200 Kurdish NGOs closed down by decree

This statement was issued by REPAK, the Kurdish Women’s Relation Office, on November 12, 2016:

To the press and public,

Yesterday evening the Turkish ministry of interior decreed that 370 NGOs and associations  in Turkey will be closed down. 199 of them are accused of being affiliated to the PKK, 153 to the Gulen movement, 18 to the DHKP-C front, and only 8 to Islamic State.

A short time after the announcement, the first associations were raided. The doors of the affected associations are even now still being sealed. All this is happening under the mantle of the emergency state and so-called “struggle against putschists,” so the associations have no legal way to respond to these unlawful, arbitrary, and antidemocratic attacks. They are being committed by the Turkish AKP government, which aims to totally gag the democratic public and especially the Kurds as the main force for democracy and freedom.

One of the 199 Kurdish associations closed by decree today is the Free Woman’s Congress (KJA), the largest umbrella organization of the Kurdish Women’s Liberation Movement in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan. Two weeks ago Ayla Akat Ata, its kja-imagespokeswoman, had been detained while she was protesting the detention of Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli, co-mayors of Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish city.

Other associations that have been closed to date are the Selis Women’s Association, the Kurdish Writers Union, the Mesopotamian Culture Centre, the Mesopotamian Lawyers Association, the Libertarian Lawyers Association, the Peace Association, the Association to Fight Poverty Sarmasik (which provides monthly help for 5,000 families), the Free Journalist Union, the Seyr-i Mesel Theater Company, the Solidarity Association for Families of Prisoners, the Rojava Association, which was coordinating help for Rojava, and the Politics Academy of the Kurdish Party of Democratic Regions (DBP).

The closing of more or less all Kurdish registered legal associations follows the detention and arrest of 10 HDP MPs (5 of them women), including their co-chairs Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas. Sebahat Tuncel, co-chair of the DBP,  was also arrested. Within a single year 5,389 members of the DBP have been detained, and 2,574 of them remain in prison.

Within the last year the Turkish state has killed hundreds of Kurds, destroyed tens of thousands of houses, displaced millions of people, detained dozens of elected Kurdish mayors, replaced them with trustees, closed down all Kurdish and alternative media in Turkey—from TV stations to newspapers and journals—and arrested their political representatives. Now it is closing down the last remaining places where Kurds organize themselves.

Meanwhile the Turkish army is constantly bombing Kurdish cities in Rojava, killing dozens of civilians and self-defense forces.  Afrin Canton is currently under military siege by Turkish soldiers and elements of the so-called Free Syrian Army, who are preparing to create a second Kobane there. Furthermore last night news reached us that Turkish tanks are crossing the border into Iraqi Kurdistan to launch an unlawful offensive against PKK forces there.

The current Turkish government, with support of nationalist and ultranationalist parties and forces, is establishing a fascist dictatorship. What is happening today is not comparable to the military coup of 1980 or the ‘dirty war’ against the Kurds in the 1990s. The fascist regime under the leadership of Erdogan is repeating genocidal history, taking Nazi Germany as its example and reiterating exactly the same policy of Hitler after his seizure of power. This is reality that cannot be whitewashed.

We call on you to support the Kurdish people in their resistance against this fascist regime and show active solidarity. This regime is not only threatening the Kurds and democratic forces in Turkey, but following a very dangerous policy whose effects will not stop at the borders of the Turkish state.

Unite against fascism, for freedom and democracy!
Stop Turkish fascism! Join the resistance!

Kurdish Women’s Relation Office – REPAK
12 November 2016

Sulaymaniyah – South Kurdistan / KRG

The Free Women’s Congress mentioned above, KJA Diplomacy, issued this letter to friends:

Dear Women and Friends,

On November 12, 2016, at 8:30 am, Turkish state security forces surrounded the KJA (Kongreya Jinen Azad, Free Women’s Congress) center in Diyarbakir and at 11:00 am, based on a statutory decree article issued under the State of Emergency rule, Turkey’s Ministry of Interior suspended the KJA activities and sealed and shut down its building.

