European Union correctly criticized about refugees’ deaths


Drowned three-year-old Syrian boy Aylan, dead on the Turkish coast

This photo shows three-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, a refugee from the war-destroyed town Kobani, dead on the Turkish coast. Aylan drowned this week, together with his mother, his brother and other Syrian refugees.

Again and again, on this blog there has been sharp well-deserved criticism for President Erdogan of Turkey.

However, even broken clocks indicate the right time twice a day.

Even politicians who are wrong nearly all the time may be right a few times.

Today, it’s Erdogan’s turn for that.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

European Union is partly responsible for death of each refugee

Today, 18:32

“Europe is making the Mediterranean a refugee grave. The EU by its policy is partly responsible for the death of all refugees losing their lives.” That is the harsh criticism by Turkish President Erdogan of the current refugee problem.

“In the Mediterranean not only refugees drowned, but also our humanity,” said Erdogan. His country has since 2011 accepted about one and a half million refugees from the Middle East. The EU is 5.5 times bigger than Turkey and is struggling this year with the reception of between half a million and a million refugees.

Britain: Ukip candidate sparks outrage after blaming Aylan Kurdi’s ‘greedy’ parents for his death: here.

By Markus Salzmann:

Thousands of refugees held at Budapest train station

3 September 2015

More than 3,000 refugees—the majority of them families with children—have been held at the Budapest East Train Station in miserable conditions since the Hungarian government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban blocked the access of refugees to the station.

Hundreds of refugees participated in a demonstration Wednesday demanding the right to continue their journey to Germany. They shouted slogans such as “freedom, freedom!” Jeering could be heard outside the station as angry refugees shouted at the hundreds of heavily armed police blocking the main entrance.

Since Tuesday, refugees have been camping outdoors since they are no longer permitted on the grounds of the station from which trains leave for Austria. A few found shelter in the neighboring subway station.

The hygienic conditions are disastrous. Only four portable toilets have been provided. The refugees have received no public assistance or accommodation. Help has come only from small organizations and private individuals who have distributed donated food and clothing and provided basic medical care. A reporter for the Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel called the situation a “fundamental violation of human rights.”

The clearing of refugees from the train station was abrupt and harsh. Departures from the station were completely halted. Then, after a few hours, the station was reopened to passengers, but refugees were no longer permitted to enter, even though many had already bought tickets.

“The police came and told the Syrians: the trains are open,” a refugee told the German television news program Tagesschau. “Then they all bought a ticket here, 200 euro per person. Then the police came back when they had blocked everything off and said: ‘The trains are closed for you.’ We have not gotten our money back.”

The Hungarian police had unexpectedly allowed refugees to travel on Monday. The trains out of Hungary were stopped at the Austrian border, however, and the passengers had to wait for hours in extreme heat. According to the Austrian police, refugees who had already been registered in Hungary had to return to Budapest. The others would be permitted to seek asylum in Austria. The “aid” promised by the government for refugees in Budapest is contemptible given the situation. A tent camp is supposed to be erected beside the station within two weeks. With a capacity of between 800 and 1,000, it will barely accommodate a third of the immigrants.

Though EU countries such as Germany shed crocodile tears over the brutal treatment of refugees by Eastern European governments, the measures being carried out have their full support.

The heavy influx of refugees from Syria and other countries that have been devastated by the military and political interventions of the Western powers has led to the breakdown of the so-called Dublin Rule, which requires refugees to register and be processed in the first EU member country they enter. The authorities in Greece and Hungary are unable and unwilling to deal with the large numbers passing through their territories.

Berlin, in particular, has exerted pressure on the government in Budapest to prevent the refugees from traveling. As asylum seekers left for Germany on Monday, a spokesman for the German Interior Ministry declared, “Germany has not suspended Dublin.” In other words, the refugees should stay in Hungary and not seek better conditions by travelling to the north and west.

One can assume that the German government is frantically working behind the scenes to ensure that the Hungarian government prevents the onward journey of more refugees. This may well be the reason why the Orban government cordoned off the train station again.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is also exerting pressure on Orban to stop the stream of refugees. The two will meet on Thursday in Brussels to discuss the crisis.

