Loont het om journalisten te bedreigen?

Dutch investigative journalism radio show Argos dedicated most of its broadcast of 2 March 2019 to murdered journalists. Since I had just published a story about that, I was one of the guests.

Naar aanleiding van mijn artikel in Vrij Nederland van 18 februari 2019 over het vermoorden van journalisten en waarom dat nogal eens loont voor gespuis assorti, besteedde Argos, het onderzoeksjournalistieke programma van de VPRO, haar uitzending aan dit onderwerp. Ik was er te gast, samen met Jan Meeus, misdaadjournalist van NRC Handelsblad, en Thomas Bruning van de NVJ. Luister de uitzending hier terug!

Als journalisten worden vermoord, sterft ook hun verhaal

(Story about murdered journalists, published on website of Dutch magazine Vrij Nederland, February 2019)

Zesenzeventig journalisten werden er wereldwijd vermoord in 2018. In de laatste tien jaar gaat het om 974 journalisten. Niet zelden zweren achterblijvende collega’s dat het verhaal van de vermoorde verteld zal blijven worden, dat met de journalist niet ook zijn of haar verhaal zal sterven. Journalist Fréderike Geerdink onderzocht het, en concludeert: het verhaal sterft wél.

Lees hier verder op de site van Vrij Nederland!

Iraqi Kurds vent anger with violent protest against Turkey

On January 26, Kurdish locals in northern Iraq’s Dohuk province began to peacefully protest the presence of a Turkish military base in the village of Sirye. Over the previous year, Ankara had killed dozens of locals in regularly bombings on the nearby mountain headquarters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has fought an armed insurgency in Turkey for decades.

People from Sirye and the nearby village of Dereluk gathered opposite the base. Gulistan Niheli and Omar Ali Rekani, members of Iraqi parliament for the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), were among those holding a banner that read: “We call upon the Turkish army and PKK militants to respect the sovereignty of the region and take their political and military conflict to their own place”.

Continue reading at Ahval.

Thirty-five years on, no political solution for Kurdish-Turkish conflict

Rage engulfed Turkey in late July 2018 when a woman and her 11-month-old son were killed, reportedly by a roadside bomb, after leaving an army base in the south-eastern province of Hakkari. The woman had paid a surprise visit to her husband, who worked as an officer at the base.

The deaths were blamed on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Two days later, the PKK issued a statement claiming that it never targets civilians, and the death of the mother and child was a ‘mistake’. Turkish rage, however, was not solely directed at the PKK, as Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu clearly expressed at the funeral of the two victims. He placed the larger blame on Europe and the United States (US) for being “supporters of terrorism”, as he put it.

Published on 16 August 2018. Continue reading on Fanack website.

Vrees voor Turkse moordcommando’s in Nederland

(This is a TV interview from summer 2017, that was already on my website but not archived, and newsletter subscribers will get an alert that it’s ‘published’ now.)

Vanuit Den Haag zou de Turkse geheime dienst zich bezig houden met spionagepraktijken. Dat meldt de Telegraaf op basis van een geheime bandopname die de krant in handen heeft.

Lees meer en kijk terug op de site van Een Vandaag.

Wat vinden PKK’ers van de aanslag in Istanbul?

(This is a radio interview from late 2016, that was already on my website but not archived, and newsletter subscribers will get an alert that it’s ‘published’ now.)

Interview in Dutch current affairs radio show ‘Met het oog op morgen’, about TAK-attack in Istanbul on 10 December 2016. I was at a PKK base in Maxmur at the time.

De dubbele bomaanslag in Istanbul van gisteravond, waarbij 38 doden vielen, is inmiddels opgeëist door de militante Koerdische beweging TAK. Frederike Geerdink is in het Koerdische Noord-Irak en vertelt hoe er daar op de aanslag in buurland Turkije wordt gereageerd.

Beluister het interview op de site van het Oog!

