Tag: pkk

Turkey: Silencing the Media

Ruthless Assault on Press Freedom Shields State from Scrutiny

Turkey’s government has all but silenced independent media in an effort to prevent scrutiny or criticism of its ruthless crackdown on perceived enemies, Human Rights Watch said today. The assault on critical journalism sharpened in 2014 but accelerated after the failed coup attempt in July 2016, denying Turkey’s population access to a regular flow of independent information from domestic newspapers, radio, and television stations about developments in the country.

The 69-page report, “Silencing Turkey’s Media: The Government’s Deepening Assault on Critical Media,” documents five important components of the crackdown on independent domestic media in Turkey, including the use of the criminal justice system to prosecute and jail journalists on bogus charges of terrorism, insulting public officials, or crimes against the state. Human Rights Watch also documented threats and physical attacks on journalists and media organizations; government interference with editorial independence and pressure on media organizations to fire critical journalists; the government’s takeover or closure of private media companies; and restrictions on access to the airwaves, fines, and closure of critical television stations.

UN: Torture Widespread in Post-Coup Turkey

A United Nations (UN) special rapporteur has announced the preliminary results of a study on torture in Turkish jails, prisons and extrajudicial sites stating he has found multiple abuses and cases of torture following July’s coup.

UN human rights expert, Nils Melzer conducted interviews with inmates, lawyers and advocacy groups over the course of six days last week. Melzer says the reports of torture are widespread through facilities at all levels and were most likely to occur upon initial arrest and detention of suspects. A recent investigation from BBC discovered that the recent purges and arrests aren’t limited to potential coup-plotters but also include many Kurds and leftists.

A turning point for Kurds across the Middle East

Kurds find themselves in the eye of a fast paced and changing storm in the Middle East. We travel to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party mountain stronghold in northern Iraq to get a first-hand take on a critical moment for the whole region. Karlos Zurutuza interviews Riza Altun, Kurdistan Communities Union executive member and co-founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast is witnessing, what is possibly, an unprecedented peak of violence. Fierce clashes between Turkish security forces and urban militants have levelled districts to the ground. The ongoing post-coup crackdown in Turkey targets Kurdish political representatives as new fronts also open for Kurds across the Middle East. ‘It’s a turning point for our people,’ says Riza Altun from the headquarters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Qandil mountain range.

Turkey’s Syrian and Iraqi adventures: the underlying message

Turkey is sending a message that its armed forces are still a strong and capable fighting force, despite large-scale purges of officers of the highest ranks.

Turkey, it appears, is itching for a fight in Iraq and Syria. Its August incursion into Syria, through the ongoing Operation Euphrates Shield, was no doubt an important turning point. No longer an active bystander to the conflict in Syria, Turkey became an actual participant in the civil war that has been waging for over five years.

There was a time when opinion polls showed that the military was the most trusted organization in the country, with 89 per cent of the population holding such views. However, this declined to 66 per cent by 2011 after the military was hit by the Ergenekon and Balyoz arrests, trials and convictions which alleged coup plotting within the military’s top brass. According to a recent survey, over the past six months trust in the army has continued to fall. This lack of faith and disappointment for the military has no doubt taken another plunge after the failed coup attempt of 15 July.

Turkey Blocks EU MPs Prison Visit to Kurdish Leader

Turkish authorities blocked a delegation of national and European Parliament lawmakers from visiting the leader of Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party who has been held in jail for almost three weeks.

The delegation of a dozen members of the Party of European Socialists (PES) sought to make a visit to the head of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas at the prison in Edirne in northwest Turkey.

But they were blocked by Turkish gendarmes on the approach road to the prison and instead held an impromptu press conference in the street, an AFP correspondent said.

Syria as Metaphor

The war in Syria is a nightmare. It’s a nightmare for all the civilians who suffer from constant aerial bombardment, who are trapped without food and medical assistance inside crumbling cities, who experience the retribution of either the Islamic State or the regime in Damascus. It’s a nightmare for those who try to escape and face the prospect of death in transit or limbo in refugee camps.

Syria is a nightmare for individuals, millions of them. But it’s not just that. If states could dream, then Syria would be their nightmare as well.

Four Dead in Bomb Attack on Army Convoy in Southeast Turkey

Three soldiers and a local guard were killed on Thursday in an attack on a Turkish military convoy in the town of Bitlis in the country’s troubled southeast, state-run media reported.

Another six soldiers were injured in the bombing blamed on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), news agency Anadolu said, AFP reported.

The attack was carried out using a handmade bomb that detonated as the armored vehicle drove by, the agency added.

Very Turkish abduction from the seraglio and crocodile tears of the ‘West’

The whole experience was psychedelic, even for seasoned observers of Turkish politics, most of whom were first-hand witnesses or indeed victims of the periodic interventions of the “guardians of the republic” – in 1960, 1971, 1980, 1997 and, for that matter, 2007.

Fighter jets and helicopters flying over Istanbul and Ankara, dropping bombs on police headquarters and the parliament, sporadically opening fire on civilians; tanks and platoons occupying central locations, among them the two bridges on the Bosphorus, the Ataturk airport, TV stations and General Staff headquarters; a president defying the mutiny on Facetime and calling the “nation” to take to the streets; a quick denouement which left 265 dead, 1440 wounded and an even stronger “strongman” behind.

Turkey, Russia: Ties Worsen Over Downed Turkish Helicopter

Kurdish rebels’ “game-changing” downing of a Turkish attack helicopter with a Russian-made missile could further intensify still simmering hostilities between Ankara and Moscow.

Coming nearly six months after Turkish jets’ downing of a Russian bomber operating from a Syrian airbase, the May 13 incident made front-page news in Turkey. “It was a message to [the] government and public,” commented Metehan Demir, an independent defense analyst and former Turkish military pilot.

The missile featured in a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) video of the attack “is a Russian-made SA18 or SA24,” he noted, using the North Atlantic Treaty Organization codenames for the shoulder-held, anti-aircraft missiles 9K38 Igla (“Needle”) and 9K338 Igla, manufactured since Soviet times in the Russian town of Kolomna.

The state of regional Kurdish politics: divided as ever

Located over territories spread across Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, Kurds are facing multiple challenges on the road to Kurdish statehood. A major problem is the absence of a united Kurdish national movement. The two major power blocks in Kurdish politics, Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP and Abdullah Ocalan’s Kurdistan Worker’s Party PKK ( designated a terrorist group by the US, EU and Turkey), have been vying for political dominance over Kurdish nationalism for many years, and are as divided as ever. The Syrian conflict has brought significant changes to the power dynamics between the two, expanding the power of the PKK at the expense of the KDP. This development itself is very critical for Kurdish politics and the direction it is taking.