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The latest news on kurds

1. Kurds demonstrating in support of jailed rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan
2. Kurdish Leader, Abdullah Ocalan Physically Attacked in Isolation Cell
3. Press release: Ocalan tortured in prison and threatened with death
4. Press Release: Free Life Party of Kurdistan – PJAK
5. Iranian artillery shells Kurdistan region again
6. Turkish helicopter shut down and 31 solders killed in Hakari
7. Turkish warplanes bomb Kurdistan region border areas heavily
8. 10 killed as Kurds fight Turkish army
9. Turkey’s Army loses luster over PKK attack
10. Turkey and the Kurds
11. Another political detainee tortured and killed in prison
12. Iraqi Christians Flee Mosul Violence
13. Iraq: Journalist shot dead as Christians flee Mosul
14. Israel expects U.S.-Iran talks under Obama
15. Iran: Russia to ship nuke plant supplies
1. Kurds demonstrating in support of jailed rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan

Sun, 19 Oct 2008

Kurds demonstrating in support of jailed rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan clashed with police in Istanbul and other Turkish cities following allegations of his mistreatment in prison, press reports said on Saturday.
Dozens of people were detained in two cities in the largely Kurdish southeastern region of Turkey.
In Diyarbakir, the largest city in the region, more than 5000 slogan-chanting demonstrators protested. Police did not initially react but charged when they were attacked with stones. Several dozen people were detained.
In a separate incident at Yuksekova, an isolated small town near the borders with Iraq and Iran, police used teargas and water cannon to disperse a crowd of several thousand people who set up road blocks and burned tyres, the Anatolia news agency reported.
It said police had made “numerous” arrests but gave no precise figure. Shops in the town remained closed on Saturday, it said.
On Friday, police and Kurdish demonstrators had clashed in Istanbul and other cities.
Police used water cannon to disperse Kurds in the Istanbul district of Umraniye, while in nearby Kucukcekmece petrol bombs damaged a shopping centre, the Anatolia news agency reported.
The pro-Kurd news agency Firat for its part said police quashed protests in the cities of Mersin, in the south, Sanliurfa in the southeast — where vehicles were set on fire — and Van and Varto in the east.
Ocalan’s lawyers had reported he had been assaulted by a guard and threatened with death in his island prison of Imrali, in the northwest, where he has been held in solitary confinement since 1999.
Similar reports in the past have stirred anger among Kurds who look on Ocalan, head of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party, as a hero.
Arrested in Kenya in February 1999, he was sentenced to death by a Turkish court but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2002 after Turkey abolished the death penalty.
The PKK is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States as well as by Turkey. Some 44 000 people have died since its conflict with the Turkish state began in 1984.
2. Kurdish Leader, Abdullah Ocalan Physically Attacked in Isolation Cell

Kurdish Info

The lawyers of the Kurdish people’s leader, Abdullah Ocalan who is imprisoned on the prison island of Imrali, where he is the solitary prisoner, have announced that their client was physically attacked by the Turkish authorities. In the statement made by his lawyers it was stated that Abdullah Ocalan had been physically attacked by prison officials.
The statement reads: “Our client, Mr Abdullah Ocalan has been kept in Imrali prison under heavy solitary confinement for the past nine years. In the last five years he has also been punished with cell punishments. However our client has now been a victim to even more serious inhumane treatment. This is the incident that occurred as reported to us by our client:”

“I would rather you kill me than treat me like this!” ‘The time for that will come!’

“Our client’s cell was ransacked by prison officials who claimed to be carrying out a search. Our clients objection to this led to the officials shouting “Shut up, you cannot speak! You do not even have the right to say one word”, after this two officials took our client by his arms and moved him to the next room, and another official kneeled on his back to force him to the ground. Our client as a result of this treatment says “I would rather you kill me then treat me like this” to which an official replies “The time for that will come!” as an open threat.”

Attack Represents State Policy Against the Kurds

“This is the first time in 9 years that physical abuse on the level of torture has occurred against the leader of the Kurdish Freedom Movement in Imrali. We do not believe that it is a coincidence for this event to take place in parallel with the increase in the violent atmosphere. It is also noteworthy that just before this incident, all Imrali prison officials were changed. Accordingly we do not believe that this incident can be explained by the actions of individuals. With the system of Imrali in mind it is naive to think that any procedure is independent of the central authority belonging to the Prime Minister’s office. Therefore these procedures bare a lot of resemblance to the procedures in the prison of Diyarbakir in 1982 and represent the Turkish State’s attitude towards the Kurds.”

