Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Imprisoned Kurdish journalist awarded human rights prize


Toronto, Canada—Mohammad Seddigh Kaboudwand, an imprisoned Kurdish journalist in Iran has been awarded the 2014 Prize by the International Center for Human Rights (ICHR) for his contribution to human rights in his country.

Ardeshir Zarezadeh, co-founder and the Executive Director of the ICHR said that Kaboudwand was chosen this year’s winner for his “significant contribution to advancing and protecting human rights for Kurdish people in Iran and neighbouring countries.”

Kaboudwand, the editor of the weekly magazine Payam-e-Mardom and co-founder of the Human Rights Organization for Kurdistan was arrested by the Iranian security forces in 2007 and charged with “acting against national security.” 

He is now serving a ten and a half year imprisonment in Tehran’s Evin prison.

The announcement was made at the organization’s fourth award ceremony held in Toronto, Canada, attended by human rights activists, members of parliament and religious figures.

“We dedicate this award to Mr. Kaboudwand and all the Kurds in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria,” Zarezadeh announced.

Amnesty International has designated Kaboudwand a “prisoner of conscience, held solely for his human rights work and the peaceful expression of his views.”

This Kurdish activist was named the international journalist of the year at the British Press Award in 2009. He is an adopted member of PEN International, writers in prison committee.

Kaboudwand’s health deteriorated in prison and he has gone on hunger strike several times. 
Activists say that he has no access to adequate medical attention. 

“Away from any nationalistic or ethnic bias and sentiment, I believe that Kurds in Iran are denied their basic human rights, the right to dignity, to equality, and to freedom,” Kaboudwand wrote in a message from prison.

He wrote that Kurds are entitled to run their own social and political affairs in a democratic manner. 
“They deserve the right to sovereignty without external compulsions. This is a right that is valued and supported by all the civilized societies,” read his message.

Zarezadeh said that Kaboudvand’s efforts were valued by the ICHR, an organization that works to raise awareness and gain international support for people suffering from inhumane and unjust treatment of dictators.

This article was originally published in Rudaw

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Zadie Smith on Writing

“When I write I am trying to express my way of being in the world. This is primarily a process of elimination: once you have removed all the dead language, the second-hand dogma, the truths that are not your own but other people's, the mottos, the slogans, the out-and-out lies of your nation, the myths of your historical moment - once you have removed all that warps experience into a shape you do not recognise and do not believe in - what you are left with is something approximating the truth of your own conception.” 
― Zadie Smith

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Iranian Kurdish Women Seek a Voice

Ava Homa

By Ava Homa:
Oslo, NORWAY—The fourth Kurdish Iranian Women Conference was held this weekend in the capital of Norway.
In a two day gathering, Kurdish women from across Europe, North America and Middle East came together to review the history of women’s movement and discuss its continuity.
The conference has a central committee, mainly based in Stockholm, that organizes and seeks funding for the yearly conferences. So far it has been held in Sulaimanieh, Stockholm, London and Olso.

Goli Ghbadi, one of the founding members of the conference explains that in each of these cities, an organizing committee volunteers to help plan and shape the gathering.
“Unfortunately, Iranian Kurdish women’s voice is not heard. We are ignored in the Iranian women’s movements as well as the Kurdish women’s concerns. We have our own history, issues and situations that need close study,” Golnar Ghobadi, another founding member says.
This year’s speakers were invited from Europe, North America and Iran to share their thoughts and ideas. The activist, Parvin Zabihi and writer, Simin  Chaichee were unable to travel from Iran because of visa complications.
Ms. Chaichee, however, was able to send her speech on the history of women’s NGOs in the Kurdish region of Iran, through a video. She was later virtually present in the room to answer the audience’s questions.
Although thankful to technology for making oversea presentations possible, the organizers expressed concern that every year some of their speakers are unable to travel from Iran which makes the cooperation between local and diaspora women challenging.
In this conference, the significant role Kurdish female fighters in Kobani play to save the city from a massacre was praised and discussed.
Even though the participation of women in the fight for liberation is not new—some of the attendants and organizers were fighters at some point—it is admirable that the world has finally come to realize this through Kobani women.
Dr. Motasem Tatahi, lecturer in Regent’s University of London talked about the role the economy has played in women’s liberation movement around the world, especially in the United States. He emphasises that Kurdish women’s voice would be better heard once they increase their role in the economy of their societies.
Nahid Mokri, discussed the role religion has had in subjugating women and Sophie Essmat reviewed the history of Kurdish feminism, its conflict with nationalism and its current situation. Other speakers discussed self-empowerment and other goals and obstacles of Kurdish women.
Shahin Talebani, the popular singer from Sanandaj, who had to sing under a pseudonym for years, shared her life story and the conference ended with her performance.
Ava Homa is a Kurdish-Canadian writer is author of ‘Echoes from the Other Land’ which was nominated for the the world’s largest short story award Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Ava has two Masters’ degrees one in English and Creative Writing, another in English Language and Literature. ‘Echoes from the Other Land’ has a running theme of resistance by modern Kurdish women. The stories are told on a universal scale, depicting human endurance, desire and passion. Ava’s writings have appeared Windsor Review and the Toronto Star. She was a writer in Iran, and university faculty member. In Toronto, Ava writes and teaches Creative Writing and English in George Brown College. For more information please visitwww.AvaHoma.com

This article was originally published by Kurdistan Tribune HERE

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Enchanting Music Aynur, Kayhan Kalhor, Salman Gambarov, Cemil Qocgiri

کنفرانس زنان کردستان ایران

Many thanks to Pantea Bahrami for preparing this. Link to her website HERE

Link to the radio interview on the sound cloud HERE





بیش از ۱۵۰ زن در اسلو شاهد برگزاری چهارمین کنفرانس زنان کردستان ایران در روزهای ۱۷ و ۱۸ اکتبر بودند. برگزار کننده کنفرانس مرکز بررسی مسائل کردستان ایران و کمیته ای شش نفره از زنان کرد در نروژ بود.
این کنفرانس بطور مشخص به مسائل زنان کرد ایرانی می پرداخت، مشکلات ویژه ای که ازیک سو در چهارچوب جنبش زنان ایران به آن بی توجهی می شود و از سوی دیگر از طرف جنبش زنان کرد مورد بی مهری قرار می گیرد. بنابراین این سمینار به طور ویژه به مشکلات و دغدغه های زنان کرد ایرانی می پردازد. نمونه های این مشکلات مثل فقر، بی سوادی بخش از زنان کرد، سرکوب آزادی های سیاسی، نبود امکانات کافی از سوی مرکز و همچنین نگاه بشدت مردسالار و ناسیونالیسم کردی است که معضلات زنان کرد ایران را در چهارچوب مسائل ملی نادیده می گیرد. مجموعه این عوامل فشار را بر روی آنها آنقدر زیاد کرده که بخشی از آنان به خود سوزی دست زده اند

 محور سخنرانی آوا هما، نویسنده، در این کنفرانس تحت عنوان «ازخانی تا خودسوزیی، چه بر سر زنان کرد آمده» بر روی موضوع علل و پی آمدهای خودسوزی زنان و به ویژه در کرمانشاه تمرکز داشت.
در کنفرانس سخنرانی های متعددی صورت گرفت که از جمله می توان از سخنرانی عصمت صوفی، پژوهشگر، درمورد رابطه ناسیونالیست و جنبش زنان کرد در ایران نام برد. او تفاوت ها و شباهت های جنبش زنان ایرانی و زنان کرد را مورد کنکاش قرارداد.
از سخنرانان دیگر که از ایران به کمک اسکایپ در کنفرانس حضور داشت می توان از سیمین چایچی نام برد که به نقش سازمان های غیر انتفاعی در کردستان ایران پرداخت. شهین طالبانی هنرمند کرد، مشکل زنان هنرمند کرد در جامعه کردی را مورد بررسی قرار داد. افزون بر آن حلیمه رسولی، وضعیت زنان و فعالیت های زنان کرد در کردستان را مورد تجزیه و تحلیل قرار دارد.
در گفتگو با آوا هما، نویسنده، عصمت صوفی پژوهشگر مسائل فمنیستی و گلنار قبادی از اعضای مرکز بررسی مسائل کردستان ایران به بررسی برخی از موضوعات کنفرانس پرداختم.
Listen HERE



