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The latest news on kurds

KNK: Press Release – The Baath dictatorship in Syria, and the AKP government in Turkey are responsible for the conflicts and killings at the Newroz celebrations
2. Injuries mount in protests by Turkish Kurds
3. Court rules Demirtaş can face charges of spreading PKK propaganda
4. New England Kurdish association: Newroz – KNK Speech
5. Iraqi Kurds ready to work with Turkey to solve PKK problem, Cheney says
6. Alliance between Turkey’s ultranationalist hardliners and left wing “nationalists”
7. DTP mayors from southeastern cities meet with Kurdish leader Barzani
8. DTP: Ergenekon investigation struggle not for democracy
9. Iranian Artilleries Resumes Bombarding Border Villages of Kurdistan Region-PJAK
10. Zebari calls on the Iraqi government to intervene to stop the Iranian bombing of KRG territory
11. Dick Cheney tour sparks Iran war rumours
12. Kurdish Journalist Wedat Kursun In Prison Until 15 April
13. Syria: We’re ready to negotiate
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1. KNK: Press Release – The Baath dictatorship in Syria, and the AKP government in Turkey are responsible for the conflicts and killings at the Newroz celebrations

To the public and press

Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) Executive Council
24.03.2008

Millions of people attended the Newroz Celebrations in Kurdistan this year. Kurds gathered to celebrate the Kurdish new year, which is traditionally celebrated on the 21st of March. The celebrations continued not just in all four parts of Kurdistan , but also in many cities across Europe , as well as other countries where there is a significant Kurdish population. Women and men dressed in traditional Kurdish clothing, chanting anti-war slogans and calling for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question.
Despite this , the Turkish and Syrian state , once again caused bloodshed and havoc amongst the community. As witnessed in the previous years , these states did not allow the Kurdish community to celebrate the new year festival in peace, instead they showed no tolerance towards peaceful slogans and used violence towards the public.
Syrian police shot into a crowd of young people , because they lit a fire and danced around it. This is a traditional custom that is done at this month of the year. As a result of this three young people , less than 20 years of age were shot dead in the southwest region of Kurdistan, in Qamishlo. Five people were injured in the events with several young people taken into custody.
In Turkey Beşir Atalay, Internal Affairs Minister of Turkey held a meeting with the DTP ( Democratic Society Party) management. Here he assured the management that problems would not arise at this years Newroz Celebrations. Despite this there was a lot of bloodshed in several cities. According to the DTP and Human Rights Organisations, the attacks organised by the state system.
Newroz celebrations were banned in many cities , with no valid explanation of the bans given. There were major conflicts, particularly in Van , Siirt and Hakkari. There was a lot of damage and destruction caused in these cites as a result of police force and intervention. In Van , the video images showing police violently attacking women were particularly disturbing. Ikbal Yasar (20 years old ) was killed by Turkish police in Yuksekova District of Hakkari. Zeki Erinc (35 years old) was also killed by Turkish police in Van. Hundreds of people were left injured , the majority from gunshot wounds. 800 people have been arrested until now , and police operations continue. Those who were arrested were beaten and subjected to various torture methods.
The public celebrated Newroz peacefully in the cities where the police did not interfere. The Turkish State continued to deny the Kurdish existence by placing bans on the Kurdish New Year celebrations. The Baath dictatorship in Syria , and the AKP government in Turkey are responsible for the conflicts and killings at the Newroz celebrations.
In this respect, we condemn the violent actions of the Syrian and Turkish governments , and once again emphasise the need for peaceful solutions through dialogue not force. We call on democratic bodies for international action in solidarity with the Kurdish people in their struggle for democratic rights and freedom

KNK – Executıve Council
24.03.2008
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2. Injuries mount in protests by Turkish Kurds