Those responsible should be withdrawn from their post immediately

“Our client has stated that due to his responsibilities towards his people he will behave calmly but that he holds the state responsible for all the procedures in the prison. We would like to once again remind everyone that our client is being held in a high ‘security’ environment in which no procedure can be carried out without the approval of the state and the army, therefore we urge the state to behave responsibly and withdraw those who are responsible for this incident from their posts.”
3. Press release: Ocalan tortured in prison and threatened with death

October 17 2008

International Initiative warns against escalation
Freedom for Abdullah Ocalan – Peace in Kurdistan“

For the first time since his abduction to Turkey in 1999 Abdullah Ocalan, founder of PKK held in strict solitary confinement, has been physically tor¬tured and openly threatened with death. As his lawyers told the press yesterday in Istanbul, Ocalan has been dragged by prison personnel to an adjoining room, forced to the ground by three persons while his cell was ravaged. When he protested against these brutal measures, he was explicitly threatened with death.
Ocalan has been held under isolation conditions that is defined as torture. He is the only prisoner on Imrali Island, guarded by 1000 soldiers. Council of Europe\’s Anti-torture committee (CPT) has denounced his imprisonment con¬ditions harshly in its four previous reports and up to the present day.

Since 2005 the juridical, psychological and now also physical assaults have con-tinuously been aggravated. Last year highly elevated levels of heavy metals had been detected in Ocalan\’s hair and body, the source of which could not be determined. Subsequently CPT underlined the devastating consequences of the solitary confinement for his health.

Since Ilker Basbug became chief of the Turkish general staff, for the first time physical assaults against Abdullah Ocalan have occurred. In late June 2008 his head has been completely shaven against his will. The new assaults however are unprecedented and related to the latest operations of annihilation of the Tur¬kish army and the threats that chief of staff Ilker Basbug has been making via the press for weeks.

Furthermore the emergence of a lynching atmosphere against the Kurds in Turkey gives reason for concern and alarm. The International Initiative is highly concerned about the new practice of physical torture. Its spokesperson John Tobisch-Haupt stated on Thursday: “The detention conditions at Imrali have been unacceptable for a long time. Such assaults constitute another violation of the European Human Rights Convention. Coupled with the military operations they are suited to further heat up the political tensions. We even fear that there might be the threat of a civil war.”

The International Initiative calls on the European Governments, the EU, the Council of Europe and the Anti-torture-committee (CPT) to assume responsibility and put a hold to the inhumane imprison¬ment conditions at the “Turkish Guantanámo”. Europe must finally make human rights and the solu¬tion of the Kurdish question the central criterion in its relations with Turkey. Silence, in the face of the current escalation, means consent.

The International Initiative calls on the Turkish government to distance itself from its policy of escala¬tion and resort to dialogue instead of inciting more bloodshed. The International Initiative calls on all circles in the society of Turkey to oppose the politics of their state leadership and make use of all possibilities to lower the tensions and resolve the conflict. Note: Since 15 October 2008 a vigil is being held at Neumarkt in Cologne. Until 8 November Kurds will demonstrate day and night against the detention conditions at Imrali and for a peaceful solution of the Kurdish question. At 1 p.m. on Saturday, 18 October 2008, a demonstration is scheduled. The International Initiative supports the vigil and the demonstration and calls for solidarity with the demonstrators.
First signatories of the International Initiative: Máiréad Maguire (Nobel Price Award, Northern Ireland), Dario Fo (Director, Writer, Actor, Nobel Literature Price Award, Italy), Adolfo Perez Esquivel (Nobel Literature Price Award, Argentine), Jose Ramos-Horta (Peace Nobel Price Award, East-Timor), José Saramago (Nobel Literature Price Award, Portugal), Danielle Mitterrand (President, Donation France Liberté, France), Ramsey Clark (Lawyer, former Attorney General, USA), Uri Avnery (Former Member of Knesset, Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc), Israel), Prof. Dr. Noam Chomsky (Linguist, Writer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA), Alain Lipietz (Member of the European Parliament, France), Pedro Marset Carpos (Member of the European Parliament, Spain), Mrs. Jean Lambert (Member of the European Parliament, GB), Lord Avebury (Chairman, Parliamentary Human Rights Group, House of Lords, GB), Harry Cohen (Member of Parliament, Labour Party, GB), Cynog Dafis (Member of Parliament, Plaid Cymru, GB), Lord Raymond Hylton (House of Lords, GB), Lord Rea (House of Lords, Great Britain), Walid Jumblat (President, Socialist Progressive Party, Lebanon), Rudi Vis (Member of Parliament, Labour Party, GB), Paul Flynn (Member of Parliament, Labour Party, Great Britain), Máiréad Keane (Director, International Department, Sinn Fein, Northern Ireland), Domenico Gallo (Lawyer, former senator (CI), member of Magistratura Democratica, Italy), Livio Pepino (Lawyer, President of Magistratura Democratica, Italy), Xabier Arzalluz (President, PNV (Basque Nationalist Party), Tony Benn (Member of Parliament, Labour Party, GB), Giovanni Palombarini (Lawyer, former president of Magistratura Democratica, Italy), Heidi Ambrosch (Vice-president and Women Speaker, Communist Party of Austria), Mag. Walter Baier (President, Communist Party of Austria), Giana Nanini (Artist, Italy), Geraldine Chaplin (Actress, Madrid, Spain), Dietrich Kittner, (Humorist, Writer, Cabarettist, Germany), David MacDowall, (Writer, GB), Alice Walker, (Writer, USA), Franca Rame, (Actress, Director, Writer, Italy), Prof. Dr. Jean Ziegler (Member of the Swiss National Council, Publisher, Switzerland), Dr. Diether Dehm (Vice President, PDS, Germany), Prof. Dr. Angela Davis (University of California, Santa Cruz, USA), Prof. Dr. Luigi Ferraioli (Philosophy and Law Professor, Italy), Prof. Dr. Uwe Jens Heuer (Law Professor, Berlin, Germany), Prof. Dr. Wolf-Dieter Narr (Comittee for Fundamental Rights and Democracy, Germany), Prof. Dr. Werner Ruf (International Law Professor, Kassel University, Germany), Prof. Dr. Norman Paech (International Law Professor, Hamburg School of Economy and Politics, Germany), Prof. Dr. Gerhard Stuby (International Law Professor, Bremen University, Germany), Prof. Dr. h.c. Ronald Mönch (Chair of Bremen Highschool, Germany), Prof. Dr. Elmar Altvater (President, International Lelio Basso Donation for the rights of the peoples, Germany), Prof. Dr. Helmut Dahmer (Sociology Professor, Darmstadt Technical University, Germany), Prof. Jürgen Waller (Chair of School of Arts, Bremen, Germany), Christine Blower (Former President, National Union of Teachers (NUT), Great Britain), Ken Cameron (General Secretary, Fire Brigades Union (FBU), GB), Josep Lluis Carod Rouira (President ERC, Barcelona, Spain), Michael Feeny (Adviser of Cardinal Hume in refugee affairs, GB), Gareth Peirce (Lawyer, Great Britain Frances Webber, Barrister, GB), Norbert Mattes (Information Project Near und Middle East, Germany), Yayla Mönch-Buçak (Oldenburg University, Germany), Dr. Mamoud Osman (Kurdish Politician, Great Britain), Jutta Bauer (Book Illustrator, Germany), Günther Schwarberg (Journalist, Germany), Hans Branscheidt (medico international / Appell von Hannover), Germany Rolf Becker (Actor, IG Medien (Media Union), Germany)

