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October 06 2012

Turkey: Kurds respond on social networking sites to AKP Congress

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan hailed Turkey as a rising democratic power at the Justice and Development Party (AKP)'s conference last week, claiming it has become an example to the Muslim world. Thousands of cheering members gathered at the congress, hosted at a sports stadium in Turkey's capital, Ankara. But criticism was vibrant on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, accusing the Prime Minister of repressing Kurdish masses while advocating for the freedom of others, such as the Palestinians.

Kurds on social networking sites were divided on the presence of President Masoud Barzani of Kurdistan Regional Government at AKP's congress. At the conference, he was not recognised by his official title, as president of Kurdistan, but rather as President of Iraq's regional government. Sinbad Dersimi de Bakur said Erdogan treated the President of Federal Kurdistan as his Northern Iraqi Mayor. Similarly Raoof Sofie was keen to point out that President Barzani should only attend a conference like this when AKP stops attacking Kurds, and shows substantial evidence of intending to resolve the Kurdish Issue.

The footage for President Masoud Barzani's speech is available online which has been subject to heated debates on social networking sites.

Hawar Ameen commented on President Masoud Barzani's visit, saying:

[It] makes me feel uneasy, to speak at a party that does not recognise him, his title, the flag of the country, the people he represents never mind the killing of innocent civillians makes it all a bit sick. Iraqi Kurdish leaders have a shameful history of sucking up to other leaders that would clearly stab them in the back at the first opportunity. Erdogan is the man that said he is against any idea of a Kurdish state even if it were next to Argentina. Where is the Kurdish solidarity? Will he exchange economic concessions for Turkish bombing raid in South Kurdistan or worse still fight PKK? All other variables aside, Erdogan is responsible for killing thousands of Kurds, and for this reason alone he should not attend.

Not everyone was critical of the visit by President Masoud Barzani. Humam Tahar believes a critical approach should be adopted towards building a peaceful future, and not living in the past. He added, the past and present should not be ignored but it is crucial to focus on the future of new generations and what is in the interest of Kurdish people.

Rebwar Waladbaigi said the invitation of President Barzani is to cause division among Kurdish people, and the buzz that has been generated since the conference is the result of a tactical invitation, diverting attention from the Kurdish people's situation.

A student of International Law, Rawezh Koyi added that there are two kinds of recognition (1) explicit recognition and (2) Implicit recognition. He pointed out that some achievements have been made, which are progressive. For instance, in the past Turkey denied the existence of Kurdish leaders, and this policy has changed now due to regional changes.

It is unclear to what extent President Masoud Barzani's presence at AKP conference will divide Kurdish people from South and North, but at this stage it is clear many Kurdish people from North Kurdistan feel betrayed. The division is not just among ordinary people, but even different political parties within Southern Kurdistan are in conflict regarding the visit of President Masoud Barzani to AKP's congress, including Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party (PUK).

Turkey: Thousands Protest in Istanbul against War on Syria

Turkey's military attacked Syrian targets in response to the killing of five Turkish civilians by Syrian government forces. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's office issued a statement immediately afterwards, saying:

Our armed forces in the border region responded immediately to this abominable attack in line with their rules of engagement; targets were struck through artillery fire against places in Syria identified by radar.

The Turkish parliament passed a year-long mandate which approved cross-border military action. The motion was passed by 320 votes in the 550-seat Turkish parliament. Turkey's deputy Prime Minister has said in a statement that authorising the use of force in Syria does not amount to a declaration of war, but acts as a preventive measure. This was followed by a statement from Turkey's Prime Minister, who said:

All we want in this region is peace and security. We have no intention of starting war. We are aware of the outcome, consequences, of war in Iraq and Afghanistan … we see the same in Syria.

The state-run Syrian News Agency (SANA) released an immediate statement saying Syrian authorities are offering sincere condolences to the families of the deceased and the Turkish people.

More than 5,000 protesters took to the streets of Istanbul against a possible war with Syria. On Thursday night, the demonstration was against AK party, protesters chanted,

The AKP wants war, the people want peace. No to war, peace right now.

Cherine Atalla tweeted this picture from the protest, which reads “Hands off Syria”:

A sign at the Istanbul anti-war protest which reads Hands off Syria, shared by @Cherine_89 on Twitter. Reposted with permission.

In Turkey, the slogan Savasa hayir, which means “no to war,” became top trending topic among Twitter users on Thursday morning. And since the cross-border military action mandate has been approved, social networks have been divided on the issue, creating a firestorm of opinions from activists, pundits and the like.

From Turkey, Hulya Ataoglu tweets:

@cramelin: #savasahayir #notowar No to war, not now, not ever.

Ozgur Gurbuz, from Istanbul, says:

@ozzgurbuz: Peace is the only way #noWar #savasahayir from Istanbul. Getting more and more here.

Thousands protest against war on Syria in Istanbul

Thousands protest against war on Syria in Istanbul. Photo shared by @zappika on Twitter

And Sarper Ere tweets a picture above from the protest against war with Syria, commenting “Peace at home, peace at world”.

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October 02 2012

Turkey: Little Optimism Over Kurdish Rebel Negotiations

Last week the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signalled the start of much-needed negotiations between the PKK (Kurdistan Worker's Party) and the government. In the past Kurdish rebels have often called for negotiations, and in light of the recent escalation of violence, the need for negotiation is becoming increasingly pressing.

The news was not met with optimism, because successive Turkish governments have a history of broken promises towards the Kurdish people.

According to one Kurd in Chicago, the promise of negotiations is a new tactic adopted by PM Erdoğan in hope of securing his position in the next general elections. As Osman Ates points out, the Turkish government and Gulen movement both believe in the assimilation of Kurdish people.

@osman_ates: The point is Turkish government and Gulen movement believe that the Kurds will be assimilated sooner or later. [Note: The Gulen movement secularises the Kurdish question, and within school establishment they promote a Turkish narrative of history, which often excludes Kurdish people and their struggles]

Kurds hold banners and flags against the President of Turkey in Rome, Italy. Image by Stefano Montesi, copyright Demotix (08/05/12).

Kurds hold banners and flags against the President of Turkey in Rome, Italy. Image by Stefano Montesi, copyright Demotix (08/05/12).

Political prisoners

What is often overlooked is the number of Kurdish political prisoners within Turkey, and Kurdish politicians who continue to be threatened with the lifting of their parliamentary immunity.

The Peace and Democracy (BDP) party's co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has said in a recent statement to Hurriyet Daily News that “such a thing [lifting immunity] will kill any possible negotiation process.” He added:

Six BDP deputies are still behind bars, and the government has not lifted a finger for their release. In addition to that, another nine of our deputies will be thrown in front of the judiciary, and we will be cheated by the prime minister to restart the negotiation process. That’s not going to happen.

There are legitimate concerns from Kurdish activists regarding the restarting of the negotiation process, and whether it is simply to buy more time for the Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The answer is not clear, but on Sunday October 11, 2012, the answer will be evident at the AKP convention, where Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will speak at length about Turkey's accession to the European Union, economic problems that have strained Turkey, increasing violence from Kurdish rebels and new policies towards neighbouring countries.

