Sunday, May 31, 2009

NOTES FROM KANDIL 4: POSSIBILITIES

"If the Kurdish Question is to be solved in this country in a peaceful way, neither the PKK nor DTP can be ignored."
~ Hasan Cemal, Milliyet.


Finally, Hasan Cemal's own musings about Kandil and the Kurdish question, with many thanks to the comrade who worked on this translation:


Is It That Difficult? Wouldn't Guns Be Silent If Fingers Stay Away From Triggers?

Erbil

Finally I am at the last chapter. I sat at my computer in the morning.

What shall I write?

How should it finish?

There is so much going on in my head. As usual I have taken more notes than necessary. It seems I got a bit tired, tense. Now I want to regroup and write the most reasonable, in the simplest way.

But how..?

I studied political science in Ankara in early 1960s. Turkey's politics, sociology, and history was taught to us without a mention of the word Kurd.

Because Kurds didn't exist...

There were only Turks.

The state was saying this.

As years passed, life taught me of the existence of Kurds.

Yes, Kurds did exist.

But now, the Kurdish Question didn't exist.

In fact, saying "Kurdish Question" was equivalent to committing treason. Kurdish identity was being denied by the state but nobody was saying anything about it. Such a topic was not in the political zeitgeist...

Especially the Kurds' and the Kurdish intelligentsia's sufferings were ignored during the administrations of 27 May [1960], 12 March [1971], and 12 September [1980]. [Note: These are the latest three coup d'etats by the military]. In this regard, especially on 12 September [1980], as a newspaper reporter, I didn't do my job well either.

Then it was 1984.

In August, the PKK came to the scene with the Şemdinli and Eruh raids. Nobody thought at the time that the weapons exploding then would be registered as the 29th Kurdish uprising in the state's official papers.

The politicians called it terror and went on.

They belittled them [PKK].

The roots of the problem were not seen.

Meanwhile the fire got stronger and stronger. The politicians talked about "the light at the end of the tunnel" every time but neither the violence nor the PKK came to an end.

I remember 1984 and 1985.

In those years, I was writing generic articles made up of the state's memorized sayings and formal dictations at Cumhuriyet daily. I believe I have fulfilled my duty of condemning "terror and violence". Yes, the PKK chose terror and violence as means of politics. It could kill without distinguishing civilians or soldiers, or women or children.

The known slogan belonged to Apo:

"Let's kill and be an authority!"

The PKK, as an organization that was in the mountains and that had guns, was violating laws, committing crimes. In this situation the state's fight against the PKK was "legitimate", was "right".

I wrote a lot about this.

But I started seeing something as time passed. It wasn't enough to say terror, terrorist organization, head terrorist.

What was the problem? How to handle this problem? Because the PKK was a 'result'. The real reason was "Kurdish Question".

I started traveling in the Southeast [North Kurdistan] and Northern Iraq [South Kurdistan] to understand the problem better. Especially starting in the early 1990s, while traveling in the Kurdish geography and Kurdish diaspora, I started learning about the Kurdish Question, Kurdish history, culture, problems, and pains.

Meanwhile Kurdish parties were being founded. As they were founded, they were being shut down [by the state] but they were changing their names and continuing on their way. HEP was becoming DEP, HADEP was becoming DEHAP, later DTP was coming to the scenes, Kurdish politics was not ending but continuing its development. On one hand the state's memorized words, official sentences... On the other, life itself... The sayings including terms "terror", "terrorist", "head terrorist", and "traitor" was continuing but the PKK was taking roots within the Kurdish masses.

As I traveled, I saw this fact.

Over the years, I also saw this:

Of course not every Kurd supported the PKK, not every Kurd loved the PKK but it was not easy to separate the PKK from the Kurdish Question. I started to realize that it was a remote possibility to find a solution to the Kurdish Question by ignoring the PKK.

Yes, the PKK was an organization with guns. It accepted violence and terror as political means. In this regard it was committing a crime. That's why states fight against the PKK was "legitimate", even "right".

But the problem was not going away by repeating this, it didn't for the past quarter century. On one hand there were martyrs, people getting hurt but the state had big wrongdoings that made the problem worse... These wrongdoings were hurting Kurdish mother's hearts.

That was the real issue.

It was yesterday, it still is today.

In a very brief summary:

If the Kurdish Question is to be solved in this country in a peaceful way, neither the PKK nor DTP can be ignored.

In this regard 29 March [Turkish local elections] can be considered as a lesson. Because it can be said that AKP took the military's support while participating in elections in the Southeast. For example the military didn't conduct operations, almost didn't chase the the PKK at all...

A scenario was written like this:

In the first episode DTP was going to lose votes. In the second episode, perhaps, the agenda would be to surround the PKK in Northern Iraq by Turkey, America, and Barzani's administration and finished off.

This was the scenario.

But DTP didn't lose votes; on the contrary, it increased its votes. The number of DTP's municipalities didn't decrease but increased. The PKK, too, weighed in so DTP's votes would increase. And for Tayyip Erdoğan, Kurdish votes this time turned into disappointment.

What to do now?

Can the second episode of the scenario be put in play? Is it possible? What would the limits of such a scenario to come into play? To what extent will it bear fruit?

My choice is obvious:

The weapons must be silenced!

Like during the calmest winter of past 25 years that happened before 29 March [2009 Turkish local elections], the weapons must be silenced. Like I stated in my article yesterday [9 May 2009], fingers should stay away from triggers for a long time. A serious mechanism for dialog must be set up and function behind the scenes with an awareness of provocations that can come from the "hawks" on both sides!


If you're in London, check out the time for the demonstration tomorrow at 10 Downing Street to lift the ban on the PKK, brought to you by Hevallo and the comrades at the Peace in Kurdistan Campaign.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

NOTES FROM KANDIL 3: WHERE THERE'S A WILL . . .

"Before the election, we spent the most silent winter of the last 25 years. That means whenever soldiers want, they can wait."
~ Murat Karayılan.


The first of June will see the end of the current PKK ceasefire period, at least as far as we can tell at the moment. Whether the ceasefire is continued is something we will know after the first. In the meantime, here is the continuation of the interview by Hasan Cemal with KDK Executive Committee Chairman Murat Karayılan, as excerpted from Cemal's column at Milliyet:


"For Silencing Weapons, The Will Is Important"

"First silence weapons, let no one attack another!" So says Murat Karayılan . . . Is it so hard to achieve this? For this firstly PKK must disappear from sight. It is a must for them to retreat to places where they will have no contact with troops. As Talabani said, "PKK declares a ceasefire, but they do not retreat far enough. They stay in the places where, every time, they meet soldiers." Whereas Murat Karayılan says, "We decide about being non-operational, we retreat but soldiers continue to advance. In this situation, we need to defend ourselves." In this situation, what's going to be done? To put it simply: Two sides will stop! No one is going to pull the trigger.

[ . . . ]

Two Sides Will Stop; No One Will Pull the Trigger.

"First silence the weapons, let no one attack another!" So says Murat Karayılan. Is it so hard to achieve this? For this firstly PKK must disappear from sight. It is a must for them to retreat to places where they will have no contact with troops.

This is an important point.

In October 2007 Iraq's president Talabani told me in Baghdad, "Well, okay, PKK declares a ceasefire, but they do not retreat far enough. They stay in the places where, every time, they meet soldiers." At this point, Murat Karayılan blames the soldiers. "We decide about being non-operational, we retreat but soldiers continue to advance. In this situation, we need to defend ourselves." In this situation, what's going to be done?

To put it simply: Two sides will stop! No one is going to pull the trigger.

This was a hot issue, too, during PKK's 1993 ceasefire. Demirel, who was sitting in the prime minister's chair, told me, "The man sees the fire, even saying that he is willing to lay his arm down, you are going over him with your tanks and your artillery. This has to be thought about."

In April 1993 Talabani came to Ankara with the following message after having a talk with Öcalan in Damascus:

Turkish security forces, too, must obey the ceasefire; If there is an operation called "Spring Operation", this must be deferred; Some signs of a general amnesty must be given; For a political solution, different dialog channels must be opened.

This was the message from Öcalan in 1993.

