Saturday, February 19, 2011

Thursday demo gives clerics chance to call for “justice” after “calm”

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Erbil, Feb. 19 (AKnews) – Preachers in their Friday sermons urged the government to enforce justice and equality following demonstrations in Sulaimaniyah, Kurdistan's second largest city, which left one killed and dozens injured.
On Thursday, dozens of people took to the streets to show solidarity with the Tunisian and Egyptian peoples but the peaceful demo turned into a violent clash with the security personnel of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) headquarter in the city when the protesters showered it with stones.
There were also reports that some of the protesters were armed and fired at the headquarters. Two of the building's guards were reportedly injured by the gunfire.
The protesters accused the government and the two ruling parties of corruption. Immediately after the clashes, the ruling parties said there was a hand behind what they termed "riots" in Sulaimaniyah, implicating the opposition group - Gorran.
Following the Sulaimaniyah clashes, the headquarters of Gorran in Erbil and the Soran district were set on fire by supporters of the KDP.
Gorran issued a statement on January 29 which called for the reformation of the government prompting security forces go on alert for any attack on government buildings. Observers say the statement has had great impact on destabilizing the region.
The preachers stressed in their Friday sermons that the people of Kurdistan have been able only after long years of suffering atrocities to establish the current government and assure security in the region, and therefore, all such acts that would annul the achievements and destabilizes the region should be avoided.
Mullah Mazhar, Imam of Qadir Bla mosque in Erbil, likened the situation, which he believed would destabilize the region, to a folk story where a man standing on the branch of a tree cuts the branch, falls and breaks his own back.
The preacher called on the people of Kurdistan to maintain order.
Mullah Idris, the Imam of the Rahma Mosque in Erbil, said the Kurdish region had many enemies and "we should not do what would impose a threat on the achievements."
But he also stressed that calm should be accompanied by "justice". "The Kurdistan Regional Government should take serious steps to fight oppression, enforce justice and provide services to the public."
On Friday the deputy leader of the KDP Nechirvan Barzani appeared in a press conference trying to calm down the situation saying they will not accuse any political actor of attacking the KDP headquarters.
He also voiced resentment for the attacks on the headquarters of Gorran and called them "evil" acts that would mar the reputation of the region. Mr Barzani also criticized the police and security forces of Sulaimaniyah for not upholding their duties.

Reported by Saiwan Ali


Saturday, February 19th 2011 1:06 PM

Turkey: PKK to take decisive stance in March

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Erbil, Feb. 19 (AKnews) –Kurdish armed group the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) says it will discuss and assume a decisive stance late in March as to whether to extend the current ceasefire or resume its military activities if the Turkish state continues to show no sign of wanting to peacefully resolve the country's Kurdish issue.pkk

The outlawed PKK which has been locked in a combat with the Turkish state since 1984 that has claimed some 45,000 lives, most of them Kurds, announced a ceasefire last year as a show of good will towards a peaceful solution to Turkey's Kurdish issue.

Although the PKK have declared unilateral amnesty seven times over the past 17 years, Turkey has never officially recognized them. The PKK's latest ceasefire announced on November 1, 2010 has been extended three times.

"The leadership is obliged to discuss the inactive attitude of the PKK in late March, because we have found out that the Turkish state is preparing for a military attack on the bases and headquarters of the PKK," said Roj Welat, media official for the PKK's People's Confederation of Kurdistan (KCK).

The KCK is generally known as the urban wing of the PKK.

"Everybody knows that the KCK has extended its ceasefire three times, but this has not prompted any positive reactions from the Turkish state" Mr. Welat said, "in fact, the oppression and detention of Kurdish activists has worsened."

The Kurdish issue in Turkey comes down primarily to the Kurds not being recognized in the Turkish constitution as a nation.

On September 12, Turkey voted on a package of constitutional reforms, but those reforms did not contain any reference to the identity of the Kurds and subsequently was boycotted by the majority of the ethnic group. The reforms were approved by a 58 percent victory.

The Kurds constitute around 20% of Turkey's population of 71 million.

The KCK official accused the Turkish state of deceiving the Kurds under the cover of initiative, the "Democratic Opening" which was declared by Prime Minister Recep Teyip Erdogan to show intentions of solving the Kurdish issue.

Mr. Welat believes that Turkey can no longer "deceive" Kurdish politicians with "new stories" under the name of democratic opening in the country, "because the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is practicing an occupier-occupation policy in Kurdish cities."

The ruling AKP is trying to cover up "inhumane" crimes against the Kurds in the Kurdish cities of Turkey by the Turkish state, he said. "But the mass graves are evidence of those crimes."

On Feb. 9, some 20 bodies were recovered in two mass graves discovered in the predominantly Kurdish city of Bitlis in southeast Turkey, believed to be victims of the conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK.

At the height of the conflict in the 1990s, thousands of people disappeared and their families' struggle to find out what happened to their loved ones has always been met with silence.

The chiefs of staff of the Turkish army said the remains belonged to the outlawed PKK fighters who were killed in the 1999 clashes.

Arsene Sonmazler, the head of the Free Thought and Educational Rights Assembly, believes that there are about 100 mass graves in the city and hundreds of them in Kurdish areas.

Reported by Karzan Karim, edited by Raber Y. Aziz


Saturday, February 19th 2011 11:09 AM