„Freedom for Abdullah Ocalan – Peace in Kurdistan“
Postbox 10 05 11 • D-50445 Cologne Tel: +49-221-1 30 15 59 • Fax: +49-221-790 76 10 30 www.freedom-for-ocalan.com • info@freedom-for-ocalan.com
4. Free Life Party of Kurdistan – PJAK

18 October, 2008

To our People and Public Opinion:

On 16 December 2007, a new phase against the will of our people has been started. At the same time the United States of America provides Turkey with intelligence and simultaneously the fascist state of Turkey passes on the intelligence information to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Turkey and Iran cooperated and coordinated joint attacks on the Kurdistan libertarian resistance in Eastern Kurdistan, pioneered by PJAK. This cooperation resulted in death of six cadres of our party members during the Turkish air strike on our Media center in Qandil mountain
A new stage of direct and indirect cooperation of Turkey and Iran has begun against the only active opposition party of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Turkey transfer of the USA intelligence information to Iran is a clear indication of its alliance and support of the Iranian Islamic state agianst the Kurdish people. These coordinated attacks have been launched within different periods of times and up till now. The results are the death of 12 guerrillas of PJAK and many civilians. At the same time tens of villages, mosques and libraries were bombed and demolished, many Kurdish civilian resident of Mount Qandil’s slope face fear, terror and psychological pressure. They are displaced, terrified and a great damage have been inflicted on the nature of this region.

Once again on 17th October 2008, at 12.45 pm, the Turkish warplanes bombarded the villages of Palatokani, Razke and Zalkan. Four of our new recruited guerrillas lost their lives, many Kurdish civilian injured and a big damage to the villagers property of this region occurred in this attack. Simultaneously and in coordination with the Turkish air strike, the Iranian forces shelled the regions of Rezge, Marko, Dolekote and Sekh Ayish.

These Iranian and Turkish attacks have been launched two days after the American planes surveyed the region for twenty four hours. These shelling and air strikes depended on the American intelligence cooperation with Turkey. This indicates that American aids to Turkey indirectly will help promotes the Islamic Republic of Iran’s interests and aggression in the region.

The attacks on PJAK are against the Iranian opposition and the main party leading the struggle for freedom and democracy in Iran. PJAK is against the fascist regime of Iran oppression and terrorist policies applied against the Kurdish and Iranian people. PJAK is for democracy, peace and freedom of the Iranian people.

We warn Turkey and the Islamic Republic of Iran that we will respond in time to these attacks and will stop their aggressive oppressive against our people. The Kurdish nation will shield and protect itself and will obtain its democratic rights. Victory and freedom for the Kurdish and Iranian people.

We strongly condemn the transfer of information and the unholy alliance between Turkey and Iran.

We ask the USA to stop its flow of intelligence information to Turkey. This cooperation in the final end is in support of the retrospective and non-democratic regime of Iran and jeopardizes the democratic process in the Middle East.