Öcalan had drawn the framework of the message to me in the talk that I had in Bekaa during April 1993 with him.

Right in those days, with the Bingöl attack--which has not been revealed even today but accepted as an attack from PKK--33 soldiers were martyred, the ceasefire ended; meanwhile, Özal died. The watershed in The Southeast grew. Unfortunately, with 17 thousand-plus extrajudicial murders, a door was opened wide to unlawfulness, to Susurluk, and even to Ergenekon.

If There Is Willpower, Weapons Will Be Silenced

This was the ceasefire in 1993 which Murat Karayılan, at our meeting in Kandil, mentioned as a "missed opportunity".

Sixteen years have passed; Öcalan was captured, [and is] now in Imralı.

But PKK is not finished; it's still in the mountains!

However, I think it wants to come down. And today it can be mentioned about one more peace opportunity. I am thinking about the things Karayilan told me and the messages that he wanted to give while coming down from Kandil to the valley.

There are similarities with 1993.

Can weapons really be silenced? Can provocation be avoided?

It is still a fresh incident: The ones who made that terrible massacre in Mardin, the village guards, admitted that they had planned their bloody raid to blame PKK.

So, what should be the first step?

Silencing weapons . . .

Is it so hard?

Both sides will not pull the trigger, thus weapons will be silenced.

Here the important thing is will power and determination.

If it exists, weapons will be silenced.

Obviously there are warmongers on both sides. We have to be alert to "provocations"; this is the most critical point in such a process.

Yes, a ceasefire will be declared.

PKK will pull back farther.

Soldiers will not advance after!

In short: Triggers will not be pulled!

In Kandil, Murat Karayılan told me, "Before the election, we spent the most silent winter of the last 25 years. That means whenever soldiers want, they can wait," by this, I guess, he was pointing out this reality.

Why shouldn't the required political will power be shown in Ankara for this? Since the most silent winter of the last 25 years passed, and while soldiers can wait, why can't this time period be extended?

Yes, why?

In an environment where weapons are not being fired, a different mechanism may be operated behind the screen, the dialog process may start.


To be continued.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

GOING AFTER THE WORTHLESS AMERICAN MEDIA

"Yes, we will be naming names -- myself included."
~ Sibel Edmonds.


Sibel Edmonds has a new article about the swindling of the American voter:


Despite all the promises Mr. Obama made during his campaign, especially on those issues that were absolutely central to those whose support he garnered, so far the President of Change has followed in the footsteps of his predecessor. Not only that, his administration has made it clear that they intend to continue this trend. Some call it a major betrayal. Can we go so far as to call it a ‘swindling of the voters’?


She goes on to enumerate the Obama flip-flops on NSA warantless wiretapping, accountability on torture, teh revival of the military commission, and the continuation of war--also known as democracy by force--and more. Take a look for more change you can believe in.

She also remarks on the self-censorship of journalists with regard to her case, although she refers to it as "fear-induced censorship":


Yes, I am going to begin with the issue of State Secrets Privilege; because I was the first recipient of this ‘privilege’ during the now gone Administration; because long before it became ‘a popular’ topic among the ‘progressive experts,’ during the time when these same experts avoided writing or speaking about it; when many constitutional attorneys had no idea we even had this "law" - similar to and based on the British ‘Official Secret Act; when many journalists did not dare to question this draconian abuse of Executive Power; I was out there, writing, speaking, making the rounds in Congress, and fighting this ‘privilege’ in the courts. And because in 2004 I stood up in front of the Federal Court building in DC, turned to less than a handful of reporters, and said, ‘This, my case, is setting a precedent, and you are letting this happen by your fear-induced censorship. Now that they have gotten away with this, now that you have let them get away, we’ll be seeing this ‘privilege’ invoked in case after case involving government criminal deeds in need of cover up.’ Unfortunately I was proven right.


Now it looks like she will be leading the charge in exposing the worthless American media with a new project, the Project Expose MSM:


We all have been tirelessly screaming about issues related to Congressional leaders abdicating their main responsibility of 'oversight.' We have been outraged for way too long at seeing 'no' accountability whatsoever in many known cases of extreme wrongdoing. I, and many of you, believe that the biggest reason for this was, and still is, the lack of true journalism and media coverage -- which acts as the necessary pressure and catalyst for those spineless politicians on the Hill and in the Executive branch. Or, at least it's supposed to. So, in our book, the MSM has been the main culprit.

Well, here is a chance to turn the tables.

At my new blog, 123 Real Change, I'm happy to present an experimental project, Project Expose MSM, created to provide readers with specific mainstream media blackout and/or misinformation cases based on the documented and credible first-hand experiences of legitimate sources and whistleblowers.123 Real Change is inviting all members of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), other active (covert or overt) government whistleblowers, and even reporters themselves, to publish their experiences in regard to their own first-hand dealings with the media, where their legit disclosures were either intentionally censored, blacked out or tainted.

Yes, we will be naming names -- myself included.


For an initial example of naming names, check the rest of her post.

Recently there has been much crying and hand-wringing, mainly from journalists, who worry about the fact that newspapers in the US are folding. The problem that these journalists fail to acknowledge is that they are the main cause of their own demise for many of the very reasons that Sibel discusses in her post. It boils down to a betrayal of public trust. They do not investigate to expose corruption and alert the public to the wrongdoing of those the public have elected. The death of professional journalism as we know it in the US is richly deserved.

Here are the comments of an old-school American journalist on the problem:


. . . Unfortunately, a few huge corporations now dominate the media landscape. And the news business is at war with journalism. Virtually everything the average person sees or hears outside of her own personal communications is determined by the interests of private, unaccountable executives and investors whose primary goal is increasing profits and raising the company's share price. One of the best newspaper groups, Knight Ridder - whose reporters were on to the truth about Iraq early on - was recently sold and broken up because a tiny handful of investors wanted more per share than they were getting.

Almost all the networks carried by most cable systems are owned by one of the major media conglomerates. Two-thirds of today's newspaper markets are monopolies, and they're dumbing down. As ownership gets more and more concentrated, fewer and fewer independent sources of information have survived in the marketplace. And those few significant alternatives that do survive, such as PBS and NPR, are under growing financial and political pressure to reduce critical news content.

[ , , , ]

At the same time we have seen the rise of an ideological partisan press that is contemptuous of reality, serves up right-wing propaganda as fact, and attempts to demonize anyone who says otherwise. Its embodiment is Rush Limbaugh. Millions heard him take journalists to task for their reporting on the torture at Abu Ghraib, which he attempted to dismiss as a little necessary sport for soldiers under stress. He said: "This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation. . . . You ever heard of people [who] need to blow some steam off?"

So we can't make the case today that the dominant institutions of the press are guardians of democracy. They actually work to keep reality from us, whether it's the truth of money in politics, the social costs of "free trade," growing inequality, the resegregation of our public schools, or the devastating onward march of environmental deregulation. It's as if we are living on a huge plantation in a story told by the boss man.


There is no difference between right-wing propaganda and so-called left-wing propaganda in the US, despite the fact that there are those who ignorantly refer to Obama and his administration as "socialist"; there is no left wing in the American political arena.

In these issues of the media and the one-party system lie the two main differences between the US and the old Soviet Union: in the Soviet Union, there was dissent and everyone knew that the state lied to them. Not so in the US, not so.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

KARAYILAN IN THE TIMES

"We are at a fork in a pathway. Turkey must choose one of them. If Turkey doesn’t accept our overtures and continues to attack us then of course we will use all means to defend ourselves, and that includes retaliation. They can call us ‘terrorists’ for as long as they wish but Turkey has to accept that the PKK is part of the reality of the solution to its Kurdish problem."
~ Murat Karayılan.