By Agence France Presse (AFP)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008
DIYARBAKIR: Several people were injured on Monday as fresh violence erupted in two Turkish cities following the deaths of two Kurdish protestors at the weekend, security sources and witnesses said. Clashes broke out in Van, in eastern Turkey, when thousands of protesters tried to march through the streets to denounce the death of a 35-year-old man from a bullet wound he sustained during a protest at the weekend.
Police used batons Monday to beat back the demonstrators – members of Turkey’s main Kurdish party, the Democratic Society Party – in Van on the ground that their march was illegal.
Witnesses said the ensuing scuffles left several protestors injured while several others were detained.
There were similar scenes in Yuksekova town in the country’s southeast, where demonstrators protested a heavy police clampdown on a similar gathering in the town over the weekend which left a 20-year-old man dead.
Riot police used tear gas on the protestors who pelted officers with stones. Some reporters were injured in the clashes, witnesses said.
Dozens of people have been detained at the weekend in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast where celebrations to mark March 21 – the Kurdish New Year – degenerated into protests in favor of the armed separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara lists as a terrorist group.
More than 37,000 people have been killed since 1984 when the PKK took up arms for self-rule in Turkey’s southeast.
The Ney Year is a traditional platform for Turkey’s Kurds to demonstrate support for rebels and demand broader rights. Celebrations have been relatively calm in recent years, but in 1992 about 50 people died in clashes in the southeast.
More recently, in 2002, two men were crushed to death in a police crackdown on demonstrations in Mersin. – AFP
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3. Court rules Demirtaş can face charges of spreading PKK propaganda

27.03.2008
MEHMET GÖKÇE DİYARBAKIR
Today’s Zaman

The Supreme Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that Democratic Society Party (DTP) deputy parliamentary group Chairman Selahattin Demirtaş does not have immunity over charges of spreading propaganda for an outlawed organization, namely the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and is eligible to stand trial.
The 9th Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that Demirtaş’s having been elected as a deputy cannot protect him from being tried. This ruling will pave the way for other pro-Kurdish DTP deputies whose trials were suspended after they were elected deputies to re-appear before the judge.
The court quashed an earlier ruling by the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court that had sentenced Demirtaş to a prison term of one year and six months for praising a criminal and crimes committed by the said criminal. While serving as the chairman of the Human Rights Association’s (İHD) branch in southeastern Diyarbakır province, Demirtaş had said in a phone interview with the PKK-affiliated and Denmark-based Roj TV that the PKK’s jailed leader, Abdullah Öcalan, should be recognized as an interlocutor by the Turkish state for the solution of the Kurdish problem.
The Supreme Court of Appeals ruled Demirtaş is eligible to be tried on charges of spreading propaganda for the PKK organization, charges that carry a sentence of five years imprisonment.

“Demirtaş’s remarks contravene Article 14 of the Constitution so his parliamentary immunity and having been elected as a deputy does not prevent him from being charged on charges of engaging in terrorist activities and endangering the territorial integrity of the country,” stated the court.
Article 14 states none of the rights and freedoms embodied in the Constitution shall be exercised with the aim of violating the indivisible integrity of the state.
Demirtaş, meanwhile, termed the ruling “misfortunate” and noted it will set a precedent for similar cases and the prosecution of other DTP deputies.
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4. New England Kurdish association Newroz – KNK Speech

On March 22, the Kurdish community in New England celebrated Newroz, about 400 Kurds and their friends attended the celebration. The Newroz Party was sponsored and organized by New England Kurdish Association-NEKA. Kurds from all parts of Kurdistan attended the celebration.

Newroz Speech,
March 22, 2008

By Saif Badrakhan

Good evening,
Happy Newroz
Newroz Peroz be

First I want to thank the NEKA Board for inviting me to speak and for organizing Newroz Festival.

Today, we gather here to celebrate Newroz in Diaspora. To the Kurds, Newroz is a celebration of freedom, protest, peace and love. Newroz is the symbol of struggle and resistance against tyranny for a nation deprived of freedom and peace. It is a symbol of Kurdish identity. It is a day of protest and struggle against Turkish, Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian oppression and denial of the Kurdish people national identity and rights.