PJAK’s Assembly
5. Iranian artillery shells Kurdistan region again


A private source, on condition of anonymity, told PUKmedia website “the Iranian artillery started at 9:30am today in shelling the villages of Senmoka, Pishtashan, Sordi and Sarkinel in Sanksar County, Pishder District in Sulaimaniya Province. The bombardment is still going on.”

The source added “the casualties are still unknown, but the bombardment caused material damages to the farms and houses of the villages’ residence.”
The Iranian artillery shells Kurdistan region border areas periodically under the pretext of attacking PIJAK elements hideouts in these areas.
6. Turkish helicopter shut down and 31 solders killed in Hakari

Media and Communication Center of the People’s Defense Forces HPG/PKK

10 17, 2008

Military dispatch:

1 – The Turkish army launched large-scale military operations against our fighters in the areas of Hakkari on Tuesday the fourteenth of October and involved in the ongoing operations commando troops from areas of Hakkari, Hernak, Tmahortalhmlp Kayseri, the Turkish military in the areas of (Cree by Rana) – (field by a K) – (Soareh free) – (mountain plateaus Vrashen) – (Valley Marinos) – (Kato Marinos).

Our fighters launched an offense on the second day of Turkish operations (15 October) on the hill (Mzra Marinos), where leadership of the Turkish military operations stationed with 79 commando soldiers, they raided the hill and in the process of attack by two groups.
Our fighters managed to control the hill in a short and had the Turkish commando soldiers, members of the Kayseri fled the hill without any resistance. During the attack 31 of the Turkish commandos were killed and more than thirty injured. Two HK-33, two telephone, and a large number of bags, ammunition and military equipment were confiscated by our fighters

Clashes expanded and the operation extended until the third day of the campaign (16 October), where the Turkish army assigned additional troops in addition to the air and artillery support. Our fighters have been able shoot down Turkish military Sikorsky helicopter by heavy and light weapons.

Orhan Nawal, the leader of one of our attack group was martyred, his real name is Kawa Khalil. Two of our fighters were injured.

2 – Our fighters today, 17 October surveyed military movements by the Turkish and Iranian armies in the areas of the town of Urmia (eastern Kurdistan, Iran), near the Iraqi border, our fighters are watching these military movements closely.

3 – A calash broke out between our fighters and the Turkish soldiers in the area of Serd khale in the Judy mountain. Our comrade Karke Amed was martyred in this battle.

7. Turkish warplanes bomb Kurdistan region border areas heavily


Four Turkish warplanes on late Sunday heavily bombed Kurdistan region border areas in Soran district, of Erbil province, PUKmedia correspondent reported.
Turkish warplanes bombed Almushi Khwaru, Sekanian, and Khwakurk areas of Soran district, a private source in Bradost area told PUKmedia, saying that until now the bombing is still continuous.
Damages and causalities are still unknown due to the heavy bombing.
8. 10 killed as Kurds fight Turkish army

ANKARA, Oct 16: Turkish troops and Kurdish rebels clashed on Thursday, in an upsurge of fighting the military said had killed five people on each side.

A spokesman for the rebels based in Iraq said they had shot down a Turkish helicopter on the Turkish side of the border with Iraq on Wednesday. The Turkish military said it crashed because of technical failure, killing a soldier and wounding 15.

Turkish government and military are under increasing pressure to respond forcefully to Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas, who have stepped up deadly attacks against Turkish security forces in recent weeks.

The general staff said four soldiers died when PKK rebels opened fire on them in remote mountains in the province of Hakkari, near the border with Iraq.

The helicopter, carrying reinforcements to the scene, crashed due for technical reasons, it said in a statement.
9. Turkey’s Army loses luster over PKK attack

Amid daily fighting, including an clash Thursday that killed 10, unprecedented public criticism is mounting over an Oct. 3 attack.

