An historical account of the establishment of Radio Voice of Kurdistan on the 34th anniversary of its establishment!

Below is an historical account written by my father Omar Amini on the occassion of the 34th anniversary of the establishment of Radio Dengi Kurdistan. A radio station which has had great impact during many years of guerilla warfare against the iranian military and a historical period in Kurdish history starting after the fall of the Shah of Iran, a radio station of many which he played a central role in founding.

Omar Amini

Omar Amini

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After the revolution of the peoples of Iran and revival of political awareness together with the opportunity for free political expression in Iran and especially in Kurdistan, the seeds once planted by the great Qazi Mihemed in Chiwarchira square in Mahabad, had strengthened its roots. With the force that had been built up during the past 30 years, these roots sprung above the surface during these tumultuous times and manifested its force in the region, first as a delicate plant and later tall and regal with majestic branches spread out.

This was the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, PDKI.  A tree which gave shadow to the people of Kurdistan in the shape of both hope and security. This was the case until the theocratic regime of Iran with the mullahs in the forefront established itself and started a wave of threats and violence and a devastating war against the people of Kurdistan and the PDKI.

A destructive war that would come to be known as the “Three Month War” started throughout Kurdistan but was heroically resisted by the brave people of Kurdistan and the untiring struggle of the Peshmergas of the PDKI. The daring efforts of the people and the Peshmerga forces led to an end to the war and the declaration of a cease fire by the Iranian military as well as dialogue between representatives of the people and regime forces. It would soon become clear however that this was no attempt at peace making from the Iranian side but merely a halt in military operations while regrouping and repositioning the forces. After the experiences of the Three Month War and the subsequent peacemaking efforts which did not bear any positive results, the PDKI gathered the Peshmerga forces and prepared them for an extensive revolution.

A modern and proper propaganda unit was needed for the developing revolution and the political work ahead. The leadership of the PDKI thus decided to establish a radio channel as a counter voice in the revolution and to both reveal the propaganda spread by the regime forces but also make sure truthful information relating to the ongoing war would reach the Kurdish population in the region. The historic decision was taken in 1979.

The Kurdish revolutionary with Azeri background the late Reza Xeyati, known as Engineer Xeyati, and I were given this important mission and so this esteemed and important radio station was built and moved on the backs of and with the tireless help of the villagers in the Sershaxan region and the attributed Peshmergas from the village of Ligbin through the valley of Babekrawe and was finally placed in a cave near the village of Keli Sershaxan in the valley. On 6 November 1979 I proudly started the very first test broadcast of “This is the Radio Voice of Kurdistan” with the songs of late Kurdish singer Mohammed Mamle.

First broadcast

First broadcast

Sershaxan and Babekrawe village was located in a very rough terrain and transport was problematic leading to difficulties transporting necessities for the radio station. Had it not been for the weekly attention of K. Sh and S. Agha as well as the late commander Seyid Rasoli Deqan, who was known as Seyid Resuli Babigewre, may he rest in peace, life in the valley would not have been bearable or even possible. Therefore merely two months after arriving at Babekrawe Valley, the decision to move the radio station reached me.

Also this time around, a great number of tireless volunteers arrived to help us. The people of Ligbin and Sershaxan came together and with the use of home woven rope and strong wood, every single item was moved by hand and on the strong shoulders of the helpful villagers. This time we moved to the Lacan region and Kelekokey Sere and made the green and heroic lands of Lacan the home of the radio station.

Moving the radio equipment

Moving the radio equipment

Despite the fact that the majority of the force of the PDKI was located elsewhere in the cities and the villages, my colleagues and I proudly took on the task of protecting the radio station and our newly started test broadcast and continued our work, being far away from all sorts of settlement and human life.

While I was busy with my duties as a Peshmerga and while continuing to develop the work of the radio station, the situation in Kurdistan had turned even more tumultuous and there were talks of the situation “exploding” any day now. Subsequently the different units and logistical groups within the PDKI started to relocate in the remote villages outside of the cities while the situation turned more and grim with each new day. It was during these procedures that the PDKI was labeled an illegal organisation by the Iranian state in an effort to halt the growing Kurdish revolution. Within the same period different groupings formed within the party which aimed at dividing the PDKI and regrouping independently. In the midst of all these events, the news of relocating the radio station reached me once again. My colleagues and I moved the broadcasting equipment of the radio station yet again, some of it by car, but most by foot and on our shoulders and backs, including the now full storage rooms, and began our journey for the third location.

This time around we headed towards the green plateaus of the region of Qelaty Shay and the Shexan Valley, opposite the village of Shexan, in the high plateau behind Hesenchep village under a hill. In houses built on stone foundations, with mice and snakes and scorpions as our only neighbours, we slowly settled in.

Setting up the antenna

Setting up the antenna

The selection of locations where the radio station was settled as well as security and appearance of buildings and houses built in these places was all done according to the plans and knowledge of Seyid Rasoli Babi Gawre.  It was here, that is Shexan Valley, we thought we would  remain permanently, or at least for a long time to come and so we started to settle in properly. It was also here that we, with the participation of late Dr Qassemlou and late Dr Seyid  as well as the Peshmergas of the PDKI, started the official broadcast of the radio station on 17th of June 1980 with our first radio program under the name of  “This is the voice of Iranian Kurdistan”. It has now been 34 years since that day and the sound of the radio is today still reaching the ears of the people of Kurdistan with news and information about the situation in the region but now under two different names; “This is the voice of Kurdistan” and “This is the voice of Iranian Kurdistan” respectively, but still with the aim of setting the record straight about the constant lies and propaganda spread by the Islamic regime of Iran.

"Êre Radyo Dengî Kurdistana" - This is the Radio Voice of Kurdistan!

“Êre Radyo Dengî Kurdistana” – This is the Radio Voice of Kurdistan!

This was a very short piece on the most basic events leading up to the establishment of this very important and revolutionary radio station during a historic period for the Kurdish people, prepared for the 34th anniversary of its establishment. There is however much more to be told and remembered in relation to the radio station and the work put in to make the broadcasts possible such as the unselfish acts of volunteers working day and night and the heroism of people making it all possible once upon a time.

I hereby congratulate Radio Dengi Kurdistan on the 34th anniversary of its establishment and hope to see it strive and continue to be successful for the future!

 

Omar Amini

Stockholm, June 2014

The Un-academic Nature of the Third World Kurdish Congress- A Personal Account of a Peculiar Conference

Attendants during the WKC 2013

Attendants during the WKC 2013

It has now been 10 days since the third World Kurdish Congress ended. I decided, while still on the second day of the three-day conference, to write a blog post about how I experienced the conference and the lack of academic content, which was very evident.

