1. PJAK: we express our support for Ocalan’s message
Kurds in all parts of Kurdistan have impressively participated in Newroz celebrations. This year’s
celebrations for the Kurdish nation have consisted of historical messages about resistance, liberation
struggle and peaceful stance. The peaceful proclamation of our leader, Abdullah Öcalan, as a
beginning of a new phase of struggle, initiated a historic movement to the celebrations of this year’s
Newroz in northern Kurdistan (Kurdistan region of Turkey). Also Kurds in western Kurdistan
(Kurdistan region of Syria) proclaimed their resistance and unity and expressed their commitment
to reinforce their struggle and working for stabilizing their political status. Kurds in southern
Kurdistan have expressed their supports to the struggles of Kurds in other parts of Kurdistan.
Although the Islamic Republic of Iran has banned Newroz celebrations in entire eastern Kurdistan
(Kurdistan region of Iran), but Kurds in this part celebrated Newroz everywhere and largely
participated in the celebrations. Kurds in eastern Kurdistan has shown their undefeatable stance
against the Islamic Republic of Iran’s suppressions policies, an attitude which is reflecting the spirit
The declaration of our leader, Abdullah Öcalan, in the magnificent celebration in Newroz in Amed,
presented a new phase of Kurdish liberation struggles. Therefore this proclamation, which was
addressed to all nations in the Middle East, has a significant influence on all other parts of
Kurdistan, especially in eastern Kurdistan. The ongoing process is not only concerning Turkey, but
also the entire Middle East. As The Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK), we express our support for
this new phase.
As The Free Life Party of Kurdistan, we salute all Newroz celebration activities in all Kurdistan in
general, and eastern Kurdistan in particular. We hope to witness the same attitude in all fields of
struggles in this part of Kurdistan. This is the attitude we should resume against annihilation policy.
Based on this, we call our nation in eastern Kurdistan to strengthen their unity and reach their
liberation struggles to the point of highest development in order to achieve freedom and democracy.
At the end, we again congratulate the New Year, Newroz and resistance struggles for freedom to our
The Coordination of The Free Life Party of Kurdistan – PJAK 22.03.2013
Source: PJAK Official Website (pjak.eu/en) http://rojhelat.info/en/?p=5542
2. Kalkan: Withdrawal is not on the agenda now
ANF, Behdinan – Answering to journalist Cahit Mervan on Nuçe Tv on Friday evening, Kurdish
Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council member Duran Kalkan said the withdrawal of
guerrilla forces was out of question at present.
“Our forces are in ceasefire and self defense position, – Kalkan said – watching the progress made
by the current process”. In response to the recently intensifying allegations on the withdrawal,
Kalkan added, “The guerrillas took to the mountain and took up arms because they had a purpose
and to struggle for their lives. Leader Apo demands freedom, the beginning of the solution process
of the Kurdish question, recognition of the Kurdish identity and treatment of Kurds in a fair and
equal manner. It will be difficult to convince guerrilla forces to withdrawal unless they get an
answer to these demands”.
Kalkan also pointed out that Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan should be put in direct contact with
guerrillas to enable the withdrawal.
“Our guerrilla forces – said Kalkan – are maintaining their ceasefire position on the basis of the call
Öcalan made on Newroz on 21 March and the subsequent instruction given by our Executive
Council on the 23th. There has been no change or no new move since that date. Our forces are
ready for any possibility”.
Kalkan stated that they were ready for withdrawal, on condition that the terms they put forward are
fulfilled. Kalkan added that their forces could agree on withdrawal only if concrete steps are taken
to meet their demands or if the Kurdish leader is directly involved in the process and convinces
them to do it. “Nobody should expect the withdrawal to happen that easily – he warned – and
criticized reports of an alleged withdrawal to happen soon and in an easy way”.
Source: Firat News Agency (en.firatajans.com) http://rojhelat.info/en/?p=5702
3. Karayilan: KCK needs direct contact with Öcalan
ANF, BEHDINAN – Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council President Murat
Karayilan and member Ronahî Serhad met representatives of worldwide press institutions in
Behdinan on Thursday.
Answering questions on the ceasefire process, Karayilan said the Kurdish movement has announced
ceasefire nine times since 1993. He pointed out that the KCK has yet not decided on withdrawal
from Turkish borders and criticized the slow progress of their communication with the Kurdish
leader, Abdullah Öcalan, in Imrali prison.
Karayilan underlined that KCK needed to be in touch with Öcalan to ensure a solution in the
currently ongoing process of talks he is leading with the Turkish state.
Why not would a group of KCK members visit Imrali if needs be?, said Karayilan, adding, “Our
movement wants to overcome the problem and we side with advancing the process, not leading it to
a deadlock. However, it takes 15-20 days to get in touch with the leader, [referring to Öcalan], as all
steps for the meetings and contacts with him require the permission of first the Ministry of Justice
then of the Prime Ministry. This system makes the process advance very slowly. There is a need for
a method like that used in the South African solution process. The isolation of the leader doesn’t
allow a healthy communication and progress. A decision could be made more easily if the way
followed in Mandela’s process is followed in Turkey as well”.
Source: Firat News Agency (en.firatajans.com) http://rojhelat.info/en/?p=5695
4. Karaylan: We are ready for war but we want peace
ANF — One of the main newspapers of Egypt “Egypt Independent” visited Qendil and had an
interview with the leader of leading group of “Union of Communities in Kurdistan” (KCK) Murad
Editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Al-Sayid Abdulfatah” has done the interview and the summary of
the interview was published in the newspaper today; the detailed interview will be published in
coming days. In the interview he is pointing that PKK has announced cease fire against Turkey in
response to the peace message of their leader “Ocalan”.
