Sunday, 25 November 2012

For better or worse? The Kurdish hunger strike

It has been just over a week since the 68 day hunger strike of Kurdish political prisoners in Turkey and North Kurdistan ended following an appeal by the imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan. Since that day everybody concerned with the hunger strike, Turkey, Kurdistan and the region has been debating the gains and losses and possible future developments regarding the Kurdish issue. Most of the debates have been centred and in some ways suffocated around the fact that the hunger strikers’ demands were not met, except a minor change in the constitution which allows for defence in the Kurdish language; although this right can be arbitrarily refused if the judge in court sees fit. The demands were: the right to education in the Kurdish language and for steps to be taken to end the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan and guarantee his health, security and eventual release for a peaceful and political solution to the Kurdish question. So, if the hunger strike did not achieve what it had targeted, why did Abdullah Öcalan call for it to end and why did the hunger strikers, numbering thousands inside and outside prisons, heed his call? The answer to this is where the internal dialectic and struggle methods of the Kurdish movement are hidden and it is why most people including their enemies do not comprehend it. 

The most important trait of the modern Kurdish Freedom Movement which began as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) but has now spread to include it, as well as the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the legal Peace & Democracy Party (BDP), and countless other organisations around the world, is its self-sufficiency, ability to determine the political agenda, and the importance it bestows on organising and developing its internal structure among the people. Every single action taken by the organisations listed above is first and foremost aimed at raising awareness and consciousness among the Kurdish people in Kurdistan and around the world. One cannot highlight this enough, and viewing the hunger strike in this light will make it more comprehensible. In this sense the hunger strike was an appeal to the Kurdish people and all democratic circles in Turkey and around the world to lay claim to the demands of the hunger strikers and come out onto the streets to show the government that these were also their demands also. Thus the ensuing meetings, demonstrations, marches, squirmishes with state forces, diplomacy and media coverage have politicized further and given the Kurdish people the necessary organisation and impetus to keep the struggle going for at least another few years, a time-period that is, according to the Kurdish movement, crucial for the freedom of the Kurds in the Middle East.

If we evaluate the hunger strike from a temporal and contextual perspective we can say that it came at a time when the Middle East has become a hot-bed of activity, especially in North and Western Kurdistan. This is a time which the Kurdish movement has determined as being the final stretch of the walk to freedom and a political status in Turkish and Syrian occupied Kurdish areas, which are inextricably linked together due to Turkey’s involvement in Syria. For the first time since Öcalan’s capture in 1999 the summer months had seen an unprecedented escalation in warfare between the PKK’s military wing the Peoples’ Defence Forces (HPG) and the Turkish army. The PKK said they were changing their strategy from ‘hit and run’ to ‘hit and stay,’ and the media black out enforced by the AKP government during the summer months (it now continues regarding Turkey’s involvement in Syria) seemed to reinforce the PKK’s claims that they were in control of large areas of the Kurdish south-east. This gave the Kurdish movement the psychological and political advantage over the AKP but it was not enough to lift the isolation on Öcalan and make the Turkish state and AKP government change their tone and come back to the negotiation table which had been set up in Oslo, but knocked down in 2011 by PM Tayyip Erdoğan, who did not accept the protocols drawn up by Öcalan for a political and peaceful solution to the Kurdish question.

As the winter months neared the initiative passed from the mountains to the cities and legal political sphere. However the ‘KCK arrests’ which began in 2009 and which have until now led to the imprisonment without trial of almost 10,000 Kurdish/BDP MPs, mayors, executives, women’s rights activists, journalists and most of Öcalan’s lawyers had blocked and marginalized the political legal sphere. The AKP government were also doing their best to exclude the BDP as Turkish PM Erdoğan was continuously stating that they were not legitimate interlocutors. It was in this military and political deadlock climate that the hunger strike came onto the agenda, and it was only logical from the perspective of the Kurdish movement that those imprisoned should begin; as had happened in 1982 when the leading cadres of the PKK had gone on hunger strike against the policies of the September 12th 1980 military coup. It is this act of resistance which is seen as ‘giving birth’ to the modern Kurdish Freedom Movement and resurrecting the Kurdish people. In fact hunger strikes had begun in April and May 2012 in prisons and in Europe even before an escalation to the war, but due to lack of organisation and possible internal disagreements, the hunger strike in prisons had ended soon after starting, whereas the hunger strike of 15 people in Strasbourg lasted 52 days. However this action did not receive any international media coverage nor was it very effective in Turkey and Kurdistan in terms of highlighting the demands of the hunger strikers. It is also important to note that cadres of the Kurdish movement, regardless of where they are, always make it their top priority to remain active within the struggle to prove to their oppressors that they cannot be suppressed. In this sense although it was not one of the demands, a cry for freedom was also one of the messages sent out by the hunger strikers who on a large scale have not even been sentenced yet.

