A Turkish riot policeman uses tear gas as people protest against the destruction of trees in a park brought about by a pedestrian project, in Taksim Square in central Istanbul May 28, 2013. REUTERS/Osman Orsal (via Editor’s choice | Analysis & Opinion | Reuters)
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.
|—||The first words from an 8-year-old boy from Aleppo who refused to talk for 15 days after arriving in Turkey. For more, see Syrian war leaves children traumatized - The Washington Post|
The United Nations’ news agency, IRIN, reports that Turkey is officially housing more than 144,000 Syrians in 14 refugee camps along its southern border. As many as 100,000 more currently “choose to live outside the camps,” often to work in Turkey’s informal economy, according to local NGOs. Without work papers, they live by dodging the Turkish police and putting up with exploitation from employers.
“If I don’t work, my family doesn’t eat,” said Mu’ayyid, a 20-year-old from the Syrian capital Damascus.
For the rest of the story, see Syrian refugees choosing to work risk exploitation
“And Mt. Ararat – located just across a closed border in Turkey – is ever-present, dominating the skyline in Yerevan and beyond, a constant reminder of the longing for Western Armenia and of what has been lost in genocide. No longer a part of any Armenia, it is an open wound and at the same time, the symbol of being Armenian.”
— An excerpt from Pulitzer Center grantee Alia Malek’s story on whether a diverse Syria can survive. Read the full story here. Image by Alia Malek.
Breaking news regarding the quickly deteriorating diplomatic relations between Turkey and Syria, both of which previously counted one another among their regional allies. source
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.
Our journalist Stephen Franklin reports here on the refugee crisis on the Turkish border:
“They arrived hungry and sick. They didn’t have food or medicine or clothes or even water,” said Dr. Mohammed Sheik Ibrahim, a Syrian Turkmen who fled to Turkey eight months ago. “They are like people who are a little dead.”
Twitter just told me something I already knew: Rick Perry will not be President of the United States.