The Times of London has an article which includes statements from Murat Karayılan, which you can access through Hevallo's blog. Below are some of the photos at The Times:












The guerrillas' own photos can always be viewed at http://www.hpg-online.net/Photo/

Since so many people have such short memories, let me point out that Murat Karayılan's statements are nothing new. This most recent initiative for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish situation in Turkey began in August 2006 with PKK's Declaration for a Democratic Resolution to the Kurdish Question (http://www.kurdish-info.net/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=3467) and was further reinforced by the unilateral ceasefire of September of the same year (http://www.kurdish-info.net/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=4220). At the time, the PKK's offer, the same one that Karayılan offers the Ankara regime today, was rejected outright by the US "special envoy to counter the PKK for Turkey", Joseph Ralston:


"Ceasefire sort of implies an act that is taken between two states, two actors, to do that. And I don’t want to confer that kind of status on the PKK by saying a ceasefire."


Furthermore, Ralston specifically rejected the IRA-type settlement that Karayılan mentions in The Times:


Asked whether the U.S. intends to use the IRA model in dealing with the PKK, Ralston underlined that these two were totally different problems.

"You are comparing two very different situations, and mixing apples with oranges," the U.S. envoy said. "In the case of the PKK, our objective is to enhance cooperation with the Turkish and Iraqi governments to fight the PKK. We are also working with European governments to cut the PKK's financial and logistics lifeline. We will use all of the tools at our disposal: law enforcement, intelligence, diplomacy, financial pressure. And we have not taken any other option off the table."


Of course, Ralston wasn't appointed "special envoy to coordinate the PKK for Turkey" in order to bring about any kind of settlement; he was appointed to sell Lockheed Martin product.

While the PKK is consistent in its calls for a peaceful solution, it remains to be seen if anything comes of these calls this time around. It's still possible for the guardians of the status quo to pull another Ralston out of their hat. Nor should anything be made of any recent statements by anyone who represents the Ankara regime, which means that, in spite of Abdullah Gül's meaningless remark about the Kurdish situation in Turkey, being "Turkey's biggest problem," the regime continues to conduct operations against our guerrillas (Check http://www.hpg-online.com/tr/ for the most recent news on that).

There is also the issue of the mass arrests of DTP politicians and political workers. If the Ankara regime were serious about achieving a political solution, then why does it treat DTP like it's treated every other Kurdish political party in the country?

Another recent article in the British media mentions the same kind of skepticism about recent events that I have. From The Guardian:


Scepticism also extends to Kurdish groups in the south-east who complain of increasing repression and continuing curbs on cultural and linguistic expression. Speaking at the House of Lords in London last week, Muharrem Erbey, president of the Diyarbakir Human Rights Association, said over 300 people had been detained since Kurdish Democratic Society party (DTP) overcame a determined AKP campaign to make big gains in last March's municipal elections.

"We oppose violence. We don't want loss of life. We want the armed fighters to join the political process. But we support people's right to be outspoken in pursuit of their democratic rights ... Instead of having human rights and democracy in Turkey, it's completely the other way round," Erbey said.


As far as I'm concerned, Turkey has not given any indication whatsoever that it has any solution to the Kurdish situation, except the same failed solution it's had since 1984. If the Ankara regime continues to apply the same, failed solution, then Karayılan, Nurettin Sofi, and all the comrades continue to have my full support in defending themselves, "and that includes retaliation."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

NOTES FROM KANDIL 2: THIS ISN'T YOUR DAD'S PKK

"An elimination scenario was written before 29 March. It was a scenario based on DTP losing votes . . . But it didn't pan out."
~ Murat Karayılan.


This is a continuation of Hasan Cemal's interview with Murat Karayılan. The first part can be found here.


Karayılan: PKK is not the old PKK any more

Karayılan explains the change in the PKK with the following words: "PKK is at a more reasonable line compared to the past. For example, it [the PKK] used to want an independent Kurdish state. This is in the past now. In other words, PKK is not 'secessionist' any more. We want the Kurds to live freely and in equality within the borders of the Turkish Republic. I would like to state this. This is not a tactic. The process that dropped secessionism, excluding the independent state, started in 1993; 1999 began with İmralı (1999 is the year Öcalan was captured and sentenced to life time imprisonment, HC). The paradigm has changed."

Qandil Mountain, North Iraq [South Kurdistan]

During my four-hour-long meeting with the PKK's number one man, Murat Karayılan, in a short two-room village house made of mud-bricks on the skirts of Mount Kandil, I tried to keep one topic the subject of conversation constantly:

PKK laying down arms...

PKK coming down from the mountains...

At some point Karayılan said this: "Look, we didn't go to the mountains because we've lost our mind. Like so many others say, we didn't go to the mountains for picnic either."

When the PKK's coming down from the mountains comes up, Karayılan smiles sarcastically. At the same time, the expression on his face says it's not so easy and there are other things to be done before it comes to that phase...

When I pushed it, he said this:

"The saying, "PKK should lay down arms," is an empty one, it's shooting into the air. Where shall PKK leave its arms? How? To whom? What are the grounds? It's meaningless to say leave down the arms. First let's sit down and talk."

"We are at a more reasonable line"

According to Murat Karayılan it's impossible to get to anywhere by calling the PKK "a terrorist organization". He says that the PKK at the same time represents the Kurds' aspirations and for that reason has their support.

And he always adds this:

"PKK is not the old PKK any more"

When asked what the change is, in summary, he gives this answer:

"PKK is at a more reasonable line compared to the past. For example, it [the PKK] used to want an independent Kurdish state. This is in the past now. In other words, PKK is not 'secessionist' any more. We want the Kurds to live freely and in equality within the borders of the Turkish Republic. I would like to state this. This is not a tactic. The process that dropped secessionism, excluding the independent state, started in 1993; 1999 began with İmralı (1999 is the year Öcalan was captured and sentenced to life time imprisonment, HC). The paradigm has changed."

"How did it change?"

"Look, now we say 'Democratic Autonomous Kurdistan'. What we mean by autonomy is not federation. It's not redrawing of borders. It's a solution that preserves the unity of the state. The Local Administrations Law can change, the local administrations will be made stronger."

"We caused some complications too"

Murat Karayılan again stressed a point which was in yesterday's article:

"First the weapons must be silenced!"

"Then?"

"Then it will be turn for rights associated with the Kurdish identity (He refers to constitutional changes--HC) and the 'societal reconciliation project' which some people interpret as amnesty. This is a two sided subject. On one side there have been armed rebellions . . . On the other side denial policies have been followed . . . These have done damage . . . There are over 17 thousand murders with unknown perpetrators that have been committed against us, Kurdish people . . . Yes, there have been some complications from our side too. That's why we are talking about this societal reconciliation project. This something that is mutual, reciprocal. This project is to mutually forgive one another. It is to reach reconciliation on a new constitution that reflects voluntary unity."

Murat Karayılan adds this:

"All we want is for Kurds to live their culture freely."

"Kurdish conference can prepare the environment for solution"

I notice something. While I have been talking with Murat Karayılan in a short village house on the skirts of Mount Qandil, two members of the PKK's Leadership Council (made up of five people), Bozan Tekin and Sozdar Avesta, didn't say anything. I bring up the subject of PKK laying down arms and coming down from the mountains again. This time within the context of Kurdish conference. In summary, I say this:

"A Kurdish conference for all Kurds, living in every country [Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey], is going to be held and a call is going to be issued to the PKK to lay down arms; the scenario will be fixed such that PKK is going to enter the phase of laying down arms. Such an expectation was created. But then the conference was postponed to Autumn. Did you or PKK cause this?"

Murat Karayılan agrees that expectations regarding the Kurdish conference were created. On this subject he laughs at the role Kurdish leader and Iraq's President Jalal Talabani played and takes a sarcastic tone. But at the same time, while stating he takes the Kurdish conference seriously and summarizes the subject: "The conference was originally our idea. But the last undertaking was not ours. If correctly approached, this conference can create an environment for solution. However, this is a reality: from such a conference will not mean 'PKK should lay down arms!'".

"Özal would worry about the Kurdish Question"

There is a question on PKK's number one, Karayılan:

Are we going to return back to the first half on 1990s?

Especially to 1994 . . .

The period during which the fire in The Southeast [North Kurdistan] flared... Karayılan asks:

"Will the government forward everything to the military again, like it did in early 1990s?"

Karayılan is looking for an answer to this question.