Although I have gone into detail regarding the political context of the hunger strike I think it will make the following points clearer and more understandable. Firstly, due to the hunger strike the Kurdish movement has emphasised once again and this time also to international public opinion, the importance of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan to the peace process. Although his isolation has not been lifted and only his family members are being allowed to visit him, it is evident that state organisations and representatives have met with him recently. Despite not knowing what has been discussed we can surmise that Öcalan is back in the frame and in a stronger position than before. For a week leading Turkish newspapers, journalists and think tanks have been discussing openly Öcalan’s importance as a political player. Some are calling Öcalan the most important politician after PM Erdoğan. Furthermore Öcalan’s intervention to end the hunger strike has also ended the silence of international media regarding his isolation and prison conditions. A rise in Öcalan’s profile will mean that opening the path to peace in the international arena will be easier. Nelson Mandela’s journey to peace is a good example for this. Moreover the Turkish people, who are the majority and who are the key for a peaceful-political solution have seen once again the importance of Öcalan as a bridge between them and Kurdish people; they will have seen that it is Öcalan’s stance which will bring about a peace in which Turkey is not divided. For some the foregrounding of Öcalan is a contentious matter and they believe his position is exaggerated, but after the hunger strike I think there can be no further arguments about his importance, as now the legal political sphere (BDP and democracy forces) have also openly declared him their leader. 

The crystallization of the demands of the Kurdish people via the hunger strike has also created an important change in the political situation. Until now manipulation by the government, state sponsored political analysts and the Turkish media had clouded and put into question the struggle for legitimate demands in the eyes of the majority in Turkey. Criminalisation, ridicule and outright threats were used to silence the demands; and the AKP government’s relations with the important powers of the west had meant that for the EU and USA and their media outlets, the Kurdish movement was only composed of an armed wing and violence. The hunger strike has helped shatter this image of the Kurdish movement as being a separatist and ‘terrorist’ organisation and one can see from recent articles and reports that the language and terminology is changing. This will make it easier for journalists, human rights workers, political activists and NGOs to report, engage and develop ties and solidarity with the non-violent and legal arms of the heterogeneous Kurdish movement which is by far the most progressive political force not just in Turkey but the Middle East in general. The period of activism for raising awareness about the hunger strike has already created opportunities for many different organisations and people to come together in all the European cities. We can even say that the hunger strikes have strengthened the unity of Kurds from different parts of Kurdistan as the Kurdish conscience from areas outside of North Kurdistan has become bound with their brethren.

So what of the government and opposition political parties in Turkey who are the different sides to this age-old problem? In the face of such a great resistance and legitimate demands, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP), the two opposition parties in parliament apart from the BDP, have only been able to resort to initially ignoring the hunger strike and then saying that meeting the demands would create a divide in the Turkish nation-state. The AKP engaged the MHP by bringing capital punishment (for Öcalan) back onto the agenda and discussing it for a few days and amused the CHP with quotidian arguments ranging from the importance of Ataturk for the nation and the constitutional change relating to the administration of cities (Büyükşehir Yasası). It was important however to see that both these parties, who are the protectors of the status quo, could not argue fervently any longer against the legitimate rights of the Kurdish people.

Concurrently the AKP government and especially PM Erdoğan, the Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin and the Vice PM Bülent Arınç, who were the main politicians making statements about the hunger strike, portrayed the divide or should we say how ‘slippery’ the AKP could be in their politics. While the PM was stating that the hunger strike was a show and that hunger strikers were eating liver, the Justice Minister Ergin was giving official figures that 683 people were on hunger strike and Vice PM Arınç was pleading with them to end the action. This divided stance highlights the long known fact that the AKP are not homogeneous regarding their approach to the Kurdish question and its resolution; it also shows that the PM maybe losing his strong-hold on the party and that the AKP is weakening from within. But the fact that the hunger strike has ended without death is also an indication that the AKP has dealt with a crisis which could have exploded into something much more. This is a positive result for the government and could be a spring-board to coalesce and draw up a road-map for the resolution of the Kurdish question using peaceful and political means. The first step to a new round of negotiations could be a mutual ceasefire. But before even that can happen the isolation on Öcalan must be lifted and he must be given permission to meet with his lawyers; not because his life is more important than the thousands in the mountains and prisons and millions in the cities, but because they see him as their political will and his freedom as their freedom.