In the news it is mentioned that Karaylan is warning Turkey to positively deals with their leader
“Abdullah Ocalan’s” peace process and prepare the requirements.
Karaylan in the interview is saying still we have doubt about the AKP’s will about the peace but we
insist that the Turkish society want peace.
The newspaper pointing a saying of Karaylan which saying: “we know Turkey has crisis and need
the peace, but we also know that AKP that has the government in Turkey will extend the peace
process and cease fire without finding any true solution for the problem”.
Karaylan denying any sort of withdrawal of their forces and stressed still it is not the time for that;
he also mentioned: “if during the cease fire our forces face any kind of attack, they have right of
Karaylan saying: “Right now we are in our most powerful situation and we are ready for war, but
we want peace, we understood Turkey failed to destroy PKK by military operations during 35 years,
that is why for co-existence of nations we ask them for keeping the peace, solving the Kurdish
problem and democratization of Turkey are tightly related to each other.
Karaylan also criticizing Arab countries in relation to Kurdish cause and saying these countries are
busy with their internal affairs and they keep their distance from important issues of the region.
Meanwhile the newspaper from Karaylan is saying that PKK does not struggle only for Kurds and
Kurdish cause, but their struggle is for democracy, freedom and peaceful life for all nations in the
Regarding the situation in Egypt Karaylan told the editor-in-chief of Egypt Independent that: “until
now Egypt is in the stage of revolt and still it did not reach the stage of peace, the uprising is
continuing and we hope the nation of Egypt achieve their goals of upraising and enter the new
stage, accomplish their goals and demands which they started revolt for them”.
About the current system of Egypt also said: “we have not seen any positive or negative position
from them in regard to situation of Kurds and regional issues”.
He also criticized the Muslim Brotherhood that trying to monopolize the power and said: “we were
hoping that the new government after the revolt will be different but until now it has not happened”.
At the end he asked the Egypt opposition to help each other for defending democracy, freedom and
rights of nations and free life.
Source: Firat News Agency (so.firatajans.com)
Translated By: Rojhelat.info http://rojhelat.info/en/?p=5672
5. Bayik: Legal assurance needed for withdrawal
ANF, Behdinan – Speaking to Nuçe Tv on Monday, Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) Executive
Council member Cemil Bayik said that ceasefire and withdrawal of guerrilla forces were part of a
democratic political solution to the Kurdish question.
Bayik said that the message Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan gave on Newroz on 21 March needed
to be understood and evaluated correctly, and noted that Öcalan’s message was a kind of
referendum that has been agreed on by the Kurdish people. Bayik noted that in his message Öcalan
asked the whole world if they asked for a democratic political solution to the Kurdish question and
to the question of freedom and democracy in Kurdistan, Turkey and the Middle East.
Bayik criticized debates and statements that indicate the withdrawal of PKK (Kurdistan Workers
Party) forces as the solution of the issue. “The ceasefire and withdrawal of our forces – he said –
will have a meaning only if they serve for the development of democratization in Turkey and the
Reminding of the previous guerrillas withdrawal in 1999 when guerrilla forces suffered attacks,
deaths and arrests, Bayik pointed out that the withdrawal of guerillas will not take place unless the
state ensures a legal ground for it. He warned that it was wrong and dangerous to defend that the
withdrawal could be enabled by means of administrative measures. Noting that the Turkish
parliament should also decide on the withdrawal and make a call for it, Bayik said that the present
laws which authorize the Turkish army for operations against guerrilla forces needed to be changed
to guarantee the withdrawal. Bayik evaluated the statements of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan and some other AKP executives as an indication of their persistence on not coming up with
a solution to the Kurdish question.
Bayik stated that the government should both take legal measures and establish a committee of wise
people to prove their sincerity about finding a solution. He noted that this committee should be
independent from all parties and circles and serve to arbitrate between the state and guerrilla forces.
The committee should be made up of people who represent all circles and social groups in the
society. Bayik noted that women should make up the majority of this committee to ensure an
advancement in the process with their perspective siding with justice and peace against war and
Bayik said the debates which put emphasis on the sensitivities of the Turkish side in this process
were a consequence of the dominant mentality which refused to see Kurds as a people and to take
their sensitivities into consideration. This approach is based on the exploitative mindset and the
attitude of dominant nations on the oppressed, he said and added that the solution of the Kurdish
question should be grounded on the recognition of the will of the Kurdish people.
“Kurds are ready to show solidarity, to listen to all circles and to exchange opinions but they refuse
to agree on the solution that the AKP government imposes on them and their organization, the PKK.
A solution cannot be achieved by means of threats, as we have experienced in the last 30 years. It
requires dialogue, negotiation and mutual agreement”, he added.
Bayik noted that Kurdish leader Öcalan needed to be granted equal opportunities as the state so that
the negotiations can take place on equal terms between both sides. He noted that the current
process, in which Öcalan had to act alone and under unfavorable conditions, could not bring along a
democratic solution. Bayik underlined that “In order to make a decision and exchange opinions on
the process, Öcalan needs to hold talks with the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party), PKK, socialist
and democratic circles, Alewis, Armenians, the oppressed and women who all face a problem of
democracy and freedom and an obstacle to express themselves”.
Bayik pointed out that Öcalan aimed to come up with a solution to the Kurdish question in all parts
of Kurdistan without affecting the borders. “Our previous paradigm had an intention of removing
these borders on the basis of establishing a state by exercising the right to national self
determination. However, our new paradigm, which is democratic confederalism, bases on the
democratization of peoples in Turkey and the Middle East and coming up with a solution to their
problem of freedom, equality and justice”.