Before I develop my argument I however wish to mention that this blog post is in no way an attempt to undermine the efforts of the many volunteers who helped organise the conference, nor is it a critique of the works presented by the speakers or the attendants’ discussions.

The aim of this post is merely to give my thoughts on what I expected from this conference and why I was disappointed at the management of a conference, which claims to be both “scientific and cultural”.

The conference took place in Stockholm this year, in Musikaliska, a venue where mainly concerts are held, located in the central parts of the capital and it was held during 11- 13 October.

The first day of the three day conference was dedicated to opening statements, after which the first panel consisting of representatives from “successful Diasporas” was presented. The panel consisted of Natan Sharansky, Former minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Israel for a talk about the experience of the World Jewish Congress and how they managed to create a successful diaspora, and Jim Karygiannis member of the Federal Parliament of Canada for a talk about the experience of the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association and last but not least Kaspar Karampetian, President of European Armenian Federation for a talk about the experience of the Armenian Diaspora.

It is here where I start to scratch my head and think: “Is the first panel really going to consist of politicians and nationalist representatives of equally nationalistic movements in an academic conference?” But as it is the first day and I am not sure if these are prolonged opening speeches, I listened to the talks, many of which were very interesting, although un-academic.

The following Q&A session was not helping my mood in any way either, with attendants asking the panel;

  • how they thought the Kurds should go about becoming a state
  • what they thought the world community’s response to a Kurdish state might be
  • what they could advise us (i.e. “poor Kurds”) to do to achieve unity amongst ourselves.

This was truly upsetting but as organisers cannot be blamed for what the attendants talk about and discuss, I took deep breaths and continued listening.

The second really upsetting aspect of the conference however came later before the keynote speech of Michael Gunter. Minutes before, the panel was told that they would have to shorten their speeches as the conference has not gone according to the time table and they were behind schedule, but when Gunter takes the stage he starts with saying that he will not accept 20 minutes even but wants his full 30 minutes.

This is not what upset me, I have been to enough conferences to know that conference attendants always conduct a war over minutes to prolong their talks.

No it was the fact that the conference organisers, in this case Alan Dilani and KRG representative Falah Bakir, shouted aloud “ Not this guest of ours, he is a special guest. Let him have his full time” while pointing to the stage in a manner resembling old stereotype images of Ottoman Sultans half sitting in Harems pointing at their subordinates.

The looks on the panel members’ faces were heart breaking at this moment, but the show went on as if this was perfectly fine.

Next Gunter presented his talk, which was more a summary of the last years’ events in the Kurdish regions than anything substantially analytic and academic. He however mentioned these facts, which did not please the organisers;

  • The Goran party is an anti-corruption party- (as professed by themselves, no matter what one may or may not think of them).
  • The PYD is a political party of importance in Syria (Western Kurdistan) (Yet another fact, no matter one’s own political views)
  • Kirkuk will be hard to return to Kurdish governance no matter efforts that may be made by the KRG (Also a fact, although a tragic one)

After the talk the floor was open for questions and in normal procedure being the WKC, Falah Bakir was given the first opportunity to talk whereas he expressed his discontent with Gunter’s talk.  Not based on critique of Gunter as an academic though, but based on Bakir’s personal preference of the details of Gunter’s talk.

His main points for his harsh criticism were that Gunter apparently “talked less of political unity and more of party politics” which was his expectation as a friend of Gunter’s (!?) and he continued with the below points as a reply to above statements by Gunter.

  • Goran was a part of the PUK until disputes occurred.
  • Why do you say that Goran is an anti-corruption party, as if the rest are corrupted?
  • Kirkuk has not been forgotten so nobody can claim that. We are working on returning Kirkuk but it is difficult.
  • Why do you mention PYD in Syria and no other parties? They are not the only actor you see!

Gunter in turn replies: “I try to be an objective scholar. A friend tells you the truth and not propaganda!”

By this time I wonder where I am and whether this is a parallel universe where this conference is being held.

If that comment had been directed at me I would have dug a hole and escaped from it out of shame for what that really means.

It does not stop there however.

During the last session yet another peculiar aspect of the conference is to take place, namely the WKC’s annual report and KRG’s statement.

Why oh why is there need to dedicate one whole day, of a three day conference during which only one day has seen panels being held, on something the organisers and financial supporters could deal with themselves before or after the conference?

But it was held and the organisers entered the stage, shared some (long) views about their ideas for the future of the WKC, most of which first praising the WKC for excellent academic work.

After this, the microphone was sent around the room for the audience to speak and give their suggestions to improve the WKC.

I had not intended to speak but as I was sitting in the back and they were waving the microphone at me and nobody else was in line to speak, I rose up and started to talk.

I had not prepared any notes besides, in my opinion, the hilarious comments above. I did however give suggestions from my heart, as a Kurdish academic, feeling strongly about my homeland and wishing to improve this great platform for exchanging research on Kurdistan, that unfortunately has seen fewer and fewer attendants for each year since the first congress was held merely three years ago.

My points for suggestions were;

  • Could there perhaps be a board for next year which could deal with questions about nomination and future prospects etc. instead of using up a whole day of the conference?
  • We need to see greater gender balance amongst the speakers. I have several women sitting here who all have submitted papers, which have been accepted as posters but not for the panels.
  • Last but not least there needs to be a clear divide between politics and academia and in this case between the WKC and the KRG. This is not a political platform in which to discuss political unity in Kurdistan and how to achieve statehood for the Kurds. This is an academic platform (or aims to be) and I wish these discussions could be shaped into academic ones where proper analysis of the current situation in Kurdistan can be made.

I was still on the second point when a member of the first panel by the name of Jim Karygiannis started shouting and pointing my way. I had preciously engaged in pleasant discussions with him about his work and had formed the opinion of him as a social figure who loves to talk and gather crowds for good laughs over alcoholic drinks. You know, the kind of prejudice you might have of people when you hardly know people.

Well that opinion of Mr Karygiannis changed quickly when he interrupted me for the second time. I asked politely if he could let me finish my talk but he was screaming and pointing fingers at me accusing me of inexperience of conferences and claiming that this conference met all and more of his demands as a seasoned conference attendant and speaker.

That did not bother me as I had formed a whole new opinion of him by then, expecting nothing less than what he was delivering. I was upset that he was allowed to continue with his at times furious and static repetitions claiming indirectly how he was a better academic, conference attendant and “Kurd” than me as he was appreciating it all and not criticising, while I was interrupted several times and also the people that stood up and agreed with me.

I was also interrupted by the panel chair and ended my talk abruptly.