Epilogue: We must not forget that hundreds of people put their lives at risk and were without food for 68 days and that some of these people are still in hospital recuperating. The hundred or so people who were in the first and second groups to start the hunger strike will probably have lasting psychological and physical damage. Unfortunately they are the children of a nation that has had to suffer many hardships to gain legitimate democratic and national rights. They were not the first but let us hope that they will be the last. I believe that although their demands have not been met (yet), with this action they have already prevented the deaths of thousands by bringing peace and democratisation closer to us. That is what this hunger strike was demanding: for peace to be given a chance.

Memed Boran

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The 33rd Day!

From Hunger-strike to 'Death Fast'

On 12th September 2012, nine women prisoners in Diyarbakir E type prison began an indefinite hunger-strike. In the statement they made via lawyers they highlighted two demands: the right to use their Kurdish mother tongue in the public sphere, including court and the removal of obstacles preventing imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan from negotiating in peace talks with the Turkish state. Soon after, many other inmates, men and women, from prisons in every corner of Turkey began joining the hunger-strike; sometimes in groups and in certain prisons individually. Now there are 380 prisoners in 39 prisons who are on what has surpassed a hunger-strike and become a ‘death fast.’ This is their 33rd day.

12th September is an infamous day in Turkey’s history; the military coup that took place on this day in 1980 is representative of all that the ‘others’ of Turkey have had to suffer at the hands of the state. The 1980 military coup which opened the path for the Islamist cadres who now lead the AKP government, detained over a million people, imprisoned and tortured tens of thousands, carried out capital punishment on hundreds and pulled a black shroud over the whole of the country. Of course the victims of these inhumane practices were the Kurdish and Socialist Revolutionaries demanding national rights, democracy and independence - just like today.

The aim of the military coup was to silence the opposition and create a monolithic society in Turkey and Kurdistan using any means necessary; and the state was almost successful if it hadn’t been for the resistance of the Kurdish and Turkish cadres of the modern Kurdish Freedom Movement which in those days had recently been founded. It is an irony that these cadres were also imprisoned in Diyarbakir prison when on 14th July 1982 they began what is now termed as the ‘Great Death Fast Resistance’ in protest against the prevention of the right to defence, torture and inhumane prison conditions. The leaders of that ‘death fast’; Kemal Pir, M. Hayri Durmus, Ali Cicek and Akif Yilmaz all lost their lives. But this single event stoked the fire that had been lit by the likes of Mazlum Dogan. Necmi Oner, Ferhat Kurtay, Esref Anyik and Mahmut Zengin who had immolated themselves, and burnt to smithereens the shroud that had been pulled over the people, raising the Kurdish resistance against the Turkish state.

How similar it is today. The AKP regime, like its military counterpart has detained tens of thousands of Kurdish politicians, journalists, health-workers, lawyers, human rights activists and children, imprisoning almost ten thousand since 2009, when the witch-hunt known as the KCK (The Union of Communities in Kurdistan) trials began. It is ironic that almost all these people are members of the legal Peace & Democracy Party (BDP), the AKP’s most fierce and only opposition in the Kurdish areas of Turkey. And that not a single fire-arm, weapon or anything pertaining to terrorist activity was found or discovered about these people who have been in prison for almost four years without sentencing is further proof that the AKP is behind the ‘hostage’ situation. Because with only small changes in the constitution the AKP could bring an end to the unnecessary suffering of these people and their families. However while this grave injustice hangs over the nation like a dark cloud Turkey’s Prime Minister has made ‘one language, one state, one nation’ his favourite slogan, saying that there is no longer a Kurdish issue in Turkey. The AKP dominated Turkish media have followed suit and are not even reporting the clashes between the PKK and Turkish army anymore. Furthermore and to the utter horror of Kurds and democratic circles there is yet to be even a single news item about the ‘death fast’ on mainstream Turkish TV. There is a total black-out regarding all matters Kurdish.

Besime Konca, the chair of the BDP’s women parliament before her imprisonment, and one of the nine who began the ‘death fast’ in Diyarbakir prison has spent 16 of her 38 year life behind bars because of her political activities. In her last meeting with family she told them: ‘ Behind these cold walls we have nothing to sacrifice but our bodies, and we will not refrain from doing this for the freedom of our people and a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue. Our morale is soaring, we are strong and cannot be defeated by the enemies of democracy and an honourable life.’