Friday, October 24, 2014

When Multiculturalism Fell into the Sea

My Review of The Ever After of Ashwin Rao (Giller nominated novel) is published at Literary Review of Canada, October issue, 2014.

http://reviewcanada.ca/magazine/2014/10/

HERE


LRCv22n08 Oct 2014 cover RGB

My Interview with Pouyesh on my Conference Presentation at Oslo, Norway

Sunday, October 5, 2014

My Interview on Radio Neda

راديو ندا : زنان و مقاومت حماسي مردم كوباني، در گفتگو با آوا هما

خانم آوا هما، نويسنده كرد و استاد دانشگاه جورج براون تورنتو كانادا در گفتگو با راديو ندا با بيان اينكه '' داعش نتيجه استراتژي و سياست هاي غلط تمام اين دولت هائي ست كه قدرت دستشان است ''، گفت : '' ابعاد قضيه حمله به كوباني خيلي بزرگ است و كل جهان را مي تواند تحت الشعاع قرار بدهد!''



 Listen HERE: http://radio-neda.blogspot.ca/2014/10/blog-post_6.html

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Iran’s President is Not Telling the Truth


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Unlike his predecessor, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani does not talk of wiping Israel off the map or claim that homosexuality does not exist in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Yet, what he told the world from the podium of the UN General Assembly last week, and in an interview with CNN during his US stay, was no less shameless and false than the outrageous comments of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the man who occupied the Iranian presidency just before.

Since his election in June last year, Iranians and the world have watched Rouhani with cautious optimism. They have been waiting to see if he would change Iran’s position on key issues, including its controversial nuclear program and the treatment of civilians, including journalists.

In the interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour – whose father was Iranian – he was asked about his stance on the militant Islamic State (IS).

“Iran has been at the forefront of fighting against terrorism,” he boasted. “We can go all the way back to the beginning years of the revolution. We were facing an extremely vicious and savage form of terrorism inside the country. And we fought against them.”

The “vicious and savage” groups he was referring to were the forces that united in 1979 to overthrow the monarchy, in a revolution for greater democracy.  Yet, these people were immediately and mercilessly suppressed by the new government of clerics who usurped power.

Various communist factions and the Mujahedin-e-Khalq were labelled by the regime as “infidels” or as “corrupt on earth.” Under laws manipulated to quash opposition, large numbers were arrested, jailed or executed.

In those early years of the revolution, the Iranian army also attacked the Kurdish city of Sanandaj and relentlessly bombed the region, until the Iranian Peshmerga forces were forced to retreat to the mountains.

So, which terrorist groups did Iran fight against in those early years of the revolution, and why did the president not clarify this? Is he seeking safety in ambiguity?

Amanpour also asked the cleric-president about imprisoned journalists: “A group of American Iranians, a British Iranian (are) in prison right now. Jason Rezaian, a journalist for The Washington Post, and his wife; Saeed Abedini, who is a Christian; Amir Hekmati, who’s been in jail for a long time; the English Iranian Ghoncheh Ghavami, who's also in jail. Without charge, without anything and we don’t understand why and we would like to know whether you are prepared to deliver a gesture of goodwill to these people, to their families and to the world whom you’re addressing from here at the United Nations.”

After explaining that Iran does not accept dual citizenship, Rouhani went on to boast of fair trials in Iran and then completely denied the fact that Iran has any prisoners of conscience.

“You see, I really don't believe that fact at all,” Rouhani said. “I do not believe that an individual would be detained or put in prison for being a journalist. An individual can be a reporter -- a journalist -- and have committed a crime. But that crime is not necessarily always related to their profession, to the profession that they’re practicing.”

Rouhani uttered these words to a world audience, while Kurdish journalists like Adnan Hassanpur and Muhammad Sediq Kaboudvand have endlessly suffered in Iran’s infamous prisons, for no crime other than being a voice for the country’s struggling seven million Kurds.

Kamal Sharifi, another Kurdish journalist in prison, began a hunger strike in prison on Monday, according to Radio Farda.

Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, PEN international and other human rights organizations have repeatedly reported on the number of incarcerated journalists in Iran, which is near the top on the list of nations with the highest number of imprisoned journalists.

Rouhani is telling the truth when he says that these journalists are not charged with “writing and revealing the truth,” rather for their “enmity against God.”  Under such vague charges that can mean anything anyone wants -- in the 21st Century -- a nation whose proud history dates back thousands of years, puts men and women to death.

In another part of the interview, Rouhani was confronted with another of his hypocrisies.

To appear a modern man of the modern world Rouhani is on Twitter. But he is president of a country where all social media are heavily filtered and not readily accessible to citizens.

Rouhani claims Iran controls the World Wide Web because of the ethical boundaries of Islam. The president does not explain why he can be trusted to remain within the ethical boundaries, while the people who elected him cannot.

Rouhani tries to portray a new face of the Iranian government. But his every effort shatters with his every lie.

The article was originally published here: http://rudaw.net/english/opinion/01102014

Friday, September 26, 2014

Kurdish Musician Lauded Globally, Silenced in Iran

TORONTO, Canada—Musician Hafez Nazeri’s bestselling debut album “Rumi Symphony Project: Untold” is receiving praise around the world, but Iran has cancelled his performance.
The New York-based Kurdish singer’s premiere, long anticipated in his home country of Iran, was called off after Tehran refused to issue visa for well-known international figures and musicians.
Combining eastern and western music, Nazeri collaborated with 38 musicians from diverse backgrounds to create “Untold,” which has topped the classical charts. The album was produced and distributed by Sony Classical. 
Deepak Chopra, Zakir Hussein, Paul Neubauer, James Bagwell, Thomas Lazarus and David Frost are among the instrumentalists who helped in the creation of “Untold” and require a visa to enter Iran.
Nazeri has also created a new version of the stringed instrument called setar. Photo: hafeznazeri.com
Nazeri has also created a new version of the stringed instrument called setar. Photo: hafeznazeri.com

The singer and composer’s debut album uses the universal language of music to promote peace and harmony in a world that desperately needs these two elements. Nazeri quotes the philosophical Iranian poet Rumi, who wrote, “We dance behind veils/ Muslim, Christian, Jew are the masks we wear/In Truth we are not here/This is our shadow dance.” 
Son of the Kurdish Maestro Shahram Nazeri, Nazeri speaks of his pride for his Kurdish heritage. He grew up in a literary and musically rich family long before beginning his formal education in music in America. 
Nazeri began his music training at the tender age of 2 and had his first global performance with his father at age 9. He has had sold-out performances across US, Canada and Europe and won a young composer award at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). 
Despite the album’s international acclaim, only 20 minutes of “Untold” was released in Iran under a different title, “Boode-Yazdahom” or the eleventh dimension. 
Nazeri has also created a new version of the stringed instrument called setar. It took him years of working with famous setar makers Majid and Saeed Safari to perfect the idea he had harbored for almost a decade. The new instrument, named “Hafez” after the musician, offers a wider range of possibilities for musicians and is used in his new album. 
His father, Shahram Nazeri, praised internationally as an innovative vocalist, has showcased his son’s music across the world using both Persian and Kurdish. He has collaborated with the renowned Kurdish family ensemble,Kamkaran. Recently, Shahram was also criticized in the Iranian media for singing in Kurdish.
When Nazeri’s concert was cancelled, Shahram stood in for his son. Shahram is a legendary musician, equally beloved among Kurds and Persian Iranians for his art, his compassion and his generosity. 
Speaking to Iranian media, Sharham stated that when Kurdish students died in a fire because of sub-standard heating systems in the village of Shinawa, he was inspired to devote an entire year of his income to people in need.