What follows next is disturbing as Mr Karygiannis is given the microphone to continue his harsh speech directed straight at me. Next after, attendant after attendant, with the few exceptions being those who thanked me for speaking up about the WKC, takes the microphone and teary-eyed they describe their love for Kurdistan and how they would do everything for that flag (pointing to the Kurdish flag on the main stage). This includes Mr Bakir when he finally ends the session, but not before he adds; “It is enough now. It feels like we are on trial here. It all went wrong with that first woman speaking. There are people here who can improve the WKC the way we want it. I wished some of you would have spoken instead. You know who I mean. But now we will end this session.”

I had suggestions to improve something that claims to be scientific and a base for academics working on Kurdistan or with an interest in Kurdish issues. Do not make this about a national pledge to let all evil pass by in order to save our Kurdish faces. This conference is not a reflection of me as a Kurd, or as someone who loves their country. This conference is a reflection of the organisers.

Having said that I agree with the last sentence of Mr Bakir. Let us end this session. And hope for the best!

We promised ourselves it would not happen again…

…after the Dersim genocide in North Kurdistan. After the massacre of Qarneqelatan in East Kurdistan. After the Amude cinema fire in West Kurdistan. After the Anfal campaign in South Kurdistan. After Halabja. After the imprisonment and torture of youngsters during the 1980s coup in Turkey. After the Qamishlo massacre in the aftermath of the football game in 2004. After the murder of Shwane Seid Qader in Mahabad. After the assassination of Qassemlou in 1989. After the Roboski massacre. After the Kurdish exodus following the uprising in 1991. After the assassination of our Kurdish heroines Sakine, Fidan and Leyla in Paris this year. 

 

Yet it is happening. Everyday. In front of our eyes, may it be through television screens, Facebook ‘journalism’ or Twitter feeds. We know what is happening and yet we do nothing. We say nothing. We are failing the ones we promised. We are failing ourselves as a group. As an ‘imagined community’ of sisters and brothers. We are failing the people of the West, as Kurds, as fellow war experiencers, as fellow humans.

 

While innocent people are being slaughtered in the Western parts, the leaders of the South decided that the only passage out of enemy hands should be closed. While Kurdish families in Syria are without food and water, Kurdish families in Sweden are discussing which fancy new restaurant to try the coming weekend. While old Kurdish women and men in SereKaniye are taking up arms to defend their families, old Kurds in Europe are discussing whether or not ‘the time for guerilla warfare’ is over and done with.

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And then the always reoccurring questions; but what can we do? How can we help? What can I as an individual change?

 

It was an individual the helped launch the greatest non-violent uprising in the world, it was one young individual who took a bullet for her belief in educating women and opened the eyes of an otherwise sleeping world community. It was the act of one woman on a bus that set of a civil rights movement that would come to change much, if not everything. It was the acts of a group of friends that set of a national struggle and awoke a sleeping Kurdish community in the north.  It was the acts of one man, imprisoned on an island that initiated a peace process between the two giants of the Middle East. It was many individuals and small groups of friends and family who hid illegal immigrants in their homes in Sweden in the 1990s, who hid wounded peshmergas in their homes in Kurdistan during the many Kurdish wars.

 

We as individuals and groups of friends made promises to each other. To the people of our bleeding land. We promised to never let them suffer in pain again without us reaching out. Without us doing whatever we could to stop their agony. Their pain. Their hunger.

 

I am a woman of my promises. Let us honour our words!

 

 

Recent fighting in Til Temir escalates

The following report was submitted by Rodi Khalil

Til Temir is a small town of Kurds, Arabs and Assyrians, situated on the road between Serê Kaniyê and Al-Hasakeh. Despite its population of only 7,000, it is an important town because of its strategic location, serving as a gateway to all Kurdish cities in the region.

teltemirOn 25th April an armed gang, led by Hasan To’ama (Secretary of the Ba’ath Party Brigade in Til Temir) attacked the city centre of the town and shot live bullets to scare and terrorise its citizens, spreading chaos and looting shops. But the Kurdish defense units, YPG (Kurdish initials for Yekîneyên Parastina Gel, or Popular Protection Units in English) immediately intervened to stop them. The armed group shot randomly towards YPG forces, which led to the death of a child and one YPG member.

The YPG forces spread throughout the entire city and gained control all of city outlets. The conflict in Til Temir has links to the conflicts in Serê Kaniyê, which continued for months and ended with the victory of YPG forces against the terrorist armed gangs – including Jabhat Al-Nusra, which has links to Al-Qaeda.

The FSA has put a new plan into place to fight YPG, but different from how it was in Serê Kaniyê. It is designed to push Arab clans to fight YPG in Til Temir by persuading these clans that Kurds are going to take control of the area, and that they will eventually displace Arabs and divide Syria. The FSA is providing Arab clans with money, weapons and training. The result is that FSA’s hands are ‘clean’ as the fighting is only between YPG and Arab clans. The FSA then appears innocent. But in actuality, many FSA groups are fighting with those clans against YPG, for example: Ghuraba Al-Sham, Moota, Omar bin Al-Khattab, Ahfad Al-Rasul, and Al-Faruq. Ten members of these armed gangs were killed in clashes with YPG forces when they tried to storm the city.

The armed gangs have built barriers on the roads around Til Temir, preventing the entrance of foodstuffs, water tanks and medicine to the city. They even stopped Kurdish citizens at the barriers and insulted them, and kidnapped some.

On 30th April, eight members of armed gangs killed and some were arrested by YPG forces after they shot at vehicles belonging to YPG forces near the village of Ain Al-Abd. Two YPG members sustained injuries. Later, clashes continued near Til Temir and one YPG fighter, Hogir Qahraman, was martyred in the clashes, and more than ten members of the armed gangs were killed.

Military reinforcements of YPG arrived in Til Temir on Wednesday, 1st May. After midnight, Kurdish YPG forces attacked a barrier of armed gangs near village of Ain Al-Abd and killed more than 20 members of the armed gangs there, and one YPG member was injured. YPG forces gained control of the barrier.

YPG forces entered the village of Ain Al-Abd yesterday, 2nd May, and took complete control of the village. Later they went to the villages of Dardara and Mujebra to free them as well from the armed gangs. Clashes are still continuing there.

The armed gangs, including some groups of FSA, are persistent on entering Til Temir and kicking the Kurds out of the city, while the Kurdish defense units are insistent on destroying and controlling all the barriers of the armed gangs around Til Temir.

Ossama Al-Hilali, who led some of FSA groups against Kurds in Serê Kaniyê is now fighting YPG forces in Til Temir, and he is wanted by the Qamişlo court, and Kurdish Asayish are looking for him.

In a call I made to one of the YPG leaders, he told me that YPG advances day by day and they will not leave Til Temir. He also added: “We have enough numbers of fighters and plenty of weapons to defend all of Rojava, and we’ll win in Til Temir as we have done in Serê Kaniyê.”

