Archive for the Uncategorized Category

OPPRESSION: CONTINUED . . .

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 1, 2009 by Mizgîn
“A desire to resist oppression is implanted in the nature of man.”
~ Tacitus.

Having mentioned the murder of Kurds in Iran by the mullahs yesterday, it’s rather coincidental that the following was in my inbox today:

I am a twenty-seven year Kurdish woman who has been sentenced to death by the Iranian Judiciary authority for my political activities. After I was given death sentence last year I appealed and my case was reviewed by the Iranian High Court. The High Court sustained the lower court’s decision.

I am under constant torture and humiliation. I was put on an orchestrated trial without a legal representation and after a few minutes I was sentenced to death. I don’t have a lawyer to defend me. The Court only dedicated a few minutes to my case. The Court told me that I was an “Enemy of God,” and in a short period of time all enemies of God would be hanged. All the judges in my trial voted for my execution.

I asked the Judge if I could say good-bye to my mother. He told me “shut up.” The Judge rejected my appeal and refused to let me to see my mother. Since I cannot defend myself, I ask all advocates and activists of human/women’s rights to campaign on my behalf and support me. I need your help.

Zaynab Jalalian

Zaynab’s crime? She’s a Kurd.

You can see the document at the KNCNA website, under the homepage heading “Documents and letters”.

I wanted to point out that last week PRI’s The World program aired a segment on The Forbidden Letters in Turkey. Mahmut Alınak–I love this guy–was quoted. A TSK’er insisted that people who use The Forbidden Letters should be imprisoned. Of course, the TSK’er should logically include himself among the imprisoned, if we consider a defense that Diyarbakır’s mayor, Osman Baydemir, used in a recent court case against him for using The Forbidden W:

[Murharrem] Erbey [of the Diyarbakır İHD] said his client [Osman Baydemir] asked everyone, “Do you log onto the justice ministry’s website?” The judge and the prosecutors said yes. Then he asked “What do you type when you go there?” The answer was something like “www dot gov dot TR. Then the mayor said, “Aren’t you breaking the law? Every time you type W three times and you go to the site hundreds of times a day. But when W is used in the Kurdish context it’s a crime.”

Touché, Heval Osman!

You can visit the site and read the transcript of the segment or listen to it via mp3.

Let me add that if the nationalists want to be consistent about The Forbidden Letters, some of the Alparen Ocakları types need to go around knocking The Forbidden W off the BMW’s of the elites.

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HYPOCRISY AND MURDER

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 30, 2009 by Mizgîn
“I have never been afraid of death, even now that I feel it closest to me. I can sense it and I’m familiar with it, for it is an old acquaintance of this land and this people.”
~ Ehsan Fattahian.

Awww . . . Boo-Hooo-Hooooo! The mullahtocracy has seized Shirin Ebadi’s Nobel prize medal:

Iran has confiscated the Nobel peace medal and diploma of Shirin Ebadi, the human rights lawyer who is one of the hardline regime’s most outspoken critics. Her bank account has also been frozen on the pretext that she owes almost £250,000 in tax.

[ . . . ]

In 2003 Dr Ebadi became the first Iranian and first Muslim woman to win the peace prize, which was awarded for her campaign for democracy and human rights. She was abroad during President Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in June and has spent the past five months travelling the world to draw attention to the regime’s alleged electoral fraud and suppression of the opposition. “I am effectively in exile,” she said recently.

She revealed the loss of her Nobel medal in an interview on Radio Farda, a US-backed Persian language station. She said that the regime had frozen her bank accounts and pension, as well as those of her husband, who is still in Tehran. She continued: “Even my Nobel and Légion d’honneur medals, my Freedom of Speech ring and other prizes, which were in my husband’s safe, have been confiscated.”

Too bad Ebadi is not Kurdish because, if she were, she would have lost a lot more than a medal given out to global elites:

According to several reports, Kurdish activist, Ehsan Fattahian, was executed today, November 11th 2009, in Iran. Ehsan was transferred to a solitary ward in Sanandaj prison late yesterday before being executed. Family members, friends and activists gathered outside the prison in protest of his execution. Despite numerous calls from human rights organizations and activists across the world, Ehsan’s sentence was carried out and he was executed.