As I write this, another statement has been made from prison by Deniz Kaya, the spokesman for prisoners sentenced in PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) and PAJK (Free Women’s Party of Kurdistan) cases. In it he says:

‘From 15th October onwards all PKK and PAJK inmates inTurkey and Kurdistan’s prisons will join in the indefinite hunger-strike. Rather than respond to the demands of people on hunger-strike, the AKP government has attacked prisoners with solitary confinement, disciplinary action and physical torture. There are prisoners who have internal bleeding and are being forced to treatment. If the AKP think they can deter us, they are mistaken, we will not give up our freedom. If there is a price to pay we will pay it, if there is torture we will persist, if there is suppression we will resist, if there is solitary confinement then so be it!

At a time time when our leader Abdullah Ocalan is in intensified solitary confinement and his life is under threat; when our people are attacked and tortured physically, politically and culturally by the racist regime’s military and police, all we have to protect them are our naked bodies. We will not hear the voices of anybody except our leader and movement. We will not heed any calls for us to end the hunger-strikes until our demands are met, the ban on Kurdish is lifted and the path to the freedom of our leader opened.

We are appealing to our people and all revolutionary and democratic public opinion to join in an indefinite act of solidarity and continual period of action to realise the freedom and democratic unity of our people. We are also calling on all sensitive political parties, MPs in parliament, non-governmental and human rights organisations: hear our cries. The people of Kurdistan are under the threat of genocide, our comrades in prison are on the threshold of death, our leader is under savage torture and Kurdistan has been turned into Vietnam.’

Millions of Kurds around the world today are hoping that these ‘death fasts’ do not end in loss. But their voices are going unheard outside Turkey and Kurdistan and Kurdish communities in Europe. Kurds need the support of all individuals, human rights and non-governmental organisations, professional circles, political parties and governments. Everyone can do something to stop these deaths.

What can you do?

Memed Boran


Tuesday, 1 May 2012


Once again this year Kurds are celebrating May Day in Kurdistan, Turkey and all the capitals of the world, in the spirit of Newroz, the Kurdish New Year. This is because for Kurds, May Day is not just a day for workers and labour, but for the freedom and resistance of all the oppressed nations, classes and ‘others’ of the world; this is why May Day is also a celebration for Tamils, Baloch, Sindhi, Basque, women, students, religious groups and all oppressed peoples.

We are thousands here today from all these nations and groups, in exile, away from our lands, and we are in solidarity with the British working classes, of which we have also become a part of. But we have been made the scapegoats, the unemployed, pushed into menial labour as underpaid service providers of this system, which, in its economic crisis has targeted us more savagely than any other. Millions of people, officially and unofficially have lost their jobs, millions who did not have access to work have had their social security benefits cut, student fees have been tripled, access to housing and basic council services have been eroded, local community funding and services have become almost non-existent, and as the riots last year showed, there is a growing discontent among the working classes, which unfortunately has no political direction, at least not yet.

In Turkey, tens of workers are injured and on average four are killed daily in work related accidents. Some workers, due to their poor working conditions, die a slow death. Workers’ resistance, protest and struggle to gain their rights are attacked brutally by the police and many union members are detained and imprisoned. Workers’ are prevented from joining unions and the AKP government tries to pass laws which make it very difficult for unions to be formed and maintained.

Meanwhile in Kurdistan, military occupation, physical, social, cultural, political and economic genocide continues. On 28th December 2011 the Turkish Armed Forces, with the use of Israeli and US technology and intelligence, deliberately massacred 34 Kurdish civilians, 19 of whom were children! In the previous months they had massacred a family of 7 in South Kurdistan (Iraq) and used chemical weapons against Kurdish guerrillas, massacring 35. These were milestones in revealing the current denial, assimilation and elimination policy of the Turkish state and AKP government, which for a long time tried to fool everyone that its intention to resolve the Kurdish issue was sincere. Of course not a single whisper was heard from the EU states and USA, the upholders of freedom and democracy in the region about these violations of fundamental human rights.

In Turkish occupied Kurdistan tens of Kurdish people are detained and imprisoned everyday by the fascist AKP government for being Kurdish and struggling for their basic national and human rights. There are 13.000 people imprisoned on terror charges in Turkish prisons, mostly Kurdish. This is 1/3 of all the terror suspects in the world. Among these ‘terrorists’ are 6 Members of Parliament, 36 Mayors, 50 lawyers, 105 journalists, professors, human rights activists, unionist members, women rights activists and over 2000 children! These honourable people also include the socialists and democrats of Turkey, who are in solidarity with the Kurdish people and their freedom struggle. The leader of this freedom struggle, the great revolutionary Abdullah Öcalan, who has been in solitary confinement for 13 years on an island prison in Turkey, has not been given the opportunity to meet with his lawyers for the past 10 months. The ongoing isolation of Mr. Öcalan means that the war will continue and that Kurdish people will have to continue their historical resistance. We believe that without the freedom of Öcalan, similar to that of Nelson Mandela, there can be no solution to the Kurdish question. Öcalan embodies and represents the will and freedom of the Kurdish people but also a new life for the Kurds and other peoples of the Middle East, whom Kurds live side-by-side with.