/Rodi Khalil/

I Spent My First Newroz in 2013

Since the very first time I watched the Newroz celebrations on television, live from the Kurdish city of Amed in northern Kurdistan, I have been mesmerized by the thought of participating at least once during my life time.

This past Newroz it finally happened. I decided that this Newroz would be the one. Did it have anything (or everything) to do with the then rumoured speech by the Kurdish leader Abdulla Ocalan? Or was it the images of the early Newroz celebrations from the city of Wan that captured my heart and would not let go?

Either way I picked up the phone while watching the singer Ciwan Haco enter the stage on TV, live from Wan, and be greeted by thousands of expecting fans with loud cheers and slogans: ‘Biji Newroz’ (Long live Newroz) being one, ‘Biji Serok Apo’  (Long live leader Apo) another, as if they were each other’s missing pieces, conclusions or just like the water to the plant and vice versa.

Before I knew it I had booked the tickets, packed and was with a crew of six, boarding the flight that would take me to the utopia of my heart, which I was hoping would be anything but a utopia. I was so excited, so happy yet I was still miles and miles away from what would come to be the best trip in my life so far. The first Newroz I can count as having celebrated to the full. Kurdish style. ‘Kesk u sor u zer’ style (the colours of the Kurdish flag: green, red and yellow).

I have cried during this trip and cried some more. I have laughed on this trip and held hands on this trip. I have let my sentimental Kurdish heart be filled to the brim with goodness and kindness and Kurdishness and respect and everything that is good in this world and makes me want to make it even better.

My first tears came on the flight. I saw young and old, bashuri and bakuri, rojhelati and rojawayi Kurds on the Turkish airlines carrier to Amed, to celebrate a Newroz, which is still not recognised in Turkey.  I was delighted that we were all united in our wish to see the fire of Newroz burn freely in yet another part of our wonderful land, but at the same time sad that we had to endure the fear that comes along with having the Kurdish colours or Kurdish dresses in one’s luggage at a Turkish airport security control.

I was not worried about the over weight of my bags due to me over packing running shoes, comfortable clothes and scarves for the hostilities and clashes that happen every Newroz in Amed and the rest of Northern Kurdistan. I was ready to be a part of that. To partake in the resistance against Turkish police brutality. To partake in the unity that came along with being a group standing up to a bully. I was ready to say that I had been to Newroz in Amed and felt and experienced what my people experience every Newroz, every time, every day.

And then it finally happened. Our plane landed and as the plane acted as a taxi taking us to our final destination, I looked around to take it all in.  What I was met with was nothing short of a heartbreak. An abrupt end to an illusion I had carried with me. I am not a child. I know what is going on. I have seen it on TV. “Seen it on TV”, that says it all. I had not experienced it with my own eyes since I grew out of my pink pony pyjamas at the age of 5.

Now I was seeing it live and what was I seeing?

Military trucks. Military people. Military tents and military planes. My beloved Amed was a military station in every sense of the word. My heart was broken and I had not left the plane yet.

But it was to be mended as soon as I heard: “Hun bixerhatin Amede” (Welcome to Amed). I realised then that many other things had changed since I was 5 besides the colour and design of my pyjamas. People greeted me in Kurdish wherever I looked. I was home. I was finally home!

A quick gathering of the group, checking up on impressions and the warm winds blowing our way and we were soon in a car heading for the Sur district of Amed to meet with district mayor Abdulla Demirbash.

No appointment. No official procedures. No stiff bureaucracy. Just plain humanity welcomed us at the door, decked out in green, red and yellow balloons in honour of the approaching Newroz celebrations.

We met with this humble man, protector of ethnic diversity. Protector of minority languages. Protector of religious diversity. Abdullah Demirbash was wearing Kurdish clothes in a beautiful dark green colour, reminiscent of the dress worn by the Kurdish guerrillas. One of his sons, Baran is a Kurdish guerrilla, another has been called to do military service in the Turkish army.

“Baran’s mother and I cannot sleep at night whenever we hear the military planes rise above Amed. What if another attack occurs? What if Baran and our other son meet on the battle ground?”

Two brothers, left with no alternatives than to take up arms and fight on two sides of the same battle, within one land.

One land with its borders decided over on a negotiating table while fat cigars were smoked and middle aged men in suits decided what once belonged to one united group of diverse people, now would be cut into streaks and pieces between those whose lungs bore to scream the highest.

We thanked Demirbash for his hospitality and promised to meet again during the Newroz celebrations the next day. We left for the hotel. Stepped out of the car. Took out our luggage. Inhaled the scent of resistance and hope while a white minibus drove past us with  large speakers on the side proclaiming: “Newroza we piroz be” (Happy Newroz) followed by information about the importance of 2013’s Newroz, namely freedom for Ocalan and a political recognition of the Kurdish people.

This was our first day in Amed. I was already in love and I was already fearing the moment I would set my foot on the plane home.

The morning of the 21st I woke up, dressed up in my Kurdish dress from eastern Kurdistan with that specific waistband and shoulder shawl. The group of six all did the same, and as we were from all parts of Kurdistan except rojawa, so were our clothes.  While on our way to the Newroz field we saw young and old people decked out in the Kurdish colours and Kurdish dresses decorated with sequins and pearls, waving, laughing, and jumping of joy.

The 20-minute car ride felt like a few seconds as the anticipation was high and everywhere I looked, I was met with a smiling face wishing me a joyful beginning to the New Year.

We arrived. Went to the security control. Passed by a few police vehicles. Police vehicles that only a few months ago had been used in disturbing Kurdish events by the use of water canons and teargas. They were covered with dots, marks after stones thrown at them during past events.

There were the only police vehicles I saw.  It bode well for the Newroz celebrations but also for the always-unstable peace dialogue that has just begun standing on formerly crippled feet.

The event itself cannot be described. The songs. The yellow, green and red flags. The scene decked out in the same colours. The people in the same colours. The Kurdish dresses sold in the same colours. The incredible feeling of pride when 2 million eager Kurds sing the Kurdish national anthem, not once but twice in one loud voice. I did not know if to take photos, sing along, say hello to all friendly faces or to ease my goose bumps.

Newroz in Amed cannot be summarized by a 3-page retelling, or by a 10-page booklet or a 300-page book. It has to experienced.

You have to go and eat newly made bread from the people on the festival area.

You have to sit next to a “dayiken ashti” (peace mother) and let her tell you about the two sons that she has lost due to the war.

You have to visit the great wall of Amed and dance with youngsters singing songs praising the liberation movement and the Kurdish guerrilla fighters.

You have to drink dew (cold yogurt drink) and eat newly peeled cucumbers from a stand after your dance.

You have to visit the mayor of Amed, Osman Baydemir, and give your opinions on improvements for the city and hear him reply: “We are not leaders, we are the servants of our people and I carry your suggestions close to my heart”.