Bayik warned that should the current process fail, this could lead to a dangerous time not only for
PKK and north Kurdistan but also for all Kurds and the peoples in the region. “This is why it is
necessary to lead the step for democratic liberation and construction of a free life to success” he
added. Source: Firat News Agency (en.firatajans.com) http://rojhelat.info/en/?p=5640
6. ANDREW FINKEL: Kurdish New Year’s Resolutions
ISTANBUL — Last Thursday was the start of the Kurdish New Year and, if all goes according to
plan, the advent of a new era in Turkey’s relationship with its own Kurdish population. In
Diyarbakir, the largest city in southeastern Turkey, a few hundred thousand people converged to
listen to a proclamation, read — first in Turkish, then in Kurdish — on behalf of Abdullah Ocalan,
the imprisoned founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party, also known as P.K.K.
It was time, the message said, “for the guns to be silent and for ideas and statecraft to speak.” In
short, Ocalan was calling for the end of an armed insurrection that has lasted almost three decades,
killed some 40,000 people, cost Turkey hundreds of billions of dollars and stood in the way of the
country’s ambition to be a regional powerhouse.
The occasion should have pleased Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He recently celebrated
his 10th year in power, and this could well be the defining moment of his reign. Yet he was
uncharacteristically sullen. While on a trip to the Netherlands, he called the rally in Diyarbakir —
which he had helped orchestrate — a “positive development” but scolded the crowds for their lack
of patriotism. Why, he asked, were they not waving Turkish flags?
The explanation for Erdogan’s flash of ill-humor, I think, is his realization that the peace process
could still founder and his legacy go up in smoke. Having secured Ocalan’s cooperation, the
government is now less worried about persuading the P.K.K. to lay down arms than convincing
mainstream Turkish public opinion that it will need to make concessions in return.
The government has portrayed the recent thaw as though the Kurds, now violence-weary, have
suddenly come to their senses. Yet history is on their side. Thanks to oil wealth, the Kurds of
northern Iraq have become an important trading partner, and the Kurds in Syria are exploiting the
weakness of the regime in Damascus to solidify control over the northern region that borders
Turkey. Turkish Kurds may no longer be asking for an independent Kurdistan, but they will be
reluctant to leave the negotiating table empty-handed.
For starters, Turkish law, which still equates Kurdish identity politics with abetting terrorism, will
need to be amended. The joyful throngs in Diyarbakir last week were technically committing an
offense by waving the Kurdish flag and banners of Ocalan.
Among the Kurds’ most common demand is the right to use Kurdish as an official language in
government offices and schools. Another is some form of political devolution. There’s also the
release of the 8,000 or so pro-Kurdish political activists held in pretrial detention under Turkey’s
sweeping antiterrorism laws. Finally, and most problematic, the P.K.K. is demanding the
rehabilitation of its militants — including, if not actual freedom, then a lenient form of h
These are compromises most Turks will find difficult to accept, particularly if they suspect that
Erdogan has made a deal with Ocalan in order to win the Kurds’ support for his own political
ambitions. His party’s bylaws forbid him from running for prime minister again, but the presidency
becomes vacant in 2014, and Erdogan hopes before then to push through a constitutional reform
that would give the job much greater powers. Just putting that proposition to a public referendum
requires the support of at least one opposition party — and now the Peace and Democracy Party, a
Kurdish nationalist party, looks like the most likely to oblige.
Given these stakes, small wonder Erdogan chided the Kurds of Diyarbakir last week. Or that he
publicly burst out in anger in late February after a newspaper leaked minutes from meetings that
Ocalan held in prison with some MPs according to which he urged P.K.K. militants to get with the
program — including by supporting Erdogan’s candidacy for president.
This is not the first time Erdogan has tried to resolve the Kurdish issue, but he knows it may well be
his last. His main obstacle used to be resistance from the Kurdish side. Now, it’s convincing his own
constituents, whom he helped rear on a diet of “no surrender to terrorism,” that compromise means
peace, not defeat. Source: IHT Global Opinion (latitude.blogs.nytimes.com) http://rojhelat.info/en/?p=5627
7. Karayilan: Everybody should play their role for peace
Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council president Murat Karayilan and member
Ronahi Serhat answered journalists’ questions on a program on Nuçe Tv on Wednesday.
We publish some parts of the interview.
How would you summarize the message of Öcalan’s call which closely concerns all Kurds in four
parts of Kurdistan as well as the countries in the Middle East region?
He proposes to develop a new line and a new perception in the region and this means the beginning
of a new process. He grounds his proposal on a solution involving both Kurds and Turks, the two
larger nations in the region, and the principle of a common life. His perspective which will also lead
to the beginning of a new process in the Middle East aims to form a Confederation of Middle East
Peoples in the process of time.
Which kind of responsibilities are to be undertaken by the sides involved in the process?
First of all it is important that this proposal is handled and understood fully by the Kurdish side, the
Turkish government and the peoples in the region. The proposal by Öcalan is not a tactical but a
strategical approach which requires a change in the general mentality. He proposes the replacement
of the present division and conflict among peoples with peace and living together. His perspective
will eliminate all policies on the Middle East where there currently exists a cruel conflict and
bloodshed, mainly in Syria and Iraq, while on the other hand international powers are developing
policies over these contradictions. It proposes shaping the Middle East by means of coming up with
a solution to the Kurdish question and achieving peace among the peoples in Turkey. His
perspective is as a matter of fact a kind of presentation of his long-standing philosophical
understanding and it is the single frame that can enable Turkey to make a remarkable move for its
What about the withdrawal of armed forces from Turkish territory? It is said that it is time for Kurds
to give political struggle following the ending of armed struggle.
This plan involves three stages, the first of which is the ceasefire and withdrawal. As we have stated
earlier, the Parliament should also fulfill its responsibilities while we are implementing ours. What
we want is not a constitutional arrangement but the establishment of a parliamentary commission to
make decisions on the peace process. The parliament’s involvement in the process will also mean
the involvement of people and political parties so that the present AKP-oriented narrow approach
towards the process can be removed.
