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Kurdistance: The State of Kurdish Activism

Some may be surprised to hear that coverage of the Kurdish blogosphere has been appearing on Global Voices for longer than coverage of the Turkish blogospheres. Whereas the Turkish blogosphere has been expanding, the Kurdish blogosphere (at least the English language end) is slowly disappearing. Today's article will focus on the current state of Kurdish activism (as blogging can be considered as a primary element of that) and a new initiative that is designed to help extend the Kurdish voice.

The decline in Kurdish voices is difficult to explain, but a large part of the lessening of blogging could be attributed to Kurdish websites being under attack from various hackers. IraqiKurdistan has been hacked by a character who names himself the “dangerous ghost ne mutlu turkum diyene”. And while I have not been able to confirm this, I suspect that From Holland to Kurdistan has switched their blog to invited readers only because of a similar reason, as their site (and their Dutch language news-site) has had problems from hackers in the past. Not only are hackers a danger to Kurdish blogging but also the governments that their writers are operating out of. A new website The Arab Network for Kurdish Rights is a new organization that seeks to preserve the Kurdish voice online. They are in the process of setting up a petition, which should be ready by the end of the month. Until that time, here is a bit from their opening post:

Kurdish Rights is a project by independent students who wish to fight for the rights of Kurds within the Middle East. In this website, we aim to empower Kurdish bloggers and administrators to keep writing despite the fact that an alarming number of Kurdish blogs and sites get blocked by many Middle Eastern countries, from Iran to Turkey to Bahrain to Syria to God knows where else. Traditionally, Kurds were never allowed a voice in mainstream media outlets within our region. Now we as students and youth activists are standing up to say “enough!”

New technology is making it increasingly easier for us to hear the voices of those who weren’t given a voice throughout our history; and we will NOT allow this powerful tool to be taken away from fellow Kurdish bloggers and authors online.

The mission statement of the site Hevallo addresses the lack of Kurdish voices on the web:

It is shocking at a time when the psychological warfare and criminalisation of the Kurdish struggle in Turkey is at its highest, that there are not a lot of sites/blogs in English, that give uptodate information from a Kurdish perspective and challenge the label of ‘terrorist’ and ‘terror’ that is so readily accepted by the Western governments. Hevallo tries to do that.

And of course, mentioned in this column several times is the site SaveRojTV that actively works for the preservation of its Kurdish broadcasting rights.

On the issue of Kurdish activism, a death of a well-known Kurdish activist Orhan Dogan has sent the Kurds in Turkish Kurdistan into a state of deep grief. Both Rasti and Hevallo have announcements of the untimely death and information from the funeral.

I would like to close today with a small excerpt for a wonderful write-up that Zaneti did on another Kurdish activist and associate of Orhan Dogan, Leyla Zana:

In all corners of the world, there are people of courage who live their lives determined to do the right thing for themselves and for those around them. These are people who are admired for their actions. They are never accredited timely but the righteous hope that they will be eventually recognized for their good will. In the predominantly Kurdish region of Turkey (see Northern Kurdistan), Leyla Zana has been living a life of constant struggle, determined to attain the rights of her people and in search of democracy in a place where such an idea seems unreachable. One may find it ironic that she has been accused of separatism and hate when she only speaks of peace and democracy. However, it is not irony but the lack of democracy where she lives that effectuates hate in circumstances where individuals like her are forced to strive for peace and are punished for it.

In Turkey, Kurds are subjected to terror and barbaric torture and a policy of forceful assimilation. Everything from social and political inequalities exists for the Kurds and the region in which they live is economically undeveloped. Although much of the world has claimed that the country represents a democracy in the Middle East, one can easily argue that this is far from the truth. Kurds who have spoken up about the injustices have been punished, labeled as threatening the Turkish state, and imprisoned. Leyla Zana’s story is symbolic to all those who have tried to take the peaceful road and have been penalized for doing so.

9 comments

  • Don Miner

    The Kurdish voices may very well be under clandestine attack by back-room hacks, and “deep” authorities. Those who are able to say “that’s enough”, please do so, on behalf of those who are not yet in a position to speak out freely.
    And let’s challenge the labels of “terrorist” and “terror”. Also, challenge the label of “criminalization” and “criminal”, when the wrong people are silenced and subjected to prison.
    Also, challenge the label of “excuses”, when separatism and PKK influence are used as an excuse to silence practical voices and good ideas.
    Challenge the label of “separatism”, when you are not voicing separatism, simply basic human freedoms that should be universally accepted.
    Challenge the label of “democracy”, when the label does not apply to a country of oppressors.
    Challenge the label of “authority”, any authority that refuses to follow basic democratic, and human rights standards.
    Challenge the label of “turkishness”, when it does not apply to everyone.
    Challenge the label of “assimilation”, when it denies the very essence of self identity.
    Challenge the label of “economic progress”, when it leaves out a major portion of the population.
    Challenge the label of “military power”, when it does not subject itself to civilian authority.
    Challenge the label of “protector”, when they are demanding protection money from small businesses.
    Challenge the label of “teacher”, if you are not allowed open and appropriate discussions in class.
    Don’t just accept someone’s labels. Check their hearts and their souls, and their purpose, to see if the label fits them.
    You who are brave enough to raise questions, and those who are in a good position to raise questions, should do so, as freely and as often as possible. This should best be done peacefully, always, and according to accepted norms of a peaceful society. And do keep in mind that there are many good spirited voices that are still subject to local and national “oppressive” laws. Many of these voices are still in a difficult position, and have to be very careful what they say and do.
    For any of us who can raise our voices, now is really a good time to get people’s attention. Just keep it simple, keep it clear (not confusing), keep it going steadily and keep it legal.
    We can really start by changing and challenging a few labels in Turkey. What is “terrorism”, who is “terrorizing who” and what is a “democracy”, and does the “democratic” label fit the one’s who say they are a democracy.

