Archive for October, 2009

WOMEN IN TURKISH POLITICS

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 29, 2009 by Mizgîn
“We take action both for the woman raped in Istanbul or the woman stoned to death for adultery in Iran. But this is not enough. For this is not simply women’s problem, the source of this politics is the male mentality.”
~ Sebahat Tuncel.

Hürriyet’s English news is moaning over the lack of women politicians in Turkey:

The lack of political representation for Turkish women is the heaviest factor dragging on Turkey’s quest for gender equality, according to a global index that puts the country in 129th place out of 134.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2009 comes as a disappointment, with Turkey falling two places compared to last year’s ranking.

For a country whose NGOs, women’s groups and government are constantly launching initiatives in an attempt to close the gap, the poor ranking shows that Turkey lags desperately behind due to its lack of political empowerment and participation of women in Parliament.

The article quotes an AKP female parliamentarian, Özlem Türköne, and some other non-governmental Turkish women, but it completely ignores the one party with the largest number of women politicians for its size in Turkey: the DTP.

In the local elections of 29 March, DTP’s women mayors took 14 cities (See: http://www.firatnews.com/index.php?rupel=nuce&nuceID=5302 ) and it has 8 women parliamentarians: Ayla Akad Ata, Aysel Tuğluk, Gülten Kışanak, Pervin Buldan, Emine Ayna, Sevahir Bayındır, Fatma Kurtulan, and Sebahat Tuncel. Why did the Horrible Hürriyet ignore these women politicians? Was it because they’re Kurds?

What does this say about the differences between Kurdish men and Turkish men, if so many Kurdish women are able to run for public office and and succeed? Moreover, what does this say about the influence of the PKK’s emphasis on gender equality on the Kurdish people?

Part of the reason for the success of Kurdish women politicians in Turkey is the fact that the DTP has a quota for women:

Gabriela Cretu (PES, RO) asked which Turkish political parties supported women’s rights most. In reply, Yesim Arat pointed to the Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), which has a quota for women and thus more elected women politicians than in “developed” regions of Turkey.

The idea of a quota for all Turkish parties was not addressed at all by the Horrible Hürriyet, even though the DTP parliamentarians have made proposals to impose a 40% quota for women on political parties in Turkey.

Of course the situation of Kurdish women in Turkey is still difficult. Many families still forbid girls from going to school, which is an unacceptable situation, as is the reality of “honor” suicides or “honor” murder. Living situations in the villages continues to be extremely difficult for women. Still, the Kurdish women politicians are proof that good education for girls can make a huge difference for all Kurdish women.

And I’m willing to bet that all of our women politicians had parents that supported and, perhaps, sacrificed for their educations. Not only are these women the models for all Kurdish girls, but their parents are the models for all Kurdish parents.

In the meantime, a Turkish judge has convicted Aysel Tuğluk for “spread[ing] the propaganda of a terrorist organization” for a speech she gave in 2006, in which she praised the signature campaign for Öcalan. Tuğluk’s lawyer will be preparing an appeal.

SIBEL EDMONDS LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 28, 2009 by Mizgîn
“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”
~ Thomas Paine.

Congratulations to Sibel Edmonds for launching her new website today. It’s called Boiling Frogs: Home of the Irate Minority. With this website, she is expanding her horizons:

For the last few months I have been either in meetings or on the phone with many veteran investigative journalists and producers. We’ve been talking about the current sorry state of our media. We’ve been discussing the lack of bold and independent investigative reports and exposés. We’ve been sharing our views on ways to do something about it. We’ve been talking business: How can we collaborate and form a venue where we can present some of the significant stories, cases, news, and editorials that have been covered up, blacked out, or simply designated as radioactive topics too hot to touch?

[ . . . ]

After months of these discussions I decided to stop the ‘talk & complain’ cycle, and come up with an idea, a tangible objective, and a goal to follow and move (hopefully forward!) towards; to actually do something about it. At least try to do something about it. And with this came the decision to get this website designed and made functional, have some of these well-respected journalists and others come on board in support of this project, make arrangements to offer my Podcast Interview Series more frequently, and work on other ingredients – which you will hear more about once we are up and operational.