You have to answers questions of where you are from only to be given hugs and kisses and gifts when they realise you are not from bakur but from another part of Kurdistan.

You have to ease your goose bumps whenever they tell you: “You are our guests from our common land. You have come all the way from rojhelat to spend Newroz with us. This makes us proud, this makes us united! Bixerhatin, ser sera, ser chawa”! (Welcome from the depth of our hearts).

That is when you will feel at home, and realise that the utopia of your heart is reality in Northern Kurdistan today and that neither military stations nor over weight luggage can take that feeling away. You will know in your heart that in Amed you will always be welcomed by a friendly face decked out in “kesk, u sor u zer”.

A few photos from Newroz 2013 in Amed.

The photos are property of Shiler Amini

I Will Not Forget Helebce

It was 1988.

In 1988 we; my parents, my two sisters and I, were living in a city filled with ultra-nationalist MHP supporters in Turkey. We “were Persian” while living there as to avoid being harassed due to our Kurdish identities.

‘Kurd’ was still a swear word then and I learnt early on to protect my identity, from being exposed and expressed, but also from being exterminated and extinct.

I was 5.  I was trying not to speak when out of the house. Police were everywhere. I was told that they could hear me speak Kurdish and send us back to Iran so I kept shut and watched the police. There were so many of them everywhere.

It was still a few more months before we would come to Sweden and start a new life for ourselves.

It was a Wednesday and people were going on about their business as they would any other day except this day was the day many of them would not live to see any other days.

It was March 16th 1988, any other day everywhere else, in any other place except this was Helebce; “the Kurdish Hiroshima”, “The Kurdish wound”, “the day I lost my whole family”, “the day my body survived but my soul died”, “the day Omer Xaweri tried to protect his baby with his body but failed”.

So many names and descriptions for one city, yet not all of them. Only a few from the few that survived.

It was the day which resulted in the deaths of more than 5000 people. From one city. Of less than 80 000 people. That is 6% of the population killed painfully, slowly and coldheartedly.  I choose not to write inhumanely as who else than humans would do this to one and another, yet choose to label everything executed unsympathetically as inhumane?

I was 5, living in Turkey, being called “Persian”, having just left Iraq, waiting to go to Sweden, just witnessing one of the many tragedies experienced by the Kurdish people.

Today I am 30. Living in Sweden.

The Turkish president came to visit this past week. I was out to demonstrate against his visit. I was carrying the Kurdish colours and shouting slogans in Kurdish. I was not calling myself Persian. Police were guarding us. There were more policemen than protesters. I am used to this situation.

The Turkish president on a visit to Sweden. Sweden, which  just a few months ago announced that they recognise the Helebce genocide as genocide. People applauded. Many were happy and thankful.

Should we be? Should we forget that Sweden was one of the countries that had a direct hand in distributing the weapons used by Saddam Hussein in the attack in the first place?

Should we also forget about the use of chemical weapons by Turkey against the Kurdish guerrillas?  And the visit of the president of that country to Sweden?

Should we overlook that the Swedish MP Carl Bildt is protecting the country that is giving us the sequel to Helebce but in another region of Kurdistan?

It has been 25 years since Omer Xaweri’s baby boy died in his father’s arms. 25 years since I was hiding behind my parents trying to find an alley free from Turkish police to be able to walk home. 25 years since the pomegranate trees in Helebce stopped producing the fruit of life but the fruit of death. 25 years since the black dust and destruction silenced children singing in the alleys of Helebce.

25 years yet we are “honoured” with the label of genocide now. As that will bring them back, put the responsible behind bars, stop the use of chemical weapons used against us by others such as Turkey, stop the sale of dreadful weapons to dreadful states.

I am not ungrateful but please remind me again what I should be thankful for?

While bombs produced in the west are sold to the east and mines produced in Sweden harm children on the streets of Kurdistan, while plants growing kill animals feeding on them in Helebce.

Remind me again why I should applaud?

While police are hindering me from expressing my contempt against a state that arrests, imprisons, kills, tortures, rapes, executes and uses chemical weapons as easy as diplomatic politeness.

Remind me again why I should be happy?

Omer Xaweri with the infant he was trying to protect.

Do not forget Helebce is the reoccurring slogan this week.

I will not forget Helebce; by always fighting against use of chemical weapons, by never allowing another Helebce to occur anywhere in Kurdistan, ever again, by promising myself to shout louder next time I protest against Abdulla Gul, by promising to taste a pomegranate from Helebce at least once more before I lay my head next to Omer Xaweri for my last sleep.

‘Jin, Jiyan, Azadi’- Reflections on the funeral march in Paris

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There I was walking amongst the many thousands of people, Kurds and non-Kurds alike, in the funeral procession of the murdered Kurdish activists in Paris.

Unlike the majority of women, I was not in the forefront but walking with the men further back. My reason was that I wanted to be able to take more photographs and move freely at my own pace.

What I saw around me were men of all ages, shapes and heights but all with a Middle Eastern look. That look with the dark eyes and the dark hair, and then some with beards and moustaches.  All these men with that look. That look that so often faces so much prejudice.  Prejudice of being stubborn, patriarchal upholders. Prejudice of being honour killers, wife beaters and the keepers of home prisons. So much prejudice.

These are the same men who have to defend themselves every time someone, somewhere, sharing the same hair colour as theirs, does something directed at women. These are the men who were everywhere that day, who in their loud, dark voices, sending powerful vibrations into the air and through the hearts of those attending, were chanting: Jin, Jiyan. Azadi! (Women, Life, Freedom!)

The voices of those men, that chanting and that overwhelming sense of belonging to a community seize to leave me even when I shut my eyes to sleep.

I arrived home with only a dozen photos. I could not take any photos or do anything else when the march started and the flag draped coffins arrived.

I was mesmerised yet utterly sad. Crying yet unexplainably joyful. It was as if hell had broken loose but I was amongst the bravest of angels protecting me, all at once.

Thousands of men, women and children stood and chanted in one, loud, synchronized voice: Shehid namirin! (Martyrs do not die!)

The coffins were lifted onto the shoulders of mostly women and the proceedings started, heading towards the place of the memorial, which happened to be a beautiful grand hall with chandeliers gracing the ceilings.

It was most probably used as a wedding parlour normally.

Ironic I thought to myself. Here three brave, feminist women are being remembered. Three women who dedicated their lives to free the Kurdish people but fore mostly Kurdish women. Three women who did everything they could to free themselves from the shackles of patriarchy, from the limits set by society, from the prohibitions and borders set by the rulers of Kurdish lands. Now these three women are being remembered in a wedding parlour, where too often around the world powerless young women are being draped in the colour of the dead and gifted away for a loveless, and hopeless life. Ironic to say the least.