The convention speech might answer some of Demirtaş' concerns about the Turkish Prime Minister's negotiation plans, who said the following in a recent interview:

I am not so sure whether he [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] wants to commence a new process or to gain some time to get through his party’s convention. If he wants to launch a process, the government should have a plan outlining the legal and constitutional steps to be taken. Swearing and slamming his Kurdish counterparts are not the language of peace and finding a solution. This shows the flippancy of the government. They should overcome this dilemma.

Not long ago, Gülten Kışanak, co-chair of Peace and Democracy (BDP) party said:

Violence dominates now from the Kurdish side and is also defining state policy. Let’s return to the path of dialogue and negotiations and lessen the war. We need to focus on policies for peace and establish a climate of peace. Otherwise it’s insincere to work on a constitution while people are dying and blood is being spilt.

It is unreasonable for the Turkish government to consider negotiations with rebels, when it imprisons Kurdish politicians and threatens them with the lifting of parliamentary immunity. Pro-Kurdish politicians are often censored or put on trial, despite being voted for democratically.

In reality if politicians and activists are being imprisoned simply for advocating different political views, there is little hope for serious negotiation with rebels.

September 28 2012

Turkey: Prime Minister Signals Negotiations with Kurdish Rebels

The Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has signaled that he will negotiate with Kurdish rebels after months of deadly violence from Kurdish rebels in response to Turkish policies.

It is the fear of further escalation of this violence that has led Erdoğan to consider talks. In the past Turkey has been unwilling to negotiate with rebels, despite calls from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party.

Hugh Pope, director of International Crisis Group’s project in Turkey and Cyprus has spoken to Euronews highlighting how the changes since 2009 affect the lives of Kurdish people:

Last year there was very severe degrading of the situation to a point where more than 700 people were killed in the fighting, including more than 200 soldiers, more than 400 PKK members and nearly 80 civilians. These are the worst casualty figures since the capture of PKK Leader Abdullah Ocalan and I think it is a watershed moment for Turkey, I think, because many things are changing in the region and Turkey needs a new policy direction. I think currently the way that fighting escalation needs a reconsideration a real of policy.

Kurds protest in Istanbul against clashes in Diyarbakir. Image by  Fulya Atalay, copyright Demotix (15/07/12).

Kurds protest in Istanbul against clashes in Diyarbakir. Image by Fulya Atalay, copyright Demotix (15/07/12).

Talks with Kurdish rebels will come as a surprise to many sociologists who have argued that successive Turkish governments have always believed that through time Kurds would assimilate and become Turks.

Ismail Beşikçi in an interview with Rudaw is quoted to have said the following:

The Turkish state does not have any particular view on solving the issue of the Kurds. Therefore, it delays dealing with the problem, hoping that it will be solved over time. That is because the Turkish state believes that as time passes, the Kurds will assimilate. A large number of Kurds live in the west of Turkey. The state believes that after two to three generations, they will assimilate and become Turks. I believe this is the plan of the state.

Recently, a report showed that the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) guerrilla movement was forthcoming to enter negotations.

The Turkish government is responsible for restricting the negotiation process in the Oslo talks, a senior member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Zübeyir Aydar, who was in attendance for the negotiations between Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and PKK, has said, adding that the PKK would like to see negotiations to begin again.

On Twitter the responses were different; some have questioned Erdogan's previous statements on the successfulness of military operations against Kurdish rebels.

Twitter attracts a diverse range of opinions on the subject of Kurdish rebels and many Kurds have tweeted about the possible negotiations. Some are sceptical, others have pointed out that the talks are simply a means of watering down the current escalation of violence which depicts Turkey in a very bad light.

For instance a Kurd living in Turkey, Necirvan, tweeted that negotiations with Kurdish people are a waste of time, and will lead to disappointment. This view was echoed by Yezdan who said Kurds should not be naive about this negotiation attempt.

Idrees Mohammd pointed out that domestic pressure has increased, which has led to Erdogan signalling the way to more talks. But according to Baxtiyar, who is a politics and international relations student, the initiation towards negotiations is due to the “weakness of Turkish forces in confronting PKK fighters”.

There is no doubt that Kurdish rebels are open to negotiations, because they have lost a significant number of people due to Turkish forces shelling the mountains where most of them are situated. Hevallo, a pro-Kurdish activist tweeted that the Kurdish rebels are calling for “Oslo talks to restart”.

September 25 2012

Bahrain: Can Democracy and Islam Co-Exist?

Can democracy exist in Islamic societies? This was the topic of conversation between Bahraini bloggers today.

Bahraini artist Al Shaikh raised the issue when he tweeted [ar]:

في المجتمعات الاسلامية من الصعوبةالفصل بين ماهو سياسي وديني ولذا لن تنجح الديمقراطيةحتى لو كتبنا افضل الدساتير وقبلنا بالتناوب السلمي للسلطة

@Anas_Al_Shaikh: It is difficult to separate between what is political and what is religious in Islamic societies and this is why democracy will never succeed even if we write the best constitutions and accept the peaceful rotation of power

Fearless Ba7rainia replies:

الديمقراطيةهي الحل و العلاج لمثل هذه المشاكل إذا تطورت القوانين سيتطور الناس بشكل طبيعي الدولة المدنية هي الخلاص لهذا الشعب

@fearlessbahrain: Democracy is the solution and the remedy for such problems. If laws are developed, people will improve too in a natural way. A civil society is our people's savior

Bahraini journalist Abbas Busafwan has another take. He responds to Al Shaikh's original tweet saying:

والله هالاستنتاج مؤلم، لكنه قد يكون تعميميا، ربما نجحت تجربة تركيا

@abbasbusafwan: This conclusion is really painful. It could be a generalisation. Perhaps Turkey's example is a success

Al Shaikh answers:

تركيا لم توازن بين الشأن السياسي والديني والدليل ان هناك حقوق للشواذ وانا شفتهم بنفسي يتظاهرون في شارع “تقسيم” الشهير هههه

@Anas_Al_Shaikh: Turkey did not balance between religious and political issues. For instance, Turkey has rights for gays, and I saw them myself protesting on the famous Taksim street

And Ahmed Al-haddad adds:

تـركيا ليست في عهد اليوم بل في زمان أتاترك // وتركيا اليوم وأردوغان الشهير أعادوها لما قبل أتتارك

@DiabloHaddad: Turkey isn't today what it was during the rule of Ataturk. The famous Erdogan took Turkey to the pre-Ataturk era

In reply, Busafwan jokes:

اعتقد ان السعودية احسن نموذج للديمقراطية والشورى وحقوق الانسان والاعلام المقتوح والتوازن بين السياسي والديني!