In spite of the dramatic scenes unfolding in the Hungarian capital, Orban announced that he would treat refugees more harshly in the future. Chancellery Minister János Lázár said the police would be mobilized at the border and equipped with water cannon and rubber bullets. The security forces would not actively prevent refugees at the border from entering the country. “But the time for that will arrive,” Lázár declared.

Lázár confirmed media reports that the right-wing government in Budapest wants to deploy the army against refugees. The parliament will create the necessary legal framework in the coming week, he said. The government plans to use 13 new emergency laws to reduce the flow of refugees, starting in the middle of the month.

Hungary has erected a 175-kilometer fence on its border with Serbia. Most refugees travel through Greece and the Balkans until they get to Serbia. From there, they cross into the so-called Schengen area, the contiguous territory of 28 EU member-states where there is free movement across internal borders.

According to press reports from the German federal police, between 750 and 800 refugees a day travel to Hungary by land from Greece, through Macedonia and Serbia. The refugees originate predominantly in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.

At a meeting of the Visegrád countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia), Orban and his counterparts discussed plans for treating refugees even more harshly.

Twenty-five years after the collapse of Stalinism in these countries, the false promises of democracy and freedom have been replaced by chauvinism and police repression. Capitalism is revealing its ugly and inhuman face. Refugees who have been on the road for weeks are being greeted by the authorities with hostility and rejection.

Czech Republic Finance Minister and Vice President Andrej Babis is demanding a NATO deployment to keep refugees out of the EU. “We must close the Schengen area from the outside,” the millionaire businessman and founder of the right-wing liberal party ANO declared Tuesday on Czech radio. The flow of refugees is “the biggest danger for Europe,” he added.

Czech President Miloš Zeman echoed these remarks and accused countries such as Greece and Italy of a “lack of will power” when it came to protecting their borders. At the beginning of August, he said in an interview: “No one has invited refugees here.” He added that his country would rather take Ukrainian refugees because they “integrate themselves better in society than Muslims.” Social Democratic Minister President Bohuslav Sobotka spoke against the required quotas of refugees announced by the EU.

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico denounced the refugees and said it was impossible to determine for certain that there were no terrorists among them. Before that, Ivan Metik, spokesperson of the Slovakian Interior Ministry, said that Slovakia would accept only Christian Syrians.

Polish President Andrzej Duda spoke in favor of closing the border to refugees, adding that Poland wanted to take only Ukrainian refugees. “Other European countries should take that into account when we talk about readiness to help,” Duda told the German Bild newspaper.

The right-wing Polish government has already explained to Brussels that it is willing to accept only 2,000 refugees from Syria and Eritrea. Even this token number has prompted harsh criticism from Duda’s national conservative camp, which refers to the “Islamization” of Poland.

The Balkan countries Macedonia and Serbia, which are not EU member-states, are likewise taking harsh action against refugees. Macedonia blocked the border with barbed wire for two days and fired tear gas and rubber bullets on refugees.

The xenophobic attitude of the Eastern European governments, which are highly unstable and lack significant public support, is encouraging attacks on refugees by the most right-wing forces in the region.

On August 27, the fascist “64 Burgkomitate” held a demonstration in front of the Budapest East train station. Ahead of the demonstration, a group of neo-Nazis attacked several refugees who were waiting for their train. When the police arrived, they left the attackers alone and detained the refugees, including children, and took them to provisional refugee lodgings.

Refugees and Hungarian supporters at the train station in Szeged faced a similar situation when refugees were attacked by fascist gangs with close ties to the ultranationalist Jobbik party. Here as well, the police did not intervene. Various groups publicly and repeatedly boasted on social networks that they were hunting refugees on the Serbian border and “maintaining order.”

In Slovakia, the government campaign against refugees has led to riots. On Tuesday, several hundred right-wing extremists from the Our Slovakia party of Marian Kotleba demonstrated in the village of Gabcikovo, where some 500 refugees have been taken.