The solution process should also be based on legal ground in consideration of the fact that all steps
that have been taken in the scope of talks so far are illegal according to Turkish laws, such as the
BDP-DTK delegation’s visit to Qendil and the state’s delegation’s meeting with Öcalan. Both
processes of Imrali talks and withdrawal need to have a legal basis as this may otherwise be cause
for a deadlock in the process.
The time of withdrawal is also related with the time of the government. Seasonal conditions are yet
not proper for the withdrawal for which we have started preparations, but without a legal frame.
There is a need for the establishment of a monitoring commission and a commission of wise people
to answer a number of unanswered questions such as what will happen after the withdrawal and
return to villages.
Can you detail the call Öcalan made to everyone for re-building of the law of brotherhood based on
freedom and equality?
There is a need for a new constitution to guarantee democracy and equal rights for all peoples and
minorities in Turkey. This move requires a rooted change which will also come up with a solution to
the Kurdish question and enable a constitutional form for the rights, organization and identity of
Source: Firat News Agency (en.firatajans.com) http://rojhelat.info/en/?p=5622
8. Harvey Morrisa: Kurdish Spring on Many Fronts
LONDON — Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdish Workers Party, or P.K.K., called for
a ceasefire Thursday in the three-decade war between P.K.K and the Turkish state, giving a new
impetus to New Year celebrations by Kurds.
Hundreds of thousands of Kurds gathered in the eastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir to observe a
holiday that they were long forbidden to celebrate publicly in Turkey.
In a message to pro-Kurdish legislators, Mr. Ocalan called for thousands of his fighters to withdraw
from Turkish territory: “We have reached the point where the guns must be silenced and where
ideas must speak.”
The truce marks the culmination of intensive negotiations between Mr. Ocalan and Turkish
officials on ending a conflict that cost 40,000 lives.
The breakthrough will reverberate beyond Turkey’s borders to neighboring Syria, Iraq and Iran, all
countries with large Kurdish minorities.
The estimated 30 million Kurds of the Middle East —official figures are deliberately vague —
represent the largest nation in the world without a state of its own.
Although linguistically related to the Persians of Iran, which was also celebrating the pre-Islamic
New Year festival of Nowruz on Thursday, the Kurds have maintained a distinctive culture that has
survived centuries of division and repression.
Their fortunes have seen a sharp change in the past decade, with the war in Iraq, the Arab Spring
and Syria’s descent into civil war.
Ten years ago this week, Kurds were fleeing to the mountains from the cities of northern Iraq in
anticipation of attacks by the forces of Saddam Hussein following the U.S.-led invasion.
Kurdish forces held the line in the north on behalf of the international coalition after Turkey refused
to join the invasion.
A decade on, an autonomous Kurdistan is now the most secure and prosperous region of Iraq and
enjoys close relations with a formerly hostile Turkey.
In Syria, Kurdish forces, including those allied to the P.K.K., have taken over territory and frontiers
abandoned by the retreating troops of the Damascus regime.
Fears of a Kurdish contagion have now spread to Iran, where the pro-Syrian Tehran regime is
concerned that a P.K.K. peace agreement will not only strengthen Turkey’s hand in the region but
might also encourage unrest among its own Kurdish population.
“A P.K.K. that suspends its operations in Turkey is most likely to support the armed struggle of the
Iranian Kurds and fight against Iran, or to go to Syria to boost and consolidate the gains of the
Kurdish people there,”according to Bayram Sinkaya, writing for Turkey’s Center for Middle
Eastern Strategic Studies.
For centuries, and before the creation of the modern Iranian, Turkish, Iraqi and Syrian states, rival
powers used the Kurds to fight their wars with little benefit to the divided Kurdish nation.
In modern times, movements such as the P.K.K. have been used as proxies in conflicts between
hostile neighboring states.
Analysts believe Turkey was prompted to make its own accommodation with a rebel movement it
had failed to crush in response to the increasing influence within Syria of the P.K.K.-linked
Democratic Union Party, or P.Y.D.
“The Kurdish issue is Turkey’s Achilles heel,” Kadri Gursel wrote at Al Monitor, which covers
trends in the Middle East. “It is its bleeding wound and as long as it remains as such Ankara cannot
maintain an ambitious policy that would mean challenging regional powers.”
The ultimate success of Turkey’s attempt to solve its Kurdish question will doubtless depend on its
readiness to recognize the democratic and cultural rights of its Kurdish population.
Kurdish movements in the Middle East, including the P.K.K., have broadly abandoned the objective
of creating a pan-Kurdish state, an aspiration that was denied to the Kurds in the post-World War I
settlement imposed by the world powers.
They now seek broader autonomy and equal rights within the established borders of existing states.
The Turkish-Kurdish truce might bring them one step closer to that goal.
Within a changing Middle East, the Kurds might well discern a symbolic spark of freedom from the
Nowruz bonfires they light on Thursday. Source: The Global Edition of The New York Times (rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com) http://rojhelat.info/en/?p=5593
9. Bayram Sinkaya: Why doesn’t Iran want Turkey to solve its Kurdish issue?
For some time Turkey has been searching for ways to solve its Kurdish issue under the label of “the
solution process.” Despite the optimism generated by this label, both the government and the Peace
and Democracy Party [BDP] (along with other elements of parliament’s Kurdish wing) have shown
prudence. One reason for this cautious optimism is Ankara’s concern that power brokers who do not
want Turkey to solve this issue might sabotage the process. Many insist that no country in the
region, or anywhere in the world for that matter, would like to see Turkey prosper after solving the
Kurdish issue. Turkey’s most frequently mentioned adversary is Iran.