Ehsan Fattahian was arrested in July 2008 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for his membership in a banned opposition group in Iran. During the appeals process, his sentence was changed by the provincial appeals court to execution for being an “enemy of God” for his activities. None of the activities that Ehsan was engaged in were proven to be violent or connected to any violence and despite reports of Ehsan’s undergoing brutal torture while in the custody of Iranian authorities, he refused to confess to the allegations against him that he helped carry arms or that he participated in an armed struggle. Furthermore, Ehsan’s new sentence was never subject to appeal as required by international law.

Then there’s the case of Farzad Kamangar:

Security agents arrested Mr. Kamangar around July 2006 in Tehran. Mr. Kamangar was held incommunicado for seven months, and even after that, contacts to his family were very limited; there have been none since the beginning of the Persian New Year, 21 March 2008. Being held incommunicado violates Principle 19 of the United Nations Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1988.

Mr. Kamangar has been denied access to his lawyer, before, during and after his trial, which violates Principles 17 and 18 of the Body of Principles, as well as Article 14 (3) (b) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the Islamic Republic of Iran ratified on 24 June 1975

While the charges against him have been changed in the course of his case, Mr. Kamangar has been denied any and all information concerning the case against him. This violates Article 9 (2) of ICCPR, as well as Principles 10 and 11 of the Body of Principles.

Evidence confirmed by multiple sources strongly suggests that Mr. Kamangar has been tortured during his detention.

Or the case of Zeynab Jalalian or Shirkuh Moarefi.

And where are all the great defenders of democracy, the same ones who became so agitated for the defense of democracy following the Iranian elections in July? Why have they not become just as agitated over the imprisonment, torture, and execution of Kurds under Iranian brutality? Why haven’t they twittered brutality that targets Kurds? Obama found the murder of Neda “heartbreaking” but where are his remarks about the Tehran regime’s unjust murder of innocent Kurds?

We must forget these hypocrites. Instead, let us remember the words of Ehsan Fattahian, written two days before his murder:

. . . [I]n my last visit with my prosecutor he admitted that the death sentence is unlawful, but for the second time they gave me the notice for carrying out the execution. Needless to say that this insistence on carrying a death sentence under any circumstance is the result of pressure from security and political forces from outside of the judiciary department. Said people look at life and death of political prisoners only from the point of view of their paychecks and political needs, nothing else matters to them other than their own goals, even if it is about the most fundamental right of other human beings, their right to live. Forget international laws, they completely disregard even their own laws and procedures.

But my last words: If in the minds of these rulers and oppressors my death will get rid of the “problem” called Kurdestan [the province], I should say, what an illusion. Neither my death nor the death of thousands like me will be remedy to this incurable pain and perhaps would even fuel this fire. Without a doubt, every death points to a new life.

Even as the rest of the world closes its eyes, we will never forget.

ŞEHÎD NAMIRIN!

UPDATES FROM DIYARBAKIR’S IHD OFFICE

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 5, 2009 by Mizgîn
“Today’s human rights violations are the causes of tomorrow’s conflicts.”
~ Mary Robinson.

Here are a couple of statements from the Diyarbakır IHD office. The first is an update on the human rights situation in the Kurdish region of Turkey:

PRESS STATEMENT

27 October 2009

(Give the Republic’s biggest project a chance)

Dear press members

Although we’ve seen partial advancements regarding democracy and human rights in Turkey in recent times, we can still say that there are serious problems concerning the exercise of basic rights and liberties. Two forms of power are needed for human rights to find life in a country; the first is the power of Democratic Public Opinion, and the second is the power of the law. If these two forms of power don’t exist in a given country we can’t mention human rights. When we look at practices in Turkey in recent years, it’s clear that there are very serious complications obstructing the exercise of each of these forms of power.

In the European Union progress report released on 13 October 2009, it says that Turkey has made progress in the areas of economic competition and statistical and scientific research, but that there’s a chequered picture in the areas of human rights and democracy.