@abbasbusafwan: I think that Saudi Arabia is the best example of democracy, Shura, Human rights, free Press, and balancing between religion and politics

Abu Yousif agrees that politics and religion don't mix:

انا معك،يجب ان لا نخلط الدين والسياسة فهم لا يتفقان،فنصبح نظام قمعراطي مثل ايران،

@xronos2: I agree. We shouldn't mix religion with politics for they don't agree and then we would become a repressive regime like Iran

And Abu Karim says we should improve what we already have instead of importing a Western-style democracy:

مشكلتنا اننا نريد تطبيق النظريات الغربية على مجتمعاتنا بدل البحث عن ما يوجد لدينا وتحديثه

@AbuKarim1: Our problem is that we want to implement Western theories on our societies instead of searching in what we have and modernising it

September 11 2012

Kosovo: Prizren Comic Book & Cartoon Festival

Poster announcing Vesna Nichevska-Saravinova's participation at 8th Comic Book & Cartoon Fest in Prizren

A poster for the 8th Comic Book & Cartoon Fest in Prizren

Macedonian artist Vesna Nichevska-Saravinova blogged about her participation in the Prizren Comics Festival, organized by the Kosovo Comic Book Artist Association, Xhennet Comics [sq]. Four out of 15 featured artists at the festival were from Macedonia, Eddie Rebel reports [mk], alongside colleagues from Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, France, Kosovo, Bulgaria, and Bosnia.

September 07 2012

Biking from Tunisia to China for Wetland Conservation

Seven months ago, Arafet Ben Marzou, a 31-year-old Tunisian who graduated from a Biological and Environmental Engineering School, gave up his job as a university teacher and decided to pursue his childhood dream - traveling from Tunisia to China on a bike.

He started his journey in Tunisia and crossed the Mediterranean sea to Istanbul. He cycled through Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. He is now in Xinjiang, China.

Ben Marzou has been providing updates about his trip through his Facebook page Tabba'ani (translated as “follow me” from the Tunisian dialect). On August 30, he wrote:

in china… alive.. i will update soon :)))

Xinjiang, China photo via Facebook page Follow Me

Xinjiang, China photo via Facebook page Follow Me

This travel project, entitled Wet-bike [fr], comes within the framework of an environmental battle for the conversation of wetlands and their resources. Ben Marzou's West Asia bike tour from one Ramsar site to another aims at raising awareness about the human and environmental value of wetlands and the dangers that threaten such areas. Ramsar sites are wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

Photo taken in Azerbaijan. Via Ben Marzou's Facebook page Follow Me.

Photo taken in Azerbaijan. Via Ben Marzou's Facebook page Follow Me.

On February, 2, the day Ben Marzou hit the road, the World Wildlife Fund Tunis office wrote [fr]:

Pour cette initiative le message transmis est principalement un message d’une dimension humaine et environnementale.
A travers ce périple, il essayerai entre autres de porter une réflexion autour des lacs et des zones humides, et ceci par le partage des photos, vidéos, le contact des gens sur place et le partage de leurs expériences…

This initiative's message is mainly of a human and environmental dimension. Through this trek, he [Ben Marzou] will try to reflect on lakes and wetland areas, by sharing photos, videos and by getting in touch with local peoples and sharing their experiences…


To make his dream come true, Ben Marzou came face to face with several challenges which he shared via his Facebook page. On July 26, he said:

encore la.. pour le malheur de la route qui reste :))) , des aventures a couper le souffle.. encore en Afghanistan et encore a velo.. merci pour vos messages touchants et sympa, hamdoullah tout va bien, traverser le Hidu kush a becane etait un fort challenge, 5 jours, 120 km et 3400 m d'altitude, sinon je suis quelques part entre kabul et Mazar-sherif

I'm still here..for the remaining road misfortunes :))), breathtaking adventures..I'm still biking in Afghanistan…thanks for your moving and compassionate messages. Praise to God, everything is fine. Crossing the Hindu Kush [a long mountain range that stretches between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan] was a big challenge: 5 days, 120 km, and an altitude of 3,400 meters. Otherwise, I'm somewhere between Kabul and Mazar Sharif
Fortunately, Ben Marzou did not fall hostage to the Taliban. He was rather welcomed to spend the night in an Afghani viallge. Photo via Ben Marzou's Facebook page

Fortunately, Ben Marzou did not fall hostage to the Taliban. He was rather welcomed to spend the night in an Afghani viallge. Photo via Ben Marzou's Facebook page

One week earlier he shared tips to follow in case he was detained by the Taliban:

Première leçon enseignée dictée et ordonné par les militaires afghans, en cas où je tombe en otage par les talibans, il ne faut en aucun cas parler en anglais, l’arabe peux être très utile, ta religion peux aussi te sauver, si tu arrives à leur faire expliquer que t’es musulman avant qu’ils te tirent dessus, t’a une chance de survivre…

The first lesson given, dictated and ordered by Afghani soldiers: in case I am taken hostage by the Taliban, under no circumstances should I speak in English. Arabic could be very useful. My religion could also save me. If I succeed explaining to them that I'm a Muslim before they shoot at me, I would have a survival chance…

On August 5, he reported [fr]:

la route du Pamir est fermee… cela complique d'avantage le trajet :/ cette incroyable route qui traverse les Himalaya a travers le tajikistan et le kyrgyzestan est temporairement fermee… des affrontement avec les talibans en cause… pour ma part je serai reellement en impasse..
des suggestions..??

Pamir road [a road which crosses the Pamir Mountains through Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia] is closed…this further complicates the journey :/ this incredible road which crosses the Himalayas through Tajikistan and Kyrgystan is temporarily closed…owing to clashes with the Taliban…for me this represents a real dead-end. Any suggestions?

On August 10, he disclosed the greatest challenge he faced during this venture [fr]:

je crois que, plus que tout, le vrai challenge dans cette aventure, c'est le fait d'affronter le blocus administratif et reglementaire de ces ex-republiques sovietiques avec mon cher passeport Tunisien

I believe that more than any other thing, the real challenge in this adventure is confronting the administrative and regulatory blockade imposed by former Soviet countries with my dear Tunisian passport
Ben Marzou cycling in Afghanistan. Photo via Facebook page Follow Me

Ben Marzou cycling in Afghanistan. Photo via Facebook page Follow Me

Iran: First encounter with Shia Islam

Shia shrine in Iran

Shia shrine in Iran

On his Facebook page, Ben Marzou shared with his fans once in a life time experiences, and lessons he learned from this seven month-long journey. As I neither have the space nor the energy to translate all of Ben Marzou's interesting stories, I decided to share with Global Voices readers his Iran journey.

In Iran, Ben Marzou, who comes from a predominantly Sunni Muslim country, encountered Shia Islam. Some differences in beliefs and practices, between the two major Islam sects sometimes led to sectarian violence in countries like Iraq, and Lebanon.

