, nothing would change. Because if the basic condition of maintaining this nation and state is protecting it from disintegration, then people who just depend on saying ‘enough’ are betraying their own values. We can see that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is looking for ways to make a move, of course, but not of its own initiative, but Washington’s urging.
I’m not only talking about suggestions to Ankara. Apparently, there’s a whole production going on. Now it’s time for the actors to play their roles well. First northern Iraqi airspace was opened to Turkish warplanes. Beginning late last year, targets were identified and bombed with the support of an effective operation. A land operation followed this late last month. Thus, under this production, the PKK was taught a lesson, Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani was shown his place, and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was sent to a country which had bombed its territory and crossed its borders, and he was made to give messages of friendship.
Now it’s probably time for Turkey to praise Barzani. The first act of this play is almost over. But is this enough to fulfill the requirements of ‘enough’? Actually, this is the most critical point. I’ve always said the answer is no. In order to fulfill the requirements of ‘enough,’ any formula which takes Turkey away from the model of the nation-state should be rejected from the very start, but everyone in Turkey – irrespective of their ethnicity – should be as equal, free and safe as everyone else. In this respect, all the shortcomings on the issue should be done away with.
These words probably don’t fit the production, which was prepared in Washington. As a matter of fact, we see that those who often talk of a ‘political solution’ and say, ‘It doesn’t matter, we should talk about everything, for example, a federation-type formation’ are the publicists of this production. Actually, if it didn’t go that way, US Vice President Dick Cheney wouldn’t have to take the trouble of coming to Turkey next week.
===============
11. Halabja commemoration in New England-NEKA

On March 16th, 2008 NEKA (New England Kurdish Association) and the New England Kurdish Community will be commemorating Halabja Massacre by Saddam Hussein in the year of 1988. During this massacre Saddam killed more than 5000 Kurds by poisonous gases such as Mustard gas and nerve agents Sarin. We call upon our Kurdish friends and Kurdish community to attend this event.

We would like to thank Seyhmus Yuksekaya for coordinating this event.

Place: Old South Church in Boston, MA from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Sincerely,
New England Kurdish Association
NEKA BOARD

DATE : March 16th, 2008

TIME : 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

LOCATION : Old South Church

ADDRESS : 645 Boylston St # 2, Boston, MA 02116

** If you have Any Question please call Seyhmus Yuksekkaya at (617) 877 4904
==============
12. Iraqi archbishop death condemned

BBC
2008/03/13

The death in Iraq of an archbishop who was kidnapped two weeks ago has provoked furious condemnation.
The body of Paulos Faraj Rahho, the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, was found in a shallow grave in the city after a tip-off from his captors.
Pope Benedict XVI said he was deeply moved and saddened, calling the death an act of inhuman violence.
Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki said it was a horrible crime aimed at stirring strife between Iraq’s religious communities.
Shia and Sunni Muslim leaders have expressed their condemnation, while US President George W Bush branded it a “despicable act of violence”.
‘Absurd violence’
Archbishop Rahho was kidnapped after leading prayers at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Mosul on 29 February. Three of his aides were killed in the abduction.
IRAQ’S CHALDEAN CHRISTIANS
550,000 Chaldeans, forming majority of Iraq’s Christians
Eastern-rite church with liturgical language, Syriac, descended from Aramaic
Autonomous from Rome but recognises Pope’s authority
Spiritual leader Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly, based in Baghdad
Iraqi police say the condition of the archbishop’s body, which bore no bullet wounds, suggests he may have died at least a week ago.
According to the SIR Catholic news agency, the kidnappers told Iraqi church officials on Wednesday that Archbishop Rahho was very ill and, later on the same day, that he was dead.
It is not clear whether he was killed, or died of natural causes. Nobody has claimed responsibility for his death.
The archbishop’s body was found by church workers who went to the area after being contacted by the kidnappers.
The 65-year-old archbishop was the latest in a long line of Chaldean clerics to be abducted in Iraq since the US-led invasion in March 2003.
The Chaldean bishop of Baghdad, Shlemon Warduni, said: “I cry for Iraq, I have no other feelings. We were brothers.”
A Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said: “The most absurd and unjustified violence continues to afflict the Iraqi people and in particular the small Christian community, whom the Pope holds in his prayers in this time of deep sadness.”
The BBC’s Hugh Sykes in Baghdad says centuries of peaceful coexistence between Muslims and the small Christian community in Iraq were shattered by the US-led invasion of 2003.
Fundamentalists linked Christians with an occupation force they regarded as “crusaders”, and numerous Christians and their business have been attacked, he says.
The Chaldeans are the largest sect within Iraq’s Christian community, which was estimated at 800,000 before the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
Have you been affected by this story? Are you a Chaldean – or any other religious minority – in Iraq?
A great man of God’s men ,”Abuna” as we called him in the 1970s. He personally helped me to rent a room with a family in Mosul. Being a Muslim myself made no difference to his support and privilleged words of wisdom he had always offered.
Farid, Guildford
It is a very sad day for all the Iraqi Christian community all over the world. Archbishop Rahho was a prominent figure in the city of Mosul and his people were inspired by his charismatic personality. I was lucky to work with him and influenced by his teaching before fleeing Iraq 8 years ago. He was known for his work with the youth, the poor and was the founder of the Love and Happiness charity which looks after people with learning difficulties in Iraq. He leaves his peace-loving small community with grim and uncertain future living among extremists and Muslim fanatics. May his soul rest in peace.
Dr Omar Alisha, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK
=============
13. What kind of a plan are we talking about?