KJA has been raided four times by the Turkish police forces in the past six months. During the last raid, its member registration book and minute/decision book were seized.

These state assaults on us women will never discourage us! We have been waging the women’s freedom struggle for forty years now. With our democratic, ecological, and women-liberationist paradigm, we the women are strongly present in every sphere of life, in each house, in each village, in each town and city.

We know by heart that when the male-domination mentality brutally attacks the women’s struggle, it is because they are threatened by it. And you, male-dominated AKP mentality—you should indeed be afraid of us! We belong to the women’s struggle tradition of Sakine Cansız (massacred in Paris in 2013), which resisted the fascist military coup of September 12, 1980. You will never manage to confine us to our homes. You cannot suppress our struggle by shutting KJA down!

The seal on the KJA building is a dark seal of shame and disgrace imprinted by AKP and Erdoğan on the political history of Turkey.

As KJA, we will not step back. We are angrier and more organized than yesterday now. It is our promise to our people who have paid enormous prices and to all women that we will continue our resistance with escalating determination and steadfastness!

With solidarity!

Jin, Jiyan, Azadi!

Both documents lightly edited by Janet Biehl. 

Mesopotamian Ecology Movement

 The Mesopotamian Ecology Movement recently issued a declaration of social-ecological aims. 

Final Declaration of the First Conference of the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement, April 23-24, 2016, in Wan (Van), North Kurdistan

On April 23 and 24, 2016, the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement (MEM) held its first conference in the city of Wan (Van). One hundred delegates participated, coming from the provinces Amed (Diyarbakir), Dîlok (Gaziantep), Riha (Sanliurfa), Merdîn, Muş, Wan, Elih (Batman), Siirt, Dersîm, and Bedlîs (Bitlis) in Turkey.MEH_1.Konf_Foto_2

Activists from the following movements and groups also participated: Gaya magazine, Anti Nuclear Platform, Green Resistance, Green Newspaper, Green and Left Party, Black Sea in Rebellion, Defense of North Forests, Water Rights Campaign, and Dersîm-Ovacik Municipality; and from the German group International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organizations (ICOR) and the East Kurdistan group Green Chiya.

In addition, representatives of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), Free Women of Kurdistan (KJA), Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK), and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were present. Taken together, a total of 170 people joined the first large gathering of the MEM assembled since its founding.

The conference was organized during a period of intensive political struggle on the part of people in Kurdistan for freedom and self-governance, a struggle that may significantly change the future of the region but that also demands many victims.

Based on the trinity of city, class, and state and using the method of domination–capital accumulation, capitalist modernity creates a suffocating and unproductive society even as it presents nature with every kind of destruction. On behalf of the existing hegemonic system, the nation-state und its governments disperse the solidaristic character of society and instead impose unemployment, poverty, unhealthy nourishment via industrial agriculture and GMOs, and the cultural-social devastation on the people. Huge destructive projects like the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), the Ilisu Dam, the Munzur dams, Green Way, and Cerattepe Mining and Kanal Istanbul have been developed with the aim of clearing forests for construction, commercializing the waters, commodifying the land, controlling nature and people, and promoting the consumption of fossil fuels, all of which alienates people from original nature and from social life.

Currently, the ruling regime in Turkey is carrying out a campaign of brutality in Kurdistan that is incomparable in the recent history of the Middle East. In a new, perfidious dimension, it has forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands of people from Sur, Nusaybin, Hezex, Kerboran, Farqin, Şırnak, Gever, Silopi, and Cizre, cities that are systematically being destroyed. Yet the international public remains silent on the destruction of nature and cities and on all the massacres of people.

The nation-state’s monist and denialist mentality and capitalist modernity’s unlimited profit-, competition-, and domination-seeking character have brought the world to its current grave state. Social disasters become ecological disasters, and vice versa. Society and humanity must put a stop to this development, for if it continues, we will reach the point where a turnaround is no longer possible. Therefore the mobilization of an ecological resistance is crucially important.