This article was originally published here: http://rudaw.net/english/culture/25092014

Friday, September 19, 2014

Kurdish Activist Co-Directs Powerful Syria Documentary

Director Wiam Simav Bedirxan (L) with producer Ossama Mohammed at Cannes Film Festival. Photo: AFP
Director Wiam Simav Bedirxan (L) with producer Ossama Mohammed at Cannes Film Festival. Photo: AFP
TORONTO, Canada—A Kurdish activist is at the heart of a searing new documentary that uses over 1,000 clips of raw mobile phone footage to depict the brutality of the Syrian war.

Silvered Water, Syria’s Self-Portrait is co-directed by Wiam Simav Bedirxan, a pacifist and amateur filmmaker who becomes the eyes of the conflict for a famous exiled Syrian director, Ossama Mohammed. From France, where he collects footage of the war via social media sites that are used in the film, Mohammed relies on Bedirxan to film life in Syria as the country descended into violence and chaos.

In this powerful film using shots from 2011 to 2014, Bedirxan remains in her hometown of Homs during the three-year siege of the city and documents the destruction. Bedirxan stays even when most of her family is killed before her eyes, when she gets shot and when even revolutionaries in the siege are critical of her for not wearing the veil. Like a Peshmerga, she faces the death: her camera her invincible weapon.

She gathers the homeless refugee kids and teaches them, gets them to laugh, and films them. The children become the only sparkle of hope in this otherwise graphic and horrifying film.

The co-directors collaborated via social media and only first met in person when the film premiered in Cannes in May. It is being shown at several high-profile international film festivals, including in Toronto, where Silvered Water was screened last week.

The film, which is named for Bedirxan (Simav is Kurdish for “silvered water”) is an insider’s perspective of Syria’s transformation from a place to live and love, into an unlivable, unimaginable ruin. Variety, the industry publication for Hollywood, called it “necessary and often unbearable” in its review.

Defying Syria’s notorious snipers, Bardixan’s camera is hidden under her clothes as she walks through the ruins of Homs to bear witness to the atrocities.

In Paris, Mohammed obsessively watches and re-watches the amateur footage posted on Youtube and Bedirxan’s images to connect to his homeland. As he encourages and guides the budding documentarian, she calls Mohammed -- her mentor, whom she has yet to meet in person -- “havalo” or Kurdish for friend.

In addition to Bedirxan’s images, corpses, scenes of torture and burnt and mutilated animals are among the 1,001 images taken on cell phones by Syrians who document the brutality in an effort to shame the world into action. Mohammed finds the footage on social media and integrates them into the film.

The images become more gruesome as the movie unfolds and yet certain images are recurrent, including the one of a naked teenager, sodomized and humiliated into kissing a soldier’s boot and Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s photo. Ironically, the video was made and distributed by the victimizers to instill fear, unaware that it would backfire and put their atrocities on display for the world to watch.

The film depicts unbearable cruelty; the binary of oppressed and oppressor is a theme in Silvered Water that shows the “tragedy” of seemingly heartless soldiers who kill whether they want to or not, and then are killed.

“Move faster than your fears, Havalo,” Mohammed tells Bedirxan, who hides herself in a child’s closet to prepare herself to face the world the next day.

She continuously films a happy child in the middle of chaos and annihilation who casually makes thought-provoking remarks. An infant whose umbilical cord is cut becomes another recurrent image of the movie.

The movie ends with the word “freedom” being painted in red streaks of blood on bright, white snow.


This article was originally published at http://rudaw.net/english/culture/19092014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review of Echoes from the Other Land by Ava Homa

Book Review by Dawn Promislow author of Jewels and Other Stories 

This review was originally published by Mostly Books

Echoes from the Other Land by Ava Homa

Ava Homa's debut short story collection Echoes from the Other Land was published in 2010 by TSAR, the publisher of my first book. I say this in the interests of full disclosure. Ava Homa is also my friend, a fact I mention also in the interests of disclosure. But I’d like to tell you about this book, this unique book, which has given me a rare glimpse into an unknown world.

The slim collection of seven stories is set in the present-day Islamic Republic of Iran, a country that for most us is hidden behind impenetrable borders - borders, for western readers, that are physical, cultural and psychological. Ava Homa is a native Iranian, and she writes of the place she knows. She tells of young women living ordinary lives, but lives behind veils - veils physical and actual, but veils cultural and psychological, as well.

Perhaps the most arresting feature of this collection is the oblique and spare style of its writing. The language is shorn of all adornment or flourish. We enter into the minds of characters, the hidden and secret minds, where thoughts echo in the silence. This silence is that of a censored world, where actions, even thoughts, are daring, and fugitive. And there is indeed a sense of the fugitive in this book, because the women are hiding and running from patriarchal authority figures, and their assertions of will are sudden and shocking, and often silent and invisible - that is to say, these assertions are sometimes merely thoughts in a character’s mind.

Dialogue here is often fragmentary, and whispered, so that words become a covering, or half-covering, over events in the narratives. Words in this way are both a revelation, and a veil. Words indeed are fugitive themselves in these stories, like startled birds that have escaped, by mistake, or despite themselves.

The spare style evokes, in an organic way, the bare landscape of Iran itself, or at least the landscape as this reader imagines it. An aridity to it, and a kind of suspension, which is the suspension of a people living under a totalitarian regime. The stories have rare flashes of colour - literal colour, as in a red dress or scarf, or lipstick - but colour metaphorically speaking also. The colour of a seldom glimpsed or expressed passion, or of a small, courageous act. It is the subtlety and surprise of these flashes that constitutes the art of these stories.

It is perhaps one of the aspirations of serious fiction to embody a sensibility and a place in so natural a way, with so little artifice, and it is certainly the hallmark of an artist who can do this. There are few voices we hear coming from this fortressed country, and this one, with its many echoes, and many silences, is real. For anyone interested in entering another world, a very different world, but one where people (and especially women) struggle with the same things people do everywhere, I recommend you read this unique book.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Art Gives Rebirth to Unschooled Kurdish Mother

‘It was at the peak of glory that my tears finally ran down” Khanim Amin sits under a tree in Toronto holding one of her paintings. Photo by author