For a while now it has been alleged that Iran is in alliance against Turkey with the PKK [Kurdistan
Workers Party] — or at least with PKK leaders such as Cemil Bayik, who is said to be close to Iran.
We remember how many listed Iran among the possible culprits of the Paris murders. Is Iran really
against Turkey resolving the Kurdish issue?
The first theory is a classic one, and posits that solving the Kurdish issue will empower Turkey.
Therefore Iran, which sees Turkey as a regional rival, would not want it to gain more power by
resolving the Kurdish issue.
But wouldn’t a strong and prosperous neighbor that has solved this problem contribute positively to
Iran as well? Isn’t that why Iran backed Turkey’s accession to the EU and its democratic openings?
Stability, economic growth and peace in Turkey’s east would certainly be felt in Iran’s restive
northwest, which has been living through similar problems for many years.
Another theory is that if Turkey makes progress in solving the Kurdish issue through democratic
means, it might put the authoritarian Iranian government — which also has a significant Kurdish
population — in a tough spot. Iranian Kurds who see Turkish Kurds making gains might well exert
pressure to achieve the same rights. This is why Iran would not want Turkey to solve the Kurdish
issue through democratic means, it is claimed. While there may well be some truth to this claim,
one has to admit that Iran’s Kurdish issue and the phase it has come to differ from what Turkey has
experienced. For example, Iran supported the demands of Kurds in northern Iraq to form a
federation, immediately recognized the Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG] without hesitation
and quickly developed relations with the region.
Perhaps Iranian leaders won’t be uncomfortable with Turkey solving its Kurdish issue but will
rather worry about the Turkish approach to a solution. The “solution process” now means the
withdrawal of about 4,000 PKK militants from Turkey. Where will these militants go with their
guns? Northern Iraq, Iran and Syria are the places that first come to mind.
Another question that has to be answered is what these militants will be doing after they leave
Turkey. Will they sit on a mountaintop waiting for the process to be completed? Certainly not. A
PKK that suspends its operations in Turkey is most likely to support the armed struggle of the
Iranian Kurds and fight against Iran, or to go to Syria to boost and consolidate the gains of
the Kurdish people there.
The PKK fighters’ withdrawal from Turkey with their guns will gain time for Turkey in the solution
process. But Iranian officials have serious fears that the PKK will join with the Iranian Party for a
Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK) to focus on the struggle against Iran. Those fears may explain the
recent wave of arrests of Iranian Kurdish politicians. It is reported that this wave of attacks is the
most comprehensive since 2008. The fact that these arrests have come at the same time as the
solution process in Turkey cannot be a coincidence.
In a nutshell, the solution process linked to the PKK’S withdrawal from Turkey is disturbing Iran.
This is not because of Iran’s concern with democratization or the empowerment of Turkey, but
because of its worry that the PKK fire could ignite its territory.
Source: www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics By: Bayram Sinkaya
Translated from ORSAM (Turkey)
10. Andrew Self: The Problem with Ocalan’s Peace
This week, jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan made a historic call for the PKK to lay down their
arms and withdraw from Turkey. Politicians and scholars alike have greeted the unprecedented
appeal as a critical and positive first step in ending the armed struggle that has plagued and defined
Turkey’s domestic and foreign policy for the last three decades. Most can agree that the
announcement is not a definitive solution and instead a comprehensive constitutional change in
Kurdish rights is still needed in order to address the underlying cause of the greater Kurdish
movement. What the immediate ceasefire allows, however, is a window of opportunity for political
maneuver. Erdogan and the AKP can only make progress towards solving the Kurdish issue
politically and constitutionally under the political cover provided by the immediate peace deal. In
this framework, Ocalan’s call for the PKK to halt its attacks and withdraw from Turkish territory is
extremely important. Similarly, the implications of the terms of his statement cannot be overlooked.
The first point of Ocalan’s appeal, a ceasefire, is rather straightforward. The PKK will cease attacks
against Turkish military and civilian targets. In fact, this step involves no action on behalf of the
PKK or the Turkish military, rather inaction. This is an important distinction to be made. The PKK
is not being asked to sacrifice anything tangible like weapons capabilities, personnel, or any
physical asset, only to temporarily cease operations. The second point of the call, the withdrawal, is
a much more complicated issue at several levels. Here, it is important to define withdrawal in its
military context. Politicians would be wise not to use the term without understanding its specific
implication. NATO defines a withdrawal as a planned retrograde operation in which a force in
contact disengages from an enemy force and moves in a direction away from the enemy. Note that
this is fundamentally different from a defeat, surrender, or an end to a conflict. A PKK withdrawal is
an operational maneuver, not a strategic outcome. The term itself carries no connotation of success
or failure. In fact, a withdrawal simply sacrifices space for time. In a nonlinear conflict like the one
the PKK and Turkish military are engaged in, the concept of space is not of significant tactical
importance, especially when the PKK’s logistical and leadership base in northern Iraq is not being
Furthermore, from a military standpoint, a PKK withdrawal raises serious questions regarding
exactly how to carry out such an operation. Nowhere has it been articulated just how the Turkish
government or the PKK will measure the withdrawal. At what point can the PKK be considered to
be withdrawn? Is it when every single armed Kurd leaves the country? This would be an extremely
ambitious goal given the fact that the PKK is a popular insurgency, not a conventional military unit.
Perhaps this argument is a straw man, but even a withdrawal of a fraction of the PKK is nearly
impossible to determine. After all, at what point does a PKK member become a Kurdish civilian?