By Yigal Schleifer
The Christian Science Monitor
October 17, 2008

Istanbul, Turkey – Long seen as the country’s most trusted institution and as the ultimate defender of the state, the Turkish military is suddenly facing fire from an unlikely source: the public.
In the wake of an Oct. 3 attack by guerrillas from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on a border outpost, in which 17 Turkish soldiers were killed, the Army has been facing an unprecedented level of criticism, accused of negligence in the death of the soldiers and ineptitude in its ongoing fight against the PKK.
The military’s image took a further blow when Turkish newspapers widely circulated a picture of Air Force Commander Gen. Aydogan Babaoglu on vacation playing golf the day after the bloody attack, seemingly oblivious to what had happened.
“Resign, My Pasa,” was the front-page headline in the popular Vatan newspaper, using the Ottoman term for military generals. In a country where the military and its exploits are almost worshiped, this kind of open criticism of a general was a first.
This harsh criticism may be an indication of the continuing dilution of the Turkish military’s formidable political power and an important step toward strengthening Turkey’s struggling democratization process. It may also prod the government toward developing new, civilian-led strategies in dealing with the Kurdish problem.
“We can say that we are passing to a new phase in the Turkish civilian-military relationship,” says Mehmet Ali Birand, a political analyst with the Kanal D television network. “The press used to be afraid of criticizing the military; it was very careful not to do that. Now it’s just the contrary. We’ve never seen criticism like this before.”
“It’s a new era,” he adds.
The Turkish military certainly appears to be standing on unfamiliar ground. For decades, the Army has been Turkey’s dominant political force, seen as the ultimate protector of the country’s political stability and of its secular system of government. Since 1960, Turkey’s generals have pushed four governments out of office.
“They have meddled a lot in domestic politics,” says Volkan Aytar, a researcher on military affairs at the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV), an Istanbul-based think tank.
“The military has been a brake mechanism of sorts on Turkey’s democratization process,” Mr. Avtar continues. “Whenever there has been a democratic reform on the agenda, they have claimed it was going to impact the military’s ability.”
Reforms introduced in the past decade as part of Turkey’s bid to join the European Union have helped weaken the military’s influence in politics. The changes have provided for more civilian involvement in security issues and for increased parliamentary oversight of the Army’s budget.
This seems to have opened the door for the press to become increasingly bold in its criticism of the military, looking at charges of corruption and questioning its effectiveness.
One newspaper, Taraf, accused the Army of failing to act on intelligence that the Oct. 4 PKK attack was in the works. It ran on its front page classified aerial pictures taken by an unmanned military aircraft that seem to show the PKK’s guerrillas preparing for their raid.
On Thursday four more soldiers died in a clash with Kurdish rebels, and one in a helicopter crash that the military attributed to a technical problem.
“The cliché of Turkey run by militaristic generals, which was the image of Turkey for a long time, is no longer valid,” says Hugh Pope, a Turkey analyst with the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based policy and advocacy organization.
In one indication that the military’s ability to dictate events might be waning, prior to Turkey’s last elections, in the summer of 2007, the military released a statement on its website airing its displeasure with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Despite this intervention, which came to be known as the “e-coup,” the liberal Islamic AKP went on to win reelection in a landslide.
Still, the generals don’t appear to be backing off from the press’s attacks. In a tense press conference on Wednesday, Ilker Basbug, Turkey’s top general, said the military would take legal action against anyone leaking material to the press about the recent PKK attack.
“This is my last word: I invite everyone to be careful and to stand in the right position,” said a visibly angry General Basbug, flanked by his top generals.
“The systematic attacks that had increased in recent days would do nothing but increase the strength, determination, and will of the Turkish Armed Forces,” he continued.
But Aytar, of TESEV, says the military’s threats may carry less weight than they used to. “The Army’s efforts to counter all this criticism, saying it’s just an effort to weaken the military, don’t fly anymore. It doesn’t strike a chord with the public,” he says.
“I think the Turkish public is now seeing more that this meddling in domestic politics, even in the tiniest details, has been hurting the military’s ability to do its important job in defending the border against PKK attacks.”
Increased public scrutiny of the military and its record might push Turkey to find a new way of resolving the country’s decades-old fight with the PKK.
“It’s a good start on the PKK issue,” says Lale Sariibrahimoglu, a military analyst based in Ankara. “It could force the political authorities to curb the military’s political involvement in the Kurdish issue and allow for more political solutions to come up.”
Adds Mr. Pope, of the International Crisis Group: “It creates an opening for new kinds of thinking. The whole narrative of an easy military solution for PKK is now discredited.”
10. Turkey and the Kurds

