Behind the Kurdish Hunger Strike in Turkey

Journalist Jake Hess has written this article for the Middle East Research and Information Project on the on going hunger strikes and their political context:

To hear Mazlum Tekdağ’s story is enough to understand why 700 Kurdish political prisoners have gone on hunger strike in Turkey. His father was murdered by the state in front of his Diyarbakır pastry shop in 1993, when Mazlum was just nine years old. His uncle Ali was kidnapped by an army-backed death squad known as JİTEM (the acronym for the Turkish phrase translating, roughly, as Gendarmerie Intelligence and Anti-Terror Unit) two years later. Mazlum never saw his uncle again, but a former JİTEM agent later claimed they tortured him for six months before killing him and burning his body by the side of a road in the Silvan district of Diyarbakır.

Such experiences have moved thousands of Kurds in Turkey to join the armed rebellion of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK, which has been outlawed since its inception. But Mazlum, along with thousands of others, chose to fight for his people’s rights through the non-violent means of pro-Kurdish political parties, a succession of which have been allowed to operate by the Turkish state before then being shut down. He was first arrested in 2001, when he was 17. Now 28, Mazlum has been in jail for three and a half years, though he has not been convicted of a crime. His trial is deadlocked because Turkish courts refuse to let him or his fellow political prisoners offer their legal defenses in their native Kurdish language. All of them speak fluent Turkish; they are making a political point. Continue reading “Behind the Kurdish Hunger Strike in Turkey”

IN THE GLASSHOUSE, by Norman Paech

NATO-member Turkey supports the rebels in Syria – yet persecutes the opposition movement in its own country

Norman Paech


Turkey is in a complex situation, which the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his AKP government, seem to want to cover up. The incontestable economic successes – whereby the completely under-developed rights of the working population have been accepted – make the country a power factor between East and West. The strategic location of Turkey for the transportation of oil and gas from the Caspian region and the Middle East into Europe provides the ever-assertive government with a comfortable negotiating position with the Europeans. This clearly allows Ankara to bring EU-membership into play without having to compromise on the biggest obstacle to its membership so far – the unresolved Cyprus question. Greece is weak and is having its sovereignty rapidly taken away, almost degraded to a protectorate. Why back down against the EU and the UN, when, evidently, a politics of “banging one’s fist on the table” is the only one honoured? This is also apparent in the fact that Erdogan can afford to pick a fight with a state, with which it not so long ago had a distinguished relationship – Israel, the EU’s most controversial protegé. Continue reading “IN THE GLASSHOUSE, by Norman Paech”

KHRAG send open letter to US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton

The Kurdish Human Rights Action Group have sent an open letter to the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton calling for the US to demand the freedom of Abdullah Ocalan:

We are writing to you this open letter regarding the Kurds, a people of over 40 million, and its incarcerated leader, Abdullah Öcalan. In 1999, your government, through the CIA, abducted the revered and popular Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, who was on his way to South Africa to seek political asylum. He was abducted in Kenya and handed over to the Turkish authorities. This was supposed to bring an end to the uprising of the Kurds in Turkey who have been fighting for their basic democratic rights for decades. But the Kurds cannot be expected to relinquish their most basic human rights like full citizenship rights, freedom of expression, freedom of association or the use of the Kurdish language as their mother-tongue in public schools. Continue reading “KHRAG send open letter to US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton”

Dossier: Stop the political genocide and femicide against the Kurds in Turkey!

The following is a dossier produced by CENI Kurdish Women’s Office for Peace and the KNK, which provides a useful account of recent developments in Turkey, the actions of an increasingly repressive AKP government and the role and significance of Abdullah Ocalan’s arrest and continued imprisonment for a solution to the Kurdish Question. You can download the dossier here (pdf).

February 2012


Stop the political genocide and femicide against the Kurds in Turkey!

Freedom for Abdullah Ocalan!


1. Political Genocide and Femicide – the AKP Regime

Continue reading “Dossier: Stop the political genocide and femicide against the Kurds in Turkey!”

Noam Chomsky Discusses Turkey with David Barsamian

The Armenian Weekly has posted the transcript of a recent interview with Noam Chomsky, in which he discusses current human rights issues in Turkey, Turkey’s international role and Turkish-Israeli relations with founder of Alternative Radio and author David Barsamian:

Chomsky is the internationally renowned Institute Professor Emeritus at MIT. In addition to his pioneering work in linguistics, he has been a leading voice for peace and social justice for many decades. “The New Statesman” calls him “the conscience of the American people.” Howard Zinn described him as “the nation’s most distinguished intellectual rebel.” He’s the author of scores of books including Failed States, What We Say Goes, and Hopes and Prospects. Continue reading “Noam Chomsky Discusses Turkey with David Barsamian”

PJAK calls upon Obama to reassess policy toward the Kurds

Originally published in Roj Helat:

In a letter to Barak Obama, the General Assembly of Kurdistan’s Free Life Party (PJAK) calls upon the United States to reassess their policies in the Middle East particularly in relation to the Kurdish people. The letter reads as follow:

Your Excellency the President of the United States of America

Dear Barak Hussein Obama

On 28 December 2011, in Qilaban region of Sirnak province in Northern Kurdistan (Turkey), 35 civilian Kurds were massacred by Turkish aircrafts in a heinous way. Continue reading “PJAK calls upon Obama to reassess policy toward the Kurds”

Write to President Obama! Sign the petition!

Since the massacre at Uludere on 28 December 2011 which killed 35 civilians, the US government has said it will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Turkey, and rather than condemning the Turkish government for its actions, the US is promising further supply of technologically advanced missiles.

We can take this matter into our own hands, by writing directly to President Obama and demanding he stands up for the rights and freedoms of the Kurds. Join the KNK letter-writing campaign! Continue reading “Write to President Obama! Sign the petition!”

Leyla Zana writes to Obama and Ban Ki-Moon

Diyarbakir deputy Leyla Zana has sent a letter to the U.S. President Barack Obama, NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, President of the Council of Europe, Herman Van Rompuy and Turkish President Abdullah Gül regarding the most recent policy implemented against the Kurdish people. While Turkey’s air strike continues in southern Kurdistan, Leyla Zana, in a letter to the leaders of the world, criticized the silence over the growing attacks against Kurds.

28 August 2011

Text of Leyla Zana’s letter

“While the world is going through a very fast process of change and transformation and the Middle East is witnessing new developments, our people who are deprived of the fairness of the history still continue their struggle for “existence” at the cost of their lives. Continue reading “Leyla Zana writes to Obama and Ban Ki-Moon”

Chomsky: negotiation and dialogue only solution to conflict

29 August 2011 / ANF News

In an interview with Özgür Politika Chomsky says European institutions could help the process of dialogue in Turkey.

Linguist Noam Chomsky remarked that it would bring disaster to solve the Kurdish issue by military means, saying; “There s a need to put the legitimate demands of Kurds on the agenda and to conduct sincere negotiations”.

Noam Chomsky, considered as one of the world’s greatest living thinkers, stated that the Kurdish issue in Turkey is fundamentally ‘a matter related with the human and citizen rights of the Kurdish people who have been exposed to brutal oppression for a very long time’. Continue reading “Chomsky: negotiation and dialogue only solution to conflict”