Jenna Krajeski on the end of the Kurdish hunger strike in Turkish prisons, and the possibility of making gains with non-violence: It’s “a victory for both sides, especially as both come out looking more humane: the government because it negotiated before people began to die, and the…
from 10 Conflicts to Watch in 2013 | Foreign Policy
by Louise Arbour
Freezing weather in the mountains this fall and winter has slowed fighting in the decades-long insurgency waged by Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), but the omens look worrying for spring 2013. Already, 870 people have been killed since the PKK resumed its attacks, and security forces revived their counterterrorism operations, in mid-2011. That’s this conflict’s worst casualty rate since the 1990s.
Political tensions in Turkey are also rising, as the legal Kurdish movement, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), takes an increasingly pro-PKK line. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to lift its MPs’ immunity to prosecution, and the state has arrested several thousand Kurdish activists on charges of pro-PKK terrorism since 2009 — even though many are not being accused of any act of violence. The Turkish government has also stopped secret talks that it conducted with the PKK from 2005 to 2011 and abandoned most of the “Democratic Opening” that had offered hopes of greater equality and justice for Turkey’s 12 to 15 million Kurds, who comprise as much as 20 percent of the population.
The government could still win over most of Turkey’s Kurds by announcing a comprehensive set of reforms. These would include launching a process to offer education in mother languages, amending the election law to reduce electoral and funding barriers, increasing decentralization to Turkey’s 81 provinces, and ending all discrimination in the country’s constitution and laws. It should also work toward a ceasefire, urge insurgents to stop attacks, avoid large-scale military operations, including aerial bombings, and stand up to pressure for ever stronger armed responses.
The likelihood of a major U-turn is, however, low. It appears to be Erdogan’s ambition to win Turkey’s 2014 presidential elections, for which he has been aligning himself ever-more firmly with rightwing and nationalist voters. More militaristic factions in the PKK, emboldened by their allies’ successes in Syria, are also gaining the upper hand, and likely will continue attempts to hold areas in the southeast and attack symbols of the Turkish state in 2013.
Turkish student Seyma Ozcan spent five months in jail after the government accused her of belonging to an outlawed group. She denies the charges. More than 90 journalists, mostly from the Kurdish media, have been jailed for most of the last year, making Turkey the world’s number one jailer of journalists. By some counts, more than 770 students are in prison. Reporting and Image by Stephen Franklin. Turkey 2012. Read the full article on the Pulitzer Center website.
|—||Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish region of Iraq, during his Nowruz address, on Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki, whom he accused of drawing the country once again into dictatorship. The positions Barzani mentions are a reference to the fact that Maliki has yet to delegate those positions under a power-sharing agreement. (via thepoliticalnotebook)|
An Iranian-Kurd woman talks on her mobile phone as she walks at a bazaar while shopping in Marivan in Kurdistan province, 512 km (318 miles) west of Tehran, May 12, 2011.