On July 16, he published the following post:

Et c'est la fin d’une aventure persane qui a duré 70 jours, 700 km de vélo et plusieurs milliers de km de route, c’est une des étapes les plus intenses dont je me rappellerai toujours, ce grand pays plein de contrastes, plein de vie et de désir, je me rappellerai toujours de cette hospitalité inégalable, de cet amour du partage, « almousafér 7abibou allah » tel croient les descendants d’Ali…

Ce fut aussi ma première rencontre avec le chiisme, que loin de toute comparaison inutile je respecte…

«T’es chiite ou sunnite » c’est une des questions qui s’est fréquemment posée
« Je suis musulman tout court » tel était ma réponse,

Et là curieusement, et presque toujours, un grand sourire se dessine sur le visage de mon interlocuteur…

It is the end of a Persian experience which lasted 70 days, 700km on bike, and thousands more kilometers driving. It is one of the most intense stages, which I will always remember. A large country [Iran], full of contrasts, of life, and desire. I will always remember this incomparable hospitality, and this love to share. “The traveller is the Beloved of God”, that is how Ali's descendants think…[In Shia Islam Ali is regarded as the rightful successor of Prophet Muhammad]

It was my first encounter with Shia Islam, which away from any useless comparison I do respect(…)
“Are you a Shia or a Sunni Muslim?” was one of the frequently asked questions.
“I'm just a Muslim,” I would answer.
Then strangely, and almost always a big smile takes shape on the face of the person addressing me…

September 03 2012

Bahrain: “Our Women are Iron Women”

Bahraini Twitter users took a break from politics and had some fun this morning on the microblogging social network. Artist Anas Al Shaikh read a news article which said that an Iraqi woman had killed herself in protest against her husband watching dubbed Turkish soap operas.

Turkish soap operas have replaced the Mexican ones in recent years. Dubbed into Arabic, they are popular with audiences who follow the episodes, which sometimes run for months.

Al Shaikh shared the newsy tidbit with his Twitter followers and asked:

خبر في صحيفة..عراقية تحرق نفسها احتجاجا على مشاهدة زوجها المسلسلات التركية… ليش ما سمعنا عن امرأة بحرينية قامت بنفس الفعل؟ ههههه

: A news item in a newspaper .. An Iraqi woman burnt herself to death in protest against her husband watching Turkish soap operas. Why haven't we heard that a Bahraini woman has committed the same thing? hahaha

The pun was not lost and the comment sparked a lot of reactions.

Bahraini women at the forefront of anti-government protests which started in Bahrain in February 2011

Bahraini women have been at the forefront of anti-government protests which started in Bahrain in February 2011. flickr photograph from Al Jazeera English used under (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Um Salman says:

لأن المرأة البحرينية عاقلة ما تسوى المسلسلات التركية او اي شئ اخر تذبح نفسها

: Because Bahraini women are mature, she knows that Turkish soap operas or anything else are not worth killing herself for

Esraa adds:

خله يطالع .عليه بالعافية .اخر شي من اللي قاعدة جدامه ؟؟ أنا .خخخ ويعني لو طالع اش بيسوي ؟ بيسافر لهم وﻻ بيطلعون له من الشاشة
@esraa_f_84: Let him watch. At the end of the day, he only has what is in front of him [his wife]. What will he do if he watches them? Will he travel to them or will they come out of the screen for him?

And Fatima Salim notes:

المرأة البحرينية ضد الصدمات المرأة الحديدية
@Fatim_Sam: Bahraini women are resistant to shocks. They are iron women

Africa, Turkey: Turkish Citizens With African Roots

Ekrem Eddy Güzeldere writes on

When asked about their self-definition, the large majority said they defined themselves primarily as Turks. Only a minority saw themselves as “Turkish citizens with African roots.” And the desire to be fully assimilated in society was more important than the maintenance of their identity.

August 23 2012

Lebanon: It's Back to Kidnapping Time

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011.

22 May 2012: 11 Shiite Lebanese got kidnapped on their way back to their homeland from a pilgrimage in Iran. The abductors are said to belong to the Free Syrian Army (FSA). There are many rumors about their fate or even their location. Their relatives have been protesting in front of the various embassies (Turkish, Qatari,…) and burning tires in protest since.

August 13: Hassan Salim el Mekdad, another Shiite, was kidnapped in Syria, allegedly by the FSA too.

These actions might be explained by the fact that Hassan Nassrallah, the general secretary of the shiite Hezbollah Party, has been supporting Syria's president Bashar Al Assad.

In response, Al Mekdad Family or clan started kidnapping Syrians, who are thought to belong to the FSA, as well as two Turkish citizens. It has even threatened to  target other nationalities such as Saudis and Arab Gulf nationals, prompting various embassies to ask their citizens to leave the country immediately.

In brief, the situation is quite gloomy and nothing is clear yet.

Netizens in Lebanon commented on all these events.

Dutch journalist Fernande van Tetsbased, who is based in Lebanon, provided some figures about the structure of clans in Lebanon:

If we’re talking figures, I was told the Zaitar clan is 30000 strong, the Moqdad family has  15 0000 member and the Shamas clan 8000. All these clans operate beyond the reaches of the law and the Lebanese Armed Forces do not dare to enter their territory. Neither do the Internal Security Forces usually, as the 30 000 outstanding warrants mentioned in the article testify.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese are angry and are blaming everyone. Zak, from Lebanon Spring, believes that Hezbollah is responsible for all that is happening in the country. He writes:

Hezbollah is responsible because they set a precedent in May 7 which got everyone to think that the only effective way to fulfill their demands and solve their problems is by violence. Other results of this jungle-law-thinking are obviously discarding the presence of the government and inciting sectarianism. So, as a result of that, we got local militias to surface like the Sunni ones in the north (& other places) and Al-Mokdad family militia (as if they didn’t exist before like many other Bekaa tribes), and road blockers like Sheikh Ahmad Al-Assir. And all of them practise pure chaos.

But the FSA is as guilty as the party:

Free Syrian Army is also responsible by inviting Hezbollah or Shiite community to the fighting field by starting that kidnapping spree. First with the 11 kidnapped Shia pilgrims months ago, and with Hassan Al-Mokdad last week. FSA (non-officially) claims the kidnapped individuals to be Hezbollah fighters, but the evidence or scene don’t suggest that.

US-based Lebanese As'ad AbuKhalil or Angry Arab writes for Al Akhbar newspaper's blog , blaming the Lebanese government for the loss of control:

What is clear though is that innocent Syrian workers in Lebanon were subjected to more abuse and more attacks. Just as the FSA gangs claimed that their hostages are members of Hezbollah, the Mokdads claimed that their hostages were fighters with the Free Syrian Army. Neither side bothered with providing us with evidence.

He continues:

The Western and the Saudi/Qatari-funded Arab press ignored the plight of the Lebanese hostages in Syria, just as the failed Lebanese government ignored them. But there is something dangerous looking over Lebanon and Syria. The spate of sectarian kidnappings reminded people of my generation of the beginning of the sectarian civil war.

Funky Ozzi  recalls the old scenario where Lebanon was just a “playground for the region”:

Conclusion? It's 1990s all over again, it's stupid Lebanese politicians who only care about being rich, it's militias who want to remain in Power, it's a playground for the region. And finally Syria always drags Lebanon into shit, and this time, its own shit. وحدة المصير والمسار
Of course, there is always mis-information by the media, the 11 kidnapped in Syria have been killed, then the 11 kidnapped were not killed… so what is it?
My analysis might not go in depth because 10 years ago I noticed every news episode was a Deja Vu and decided to only check up on it once in a while. However, core stays the same, only the players (somehow) change and main victim remains countries like Lebanon whose leaders don't care about it.