In summary, he said this:

"Özal died in 1993 and the opportunity for peace was missed. Özal was leader who was able to see the Kurdish Question and who worked seriously to solve it. Özal died in 1993 and 1994 was horrible (like Öcalan, Karayılan too places Turgut Özal at a very positive place in regard with Kurdish Question--HC). Is an attack reminiscent of 1994 on the way again? We are feeling some things but we are not sure. Will Erdoğan's government forward the issue to the military and cause a blood bath? What do you think?"

"So the military too can wait . . . "

Murat Karayılan is trying to read into the period after 29 March [local elections]. He says that a scenario was written for elections such that DTP would lose votes and Tayyip Erdoğan was so engaged in this, and trusted himself very much, but at the end was disappointed because DTP increased its votes and municipalities in the local elections.

He points to military's role in this scenario indirectly and says:

"An elimination scenario was written before 29 March. It was a scenario based on DTP losing votes . . . But it didn't pan out. We lived the calmest winter of last 25 years. The military waited until 29 March. So the military, too, can wait (he said this sentence with a bit of sarcasm--HC). Why didn't the military attack us during the election period? But we were hopeful from this despite all . . . Some indications of solution appeared. We thought this could be a new phase in which the military takes part, too. But no. The day after the elections, on 30 March, the military started even though it wasn't on a large scale . . . On 14 April, this time the start of targeting DTP was given. But the election results had given us hope in the name of peace and democracy.

"Where is the Prime Minister Erdoğan of 2005?"

Karayılan, during our four hours long conversation a few times talked about Prime Minister Erdoğan. He mentioned the speech Erdoğan made in Diyarbakir in August of 2005. In that speech Erdoğan said "The Kurdish issue is our issue; the state has made mistakes in this matter; these can be corrected".

PKK's number one mentioned a few times that today nothing was left of Erdoğan's speech and raised the following point:

Political power vacuum . . .

Karayılan said this:

"I am not able to be optimistic. At the top there is no political willpower about the Kurdish Question. The absence of will power is a very serious problem. Today, even generals started saying different things. But where is the political will power? Where is the Prime Minister who said those words in 2005? Where is the Erdoğan who prepared a Kurdish report in 1994 when he was İstanbul's mayor and handed to his party leader even if it was not his job to do that?

"Armed struggle is now in the line of legitimate self-defense"

Karayılan comes back to "PKK is not the old PKK" point once more. He tries to explain the PKK has changed. He says they are open to the media and says "let them come and learn about us". He states that their method of struggle are starting to change.

In summary, he says this:

"We are not the PKK of 10 years ago. We don't do the armed struggle with classical means any more, either. We work in the line of legitimate self-defense. We are putting emphasis on mass activities, civilian disobedience, and political work. But meanwhile, what are you going to do with 6-7 thousand armed people? They are, in a sense, a guarantee for the gains, for legitimate defence . . . We don't want people to die. The last four years we are in a limited war. It's not like 1993, 1994. In the rural areas, if you are being attacked, you will defend yourself."

"The explosion at university prep school too was one that happened out of control"

Then he adds this:

"In the new phase, after 29 March elections, a new war is imposed . . . We don't even want to think of this. In case of such an imposition, it will exceed the one in the first half of 1990s, it will be more dire, for both sides. We don't want this. But we are ready for this too. Unwanted results may come out. We don't do things out of control. Military actions that hurt innocent people, civilians, and that are not in legitimate self-defense enter the class of terror."

In this regard, Karayılan talks about the horrible explosion that happened in front of a university prep school, the terror action in Diyarbakır and says: "It is very wrong. We didn't approve it either. It happened out of our control."


To be continued.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

NOTES FROM KANDIL 1

"It's not our goal to make propaganda. We have hope for peace. That's why we decided to meet you . . . "
~ Murat Karayılan.


Here is the first part of Hasan Cemal's interview with KCK Executive Council Chairman, Murat Karayılan, which will be carried here on Rastî. I'd like to extend my thanks to the comrade who volunteered to work on this translation, and the ones that will follow. This work and his tenacity in completing the task while I have been too busy in the last week to attend to it, is much appreciated by me and I'm certain it will be much appreciated by all the others who read it.

This translation is a portion of the original piece, which can be found at Milliyet.


Karayılan: We have hope for peace

PKK's number one man Murat Karayılan says 'The first thing is to silence the weapons; nobody should attack. Let's talk this issue ourselves... Let's start the work with talks, not with weapons'. Karayılan offers a mechanism composed of [unbiased] intellectuals, if necessary. He said "We are at an important juncture. There was opportunity for peace in 1993 [and] it was missed. Let's not miss it again. We don't want blood to be spilled anymore'.

Qandil Mountain, North Iraq [South Kurdistan]

For many years now the PKK is being managed from Kandil mountain. They say "the leadership's office is İmralı [Öcalan's island prison]," but today PKK's number one man is in Kandil, living in the mountain, Murat Karayılan.

I met Murat Karayılan in a short, two-room village house made of mud bricks on the skirts of Mount Kandil last Monday for four hours.

Where we were was not at a PKK base but, as they [the PKK] call it, in 'PKK territory'. This was obvious from the women and men PKK members with arms on their shoulders, whom we saw while arriving at our meeting location through picturesque views.

Murat Karayılan came with two members of the PKK's Leadership Council, which is made up of five people. They were assistant commander Bozan Tekin, who was from Urfa, Bozova. He went to the mountains after staying in jails for 20 years, from 1980 to 2000. The other assistant commander was Sozdar Avesta, whose real name was Nuriye Kesbir. While living in The Netherlands, her extradition to Turkey came up and she ran away and came to Kandil. The third person with Murat Karayılan was Ahmet Deniz, who is in charge of PKK's communications with the media and civilian organizations.

[...]

Saturday at 12, Murat Karayılan met us in front of the village house.

Karayılan said "I think it's your first time at the PKK's rural area". If we don't count Zeli, my meeting with Öcalan at Bekaa, that was the case.

[...]

I said to Karayılan:

"I am here as a reporter. I am not bringing any kind of message or anything like that from anyone in Turkey. Don't think like that. I came as a reporter to learn what PKK's administration thinks".

Then I added:

"Please don't record this meeting on camera. As reporters, we make news rather than being news".

Karayılan:

"We will make a 5 to 10 minute recording for our archive, that's all."

They put their tape and we put ours on the plastic covered table and started the conversation.

Murat Karayılan's first sentence:

"It's not our goal to make propaganda. We have hope for peace. That's why we decided to meet you . . . "

Positive messages

Karayılan gave positive messages. He didn't speak negative but positive. He said "The first thing is to silence the guns, nobody should attack anyone". He said this when he offered a definitive mechanism for dialogue:

"We are at an important juncture!"

He stated that in 1993, too, with the ceasefire at the time, there was a "big opportunity for peace"; however because of the "lack of political willpower," the government of the time forwarded the issue to the military and the opportunity was wasted.

He continued: "Let's not miss the peace opportunity this time".

He added:

We don't want blood be spilled any more. Because years will pass and we will end up at the same point. Turkey will lose blood. PKK cannot be finished with military methods; they were tried for 25 years and they didn't work."

Karayılan, who didn't say anything about whether they would extend their unilateral ceasefire beyond 1 June, said this:

"The first thing is to silence weapons."

"Not laying down arms?"

Karayılan:

"Laying arms down is a later phase . . . First weapons must be silenced. Nobody should attack anyone. Let's talk this issue ourselves . . . Let's start the work with dialogue, not with weapons; let's talk among ourselves'.

I interrupt:

"How is this going to happen? On one side the state and on the other the PKK? Is this possible?"

Intellectuals Mechanism

Karayılan's mechanism is like this:

"At the first phase, the weapons will be silenced . . . Then dialog will begin . . . İmralı is the place for dialog . . . If that's not accepted, we are the party for dialog . . . If we are not accepted, it is the elected political party (He is not mentioning the name of DTP but when I mention he nods in agreement) . . . If this is not workable either, then a joint commission will be formed somewhere and intellectuals will meet. For example, people like İlter Türkmen (former Minister of External Affairs and Ambassador) and you will gather; a mechanism like this will start and begin to work . . . A mechanism like this will be accepted by the state as an addressee for dialog . . . "

Murat Karayılan adds:

"Why not, why shouldn't a mechanism like this be formed?.."

