RAQQA – The wall of white ‘cells’ is shining white. Abu Majid (header picture) pulls open doors of the small boxes behind which wires are hidden. The ‘cells’ are crucial parts of power plant number 4 in the city centre of Raqqa in the north of Syria. They arrived two weeks ago and he and his colleagues installed them immediately, of course. It can’t be long now before no less than 65% of the city will have electricity again.
Raqqa – De muur witte ‘cellen’ glimt Abu Majid toe. Hij trekt hier en daar een deurtje open van de kleine kastjes waarachter draadjes schuilgaan. De ‘cellen’ zijn cruciale onderdelen van elektriciteitscentrale nummer 4 in het centrum van Raqqa in het noorden van Syrië. Twee weken geleden aangekomen, meteen geïnstalleerd natuurlijk. Het kan nu niet lang meer duren voor maar liefst 65 procent van Raqqa weer elektriciteit heeft.
By propitiating the Kurds, Erdoğan could destine the new elections in Istanbul in his favour, some people think. It is assumed that this is why he ended the confinement in isolation of the Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan. But if that’s the case, why then did he simultaneously start an offensive against PKK fighters in the north of Iraq?
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Forty eight civilians have lost their lives in the current violence in Southeast Turkey, the Human Rights Association has estimated ( between 21 July and 28 August, so by now that number is already up again). One of the cases that especially hit me was the death of Eyüp Ergen, a nurse in the state hospital in Cizre. He was an orphan since 1994, when the state killed his parents while evacuating their village. His sibling is now the only one left of that family. It is a painful example of the fact that a Kurd hardly ever experiences one traumatic experience in his or her life. It is always tragedy after tragedy. Continue reading “Enough is enough: safe zone needed in Southeast Turkey”
Mehdin Taskin is dead. Murdered because the state can not handle a statue of a man who is a hero to many Kurds. He is the thirteenth Kurd killed by the state since the beginning of the ceasefire. Was it too early for such a statue? No, it was not, in my humble opinion.
The ceasefire is not just a state of non attacks between the army and the PKK and a period in which on high level a road to peace is being negotiated. The ceasefire also gives the Kurdish movement the chance to start building the democracy they envision in the towns and regions where they are in charge. This is one of the reasons why the ceasefire is so important to them. They are working towards the situation the peace process will eventually lead to: decentralization, and autonomy for the Kurdistan region (and for all yet to be defined regions in the country). Continue reading “Atatürk statues will be replaced by Öcalan’s”
‘There is no such thing as a Turkish race’, said Mr. Aktay, a professor and member of the governing AKP. He was speaking on a university panel, and his remark angered some students so much that they left the room. Aktay said it after explaining the problematic connotation of the word ‘Türklük’, meaning Turkishness, and stating: ‘It’s said Turks come from Central-Asia. Is this really the case? Take a look: how many of our grandfathers really came from there?’, and concluding that the Turkish race doesn’t exist. Continue reading “Who else but the liberators?”
‘The Roboski families’, stated BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas in an interview on IMC-TV, ‘are glad because they got to meet the prime minister in person. They had the opportunity to express themselves to the person who is politically the main authority’.
‘The Roboski families’ seem to have become a single entity, although altogether the family members of the 34 people who were killed in the massacre add up to a few hundred people. It cannot be that all of them are glad a delegation from the families met with Tayyip Erdogan. But apparently, under the current political situation, they are supposed to be glad about the meeting. Demirtas says so. Continue reading “Personal grievances”
‘If the PKK lays down its arms, the military operations will stop’, Prime Minister Erdogan declared this week. The fighting between the army and the PKK has been extremely heavy this summer. When I read between the lines, I think Erdogan wants to make it appear as if the PKK is totally worn out by all the violence and is somehow begging for mercy. Erdogan wants to make it look as if he is about to give the PKK the final blow, unless they lay down their arms now. But of course, Erdogan knows the PKK will not lay down its arms now. The PKK didn’t react to his words. The fighting continues. The death toll goes up. Continue reading “‘It’s time to take the fingers off the triggers’”
The kidnapping of opposition MP Hüseyin Aygün by the PKK in Dersim province made me wonder about the future of Southeast Turkey, and the role of the PKK in it. Since I am focusing on solutions to the Kurdish issue in the book I am working on, and since regional autonomy must one day be part of that solution, I wonder what this kidnapping tells us about the level of democracy this future Kurdish autonomous region will have. Continue reading “Hüseyin Aygün, the PKK and democratic autonomy”
Ever heard of a weekly that is only published once a month? In Turkey, there is one. Hüseyin Aykol, editor in chief of daily paper Özgür Gündem which publishes a lot about the Kurdish issue, shows it to me: it’s called Demokratik Ulus, or “democratic nation”. It gets banned from publishing for a month practically every time it appears. But like many bans, there is a way around it. Continue reading “One step ahead”