Meanwhile, Elie, from A Lebanese State of Mind, notes that there are other Lebanese detainees in Syria, some of whom have been missing for more than 30 years but whom no one has burnt a single tire for. He says that in Lebanon there different classes of Lebanese prisoners in Syria.

Every other Lebanese prisoner present in Syrian prisons or still missing because of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. Their parents have been protesting for the past 5 years non-stop, asking for any news about their sons and daughters. They’ve been hearing nothing. The parents of these men and women don’t want their children to return alive anymore; they just want any news about their children for the sake of a thirty-years stretched out closure. Even that is too much to ask for.

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011.

April 30 2012

April 25 2012

April 22 2012

Armenia: A Tale of Two Nations

Security, in the Caucasus and beyond…. comments on the 97th anniversary of the massacre and deportation of 1.5 million Armenians from the Ottoman Empire in 1915. Considered an act of genocide by many historians and countries, the blog explains why the events are still very much politically relevant to both Armenia and Turkey today.

April 13 2012

Play fullscreen
American Holocaust: The Destruction of America's Native Peoples


Uploaded by VanderbiltUniversity on 30 Oct 2008

American Holocaust: The Destruction of America's Native Peoples, a lecture by David Stannard, professor and chair of the American Studies Department at the University of Hawaii. Stannard, author of American Holocaust, asserts that the European and white American destruction of the native peoples of the Americas was the most substantial act of genocide in world history. A combination of atrocities and imported plagues resulted in the death of roughly 95 percent of the native population in the Americas. Stannard argues that the perpetrators of the American Holocaust operated from the same ideological source as the architects of the Nazi Holocaust. That ideology remains alive today in American foreign policy, Stannard avers.

The 31st Annual Vanderbilt University Holocaust Lecture Series, the longest continuous Holocaust lecture series at an American university, takes the theme this year of (over) Sites of Memory and examines places that are infused with memories of genocide and the challenge to find effective ways to honor these memories.


cf.: - - "US-Regierung zahlt Ureinwohnern eine Milliarde Dollar" | 2012-04-12

In einer historischen Einigung entschädigen die USA zahlreiche Indianerstämme für die Nutzung ihres Landes. Damit werden zum Teil mehr als 100 Jahre alte Klagen geregelt.

Reposted byhenteaser henteaser

March 18 2012

Turkey: Police Attack Kurds Celebrating Newroz

Thousands of Kurds took to the streets in celebration of Newroz, in a pre-planned event, but were dispersed with water canons, tear gas and kettled across Turkey today. Despite the brutality they faced in Diyar Bakir, Kurds continued to march towards the square where Newroz celebrations, which mark the first day of Spring, were to be held. In the past, they were not allowed to exert their Kurdish identity in public, but since the 1980s, Newroz has become a symbolic event in highlighting Kurdish culture, and identity.

Newroz is usually celebrated between March 18 and 21st, but the official date for Newroz is March 21st. During Newroz, Kurdish people dress up in traditional dresses, and partake in folklore dance. Unfortunately today, violence was escalated by the presence of Turkish riot police, and the barricading of entrances towards the Square.

Kurdish Women mark Newroz in the Turkish capital Ankara. Photo credit: Jiyan Azadi posted on Twitter

Yekbun Alp from Amed (Diyarbakir) tweeted:

@YekbunAlp: Turkish police have locked Amed and doesnt let anyone leave the city to celebrate Newroz.

In a poor attempt to disperse Kurds that were making their way to the Square to celebrate Newroz, unnecessary force was used by Turkish riot police. Alp explains:

@YekbunAlp: Turkish police is using teargas against the celebrators!!!

Violence continued, and led to the killing of one Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) executive in Istanbul. BDP co-chair Gültan Kışanak confirmed the death of Haci Zengin on her Twitter account.

Reuters reports on this incident:

Turkish police used water cannon, tear gas and baton charges to break up Kurdish demonstrations across the country on Sunday and one local politician died in the protests, a sign of rising tension ahead of the Kurdish New Year next week.

January 29 2012

United Kingdom: #TwitterKurds Organize First Social Media Gathering in London

A group of Kurdish Internet activists that have been organizing around the #TwitterKurds hashtag on Twitter have come together for the first Kurdish Social Media Gathering earlier this month in London.

The event, which was followed through the #KSMG [Kurdish Social Media Gathering] tag, was live streamed and joined in via Skype and YouTube by those who could not be there physically, although there were participants who had traveled from as far as Australia to participate. It was held on January 21.

@xoshink: @TaraFatehi speaking at the #KSMG in London! She travelled all the way from Australia! #Bijî!#TwitterKurds

One of the organizers, @kurdishblogger, tweeted a photo of @TaraFatehi speaking to the participants:

@TaraFatehi is here from Australia to talk about Kurdish issues&Kurds in Australia #Twitterkurds#KSMG12 #Kurdistan

A Kurdish Twitter user from Australia attends the KSMG in London

A Kurdish Twitter user @TaraFatehi flew in from Australia to attend the KSMG in London. Photo shared by @kurdishblogger on Twitter

Others who were not physically there joined in the conversation with how they use the #TwitterKurds tag to communicate.

@xoshink: Social media connected me to amazing people around the globe; helped me find Kurds locally with ambitions to make a change.

@Vexhevxwaz: I totally agree with @apogeeculture1.#TwitterKurds inspired me to organize actions in my local Kurdish community.

Participants focused on social media strategies, Twitter in particular, to attract attention to a given news story, as well as carry out a campaign.

@Shakawan: Q: where do we go from here ? should trending kurdish issues be the top priority?

@B9AcE: Tactics should be chosen from a strategic goal. TT reaches mainly new mainstream. Directed campaigns a #TwitterKurds

@B9AcE: Need new, high impact topic. Send it to large noise makers, asking for it to be spread starting at same time.

@WRyaM: social media tools are also podcasts, Events, collective bookmarking wikis… so let us use them all 

Organizers then showed a video sent from Diyarbakır, “sent to them for this gathering by Abdullah Demirbaş, who is the mayor of Sur Municipality in Diyarbakır.” The presenter also noted it was

“worth making a mention at this moment of a very important agency in Amed (Diyarbakır) called @AjansAmed - it's a new social media organization website, a group of social media activists who have put together these videos that you are seeing tonight. Abdullah Demirbaş was part of a campaign to get people tweeting. Every Thursday we were tweeting #abdullahdemirbas, because he has a medical condition he needs to leave America for but he can't travel, because he was taken to court and now he has a travel ban.”

Xende Biradostî tweets:

@Wekhevxwaz Thank you, #KSMG for raising awareness of the plight of #AbdullahDemirbas. #TwitterKurds

Image shared by Halkevi Media on Twitter of the event

Image shared by Halkevi Media on Twitter of the event

One of the speakers was Mehmet, from Halkevi Media, in London. His presentation also included strategies to use social media towards what he saw was beneficial to the Kurdish communities:

This gathering to me is one of the most important events of 2012. I work for Halkevi, the social media part at @halkevimedia, so social media is very important to me. I think we have been lacking in the social media area for quite a while and our numbers are not maximized, there are more Kurds on the internet but they are using it more for their personal stuff, but (social media can also be used) to create awareness and consciousness of Kurdish issues and democratic struggle of Kurdish people and people in the region.

