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Recent articles by Zaher Baher
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The social revolution will sweep Turkey Kurdistan sooner or later
mashriq / arabia / iraq | community struggles | news report Sunday November 16, 2014 07:39 by Zaher Baher - Haringey Solidarity Group and Kurdistan Anarchists Forum anarkistan at activist dot com
By Zaher Baher from Haringey Solidarity Group and Kurdistan Anarchists Forum
The social revolution will sweep Turkey Kurdistan sooner or later
Below is the outcome of my visit to Northern Kurdistan in Turkey between 02/11/14 to 08/11/14 as one of a delegation from United Kingdom, organised by Peace in Kurdistan Campaign (PIK), People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and Democratic Society Congress (DTK).
Throughout the visit we had a chance to meet many organisations, including political parties, local and regional Trade Unions, co-Mayor of Diyarbakir and Suruc, the Coordination of humanitarian aid to the refugees, Refugees Camps, Villages at the border of Kobane, representatives of Democratic Free Movement of Women, Human Rights Association, representatives of democratic Region’s Party, the Bar Association of Diyarbakir and finally meeting with the Federation of the Families of Detainees.
During our meeting with the people we had total freedom to ask the relevant questions about the situation, their responsibilities, their approach to the problems they are facing, and their current and future tasks.
There is no doubt that each of the above organisations was overloaded with work, shortage of funds, humanitarian aid and lack of support from the central government. These were because of the following reasons:
After 28 years of war, PKK has realised that they must change their direction of their struggles, their aims and their strategy otherwise their future won’t be better than the future of other movements.
In my opinion PKK or at least the dominant faction or group within the PKK, has taken the right decision and the right direction by silencing their weapons and opening their minds, changing from military forces to people’s power and from political revolution to social revolution. The wave of the social revolution is so strong it will be extremely hard for anybody or any political party to change its direction let alone to stop it. It became a culture, custom especially for the young generation, they have realised that is the only way to defy the power, to challenge the system and make major changes.
Through talking to people, they are so confident that they can make changes. In meeting the Democratic Free Movement of Women, there were 9 women present. They told us how they deal with women’s problem in society, like domestic violence, rape and other abuses, how to support individuals in every ways to make them confident to tackle their problem. A few of them were talking about their own experience and told us since they joined the movement, in fact they have nearly became another person. They take part in women’s peace camp, sharing mission, they discuss the books they read and working with Kobane democratic federation women. When we asked them whether there was a gay or lesbian groups in Diyarbakir? In reply they said “ there are a couple of groups in the town, we have contacts with them and we are very supportive to them.” It is amazing to see in a town like Diyarbakir there are women’s movement with very brave and open minded individuals and are very supportive.
The Federation of the Families of Detainees (Tuhad-FED) is another group we had a couple of hours to meet with. This group was formed in 1996 under the nose of the government. It has 14 volunteers, half of them are women working tirelessly. Most of the foundation members of the group had very bitter experience of being in prison, as they were tortured or detained for a period of time. Its co-president of the federation is still held in prison. This federation is very active and has regular contact with the families and parents of the detainees. They support them by keeping in touch, finding a lawyer for the detainees and fund the families of the poor to visit their beloved ones in prison.
This group is in contact with the different groups abroad and locally with the Human Rights Association (IHD). In our meeting with the IHD, they confirmed that the police have arrested many people in the demonstration of 06/10 and 07/10/2014 against the Turkish authority. This was when many thousands fled from Kobane to Turkey against the wishes of the government. The demonstrations were against the silent policy of the state of Turkey supporting Isis. The head of IHD confirmed that just 5 minutes before our arrival, a couple of people came to their office to inform them that their sons, aged 16 and 17 years, have been taken away by the police. They were informed that during the demonstration 42 people and 2 police officers were killed, some 1,128 people were arrested including 53 children, with 221 still in prison.
In a meeting with co-president of one of the Unions who works in a hospital, she confirmed the arrival of 128 injured and some very sick people at their hospital. The police have raided the Union office and the hospital a few times to find out whether anybody who helped the people at Kobane has been treated in the hospital. When they found the presence of sick and injured people from Kobane they harassed her and other nurses, abusing them verbally and taking their identity documents from them.