[ . . . ]

This project, these objectives, can only be accomplished with your support. Your voices, your ideas, and your suggestions in the comment section are all needed in order to make this site truly rich, informative, and effective; so please go ahead and register, and become a member of our ‘irate minority club.’ Your active participation in getting our information and messages out, and in bringing others here in search of a home for the irate minority, is the only way to build up our numbers, thus make our collective voices audible. And only through you contributions can I:

Purchase and publish investigative news stories and exposés
Bring to you in-depth commercial free Podcast interviews
Present independent editorials and analyses
Showcase original editorial cartoons
Facilitate lively discussions
Maintain and Manage this Website

I cannot do this without you. Going with foundational and organizational funding always comes with many strings attached. And that would defeat our purpose here. Reaching out to large corporations comes with its own baggage, and that too would defeat my purpose. That leaves me and you.

Please join me here at ‘Boiling Frogs Post,’ home of the irate minority, and please contribute what you can in order to make these goals a reality. Many thanks for all you do.

So go on over there. Take a look around. Lend whatever support you’re able to lend. You won’t regret it.

Last Friday Sibel posted her most recent podcast with Peter B. Collins, which was an interview with former FBI counter-intelligence officer John Cole.

Yesterday, Sibel and John Cole appeared in a joint interview with Scott Horton. They discuss Central Asia, counter-intelligence investigations into Israeli activity in the US, and all the usual suspects.

I highly recommend those interviews, but be warned: If you listen, you may end up becoming one of the irate minority.

Posted in Uncategorized on October 26, 2009 by Mizgîn
“Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.”
~ W. B. Yeats

Here’s the next movie I must see:

It’s about a Turkish teacher’s first year in a Kurdish village. It’s Turkish title is İki Dil Bir Bavul (Two Languages One Suitcase) but it looks like it will have a different name for English audiences: On The Way To School. I prefer the Turkish title.

Ece Temelkuran of Milliyet had this to say after seeing the film, which debuted in Turkey last Friday:

At first glance the movie tells how a Kurdish child grows, how he learns Turkish, how he is crushed, how he tries to stand up.

Eskiköy and Doğan made a movie like cotton. They opened the door to the lives of Kurdish children, who have not anything to play with but only rocks, and who start to live [like a football game] defeated 5 to 0 . . . If you look very carefully, this movie whispers why these children go to the mountains when they grow up. At the end of the movie, such a story of the people comes out that you want to press this movie to your heart.

The website for the film is here.

There is information about the film available in English, and here’s the synopsis from the film’s Press Kit:

The young Turkish teacher Emre Aydin has been appointed by the government to go teach at a school in a remote and impoverished Kurdish village. He arrives in the village at the beginning of the school year to a few unpleasant surprises. There’s no running water in the village and the students don’t show up for class. ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL follows Aydin during the entire academic year. The camera observes him and his students in a fly-on-the-wall kind of way, and we can see how tough an assignment it is for Aydin to teach here. Many families only speak Kurdish at home, so learning Turkish isn’t only hard for the kids, but it’s also a sensitive matter as far as the strained relations between Kurds and the Turkish state are concerned. Aydin feels like a foreigner in his own country, but he’s determined to accomplish the task at hand. For the most part, he’s a friendly and patient instructor, but when students write Kurdish words in their notebooks, he loses his cool and kicks them all out of class. He proceeds to grab his cell phone and call home, where his mother lovingly gives him her ear.

From an interview with the film makers, Özgür Doğan and Orhan Eskiköy:

BD: In On the Way to School is Emre the teacher, a hero or an anti-hero?

Eskikoy: “He’s just an average sort of guy. We chose him because he’s the kind of person who is very open with his feelings. The way he walks around talking to himself at times is the way he is. We didn’t need to interview him to be able to show that he didn’t want to be there and that he felt alone in the village. Or to see how the lack of communcation between him and the villagers eventually led him to become fed up with teaching them.”