When I finally reached the door of the parlour, I regained my strength. It took strength to show my respect without letting the sad melody of people crying break me down. It took strength but it also gave strength. It was a vision to see the white walls of the parlour against the pillars draped in the purple colour of the feminists, tied together by the reds, greens and yellows of the Kurdish flag.

I walked slowly. Looked around. Took everything in. The sadness. The pride. The sense of loss and sorrow. The beautiful colours surrounding the coffins. The most beautiful of women in the photos on each one.

The emotions were in uproar and my eyes were tired of crying. The tears were falling and I soon joined the melody of the sad. Hearing Jinen Azad by Delila playing for the women outside, loud as a whisper, joining our melody, did not help the tears stop.

I left and joined the gathering outside. This time I was surrounded by women of all ages. They were outside waiting, chanting slogans and reading poems, talking and discussing. I saw old women in groups talking about their grief and sorrow and of children lost. I heard young women talk about the road to Qandil, the unfinished projects of the fallen women and of future projects needed for the Kurdish cause. My tears stopped there and then.

I will not cry again. These women were not victims. They are heroes. They have paved the way for the next generation of female Kurdish heroes. One does not cry for heroes. One continues in their path!

Leading Female Kurdish Politicians Murdered in Paris

2013 started out with many prospects for peace for the Kurds. Finally it seemed that proper negotiations would take place and that the brave resistance of the approximately thousands of Kurdish hunger strikers in the Turkish prisons had paid off. Kurdish BDP politicians Ahmet Turk and Ayla Akat Ata went to see the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan in Imrali. Talks resumed between the PKK and the AKP government of Turkey in what was expected by many to be the resolution we all had been waiting for.

Then last night at around 1 am, the bodies of Sakine Cansiz, one of the co-founders of the PKK, and Kurdish activists Fidan Dogan and Leyla Soylemez, were found in the Kurdish Information Centre in Paris.

There are many question marks as to why this has happened and why these three female politicians have been targeted. It is yet to soon for concrete answers but many questions have been raised as to why, and how this happened and who ordered the murders.

While old wounds from the assassinations of Kurdish politicians Qasemlou and Sharafkandi from the PDKI  in 1989 and 1992 respectively, are still unhealed, suspicions rise as to the role Iran might have played in this tragedy.

The current situation in the Middle East leaves no country unaffected and a peace process underway in Turkey with the Kurds would mean a more likely transition to re-negotiations between the Kurds and Iran, or an outbreak of war.

Another aspect is the role NATO could have played in this tragedy to discreetly stir up the tensions and thus allow for movement in the region, and as a result benefitting NATO’s own aims and aspirations in the Middle East.

Last but not least, Turkey is seen as the perpetrator even though random murders such as these are more something expected from Iran. What would Turkey gain in murdering these Kurdish politicians? Many claim that it is not about gaining as much as about having an opportunity to continue as before but now being able to hide behind the safe walls of a “peace dialogue”.

The hope of 2013 becoming the year of peace is still there.

It now all depends on how much support Turkey and the International community can show the Kurdish people and how long it will take to heal these wounds of 2013.

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“The Concrete Flower”

“I am sitting here. Numb. Dizzy. Beheaded. Without any arms or legs.  Without any eyesight. More a concrete flower than a human.  Living against all odds.

Yet I see more clearly than you, who are whole. Who can walk wherever and say whatever.

 

 

I feel more vividly the pain of others and I inflict them upon myself to be able to help out. How can I help out if I do not feel their agony, if I cannot hear their pleas?

 

I am numb as it has continued for centuries and I can only take so much pain and sorrow. The humming of the bees is drowned out to the violent humming of warplanes and drones.

 

I try to mask them and only hear the music in my heart, but as the cries from those who struggle gets louder, they add the lyrics to my heartfelt music.

 

I am dizzy, as so many roads have been shut for me in the past. So many borders have been set up where there were none before. So many villages burnt, the smoke fills my lungs and clouds my eyes. Blinding me.

 

I am without arms and legs as I am not a whole. I have been divided. Cut. The sharp rulers of despots past have set the lines, which I am not allowed to cross. I am without arms and legs. 

 

I am beheaded, as I do not know where to look. Only cure is a joint action by my partitions to join each other and together look for one.

 

If I have managed to come this far beheaded, arm- and leg-less, imagine what I can achieve if whole!

 

The music of the past guides my way, puts the notes on my sheet and tells me what to expect next. I just need to read them.

 

The single words coming in the past started a song I wish to see finished.  The past 63 days these single words have turned into lyrics. Into music I can understand.

 

I can feel it. I can feel their pain. Their hunger. Their determination. I can see the words turning into lyrics on my note sheet.

 

I can see them but you cannot.

To see them neither, head arms or legs are necessary.

 

You need an open mind. Filled with the music of your heart, music of the past and the lyrics of the present.

 

 

An open mind only a flower nurtured from concrete can have.”

Concrete Flower

 

 

 

 

The State of My Country, Kurdistan, and My People 2 November 2012

Eastern Kurdistan (Iran): Thousands of prisoners of conscience are being tortured, abused and treated in the most inhumane way possible. Many of whom have been executed in the past such as Shirin Elemhuli and Farzad Kemangar, and many are under threat of execution as I am writing this. Kemangar being merely a teacher with a strong civic conscience and a fearless belief in the unity of the people once said to his students in a letter from prison: “I leave you to the wind and to the sun so that, in the near future, you will sing lessons of love and sincerity to our land”. New reports on executions reach me on a daily basis as well as reports on Kurdish workers on the borders between the Kurdish parts being killed by Iranian military. Furthermore, Kurdish women and children are yet again discriminated against by the anti-female policies of the Iranian state. Imagine living as a young Kurdish woman in the anti Kurdish, anti female, anti youth society of Iran.

Southern Kurdistan (Iraq): Despite having a Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), which deals with the international community as a de facto state, more than merely having autonomy within Iraq, the Kurdish region is always under the threat of the Iraqi regime. Forced displacement of Kurds from the time of Saddam Hussein’s rule are still not reimbursed or even dealt with properly with refugee camps for Kurds within the multicultural city of Kirkuk which if anything should be declared a Kurdish- Arabic- Turcoman city.  Never mind the constant bombardment of Kurdistan by Turkey, as if this land was only a sovereign region ruled by Kurds on paper, never mind the many civilian deaths due to this shelling or the environmental damages done to our precious landscapes of Kurdistan but yet Turkey has the audacity to intervene when murdered Kurdish guerrillas are being sent back to the KRG region for burial?!  Seems Saddam Hussein’s ways just won’t leave the rulers of Iraq and thus also affecting South Kurdistan.