‘It was at the peak of glory that my tears finally ran down” Khanim Amin sits under a tree in Toronto holding one of her paintings. Photo by Ava Homa
TORONTO, Canada – If you are in your 60s and your talent has not flourished yet, don’t worry too much. Khanim Amin, an unschooled and untrained Iraqi Kurd, was 72 when the paintings she had drawn out of sheer boredom gave her rebirth as a recognized artist.
Recently, the works of the homemaker-turned painter, who lives in the Netherlands and is now 75, were shown at a solo exhibition at the Toronto Public Library in Canada. 
You could say she was discovered by her own son.
Several years ago Hama Renas, an Amsterdam-based artist and graphic designer, was startled to see what a potent image drawn by his mother, who was about 65 at the time. He praised the painting and asked her to continue. But Khanim did not believe her son, thinking he was only being silly.
“We argued several times as I firmly believed what I had drawn wasn’t any good; I wanted to get rid of them,” she said in an interview with Rudaw. “But he wouldn’t allow me.”
After half a decade of painting, Khanim finally allowed her neighbourhood community center to put her art on display. Even then she was surprised to see the praise she received.
Before long, Khanim was recognized as an artist in her own right, and interviewed internationally.  She had paintings on display at exhibitions across Europe, and back in Sulaimani in the Kurdistan Region, where she was born and raised.
“It was at the peak of glory that my tears finally ran down,” she recalled. “Everybody asked why I was crying. I said that I needed this attention and recognition when I was young, not in my 70s.”
She had grown up in such a traditional family that her father had not allowed her to go to school, when most girls in her neighbourhood and her family could at least complete elementary school. At 16, she was married off to a man who was 25 years her senior, and a father of six.
Khanim worked all her life to raise her 12 children and step-children, making sure that – unlike her – they were all given an opportunity at education. 
When her fans purchased her colorful paintings and asked her for signatures, it was with a shaky hand that she would spell out her name: Khanim has never taken any literacy or painting courses. And yet, she could converse with her admirers in Sorani, Kurmanji, Arabic and Farsi, exhibiting her enormous talent for languages, as well as for art. 
Asiyah Majid, her Toronto-based daughter, said that about 10 years ago when she was shown a painting, she assumed it was something by her brother, Renas. She was surprised to find that her mother was the creator. 
“But that was only a momentary feeling,” Majid told Rudaw. “In a second everything made sense. I remembered how she’d help all of us with art and craft school projects, how she always admired art and beauty and would purchase art for our home, something that was considered excessive in the culture. She has always admired color, music, nature, art -- everything beautiful.” 
The difficulties of life in Kurdistan, and the war that Saddam Hussein waged on the Kurds, did not leave Khanim a chance to discover and express her talent.
In addition to caring for twelve children, she helped the family by working all her life, as a tailor and later a midwife. When her husband passed away, she left Kurdistan and has lived in the Netherlands for 21 years.
Shillan Jabbar, a local Toronto artist who organized and promoted the exhibition, summarized Khanim, her life and her art in a single phrase: “Opportunities like this come only once in life.”


This article was originally published by Rudaw

Monday, August 25, 2014

MEHREGAN: WOMEN OF THE MIDDLE EAST

Press Release:

 WOMEN OF THE MIDDLE EAST CONCERT RELEASE
    Web: www.strose.edu/news  



SAINT ROSE, UALBANY PARTNER TO CELEBRATE WOMEN OF THE MIDDLE EAST
Collaboration Highlights Women’s Contributions to World’s Music, Dance and Art

                Premiere Performances kicks off its 2014-15 concert series with a unique collaboration that celebrates women of the Middle East and their contributions to the world’s culture.

                The College of Saint Rose and the University at Albany present “Mehregan – Celebrating Women of the Middle East,” featuring music by Sepideh Raissadat, dance by Dilan Dance Company, art by Iranian artist Rozhin Dabiri and a talk by writer, teacher and editor Ava Homa.

                This fascinating display of performance and art will take place Friday, September 12, in the Kathleen McManus Picotte Recital Hall, Massry Center for the Arts, 1009 Madison Ave., Albany.  Homa will deliver her talk at 2 p.m.  Music and dance performances will begin at 7:30 p.m.

“Mehregan” is the first of a cooperative venture between Saint Rose and UAlbany’s International Department. This exciting partnership seeks to engage new audiences in the Capital Region with diverse and cutting-edge presentations of art and performance for the community’s enrichment and enjoyment. 

Tickets for the evening performances are $20 general/$10 for students and are on sale now at www.massrycenter.org (no ticket required for the Ava Homa lecture).  For concert and ticket information, phone the Massry Center ticket office at 518-337-4871 or e-mail concerts@strose.edu.
               
ABOUT MEHREGAN

Writer, teacher and editor Ava Homa’s (www.AvaHoma.com) collection of short stories, Echoes from the Other Land, was published to much acclaim and nominated for the 2011 Frank O’Conner Short Story Prize. Her writing has appeared in the Toronto Star, Literary Review of Canada, Rabble, Windsor Review, Herizons, Write Magazine and numerous other publications.  Homa teaches as a faculty member at George Brown College in Toronto. 
Persian classical vocalist and musician Sepideh Raissadat (www.sepidehraissadat.com) began her recording career at 18 with an album with Parviz Meshkatian.  She was the first female vocalist to give a solo public performance in Iran after the 1979 revolution.  As a child, she began studying Persian classical music with the famous Iranian diva Parissa and later with renowned masters Meshkatian and Mohammad-Reza Lotfi. She has performed numerous concerts in Europe and North America and has garnered many invitations from prestigious institutions, including UNESCO, the Vatican and international media such as the BBC and RAI. Currently, Raissadat is continuing her doctoral studies in ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto.

Fethi Karakecili founded Dilan Dance Company (http://dilandance.blogspot.ca) in 2008 to research, archive, teach and perform traditional Kurdish dance, music and folklore.  His extensive academic background as both a practitioner and a scholar of Kurdish dance and music has been vital to keeping the Kurdish dances and music pure to each of four Kurdish regions (Rojhalat, Bakur, Bashur and Rojava).  Dilan Dance Company also seeks to strengthen the dialogue between traditional folk dance forms and Western contemporary and ballet dance styles. The company premiered the world's first Kurdish ballet, “Mem u Zin,” in Toronto in 2011, receiving favorable reviews and appreciation globally. A second ballet, “The Dance of Colours: The Legend of Newroz,” premiered earlier this year in Toronto. In addition to the large-scale productions, Dilan Dance Company also tours, performs and offers workshops locally at numerous events such as Kurdish New Years, Kurdish Festival and Ontario Folk Dance Association throughout Ontario as well as in Canada and internationally.
Rozhin Dabiri has been pursuing her passion for art from her early ages. She attended Iran’s National Organization for Development of Exceptional Talents school while expanding her artistic capabilities and work. At age 18, she moved to Tehran to further pursue her passion professionally.  Currently, she resides in Tehran, painting in her own studio using mixed media and acrylics.  Dabiri carries on with her creativity and leaves no trace of herself behind.  What is seen on her canvases is the awake dreams in the other side of reality.

ABOUT THE MASSRY CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Opened in 2008, the critically acclaimed Massry Center for the Arts features the 400-seat Kathleen McManus Picotte Recital Hall, Esther Massry Gallery, choral and instrument rehearsal rooms, teaching studios, piano labs and classrooms.  Past performing artists have included Dave Brubeck, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Ramsey Lewis, Maceo Parker, Tim Reynolds, Stefon Harris, the Boston Symphony Orchestra Strings, Yuja Wang, Paula Cole and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.  The $14 million, 46,000 square-foot gem is certified LEED Gold, ranking it among the Capital Region’s most energy-efficient and Earth-friendly buildings.

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The College of Saint Rose (www.strose.edu) is a dynamic, progressive college of 4,700 students in the heart of New York’s capital city where teaching is the first priority.  With a rigorous liberal education curriculum, 70 undergraduate majors, 53 master’s degrees and 25 graduate certificates, and a mission of service to the urban community, the Saint Rose experience empowers students to improve themselves and the world around them.

The College of Saint Rose Experts Directory online: www.strose.edu/expertsdirectory.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kurdish Prisoner Ghader Mohammadzadeh Transferred to Solitary Confinement

Illustration by http://12june.org/
A Kurdish prisoner in Iran who is currently serving a 20-year sentence was reportedly transferred to solitary confinement without a clear reason.

Ghader Mohammadzadeh was accused of muharibih, or “enmity against God,” for allegedly belonging to a Kurdish political party (Komalah). Activists say Mohammadzadeh’s attorney was not given access to the client’s file and was not present when the prisoner received his verdict.
 
When he appealed to his sentence of 32 year imprisonment, he was sentenced to execution, in response.
 