Karayılan asks then:

"Is there no political willpower? Is there a vacuum in the political area? One wonders where the Prime Minister of 2005 is . . . "

"We are sorry for the 10 martyred soldiers"

I asked Karayılan this:

"You declared a unilateral ceasefire, you said no attacks, and you said you were extending this until 1 June. But on the other hand, what were the PKK attacks in Diyarbakır and Hakkari that martyred 10 soldiers about?"

His first reaction was this:

"We are sorry for that too."

Karayılan continued:

"It wasn't a move planned from the headquarters. It was in the field, a decision taken at the local level with their own incentive. They see soldiers in the field and feel that soldiers are coming at them with an operation and they take measures to protect themselves. They lay a mine. We are sorry too."


For a little more on what you might expect from Murat Karayılan through Hasan Cemal, check this short overview from Bianet.

Some seem to think that "indirect negotiations" have already started. Apparently Abdullah Gül, Cemil "Chicken Little" Çiçek, and the new foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, wanted to meet Hasan Cemal on his return from South Kurdistan and Gül stated last week that the Kurdish "question" is Turkey's priority.

For Ahmet Türk's recent comments on the subject to the DTP parliamentary group, check here.

There is also a great post at Zerkesorg that addresses the discussion about the possibility of peace talks between the Ankara regime and the PKK. I agree with his conclusions there and would like to point out this quote:


PKK doesn't need to rush. PKK doesn't have a Kurdish problem, Turkish state has a Kurdish problem it needs to solve.


And being that the Turkish state is the state, and since the founding of the PKK is an effect of state policies (as opposed to the cause of state policies), the Turkish state has the moral burden of finding a peaceful solution to the problem it has caused.

But, then, I'm the skeptic; I won't believe anything before I see it. We all need to see concrete steps from the Turkish state before we can believe anything. Given what Karayılan and Türk have said, it seems to me that the proper first concrete step would be an end to TSK operations in North Kurdistan in order to allow HPG to keep its side of this most recent unilateral ceasefire.

There are other "hidden hands" involved here, belonging to groups that can be trusted as much as the Turkish state, and the Americans are not the least of those untrustworthy "hidden hands".

In other words, the time for unilateral ceasefires has ended. Now is the time for that first monumental opportunity--a bilateral ceasefire.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

SOLIDARITY WITH THE TAMILS

"After Sri Lanka survived English imperialism, the Tamils demanded freedom. There has been a Tamil people's continuous armed struggle for a period of almost 26 years."
~ Zübayir Aydar, KONGRA-GEL Chairman.


Zübeyir Aydar calls for solidarity with the Tamil people (Source: http://www.firatnews.info/index.php?rupel=nuce&nuceID=7619):


Kongra Gel Called for An Immediate Ceasefire in Sri Lanka

Kongra Gel chairman Zubeyir Aydar condemned the Sri Lankan state's massacre of the Tamil people and stated that Kongra Gel is with the Tamil people in their freedom struggle. Calling for a bilateral ceasefire, Aydar criticized the silence of the international community.

The Sri Lankan army has been conducting heavy operations against the Tamil people for months. For the Tamil people, the operations that have killed thousands of civilians is called an "attempted genocide". While the violent clashes are ongoing in the north of the island, during the night of Saturday to Sunday [9-10 May], according to Tamil sources more than 2,000 civilians lost their lives.

A Continuous Struggle

Kurds, too, are watching closely the massacre against the Tamil people and are conducting solidarity activites. The Kongra Gel chairman, Zubeyir Aydar, said, "After Sri Lanka survived English imperialism, the Tamils demanded freedom. There has been a Tamil people's continuous armed struggle for a period of almost 26 years."

In the north of Sri Lanka, twenty-five percent of the population consists of Tamils (5 million), Hindus, Christians, Muslims, whereas 75% is Buddhist Sinhalese (15 million) people. Tamils are a Hindu people. Tamil Eelam Freedom Tigers (LTTE), the Tamil guerrillas, are conducting an independence struggle for the Tamil people who live in the north and northeast of Sri Lanka. Since 1972, at least 70,000 people lost their lives in the clashes.

In 2002, a ceasefire was declared between Tamils and the Sri Lankan state. However, Sri Lanka, which receives support from India and the US, empowered its army and began attacks against the Tamil people after 2006. The ceasefire was abolished de facto. Sri Lanka's president broke the ceasefire in 2008 and intensified attacks.

The Tamil's Demand Is a Just Demand

Pointing out the hardliner attitude of Sri Lanka's government, Aydar said, "All the calls for peace and ceasefires from LTTE were left without any response. Almost one week ago guerrillas declared a unilateral ceasefire; the army did not acknowledge it and continued to attack."

Stressing that the Sri Lankan army is not obeying any kind of law or international laws of war, Aydar said, "Excessive force is being used, civilians are targeted, hospitals are fired on; these are war crimes. Despite the various numbers, thousands of civilians lost their lives in the last couple of months. In the clashes that took place on Saturday and Sunday, mostly civilians lost their lives. It is mentioned that the numbers exceed thousands; there is a humanitarian tragedy there. The Tamil people's freedom demand is a just demand. The demand for living freely in their own country is a just demand. The Sri Lankan government is in an unjust position. Its attitude is an imperialist approach. It wants to keep the Tamil people under pressure and imperialism."

The Imposition of Official Language
The Sri Lankan state imposed Sinhalese language as the national language in 1956. This exacerbated the Tamil peoples reaction. The imperialist attitude, the imposition of official language, and the assumption of the non-existence of the Tamil people's rights first made severe clashes in 1983, which turned into a civil war.

It Is Getting the Support of the Great States
"In the recent clashes it seems like the Sri Lankan army feels itself powerful. It seems like, in the international arena, they acquired the support of the great states. Using this advantage, it conducts a massacre in front of the world's eyes. It wants to smash a people's hope for freedom. The world is just watching," said Aydar.

The International Community Remains Silent
Criticizing the western counties' silence toward the massacre, Aydar said that some European countries' (France and England) foreign ministers went to Sri Lanka. However, their efforts did not go beyond their statements. Aydar said, "America is silent on this issue." He claimed that the international powers are encouraging Sri Lanka by putting the Tamil independence organization on their "terrorist list".

Aydar stressed that the UN's attempts are insufficient. It's calls do not go beyond the statements, like "We are worried about civilian casualties", "The guerrillas must lay down their arms". In addition, it tries to soothe the consciences by saying, "Weapons must be silenced".

Despite the statements from international human rights organizations about Sri Lanka committing war crimes and that there must be intervention immediately, the international powers do not even move. The UN data, too, reveals the massacre. According to the UN, since the beginning of this year to date, 6,500 civilians lost their lives. However, it is estimated that the real number is much higher.

An International Mechanism Must Be Established

Aydar stated that there are similar ongoing incidents in other parts of the world, and suggested the establishment of a neutral and just mechanism with a lawful foundation that has been formed. Mentioning that fifteen years ago great massacres occurred in Rwanda, that the incidents that occur in Kurdistan are before everyone's eyes, and that there was a humanitarian tragedy in Darfur. Aydar said, "There may not be any oil in Sri Lanka, there may not be any conflict of interest from international powers, however humanity is being hurt there. Humanity is put underfoot. The place to bring up such issues is the UN; however since the UN consists of nations, not peoples, it reacts based on the interests of states. For this reason, this mechanism is insufficient. The international community must improve a mechanism for such issues. This international mechanism must react immediately when a people, a minority, a belief, or any group, is subjected to torture by a state's imposition. This mechanism must be a mechanism for which a lawful foundation has been formed and protects the weak."

Kurds and Tamils Must Be in Solidarity

Saying that they support the Tamil people's freedom demand and their struggle, Aydar said, "We are in solidarity with them. Previously we have told our supporters to join the activities for solidarity with the Tamil people. We remind them once more. We want them to show solidarity with the Tamil people, to be with them, to share their griefs, and to protest the Sri Lankan army's cruel attacks."