Northern Kurdistan (Turkey): With more than 700 Kurdish prisoners hunger striking for more than 52 days, this if anything should tell you how the Kurds are doing in Turkey. Use of chemical weapons against Kurdish guerrillas, Mass arrests, torture, disappearances, rape, burning of Kurdish forests and crop fields, disturbance during Newroz celebrations, closure of news papers, TV stations, political parties, forced name changes of scientific objects as to erase the Kurdish reference to certain objects, prohibition of use of letters X, W and Q, imprisonment of children under 15 years old and of women above 70 years old for participating in demonstrations etc.  While the Turkish PM acts as saviour of the Palestinians, the Syrians, the Somalis and more or less anybody who is a Muslim, he keeps forgetting that he is treating his own Muslim population which is Kurdish more inhumanely than the world will ever know.

 

Western Kurdistan (Syria): Last but not east, Syria.With news reports of the so called ‘Free Syrian Army’ killing the female YPG commander named Nujin Derik yesterday, I can think of many more suitable names for the FSA. While Turkey is doing its best to intervene and disturb the unstable unity shown between the different Kurdish groups in Syria, the FSA is instead aiming at erasing Kurds, no matter whom, one by one.  Strategic planning by those who do not want to see another free Kurdish region, have disturbed many good projects which the Kurds in Syria had planned and set up such as Kurdish language schools and Kurdish security forces for protection. While the world looks on, the FSA is ruining the historic wealth of Syria, killing any counterpart to their aims, no matter anti-Assad or not and first and fore most EVERYTHING pro-Kurdish, leaving me worried for whatever evil which will replace the current evil in Syria.

Young Kurdish Woman Found Stabbed in Swedish Town

Mona Eltahawy has in in her latest article”Why do they hate us” discussed the situation of Middle Eastern (Arab) women. For those of you who do not know Eltahawy, she is an Egyptian-American columnist who in November 2011 was detained by military intelligence in Egypt for 12 hours. She was severely beaten and sexually assaulted.

Eltahawy comes to the conclusion that women must be hated for the vicious crimes against them to be accepted, institutionalised and upheld as they are. Naturally, with her article came a flood of criticism against her for allegedly portraying women in these countries as weak, powerless and also for connecting Islam to the crimes against them.

That was three days ago. The same day as a young girl named Maria was stabbed to death, allegedly by her 16 year old male relative for having stained the honour of her family.

Photo: Expressen

The girl who is of Kurdish origin had been found stabbed to death in a city in the south of Sweden. The media is quick to label it an “honour crime” although these are the most unfitting words to be used to describe an act together.

While the investigation into this murder is ongoing (another suspect, this time a woman, was also arrested earlier today) I cannot help but see the discrepancy in the debate about women’s rights in the Middle East.

As a Kurdish woman myself, I was also 19 once and lived in a household with my parents (first generation political refugees) who were slowly acquainting themselves with the new country which was now our safe heaven. I however remember these times as joyful times  filled with new discoveries, both within and outside my family frame. I remember my first time moving out to a flat on my own, with my dad helping me and I remember that first cold beer after the move was finished, also with my dad. I do however also remember my friends who were not as lucky as me and who had to hide their interests, views and souls from their families.

There were also those who did not make it. I remember Blesa who was stabbed by her father, in the park across the road from our house, after he had killed her younger sibling. I remember her and I remember my own life.

We were both young, Kurdish women with ambitions, hopes and plans for the future and we were neighbours as well as classmates. She is however not here anymore and I am and that difference is the best way to describe the vicious and horrible act of murdering women, which many call honour killings.

It is Eltahawy’s article and it is Blesa’s life story. It is Maria’s life story and it is my personal experiences. It is not black and white and the more efforts are put into making it so, will only derail us from helping more young women escape the vindictive knives of scorn families.

We must stop labelling women who speak up about these crimes as racists, Islam haters, Kurd haters and as women who have forgotten their roots and where they come from.

I am speaking up about this and I know where I come from. I come from the land of a people who do not kill its women systematically but a place where some due to societal pressure, religious fundamentalism, illiteracy (many times not though), war trauma, disdain towards women and their sexuality, fear of losing power etc do kill young and old women. I can do this as I know that it is not a Kurdish thing, or a Muslim thing or a Northern/Western thing.

It is a “women being killed thing” and that is enough for me to stand against it. It must be said however that there are many with Eurocentric views out there who do everything they can to label the murders of young women, especially in Europe, as just that to promote their own xenophobic ideas and political programs.

I will however not keep quiet about a crime that affects so many young, talented women to prove that I am patriotic or Muslim etc as a reaction to that. Xenophobia must be answered with knowledge, knowledge about extreme life styles and beliefs, away from the everyday religions and ethnicities.

If you want a more analytical aspect as to why there are so many Kurdish “honour killings”, I suggest you read up on how masculinity is shaped and developed. There are many good books out there on the subject. Then look for how that masculinity is shaped and developed in war struck regions. Read up on how a man is deprived of his ethnic identity due to assimilation policies, his identity as a provider due to poverty, his identity as powerful due to the occupation of his land and the effects of that on his psychological development. Then read some more about how all of these deprivations are handled by a man with nothing to gain or to lose and how he maintains power in a world where he is told he has none. He takes it from the ones around him, the ones the society always is depriving of basic rights. The powerless man is always powerful in relation to the women of the society. What he cannot change in the society and the aggression he cannot unleash at the powerful, he unleashes at the powerless. This is not defence- these are facts.

This is a far bigger issue to be reduced to a discussion about ethnic or religious belongings.

I can read Eltahawy’s article and criticise it for not mentioning the position of minority women within the spectrum of the Arab spring but I should not criticise her for merely pointing to the current situation of women which by the way should be history when we now are more than a decade into the millennium.

The women who live to get a pat on their shoulder from the groups that wish to uphold honour killings, have lost their souls. It is with them as it is with the village guards who sell information about Kurdish refugees in the villages in Turkey, and it is just the same as one stepping on you to reach a new step on the career/societal/family latter.

We must stop protecting ourselves from evil by upholding evil itself or we might read about the tragic murder of yet another young woman, maybe one who herself or her female relatives once were patted on the shoulders as well?

If we do not want to ask ourselves why they hate us, let us at least ask why we hate ourselves?

Kurdish Hunger Strikers in Strasbourg End the Hunger Strike after 52 Days

The hunger strike in Strasbourg has ended after 52 days. A press release from the hunger strikers state that the hunger strike has reached its goal, and the action is therefore ending  as of today”.

Photo: Rojhelat.info

The statement also stressed the continuous struggle of the hunger strikers for the release and well-being of the Kurdish leader Abdulla Ocalan and the freedom of the Kurdish people, also in the future.

