Saturday, September 15, 2012

Kurdistan and Syria Update, 9-15 September 2012


44 Journalists Go on Trial in Istanbul for So-Called Terrorism Links.  This week the largest mass trial of journalists in Turkey’s history—in a country known for its startling abuses of human rights—began in Istanbul, with 44 Kurdish journalists facing terrorism charges, mostly tangentially, for their support of the Union of Kurdistan Communities (K.C.K.), an umbrella group that includes mainstream civic organizations in addition the banned separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.).  36 of them have been imprisoned since December.  As is usual in similar cases, the beginning of the trial was delayed when defendants insisted on being tried in their native Kurdish.  Meanwhile, on the same day, Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğantook a harder line on one such civic organization, the pro-Kurdish political party called the Peace and Democracy Party (B.D.P.), calling them “butlers of their armed masters,” the P.K.K.

Kurdish women protesting Turkey’s latest show trial of journalists
Turkish Military Claims 75 Dead in Massive Anti-Kurdish Operation in Hakkari.  The Turkish government announced September 14th that a large-scale operation in southeastern Turkey’s Hakkari province, involving over 5,000 troops, has killed 75 members of the banned separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.).  A battle in the village of Bağlar, in Hakkari, had earlier left two soldiers dead and seven wounded on September 9th after a an army unit stumbled upon members of the banned separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.).

Turkish Authorities Arrest Suspected P.K.K. Bomber.  In Turkey, security forces arrested a member of the banned separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) in Antalya province on September 8th and found about 30 kg of explosives on him.  He was captured by police during a security operation in the Taurus Mountains that was in response to tips from an arrested P.K.K. member who was an accomplice in the landmine attack in Izmir, in western Turkey, on August 9th (reported on at the time in this blog).


Turkey Claims 25 Kurdish Rebels Dead in Cross-Border Raids into Iraq.  Turkish authorities announced September 10th that in the previous week, since September 5th, warplanes had attacked 14 different Kurdish rebel positions in the mountainous area of Iraq, just over the border from southeastern Turkey.  The statement claimed 25 dead, plus armories and anti-aircraft equipment destroyed.


Syrian Kurds Plan Military Force Apart from New Rebel “Syrian National Army.”  The announcement by members of the opposition in Syria’s civil war of a Syrian National Army (S.N.A.), a more official successor presumably to the Free Syrian Army (F.S.A.), was accompanied by a renewed plea for Kurdish opposition leaders to join the mainstream (and Sunni-Arab-dominated) armed opposition.  In reply, northern Syria’s Kurdish Supreme Council announced plans to form a centralized military force for Syrian Kurdistan, which has been governing itself since July as the Western Kurdistan Autonomous Region, after the withdrawal of the dictator Bashar al-Assad’s troops from the area.

Funeral for Family Killed in Syrian Bombing Focuses Kurdish Anger.  In Syria, the funeral for a Kurdish woman, two of her children (aged 7 and 3), and a relative killed in their home by government bombs on September 6th became a focus of Kurdish nationalist anger.  A Kurdish National Council (K.N.C.) officer spoke at the funeral, calling it “proof of the regime’s criminality,” while a rebel Free Syrian Army (F.S.A.) honor guard paid respects as well, with one rebel announcing afterward, “We are one people, Kurdish and Arab.”  The funeral, on September 7th, was held in Basuta, in the Kurdish-dominated northwestern corner of Aleppo province.  The bombing occurred in Aleppo itself, Syria’s second-largest city, which is home to a large Kurdish minority.

[Also, for those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with a forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas.  Look for it in spring 2013.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.]

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