Survivors of the city wars

(This is a story from late 2016, that was already on my website but not archived, and newsletter subscribers will get an alert that it’s ‘published’ now.)

MAXMUR – The city wars in Turkey’s Kurdish regions are mostly over. Many fighters of the YPS, the Kurdish armed youth group that fought the Turkish army, lost their lives. Byline ran into some survivors in a dusty refugee camp in Iraq.

Read the full story on Byline!

‘Dit land haat de Koerden. Dat besef doet pijn.’

Story about the war in Southeast-Turkey, published in Dutch weekly Vrij Nederland, 25 May 2016. Only available in Dutch.

Het gaat met niemand goed.

Niet met Serkan*, een jonge computerprogrammeur uit de stad Sirnak, in het uiterste zuidoosten van Turkije bij zowel de Syrische als Iraakse grens. Ik leerde hem een paar jaar geleden kennen toen ik in Sirnak contacten legde met activistische jongeren. Serkan stuurt foto’s van zijn wijk in de stad, verwoest door de gevechten tussen PKK-militanten en Turkse veiligheidstroepen. ‘Er staat nauwelijks nog iets overeind’, zegt hij. Met zijn familie is hij uitgeweken naar dorp in de buurt, waar ze bij familie bivakkeren tot ze terug kunnen naar wat er niet meer is. ‘Een aantal vrienden van me vocht mee, en jongens die buren van me zijn. Ze zijn nu dood. Hun lijken liggen nog op straat.’

Ook met Nurcan Baysal gaat het niet goed. Laatst barstte ze in huilen uit toen ze tomaten kocht op de markt en steeds maar het artillerievuur hoorde dat werd afgeschoten op Sur, de oude stad van Diyarbakir. Nurcan werkt als onderzoekster voor verschillende bureaus en publiceert zelf ook boeken, onder andere over de Armeense geschiedenis van zuidoost-Turkije en over het lot van Yezidische Koerden in gebieden die onder ISIS-controle staan. ‘Mijn kantoor is niet ver van Sur’, zegt ze. ‘Het werk gaat door, de kinderen gaan naar school, ik maak de lunch en het avondeten, ik doe de boodschappen, maar terwijl ik leef en eet, gaan er tien minuten verderop mensen dood. Precies op die plekken Fréderike, waar wij vorig jaar nog koffie dronken.’

Lees verder op de site van Vrij Nederland, of, als je daar een paywall krijgt, voor €0,89 op Blendle.

Turkey struggles with state armed citizens

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?’

Village guard. Picture: Tommaso Protti.
Village guard. Picture: Tommaso Protti.

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.

This story was published on Beaconreader, a US based site that supports independent journalism. If you subscribe to my page there, you get an exclusive story from me every week, and on top of that access to all other Beacon writers. Lots of interesting writers and stories there! Want to read the whole story? Click here and subscribe! Thank you!

PKK has no expectations anymore from the government

The one year old peace process between the PKK and the Turkish government seems to be leading nowhere. The ceasefire is holding, but the government has taken no steps towards democratization and is now distracted by accusations of corruption. The KCK, the umbrella organization of Kurdish groups that also represents the PKK, has stated that they are running out of patience. Beaconreader went to PKK controlled area in the Qandil mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan and talked to Rıza Altun, one of the founders of the PKK and currently a member of the executive board of the KCK. Altun: ‘We have no expectations from AKP anymore.’

PKK's Rıza Altun during the interview.
PKK’s Rıza Altun during the interview.

All things considered, the peace process went wrong from the very beginning. At least that is the conclusion that can be drawn from an exclusive interview with Rıza Altun, member of the executive council of the KCK. Altun: ‘The AKP is not representing the peace process anymore. No expectations are left.’

The interview with Beaconreader took place on 23 March, two days after Newroz and exactly one week before the local elections. The day trip to the Qandil mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan started early in the morning in the Kurdistan capital of Erbil. READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE ON BEACONREADER.