Call for Immediate Bilateral Ceasefire

Calling on the Sri Lankan government, Aydar said, "The Sri Lankan government could not solve this problem militarily for 26 years. It cannot solve it, either. Maybe now they are more powerful than the guerrillas. They may have partial superiority against the guerrillas, but this will not solve the problem. Insisting on the current attitude will result in more casualties."

For the solution of the problem, Aydar primarily called for an immediate ceasefire. He said, "Our wish and call is like the way they have done before, to come back to the table and resolve the problem through dialog."


Here's a video of the concentration camps in which the Sri Lankan government is rounding up the Tamil people, from Britain's Channel 4. Note that having a "democratically-elected government" makes it all okay:





Nick Paton Walsh, the Channel 4 reporter at the end of the segment showing the concentration camp, and his team were expelled from Sri Lanka for this report.

Here was the reaction of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka's defense secretary, to Walsh's report:


“Who is this? You rang me earlier? Is this Channel 4? You have been accusing my soldiers of raping civilians? Your visa is cancelled, you will be deported. You can report what you like about this country, but from your own country, not from here.


He certainly sounds like he takes it seriously . . . but not seriously enough to investigate.

For more background on the LTTE, check a report by one of LTTE's first female Tigers, teaser here:


December 23 1987 was a warm, clear day, and I was hiding under a lantana bush with eight of my comrades in a village north of Jaffna. With our rifles cocked and our cyanide capsules clenched between our teeth, we awaited the soldiers who had been scouring the area for us for several hours. Our orders were to empty our magazines into them before biting into the glass capsules we called 'kuppies' that hung on a thread around our necks. As a Tamil Tiger guerrilla, there was no honour in being caught alive.

There had been 22 of us that morning – nine boys and 13 girls, aged between 15 and 26 (I was 17). Now, four of my comrades were missing, two were wounded. Ten were dead.


For the rest of the story.

Long live the Tamil people! Long live the Tigers! Long live the solidarity of oppressed peoples!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

SIBEL EDMONDS, THE MEDIA, AND ANALYSIS OF THE KURDISH SITUATION

"I hate journalists. There is nothing in them but tittering jeering emptiness. They have all made what Dante calls the Great Refusal. . . . The shallowest people on the ridge of the earth."
~ William Butler Yeats.


Sibel Edmonds has a radio interview with Scott Horton here (Run time a little over 27 mins.). She talks about what happens when the FBI runs a FISA investigation against foreign agents who are telephoning traitorous members of Congress and making deals with them. There's also a transcript of the interview at the link.

Let me happily mention that Sibel has her very own blog now. That's right. The great lady herself will be posting her own thoughts on her own blog at 123 Real Change. The link has also been added to the Sibel Stuff list in the right margin. I suggest you bookmark it and check in often. Who knows? You might learn something about how The System works.

She's off to a good start, too, by fixing the worthless American media in her crosshairs. What accounts for the worthless American media's infinite incompetence? Here are some points she starts off with:


1. Government Agents: CIA-Media reporting as seen in Operation Mockingbird, or embedded Pentagon pawns like Judith Miller, or Hoover style censorship of the MSM.

2. Lazy Journalism on the Cheap: The publications no longer pay for, budget for, real ‘investigative journalism,’ thus, you get your typical stenographers who make their one or two calls to their ‘usual sources’ right from their desks, and write as dictated.

3. Government Pressure, Harassment, and even Blackmail: Cases like James Risen (NY Times) and Bill Conroy (an editor at the San Antonio Business Journal) are good examples.

4. Self-Censorship: Based on this theory, with just a little massaging patriotism kicks in with many of these so-called journalists (whether it’s the Cold War, or, the Post 9/11 war on terror), and that does the job for the government propagandists.

5. Americans Want Entertainment not Real News: Some suggest that after commute-work-commute-kids & household chores, basically, exhausted with day-to-day work, hassles, stress, and pressure, people don’t want serious and grim realities. They want to tune in to Brittney’s latest panties, or Brangelina’s latest baby conquest.

6. Corporate Owned Media: Powerful Corporations are becoming a major influence, and ownership concentrated as a result of mega mergers…

7. Combination of some or all of the above

8. None of the Above


If you want to join in the discussion, head on over there and post a comment.

You might also be interested in this blast against the worthless American media:


Memo to my remaining daily print colleagues and their nostalgia club: Get over it and get over yourselves. It’s not that the Internet is Mr. Wonderful. Much of it mimics the same bad qualities that drove the public away from daily newspapers. When you took the honest advocacy out of reporting you emptied it of all passion and reason to exist. It was a nice ride on your profit ledger sheet during the recent decades when You lost the public to us because - there's no nice or sugar-coated way to say it - you guys really suck at what you do. In your arrogance, you established calcified “rules” of “journalism” and false “objectivity” that neutered and spayed all of your reporters, domesticated so they would never again afflict the comfortable or comfort the afflicted. When you took the honest advocacy out of reporting you emptied it of all passion and reason to exist. It was a nice ride on your profit ledger sheet during the recent decades when you turned your rags into propaganda arms for the wealthy and powerful, but a funny thing happened on the way to the ATM machine: You lost the trust of your readers, half of whom have already given you the finger and pursued alternate routes to inform themselves of current events. And the rest are on the way through the same EXIT sign.


OUCH!! But such a rant couldn't happen against a more deserving bunch of losers. Note to self: The next time you read something that contains the self-serving whining of media elites to Congress, have a motion sickness bag handy.

I've also added a link to the Kurdish Herald in the Links list in the right margin. It looks like it has a variety of articles and analysis. I'd like to point out one piece that deals with DTP's recent success in the 29 March local Turkish elections:


Things did not go as planned for the AKP. The Kurds took the local elections as a referendum. The AKP’s using state and governmental resources to “buy votes” in exchange of delivering coal, small educational stipends, refrigerators or dishwashers; the opening of the official TRT 6 Kurdish TV channel, and the debates over Kurdology institutes at Turkish universities; and the promises to “pour money into the region for development” did not bring the votes the AKP had expected (Radikal, 31 March 2009). On the contrary, the DTP could not only defend its “castle” Diyarbakir and the municipalities of Tunceli, Batman, Hakkari and Sirnak, and remarkably increased its votes, but also won the elections in Igdir, Van and Siirt; the latter two being very crucial for the AKP. The prime minister himself was elected from the Siirt province in 2002, which is also the hometown of his wife who is of Arab ethnicity. The DTP increased the number of its municipalities from 56 to 98, compared with 2004, hence scoring a clear victory.

Optimistic Kurds thought that this victory would put enough pressure on the government to begin a dialogue with the DTP for a peaceful resolution for the Kurdish issues, which would mean the end of the government’s policy “not to shake hands with the DTP” since the general elections of 2007. The PKK welcomed DTP’s election success and declared not to use arms until 1 June 2009, and extend the cease-fire if the state does not increase tension, as a political move to empower the DTP in the political process. However, the series of events that started immediately after the elections gave clear hints that a dialogue between the Kurds and the Turkish state was still not within sight. Turkish police attacked harshly Kurdish who objected to what they believed was an election fraud by the AKP in the Agri province. Many were injured and many more were arrested or detained.

In this murky political atmosphere, on 14 April 2009 the police conducted simultaneous operations in 15 different cities, mostly located in the Kurdish region, and took more than seventy DTP executives and members under custody with the accusation that they had ties with the PKK. While strongly denying these accusations, the DTP announced that the number of its imprisoned executives and members had reached 222 as of 7 May 2009, including 3 vice-chairs of the party. In addition, the mayors of Diyarbakir and Batman received ten-month sentences for using the word “guerilla” to name the PKK members, instead of the word “terrorist,” and if the Court of Appeals approves the sentence, they will also lose their posts.


There's not much for me to add here because I agree with the analysis, but read the whole thing to get the big picture in a nutshell.