According to the EU report, with respect to the primacy of human rights and democracy, the protection of minorities, civil and political rights, civil oversight of expenditures on security forces, reform of the constitution, freedom of assembly and protest, freedom of belief, reform of local administration, the independence of the country’s forensic medical foundation, the independence of the judiciary, children being punished with sentences of 25 years in prison, the use of languages other than Turkish, the right to unionize, the rights of disabled people, the Kurdish question, the Cyprus question, the question of cultural rights, the problem of novels and discrimination, in some areas we’re still witnessing serious fluctuations – that is, regression – instead of halts to violations.

Fourteen days after the 29 March 2009 local elections, a major operation was carried out against the Democratic Society Party (Demokratik Toplum Partisi – DTP). Three operations have been carried out against the party in the last six months. More than 1,000 people have been detained. Due to a judicial decision prohibiting access to files concerning the situation of the detained people, 450 DTP members and activists have remained under arrest for months without knowing what they’re being charged with. The principle and practice of being released pending trial is violated for DTP members and child victims of the Turkish Anti-Terror Law. There country’s prison population now exceeds 120,000. In the last four years, security forces have increased the use of disproportionate force against children and children’s deaths have increased as a result. In the latest EU progress report this matter is raised by mentioning police officers who have been “acquitted” after facing trial for “killing outside legitimate self-defence”.

In recent years the army’s repression and tutelage over politics, the judiciary, media and society have reached extraordinary dimensions. The military very frequently goes before the press and makes statements on all varieties of political issues. In the EU progress report it’s requested that the 1997 EMASYA secret Protocol on Security, Public Order and Assistance Units be terminated.

When we look at our table of confirmed violations in the East and Southeast Anatolia region, we can’t say that a heart-warming picture emerges. When we evaluate violations in the last nine months of the year 2009, we see an erratic picture. The number of lives lost in clashes has decreased compared to last year, but we’ve observed that these losses continue and that there’s been a sharp increase in extrajudicial killings as well as murders carried out by unknown perpetrators.

We’ve also seen that the number of people killed and injured by mines and stand-alone explosive articles has increased. A serious increase of complaints regarding torture and maltreatment has been seen again. An increase in incidences of interference in and beatings at social actions has been confirmed in the last nine months. The disproportionate use of force has been triggered by a failure to open sufficient inquiries against those who use excessive force, the abscence of anger control, and the forcing of security forces to work excessive overtime hours.

It seems that everything changed for the worse following the Prime Minister’s July 2005 action and greatly important speech on the Kurdish question in Diyarbakır, especially in 2008, when violations reached their highest levels. Violations decreased considerably in the first three months of 2009 and have continued to increase since April. At a time when a democratic solution for the Kurdish question is being debated, we’re curious as to why violations are increasing non-stop.

In recent years the government has introduced an extremely hardline approach to policy and matters related to children. Slapping children with sentences of between 10 and 25 years in prison due to their flashing of the ‘V’ for victory sign with their fingers or for throwing stones, the aquittal of those responsible for the death of Uğur Kaymaz, the 28 September killing of Ceylan Önköl with an artillery shell, and the fact that those responsible for the loss of 18 month-old Mehmet Uytun’s life – who died as a result of a gas bomb that was deployed as his mother was breastfeeding him on the balcony of their home in Cizre – still haven’t been found, has damaged the trust of the region’s people in the state and judiciary and increased mistrust between local people and the state. Why has there been a serious increase in children’s deaths? Why haven’t the perpetrators been tried following these deaths? What’s the explanation for the fact that 98% of judicial and administrative inquiries opened about security forces between 2003 and 2008 ended in their favor and that 2% ended with light punishments?

The increase in human rights abuses in recent times has been caused by intensified operations and clashes in northern Iraq and Turkey’s Eastern and Southeastern regions, the repression of peaceful and nonviolent social movements and political parties, and the growth of hardline nationalism.