I want to talk about the importance of social media in diplomacy - we need to increase the social media effect in diplomatic spheres. We need to determine the agenda rather than having our agenda formed by outside events, such as arrests, operations, etc. We need to have our agenda and initiate to lead rather than be led by political developments that constantly change. Also, we constantly tweet the same thing, it's not getting outside. We need to target certain individuals, for example Middle East correspondents of every single international media organization and MPs. Social media needs to be not separate from grassroots, there are 200,000 Kurds in this country, we needed to have more people here. We need to use different strategies to engage them.

Reactions to his presentation were quite positive:

@JowanM: ”We have to determine the news” rather than waiting for them. Well said by current speaker#KSMG #TwitterKurds

@apogeeculture1: Kurds from all over are coming together for the first time in history through social media.@halkevimedia #twitterkurds #ksmg#KurdishRights

Next, @quzzulqurt from Turkey joined in via Skype. He noted that “this (social media) is a big chance for us around the world to come together. Before there was only Roj TV but now we have this chance and must use it to create awareness, for non-Kurds and Kurds in the region.”

@Zurdosh@Kurdishblogger has just asked @quzzulqurtabout reporting in English more in North Kurdistan (turkey) #TwitterKurds#KSMG

@PerwinBerdizi#KSMG#TwitterKurds it is our job, we kurds who can speak ceveral language to translate to the diasporan people

Participants elaborated more on reaching out to professional journalists during breaking news events.

@kurdishblogger: in order to attract the attention of international media, it is extremely important to have a photo, video or witness who can testify. Say, a BBC journalist needs at least 2 witnesses. They don't have that much time, you have to help them. You need to have a photo and you need to give context. People post photos on facebook without any explanation, I am Kurdish and I might know but you can't expect an international journalist to know (what the context is).

@PerwinBerdizi#KSMG#TwitterKurds unfortunately today's journalism is about copy+paste therefore, do half of their job and contribute with throughout news!

@B9AcE@AbsoIuteBanana Nowadays activists must basically write journos articles with pictures & quotes for them. Complete work. #KSMG#TwitterKurds

Tweeps deemed the gathering an overall success, with many people asking if there will be similar events in the future.

@apogeeculture1: We have now had participants from all parts of Kurdistan and Australia, Japan, Turkey, Israel! Kurds go International! #ksmg #twitterkurds

@kurdishblogger: “Tweets are more powerful than bullets” Quote of the day at first Kurdish Social Media gathering#Twitterkurds who said this? #Kurdistan

Further reading:

More reactions are available on this Storify compilation by Nigar Hacizade.

January 20 2012

Turkey: Post-Murder Trial, Thousands March for Hrant Dink

Thousands have marched in Turkey to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist and Agos newspaper editor Hrant Dink. Angering Turkish nationalists with his outspoken position that the 1915 massacre and deportation of as many as 1.5 million ethnic Armenians constituted genocide, Dink was shot dead outside his office in Istanbul on 19 January 2007.

His killer, Ogun Samast, was jailed last year, but the end this week of the trial of others involved continues to leave many questions relating to official involvement in the assassination unanswered. Writing on Critical Legal Thinking, Basak Ertür provides a comprehensive background to the case as well as the events leading up to Dink's death.

Hrant Dink’s murder was the culminating point of a persecution campaign that can be traced back to February 2004, when he published claims to the effect that Sabiha Gökçen, the adopted daughter of Atatürk and the first woman war pilot of the Turkish Republic, was of Armenian descent. Dink’s claim provoked a public statement from the Chief of Staff, the highest echelon of the Turkish army. A few days later he was summoned to the Istanbul Governor’s Office and “warned” by two people who were introduced to him as “friends” of the then Deputy Governor. Three and a half years after the assassination, the Intelligence Service admitted that these two people were its operatives.


[…] The deep state lurks menacingly behind the innumerable assassinations, disappearances, provocations, threats, disinformation campaigns, psychological operations and dirty deals of the past few decades. Though providing much fodder for what can be dismissed as conspiracy theorising, the very style and structure of deep state plots render them almost immediately recognisable to a public that has become all too familiar with them. Hrant Dink’s assassination was instantly widely recognised as one such plot.

Certain pieces of information that surfaced during the trial corroborated this view. One of the defendants testified that in his capacity as a police informant, he had repeatedly warned the security forces of the plan to assassinate Dink in the months leading to his death. Some documentary evidence supported the claim that the police was informed of the plan as early as eleven months before the assassination. Key defendants were remarkably smug during the hearings, occasionally signalling, though never disclosing their deeper connections.


This is what Fethiye Çetin, the lawyer representing the Dink family, meant when she spoke after the decision, referring to the case as a comedy: “They’ve been mocking us all along. And today, we saw that they saved the punch-line for the end.”

Nevertheless, if Dink was loathed by Turkish nationalists, he was also disliked by their counterparts in Armenia and its large Diaspora. Also calling for reconciliation and brotherhood between Armenians and Turks, it's therefore perhaps no wonder that most of those protesting the outcome of the trial as well as commemorating yesterday's anniversary were Turks, Kurds and Armenians living in Turkey.

@UtkuCakir: İnsanlık ölmemiş… Agos'un önünde görmüşler - Fotoğraf: Tolga Bozoğlu #kardesimsinhrant - Hrant Dink

Humanity has not died… In front of Agos #you'remybrotherhrant

@BerxwedanYARUK: Ankara da Hrant Dink anması

Hrant Dink commemoration in Ankara

Erkan Saka, a Turkish academic and blogger, posts some of the many updates and photos sent out on Twitter in Turkish. However, there were also updates, with some translation into English, from commemorative marches throughout Turkey.

@umitalan: Taksim'le Agos arasında müthiş bır kalabalık var. Devlete, yargıya ve tüm katillerine en ıyi cevap bu. Bu dava burada bitmeyecek.

There is a huge crowd between Taksim and Agos. This is the best answer to the state, prosecution and all criminals. This struggle will not end here.

@449981: CNNTurk 30 bin kişi oldugunu soyledi şimdi.yayını taksimden yapıyorlardı galiba,grubun en arkası gözüküyordu roportaj yaptıkları yerden.

CNNTurk just reported that there are 30,000 people. Looks like they're showing footage from Taksim. […]

@pinarinfanta: Belki de içimi en çok burkan ayakkabısının altındaki delikti,sessizce kaldırımda yatıyordu..suçu sadece ‘Ermeni' olmaktı #kardesimsinhrant

Perhaps the most heart wrenching [image] was the hole in his shoe. He was silently lying there on the ground… His only guilt was that he was “Armenian”. #you'remybrotherhrant

@ETemelkuran: 2nd march in Istanbul today for #hrantdink case.1st one gathered thousands, ppl r gathering again. via@efkanbolac

@ETemelkuran: One of the most prominent writers Vedat Türkali joined the protests for #hrantdink today. via @mungan_murathan

@ETemelkuran: The protest in Bodrum tdy.In several cities ppl protested the unjust verdict in #hrantdink case via @beynigezmelerde

@ETemelkuran: Ppl of Istanbul r gathering to protest the unjust closure of #hrantdink case for the 2nd time today. The morning march was thousands.