There's also an informative piece on income disparities in The Southeast when compared to the rest of Turkey. It should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone but the biggest Turkish "equality" propagandist that the Kurdish regions are at the bottom of the list. In fact, as the author notes, the numbers placing the Kurdish regions at the bottom of the list may be skewed by the fact that The Southeast suffers from a major infestation of TSK and government types whose salaries are far above those of the regular Kurdish population:


Indeed, the pure data in and of itself does not tell the full story. It must be recognized that a large number of Turkish police officers and military and intelligence personnel who are stationed in Kurdish provinces receive much higher wages than locals. Members of the Turkish security forces who work in Kurdish areas are almost always from majority Turkish areas of the country. They are frequently housed highly fortified, protected compounds within Kurdish areas and do not live among the masses. If their incomes are considered in the calculation of the means for the regions, this data may actually overestimate income levels in Kurdish provinces and thus understate the true magnitude of the regional income disparity.


So, take a look at that one, too, and then browse the rest of the site. And let's hope they're not all a bunch of damned journalists over there.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

KURDISH MOTHER'S DAY

"When I see the elaborate study and ingenuity displayed by women in the pursuit of trifles, I feel no doubt of their capacity for the most herculean undertakings."
~ Julia Ward Howe.


After seeing the reports on Roj TV today of Kurdish mother's out in full strength demonstrating against the violence of the Ankara regime, particularly the persistence of the Saturday Mothers in Istanbul, I'm reminded of the true origin of Mother's Day in the US . . . and it wasn't meant to be the retail event that The System would have you believe today:


"Arise then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be of water or of tears!

"Say firmly: 'We will not have questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience. We women of one country will be too tender to those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own, it says "Disarm! Disarm!" The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.'

"As men have forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his time the sacred impress not of Caesar, but of God.

"In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace."


As this weekend's demonstrations prove, it is Kurdish women in general, and Kurdish mothers in particular, who hold the torch for the true meaning of Mother's Day. And you won't see that unity of purpose or strength of numbers among any other group of women anywhere else in the world.

Anneler gününüz kutlu olsun!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

HASHISH AND THE MARDIN MASSACRE

"What are they trying to hide?"
~ Ahmet Türk.


Some of you may remember Akin Birdal before he became one of DTP's Diyarbakır parliamentarians. If so, you will recall that he was the IHD president whom the state attempted to assassinate in 1998. Birdal has also been imprisoned for publicly urging a peaceful solution to the Kurdish situation in Turkey. In other words, there are very few others in Turkey who are as qualified to investigate human rights violations or state assassinations than Akin Birdal.

According to Akşam, the TBMM's Human Rights Commission has formed a sub-commission of five parliamentarians (out of the nine parliamentarians on the Human Rights Investigation Commission) to investigate the Mardin massacre and Akin Birdal, who is one of the nine members of the TBMM's Human Rights Commission, has been refused a place on the sub-commission.

My first thought about stuff like this is: "What are they trying to hide?" I'm not the only one who thinks that way. So does Ahmet Türk (Source: http://www.firatnews.com/index.php?rupel=nuce&nuceID=7451):


"To this date, we have always been excluded. However the behavior of the Human Rights Commission is quite thought-provoking. The idea of creating a parliamentary investigation commission for the violence in Mardin came from our friend Akin Birdal. But although he is a member of the commission, he is not included in the sub-commission for Mardin. Whereas the sub-commission consists of five members. Despite this fact, our party, which has a group in the parliament, is excluded from the sub-commission's investigation. This contradicts justice and equality principle. Why are we being excluded? We are not going to be silent about this."

[ . . . ]

"What are they trying to hide? We are not going to be silent about the behavior that excludes our party. Although there wasn't any member from MHP at the commission's meeting, the chairman calls him and tells him to come. However, he [the commission's AKP chairman] excludes our friend, who is already present at the meeting. In the past, I was also the Human Rights chairman. From all the political parties which have groups in the parliament, the subcommission gets members. There is a logic of exclusion in this case. We came here [to parliament] to represent our people, not to be excluded. The chairman of the parliament must intervene immediately [in this case of injustice].


Maybe they're trying to hide that business about the hashish in Bilge village (Source: http://www.firatnews.com/index.php?rupel=nuce&nuceID=7430):


Hashish fight over 40 thousand donums [Note: a donum is a unit of area equal to 1,000 square meters]

After the Assyrians and Armenians emigrated from their Bilge village land, the land became state property. However, the right to own that land divided the Çelebi family in two. The planting of hashish in almost 40 thousand donums in Bilge village caused the fight between village guards over shares.

Last month when there was a study for land registry, the debate over sharing of the land, which is marked as state property, was revealed Two weeks ago, the same debate heated up between nephew and uncle families [the Çelebis]. After the debate over the land--whose real owners were Assyrians and Armenians--was revealed, the Çelebi nephew family decided in favor of the massacre and the date for the massacre was chosen consciously. According to them, the wedding celebration was the most suitable time when everyone from the other family would be together. Thus they could massacre all of them without any witness.

Scapegoat PKK by not leaving any witness

The Çelebi nephew family wanted to massacre the members of the family of the [Çelebi] uncle without leaving any living witness, thus they would be able to blame PKK for this massacre.

In the massacre, where 44 people died, if there weren't any witnesses, the incident would have been blamed on PKK because, at the very beginning hours of the incident, several news agencies and TV news channels stated that village guards had fired back against "terrorists" who succeeded in escaping due to a dust storm.

However, the three wounded witnesses who survived the massacre and gave the village guard perpetrators' names, turned their plan upsidedown.

The Sultan village garrison is two kilometers away from Bilge village, however the troops arrived at the village where the incident took place two hours later.


All of this is despite the fact that, as I mentioned previously, right after the massacre began, one of the victims managed to escape and go to the military garrison to warn a village guard relative of what was happening. The village guard at the garrison warned the military commanders, saying "they have left no one in our village; we should go." The response of the military commanders was "If you want, you can go, but we are not going now."

How typical is all of this? A fight over illegal drugs, a massacre, attempt to blame the Kurdish freedom movement, and the state's authorities in the region showing up well after any danger is passed . . . kind of like state authorities acted at Güngören.

Also, as I mentioned previously, the survivors screwed the whole thing up.

For more on the Mardin massacre, check Children of the Sun for a discussion from İsmail Beşikçi on the purpose of village guards.

Zerkesorg has a discussion of the massacre, too, with a translated opinion piece on what the massacre is called and what it would be called under other conditions. Very interesting, particularly since the Ankara regime's propaganda about the massacre has saturated English-language media to such an extent that even bat-shit crazy, ultra-rightwing, neo-nazi, pro-terrorist, anti-Muslim fascist extremists, like this one, are advertising, for free, the spin of the Islamist regime in Turkey . . . And they're calling it "honor killing," but only because that's also a racist site.

It reminds me of the old adage that says that the biggest mistake intelligent people make is to refuse to believe that people are a stupid as they really are.

Hevallo's recent post mentions a subject that I'll be working on soon, and that will be the translation of Hasan Cemal's interview series at Milliyet with Murat Karayılan. Lots of speculation is flying around about this, especially since Abdullah Gül said that he wanted to see Hasan Cemal, along with certain other politicos such as the new foreign minister, Davutoğlu, and Cemil "Chicken Little" Çiçek.

Regarding the interview with Karayılan, we need to remember that nothing he's said in the interview is new to us. Karayılan has been saying the very same things that PKK has been saying for years now, especially since PKK issued its statement on a democratic solution to the Kurdish question back in 2006--three years ago! Because the information is censored by Google, you'll have to copy-and-paste http://www.kurdish-info.net/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=3467 to read the three-year-old declaration.

At this point, I see Hasan Cemal's interview as introducing PKK's long-standing offer of a democratic solution, which has been ignored or denied by the Ankara regime and its worldwide publicists, to the Turkish public for the first time. Hevallo is absolutely correct in warning about provocations because we all know what happened the last time a Turkish president seriously considered a peaceful solution. Things are not much different now; there are still a lot of Deep State types who are making a lot of money from the status quo.

It may turn out to be a very interesting summer after all.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

STUFF YOU OUGHT TO BE READING

"I hope we shall... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."
~ Thomas Jefferson.