From The Economist print edition

Renewed violence raises new questions about Turkey’s treatment of its Kurds
HER boots caked in cow dung, her hands in soil, 80-year-old Xaje Artuget has but one regret. “I wish all eight of my sons had gone to fight in the mountains,” she sighs. In fact, “only one” joined the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and is now “somewhere in northern Iraq”. Similar feelings abound in many hardscrabble townships in eastern Turkey, where decades of repression and poverty have provided a steady stream of recruits since the PKK launched its violent campaign for independence in 1984.
At least 44,000 people, mostly Kurds, have died in the conflict. The Turkish government says it has spent some $300 billion battling the PKK. The results have been mixed. The PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was captured in 1999, and several ceasefires followed. Yet the violence continues today—17 Turkish soldiers were killed in early October when some 400 PKK rebels raided a military outpost in Hakkari province, near the Iraqi border, and days later rebels killed four policemen in Diyarbakir. Sympathy for the PKK remains strong among Turkey’s 14m Kurds.
The Turkish parliament has now extended the army’s mandate to bomb PKK targets in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, and Turkish aircraft have been doing just that. Yet the latest wave of PKK attacks has embarrassed the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and raised new questions about the army’s competence. The cries of incompetence grew louder when Taraf, a newspaper, published a leaked internal report showing that the army knew about the planned attack in Hakkari but did little to stop it. It did not help when the air-force chief was photographed playing golf a day later.
In an alarming twist, ethnic tensions are erupting in western parts of Turkey as well. Two people died in the town of Altinova recently when a Kurdish youth rammed a truck into a group of Turks who were taunting Kurds by playing loud nationalist tunes. The army was called in when Kurdish homes and businesses came under siege.
The Kurds remain a huge problem for Turkey’s government. The prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, raised hopes in 2005 when he said the state had “made mistakes” in handling them. Steps to ease bans on Kurdish broadcasting and education followed, and vast sums were poured into Kurdish regions. The handouts included education subsidies for the poor, especially for girls. These helped the AKP to clobber the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) in much of the south-east in the July 2007 election. Yet to many the measures smell of vote-buying. “I haven’t received a penny for my girls’ schooling since April,” complains Sabiha Celik in Sason. “I will never vote for the AKP again.”
Indeed, Kurdish support for the AKP has been fading ever since the government yielded to army pressure to resume cross-border operations against the PKK in northern Iraq. The generals are baying for a freer hand, prompting worries of a return to the human-rights abuses of the 1990s. Ominously, the Turkish Human Rights Foundation says that, this year alone, over 30 people have been killed in alleged police violence, mostly in the Kurdish region. The government had to apologise when Engin Ceber, a left-wing activist, was tortured and beaten to death by security forces recently in an Istanbul prison.
AKP leaders, who narrowly escaped a constitutional court ban in July, have yet to utter a word about a similar closure case that is pending against the DTP on the ground that it is propagating separatism. DTP deputies spend lots of time lobbying for better prison conditions for Mr Ocalan. Many of them were handpicked by the PKK to run for parliament. Yet just as in the AKP case, much of the prosecution’s argument rests on words rather than deeds. Moreover, any ban might just boost the DTP’s popularity.
Turkey blames some of its Kurdish woes on the West. “We are still seeing co-operation with the PKK, they are doing fund-raising in EU countries and there are many PKK terrorists living in Europe. This really bothers us,” Ali Babacan, the foreign minister, claimed in an interview with The Economist. Similar harangues at the Americans have subsided since they agreed to let the Turks pursue the PKK in Iraq.
There are some hopeful signs that Turkey is trying to make friends with the Iraqi Kurds. This week Turkish diplomats met Masoud Barzani, who heads the Kurdish regional government in Iraq. This has prompted speculation that Turkey could be thinking of reviving an amnesty for PKK fighters untainted by violence. As the winter cold sets in, many might be tempted. And, as Mr Babacan acknowledges, “a military solution is not a solution.”
11. Another political detainee tortured and killed in prison

October 17 2008
Turkish police, prison officers and gendarmerie tortured and killed 29-year-old Engin Ceber on October 10. Ceber had been arrested, along with three others—Aysun Baykal, Özgür Karakaya and Cihan Gün—while distributing a special issue of a legal magazine, Yürüyüs, in the Sariyer district of Istanbul. Ceber was a member, together with his three friends, of the radical protest organisation Rights and Freedoms Front (HOC).

The special edition of their magazine dealt with the impunity of Turkish authorities in last year’s shooting of 19-year-old Ferhat Gercek. Police shot the youth, paralysing him, after a quarrel that arose because he was selling a political magazine.

According to news reports, Ceber’s ordeal began immediately after his arrest, with police beating him and his three companions as they were being taken to the police station. Official medical reports prepared by state-employed doctors contain medical evidence of physical abuse on the evening of Ceber’s arrest. During their subsequent detention in Istanbul’s Metris Prison, the four detainees were stripped naked, kicked and repeatedly beaten with wooden truncheons.

A further medical report prepared by doctors on September 29 shows that the injuries sustained by Ceber worsened significantly following his continuous torture. Ceber’s punishment at the hands of state officials continued for 10 days until he was transferred to hospital on October 7 due to his seriously worsening health condition. After slipping into a coma, he died of brain haemorrhage less than three days later.

Ceber’s lawyer, Taylan Tanay, told the press that his client had complained several times that he was being subjected to inhumane treatment in prison. On October 6, Ceber told Tanay, “Our situation is very bad, we are in a hornet’s nest, we may not leave this place alive.”

Tanay said, “The last time I met with him before he was taken to the hospital there were bruises on his face. He said he was being tortured. A few days later I wanted to meet with my client once more, but prison officials said he was dead. They later said he was being kept in the intensive care unit of the Sisli Etfal Hospital.”

The three others detained along with Engin Ceber remain in pre-trial detention. They have also reportedly been severely tortured, with one of them, Aysun Baykal, in critical condition. Baykal’s lawyer Oya Aslan has reported that her client requires dialysis for a kidney problem, and is now unable to stand up because of the torture she has endured.

Aslan, told an Internet news site, Bianet, that she had previously filed two applications for the release of Ceber and his three friends. Her first application, dated October 6, was rejected. Her next application on October 9 authorised Ceber’s release shortly before he died in hospital, but the release of the other three have been denied.