In our meeting with the Bar Association of Diyarbakir, we met 5 Lawyers. They told us that they have about 1,000 lawyers in Kurdistan region working in different departments, caring for the rights of women and children or working at legal aid centres funded by the state. They confirmed that no major changes have taken place since the start of the peace process. They were optimistic and felt that the situation will improve by next year when the constitution changes. They pointed out that there was a bail system but this did not apply to people who were involved in politics and their case had to be settled in court. When we asked them about making complaints about the police behaviour, they replied “We do not think it is worth complaining because the police do not listen and they will not change their attitudes.”
They confirmed that 2000 students were arrested and all over turkey some 3000 to 4000 people are still in prison This is in spite of the constitution which states that people should not be arrested for political activates or opinions. However, if one belongs to a certain political party or found carrying some sort of a banner or placard with slogans inciting hatred, he becomes liable to be arrested.
The plight of the Refugees continuesSince the capture of Mosul, in Iraq, by Isis and the genocide of the Eyzidis and the start of war in Kobane, the Kurdistan region in Turkey is overwhelmed with refugees from both Kobane and Sinjar. More than 100,000 Eyazedis have fled, with many of them ending in Iraqi Kurdistan and some 18000 arriving in Turkey.There are also about 4000 of them staying in one of the camps just at the outskirt of Diyarbakir. The co-Mayor of Diyarbakir confirmed that there has been no support from UN. People in the region donated money towards the tents, food and clothes. He said "90% of the donation and help came to Diyarbakir Municipalities from the local people and only 10% from the state".’ He told us they work very hard to provide basic necessities of life such as tents, food, clothes, hot water, electricity, shower facilities, health clink and schools to their children. He mentioned that they have great difficulties as all the services have to be done by volunteers; they do not have enough people. They also lacked skilled labour, doctors, nurses, beds, ambulances and medicine. The Turkish government does not support them in providing the services and everything has been organised by the Municipalities.
We also met with the Union of the South East Anatolian Region in which Gabb is in charge of the coordination of humanitarian aid to the refugees. This body consists of 286 members of which 30% are women. They elect 7 people to be part of the active committee. Half of their budget comes from all the Municipalities in the region and they have contacts abroad. Gabb told us that they have an intensive plan for the next 3 months to coordination between refugee camps, between the refugees from Kobane and Shangal and also with Turkey to obtain information and humanitarian support. They also have to classify the people in the camp in term of their gender, age, health and other problems. They confirmed that they supervise and support 9 camps of refugee in which 4 of them Eyazidis from Shangal. They confirmed that already around 6,000 of them returned to Iraqi Kurdistan but received 96,000 more who settled in Suruc, and 2,840 in Mardin.
We also visited the refugee camp of Eyazidis where over 4,000 people live. These people complained about quality of the food, hot water, doctors and nurses. They told us that due to lack of transport it takes 15 days to be referred to a hospital and moneyless refugees have to pay for their treatment.
In Surus, we visited the Kobane refugee camp which was set up on 15/09/14. They have the same facilities as the Shangal refugees. It looked they lived in reasonable condition. We were told that they have 15 doctors, 20 nurses and many more on call to look after them. It seems they are happier than the Shangal refugees, probably because of the following factors:
The Turkish government has changed its tactic but not its strategy against Kurdish peopleEverywhere there people had one thing in common: ‘There has been no major change since the ceasefire of Dec 2012.’ The suppression and the oppression are going on, still the Kurdish community is marginalised, still you can see a major difference between Kurdish and Turkish towns.
There is not much support from the governor of the cities or from the central government to Municipalities that are controlled by the Kurdish people. The Kurdish community suffers greatly from joblessness and from health problems. People still live in big fear either for their own safety or their children’s being harassed, kidnapped or detained without reason.
It is true that the Kurdish people are now in control of their Municipalities, and setting up many organisations, association, Unions and a variety of groups. However, they receive very little or no help from the government. It is noticed that the Kurds have forced their case and the Turkish government has no choice but to accept it. This may be due to the government hoping to become an EU member. Also the Kurdish have simply rejected the old situation. They are prepared to fight back and do not want to stop their social revolution which is at its beginning.
Things can happen but should not happen to derail the social revolutionThe situation is very tense and delicate. The peace process seems to have come to standstill. Kobane is still being seized, Isis is still a big threat to the region and it seems removing Assad from power is not possible for the time being. The US and the rest of the western countries can run out of a clear policy or strategy to defeat Isis and the Turkish government is not serious in the negotiation with PKK. These factors have direct or indirect impact on the situation in Turkey.
However, factors more important than the above which may derail the social revolution are:
Haringey Solidarity Group and Kurdistan Anarchists Forum