Today, the Kurdish people are celebrating Newroz in all parts of Kurdistan and Diaspora. They are resilient in their struggle for the Kurdish nation legitimate national and political rights. They are resilient in their struggle to find a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question and the recognition of their national identity and culture in all parts of Kurdistan.

In northern Kurdistan millions of Kurds celebrated Newroz and gave their big support to the Kurdish movement and its leader Abdullah Ocalan. The Democratic Society Party has organized Newroz celebrations for 10 consecutive days in 38 major cities and 35 districts.

On March 21 about 1 million Kurdish people gathered in the city of Diarbaker (Amed) to celebrate Newroz. The festivities turned into a political rally in which the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) gave messages to the Turkish government and the world to find a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question and to reject AKP’s government plan to assimilate the Kurds in Turkey. On this issue Mr. Osman Baydemir the Mayor of Diarbakir said ”Assimilation is a crime against humanity,” and ”We don’t believe in this package, we don’t think it is sufficient, we don’t accept it.”

This year Newroz came after the big failure of the Turkish military invasion and attack on the PKK forces to achieve any of its objectives in southern Kurdistan-Iraq . It reflects the Kurdish movement strength in defending the Kurds rights to a peaceful and just solution of the Kurdish question. It is time to solve this Turkish-Kurdish conflict in peaceful methods through negotiations and dialogue.

The Kurds in Southern Kurdistan celebrated Newroz peacefully, it is a national day for the Kurdish Federation in Iraq. The KRG and the Kurdish people are determined and resilient to bring all of the Kurdish areas under the KRG control according to the article 140 of the Iraqi constitution. Kirkuk city is a legitimate Kurdish city and should be part of Kurdistan in order to reverse Arabization of the city by the dictator Saddam Hussien.

The Kurdish Federation of Southern Kurdistan KRG belongs to all of the Kurdish people. It is the pride of the Kurdish nation. We give our full support to protect the gain and success of our people in the Federation of Southern Kurdistan from any attacks and invasions.

In Western Kurdistan in Syria hundreds of thousands of Kurds celebrated Newroz demanding their cultural rights and recognition of their Kurdish identity. They chanted slogans in the support of the Kurdish leader APO. The Kurds of Syria observed Newroz in mourning. The Syrian army has moved 10,000 military and security forces into the Kurdish region in Aleppo, Qamishli, Hasakah and Efrin.

During the Newroz celebration in Qamishlo city, Syrian police opened fire on the evening of March 20, on Kurds celebrating Kurdish Newroz, and singing in the light of candles. They killed three and wounded five Kurds.” We condemn this deliberate barbaric act by the Syrian fascist regime against our Kurdish people. We demand that the United Nations and the international community to interfere and put stop to the Syrian Regime atrocities.

In Eastern Kurdistan, Newroz celebrations are forbidden by the Iranian Islamic state. The Kurdish area is militarized and controlled by the Revolutionary guards and the Iranian army. For the last week the Iranian revolutionary Guards were shelling the Kurdistan Region area of Kandil and Qali Diza in Iraq on the pretext of targeting bases of the Free Life party of Kurdistan (PJAK). Since April of 2004, PJAK is in self defense fighting against the Iranian Military and security forces. It is the largest and strongest opposition group in east Kurdistan and Iran, the only group that actively fights against and inside Iran. It plays an important role in the domestic and foreign policy situation in Iran. It is a self-sufficient and independent organization.

PJAK aim’s are to unite the Kurdish and Iranian opposition, change the Islamic regime in Iran and to establish a Democratic Republic Confederation of Iran.

The struggle of the Kurdish people for peace, freedom, democracy and national rights will continue in all parts of Kurdistan until victory. The Kurdish national Movement of: DTP, KNK, PYD, PJAK, KCK, PKK, NGOS and the Kurdish people coupled with the support of Turkish, Arab and Iranian democratic forces and Human rights organizations all over the world will prevail and bring victory to the Kurds and Kurdistan.