At a time when the Middle East is experiencing major upheavals and the status quo being challenged, local revolutions are being hijacked by Imperialist forces, who are using Turkey as a base to launch their attacks against the peoples of the Middle East. The Turkish state, like the other dictatorships of the region must be toppled, but this can only be done with the solidarity of all the progressive, anti-state forces in those countries. The Kurds are aiming for an alternative system within Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, which is formulated as Democratic Confederal Kurdistan, is founded on Democratic Socialist principles and rejects the nation-statist structure of the region. This we believe is the way forward for a truly democratic, equal, socialist, united and free Middle East.

This is why on this important May Day, we are saying once again that the struggles of all our peoples, wherever we may be, must serve to free the peoples of our countries, regions and the world; this can only be achieved by forming a democratic-ecological-equal society, outside of the state structure, which bases its principles around democratic socialism and a political and moral existence. May Day 2012 is the perfect day for coming together with all the workers, women, oppressed peoples, students and revolutionary groups who dream of a free and better world.

Long Live May Day! Biji Yeke Gulane! Yaşasın 1 Mayıs!

FED BIR – Kurdish Federation in the UK –
Halkevi – Kurdish Turkish Community Centre -  
KCC – Kurdish Community Centre -

Monday, 30 April 2012


This text was written originally for a youth magazine published in London.