Despite the mentality and practices of destruction, a turnaround is possible. To achive it, we must mobilize the ecological struggle against wars and against the numerous dams, coal plants, and mines that are poised to eliminate our life-areas and our cultural and social values. We have to spread the ecological struggle using the maxim “Communalize our land, waters, and energy and set up a free, democratic life.” We must defend the democratic nation against the nation-state; the communal economy against capitalism, with its quick-profit-seeking logic and monopolism and large industries; organic agriculture, ecological villages and cities, ecological industry, and alternative energy and technology against the agricultural and energy policies imposed by capitalist modernity.

Since the ecological struggle is the touchstone for the liberation of all humanity, every action may bring us closer to a free individual and a free society. Our struggle to reach our natural and societal truth, the fundamental justification of our existence, is an important contribution to the liberation of people and nature on our planet. With great excitement, which we feel deeply, we assume our role in this struggle.

Our paradigm, which heralds a bright age in the twenty-first century and coming millennia, is a radical democratic, communal, ecological, women-liberated society. The ecological struggle goes beyond any single struggle to encompass the vital essence of the free life paradigm. Without ecology, society cannot exist, and without humanity and nature, ecology cannot exist. Ecology, as the essence and self of the millennia-old universal dialectic of formation, interweaves all interconnected natural processes as like the rings of a chain.

The struggle against capitalist modernity is the struggle to develop a democratic, social, and liberatory mindset, and the struggle against state-sovereignty is the struggle to become a social subject. This can develop only through a social movement, through a struggle for freedom that takes a stand against the system that jeopardizes nature, society, and the individual in the interests of capitalist profit and state hegemony.

In the Middle East, the history of ecology has not yet been written. To achieve the liberation of women, it has been necessary to learn the history of woman; just so, to achieve an ecological society, it is necessary to know the history of ecology. By opening up ecology academies, we can bring ecological consciousness as an essential component to programs of study in all social spheres and all academic curricula. Bringing ecological consciousness and sensibility to the organized social sphere and to educational institutions is as vital as organizing our own assemblies.

In relation to the construction of a democratic and ecological society, our conference passed several important resolutions that we hope will constitute an intellectual, organizational, and operational contribution for the global ecological movements. Some of the resolutions are:

– To establish a strategic intellectual, organizational, and operational coordination with national and international ecology movements in order to enhance common discussions and actions against ecological destruction and exploitation.

– To struggle against the mental, physical, and ideological destruction of energy, water, forests, soil, cities, agriculture seeds, and technology; and based on the approved policies of the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement, to mobilize a struggle for the construction of a new life.

– To fight the system that demolishes urban settlements and burns forests in Kurdistan; to publicize the ecological devastation experienced in Kurdistan and to map the devastations occurring within the war.

– To plan actions, in coordination with other ecology movements, against the destruction of cities in Kurdistan; to ensure our active participation in solidarity platforms that have been established in these cities.

– To continue struggles to preserve cultural and natural sites in Kurdistan that face extinction—such as Hasankeyf, Diyarbakır-Sur, the Munzur Valley, and “Gele Goderne”—due to the energy and security policies.

– To develop an ecological model suitable for Kurdistan.

– To build a greater and more regular presence in print and digital media and to establish ecology academies.

– To carry out legal struggles parallel to ongoing actions and campaigns.

-To expand the own organizational structures throughout Kurdistan and Middle East.

Lightly edited by Janet Biehl. If your group would like to connect with the MEM, please write to mehdiplo@riseup.net.

 

 

The DTK’s Updated Democratic Autonomy Proposal

On February 14-17 I traveled in Istanbul to participate in the International Peace Delegation, to try to restart the Turkish-Kurdish peace process even as the Turkish state pursues a horrific military campaign against the Kurdish population of the southeast. While in Istanbul, far from the violence, our group met with Hatip Dicle, a co-leader of the Democratic Society Congress, or DTK.