Wish you a happy Newroz
Long live the Kurdish people
Long live Kurdish unity
The future is ours to have

KNK – PJAK
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5. Iraqi Kurds ready to work with Turkey to solve PKK problem, Cheney says

Thursday, March 27, 2008
ANKARA – Turkish Daily News

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney informed Turkey that the Iraqi Kurds are willing to cooperate with Ankara in its fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a top U.S. diplomat said late Tuesday.
Cheney held talks with Turkish officials Monday and visited Arbil in northern Iraq to meet Massoud Barzani, leader of the semi-autonomous regional administration. Turkish diplomats said earlier that Cheney conveyed no messages from Barzani.
But U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Ross Wilson, told reporters on the sidelines of a reception held here late Tuesday that Cheney gave his impressions on the meeting with Barzani to Turkish officials, the Anatolia news agency reported.
Cheney said “not only the central Iraqi government, but Iraqi Kurdish leaders were also willing to cooperate with Turkey in solving the PKK problem,” according to Anatolia.
“The United States always encourages parties for dialogue,” Wilson said, although he refused to give details on the conversation between Cheney and his Turkish interlocutors.
Turkish and U.S. officials also reviewed the ongoing intelligence sharing mechanism, Wilson said. The U.S. provides Turkey with real time intelligence on the activities of the PKK, which let Turkish troops launch air and ground operations into northern Iraq.
Also on the agenda were Iran’s nuclear program and Syria, according to Wilson who said that Cheney expressed Washington’s concerns about these two countries. He said that Turkey does not want Iran to obtain nuclear weapons but expressed its own views on the matter.
The U.S. project to replace long- and short-range missile shield was not raised during the talks, Wilson said.
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6. Alliance between Turkey’s ultranationalist hardliners and left wing “nationalists”

NEWS ANALYSIS by Ilnur Cevik The New Anatolian
27 March 2008

Three years ago we had written that some ultranationalist businessmen were arming extremist nationalists against the Kurds.

At the time we were accused of trying to create sensation by some of our colleagues in the press.

What is interesting is that as time went by it became apparent that we were more than accurate. The capture of an ultra right wing gang with explosives in an Istanbul suburb triggered a massive investigation which has now mushroomed into the Ergenekon operation.

The aim of the gang was set up to create disturbances by assassinating leading Kurdish figures in Turkey as well Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk and prominent journalist Fehmi Koru. They were already implicated in the killing of the supreme court judge and bombing left-wing daily Cumhuriyet.

Several prominent far right personalities have been taken into custody and nearly two dozen were charged. But then the situation took a sudden turn as the prosecutor investigating the case turned his attention to left-wing “nationalists.”

The Workers Party set up by former Marxists and which has a highly ultranationalist agenda had been targeting Kurds as well as Turkish liberal personalities who support them through their Ulusal TV and their weekly Aydinklik magazine.

So Workers Party leader Dogu Perincek as well as the executives of the TV station and the weekly were taken into custody and then charged.

Also taken into custody was prominent journalist and Cumhuriyet CEO Ilhan Selcuk. Another prominent figure was controversial Prof. Kemal Alemdaroglu who was sacked by former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer as the president of the Istanbul University. Later the two were released but will stand trial. The judge who released them banned them from leaving the country.

The arrest of these left-wing personalities triggered angry reactions from left-wing and some liberal circles. People questioned by left-wing people would cooperate with far right gangs.

However, the answer seems rather clear.

There are some circles in Turkey who are extremely unhappy with the Justice and Development Party in power and are cooperating to create havoc to create the groundwork for the downfall of the government possibly by some kind of a coup.

So the ultra right wing extremists have joined forces with left-wing activists in a crusade to block the AK Party.