“It is not clear if the defendant has any further right of appeal over such a conviction and sentence, despite the requirement… that ‘everyone convicted of a crime shall have the right to his conviction and sentence being reviewed by a higher tribunal according to law.’ It would appear that a defendant in such a circumstance could request an extraordinary review of his or her case, but the Head of the Judiciary can refuse such a request and there is nothing to prevent an execution going ahead in such circumstances once the death warrant has been signed by the Head of the Judiciary,” Amnesty reported.
 
Ehsan Fatahian, Kurdish-Iranian activist, was treated the same way. When he appealed to his original sentence of 10 years in prison, he was sentenced to death and was executed in 2009 at the age of 28.
 
When international media covered this current case, Mohammadzadeh was placed under ongoing psychological pressure, threats and interrogation. In the end, the Intelligence Office of Orumiyeh accused the prisoners of allegedly being in connection with the Western media, reported Iran Human Rights Documentation (IHRD) in March 2010.
 
Mohammadzadeh’s death penalty was later reduced to twenty years imprisonment. He was arrested in 2005 in his home village of Mirvaband, near the city of Bukan in the west of Khuzestan province.
 
Mohammad Amin Abdollahi was also arrested at the same time with Mohammadzadeh and on the same charges. Both cases received international attention which saved them from execution but added to their time in prison. The two spent over a year in legal limbo until in winter 2006, when they were charged with “enmity against God.” 

This is an ongoing trend of Kurdish-Iranian men thrown into Iranian prisons for their Kurdish affiliation. Other Kurdish political prisoners are living under dire conditions in Iranian prisons including Muhammad Sediq Kaboudvand, a Kurdish journalist who was convicted in 2007 of breaking numerous laws including “acting against national security” and “widespread propagation against the system.” He is serving an 11-year sentence. Those that have perished include Farzad Kamangar, 32, Ehsan Fattahian, 28, and Fasih Yasmani, 28, who were among those hanged for “enmity against God.”

This article was originally published in http://basnews.com/en/News/Details/Kurdish-Prisoner-Ghader-Mohammadzadeh-Transferred-to-Solitary-Confinement-/28722

Turkey: What Is the Kurdish Question?

An insightful, thought-provoking article published on Kurdistan Tribune: http://kurdistantribune.com/2014/turkey-kurdish-question/

By Dr. Amy L. Beam:
What is the Kurdish Question?  From Istanbul to Ankara, one is likely to hear the resentful, bitter lament “What do Kurds want?  They have all the same rights as we do.”  There remains a deep chasm of animosity between they andwe.  After ninety years of Kurdish persecution and thirty years of armed conflict, only one who has been hypnotized by mainstream media can fail to know what Kurds want.
They want the Turkish government to stop killing them and to recognize their Kurdish identity and language.  They want peace and democracy.  They want the military occupation of their towns and cities to be withdrawn.  Every news story about the Kurdish Question includes the boiler plate statement that over 40,000 people have died in Turkey’s internal conflict since 1984, but conveniently omits the fact that most of them have been innocent Kurds killed by their own government.
Thus, the uninformed reader might erroneously infer that it has been mostly Kurdish guerillas killing Turkish soldiers.   The notion is planted, unchallenged by international mainstream media, that all Kurds are terrorists and those dropping the bombs and destroying peaceful, law-abiding communities are merely providing security.   It is not uncommon in western Turkey and among police posted to eastern Turkey to hear the sentiment that “every Kurd is a terrorist.”

The Process of Turkification

The modern Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923.  Its first leader, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, is revered by Turks for creating a secular state.  It is with some irony that Turkey’s founder has taken on myth-like proportions after the policy of religious assimilation transformed the population to 97.8 percent Muslim.  Assimilation’s aim is to create one cookie-cutter citizen proud to recite the national pledge “How happy is he who says I’m a Turk”.
The process of Turkification was implemented through the Ottoman Turk’s practice of village evacuations and destruction.  During the final years of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, over one million Christian Armenians were displaced (1915-1917) and their properties appropriated by the State.  This was the Armenian Denial.  According to The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, denial is the eighth and final step in the process of genocide.
From 1917 to 1923, 1.2 million Christian Greeks were sent to Greece in what was  euphemistically named, after the fact, Convention Concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations [1].  While Greece remembers it more accurately asThe Asia Minor Catastrophe [2] that it was.  Six hundred thousand Greeks never arrived.  They were massacred or marched to the interior [3] where they died of starvation.

Kurdish Displacement and Assimilation 1920s and 1930s

After this process of religious Turkification, the Republic of Turkey was created in 1923, and the Turkish government began its assimilation campaign against the 20 million Kurds in eastern Turkey.  The north Kurdistan region was renamed Anatolia.  “Kurdistan” was stricken from the Turkish vocabulary.
The Kurdish names of families, rivers, mountains, cities, and villages were changed to Turkish names beginning in 1934 [4]. Dersim became Tunceli.  Amed becameDiyarbakir.  As early as 1924, the Kurdish language was officially outlawed. Later the letters q, w, and x were outlawed.  Thus, Wan became Van.  Kurds have persisted in calling their villages by their Kurdish names, despite government signs bearing the Turkish names.
Bilican, Turkish name for Ağori on north side of Mt. Ararat
Bilican, Turkish name for Ağori on north side of Mt. Ararat
Ortasu, Turkish name for Roboski in Uludere, Sirnak
Ortasu, Turkish name for Roboski in Uludere, Sirnak
The practice of village evacuations was codified in the 1934 Turkish Resettlement Law[5] (law no. 2510) in defiance of international law.  This gave legal sanction to a longhistory of massacres from Ararat [6]. (1930), Zilan [7] (1930), and Dersim [8] (1937-38) up to more recent massacres including Bilge [9] (2009) and Roboski [10] (2011).  The list is too long to name here.