[ . . . ]

BD: The children come across in a very innocent way. They show no self-consciousness about being filmed. How did you achieve this?

Dogan: “One reason is that for the children the teacher is the absolute authority. So when he is in the room all of their attention is focused on him and we are of no importance. They also have had little contact with cameras and media.

BD: Why did you want to make this film:

Eskikoy: “We were curious about Kurdish children and wanted to understand what they are going through. Telling their story is a way for us to better understand them and get others to understand their situation. There are about eleven to fifteen million Kurds in Turkey today. They don’t have the right to be educated in their language, no TV stations or school of their own. Their culture is completely unrecognized.”

There’s more in Zaman:

The film is a simple and profound piece of work that depicts the one-year journey of the 20-something primary school teacher Emre Aydın from the western city of Denizli who has been appointed to teach in southeastern Urfa’s remote Kurdish village of Demirci. Here’s the catch: Aydın, who cannot speak Kurdish, will have to teach Turkish to a classroom of kids who do not speak a word of the state’s official language. After all, the language spoken in their homes is Kurdish, although most of the adults can speak Turkish. Aydın, being the well-intentioned epitome of the image the republic has set for teachers since its foundation, patiently struggles to bring “civilization” to the provinces by means of primarily teaching the official Turkish language. God knows Aydın tries, and the kids try (they truly love and respect their teacher) but, much like the country’s current policy in dealing with the Kurdish populace, the school year ends without much success. But how could it not? Beyond the fact that the kids speak Kurdish amongst themselves, their lives are limited in the fields of a desolate village prone to constant power cuts where water is a luxury. Except for the presence of the teacher, the state has forgotten them.

When Zaman interviewed Doğan and Eskiköy, it asked what the experience was like for them to film in the Kurdish region since the experience for the teacher was extremely frustrating. Eskiköy answers:

Since Özgür knows the region a lot better than I do, he wasn’t surprised. As for me, it was different and slightly shocking, since the Kurdish life that I had envisaged was not what I later saw.

Özgür Doğan knows the region better because he is a Kurd from the region.

And that’s why, when he received the award for the Best First Film at the 46th International Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, Özgür Doğan said “I am receiving this award in memory of Ceylan Önkol, who was not able to learn her second language because she was killed by a bomb. Gelek Sipas.” Doğan’s acceptance can be viewed at CNNTürk, at the 58 second mark.

Among its other awards, İki Dil Bir Bavul (On the Way to School) received the Grand Jury Yılmaz Güney Prize at the Adana Golden Boll Film Festival.

FRIDAY NOTES

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 24, 2009 by Mizgîn
“One joy shatters a hundred griefs.”
~ Chinese proverb.

Let me catch up with some things that I have wanted to post here this week but have not had the chance to do.

Firstly, thanks very much to the heval who pointed out to me that there is a series of twenty-one videos of the Peace and Democracy Groups in Diyarbakır on Youtube which were taken from Roj TV. When you watch these videos you will notice the celebratory mood of the people, something that has received intense criticism in Turkish media.

With that in mind, one should ask why these people are celebrating. Is it because this is a victory for PKK? In a way it is, but that’s not the primary motivation for the celebration. Do the people celebrate because they are finally reunited with guerrilla family members that they never thought they’d see again? For some of these people, that is certainly the reason. They are seeing fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, and uncles that they never dreamed they’d see again. Every guerrilla goes to the mountains with the realization that they will not be coming back. Either they will die in the mountains or they will live out the rest of their lives there.

But the reunification of eight guerrillas with their families does not explain why ten thousand people descended on Silopi in joy, or why one hundred thousand showed up to greet the peace groups in Diyarbakır. So this cannot be the primary motivation for celebration either.

The primary motivation for the rejoicing we have witnessed in the last few days is that all of these people believe they can see the faint light that heralds the end of the long, dark tunnel of war. If there are tears being shed during these celebrations, they are not the tears of victory; they are tears of joy at the prospect of peace.