Even the bombing of Cumhuriyet which did not actually result in any casualties but created sensation is the work of the gang with the approval of the left-wing activists.
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7. DTP mayors from southeastern cities meet with Kurdish leader Barzani

21.03.2008
Today’s Zaman Ankara

Several mayors from the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), including Diyarbakır Mayor Osman Baydemir, had talks with Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani on Wednesday, news reports posted from Arbil said yesterday.
Şırnak Mayor Ahmet Ertak, Doğubeyazıt Mayor Mukaddes Kubilay and Beytüşşebap Mayor Faik Dursun were among mayors who met with Barzani at the Salahaddin resort.
“The guests expressed their happiness over visiting the Kurdistan region and their participation in the 20th anniversary of Halabja and the International Municipalities Conference. The guests also expressed their hope of establishing continuous ties between Turkey’s and Kurdistan’s municipalities. President Barzani thanked the guests and hoped for relations between Kurdistan’s and Turkey’s municipalities to enter a new stage,” Pukmedia, affiliated with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), said.
On Monday Iraqi Kurds commemorated the anniversary of the chemical weapons attack in Halabja, located near the Iranian border, with solemn observances. Saddam Hussein ordered the 1988 attack as part of a scorched-earth campaign to crush a Kurdish rebellion in the north which was seen as aiding Iran near the end of its war with Iraq. Saddam was executed for other crimes against humanity before he could face trial for the attacks.
Earlier this week a prosecutor in Diyarbakır launched an investigation into reported remarks delivered by Baydemir in a speech at a ceremony commemorating Halabja.
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8. DTP: Ergenekon investigation struggle not for democracy

26.03.2008
Today’s Zaman Ankara

Democratic Society Party (DTP) parliamentary group Deputy Chairman Ahmet Türk has said that it is impossible to have a democracy in Turkey without abolishing the Ergenekon gang.
At a parliamentary group meeting yesterday, Türk pointed out that there have been many gangs in the history of Turkey. “We know that since the establishment of the Teşkilat-ı Mahsusa [an Ottoman intelligence agency] in 1915-1917, state assassins have been used in certain killings,” Türk said.
He added that the activities of gangs intensify when the Kurdish question is on the agenda.
“Ergenekon and similar gangs are holding the society like an octopus. We want these gangs to be uncovered completely, but the investigation is not going in this direction. We are seeing a power struggle, not a struggle for a transparent and democratic state,” he said.
He also mentioned the recently opened closure case against the ruling Justice and Development (AK Party), saying that the government is trying to save itself, not democracy. “The government did not show any reaction when the court case opened against us, but today they are seeking formulas to save themselves. Bring the new constitution to Parliament and, if you don’t have a majority, submit it to the public. But you are only out to save yourself”
In his speech Türk evaluated developments following the weekend’s Nevruz celebrations, which saw clashes between protestors and security forces. At Nevruz events in the eastern provinces of Van, Hakkari and Yüksekova, there were demonstrations in which two persons were killed and more than 500 people were detained.
Türk said that before Nevruz they had met with Interior Minister Beşir Atalay and asked him to give the DTP permission to hold celebrations at its own discretion. He said Atalay told them the decision had to be made by the individual governorates.
“We warned them. If we had been allowed to celebrate as a party according to our own schedule, we would have been able to establish discipline. But we witnessed terrible events that we wish we hadn’t had to see,” Türk said.
Türk condemned the security forces for attacking their own people. He said the DTP has videos of security forces attacking people and that they will send these records to the president and the prime minister. Türk said that if they cannot get any results they will share international public opinion pass judgment on the videos.
He also said the head of the security forces in Siirt told DTP Diyarbakır Deputy Akın Birdal he would not shake hands with him because the DTP has not recognized the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a terrorist organization. Türk said the DTP expected the security force official to be removed his position.
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9. Iranian Artilleries Resumes Bombarding Border Villages of Kurdistan Region-PJAK