15.03.2008
KORAY DÜZGÖREN, YENİ ŞAFAK
Today’s Zaman

As you may recall, during a trip to Portugal in December of last year, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan talked to some reporters on his plane about some legislation aimed at bringing Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) down from the mountains.
This statement was expected to heat up the debate about a “comprehensive plan for the solution to the Kurdish problem” that emerged during Erdoğan’s Nov. 5 meeting at the White House with US President George W. Bush. But that is not what happened. The debates over the comprehensive plan went on for only a little while and then dropped off the agenda. As it was, with the start of the cross-border air strikes, people stopped even mentioning ideas such as comprehensive plans, solutions and peace. The matter was transformed into one not requiring a plan for peace but for military action and war. What emerged was a clear definition of “comprehensive” cooperation between the ruling AK Party administration and the military on the subject of the PKK.
==============
14. Northern Kurds expect more than AKP’s economic measures

By Cengiz Apaydin
Istanbul, Turkey (KurdishMedia.com) 12 March 2008: After Talabani’s visit to Ankara everybody expected AKP government to propose its package for solving the Kurdish issue. Even though PM Erdogan refused that they had a solution package, it was declared today. AKP’s Kurdish solution was declared by Turkish PM Tayip Erdogan in an interview which was given to New York Times. In this interview Erdogan stated that his government would introduce an investment worth of 12 billion dollars in the northern Kurdistan.
He also stated that there was not a political solution on their agenda and according to his government the Kurdish problem was economical, not political. Erdogan also stated that there would be limited TV broadcasting in Kurdish, Persian and Arabic via state TV stations.
On the other hand Kurdish population and Kurdish non-governmental organizations are not satisfied with this plan. The parliamentarians of pro-Kurdish DTP stated on CNN-Turk that Kurdish issue is the result of a concept that defends ‘one nation’, ‘one language’ and ‘one religion’. Unless it changes, there will be Kurdish question.”
According to Sezgin Tanrikulu, the chairperson of Diyarbakir Bar Association, economy is an important part of the question. But it is not enough to solve Kurdish problem. He stated that Erdogan said that if Kurds broadcast in their language, what are we going to do with Causacs and Lazs? In addition he stated that there should be freedom for everybody.
In the opinion of non-governmental organizations, “everybody must have the right of broadcasting in his mother tongue. Such an approach and plan cannot solve the problem.”
DTP’s group chairman Ahmet Turk, who had a meeting with Turkish president Abdullah Gul yesterday, stated that the constitution should be changed and democratic autonomy is essential for the solution of Kurdish question.
The political and ideological structure of Turkish state is based on nation-state. It means that nation refers to only Turkish ethnicity. As long as there is ethnic based constitution, Turkey will not democratise nor will Kurdish problem be solved. Like the former Turkish parties, AKP also believes that the problem is economic. It does not believe that the problem originated from the denial, destruction and assimilation of Kurdish national identity for more than one century. No matter how AKP tries to solve the problem with economic measures, its plan will not work for Kurdish issue.
==============
15. Iran wants joint action with Iraq, Turkey against PKK