@ETemelkuran: The march is begining inIstanbul.Ppl chanting:”Long live the brotherhood of the peoples!” #hrantdink via@efkanbolac

@ETemelkuran: The streets of İstanbul city centre is shaking with slogans for #hrantdink! via @efkanbolac

@ETemelkuran: The march in Ankara. After thousands gathered in Istanbul for #hrantdink now it is Ankara's turn. via @matakanfoca

@techsoc: I keep thinking: This huge march symbolizes everything Hrant was. Such a shame that it was only his death that brought it about.

@techsoc: Here's a photo of Hrant's dead body. My grandma said: “I cried for days. Who could kill a man with holes in his shoes?”

@ETemelkuran: There was a whole under his shoe when #hrantdink was shot.pic shows”the crack in the justice system” via@denizmistepe

Başka simply posted the statement in Turkish by ethnic Armenian journalist and writer Karin Karakaşlı made at the commemoration.

19 Ocak bir anma günü değil. Hiçbir zaman da olmadı. Zaten bu topraklarda ayrı ayrı yaşatılmış ne kadar acı varsa, hiçbirinin anma günü olmadı. Herkes acısının yaşatıldığı o tarih geldiğinde, kendince, bir başına kahroldu.


Dosya kapandı diyorlar bize. Kapandı mı bu dosya? Hrant Dink dosya değil ki kapatasın, o bir yara… Artık köprüden önceki son çıkıştayız. Oradan hakkıyla geçmeden tamamlanacak ödeşme, kurulacak düş, inanılacak adalet, yaşanacak memleket yok. Öbür türlüsü sadece yalan olur ve bir gün başımıza yıkılır. Altında kalırız hep birlikte.

O yüzden gün, sadece söz söylemek değil söz vermek zamanı.

Söz verelim mi birbirimize? Bu dava daha bitmedi.

Söz verelim mi birbirimize? İnsanlık daha ölmedi.

Söz verelim mi birbirimize? Devlet daha hesabını vermedi.

Sözümüz söz olsun. Bu adaletsizlikle yaşamak hepimize haramdır. Aksi için uğraşan hepimize helal olsun.

19 January is not a comemmoration day. It has never been. There has never been a comemmoration day for every other single pain caused in these lands. Everyone lived the pain alone in the period when it was caused, everyone suffered by themselves.


The dossier has been closed, we are told. Is this dossier closed? Hrant Dink is not a dossier to be closed. He is a wound. We are in the one but last exit before the bridge. There is no score to settle, no hope to harbour, no justice to believe in, no country to live in until you cross it properly. Any other way would be a lie and one day will come upon us. We will stay under the heaviness of it.

This is why it is time to make a promise, not to simply say we will.

Shall we make a promise to each other that this struggle has not ended.

Shall we make a promise to each other that the humanity has not died.

Shall we make a promise to each other that the state is yet to account.

We promise. Living with this injustice is forbidden for all of us. Be blessed all who struggle otherwise.

Judging from the commemorations in Istanbul and elsewhere, as well as from prominent figures and online commentary in Turkey, many appear to agree.

Global Voices Azerbaijan author Pervin Muradli provided the translations from Turkish into English for this post.

January 19 2012

Greece: Cretan Masterpiece “Erotokritos” Translated into Turkish

Stella Tsolakidou of the Greek Reporter website writes about the recent publication of the Cretan literature masterpiece “Erotokritos” in Turkish. Erotokritos is a 17th century epic romance, and has been translated by Professor Hakki Bilgehan, a Turkish microbiology professor, and published by the Foundation of Lausanne Treaty Emigrants [Turkish].

January 18 2012

Turkey: Hrant Dink Murder Trial Ends

Five years and 25 hearings later, the trial to convict those responsible for the murder of Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist, has come to a close. The gunman, 17-year-old Ogün Samast, as well as over a dozen others accused of involvement in the gunning down of Dink in Istanbul in January 2007, were caught almost immediately afterwards. However, according to Dink's family, friends and lawyers, the case is linked to Turkey's so-called deep state structures and the real perpetrators, meaning those who masterminded the crime, have not been brought to justice.

While Samast was sentenced to 22 years in prison last year, yesterday's verdict, which ruled that three other defendants did not act as part of a criminal organization, but rather as individuals, was a disappointment they long saw coming. From the pre-hearing statement of the group called “Hrant's Friends” to the lawyer's statement after the verdict, and throughout a procession from the Beşiktaş Court House to Agos, the newspaper Dink edited, for a vigil, one sentiment stood out. Journalist Yavuz Baydar summed up their feelings.

@yavuzbaydar: Dink davasına doğru, yolda. Karar çıkacak herhalde, ama bu dava bitmeyecek.

On my way to the court. Seems like a verdict will be issued today, but this trial will not end here.

Indeed, the same sentiment was also echoed in chants and placards. Çiğdem Mater tweeted a photo:

@cigdemmater: Mahkemeye yuruyoruz: oldur diyenler yargilansin #hrantdink

We are walking to the court: (the chant is) indict those who ordered the murder.

Mehmet Demir also tweeted a photo from in front of the court where Hrant Dink's widow Rakel Dink was among those standing behind the banner:

@memediko: 5. Yılında, 25. duruşmasında Hrant için, adalet için Beşiktaş Adliyesindeyiz…

On the 5th year and 25th hearing, we are at the Beşiktaş Court House for Hrant and for justice.

Another person for who seemed to anticipate the verdict was lawyer Efkan Bolaç.

@efkanbolac: Hrant icin Beşiktaş adliyesine gelinsin ancak adalet icin Beşiktaş adliyesine gelinmesin. Bugün adalet tam tecelli etmeyecek.

Come to the court today for Hrant, but not for justice. Justice will not be fulfilled today.

The group calling themselves “Hrant's Friends” made a statement before the hearing began. The video segment above contains footage of crowds walking towards the court house and chanting several slogans. The statement at 2:19 reads:

We know how they will decide. This is the state's decision, including its security forces, gendarmerie, intelligence, judiciary, media, government, opposition, those who decided to take Hrant away from us 5 years ago will make another decision today saying this was the work of a few hoods. They will try to hide in their dark world. How can they do this? We know who they are. There is something they don't know: before we say it is over, this trial is not over.

Some attending the trial also tweeted from inside the court. Özlem Dalkıran of the Hrant Dink Foundation, for example, quoted the lawyers for the prosecution.

@OzlemDalkiran: Kamu görevlilerinin kapsamlı soruşturmaya tabi tutulmasını defalarca talep etmemize rağmen bu talebimiz karşılanmadı #HrantDink

Our continuous demands for a comprehensive investigation of public officials as part of this case have not been met.