The history and existence of Kurds and Kurdistan goes back thousands of years and has existed in different forms and under different names, but the Kurdish ‘problem’ can be traced back to 1639 when Kurdistan (The land of the Kurds) was divided between the Ottoman and Safavid-Persian Empires. Although there were no nation-state structures at that time, Kurds lived quite independently under autonomous chieftainships and gave taxes and occasionally soldiers to the central power they lived under. However this divide created the first fracture and separation in Kurdish culture and identity. The similarities between Persians and Kurds (they are deemed cousins since their joint existence in the Medean Empire) softened the blow culturally but the separation was still felt strongly on a religious and political level. The seeds of the tensions between Alevi/Shia and Şafi/Sunni Kurds can be found here; as the Safavid Empire was predominantly Şia/Alevi whereas the Ottoman Empire Şafi/Sunni, they both used the Kurdish populations living under their rule against one another. As we will see often through Kurdish history, Kurdistan has been the site of historic battles and Kurds have been the victims or sacrifice in struggles between hegemonic powers and the classic policy of divide and rule has been implemented many times.
There were many Kurdish rebellions during the last 100 years of the Ottoman Empire, but these mostly remained local up until and including the Koçgiri (1920), Şeyh Said (1925) and Dersim (1938) rebellions which were just before and in the first years of the Turkish Republic (formation 1923). These rebellions all had a Kurdish character and some called for Kurdish national independence, but they were quickly and mercilessly defeated before they could gain momentum and mass support. It is not a coincidence that they occurred following the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which formed the basis for the formation of the Turkish state and excluded all the other peoples’ living within the borders of Turkey. The Treaty of Sevres in 1921 had actually included autonomy for Kurds but during the next two years the unionist and nationalist wing of the Turkish National Movement gained strength and excluded the Kurds who had thus far been involved in the provisional Turkish Parliament and struggle for independence. The words ‘Kurd’ and ‘Kurdistan’ had been used many times in Parliament by Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) himself. The Treaty of Lausanne also separated Kurdistan once more and this time into four pieces. As with 1639, the Kurds and Kurdistan, almost 300 years later became the biggest losers and sacrifice in a war fought between the rulers of the world. Kurdish existence, especially in Turkey and Syria was now illegal and would be crushed whenever and wherever it rose its head.
In later years The Kurdish Republic of Mahabad (1946) declared autonomy in the Iranian region but it was short lived as the Soviet Union withdrew its support within a year of its formation and its leader Qazi Muhammad was executed in 1947 by Iran. Kurds living under Iraqi occupation also gained autonomy in 1970 but became targets and victims in the war between Iraq and Iran in the 1980s; and were subjected to genocidal policies in Halabja and Anfal where thousands of Kurds were gassed to death by the Iraqi army. Their autonomy was strengthened in 1991 after the Gulf War and they became a federal entity with the Iraq Constitution of 2005, giving them greater freedoms from the central government. However unfortunately this happened with the 2003 invasion of Iraq which lead to the death of over a million people.
The modern Kurdish National Movement’s seeds were sewn from the 1950s onwards as many Kurds became introduced to socialist and national liberation movements. This momentum gained pace after 1968 as the need for separate Turkish and Kurdish organisations became clear; the Turkish left saw the Kurdish question as a secondary matter to the wider revolution in Turkey, but Kurds began questioning this ideological and practical stance because the needs of Kurds were not being met. When the first generation of Turkish revolutionaries were massacred by the Turkish state, many Kurds who had been organised in Turkish left movements broke away. Abdullah Ocalan and his friends, who had been influenced by the likes of Deniz Gezmiş and Mahir Çayan, also began organising at this juncture. Their thesis was that Kurdistan was a colony being exploited by the Turkish, Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian states and also other foreign powers who were in turn exploiting these other states. After several years of working and organising as a small group these cadres founded the PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) in 1978 and began an armed resistance first against Kurdish feudal lords and then the Turkish state in 1984. In between these two dates was the important resistance shown by many leading PKK figures in Diyarbakir prison; the likes of Mazlum Doğan, Kemal Pir, Mehmet Hayri Durmuş and others either immolated themselves or were martyred in hunger strikes and became symbols of resistance against the September 12th 1980 coup and also for the resurrection of Kurds and Kurdistan.
Over the years and especially towards the end of the 80s the PKK began gaining mass support from the Kurds in North Kurdistan (Turkey), South West Kurdistan (Syria) and Europe. Thousands of young Kurds, men and women, began joining the guerrilla forces; Kurds aligned with the PKK began organising in workers’ unions, forming their own political parties, cultural centres and publishing newspapers; in short the Kurdistan Freedom Movement began infiltrating all spheres of life and became a mass peoples’ movement. To counter this the Turkish state tried many different tactics, from 17,000 extra-judicial killings to burning 4,000 villages and staging massive military operations against the PKK; which ended in the death of over 40,000 people on both sides.
There were two attempts at peace in the 1990s; first with Turkish President Turgut Özal and then with Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan. Both were cut short in mysterious circumstances and the fighting intensified and continued until 1999 when PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was kidnapped in an international conspiracy carried out by the CIA and Mossad and handed over to Turkey. The attempts by Öcalan for a peaceful solution had begun in 1993, and in fact he had spoken of a solution within Turkey’s borders as far back as1988, but after 1999 these attempts intensified. Öcalan saw the aim of the international conspiracy as trying to begin a civil war between Kurds and Turks; so he began a process which would change his own, the PKK’s and also the Turkish state’s approach to the issue of Kurds and Kurdistan. For this he has written more than 10 books on the island prison of Imrali, including a road-map for the resolution of the Kurdish question. These books form the foundations for a democratic autonomous system in North Kurdistan and the other parts of Kurdistan in which there is a bottom-up organisation of society based around democratic socialist ideals, gender equality and ecology.
In the past few years a dialogue had begun between Öcalan, the PKK and the AKP government/Turkish state for a political peaceful solution to the Kurdish question, but it has turned out that this was nothing more than delay tactics. During that time over 8000 pro-Kurdish and Kurdish MPs, mayors, lawyers, intellectuals, academics, journalists and children have been imprisoned as part of the KCK (Union of Communities in Kurdistan) case. Furthermore Öcalan, who is the most important figure for negotiations, and has been in solitary confinement for 13 years, has not been seen by his lawyers for 8 months.
As I write this over 1,000 people in Turkish prisons, in Kurdistan and Europe are on indefinite hunger-strike and are calling for the freedom of Öcalan and a political status for Kurdistan. In essence they are trying to open the blockaded path for a political and peaceful solution to the Kurdish question before the snow melts and fighting resumes between the PKK and Turkish state forces, which will lead to more bloodshed and enmity on both sides. But also they want to make that sure that the Kurds are not the victim and sacrifice once again at a time when the balance of the region is changing.

April 2012

Memed Boran

Thursday, 1 March 2012


London - 01.03.2012

Today a group of 20 Kurdish youth met with UNICEF Offical Jon Sparkes and June (surname not known) and then SAVE THE CHILDREN Officials Ishbel Matheson and Jude Bridge to discuss the abuse, torture and rape suffered by Kurdish children in Pozanti Prison, Adana, Turkey.

The first meeting took place at UNICEF as the youths entered the building and requested to see officials after their emails and phone calls were left unanswered for days. After a few minutes of waiting and confusion by UNICEF staff, UNICEF Operations Manager Jon Sparkes and his colleague June (surname not known) appeared and accepted to meet with the spokespersons of the group.