Aslan also told Bianet: “We filed criminal reports about the director of the prison, the doctors and the officers.”
Ceber’s horrific death is not an isolated case. On July 5, 2007, Amnesty International issued a report titled “The Entrenched Culture of Impunity Must End,” documenting human rights abuses in Turkey. The report highlighted the widespread use of torture in Turkey and a “culture of impunity” allowing the authorities to escape accountability while the courts disregarded medical evidence of torture. (See “Amnesty International report on Turkey: failure to punish perpetrators of torture”)

Recent statistics show that the number of cases of torture and mistreatment in Turkey increased almost 100 percent in 2007 compared to the previous year. In August, Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin stated that 4,719 individuals, including 471 children, had faced “torture,” “excessive torture,” and “excessive violence” in 2006 and 2007.

Human rights organisations believe that the number of people subjected to torture is as much as three of four times higher than official figures indicate. These figures cover only the number of individuals who issue complaints of torture to judicial bodies. Unsurprisingly, many victims refrain from undertaking complaints because they fear they may be punished a second time.

Even as he acknowledged thousands of torture cases, Justice Minister Sahin insisted, “If anyone says there is systematic torture in Turkish prisons, I will deny it completely.”

This declaration underscored the cynical character of Sahin’s recent apology to Ceber’s family and relatives “on behalf of my government and the state.” The minister promised that anyone responsible for torture would be punished, and announced that 19 prison personnel “who might have responsibilities in his death” have been suspended pending an investigation. “I am pushing this ahead with a high sensitivity, the number [of suspensions] could rise as the investigation widens. I am very sorry that such an incident was allowed to happen in Turkey at such a time,” he declared.

The rare government apology is aimed at quelling widespread public outrage at the latest death in custody.

Torture has long been one of the central instruments of repression utilised by the Turkish state against those identified as potential threats or opponents. Amnesty International noted: “The 1980 [military] coup was accompanied by the detention of one million people, many of whom were tortured and died in police custody, were forcibly disappeared or tried in unfair proceedings. The mass violations of human rights in the mainly Kurdish-populated southeast and eastern regions of Turkey in the 1990s took the form of enforced disappearances and killings by unknown perpetrators which the state authorities showed no willingness to solve, and the forcible eviction of around one million villagers when villages were evacuated and destroyed by the security forces during the conflict with separatist armed groups.”

Police violence has increased in recent years, particularly since the Islamist AKP (Justice and Development Party) government passed the 2007 Law on Police Duties and Authorities. The World Socialist Web Site anticipated the effect of this repressive legislation at the time it was implemented: “On June 2, the Turkish parliament, under the pressure of the ongoing militarintervention, approved in great haste a bill that would increase the powers of the police considerably. The new bill gives vast powers to security forces…. Under such conditions, one can expect to see a sharp rise in torture, other ill-treatment, killings and enforced disappearances in Turkey.”

When this repressive legislation was passed, human rights organisations have repeatedly protested to the AKP government about incidents of torture, deaths in detention and extra-judicial killings. But the government, which has appointed Islamist sympathisers to virtually all administrative posts within the police apparatus, has failed to take any action. This clearly demonstrates that the Islamists are no less averse to utilising state repression and torture than are their military-aligned “secular” rivals within the Turkish ruling elite.
12. Iraqi Christians Flee Mosul Violence

American Military Officials Believe al Qaeda Militants Are Behind the Attacks

Ali Al-Mashakheel
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 16, 2008

About 1,700 Iraqi Christian families have now fled their homes after a campaign to displace them in the city of Mosul started about two weeks ago.
Authorities said 11 Christians have been killed and at least five homes have been blown up since the terror began.
American military officials believe al Qaeda militants are behind the attacks.
One refugee, who was too afraid to give his name, told ABC News he fled nearly two weeks ago: “A good friend of mine was shot to death inside his own pharmacy, so we ran from our house early the next morning, taking our two infant children. My wife and I were weeping in sadness to leave our home.”
“It is only 10 days and I miss every single brick of my house,” he said.
Text massages, leaflets and e-mails were sent to Christian families, ordering them to leave their homes under penalty of death.
Shamuel Shlaimoon, a Christian official in Mosul from the Democratic Assyrian movement, told ABC News that of the 6,000 Christian families living in the city, “540 families have fled to Telkef, in northern Mosul province, 1,162 families have gone to Hamdanya, on the eastern outskirts of Mosul city and some have even fled as far as Baghdad.”
“Not one Christian family has yet returned home,” Shlaimoon said. “They won’t even allow our own party officials to photograph them because they are afraid if they ever return they might be harmed.”
According to a press release from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s office, 1,000 police officers were sent to the area to protect Christian neighborhoods and churches, and to put an end to the persecution.
Aid organizations are also sending food, water and blankets to help displaced families.
U.S. Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, spokesman for Multi-National Forces in Iraq, characterized the oppression as a classic al Qaeda tactic: “This is routine work for al Qaeda in Iraq,” he said.
However, a Sunni member of Iraq’s parliament who represents a Mosul constituency disagrees.
Usama al Nujaifi, with the Iraqiya List, has accused Iraqi Kurds of carrying out the displacement campaign.
Christians and other religious minorities have frequently been targeted by Islamic extremists since the 2003 U.S. invasion, forcing tens of thousands to flee Iraq, although attacks slowed with a nationwide decline in violence.
13. Iraq: Journalist shot dead as Christians flee Mosul