Hatip Dicle, DTK co-leader

Hatip Dicle, DTK co-leader

The DTK is an umbrella group in the southeast, bringing together some 300 delegates elected by the public in local councils and another 200 from unions and other civil society organizations as well as deputies of the pro-Kurdish parties HDP and DBP. “Every three months,” he said, “we convene as a general assembly” that works like a parliament, “with committees to deal with health, education, and the like.” At the assembly the delegates “discuss drafts coming from the committees and reach common decisions.”

In December 2015 the DTK assembly met in Diyarbakir (Amed), where it discussed the following “Declaration of the Political Solution,” an update of the Democratic Autonomy proposal that the DTK issued in 2011, based on the thinking of Abdullah Öcalan. The document summarizes ideas proposed for the democratization of Turkey since 2005. The document we received is a draft but tracks closely with press coverage of the version that was adopted.

Turkey is to be divided into some 20 to 25 regions, Dicle explained, including the western part—all of Turkey. The regions are based on geography, not ethnicity. In regions where Kurds constitute the majority, other groups would be represented as well. Each region has an autonomous assembly, as in Spain today, he said. Some functions—economy, judiciary, defense—would remain at center, but the rest– like education, agriculture, tourism–are to be devolved to the autonomous regions.

The DTK’s Democratic Autonomy proposals outline structures that have been built, under onerous circumstances, since 2011. It complements the descriptions in Democratic Autonomy in North Kurdistan (New Compass, 2013). It presupposes the adoption of a new democratic constitution for Turkey.

The document was endorsed by the HDP, the HDK, and the DBP.  The two illegal organizations, the PKK and the KCK, also endorsed it, which caused a “big storm” in Turkey, Dicle said.

The Turkish state, which is becoming ever more authoritarian, adamantly rejects the proposal, apparently unable or unwilling to distinguish democracy from the breakup of Turkey itself.

“This proposal,” Hatip Dicle told us, “is an answer to what the Kurds want.”

I have edited it for clarity.

Janet Biehl

 

Declaration of the Political Solution

Extraordinary General Assembly of the DTK

December 25-27, 2015

Today in a crucial and historic period, global capitalism is experiencing deep chaos, and since that chaos profoundly affects the Middle East, the world’s major powers are making serious calculations about their interest in the region. In our chaos, economic, social, cultural, political and military developments have prevented us from resolving issues of national identity, freedom, and democracy. New alternative democratic models have emerged, even as old ones are beginning to dissolve.

At Newroz [March 21,] 2013, the Kurdish national leader Abdullah Öcalan issued a historic call to all Kurdish communities and to the world. He proposed solutions to the problems of our country based on in-depth negotiations and on trust; they undoubtedly would have to be achieved with the approval of Turkey’s Grand National Assembly. After that declaration, a dialogue process began, to achieve this objective. Arms were to be laid down, so that ideas could begin to speak. Ideas, and democratic politics, would be the new method of struggle.

On February 28, 2015, at the Dolmabahçe Palace, members of the peace process presented an agreed-upon framework to the public in the presence of government officials. But later the president rejected it, and the state inflicted severe isolation and solitary confinement upon Öcalan. The ruling AKP party put the peace process into a deep freeze, revealing that it in fact has no policy at all for resolving the Turkish-Kurdish conflict. Instead it attempts to suppress the Kurdish freedom struggle by military force.

In the June 7, 2015, general elections, Kurdish and other people expressed their strong preference that Turkey become democratic and that the Kurdish conflict be resolved peacefully. Unfortunately the AKP government refused to accept this election result and thereby forfeited a historic opportunity. Erdoğan and the AKP’s senior management carried out a coup, setting aside the June 7 election results through a war policy.

As the AKP government abrogated the Dolmabahçe agreement, terminated the Imrali negotiations, initiated military air and land operations, and tried to violently suppress the legitimate democratic demands, people’s councils in some provincial capitals and districts of the southeast decided to declare self-governance. The state proceeded to arrest and execute elected officials, politicians, and civilians in those areas. Kurdish youth mounted a defense by digging trenches and building barricades.

