‘The Kurdish Question in Turkey’ – Conference Report

“On Wednesday 17 April 2013 the Law School and the ISCTSJ at Queen’s University Belfast hosted a one-day conference entitled ‘The Kurdish Question in Turkey’. The aim of this multi-disciplinary conference was to bring together legal experts, academics, politicians, journalists and grass-roots activists to ignite debate on the Kurdish question in Turkey, particularly from a human rights perspective. The ‘question’ concerns the Turkish-Kurdish conflict. A dispute concerning the rights of Kurds in Turkey, which has spanned over three decades and involved systematic violations of civil, political and socio-economic rights.
The conference dealt with three issues – ‘Democracy Deferred, the Continuing Challenges – Political Trials, Identity and Human Rights’, ‘Victimization of Kurds by the Current Turkish Law’ and ‘Constructive and Peaceful Solution to the Kurdish Question in Turkey’. Eleven speakers presented on these issues to an audience of over 80 participants. The conference, which occurred within weeks of the latest PKK ceasefire, came at a particularly propitious time, thus leading to a number of lively discussions.”

Participants included Peace in Kurdistan patron Margaret Owen OBE, distinguished lawyer from Turkey Ercan Kanar, and head of the BDP Foreign Affairs Commission Nasmi Gur – plus may more.

The report is available for download.

Also, audio-visual recordings from the conference are available at the HR Conference QUB Youtube Channel. The recordings are also gradually being uploaded to the HR Conference QUB Vimeo channel, which we hope to have completed by the end of May.

If you have any further queries you can contact Dennis Arbet Nejbir and Hannah Russell from the organising commmittee at this address queenshrconference@gmail.com.

EUTCC statement on the withdrawal of troops from Turkey

Press release: for immediate release

26 April 2013


It is with great appreciation that the EUTCC received the message from Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council President Murat Karayilan that the PKK withdraws its forces gradually from Turkey starting 8 May, 2013. The withdrawal is a result of the ongoing peace talks between the PKK’s leader Mr. Abdullah Öcalan and the Turkish government and emerged following letter exchanges between the mountain and the leader. The withdrawal is the first phase in a process that hopefully leads to lasting peace.

Continue reading “EUTCC statement on the withdrawal of troops from Turkey”

A Call for Justice: Over 100 women join together to demand justice for Sakine, Fidan and Leyla

Margaret Owen OBE and Professor Mary Davis, two patrons of the Peace in Kurdistan campaign, have written an open letter to the Justice Minister of France, Christiane Taubira, demanding justice for Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Soylemez who were brutally assassinated on 9 January 2013. The assassinations, which took place days after peace talks with the Turkish government and Abdullah Ocalan were announced, was not only an attack on these three well-loved and well-known activists, but on the Kurdish women’s movement and the Kurdish liberation struggle as a whole.

The letter has been signed by nearly 120 women from across the UK, and the list includes members of parliament, academics, campaigners, trade unionists and many more.  These women have chosen to stand by their Kurdish sisters who worked tirelessly for peace and justice for Kurdistan. So that their message is heard clearly, we have also sent copies to of the letter to MP’s Theresa May, Yvette Cooper, Baroness Warsi, Harriet Harman and Emily Thornberry. The letter has also been published in today’s print edition of the Morning Star.

Continue reading “A Call for Justice: Over 100 women join together to demand justice for Sakine, Fidan and Leyla”

Murat Karayilan: We are making preparations, the other side should do likewise!

Transcript of an interview with Nuçe TV.

NEWS CENTER 28/03/2013

KCK Executive Council President Murat Karayilan and member of the Executive Council Presidency Ronahi Serhat, have made ​​important statements about withdrawing from the Turkish territory. Karayilan, pointing out the important responsibility on the Turkish Assembly, said “To ensure continuity of this process, it needs to be developed mutually. We are preparing for withdrawal, but the other side also needs to start preparations. To facilitate this process, our leader’s conditions of imprisonment need to be improved.” Ronahi Serhat stated that the channels for dialogue with the architect of the peace process need to be opened.

KCK Executive Council President Murat Karayilan and member of the Executive Council Presidency Ronahi Serhat, answered the questions directed by the journalists Koray Düzgören, Erdal Er and Khaled Hermit from Nuçe TV.

Continue reading “Murat Karayilan: We are making preparations, the other side should do likewise!”

‘Kurdish language allowed in court’: Margaret Owen reports from the fourth hearing of the lawyers trial

Below is a report written by Margaret Owen OBE, who last week acted as an international observer at the fourth hearing of a trial of 46 lawyers, being prosecuted as part of the KCK anti-terror trials. Ms Owen, a human rights barrister and a member of the Bar Human Rights Committee, was also joined by Ali Has, solicitor-advocate and member of the Law Society’s international human rights team; Melanie Gingell, barrister and representative of the Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC); and lawyer Tony Fisher, a member of Law Society’s Human Rights Committee.