During the 20 minute meeting the spokespersons of the group explained the incidents of systematic torture, abuse and rape of Kurdish children in Pozanti Prison, Adana, SE Turkey; and also described the general tableaux of mass arrests of stone throwing children, the mass rape suffered by the 12 year old N.Ç. by state officials in Mardin; the hunger-strikes of children in Maltepe Prison and the assimilation, abuse and rape suffered by Kurdish girls in Regional Primary Boarding Schools (YIBO). The UNICEF Officials said they were sensitive to the issue and that they would do everything they could to intervene.

The spokespersons made five requests to UNICEF:

1) make a statement to world public opinion and highlight the violations of children’s rights in Turkey and abuses suffered recently at Pozanti Prison.

2) send a committee to Turkey to meet and interview the children who are putting forward these claims. This can be done through the Human Rights Associaton of Turkey (IHD).

3) send this committee to Pozanti Prison to investigate the prison and talk to the inmates at the prison regarding these incidents.

4) bring onto its agenda the case of ‘stone throwing children’ in Turkey, hundreds of whom are still imprisoned and end their unjust imprisonment.

5) continue monitoring Turkey’s violations of children’s rights and intervene and take action when necessary.

Following discussions UNICEF Officials said they would bring the matter to the attention of the UNICEF Turkey branch and that they would make sure it would be followed up in Turkey. The spokespersons handed a detailed file of the abuses over to UNICEF and the parties exchanged contact information. The spokespersons exited the meeting room to the applause of their friends who were waiting in the reception area. The group left shouting the slogan ‘UNITE FOR CHILDREN’S RIGHTS’ and applauding.


The second meeting took place at SAVE THE CHILDREN HQ only a few minutes away from UNICEF. The group once again entered the building and opened their banner which read ‘KIDS IN PRISON CELLS ARE BEING RAPED ONE BY ONE – THIS IS TURKEY!’ and began applauding. After the refusal of the secretary to call an official from SAVE THE CHILDREN, the building’s manager was called and both he and the secretary threatened to and then eventually called the police, much to the amusement of the group. A Save The Children employee intervened and said he would find an official to meet the group but disappeared and did not reappear again. About 10 minutes later two police officers turned up and then called another van full of officers who surrounded the peaceful protestors. The group did not budge despite threats from police and seeing that the they were determined to go through with their action the police backed off. There was much interest from Save The Children workers and many of them opened the door to their ground floor building but were not permitted by the building’s manager. Two Save The Children Officials finally appeared to meet with the spokespersons of the group much to the chagrin of the building’s manager and secretary.

Similar things were discussed in the meeting with SAVE THE CHILDREN Officials Ishbel Matheson and Jude Bridge. The meeting lasted for over 30 minutes and many things were discussed in detail. Once again the systematic rape and abuse of Kurdish children was highlighted and it was emphasised that this was connected to the mass arrests of Kurdish children, politicians, women, journalists and lawyers in the past two years; and that with this policy the Turkish state was using children as a means of blackmailing and taking prisoner the whole of the Kurdish nation in Turkey.

It was indicated in the dossier given that the following articles of the UN Convention of Children’s Rights had been violated by the Turkish state:

Article 4 (protection of rights)
Governments must do all they can to fulfil the rights of every child.

Article 19 (protection from all forms of violence)
Governments must do all they can to ensure that children
are protected from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and
mistreatment by their parents or anyone else who looks after them.

Article 30 (children of minorities)
Every child has the right to learn and use the language,
customs and religion of their family whether or not these
are shared by the majority of the people in the country
where they live.

Article 34 (sexual exploitation)
Governments must protect children from sexual abuse and

Article 37 (detention)
No child shall be tortured or suffer other cruel treatment or
punishment. A child shall only ever be arrested or put in prison as
a last resort and for the shortest possible time. Children must not
be put in a prison with adults.

Article 39 (rehabilitation of child victims)
Children neglected, abused, exploited, tortured or who are victims
of war must receive special help to help them recover their health,
dignity and self-respect.

Article 40 (juvenile justice)
A child accused or guilty of breaking the law must be treated with
dignity and respect. They have the right to help from a lawyer and
a fair trial that takes account of their age or situation. The child’s
privacy must be respected at all times.

Save The Children stated that unfortunately they did not have a branch in Turkey and that they could not directly assist the group. However they promised that they would discuss this issue in their next staff meeting and would put the spokespersons into contact with other organisations who would be able to help them take the issue to the UN.

The spokespersons were escorted out by the two lovely ladies from Save The Children and were met by the applause of their friends once more. There was a short briefing outside the building and the group left as the police looked on, relieved that they hadn’t been ordered to come face to face with the Kurds of London.