By Lamine Ghanmi and Alistair Thomson
March 14, 2008

DAKAR (Reuters) – Iran, Iraq and Turkey should work together to defeat Kurdish rebels while respecting each other’s territorial integrity and ensuring civilians are not harmed, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday.
Turkey launched an eight-day cross-border offensive into northern Iraq last month after it said the Iraqi authorities had failed to stop some 3,000 members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) from staging attacks on Turkish territory.
Iranian forces, which have also often clashed in Iraqi border areas with rebels from an offshoot of the PKK, reinforced Iran’s border security in the wake of the Turkish offensive apparently fearing the separatists might seek safety in Iran.
Speaking at a summit of the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Senegal’s capital Dakar, Ahmadinejad said the three countries needed to work together if the PKK were to be defeated.
“Iraq, Turkey and Iran should join forces to drive out the terrorists on the condition that territorial integrity should not be compromised and secondly that innocent people should not be harmed,” he said, speaking in Farsi.
Turkey blames the PKK for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people since the group began its armed struggle for an ethnic homeland in southeastern Turkey.
Its land operation last month, aided by intelligence provided by the United States, strained relations with Baghdad, already long clouded by Turkish accusations that Iraq is not doing enough to tackle PKK rebels on its territory.
The central Baghdad government has little sway in semi-autonomous, mainly Kurdish northern Iraq.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani pledged support for Turkey in its fight against the PKK during a visit to Ankara which followed the Turkish offensive.
Ahmadinejad travelled to Iraq for historic talks at the start of March, making him the first Iranian president since the 1979 revolution to visit Iraq.
===========
16. Iranians vote in general election

14 Mar 2008
BBC News

Iranians have voted in elections which conservatives are expected to win after opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were barred from running.

Top election official Ali Reza Afshar said turnout had been “glorious” and higher than in previous polls.

But observers had predicted turnout would not be much above 50%, perhaps lower in the capital, Tehran.

The BBC’s Jon Leyne in Tehran says the lack of choice among candidates could have discouraged voters.

Voting was extended by five hours so polling stations could cope with the large numbers, officials said.

But polling stations in Tehran were quiet, our correspondent says.

With the field narrowed thanks to the disqualification of reformist candidates, he says the only question is how seats will be shared out between competing conservatives.

The Iranian authorities had called for a big turnout to defy the US and other countries they say are Iran’s enemies.

The election will shape the political map ahead of 2009’s presidential poll.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flew in from an Islamic summit in Senegal to cast his vote.

He said the world had chosen Iran as its “role model and saviour”.

Real winners

The reformists seem to have given up the fight after many of their candidates were disqualified on the grounds of alleged lack of loyalty to Islamic values, says our correspondent.

They made up the bulk of about 1,700 candidates barred from running by Iran’s Guardian Council – an unelected body of clerics and jurists that vets election candidates.

The Guardian Council has denied bias.

Analysts expect the poll’s real winners to be former members of the hardline Revolutionary Guards, who could replace the Muslim clergy as the biggest force in the assembly.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei could also gain strength if, as forecast, a new younger generation of hard-line loyalists gains positions of power.

Going nuclear

The likely effect of a further increase in conservative self-confidence, our correspondent says, will be even less chance of compromise over Iran’s nuclear programme, and a yet more assertive foreign policy.

It is thought the reformists may struggle to hang on to the 40 or so seats they hold in the assembly.

They say the election is unfair but still urged Iran’s 44 million eligible voters to turn out for the country’s eighth parliamentary elections since its 1979 Islamic revolution.

President Ahmadinejad’s political opponents blame him for the three rounds of sanctions imposed on Iran by the United Nations over its nuclear programme.

The US, Israel and key Western powers accuse Iran of attempting to build a nuclear bomb, but Tehran insists it is only enriching uranium for a civilian energy programme.
==========
17. U.S. accuses Iran of violating human rights

12 Mar 2008
Iran Focus

London, Mar. 12 – The U.S. State Department on Tuesday accused Iranian authorities of stepping up repression throughout the country in 2007.

“The government’s poor human rights record worsened, and it continued to commit numerous, serious abuses”, the State Department said in its annual 2007 “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices”.

“The government severely limited citizens’ right to change their government peacefully through free and fair elections. There were reports of unjust executions after unfair trials. Security forces committed acts of politically motivated abductions; torture and severe officially-sanctioned punishments, including death by stoning; amputation; flogging; and excessive use of force against and imprisonment of demonstrators”, it said. “Vigilante groups with ties to the government committed acts of violence”.

“Prison conditions remained poor. Security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained individuals and held political prisoners and women’s rights activists. There was a lack of judicial independence and of fair public trials.

“The government severely restricted civil liberties, including freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, movement, and privacy. The government placed severe restrictions on freedom of religion. Official corruption and a lack of government transparency persisted.

“Violence and legal and societal discrimination against women, ethnic and religious minorities, and homosexuals; trafficking in persons; and incitement to anti-Semitism remained problems. The government severely restricted workers’ rights, including freedom of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively, and child labor remained a serious problem”, the report said.

The report listed Iran among the top ten states violating human rights.