Qamislo – Twee meisjes van een jaar of zeven staan vervaarlijk te dansen op de dwarsijzers van het hoge hek dat de tribunes van het speelveld scheidt. Vaders erachter, om ze op te vangen als het misgaat. Een van de meisjes zingt uit volle borst de nummers mee, net als de hele tribune, die volgepakt is met families. ‘Guerrilla! Guerrilla!’ scanderen ze een refrein mee.
On 27 May 2019, the Turkish army launched a military operation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Hakurk area in northern Iraq. It was not just an air operation for a change but a seemingly limited ground operation as well, with soldiers dropped in the rugged mountains from helicopters.
Five days earlier, the Turkish state allowed lawyers to visit imprisoned Kurdish leader and PKK founder Abdullah Ocalan, the second of two visits since 2011, raising questions about Turkey’s intentions.
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On 21 September 1966, the hope that Nechirvan Barzani (pictured) would one day rise to power in Kurdistan emerged. It was the day he was born into the Barzani family. As the nephew of Massoud Barzani, to be precise, who is in turn the son of the legendary Kurdish resistance leader Mullah Mustafa Barzani. The latter founded the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Kurdistan’s most powerful party, on 16 August 1946, the very same day that Massoud was born. Yesterday, on 28 May 2019, Nechirvan Barzani was elected President of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq.
De oppositie spreekt al van een ‘openlijke dictatuur’ en een ‘civiele staatsgreep’ nu de bevolking van Istanboel volgende maand opnieuw naar de stembus moet. De regerende AK-Partij van de Turkse president Erdogan had om nieuwe verkiezingen gevraagd omdat er sprake zou zijn geweest van georganiseerde fraude bij de verkiezingen. Hoe nu verder in het land nu de politieke, sociale en economische onrust volop borrelt onder de oppervlakte? We vragen het Turkije-kenner Fréderike Geerdink.
The big question in the Kurdish-majority municipalities in the south-east of Turkey was whether the candidates for the leftist Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which won the most votes in the local elections on 13 March 2019, would be acknowledged as the winners. Now that most of them have received their mazbata (official certificate) and assumed their positions as mayors, another story has emerged: the crippling public debts the mayors have discovered in their towns. In the background, another issue lingers: will the Kurdish mayors actually get the chance to fulfill their five-year terms?
Late last month, Turkey’s state-run news agency reported thata Turkish airstrike had seriously wounded veteran Kurdish fighter Rıza Altun.
Altun is a member of the executive council of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organisation that includes the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting an armed insurgency for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984 and is labelled a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union.
The KCK neither confirmed nor denied the report. Meanwhile, the PKK has been relatively quiet for more than a year now in its fight against Turkey. Has the armed movement really been weakened and reported strike on Altun the icing on the cake of the Turkish army’s victory?
As the battle for Kobani rages, up to 200,000 Syrian Kurds have fled into Turkey, where long-running animosities mean a suspicious reception at best. Frederike Geerdink reports from Suruc, close to the border.
The Kurdish political movement has no intention of giving up on the three private schools they opened to teach exclusively in Kurdish. The opening of the schools last week led to a cat-and-mouse game between the schools’ administrators and the local governors — the latter closing the schools, the former reopening them several times. Clashes between the schools’ supporters and the police erupted, and nearly 100 people were taken into custody.
I couldn’t find the interview for a London based radio station on 14 May.
Since I was not on the spot (I was shortly visiting the Netherlands when the disaster happened) I have not written about what happened at the mine. As you know, I usually try to find an angle that others in Turkey don’t write about, and it struck me how much the Soma disaster resembles the Roboski massacre: both lay bare state structures.
The peace process in Turkey, that started in March 2013, still continues. One part of the problem that doesn’t get much attention, is the village guard system. It will have to be abolished, but for now, the state continues to expand the system. Village guard Seymus Akbulut: ‘We want peace, but we want to be safe too. What if anybody wants to take revenge on us?’
Dressed immaculately in a dark blue suit and with his hair perfectly combed, he sits in front of a portrait of Atatürk, Turkey’s founding father, and a huge Turkish flag. On his desk two more Atatürk’s: one on a silver plate, one as a glass statuette in a red velvet box. ‘We love Atatürk’, says Seymus Akbulut. ‘Whatever the state wants us to do, we do it’.
That is how it all started in the early nineties, now more than twenty years ago. Southeast Turkey was in turmoil: the war between the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), that wanted to carve out an independent Kurdistan, and the Turkish army was getting more violent every day.
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