When they disarm? Ocalan has yet to call on Kurds to disarm. Even if he did, how would Turkey
enforce such a monumental task? Who would oversee it? The Turkish military? If Ankara intends to
see every AK-47 collected from Turkey’s Southeast, then I wish them luck. These tactical and
operational-level definitions may seem trivial, as the strategic-level debate over greater Kurdish
rights is the key issue of the matter. However, the parties involved must realize that definitions of
operational terms have serious implications. True, a ceasefire and a withdrawal will not solve
Turkey’s Kurdish problem, but they are a necessary first step, and a first step that needs to be
defined and understood.
For these reasons, it is likely that the PKK will not withdraw and will not disarm, at least in the
sense that Turks would hope from a comprehensive peace agreement. In fact, on Friday, Murat
Karayilan, the leader of the PKK in northern Iraq in Ocalan’s stead, ordered the PKK to halt their
attacks but made no mention of a withdrawal. Why would he? The Turkish government has no
coercive capacity with which to enforce the terms of their own peace deal without spoiling it
themselves. As the peace deal currently stands, the PKK reserves its position of strength in these
negotiations. If the Turkish government fails to enact substantial democratic and cultural reforms,
the PKK reserves it ability to restart the conflict, having tactically sacrificed nothing in the process.
Observers must not confuse a ceasefire or a withdrawal with a neutralized PKK threat. The
organization will remain a deadly force, perched on Turkey’s border with an undiminished capacity
to reignite the insurgency if the evolving political struggle fails.
Source: www.huffingtonpost.com http://rojhelat.info/en/?p=5587
11. Cengiz Çandar: A Newroz vision for Turkish-Kurdish relations
What was read out yesterday was a declaration of peace and unity for Mesopotamia, Kurdistan and
Anatolia. I listened to the “historic” declaration expected from Abdullah Ocalan on a live
transmission from NTV. Everything was momentous yesterday [March 21]. All leading Turkish
television channels were transmitting the Nowruz celebrations in Diyarbakir of more than a million
people with PKK flags and posters of Abdullah Ocalan live for several hours.
The declaration from Imrali of the man sentenced to life in prison was read out first in Kurdish and
then in Turkish by two parliamentarians. This was at the top of the news in national and
international news channels until midnight, ushering in a truly “historic Nowruz.”
Ocalan’s declaration made a mockery of all the speculations, leaked news and comments of recent
days. To make sure that the declaration was indeed consequential, I had a look at ANF, the Kurdish
news agency, reading its Kurdish version, which read: “Ocalan: A new era is beginning.” The
subtitle was the part Ocalan emphasized, “The time has come for democratic politics.”
It was important to understand how a vast political movement, especially its armed wing, assessed
the declaration and which aspect of the declaration it saw as being the most significant. The
movement’s members interpreted Ocalan’s remarks on the “beginning of a new era” as signaling
“the beginning of a democratic political era.” It is true that what made this declaration
“extraordinary” was the part that expressed “the end of one era and start of a new one.”
The phrases “Today, a new era is beginning” and, “a door is opening from the process of armed
resistance to the democratic political process,” marked the end of an era and the beginning of
He defined the “new era” with stronger emphasis: “Guns must be silent now. We are at the point
where we will let ideas and policies speak out. Witnessed by millions who heard my appeal, I am
saying that a new era is starting; not weapons but politics are now at the fore. We have commenced
a phase of armed elements withdrawing beyond the border.”
What we have to understand from these words is that Ocalan has concluded that “the underlying
reasons of armed struggle the PKK has been carrying out in Turkey no longer exist. From now on,
demands will be expressed through democratic politics.” It is in this way that he is closing one
historic era for the PKK and the Kurds and is opening a new one.
One can find a more poetic elaboration of this point in the parts where he addressed the Kurds and
“For Kurds, the Tigris and Euphrates are the brothers of Sakarya and Meric [major rivers in western
Turkey]. The Agri and Cudi mountains are friends of Kackar and Erciyes [mountains in central
Turkey]. Halay and delilo [Kurdish folk dances] are relatives of horon and zeybek [Turkish folk
dances]. Turkish people who have been living in Anatolia from time immemorial should know that
their coexistence with Kurds under the colors of Islam for about thousand years has been founded
on brotherhood and solidarity. Turks and Kurds who were martyred at Canakkale [Gallipoli], fought
together in the War of Liberation and established the 1920 Assembly together.”
When read carefully, Ocalan in his declaration that closed the doors on “an independent Kurdistan
or a Kurdish nation-state” also sets out his objection to a “Turk nation-state”:
“This is not an end but a new beginning. This is not giving up the struggle but launching a different
struggle. To opt for an ethnic and single national entity is a non-human approach that denies our
origins and soul. To put together a democratic country where all peoples and cultures are equal and
free that befits the history of Kurdistan and Anatolia is our common responsibility. On the occasion
of this Nowruz I am calling on Armenians, Turkmens, and Assyrians, Arabs and others as much as
the Kurds to see the light of freedom and equality for themselves from the fires burning today.”
Looking from this perspective, what was heard at Diyarbakir yesterday and witnessed by millions
could well be called “a declaration of peace and unity for Mesopotamia-Kurdistan-Anatolia.”
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded to the declaration by saying, “I find the appeal
and invitation positive. The messages at Diyarbakir match our messages,” but he also expressed a
reservation: “Of course, what is important is their application.”
Was there any missing element in Ocalan’s long-awaited declaration? Yes, there was. He did not
give a timeline, a calendar or indication of a method for “withdrawal beyond the borders” that was
marked by the prime minister as vital and “evidence of the beginning of the process.” He did not
once utter the words “cease-fire” and “non-hostility.”
In a nutshell, all these monthlong speculations, including mine, were left hanging. Is it conceivable
that the date of withdrawal, its calendar and its methods were not discussed in the months long
discussions at Imrali? Certainly not.