This is something that is not even remotely fathomed in Western Turkey because the people there–with rare exception–have no idea what has happened in The Southeast for the last twenty-five years. They have no inkling of the level of destruction that has taken place, whether that destruction has been physical or psychological. They have no idea of the level of poverty that still exists. They have no idea of the numbers of the missing, or the tortured, or the displaced. They have no idea . . .

Anyway . . . enough of that for now because I hate crying.

Next, Military.com ran a feature earlier this week on Sibel Edmonds and her claims of espionage at the Department of Defense. What’s unique about this piece is that the author managed to get statements from some of the worst vermin that Sibel has named. Here’s something from the Prince of Darkness himself:

“This woman is a nutcase. Certifiable,” [Neocon extraordinaire Richard] Perle said. “She makes wild accusations. She was fired from her job, and has been on a vendetta against … imagined demons ever since.”

There’s also something from the guy General Tommy Franks called “the dumbest fucking guy on the planet”:

[Doug] Feith, in an email to Military.com, said: “What I’ve read on the Internet about Ms. Edmonds’s claims about me is wildly false and bizarre.”

The only one who couldn’t–or wouldn’t–speak for himself was Mr. Susurluk, Marc Grossman:

Robert S. Tyrer, co-president of The Cohen Group, a Washington lobbying firm where Grossman is now a vice chairman, told Military.com in an email that Edmonds’ allegations against the former ambassador “are completely untrue and ludicrous.”

Okay. If these three little roaches think that Sibel Edmonds’ claims are “completely untrue”, “wildly false and bizarre”, or that she “makes wild accusations”, why don’t they bring suit for defamation? Why don’t they bring suit against all the publications who’ve printed Sibel’s story or against those media that have interviewed her for television or radio? And that seems to be the general argument in the comments to The Brad Blog’s report on Military.com’s piece.

Thirdly, Luke Rosiak, who’s been documenting the Turkish lobby for the Sunlight Foundation, notes that Robert Wexler (D-FL) has suddenly decided to abandon his seat in Congress to take a job at a little-known pro-Israeli think-tank. What’s interesting about Rosiak’s piece is that he discusses the sad state of Wexler’s financial affairs. What links Wexler to the Turkish lobby is the fact that he was a founder and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on US-Turkish Relations. One year from now we should definitely expect to see Wexler take a nice job working for the Government of Turkey as a lobbyist and–POOF!!–watch his financial woes disappear forever!

“Happy days are here again . . . “

Finally, from a friend in Diyarbakir, the DTP’s Union of Southeast Anatolian Municipalities has produced a tourist book for North Kurdistan which you can view at their website. If you click on the main photos for each city, you will be able to download a .pdf file which contains lots of photos of the cities and their surrounding areas as well as the history and culture of each region. The books are available in both Turkish and English and if you’re going to the region, you should definitely read through the available files. I mean, there are tons more information about The Southeast in this book than in any generic travel book of Turkey that I’ve seen.

I have also posted a link to the book in the right margin under “Kurdish Cities”.

WHO IS SUPPORTING THE PKK’S PEACE GROUPS?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 22, 2009 by Mizgîn
“The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.”
~ George Bernard Shaw.

The Federation of [Turkish] Martyrs’ Families isn’t happy that there may be a political solution to the Kurdish situation:

[President of the Federation of Martyrs’ Families Hamit] Köse compared the reception of the PKK envoys to a funeral that made the martyrs turn in their graves. He said they were received with open arms, “without regretting the terror and the murders.”

Ayşe Çelik, the mother of a martyr, questioned the fairness of the amnesty. “Bring back our children like you are bringing them [PKK members] back from the mountains,” she said. “You can’t, because our children are buried in the ground.”

Aside from the fact that these ghouls would prefer to see more people on both sides die, let’s consider a few things here. What is their real beef?