Scorched Earth Policy and Village Guards 1980s and 1990s

In the 1980s and 1990s the Turkish military and Gendarmerie carried out a scorched earth policy against the Kurds.  Turkey’s persecution of Kurds reached a peak between 1991-94 when over 2260 villages [11] were evacuated, resulting in the death or displacement of over one million Kurds.  The number of evacuated villages is now estimated between 3,000 and 4,000.
In 1985 the Village Guard system was created.  It armed local Kurds as paramilitary units to fight the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) or be forced from their village.  The first invitation would be presented in person by military forces.  If it were not accepted, within days planes bombed and killed their sheep, cows, and horses as a warning to what might happen to them.  Most “chose” to leave “voluntarily” rather than risk death.  After the villages were forcibly evacuated [12],they were burned and bombed to prevent villagers from returning.  The government spun its campaign of terror with the cover story that Turkey had to deny shelter for the PKK guerillas.
Hilal, Uludere, burned in 1994, displacing 5600 residents. 3000 went to Iraq. Others went to Mersin and Mardin.
Hilal, Uludere, burned in 1994, displacing 5600 residents.
K 04 20131022_oldhilal_hs (2)
3000 residents went to Iraq. Others went to Mersin and Mardin.
According to a 1995 Human Rights Watch report [13]:
“Evacuations were unlawful and violent. Security forces would surround a village using helicopters, armored vehicles, troops, and village guards, and burn stored produce, agricultural equipment, crops, orchards, forests, and livestock. They set fire to houses, often giving the inhabitants no opportunity to retrieve their possessions. During the course of such operations, security forces frequently abused and humiliated villagers, stole their property and cash, and ill-treated or tortured them before herding them onto the roads and away from their former homes.”
Only the poor with nowhere to go joined the Village Guard.  But there were thousands of poor Kurds enticed by a monthly government paycheck, so the Village Guard swelled to over 70,000 people.
The Turkish government carried out its scorched earth policy against the Kurds by the book.  What book was that?  Turkish practices bear a 100% correlation to the Army manual on counter-insurgency used by its close ally and military advisor, the United States.  U.S. Army Field Manual FM 31-20-3 [14], Foreign Internal Defense Tactics Techniques and Procedures for Special Forces, sets out the methods by which the U.S. sowed dissent in Latin America  in the 1970s and 1980s to overthrow elected democracies in countries such as Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala.  We owe gratitude to Wikileaks for making this public.
The manual on counter-insurgency techniques explains how to establish Civilian Self-Defense Forces (CSDF).  Especially in El-Salvador and Colombia these were known as “death squads”.  It states:
“When a village accepts the CSDF program, the insurgents cannot choose to ignore it. To let the village go unpunished will encourage other villages to accept the government’s CSDF program. The insurgents have no choice; they have to attack the CSDF village to provide a lesson to other villages considering CSDF. In a sense, the psychological effectiveness of the CSDF concept starts by reversing the insurgent strategy of making the government the repressor. It forces the insurgents to cross a critical threshold-that of attacking and killing the very class of people they are supposed to be liberating.”
As implemented in Turkey with the village guard system [15], this means Kurds were forced to take up arms against other Kurds or have their village destroyed, risk death, and face possible charges of aiding a terrorist organization.   The Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) which had only taken up arms in 1984, inflicted retribution against villagers who had joined Turkey’s village guard.   This was easily predicted behavior as described in the US counter-insurgency manual.  The goal of sewing internal discord among Kurds worked as planned.
In a 2013 Guardian interview [16], a Kurdish woman in a mountain village stated, “Village guards first wounded and then burned my son alive, dragged his dead body behind a car and left it to the dogs.  I hate the village guards more than I hate Turkish soldiers, and if I could find those who did this, I would kill them myself.”
If it had not been for the village guard system, the 30-year conflict would not have been so prolonged and bloody.  According to the records of the Interior Ministry [17]  between 1985 and 1996, a total of 22 thousand village guards were relieved of their duties due to severe misconduct.  Between the years of 1985 and 2006 a total number of 5139 crimes were committed by village guards; only 264 village guards have ever been sentenced in court.
Ali Gokpinar, a Fulbright  scholar,  fictionalizes the history [18] of the village guard creation thus:  “This system could be established in any village based on a request from the village headman and approval from the regional governor.”  This is the sort of deceitful propaganda that gets published in western media with credentials such as “Fulbright scholar”.  One must wonder how many survivors of the 2260 destroyed Kurdish villages Mr. Gokpinar interviewed.

State Terrorism Backed by United States Military Arms Sales

The Turkish Gendarmerie Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism Organization (JITEM)[19], whose existence had been denied, is believed to have been responsible for several thousand extrajudicial killings and disappearances of Kurds during the 1980s and 1990s.  Most of these cases remain unsolved.  Many murders were falsely blamed on the PKK to successfully turn public opinion against the PKK and Kurds.
A typical example occurred in 2005, in Şemdinli [20] Hakkari, near the southeast border of Iraq, when two grenades killed a person in a bookstore.  The press immediately blamed it on the PKK, but bystanders captured three suspects who were said to have been members of JITEM.  They were convicted and sentenced to 39 years in prison.  After the conviction, all the judges and prosecutors associated with the case were transferred from Van to other cities.  Another alleged JITEM murder was when Yakup Kara, mayor of Hilal, was murdered [21] in 1991 for speaking out against the village guard system.
In 1995, the Human Rights Watch [22] interviewed a number of high-ranking American military officers.  When asked about Turkey’s human rights abuses, they all took the position, as stated by U.S. Colonel Edward Fitzgerald, “It was not my job to evaluate these problems.”
The Turkish government remains unrepentant for the suffering and financial ruin inflicted upon an entire ethnic population.   The U.S. stood staunchly behind Turkey’s policy of village destructions.  In 1995, the U.S. Clinton administration stated it supplied Turkey with 80 percent of its foreign military hardware[43] including grenade launchers, tanks, Black Hawk helicopters, and F-16 planes used to destroy villages.
Yet, the U.S. consistently refuses to link arms sales to improvements in Turkey’s human rights [44] record.   The U.S. is the world’s largest exporter of arms and Turkey is one of its top four customers.  The U.S. has exported 19 billion dollars inarms to Turkey [45] since Turkey’s armed conflict began in 1984. Sales peaked at 2 billion dollars in 1993 in spite of pleas from human rights groups to halt arms sales.  The level of U.S. arms exported to Turkey directly correlated with the level of military violence inflicted upon the Kurds.  It would take willful ignorance on the part of the U.S. Congress to blind itself to the fact that it was fueling the war on Kurds in Turkey.
Between one and three million Kurds were forced from their villages in the 1980s and 1990s, thus, solidifying support for the PKK by the general Kurdish population.  Every Kurdish family knows someone who has gone to the mountains to join the PKK.  Thus, in the eyes of the government, it is easy to accuse nearly any Kurd of “associating with a terrorist organization.”
In the last few decades the prisons have filled with thousands of students, activists, academicians, journalists, lawyers, and even children and musicians convicted of “aiding a terrorist organization,” “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization[23]”  or “inciting hatred and hostility.” Turkey continues with its mass show trials oflawyers [39], elected politicians [40], journalists [41] and generals [42].

What do Kurds want? 

Twenty million Kurds in Turkey want:
  • the right to return to their family land
  • damage awards for their destroyed villages
  • government investigation and prosecution of those responsible for extrajudicial murders
  • revision or abolishment of anti-terrorism laws
  • release of political prisoners accused under anti-terrorism laws
  • the release from prison of their leader, Abdullah Öcalan
  • removal of the PKK from the terrorist list so their sons and daughters can come home
  • to speak Kurdish in schools, courts, hospitals, and public offices
  • government employees . . . teachers, police, prosecutors, doctors, nurses, and civil servants . . . to be able to communicate with them in Kurdish when in Kurdish-speaking regions
  • equal opportunity and human rights in their own country . . . Turkey
  • a halt to building new military posts in the Kurdish-inhabited areas
Most Kurdish children under age six and women over 45 do not speak Turkish.  Imagine starting school as a small child and your teacher is speaking a foreign language.   Imagine the humiliation of a woman having to take her son along to visit a gynecologist and translate about her female problems.  Imagine going to court where the judge and prosecutor do not speak your language.

Things Are Getting ‘Better’ in 2000 – 2014

If one asks most Kurds today about the Kurdish political climate in Turkey, one will be surprised at the response.   “Things are getting better.  In the nineties they killed us.  Now they just lock us in prison,” says the conscientious objector known as Black Crow.  “The more they kill us, the stronger we become.”
The concept of resistance or uprising, known as Serhildan, has united the Kurds.   Resistance is a way of life.  Toddlers learn the imprisoned Kurdish leader’s name, Apo, at the same time they learn Baba (father).  When there is a grievous injustice against Kurds, businesses in every city in eastern Turkey are closed in a show of solidarity.  Millions of Kurds fill the streets in a sea of non-violent protest which western mainstream media ignores.
Only when police violently attacked demonstrators in Gezi Park [24] in Istanbul in 2013 did Turks get a dose of the state brutality that Kurds have been subjected to for decades.  International media came alive and covered Gezi demonstrations as if police brutality were something surprisingly new to Turkey.   Kurds silently thought, “Welcome to my world.”
Police target reporter in Istanbul with water canon
Police target reporter in Istanbul with water cannon
Diyarbakir funeral for slain Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Doğan, Leyla Söylemez
Diyarbakir funeral for slain Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Doğan, Leyla Söylemez
One must not refer to eastern Turkey as Kurdistan for fear of being accused of spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization, although Prime Minister Erdoğan insists Turkey has a free press.  May 13, 2014, Erdoğan criticized US-based watchdog Freedom House for downgrading Turkey’s status from “partly free” to “not free.” Freedom House said Turkey had seen the biggest decline in press freedom in Europe.  After Erdoğan and many of his government associates were exposed on Twitter and YouTube for allegedly participating in corruption, Erdoğan banned Twitter and YouTube in March 2014, and then criticized the courts for overturning his orders.