Then what? This either means that Ocalan and the government have not agreed on a timeline,
calendar and method or Ocalan and his organization, especially Kandil [military command] have
not reached a detailed accord on scheduling and methods. Perhaps Ocalan is “holding his cards
close to his chest” and not showing his hand. This will have to be dealt with in the negotiations
process. He may wish to see the steps the state and the government will take.
I also noted that in his declaration he did not use the past tense by saying ”An era is finished, and a
new one begins.” It may be significant that he chose to say, “A new era is beginning, a new page is
So? We are only at the very beginning, and there is a long and tough road ahead. Perhaps the
biggest banner in Diyarbakir unconsciously reflected this reality. It said: “No peace unless the
leader is free.”
What is clear is that as of yesterday we will be searching for a solution through dialogue and
negotiations in an environment where the guns are silent.
Just think, a couple of months ago we could not even dream that Newroz 2013 would be celebrated
like this in Diyarbakir.
By: Cengiz Çandar. Translated from Radikal (Turkey)
12. Jihad el-Zein: No matter where the rains fall in our region these days, the bloom is always Kurdish
No matter where the rains fall in our region these days, the bloom is always Kurdish. In the Kurds’
view, be they elites or commoners, this political era is theirs — an era that would see the redressing
of 90 years of injustices perpetrated against them since after the First World War. Here, then, is the
Kurdish view of the situation in the region on this new-year celebration of Nowruz today.
In the last decade, the first truly independent Kurdish state in modern times was established under
the formula of a “federal region” within the Iraqi state. Yet, if it weren’t for the region’s share of the
central government’s oil, nothing would remain of this formula, except nominal ties marred by a
relation of daily confrontations.
During the two years since the Syrian revolution erupted, Syrian Kurds in the extreme north and
northeastern parts of the country have enjoyed self-rule in their areas, which extend discontinuously
over hundreds of kilometers from Afrin to al-Qamishli along the border with Turkey. The term
“Western Kurdistan” was even created during the Syrian revolution to describe these regions, which
possess historical roots dissimilar to those of Kurdish areas in Northern Iraq. This is because a large
portion of their inhabitants came from Turkey and took refuge there after World War I to escape the
Kurdish-Turkish clashes that erupted in the first decade following the establishment of Kamal
Throughout the revolution, and despite the fact that control over Kurdish areas fell mostly to the
Democratic Union Party — which does not agree, and even clashes, with the Free Syrian Army
militias, especially the Islamic fundamentalist factions among them — the Syrian revolutionary
leadership committees established abroad were always keen to give precedence to Kurdish
individuals. This led to the appointment of Abdulbaset Sieda as head of the Syrian National Council
and then Ghassan Hitto as head of the interim government for the liberated areas. It is also well
known that many disagreements erupted within the opposition’s institutions between Arabs and
Kurds concerning the future identity of Syria and its regime.
But the happiest development, which might turn out to be the most important event for Kurds in the
region, is the ongoing transformation in the relationship between the leader of the Kurdish Workers
Party (PKK), the imprisoned Abdullah Ocalan, and the ruling Justice and Development Party in
Turkey, headed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Information in the Turkish press confirms that an agreement has been reached between Ocalan and
Ankara, following negotiations started by members of the Kurdish bloc in Turkey’s parliament with
officials from the country’s intelligence services, concerning a series of unprecedented steps to
establish peace between the two sides, especially in southeastern Turkey. The whole of Turkey is
now waiting for Ocalan to address his party’s fighters, instructing them to withdraw beyond
Turkey’s borders (to the Kandil Mountains in Northern Iraq) on the occasion of the Kurdish Nowruz
celebration on March 21, in return for Ankara’s consent to a series of steps that would strengthen
the democratic gains achieved by Turkish Kurds on the political and cultural fronts. This would
hinge on the condition that the PKK abandons its secessionist agenda.
This bold step by Erdogan would undoubtedly not have occurred — or hastened — had the situation
in Syria not changed two years ago. It is true that Kurdish political and military pressure inside
Turkey has a long history. It is also true that Erdogan strives to amend the constitution and instill a
presidential system of governance with him as president. However, the situation that has arisen on
the Turkish-Syrian border after March 17, 2011, pushed Erdogan, after much hesitation, into going
further and implementing bolder steps in his negotiations with Ocalan. For Erdogan, two years ago,
had gone so far as to adopt a hardline discourse against the armed Kurdish insurrection, similar to
that espoused by extremist Turkish nationals against any form of recognition of a distinctive
Kurdish political identity in Turkey.
The Syrian crisis has revealed, and the Turkish leader has discovered, that Turkey’s border with
Syria — from Aleppo’s countryside to al-Qamishli (approximately 500 kilometers long) — is, in
large part, Kurdish.
The practical experience gained on the ground during the last two years, and Erdogan’s orders to
Turkish intelligence services to systematically take charge of the border region with Syria and help
Syrian opposition forces spread their control over those regions or even “surrender” them to the
opposition on the Syrian side, have made the Turkish president realize that his support of the Syrian
revolution against the regime has given Turkish Kurds — and the PKK specifically — a source of
backing and a demographic, political and military depth that he had not expected.
This means that Turkey, as it entered into this wide-ranging international and regional operation to
curb Iranian influence over Damascus, not only found itself suddenly at loggerheads with the
Russians and their decision to back the Syrian regime, but was also surprised by the negative
developments taking place on its border. Ankara was worried about the growing possibility that a
Western Kurdistan be established, affording the PKK fighters a safe haven at a time when Turkey
sought to establish a buffer zone on its northern border with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s
regime. These developments manifested themselves through a dangerous escalation of armed
Kurdish attacks inside Turkey, despite the fact that, in theory at least, the guerillas originated in
Through experience, Erdogan understood that preventing his policies toward Syria from mutating
into a strategic burden for Turkey — in this, its most worrisome of internal affairs — requires that
unprecedented initiatives be undertaken in his negotiations with prisoner Ocalan.