PUKmedia
27-03-2008

This evening the Iranian artilleries resumed bombarding the border villages of Kurdistan region including Rizgah, Shinawa, Spigle, Maraud and Arke in Pishder district, Sulaimani province, PUKmedia correspondent reported from the scene.
Meanwhile unidentified warplanes have been patrolling over those areas’ air spaces and at about 08pm Thursday the Iranian artilleries once again bombarded those villages, our correspondent added.
No casualties were reported, but the local citizens fled for their lives. A Japanese organization, the UNHCR, and the IRC opened a refugee camp to the displaced people of the areas, PUKmedia correspondent said as well.
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Iranian Artillery Shells Pashdar District – PJAK

PUKmedia
26-03-2008

Iranian artillery shelled again the villages of Razqa, Sabikala and Shinawa in Pashdar District, to the northeast of Sulaimaniyah Province.
The bombardment resulted no casualties, but led to a huge material damages for the people houses.
The bombardment led the people of these villages to leave their houses into safer places.
It’s worth mentioning that the Iranian artillery shells the border villages of Kurdistan Region under the pretext of chasing (PJAK) elements in these areas.
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10. Zebari calls on the Iraqi government to intervene to stop the Iranian bombing of KRG territory

PUKmedia
2008-03-25

In response to the invitation of Vice President of the Kurdistan Regional Government Mr. Omar Fattah, yesterday Monday, a joint delegation from the United Nations and the International Red Cross visited the border areas of Bashder which had been shelled by Iranian artillery.

The joint delegation visit came to assess the effects of the bombing on the population and the people of these regions, they accompanied by Mayor of Qala Dizah and Director of Zarara for displaced families.

According to private sources, dozens of families were moved to areas far from the border, 6 villages were de-populated and 4 houses demolished.

The UNHCR has distributed aid to displaced families, the Red Cross Stozia will distribute food to them and the UNICEF will bring water purification materials.

For his part, Kurdistan Regional Government Coordinator of the United Nations, Dr. Dindar Zebari expressed his displeasure of Iranian artillery shelling , and called on the Iraqi government to exert more efforts to stop the bombing as soon as possible. Zebari called on the United Nations agencies, humanitarian and charities organizations to support and assist civilians affected by the bombing.
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11. Dick Cheney tour sparks Iran war rumours

By Tom Coghlan in Kabul
21 Mar 2008
The Daily Telegraph

Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, has triggered speculation that he has been using a tour of the Middle East to prepare Iran’s neighbours for a possible war with Tehran.

Mr Cheney, whose nine-day tour has included stops in Turkey, the Gulf and Afghanistan, insisted that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

“The important thing to keep in mind is the objective that we share with many of our friends in the region, and that is that a nuclear-armed Iran would be very destabilising for the entire area,” Mr Cheney told ABC News before arriving in Kabul, the Afghan capital, after a visit to Oman.

Challenged on the recent National Intelligence Estimate by US intelligence officials, which concluded that Iran’s nuclear weapons programme stopped in late 2003 because of international pressure, Mr Cheney said: “What it says is that they have definitely had in the past a programme to develop a nuclear warhead – that it would appear that they stopped that weaponisation process in 2003.

“We don’t know whether or not they’ve restarted. What we do know is that they had then, and have now, a process by which they’re trying to enrich uranium, which is the key obstacle they’ve got to overcome in order to have a nuclear weapon. They’ve been working at it for years.”

A senior aide to Mr Cheney was forced to deny that the nine-day trip to Turkey and the Middle East was part of a strategy by the vice-president to build support for military action against Iran.

Asked by journalists travelling on Mr Cheney’s plane about the vice-president’s repeated comments about Iran during his tour, the aide said: “That’s not what these discussions are about.”

The official acknowledged that Mr Cheney’s talks with the Oman government focused on “the concerns we have about the full range of their [Iran’s] activities”.