A conservative number of dead from the Dirty War in The Southeast is 40,000. Let’s go along with the claim that 6,000 of those dead were TSK and, for the sake of argument, let’s say that those 6,000 were all ethnic Turks–although we know they all weren’t. That means that 34,000 of the dead in our conservative estimate were Kurds.

Again, let’s review the math: 6,000 TSK “are buried in the ground”, to quote Ayşe Çelik and 34,000 Kurds “are buried in the ground”.

Who has suffered more?

Maybe the Federation of Martyrs’ Families is upset about the forcible displacement of Turkish citizens? How many Turkish citizens were forcibly displaced by TSK in Western Turkey? None. How many Turkish citizens were forcibly displace by TSK in The Southeast? At least 2,000,000.

Who has suffered more?

On the other hand, it could be that the Federation of Martyrs’ Families has a problem with economic disparities? Western Turkey has an unemployment rate of 25 – 30%. What’s the rate in The Southeast? Sixty to seventy percent.

Who is suffering more? Who longs for peace more?

Of course, it’s only fair to mention that not all martyrs’ families associations are opposed to the idea of the Kurdish initiative or the PKK’s peace groups sent from Kandil, Maxmur, or the one that will soon arrive from Europe.

The comparison here of the reactions of these organizations to the events of the last few days seems to be consistent with the initial reactions of the population. On the day the peace groups arrived from Kandil and Maxmur, Turkish TV news channels sought the reaction of the “man” on the street. It appeared that about half were supportive of the arrival of the peace groups while the other half opposed. I have seen no numbers on the matter so, at this point, these are my observations of what has gone on in Turkish media.

It would also appear that those who are braying the most against the arrival of the peace groups are the two “opposition” party jackasses–Baykal and Bahçeli.

What may be more significant, however, are two other things I’ve noticed about Turkish media in this last week:

1. At this point, the paşas have been absolutely silent on the matter. There has not even been so much as a hint of an e-coup; there have been no mysterious postings of opposition statements on the website of the Turkish general staff.

2. According to Milliyet, Emre Taner’s position as the head of MİT has been extended again, this time until May 2010.

For those having difficulty reading between the lines, here’s something from June 2009:

Avni Özgürel of daily Radikal writes that Gül’s announcement is based on a report by Emre Taner, the Director of the Turkish Intelligence Service (MIT), which proposes an administrative reform for partial devolution of power to the regional/local authorities, finding an appropriate way of accommodating the guerrillas coming down from the mountains, a formula for the PKK leadership’s accommodation and an amendment in the conditions of imprisonment of Abdullah Öcalan. This proposal, Özgürel asserts, has been agreed upon in principle by all the participants of the National Security Council (MGK), including, most remarkably, the military’s high command.

If this attempt at a solution actually goes through this time, given the silence of the paşas and the extension of Taner’s tenure as MİT chief, the jackasses are screwed. But, seeing is believing, as they say, so let us see what will happen.

WELCOMING THE PEACE AND DEMOCRACY GROUP IN SILOPI

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 20, 2009 by Mizgîn
“Some of us, on the other hand, opted to take active part in the Kurdish Freedom Struggle and remained in the mountains for years under immensely difficult conditions in order to protect an honourable identity. This was in the face of an otherwise unsolvable Kurdish question, with inequalities in the living conditions of Kurds and injustices lived by the Kurds. This became our struggle for our existence – for a democratic, equal and freedom-based solution.”
~ Letter of the Peace and Democracy Group from Maxmur and Kandil.

Here are some more photos from Silopi showing the welcome that the Kurdish people give their returning sons and daughters:


Additional photos can be found at http://www.firatnews.com/gallery/index.php?rupel=galeri&gid=2035

The Kurdish people love their guerrillas!

Hevallo has posted the letter that the Peace and Democracy Group has brought for the Turkish government, so go take a look at that.

In the meantime, stand by . . .

FIREWORKS IN SILOPI

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 19, 2009 by Mizgîn
“If the government takes one step, PKK will take ten steps.”
~ Ahmet Türk.