Today the government portrays the conflict as an issue of trenches to legitimize its own policy of fighting “terrorism,” but the Kurdish people are undertaking a legitimate resistance, demanding democratic self-government at the local level. Because the their longstanding demand for legal and political status has not been recognized, they have started a struggle relying on their own resources.

In Turkey’s current governing model, centralized state power, dominated by men, strives to maintain its own control, even as it generates social problems. The alternative model is based on democratic politics, tolerating diversity and coexistence. Demands for Democratic Modernity and freedom are, at their core, demands for political status. This democratic solution should be grounded in political negotiations. Hence to overcome the problems the Kurdish people are facing, the channels of dialogue and negotiation must be reopened. We consider the freedom of Abdullah Öcalan to be the essential prerequisite to a constructive and consistent peace process.

To this end, we hereby present to the public the declaration of Democratic Autonomy that the DTK previously introduced [in 2011] and that was included in the peace process by the DBP and the HDP. In so doing, we hope to help the public better understand our people’s objective in declaring self-government.

The governing model that should be dominant in the world today is indisputably democracy. No government that centrally administers every street, neighborhood, city and town can be legitimate; democracy requires the autonomy of local units. Every democracy in the world today recognizes the autonomy of its diverse communities, and the further development of democracy is impossible without recognition of local autonomies.

Considering Turkey’s history, its multicultural and pluralistic society, and its large population and geography, anyone who thinks rationally must accept Democratic Autonomy as its most appropriate governing model. Within the framework of coexistence, Democratic Autonomy constitutes the basis of the democratic solution for the Kurdish conflict.

For months now, in areas where people declared self-rule, thousands of soldiers and police have been carrying out brutal attacks with tanks and artillery, for the purpose of intimidating and massacring people. Many have been killed or injured; the historical and cultural heritage of our cities and our places of worship is being razed. But in areas where self-government has been declared as well as in all predominantly Kurdish areas, the people’s current resistance has not only spread but grown stronger. Based as it is on fundamental rights and on legitimate demands, this resistance will surely prevail. Those who attack this legitimate resistance today will one day be condemned by the democratic Turkey of the future as well as by history and humanity.

As the DTK, we declare our support for the self-governing councils, and we declare our solidarity with the legitimate resistance that the Kurdish people are carrying out. In our view, the struggle for democracy and freedom requires the participation not only of the Kurdish people but of all the peoples of Turkey. What is currently happening on the ground is not simply a matter of trenches and barricades, as the AKP government would have the world think. Rather, the AKP’s aggressive policy rejects the people’s will for local democracy, aiming to strangle the demand for a free and democratic life. The existing conflict can be ended only through the spirit of democracy and a democratic approach to a resolution. As long as the Kurdish conflict remains unresolved, it will fuel the deepening resistance.

After extensive discussion and evaluations, the extraordinary general board of the DTK decided to declare self-government and affirm the legitimacy of the individual and the society’s right to define themselves against the state’s policies of war and violence, and to simultaneously put into practice the construction of society and its administration.

Democratic Autonomy as the solution to the Kurdish problem cannot be separated from the democratization of Turkey as a whole. The declarations of Democratic Autonomy are thus steps toward democratizing Turkey. We consider them legal and necessary and proper for all the peoples of Turkey. Undoubtedly local democracies would take different forms according to the conditions and needs of their area, region, and community. Under the local autonomy of diverse identities, each area can adapt democratization into its own circumstances.

We wish to end the speculative discussions surrounding Democratic Autonomy, and we wish to remove the European Council’s reservations and conditions concerning autonomous local governance. We believe that this framework will open a door for solving not only the Kurdish problem but also many other political, social, and administrative problems that arise in the process of democratic self-governance.