Peace Process Mostly Symbolic

Government progress in the Kurdish peace process has been mostly symbolic.   The AKP government now allows Kurdish to be taught in private schools.  As a result of pressure from the 2012 Kurdish prisoner hunger strike, the Kurdish language may now, theoretically, be used in court.  The government promises to provide Kurdish interpreters in hospitals.
In 2009, two historians, Ercan Öksüz and Oktay Candemir, were sentenced to prison for publishing an interview with a 94-year-old Dersim massacre survivor.  In 2011, PM Erdoğan apologized for the Dersim massacre of 1937-38 and opened the Dersim archives.
In November 2013, when Prime Minister Erdoğan met with KRG President Massoud Barzani in Diyarbakir, Erdoğan for the first time ever pronounced the word “Kurdistan.”  Prior to local elections in Diyarbakir, in March 2014, an AKP banner with Erdogan’s picture [25] had Kurdish words, where only a few years ago banners with Kurdish words would be torn down by police.
Prime Minister Erdoğan on Kurdish language poster
Prime Minister Erdoğan on Kurdish language poster
Diyarbakir city hall adds Kurdish name Amed
Diyarbakir city hall adds Kurdish name Amed
On January 24, The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) fined Turkey over 60,000 euros in the case of several politicians who were all tried and convicted by Turkish courts for speaking Kurdish during election rallies.  Kurdish may now be spoken during political rallies.
In March 2014, the bans were lifted on former Kurdish names for settlement places.  Diyarbakir city hall added Amed to its name.  On March 27, a Turkish court released 45 defendants, including journalists and political activists, accused of links to Kurdish militants.
In April the ECHR fined Turkey 1.1 million euros [26] for the disappearance of villagers under military custody in southeastern province of Şırnak in 1993.
In May a signboard [27] reading “How happy is he, who says I’m a Turk” was removed in Amed’s Kulp district by municipal workers.  Kurdish school children no longer have to recite this pledge.
New roads, hospitals, and universities are being built throughout eastern Turkey.  In Dogubayazit a water purification project funded by the European Union is near completion to provide safe drinking water.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Backward in 2014

On March 7, 2014, a Turkish soldier was killed [28] in Roboski when a grenade was thrown into a Turkish army convoy, thus ending the one-year cease fire.  This is in response to Turkish military on the border at Roboski.  In a statement by the People’s Defence Force (HPG), they accused the Turkish army of having broken the ceasefire by setting up military posts on the border.
The following day the house of Servet Encu [29] one of three survivors from the Roboski massacre in 2011, was attacked.  One hundred bullets were shot into his house while he and his family were inside.  The Gendarmerie refused to respond saying they could not investigate because it was dark.
According to the ‘Withdrawal and Resolution Process Monitoring Commission’ [30] established by the Human Rights Association (IHD), in the last year the decision has been taken to construct  341 new military posts and bases.  Eleven security dams are planned near the border and 820 kilometers of “security roads” have been built along the border.  Additionally, 2,000 new village guards have been recruited.
In every Kurdish town and city one cannot avoid feeling the sense of being in an occupied territory.  In Dogubyazit, a small town of 75,000 situated at the base of Mount Ararat, there are at least six different bases and stations between the Gendarmerie, local police, MIT, and secret police.  More than a dozen large military tanks with missile-launching turrets are parked at the edge of town.  Armored police tanks with turrets regularly drive through the city center causing resentment and unnecessary provocation.
Kurdish people do not want to live under military occupation.  On May 16, two soldiers were wounded [31] in clashes in Dersim when an armed group opened fire targeting the military base under construction in Kırmızıdağ area near the village of Sütlüce.
After the March 30, 2014, local mayoral elections which announced Kurdish BDPSirri Sakik [32] and Mukaddes Kubilay [47] as the winners in Agri, the AKP party demanded 14 recounts of votes.  At last, unable to show the AKP candidate had won, the government set a new election date for June 1.  There were accusations of electoral fraud in many Kurdish jurisdictions. The Turkish government is sending 12,000 police to Agri [46] for the elections to the tune of $1 million US dollars.
AKP party lost Agri mayoral election by 15 votes.
AKP party lost Agri mayoral election by 15 votes.
  Widespread reports of votes destroyed in Kurdish districts, March 30, 2014
Widespread reports of votes destroyed in Kurdish districts, March 30, 2014
The youngest mayor ever to be elected in Turkey, with 91% of the vote, was 25-year-old Rezan Zuğurli. After being elected BDP co-mayor of Lice on March 30, 2014, she gave a speech in Kurdish.  Like Leyla Zana [33] who served ten years in prison [34] after daring to speak one sentence of Kurdish when she took her oath in Parliament [35] in 1991,  Rezan Zuğurli [36] was sentenced on May 7, 2014, to 4 years and 2 months in prison for participating in three rallies in 2010 and 2011.  The court found her guilty on charges of committing crimes “on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party(PKK)” [37] although she is not a member of the PKK.
This punishment from the State in seeming retaliation for a Kurdish woman being elected mayor only exacerbates the conflict and cannot lead to peace.  When one Kurd is attacked, twenty million Kurds feel it personally and, thus, become more resolute in their determination to achieve their human rights.
Thousands of Kurds remain in prison, convicted under the anti-terrorism laws which have not been changed or rescinded.  Millions of Kurds have had no justice for the murders and disappearances of their loved ones.  They have received no damages for the destruction of their villages.  The persons who made the decision to bomb Kurdish villagers from Roboski and Gülyazı go unidentified and unpunished.  Lawyers for Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, imprisoned on Imrali Island, have been barred from meeting with him [38] since July 27, 2011.
The hour is very late for Prime Minister Erdogan’s AKP party to resurrect the defunct peace process and answer the Kurdish Question:  How much longer must Kurds wait?  Their cup of endurance is running over.
The Kurdish Question - how long must Kurds wait?
Dr. Amy L. Beam is a retired I.T. software developer who first visited Turkey in 2007 and fell in love with the wide-open rugged beauty of Kurdistan and Kurdish hospitality.  She promotes tourism to Mount Ararat and eastern Turkey.  Beam writes on free speech and human rights, focusing on the Kurdish peace and democracy movement.  Contact her atamybeam@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter @amybeam.  Older blogs on the Kurdish question are at http://www.climbingmountararat.blogspot.com andwww.kurdistantribune.com .
Amy L. Beam, Hilal Lake, Uludere, Sirnak, SE Turkey
Amy L. Beam, Hilal Lake, Uludere, Sirnak, SE Turkey