The statement comes after a press conference in the European Parliament attended by the MEP Jürgen Klute, Coordinator of the European Parliament – Kurds Friendship Group amongst others.

Also present at the press conference was winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and member of the Turkish Parliament Leyla Zana.

Leyla Zana stressed the importance of the preventing casualties stemming from this hunger strike and declared that the many meetings had been conducted with members of the European Parliament to ensure a quick resolution and adherence to the demands put forth by the hunger strikers.

Also present at the press conference was hunger striker Nigar Enayati, a norwegian citizen and former Red Party (Rød Valgalliance) Oslo Municipal Council member. She called on the CPT* to listen to as soon as possible visit the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan on the prison island of Imrali in Turkey. Ocalan has been in isolation for 270 days, during which has been denied visits from both his family and lawyers.

The European parliament ensured to look into the health condition of Ocalan and called upon the hunger strikers to finish their action.

A question which was raised by an attending journalist, in which he questioned the sincerety of the European Union in adherring to the demands of the hunger strikers despite    the promise made, was answered by panel by stating that if the demands are ignored the campaign will continue!

Press conference in the EU parliament regarding the Kurdish hunger strikers

*CPT= The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment or shortly Committee for the Prevention of Torture

Imminent Risk of Execution for Hebibula Gulperi

Hebibula Gulperi has been in the custody of the Iranian authorities since 27 September 2009. He was arrested during a trip from Mahabad to Urmiye, located in Eastern Kurdistan (Iran). He has since his arrest been subjected to both psychological as well as physical torture and denied basic rights. Human rights reports tell of ill-treatment including prolonged solitary confinement, broken arms and legs, interrupted sleep, electrocution, poor or non-existent meals etc. Gulperi appeared before the Mahabad branch of the Revolutionary Court in 2010 where he was convicted to be a mohareb i.e. an ‘enemy of God’ death in accordance with articles 186 and 190 of the Islamic penal Code.

Defend International (DI) has in a press release stated that Gulperi has been transferred from Urmiye prison to Semnan prison in Northern Iran, without notifying his family or lawyer. In March 2010, another Kurdish prisoner, Hussein Khezri, was transferred during similar circumstances from Urmiye Central prison to Qazvin prison where he stayed for nearly forty days only to be transferred back and executed on 15 January 2011. The situation for political and human rights activists in Iran is worsening on a day by day basis and there are now more than 22 Kurdish activists on death row in Iranian prisons.

“Is it possible to carry the heavy burden of being a teacher and be responsible for spreading the seeds of knowledge and still be silent? Is it possible to see the lumps in the throats of the students and witness their thin and malnourished faces and keep quiet? Is it possible to be in the year of no justice and fairness and fail to teach the H for Hope and E for Equality, even if such teachings land you in Evin prison or result in your death? (Ferzad Kemanger, in a letter titled “Be Strong Comrades”, written in prison prior to his execution in 2010)

On 9 May 2010 Ferzad Kemanger, a teacher and human rights activist was executed in Evin prison in Iran together with Ali Heyderyan, Farhad Vakili, Shirin Alamhouli and Mehdi Eslamian. The international community raised their voices as much as they thought possible to bring about a halt in the execution of these five prisoners of conscience but as words cannot catch bullets or stop the Iranian regime, the execution was carried out.

Writers, political activists, human rights activists and now teachers are being executed and eliminated. The ones with the knowledge or language to speak, or just the ones brave enough to risk their lives now for a better future for generations to come.

Humanity have lost many brave people for the sake of change, the promise of a better future and freedom and we can do much more than just raise our voices and watch more brave women and men face the same fate.

I wish to tell these prisoners that their efforts were not in vain and that those who share their ideas and hopes for the future are not arrested and executed today while the world remains silent, but I cannot do that.

I will instead share with you the explanation Kemanger wrote for the title of his letter;

“Eight years ago, the grandmother of one of my students, Yassin, in the village of Marab, played the tape of the story of the teacher Mamoosta Ghootabkhaneh. She told me then, “I know that your fate, like the teacher who is the writer and recorder of this poem, is execution; but be strong comrade. The grandmother said those words as she puffed on her cigarette and stared at the mountains. “

I hope that you understand his meaning and that you comrades also remain strong and always keep your faith in the mountains of Kurdistan.

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Doctors warn of casualties for Kurdish hunger strikers in Strasbourg on their 48th day

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Hunger strikers; Fuat Kav, Gönül Kaya, Ahmet Çelik, Mecbure Özer, Harun Yilmaz, Ahmet Kiliç, Emine Benek, Gulistan Hasan, Nigar Enayati, Erol Polat, İmam Yildiz, Oner Uludag, Kerim Sivri, Tarik Yusufi and Hasan Acar (Photo:YeniOzgurPolitika)

15 Kurdish activists started an unlimited hunger strike in Strasbourg, France, on 1 March 2012. The aim of the action was to support the then ongoing hunger strike of imprisoned BDP parliamentarian Selma Irmak, amongst others. That hunger strike started on 15 February at the same time as the still ongoing hunger strike of 2000 Kurdish political prisoners in Turkish prisons, now on its 63rd day. New people join the hunger strike in prisons on a regular basis, and 500 new people joined  this week resulting in 2000 prisoners currently being on hunger strike in Turkish prisons.

So far three of the hunger strikers in Strasbourg have been in such a bad condition that they have been taken to the hospital but they all were refusing treatment and nutrition supplements and instead demanded to be taken back to rest of the hunger strikers to continue.

The hunger strike in Strasbourg was initiated outside the office of the European Council under the heading of “Freedom for Ocalan” and has so far gathered the support of Kurds and non Kurds alike from many of the European countries. Kurdish artists, internationally renowned public figures and politicians as well as the people of Strasbourg have showed support and solidarity with the unlimited hunger strike.

The demands are concluded in five bullet points (see below) and focus mainly on the health condition of the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan and the ongoing state violence of Turkey against the Kurdish people.
The hunger strikers demand;

• that the isolation of the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, held in solitary confinement in Imrali prison in Turkey, should immediately stop and that his health condition is improved and guaranteed.
• that representatives from the CPT (European Committee for the Prevention of Torture) visit Imrali to investigate the conditions at the prison island and thereafter notify the public of the results.
• that the European Council takes the correct measures against the Turkish state’s oppression of the Kurdish people
• that the European Union will reconsider their relations with Turkey and if there are not any improvements, the relations with Turkey will come to cease.
• that the PKK is removed from the EU list of terrorist organisations.

The hunger strike has caught the attention of many politicians and the last public figure to raise his voice against Turkish state violations against the Kurdish people is Nobel Peace Prize Laureate from 1984, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. He calls upon the Secretary General of the European Council, Thorbjørn Jagland, to take action in this matter of urgency.