A Kurdish journalist was shot dead in the northern city of Kirkuk, Iraqi police said. A New York-based journalists’ group said Saturday it was the 136th killing of a reporter since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq five years ago.
According to the AP, LatIf Fatih Faraj, head of Kirkuk’s journalist union, conveyed Ahmed was 28 and unmarried. He said Ahmed worked with several media stations including Iraqiya TV and a television station sponsored by a Kurdish political party.
Meanwhile, an upswing in attacks against Christians in Mosul has forced 500 families to flee in the last week and seek shelter at churches, monasteries and relatives’ homes, the governor of northern Iraq’s Ninevah province said Saturday. Duraid Mohammed Kashmoula estimated about 3,000 people have fled the city in what he called a “major displacement.”
So far this month, police in Mosul have reported finding the bullet-riddled bodies of seven Christians killed in separate attacks, the latest a day laborer found on Wednesday. According to Kashmoula, provincial security officials were meeting with Christian leaders to protect the community “from the terrorists, the killers.”
14. Israel expects U.S.-Iran talks under Obama

By Barak Ravid

Israel expects the U.S. to initiate direct talks with Tehran if Senator Barack Obama is elected president, in which case a critical Israeli interest would be to condition any talks between the West and Iran on halting uranium enrichment, according to a senior government source.
The source said discussions have been underway for months between Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the Atomic Energy Commission, the National Security Council, the Mossad, the Defense Ministry and academic experts. The significance of the discussions is that they were coordinated by the foreign minister and Kadima chairwoman, prime minister-designate Tzipi Livni.
The discussions studied a number of scenarios between Iran and the West. According to one, following an Obama win, the new president will start a dialogue with Iran to pressure it to stop its nuclear program. Obama said in his first debate with Senator John McCain that the U.S. had to enter tough direct talks with the Iranians, and that attempts to isolate Tehran only speed up its progress toward nuclearization.
Israel has no knowledge at present that Obama intends to present pre-conditions to dialogue with the Iranians, which is of great concern to Jerusalem.
According to another scenario, after the U.S. elections, and perhaps even before them, Iran would announce its agreement to the plan for a way forward proposed by the six powers a few months ago. According to the plan, uranium enrichment and sanctions would end simultaneously and talks would begin within 45 days on complete suspension of enrichment in exchange for a package of incentives from the West. A senior government source who took part in the discussions said: “The evaluation in Israel is that these two scenarios are possible in the next six months.” The source said that in the course of strategic planning it was made clear that “Israel would have to avoid a situation in which the international community entered into dialogue and real negotiations with Iran while giving up the condition of stopping enrichment, and that this had to be emphasized to the six powers.”
Ahead of the annual evaluation by the Foreign Ministry held two weeks ago, a document was written on the subject of the scenarios. According to Channel 10, the document was not presented to a wide forum because of concern over leaks that would compromise international efforts against Iran.
Meanwhile, over the past two months the Foreign Ministry has put together a four-pronged plan for a new diplomatic campaign against Iran. The plan is intended to solve a series of conflicts and tensions between various functionaries in the Foreign Ministry that have impaired action vis-a-vis Iran.
The plan divides activities in Iran into four teams that will advise Israeli diplomatic missions worldwide. The team charged with diplomatic action against the nuclearization of Iran will consist primarily of personnel from the strategic wing of the Foreign Ministry and will cooperate with other bodies in the defense establishment. It will focus on increasing international pressure on Iran.
The team tasked with Iran’s economic isolation will discuss divesting from Iran, cancelling deals, particularly on energy, boycotting Iranian banks and increasing monitoring of Iranian money in foreign banks. Another team will work to isolate Tehran in areas other than the nuclear plan, highlighting issues of human rights, Iranian support for terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and organizing rallies during visits by senior Iranian officials.
A fourth team will deal with issues of public diplomacy – writing articles in leading newspapers around the world, conducting press briefings, engaging in public relations efforts against the Iranian regime on university campuses, and disseminating intelligence against Iran in the media.
15. Iran: Russia to ship nuke plant supplies

18 October 2008
United Press International

TEHRAN, Oct. 17 (UPI) — Russia will ship nearly 1,000 tons of supplies to the Iranian city of Bushehr to help build a nuclear power plant, an Iranian official said Friday.
Iranian Atomic Energy Organization deputy chief Ahmad Fayaz Bakhsh said that the impending equipment delivery by Russia is part of an agreement reached between the two countries, RIA Novosti reported.
The $1 billion Bushehr nuclear power plant is part of a 1995 agreement between Russia and Iran regarding the proposed site in the southern Iranian city.
Russian nuclear power chief Sergei Kiriyenko said in June he expected construction on the nuclear power site to begin in the fall.
Iranian officials expect the nuclear site to be commissioned early next year, but RIA Novosti said the power plant will be monitored by the United Nations as part of a standing nuclear agreement.