There were fireworks in Silopi on Monday night as thousands of people crowded around the Habur border crossing to stand watch over the processing of the Kandil and Maxmur peace delegations sent to Turkey by the PKK. The eight members of the Kandil delegation are guerrillas. They are: Hamiyet Dinçer of Başkale, Elif Uludağ of Pazarcık/Maraş, Hüseyin İpek of Ömerli/Mardin, M. Şerif Gençdağ of Siverek, Mustafa Ayhan, Vilayet Yakut of Diyarbakır, Lütfü Taş of Kığı/Bingöl, and Gülbahar Çiçekçi of Kığı /Bingöl.

So far, from Ozgür Gündem:

The Processing of the Peace Groups Are Being Done at the Border Garrison

The processing of 34 members of the Peace and Democracy Groups who came to the Habur border by [order of] the Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan is being done in the garrison at the border. After crossing into Turkey, they have been taken to the Habur Border Jandarma Garrison. While they are being processed, they are expected to give statements to prosecutors.

Just now, 24 Haber reported that 29 of the 34 members of the Maxmur and Kandil groups have been cleared to leave freely and we are awaiting a judgement on the remaining 5 members. Four prosecutors and one judge were sent to the Habur Border Jandarma Garrison to clear the members of the groups to enter Turkey and thirty-four lawyers arrived to represent the groups’ members.

Earlier, on a replay of CNN Türk’s Beş N Bir K, Cuneyt Özdemir read the nine demands of PKK and his guest commented favorably on them. Özdemir then remarked that it was amazing that these people had just arrived from the mountains and that, if everything went smoothly, tomorrow they’d present their demands in the TBMM. Özdemir’s guest–whose name I never got due to a frantic surfing through channels–replied that if the guerrillas go to the TBMM tomorrow to present their nine points, it means that PKK is serious about a democratic solution and an end to the conflict.

At this moment, the morning talking heads on Turkish media are reading the newspapers . . .

Here’s a rough breakdown of PKK’s demands:

1. Öcalan’s road map for the peaceful and democratic solution of the Kurdish Question must be given to the addressees.

2. Ending the military and political operations and opening up a peaceful, democratic, and political solution to the Kurdish question.

3. As a part of Turkey’s democratic nation, living under free and equal conditions on the basis of our Kurdish people’s identity, assured by the constitution.

4. Using our Kurdish mother tongue everywhere and freely; Improving it and living our geography, culture, and historical values in our mother tongue.

5. Naming, educating, and raising our children in Kurdish.

6. As Kurdish people, living our culture, art, and literature freely, improving them and protecting them.

7. Improving our democratic social organization with our identity, doing politics and expressing ourselves freely.

8. Living in Kurdistan’s villages, towns, and cities away from the pressures of village guards, police, and “Special Teams”; Living there with sufficient possibilities {i.e. infrastructure] and in security.

9. Having a new civil democratic constitution for the democratization of Turkey.

Below are some photos of the Kandil group, from http://www.firatnews.com/gallery/index.php?rupel=galeri&gid=2026




Now ask yourselves: Do you see Hamas taking steps like this, or Al-Qaeda, or the Taliban? Did you see the LTTE take steps like this? And then you should ask yourselves: Who, then, are the “terrorists”?

Make no mistake: This has nothing to do with Article 221 of the Turkish Penal Code–the Repentance Law. There is no one here who will claim the Repentance Law because there’s nothing to repent. In fact, these guerrillas have rejected Article 221 for themselves.

Nor let anyone make the mistake of assuming that the Kandil Peace and Democracy Group has made this trip from a position of weakness. Some 400 new guerrillas have joined PKK in the last three months. There is no weakness of arms or of morale here.

It’s time for the Ankara regime to shit or get off the pot on doing its part to create a just and honorable solution to this 25-year-old conflict.

At this moment, CNN Türk is reporting that five members of the Kandil group may be arrested and they are trying to decide if the judge at the Habur Border Jandarma Garrison can make any decision on those arrests or if these five guerrillas will have to be taken to Diyarbakır.

Stay tuned.