I came across something very interesting today that's a bit off-topic but important. It's an interview with Noam Chomsky from 1995 and the moral of the interview is to read things for yourself. Don't rely on the mass media, the "pundits", or the educational system to learn. Here's a portion:


Excerpted from Class Warfare - 1995



David Barsamian: One of the heroes of the current right-wing revival... is Adam Smith. You've done some pretty impressive research on Smith that has excavated... a lot of information that's not coming out. You've often quoted him describing the "vile maxim of the masters of mankind: all for ourselves and nothing for other people."

Noam Chomsky: I didn't do any research at all on Smith. I just read him. There's no research. Just read it. He's pre-capitalist, a figure of the Enlightenment. What we would call capitalism he despised. People read snippets of Adam Smith, the few phrases they teach in school. Everybody reads the first paragraph of The Wealth of Nations where he talks about how wonderful the division of labor is. But not many people get to the point hundreds of pages later, where he says that division of labor will destroy human beings and turn people into creatures as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human being to be. And therefore in any civilized society the government is going to have to take some measures to prevent division of labor from proceeding to its limits.

He did give an argument for markets, but the argument was that under conditions of perfect liberty, markets will lead to perfect equality. That's the argument for them, because he thought that equality of condition (not just opportunity) is what you should be aiming at. It goes on and on. He gave a devastating critique of what we would call North-South policies. He was talking about England and India. He bitterly condemned the British experiments they were carrying out which were devastating India.

He also made remarks which ought to be truisms about the way states work. He pointed out that its totally senseless to talk about a nation and what we would nowadays call "national interests." He simply observed in passing, because it's so obvious, that in England, which is what he's discussing -- and it was the most democratic society of the day -- the principal architects of policy are the "merchants and manufacturers," and they make certain that their own interests are, in his words, "most peculiarly attended to," no matter what the effect on others, including the people of England who, he argued, suffered from their policies. He didn't have the data to prove it at the time, but he was probably right.

This truism was, a century later, called class analysis, but you don't have to go to Marx to find it. It's very explicit in Adam Smith. It's so obvious that any ten-year-old can see it. So he didn't make a big point of it. He just mentioned it. But that's correct. If you read through his work, he's intelligent. He's a person who was from the Enlightenment. His driving motives were the assumption that people were guided by sympathy and feelings of solidarity and the need for control of their own work, much like other Enlightenment and early Romantic thinkers. He's part of that period, the Scottish Enlightenment.

The version of him that's given today is just ridiculous. But I didn't have to any research to find this out. All you have to do is read. If you're literate, you'll find it out. I did do a little research in the way it's treated, and that's interesting. For example, the University of Chicago, the great bastion of free market economics, etc., etc., published a bicentennial edition of the hero, a scholarly edition with all the footnotes and the introduction by a Nobel Prize winner, George Stigler, a huge index, a real scholarly edition. That's the one I used. It's the best edition. The scholarly framework was very interesting, including Stigler's introduction. It's likely he never opened The Wealth of Nations. Just about everything he said about the book was completely false. I went through a bunch of examples in writing about it, in Year 501 and elsewhere.

But even more interesting in some ways was the index. Adam Smith is very well known for his advocacy of division of labor. Take a look at "division of labor" in the index and there are lots and lots of things listed. But there's one missing, namely his denunciation of division of labor, the one I just cited. That's somehow missing from the index. It goes on like this. I wouldn't call this research because it's ten minutes' work, but if you look at the scholarship, then it's interesting.

I want to be clear about this. There is good Smith scholarship. If you look at the serious Smith scholarship, nothing I'm saying is any surprise to anyone. How could it be? You open the book and you read it and it's staring you right in the face. On the other hand if you look at the myth of Adam Smith, which is the only one we get, the discrepancy between that and the reality is enormous.

This is true of classical liberalism in general. The founders of classical liberalism, people like Adam Smith and Wilhelm von Humboldt, who is one of the great exponents of classical liberalism, and who inspired John Stuart Mill -- they were what we would call libertarian socialists, at least that ïs the way I read them. For example, Humboldt, like Smith, says, Consider a craftsman who builds some beautiful thing. Humboldt says if he does it under external coercion, like pay, for wages, we may admire what he does but we despise what he is. On the other hand, if he does it out of his own free, creative expression of himself, under free will, not under external coercion of wage labor, then we also admire what he is because he's a human being. He said any decent socioeconomic system will be based on the assumption that people have the freedom to inquire and create -- since that's the fundamental nature of humans -- in free association with others, but certainly not under the kinds of external constraints that came to be called capitalism.

It's the same when you read Jefferson. He lived a half century later, so he saw state capitalism developing, and he despised it, of course. He said it's going to lead to a form of absolutism worse than the one we defended ourselves against. In fact, if you run through this whole period you see a very clear, sharp critique of what we would later call capitalism and certainly of the twentieth century version of it, which is designed to destroy individual, even entrepreneurial capitalism.

There's a side current here which is rarely looked at but which is also quite fascinating. That's the working class literature of the nineteenth century. They didn't read Adam Smith and Wilhelm von Humboldt, but they're saying the same things. Read journals put out by the people called the "factory girls of Lowell," young women in the factories, mechanics, and other working people who were running their own newspapers. It's the same kind of critique. There was a real battle fought by working people in England and the U.S. to defend themselves against what they called the degradation and oppression and violence of the industrial capitalist system, which was not only dehumanizing them but was even radically reducing their intellectual level. So, you go back to the mid-nineteenth century and these so-called "factory girls," young girls working in the Lowell [Massachusetts] mills, were reading serious contemporary literature. They recognized that the point of the system was to turn them into tools who would be manipulated, degraded, kicked around, and so on. And they fought against it bitterly for a long period. That's the history of the rise of capitalism.

The other part of the story is the development of corporations, which is an interesting story in itself. Adam Smith didn't say much about them, but he did criticize the early stages of them. Jefferson lived long enough to see the beginnings, and he was very strongly opposed to them. But the development of corporations really took place in the early twentieth century and very late in the nineteenth century. Originally, corporations existed as a public service. People would get together to build a bridge and they would be incorporated for that purpose by the state. They built the bridge and that's it. They were supposed to have a public interest function. Well into the 1870s, states were removing corporate charters. They were granted by the state. They didn't have any other authority. They were fictions. They were removing corporate charters because they weren't serving a public function. But then you get into the period of the trusts and various efforts to consolidate power that were beginning to be made in the late nineteenth century. It's interesting to look at the literature. The courts didn't really accept it. There were some hints about it. It wasn't until the early twentieth century that courts and lawyers designed a new socioeconomic system. It was never done by legislation. It was done mostly by courts and lawyers and the power they could exercise over individual states. New Jersey was the first state to offer corporations any right they wanted. Of course, all the capital in the country suddenly started to flow to New Jersey, for obvious reasons. Then the other states had to do the same thing just to defend themselves or be wiped out. It's kind of a small-scale globalization. Then the courts and the corporate lawyers came along and created a whole new body of doctrine which gave corporations authority and power that they never had before. If you look at the background of it, it's the same background that led to fascism and Bolshevism. A lot of it was supported by people called progressives, for these reasons: They said, individual rights are gone. We are in a period of corporatization of power, consolidation of power, centralization. That's supposed to be good if you're a progressive, like a Marxist-Leninist. Out of that same background came three major things: fascism, Bolshevism, and corporate tyranny. They all grew out of the same more or less Hegelian roots. It's fairly recent. We think of corporations as immutable, but they were designed. It was a conscious design which worked as Adam Smith said: the principal architects of policy consolidate state power and use it for their interests. It was certainly not popular will. It's basically court decisions and lawyers' decisions, which created a form of private tyranny which is now more massive in many ways than even state tyranny was. These are major parts of modern twentieth century history. The classical liberals would be horrified. They didn't even imagine this. But the smaller things that they saw, they were already horrified about. This would have totally scandalized Adam Smith or Jefferson or anyone like that....


The rest is here.

Notice that Chomsky also points to Thomas Jefferson, which is totally appropriate because Jefferson left behind a body of writing which, if The Fascist Oligarchs thought that you actually read, would scare the crap right out of them.

Nor could you find a better description of the Deep State than: "[T]he principal architects of policy consolidate state power and use it for their interests."

Read, enjoy, and don't be a tool of The System.