These included the country’s links to the radical Hamas authorities in Gaza and Washington’s belief that Iran has become the dominant power in Lebanon through its sponsorship of Hizbollah.

General Dan McNeill, the US commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, told The Daily Telegraph in September that advanced weapons smuggled across the Iran border to the Taliban could only have come with the complicity of the Iranian government or elements within its security services.
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12. Kurdish Journalist Wedat Kursun In Prison Until 15 April

Wedat Kursun, the responsible editor of the Kurdish Azadiya Welat newspaper has been in police custody since 5 February, accused of “continuously spreading PKK propaganda.”


27-03-2008
Erol ONDEROĞLU
Bıa news centre

The Diyarbakir Public Prosecutor has demanded the imprisonment of Wedat Kursun, licence holder and editor of the Kurdish Azadiya Welat newspaper for “spreading PKK propaganda.”

In his deliberations at the Diyarbakir 6th Heavy Penal Court on Tuesday (25 March), prosecutor Tuncer Cetin accused the journalist of “committing a crime in the name of a criminal organisation without being a member of the organisation.”

Punishment under three articles demanded
Kursun has been in police custody since 5 February, and he attended the hearing with five lawyers. The prosecutor has demanded punishment under Articles 220/6, 314/2 of the Penal Code, as well as Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terrorism Law.

The prosecutor has argued that the thirteen issues from 12 September 2006 to 12 August 2007 all contained PKK propaganda. As evidence he pointed out that imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was described as “the leader of the Kurdish people,” “the leader of the KCK,” “Honourable Ocalan,” and “Leader Apo,” and that members of the HPG, associated with the PKK, were described as “HPG guerillas.”

Release not granted
The defense lawyers have asked for time to prepare their defense, and the next hearing is on 15 April. The court had refused to release Kursun at the previous hearing on 4 March, and did so again on Tuesday. The defense lawyers again objected, saying that Kursun had come to court to defend himself.

When the court decided to take Kursun into custody on 5 February, one judge, Selahaddin Menes, had opposed the decision.
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13. Syria: We’re ready to negotiate

By JPOST.COM STAFF
Mar 21, 2008

Syria is ready to renew negotiations with Israel on condition that this move will not influence the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, the country’s foreign minister, Walid Moallem, was quoted as saying Friday.
Regarding Russia’s initiative for a conference as a follow-up to November’s Annapolis summit, the Syrian foreign minister stated that his country could not allow itself to be absent from the conference, as the Golan Heights issue would again be discussed. “We attended the conference at Annapolis, it is only natural that we also attend the conference in Moscow,” said Moallem, Israel Radio reported.
However, on Thursday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that he was not even convinced of the utility of such a get-together for the Palestinian track. It followed Lavrov’s announcement in Damascus that the touted peace conference would deal with the Golan.
Olmert, who told Lavrov that he would be holding another meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the near future, said he was not sure of the need for another international conference.
Syria also came up during a meeting Lavrov held with President Shimon Peres on Thursday, with Peres saying that Damascus was continuing to transfer weapons to Hizbullah in Lebanon, and that this transfer of weapons called into question the sincerity of Syria’s signals regarding peace negotiations.
Lavrov said Moscow needed more concrete information on the matter.
Meanwhile, former justice minister Dan Meridor said that the government should respond to the Syrian overtures and open peace talks with the country.
Speaking to Israel Radio on Friday morning, Meridor said that when an Arab country offers to negotiate, it is the obligation of the government to examine the initiative, despite the risks involved and the high price that will need to be paid.
The former MK added that in view of the fact that Damascus is currently isolated and under international pressure, now is the right time to check if there is are chances of Syrian flexibility in setting a border with Israel. He also said proposals to lease the Golan on a trial basis should be assessed.
Meridor stressed that opening discussions with Syria was vital in order to break the axis between Teheran and Damascus, to halt its support for Hizbullah and other terror organizations, and to stop the country arming itself with missiles and weapons of mass destruction.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report