  • Deborah, good post. You talk about the English-language Kurdish blogs – do you have a sense of the state of Kurdish blogs being written in Kurdish (or other languages of the region)?

  • notKurdistan

    “One may find it ironic that she has been accused of separatism and hate when she only speaks of peace and democracy.”

    Yesterday she said “Turkey should be divided into ‘states’ and a ‘State of Kurdistan’ should be established” She also said Ocalan was their leader. Ocalan was convicted of terrorism and was the leader of PKK – which is recognized by the State Dept and EU as a terrorist organization.

    She only speaks of peace and democracy? Are you sure about that? What a joke.

  • can

    build a hero cult around a man who ordered his “freedom figting” guerillas to “clean” kurdistan of collobrating snakes(kurdish people who side with government). call yourself markist-lenininist comunist one day, change into a “nationalist freedom fighter” the other,claim that you want turks and kurds live peacefully(if this evil opressive turkish government lets you that is) then order suicide bombers to blow themselves at shopping malls& touristic areas(in 2007 mind you)

  • […] „Featured Article“ von Deborah Ann Dilley betrachtet die kurdische Blogszene – die, obwohl über sie auf Global Voices schon […]

  • […] Young bloggers from across the Middle East have joined forces to fight for the human rights of their Kurdish brethren: “Our first target is the media which is necessary for Kurds to voice their opinion, thus we are petitioning to unblock these voices, at least on the internet, our only media alternative against censorship and oppression.” A video showing many violent images of repression against Kurds as part of the campaign has been placed on YouTube, and a petition to stop media censorship against Kurds has been set up here.  (0) […]

  • “There is no connection between the recent incident [in Beytüşşebap] and the guerrillas.”
    ~ HPG Headquarters Command.

    The Turkish Army Is Responsible for the Beytüşşebap Massacre

    To the Press and Public:

    On the day before yesterday, in the district of Beytüşşebap, province of Şırnak, twelve persons, including seven Village Guards, died by the strafing of a minibus. For notice, those responsible are the Turkish army and the illegal military organization, JİTEM.

    Our freedom movement proclaimed a unilateral ceasefire one year ago on 1 October 2006. The Turkish military increased the intensity of its attacks for this proclamation and used all conceivable dirty methods of warfare.

    Within this year, the Turkish army carried out 483 military operations. Chemical weapons and cluster bombs were used, as well as the systematic burning of forests. It came to war crimes before the eyes of the world public.

    This war concept, which was intensified after the elections of 22 July, is a result of an agreement between the government party AKP and the military. Previously, it was already announced by military circles that the “extermination of terror” is attainable at the earliest by aiming at the “collaborators”. Thus almost the entire society was set as the target. For this reason, after that, the course of action which followed showed that this method was implemented.

    The dirty relations between institutions of the state, the army, and the government were uncovered by the the bomb attack on a bookshop in Şemdinli by the resident population. Those caught red-handed again implemented the network of gangs, JİTEM, informers, and the use of terror in Kurdistan, in order to intimidate the population. As strengthened Kontras were used in the form of Hizbullah in the mid-1990s, so today there are more organizations such as JİTEM and TİT.

    The purposes of this approach are to isolate the guerrillas and to damage the prestige of the PKK. In Beytüşşebap, Village Guards were deliberately selected as the target of attack in order to break the passivity of these circles and turn them against the Kurdish movement.

    In the consciousness of this reality, our HPG guerrillas put an emphasis on attacks against JİTEM in their latest actions. There is no connection between the recent incident [in Beytüşşebap] and the guerrillas. We call upon the public of Turkey to place no faith in this war propaganda which twists the facts. In addition, we continue to request the political parties, human rights associations, and democratic-civil-social organizations to examine the incident, and to find and to call to account its true authors.

    HPG Headquarters Command

  • Ioannis Evanthis

    A message to Hevallo:
    We read your comments and we like to have your views on current events. How people there feel about the Turkish insertion?

  • R. Gates

    It is far past time for the plight of the Kurds to come to the forefront of conversation among thinking peoples of the world. Had the right thing been done after WWI and the Kurds been granted their own country as was intended, we would not find the Kurds in the position of being branded “terrorists” today.

    It should open some peoples eyes to know that there are growing numbers of Americans who support the formation of a true new Republic of Kurdistan. It is time.

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