Notes

1. “Convention Concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations,” Wikipedia,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_Concerning_the_Exchange_of_Greek_and_Turkish_Populations
2. “The violations of the Treaty of Lausanne by the Turkish Republic 1923 to 1999,” Vassilios S. KYRATZOPOULOS,http://www.metarrythmisis.gr/htmls/istoria/5_treaty%20of%20lausanne.htm
3. “Expulsion & Massacre Maps,” Pontian Greek Society of Chicago,http://www.pontiangreeks.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=65&Itemid=104
4. “Geographical Name changes in Turkey,”http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geographical_name_changes_in_Turkey
5. “1934 Turkish Resettlement Law,” Wikipedia,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1934_Turkish_Resettlement_Law
6. “The Kurds: A Nation on the Way to Statehood,” Jamal Jalal Abdulla, Feb 3, 2012
7. “Zilan Massacre,” Kurdistan House, Dec 28, 2011,http://www.kurdistanhouse.org/?p=174
8. “The Suppression of the Dersim Rebellion in Turkey (1937-38),” Martin van Bruinessen, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994,http://www.hum.uu.nl/medewerkers/m.vanbruinessen/publications/Dersim_rebellion.pdf
9. “Village Guard System Must Be Abolished,” Kurdish Question, 2014,http://kurdishquestion.com/north-kurdistan/news/village-guard-system-must-be-abolished.html
10. “Turkey’s Kurds Demand Answers to Roboski as Part of Peace Process,” Kurdistan Tribune, Dec 25, 2013, http://kurdistantribune.com/2013/turkeys-kurds-demand-answers-on-roboski-massacre-as-part-of-kurdish-peace-process/
11. “List of Hamlets and Villages Evacuated or Destroyed in Northern Kurdistan (Turkey) by Bijan,” Google Groups,https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/soc.culture.kurdish/9S6O2HltfDQ
12. “Villages Forcibly Evacuated,” gopherproxy (URL of complete list taken down before we could publish it),http://gopherproxy.meulie.net/server.norbert79.uk.to/0/gopher-arch/Quux%20mirror/etext.org/pub/Mailing.Lists/European.Counter.Network/1994-11%7C/MBOX-MESSAGE/18
13. “Weapons Transfer and Violations of the Laws of War in Turkey,” Human Rights Watch, Nov 1995, http://www.hrw.org/reports/1995/Turkey.htm
14. “U.S. Special Forces Foreign Internal Defense Tactics Techniques and Procedures for Special Forces, FM 31-20-3, 2003,” Wikileaks,http://wikileaks.org/wiki/US_Special_Forces_counterinsurgency_manual_FM_31-20-3
15. “TURKEY: Forced Displacement of Ethnic Kurds from Southeast Turkey,” Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, Oct 1994, Vol. 6 No.12,http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/TURKEY94O.PDF
16. “Kurdish guards fear for jobs and lives when Turkey and PKK make peace,” Constanze Letsch, The Guardian, May 22, 2013,http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/may/22/turkey-kurds-guards-peace
17. “The Village Guard System Must Be Abolished,” list of village guard incidents from records of the Interior Ministry and International Human Rights Association (IHR), Kurdish Question, 2014, http://kurdishquestion.com/north-kurdistan/news/village-guard-system-must-be-abolished.html
18. “Who Watches the Watchers?” Ali Gokpinar, The Majalla, Sept 2, 2013,http://www.majalla.com/eng/2013/09/article55245130
19. “Lawyer Accuses Turkey of Trying to Whitewash 1992 Killing of Kurdish Intellectual,” Uzay Bulut, Rudaw, Aug 12, 2013, http://rudaw.net/NewsDetails.aspx?PageID=28673
20. “Şemdinli Bombings,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%9Eemdinli
21. “Human Rights Report of Turkey November 2003,” Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, http://www.humanrights.de/doc_de/countries/kurdistan/hr-berichte/nov2003.pdf
22. “Weapons Transfer and Violations of the Laws of War in Turkey,” Human Rights Watch, Nov 1995, http://www.hrw.org/reports/1995/Turkey.htm
23. “Bus Driver Convicted for Playing Kurdish Song,” FreeMuse, Aug 22, 2008,http://freemuse.org/archives/1298
24. “2013-2014 Protests in Turkey,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=2013_protests_in_Turkey
25. “AKP Party Launches Election Campaign in Kurdish in Diyarbakir,” Today’s Zaman, Feb 23, 2014, http://www.todayszaman.com/news-340201-ak-party-launches-election-campaign-in-kurdish-in-diyarbakir.html
26. “ECHR Finds Turkey Guilty over 1993 Disappearances,” Kurdistan Tribune, Apr 14, 2104, http://kurdistantribune.com/2014/echr-finds-turkey-guilty-over-disappearances/
27. “’How happy is he, who says I’m a Turk’ Sign board removed in Kulp” Firatnews.com, Apr 5, 2014, http://en.firatajans.com/news/news/how-happy-is-he-who-says-i-m-a-turk-signboard-removed-in-kulp.htm#.U2X8aKavaiR.twitter
28. “Peace Process between Turkey and PKK Halted,” Kako Ibrahim, BasNews, Mar 8, 2014, http://www.basnews.com/en/News/Details/Peace-process-between-Turkey-and-PKK-halted/14614
29. “House of Roboski Survivor Attacked by Armed Assailants,” Firatnews.com, Mar 9, 2014, http://en.firatajans.com/news/news/house-of-roboski-survivor-attacked-by-armed-assailants.htm#.Uxw_19xpofQ.twitter
30. “In one year 341 military posts, 2000 new village guards, 821 kms of ‘security roads’,” Firatnews.com, May 9, 2014, http://en.firatajans.com/news/news/in-one-year-341-military-posts-2-000-new-village-guards-820-kms-of-security-roads.htm
31. “Two soldiers reported wounded in clashes in Dersim,” Firatnews.com, May 16, 2014, http://en.firatajans.com/news/news/two-soldiers-reported-wounded-in-clashes-in-dersim.htm
32. “Sirri Sakik speech at Turkey’s Parliament; English subtitles,” YouTube channel ‘Voice 4 Kurds’, pub Mar 19, 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pnhil-CG7sI
33. “Leyla Zana,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leyla_Zana
34. “The Struggle for Justice, Leyla Zana, a Symbol of Courage,” by Jiyar Gol, May 26, 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKPVtEj277k
35. “Leyla Zana takes the Parliamentary Oath in 1991,” YouTube channel ‘kurdishblogger’. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqImbOf0S9g
36. “Diyarbakir court sentences Turkey’s youngest mayor to over 4 years in jail,” Daily News, May 23, 2014, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/Default.aspx?pageID=238&nID=66113&NewsCatID=339
37. “PKK: Freedom fighters or terrorists?”  by Ismet G. Imset, American Kurdish Information Network, Dec 7, 1995, http://kurdistan.org/work/commentary/the-pkk-freedom-fighters-or-terrorists/
38. “Application from lawyers to meet Öcalan,” DIHA, May 8, 2014,http://www.diclehaber.com/en/news/content/view/400319?from=1050723136
39. “Turkey media crisis: Delegation flies out to challenge government over jailing of journalists,” Anna Bragga, PressGazette, Sept 11, 2013,http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/turkey-media-crisis-delegation-flies-out-challenge-government-over-jailing-journalists
40. “Kurdish show trial shames Turkey by Margaret Owen,” The Guardian, Nov 10, 2010, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/libertycentral/2010/nov/10/turkey-show-trial-of-kurds
41. “Harassment of Turkey’s media since January 2014,” Reporters without Borders, May 7, 2014, http://en.rsf.org/turquie-harassment-of-turkey-s-media-since-10-01-2014,45719.html
42. “The Mass Jailing of Turkish Secularists,” Michael van der Galien, Frontpage Mag, Aug 6, 2013, http://www.frontpagemag.com/2013/michael-van-der-galien/the-mass-jailing-of-turkish-secularists/
43. “Human Rights vs. U.S. Arms Sales to Turkey,” Kevin McKiernan, Jan 13, 2001, Boston Globe, http://www.commondreams.org/views01/0113-02.htm
44. “Turkey Destroys Kurdish Villages with U.S. Weapons,” Kevin McKiernan, March/April 1999, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, republished 2010 by Project Censored, http://www.projectcensored.org/5-turkey-destroys-kurdish-villages-with-us-weapons/
45. “Searchable database for international arms sales by country and year,” Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI),http://armstrade.sipri.org/armstrade/html/export_values.php
46.  “12 thousand policemen to Agri,” May 24, 2014, KurdishInfo.com, http://www.kurdishinfo.com/12-thousand-policemen-agri
47. “More AKP Psychological Warfare Against Kurdish Councils!” Hevallo, Mar 4, 2008, http://hevallo.blogspot.com/2011/03/more-akp-psychological-warfare-against.html