Turkey still awaits the results of this negotiating experiment between its strong government and the
Kurds, which echoes the courageous decision that former French president Charles De Gaulle took
to negotiate with the Algerian National Liberation Front after 1958. These negotiations led to very
difficult times internally for France, culminating in a series of attempted coups d’état by extremist
French colonial officers who were backed by a portion of French society unable to digest the idea of
The fundamental difference in the Turkish case is that the reconciliation project completely
precludes any secessionist proclivities by the Kurds, despite the fact that it remains unclear what
agreements were reached pertaining to the manner by which the Turkish state’s Kurdish areas would
The agreement is still in its infancy, yet its first victims were the female Kurdish leaders in Paris a
short while ago. Nationalist Turkish factions, represented in parliament and the (politically
impotent) army, are still observing the events unfold, and we still don’t have any indications as to
the depth of the agreement. Thus, we cannot anticipate any final reactions to it; except to say that
they range from caution (the Republican People’s Party) to rejection among hardline nationalists
(the Nationalist Movement Party).
Turkey’s labor pains just started, but current events seem to indicate that the ensuing birth will be to
the Kurds’ liking and will fulfill the nationalist interests that they aspire to.
As a result, the Kurdish elite finds itself needing to contend with the following issues:
The Kurds’ critics could claim that Kurdish aspirations can only be fulfilled at the expense of the
“disintegration” of other nations, specifically Iraq and Syria. This means that, since their inception
in 1920, Kurdish nationalist movements have always been reliant upon the need to dismantle the
In response, the Kurds could say that it was no accident that their political and economic rise
occurred in the era of democratic changes in the Arab world, which means that the oppressive ruling
regimes were responsible for Arab repression against them.
Both views are correct! Congratulations to the Kurds and Iranians on the occasion of Nowruz today,
and condolences — on Mother’s Day — to all the grieving mothers of the victims of this upswell in
nationalist, democratic, Arab, Kurdish, Turkish and Iranian sentiments.
The region has long exploited the Kurds. Now, their time has come to return the favor.
By: Jihad el-Zein Translated from An-Nahar (Lebanon) http://rojhelat.info/en/?p=5555
13. Cengiz Çandar: Ocalan’s message is much more than a ceasefire
Newroz, known as the Iranian New Year in the western world, is the beginning of the new year for
some central Asia and Balkan countries, as well as the Kurds. On March 21, 2013, Newroz became
more than the beginning of the new year for the Kurds. In Turkey, it was perceived as the beginning
of a new era not only for the Kurds but also for Turkey and the entire Middle East.
Newroz was celebrated with unprecedented euphoria by nearly two million people in Diyarbakir
(Amed), the center of southeastern Turkish — revelers danced in the streets adorned in yellow,
green and red, the Kurdish national colors.
The difference between this year’s and previous Newroz celebrations was the expectation to hear
a letter by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan read out in two languages that
everyone believed would be “historic.’’ He was expected to declare a “farewell to arms” and
withdrawal of PKK’s military forces from Turkey.
That would effectively end what was described as a 30-year low-intensity war by a former Turkish
Chief of General Staff. According to official lexicon of Turkey, terror would thus come to an end.
On March 21, life stopped in Turkey at 1 p.m. [11 a.m. GMT] when two parliamentarians of the
pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party [BDP] began reading out Ocalan’s message. The Kurdish
version was read by a female parliamentarian and the Turkish one by a popular ethnic-Turk whose
true profession is film directing. At that moment, the vast number of television news channels began
live transmissions. Events we could not have dreamt about three months ago were taking place in
front of our eyes.
Ocalan, in his brief “historic” letter, did not even once use the words “cease-fire,” “truce” or
“cessation of hostilities.” His text was deeply philosophical. The letter was of an intellectual nature
that would not really be congruous with labels affixed to Ocalan in Turkish official lexicon, such as
“head separatist,” “terrorist chieftain” or “baby killer.”
The next day, Turkish mainstream press reported Ocalan’s message with headlines such as “A
Declaration of Farewell to Arms.” Among them, the tabloid Radikal placed the Kurdish headline
“Biji Turkey” [Long Live Turkey] with a photograph of tens of thousands celebrating Newroz at the
Foreign press opted for a shortcut interpretation implying that Ocalan’s message was a declaration
of a “cease-fire.”
Pro-PKK Kurdish-language daily Azadiye Welat [Free Country] interpreted Ocalan’s message as
“Manifestoya Azadiye” [Manifesto of Freedom] and used those two words as a banner headline for
a photograph of the crowd in Diyarbakir (Amed).
But it was definitely not a “cease-fire declaration.” Since 1993, the PKK has declared unilateral
cease-fires many times. Neither was this one of them nor will it be the last. The dramatic juncture
we reached on March 21, 2013, is far beyond a “cease-fire declaration” similar to previous ones
declared by Ocalan. To define what has transpired as ”cease-fire” would be an understatement.
Or was it rather an ”armistice” as claimed by some media outlets? No, it wasn’t that either. The
most appropriate definition would be “a call for cessation of hostilities,” but Ocalan’s assessment
and appeal is far ahead of even that.
The Kurdish leader set out from a paradigm shift. Accordingly, he emphasized that the Kurds have
acquired their identities and true selves as a result of the PKK struggle, and as such there is no more
need to pursue an armed struggle against Turkey and it is time to move the struggle to democratic
The motto of his appeal could be interpreted as “letting the weapons fall silent and allowing ideas
and policies to speak out.”
One of the poi