We find the work the government’s doing concerning the ‘Democratic opening’ to be meaningful and positive. However, the rapid increase in human rights violations that this process has coincided with perturbs us. We don’t understand the extreme reaction that’s been shown to the return of those who came from Kandil and Mahmur. They returned with the goal of opening the clogged political process and were met with a peaceful gathering, without throwing a single stone, initiating any violent rallies or shouting anti-state slogans. We think that there needs to be an end to the speeches to the effect that after this, every word and every step taken must be taken within an approach that considers all of the emotions in Turkey, that those who are going to contribute to a solution must be ‘more careful’, and that ‘we’ll turn back, we’ll start from the beginning.’

If we turn away from a Democratic solution to the Kurdish Question – the Republic’s biggest project – our country will be brought back a hundred years, and if there’s a solution it’ll be the end of an era and we’ll move into a bright period. It’ll be brought closer to Europe. We’re either going to forget the pain of the past and open a new page or we’re going to dig new graves. Believing in everyone’s dream of peace, from now on we request that prejudices and the past be left aside, that work be done to stop the flow of blood, and that steps be taken mindful of the weight of every word and action.

With our respect,

Muharrem Erbey, Attorney at Law

Vice President of the Human Rights Association

President of the Diyarbakir Branch of the HRA

The second statement, below, is an IHD statement on the murder of Ceylan Önkol:

PRESS STATEMENT

13 October 2009

(Why aren’t those who killed Ceylan being investigated?)

On 28 September 2009 at 11:30, 12 year-old Ceylan Önkol lost her life as a result of being fired upon while tending sheep. The incident occured in Xambaz hamlet near Şenlik village in the Lice district of Diyarbakır province. A Human Rights Delegation drafted a report after visiting the village where the incident took place and gathering everyone’s statements. Ceylan’s mother, father, older brother and indeed every witness asserted that they had heard a humming and vooming-type sound that came from the direction of Tabantepe police station, followed by an explosion. Even this assertion implies that a mortar had been fired at that time. They didn’t know the exact type of weapon that was used, but the family identified the item as a mortar shell. But the type of artillery doesn’t change the identity of the perpetrators. The perpetrators are the ones who have these very special weapons.

The UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child was published in Turkey’s official gazete in 1994 and went into effect in the country the same year. The Convention’s sixth article states: ‘1. States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life. 2. States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.’ The state has to protect and safeguard children. The fact that perpetrators aren’t being tried in an active and effective way as the number of children’s deaths increases leaves us human rights defenders concerned.

In the criminal report it says that a mortar had been fired before the incident occured. But that contention can’t be used to absolve the suspects of responsibility for Ceylan’s death. Has even the most minor inquiry about the perpetrators been carried out up until now? What was the sound that was heard before the explosion, and why was it heard by everyone? Is the topic of the mortar that had been fired before being removed from the line of inquiry?

Do sounds like that emerge when mortar shells are tampered with while they’re on the ground? According to the witness statements, was there or was there not a humming and vooming sound after it was fired? How come the criminal report that wasn’t given to Serdar Çelebi and Keziban Yılmaz (the Önkol family’s lawyers and members of the Human Rights Association’s Steering Committee) by the Lice public prosecturor’s office was given to the entire press in a surreptitious way? We’re interested in the answers to these questions.

In this region, we’ve seen other incidents resulting from articles that resemble unexploded ordinance and remants of war being tampered with or hit with a rock in areas where there are children. We showed that such incidents resulted in the child’s hand being severed and her entire body wounded.

In conclusion, we’ve been told that this incident result from Ceylan hitting an unexploded shell with a farming tool that she was holding in her hand. The report prepared by the criminal investigation unit at Diyarbakır Metropolitan Police Headquarters was not objective, and when the case file comes to the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, we’re going to object as the Human Rights Association and as the family’s lawyers.

We’re going to request that research be done to determine whether or not it’s possible to ascertain that a bomb had been deployed or not by looking at the components of the case file.

Muharrem Erbey, Attorney at Law

Vice President of the Human Rights Association, President of the Diyarbakır branch of the HRA

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”.