Efkan Bolaç also tweeted a part of their statement mentioning other similar cases in Turkey:

@efkanbolac: Rahip santaro ve zirve yayıncı cinayetinde bu örgütün eylemleri arasındadır. Devlet görevlileri bu davada dosyaya eklenememistir

Priest Santaro and Zirve Publishing House murders are among the actions of this organization. Public officials have not been included in this trial's file.

Bolaç also considered that the question of whether the crime was organized or not would have an impact on the sentence of the killer.

@efkanbolac: Eğer htant dink cinayeti örgütlü halde işlenmişse bu durum agirlastirici sebep olacaktır.

If the Hrant Dink murder was perpetrated by an organized group it will mean aggravated circumstance.

@efkanbolac: davada eğer suc örgütünün varlığı kabul edilip sanıklar örgüt üyeliğinden ceza alırsa karar cocuk Mah.De yargılanan samast'i da etkileyecek

If the existence of a criminal organization is affirmed in this case and the accused are sentenced under that crime, this will affect (the shooter) Ogün Samast, who is being tried at a children's court.

With journalist Yavuz Baydar tweeting that it would be a surprise if no verdict was announced, the Friends of Hrant then announced that whatever the outcome they would organize a procession to where Dink was shot.

@hrantinarkdslri: Bir saat ara verildi. Ardindan karar aciklanacak. Karardan sonra Besiktas'tan Agos'a yuruyoruz!

An hour long break, then the verdict will be announced. After the verdict we will be walking from Beşiktaş to Agos.

There has also been online and offline mobilization for a protest-walk from Istanbul's Taksim Square to the Agos newspaper on Thursday 19 January, the 5th anniversary of Dink's murder, as columnist Hilal Kaplan tweeted.

@hilal_kaplan: Hrant Dink suikasti davasından ne karar çıkarsa çıksın, adalet çıkmayacağını biliyoruz. Perşembe günü 13′te Taksim'den Agos'a yürüyoruz.

Whatever comes out of the Hrant Dink murder trial, we know it won't be justice. We will be walking from Taksim to Agos on Friday at 13.00

Waiting for the verdict in what was reported to be a packed courtroom, Özlem Dalkıran agreed:

@OzlemDalkiran: Bekliyoruz. Verilecek karar devletin kararı olacak, bizim degil. Biz #HrantDink in gercek katillerini buluncaya kadar pesindeyiz davamızın.

We are waiting. It will be the state's verdict, not ours. We will be chasing this case until Hrant Dink's real murderers are found.

Finally the verdict was read aloud and simultaneously tweeted.

@_chiquitita_: Osman Hayal beraat. Erhan Tuncel orgut lliderliiginden beraat. #hrantdink

Both Osman Hayal and Erhan Tuncel have been acquitted on the counts of membership of criminal organization, Tuncel having been accused of being the leader.

@cigdemmater: Tutuksuz yargılananlar da terör örgütüne yardımdan beraatine

Defendants who were being tried without detention have been acquitted on the count of aiding a terrorist organization.

@cigdemmater: Salih hacisalihoglu ruhsatsız silahdan 2 ay 15 gün

Salih Hacısalihoğlu is convicted to 2 months 15 days on possession of unlicenced gun.

@cigdemmater: Ahmet İskender ruhsatsız silahdan 10 ay

Ahmet İskender is sentenced to 10 months on the possession of an unlicensed gun.

@cigdemmater: Yasin hayalin Orhan pamuğu tehditten 3ay hapsine

Yasin Hayal is sentenced to 3 months on the count of threatening Orhan Pamuk.

@cigdemmater: Yasin hayal tasarlanmış adam öldürmeye azmettirmekten agirlastirilmis muebbetine

Yasin Hayal is sentenced to life sentence in solitary confinement with no possiblity of parole on the count of soliciting voluntary manslaughter.

@cigdemmater: Erhan Tuncel Mcdonakdsa dahilinden 10 yıl altı ay hapsine

Erhan Tuncel is sentenced to 10 years and 6 months on being involved in the bombing of the McDonald's in Trabzon.

Journalist Şirin Payzin offered their own interpretation of the verdict:

@siring: Örgüt yok demekle aslında sanık avukatlarının savunmaları kabul edilmiş oldu. Yani cinayeti bu isimler kendi kafalarına göre işlediler.

By denying the existence of organized crime, in a way the defense of the accused was affirmed. So it is as if these people committed the murder out of their own whim.

A press statement outside of the court from the Dink family lawyer Fethiye Çetin immediately followed.

Five years have passed since the murder. (His son) Arat had said they are making fun of us. They've saved the best for last, and we learned that today. It appears Hrant Dink was killed not by planned action but by a few hoodlums. Apparently there is no organization here. We did not expect this much, truly. What does this verdict mean? It means a deep tradition is not broken, and it is not allowed to be broken. This is the state's tradition of political murders, excluding its minorities and making enemies out of them - today's verdict affirms this tradition once again. Those who are extremely disturbed by the state becoming synonymous with adjectives such as the bomber of its own people, the perpetrator of massacres, arsonists, did not make any effort to get rid of these adjectives and turned down the opportunity. This trial was a chance to confront a history full of blood and pain, to cleanse, to say “never again” to murders like this, to democratize, but they did not use this chance. Those who were the “others” and the targets of the state, meaning the politicians and the ruling government of today, seem to have forged an alliance with the tradition that used to marginalize them. But they should know that unless the state is transformed, this alliance is temporary. […] Today, here, this verdict has closed the first phase where the murderers were tried, but this trial is not over. This is a farce, and for us this trial is only starting now. In this process of trying assassins a torch has been held to the darkness that has created killers out of babies. And the real culprits that had been trying to hide in that darkness have emerged. That is why this trial is only beginning now. There are many ways we can go and many areas we can use. We will use all of them with great determination, until the darkness is questioned, the culprits are convicted and we decide this trial has ended.

The crowd then started walking to Agos.

Hrant icin, adalet icin! #hrantdink

For Hrant, For justice.

Meanwhile, journalist Hanım Büşra Erdal summed up the outcome of the trial.

@busra_erdal: dink cinayetinde sadece yasin hayal ve ogün samast tutuklu kaldı. erhan tuncel tekirdağ cezaevinden tahliye ediliyor #hrantdink

Only Yasin Hayal and Ogün Samast are now in prison in the Dink murder case. Erhan Tuncel has been released from the Tekirdağ Prison, where he was during his trial for the past 5 years.

As of the evening of 17 January, the first reaction from the government side was from Ertuğrul Günay, Minister of Culture and Tourism. According to various news sources, Günay called the verdict “grave,” believing that it will now go to the Supreme Court of Appeals. The verdict, as well as the five-year long judicial process, will also likely remain on Turkey's agenda, but for now all eyes are on a march to mark the fifth anniversary of Dink's murder to be held on Thursday 19th January.

Attendance, which has been significant in the past, is likely to be an indicator of public support for any continuation of the case.

January 09 2012

Turkey: Trici Venola's Istanbul Drawings

Trici Venola's wonderful Istanbul drawings and reflections - at her Drawing On Istanbul blog: “Plein Air drawing in Turkey: blogging about the site and the process.” More drawings by Trici are here.

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