In this framework:

  1. Democratic Autonomous regions will be formed throughout the country, in consideration of cultural, economic, and geographic affinities and in proxmity to one or more cities.
  1. The Democratic Autonomous regions will be governed by councils elected by the self-government according to the basic principles of Turkey’s new democratic constitution. Every autonomous region will be represented in the parliament [Grand National Assembly of Turkey] and the central government on the basis of democratic principles.
  1. The Democratic Autonomous regions and other local and regional administrative units terminate all tutelage from the central government over elected officials and abolishes its ability to discharge them—except when auditing a locality’s compliance with the principles of the new democratic constitution.
  1. Neighborhood, village, town, women’s, and youth assemblies as well as assemblies of various peoples and faith communities must be able to participate directly in decision making in the Democratic Autonomous regions and cities, and in the process of auditing civil society organizations.
  1. Women will have equal representation in decision making at all levels of self-governance, in order to advance democracy comprehensively and ensure a free and democratic life. Women may form assemblies, communes, and social institutions as needed. Women’s assemblies have the right to approve decisions by other bodies concerning women. Women’s right to free and autonomous organization is recognized in all areas.
  1. Youth must be able to participate in the decision making of self-governing bodies. Identifying as youth, they are to be empowered to organize in every field to ensure their participation in decision making by the governing bodies.
  1. Education is to be administered by the autonomous governing body at each level. Education and training is to be provided in all native languages. The local language must be recognized as official along with Turkish. The general education curriculum will teach universal values and human rights; local history, culture, and social specificities will be added to the curriculum according to the region’s needs.
  1. The Democratic Autonomous government must permit all projects in language, history, and culture. Institutions offering faith and worship services are also to be organized as autonomous entities.
  1. The autonomous governments at all levels are to offer health and human services.
  1. The judiciary and legal services must be reorganized according to the autonomous region model.
  1. The autonomous regions are authorized to manage and monitor soil, water, and energy sources for the benefit of society within an ecological framework. They control production sharing as well. The autonomous governments are to be empowered to establish agricultural, livestock, industrial, and commercial operations, and create production and business units of all kind, according to the general democratic constitutional principles. They are to authorize and support both individual and collective initiatives.
  1. The autonomous regions, including the cities, must offer, administer, and oversee transportation services on land, air and sea. Their oversight of traffic services must comply with the related central agencies.
  1. The autonomous regions, in order to provide the above-mentioned services, must take over local budgeting, which will be carried out according to women-centered budgeting. Local governments are to collect some taxes, in consensual agreement with the central government and the other autonomous regions. The central government must appropriately share tax revenues collected from the local autonomous areas. The central government must take measures necessary to address regional disparities.
  1. The autonomous regions establish and supervise official local security units to administer local law enforcement. These units are to be empowered to protect the state borders and defend them against external threats within the framework of the constitution, in coordination with the army and other central security units.

In conclusion:

Democratic governance should be achieved on the basis of Turkey’s democratic unity and the common future of its peoples. A democratic constitution must be established that would guarantee such democracy and freedom. Such a constitution is indispensable for achieving a free and democratic life for all social groups, ethnicities, and faith communities. A constitution that guarantees a free and democratic political system for only one community, while denying it for others, is unimaginable. Our struggle for Democratic Autonomy is a struggle for democracy and freedom not only for Kurds but also for Turks and all the other ethnicities and faith communities, as well as those who are excluded, oppressed, and neglected.

Our Democratic Autonomy model, based on self-governance, would also create an important precedent for overcoming the environment of confusion and chaos in the Middle East today. It will lead to a peaceful and democratic solution for national and regional problems of our nations, who have shared a common fate for a thousand years.

This declaration is a search for a dynamic discussion and reconciliation. It is open to suggestion and criticism.

To end the current clashes, to further the democratization of Turkey, and to pave the way for a political solutions, we call upon all of Turkey’s democratic forces, civil society organizations, political parties, esteemed personalities, opinion leaders, faith communities, and other institutions for solidarity in supporting the legitimate demands of Kurdish people’s struggle. We call upon all social classes and political parties in Kurdistan to support the resistance of our people in the spirit of national unity; we call upon the peoples of the world and on international institutions for solidarity with the legitimate demands of our people for freedom and justice.

December 26-27, 2015