Further reports from the other delegates will follow in due course.

Kurdish language allowed in Court…

March 28th Thursday at last! The Kurdish language can be spoken in a Turkish court. Just 4 bailed. 22 remain in prison. Not much change.

Continue reading “‘Kurdish language allowed in court’: Margaret Owen reports from the fourth hearing of the lawyers trial”

Thousands celebrate Newroz in London

Despite the freezing weather, thousands of members of the Kurdish community came out to celebrate Newroz, Kurdish New Year, in Finsbury Park last Sunday.

‘Free Ocalan and Status for the Kurds’ was the slogan for the day, it was chanted by the crowds and a huge banner at the front of the stage proclaimed the same message.

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Simon Hughes MP, MP for Tottenham David Lammy, and Member of the European Parliament Jean Lambert, as well as Father Joe Ryan of the Westminster Peace and Justice Commission, and representatives of the Basque, Baloch and Tamil community, all took to the stage to express their solidarity with the Kurdish struggle for peace and justice.

Photos courtesy of Fikri Isikli

Continue reading “Thousands celebrate Newroz in London”

EUTCC salutes the Kurdish people on Newroz 2013

22 March, 2013

Newroz 2013: Solidarity Greetings

Newroz is the traditional Kurdish festival of light and hope. It is a celebration of the coming spring unfolding after the long winter and symbolises the victory over dark oppressive forces. This year’s celebration epitomises the historical narrative of Newroz more than ever. The ongoing talks between the Turkish government and Mr. Abdullah Öcalan signal a new beginning and a brighter future for the Kurdish people and for Turkey. It became clear from Mr. Öcalan’s letter, which was read aloud at the Newroz celebration in Diyarbakir by BDP deputies Pervin Buldan and Sirri Süreyya Önder. The letter indicates that the hope and call for peace by millions of Kurdish voices are finally heard and acted upon.

Continue reading “EUTCC salutes the Kurdish people on Newroz 2013”

Öcalan’s historic Newroz 2013 Statement


I salute the people of the Middle East and Central Asia celebrating this awakening, revival and resurgence day of Newroz with the most extensive participation and unity.

I salute all the fraternal peoples celebrating Newroz, the day of enlightenment and a turning point of a new era, with great enthusiasm and democratic tolerance.

I salute all those who are travelling on this grand path who have democratic rights, freedom and equality as their guides.

I salute you the Kurdish people from the Zagros and Taurus mountain sides, to the Euphrates and Tigris river valleys. I salute the Kurdish people who are one of the oldest peoples in the cradle of human civilisation and birthplace of agriculture in the sacred Mesopotamian and Anatolian lands to the pastoral, village and urban civilisations.

Continue reading “Öcalan’s historic Newroz 2013 Statement”

Happy Newroz! Newroz Piroz Be!

Newroz20093Peace in Kurdistan Campaign would like to send its salutations to all its friends on the occasion of Newroz, the ancient Kurdish spring festival.

The arrival of spring naturally always brings with it feelings of hope and renewal; this year Newroz comes at an especially momentous period in the history of the Kurdish struggle for freedom and self-determination.

The opening up of dialogue between Turkey and Kurdish leaders represents a much anticipated opportunity for a real breakthrough in the peace process.

The hopes and aspirations of the Kurdish people in Kurdistan and in the diaspora will inevitably be raised at this historic moment when steps towards a lasting solution now look to be unfolding after years of bitter conflict.

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign is proud to join the Kurdish people in their Newroz celebrations and remains steadfast in its commitment to the search for a peaceful democratic solution to this historic struggle which has inspired generations and peoples throughout the world who are denied the basic rights of liberty and human dignity.    

Happy Newroz! Newroz Piroz Be!

Continue reading “Happy Newroz! Newroz Piroz Be!”

Statement: Somersault alaturca – Play it again, Sam!

­International Initiative “Freedom for Abdullah Ocalan – Peace in Kurdistan!”

Press statement, 15 February 2013


14 years after the abduction of Abdullah Öcalan in an international operation by intelligence services, the Kurdish question in Turkey is more current than ever. Not even this act, undertaken in violation of international law, was able to change this.

At one time declared “Public enemy no 1”, today leading Turkish politicians talk about “Imrali” as the authority to negotiate with if the vexed problem is to be resolved.

Continue reading “Statement: Somersault alaturca – Play it again, Sam!”