Memed Boran


Tuesday, 7 February 2012



On 28th December 2011 Turkish F-16 jets knowingly rained 4 tonne bombs on 34 Kurdish civilians in Şırnak, Uludere, Turkey’s Kurdish region. 17 of the victims were just children, all of them were under the age of 35. The bodies of the victims were mutilated beyond recognition and left to be collected by their families. Their only crime was to be Kurdish. Today we are re-enacting the funeral procession of the victims of this brutal massacre.


250,000 Kurds have been massacred by the Turkish state since its formation in 1923. This policy of genocide was aimed at annihilating the Kurdish nation living within Turkey’s borders. Kurdish culture, language, history and representation were banned, denied and policies of extreme assimilation were implemented. This continues today and the attack against Kurds has intensified in recent months. 6000 Kurds; amongst them MPs, mayors, journalists, lawyers, intellectuals, women and children have been imprisoned and taken hostage in a political genocide campaign to break the Kurdish resistance against this genocide; civilians have been slaughtered in aerial and ground attacks, and Kurdish TV stations and newspapers have been banned in Turkey and Europe. These developments are reminiscent of Hitler’s Fascist Germany.


On 24th November 2011 Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologised for the 1938 Dersim Massacre in which 70,000 Kurds were savagely massacred by the Turkish state. The massacre in Uludere came only a few weeks after this statement was made and clearly showed that the fascist and racist mentality of the Turkish state has not changed. The AKP government tried to cover-up the massacre at first and banned the media from reporting on it. The incident hasn’t been investigated transparently and the AKP have not apologised or shown any remorse. Instead they have attempted to buy the silence of the victims’ families with bribes and threats. Despite this grave injustice which was evidently pre-meditated the EU states, USA and other international powers and organisations have not condemned Turkey or even taken the issue to hand. This silence continues killing Kurds.


You as an individual can help raise awareness of the injustices against the Kurdish nation in Turkey. Writing to or meeting your local councilor or MP and requesting that they take action and pressure the Foreign Secretary and current Conservative government; writing to other international human rights organisations, NGOs, solidarity organisations and media outlets or raising awareness over social media or in your own circles or boycotting Turkish tourism, will help the Kurdish people in resisting against this inhumanity, oppression and fascism so that these massacres do not occur again and the Kurdish nation gain their most basic human rights in Turkey.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information and solidarity.



Contact: Mehmet Aksoy               

Monday, 23 January 2012

Kurdish people condemn Eutelsat’s unjust attack on Roj TV

The Kurdish people condemn the decision of Paris based satellite company Eutelsat to suspend the broadcasts of Kurdish television channel Roj TV.  

Eutelsat has attempted to justify its action by claiming that the move is an inevitable response to the Danish Court ruling earlier this month and that it wants to avoid being “an accomplice to terrorist activities”.

But the Danish court only fined Roj TV for alleged links with the PKK; it stopped short of revoking its license and allowed it to continue broadcasting. Roj TV is also strongly contesting the Danish court’s decision and is currently appealing against the ruling. Eutelsat has therefore taken a decision that goes much further by taking Roj TV off the air.

The decision can only be seen as a partisan one that favours Turkey and discriminates against the Kurds. Turkey, as everyone must be well aware, has been waging a never ending campaign against Roj TV in order to suppress this independent voice of the Kurdish people and prevent the Kurdish perspective on what is going on inside Turkey from reaching a wider audience.

Turkey’s oppression of the Kurds has been rightly described as one of the great forgotten injustices of our time. Roj TV was founded to ensure that the Kurds have a voice and that what is happening to them cannot be forgotten and ignored. It is the only mass effective voice that the Kurds possess and it is vital that is continues. The attempts to prevent it from broadcasting are a blatant example of the continued persecution of the Kurds and provoke a deep sense of injustice among the Kurdish people.

The action by Eutelsat pre-empts the outcome of Roj TV’s appeal and can only be condemned as provocative.

Turkey wants to silence the Kurds as part of its ongoing policy of denial of Kurdish identity and repression of the Kurds as a people. This decision by Eutelsat comes at a critical time when the Turkish state is stepping up its repressive measures against the Kurds on various fronts: politically, legally and military, with the mass arrests and show trials of journalists, lawyers and politicians and increased military operations.

Roj TV is providing information that it vital on abuse and atrocities committed by the Turkish military, as in the mass killing by Turkish warplanes of 35 Kurdish civilians, known now as the Roboski Massacre, which took place on 28 December 2011. Without the broadcasts of Roj TV the full truth about such appalling incidents would never see the light of day and Turkey would get away with even worse atrocities against the Kurdish people. 

22 January 2012