Meanwhile, today a train departed from Budapest station. Refugee passengers thought that at last their train tickets to Austria and Germany would bring them to Austria and Germany indeed. The xenophobic Hungarian government had a cruel surprise for them: it made the train stop at a prison camp in Bicske town.

Hungarian police dragging refugee family off railway track

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Refugees lie down out of despair on rails at Hungarian camp

Today, 17:10

In protest, a man pulls his family on the train rails at the station where the train stopped. “I will not go,” he shouts. “I had to leave my country. I left everything. I’m staying here on this track.”

Many of the refugees who just arrived on a train from Budapest do not know how to cope. They were on their way to Sopron, near the Austrian border, but were stopped in the Hungarian town of Bicske, where there is a refugee camp.

Policemen pull the man harshly off the track. They have been trying to catch all afternoon refugees from the trains, but these resist strongly. Before this man and his family already dozens of others lied down on the rails.

‘No camp’

The train left at the end of the morning from Budapest. It is the first train since Tuesday transporting migrants. The vehicle seemed on the way to the Austrian border, but stopped already after 40 kilometers.

In Bicske, the Hungarian police has by now sent all journalists away from the station. The refugees are still not giving in. …

Meanwhile refugees bang on the windows of the train. “No camp, no camp!” they cry.

UPDATE 3 September, 22:52, NOS TV: Refugees in three trains are now surrounded by police at Bicske.

By Peter Schwarz in Germany:

German chancellor feigns sympathy for refugees

3 September 2015

Merkel has finally found the right words,” “Merkel’s words are encouraging,” and “Suddenly chancellor for refugees” read the headlines on the traditional summer press conference given Monday in Berlin by Chancellor Angela Merkel. The press was enraptured by Merkel’s references to “human dignity” and the “incredible suffering” of refugees, her description of the refugee problem as a “national task that affects everybody,” and her threat to confront violent xenophobes with “the full force of law.”

In fact, the policy of the German government has not changed. It continues to be characterised by a brutal disregard for refugees fleeing for their lives from the war zones in the Middle East and Africa.

For months, Merkel remained silent on the fate of refugees and the series of arson attacks on refugee shelters in Germany. As recently as mid-July, a video went viral showing Merkel in her typically bureaucratic manner reducing a Palestinian student to tears by telling her that she still faced deportation despite her excellent academic performance.

Merkel has adopted a different tone in recent days basically for two reasons.

First, she completely misjudged the mood of the population. Despite determined efforts, in particular by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Saxony and the Christian Social Union (CSU) in Bavaria, the government has failed to incite xenophobic sentiments on a large scale. Refugees have been met with a wave of solidarity, which intensified after the recent series of arson attacks and neo-Nazi demonstrations in front of refugee centres. Many people instinctively realise that the refugees are victims of a policy that is also a threat to themselves.

Merkel’s cynical expressions of compassion are aimed at absorbing such sentiments. The pastor’s daughter from East Germany is adept at such gestures. She owes her stunning political ascent not to any firmly held beliefs, but rather to her ability to detect and adapt to the prevailing trend—only to steer it in a reactionary direction.

Second, even if it sought to do so, the government could not immediately curb the influx of refugees. The Dublin Rule that for years kept asylum seekers away from Germany’s borders has virtually collapsed. The agreement, which came into force in 1997, stipulates that refugees must seek asylum and remain in the first European Union (EU) country they enter. The agreement has proved extremely beneficial for Germany, which has no external borders with the regions from which most of the refugees come.

The massive influx of refugees from Syria and other countries that have been ruined as a result of the military and political intervention of the Western powers has overwhelmed the Dublin agreement. Refugees are either prevented from crossing borders by means of brute state force, or handed on as soon as possible to the next country.

This begins on the Greek islands, where fugitives, having crossed the Aegean Sea, are housed under unspeakable conditions, and continues at the borders of Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary.

The Hungarian government has sealed off its border with Serbia with a fence and is considering the use of the military. The main railway station of Budapest was temporarily blocked and then cleared of refugees by the police. On Monday, thousands of desperate refugees were able to board packed trains before the station was cordoned off again. The trains were stopped again at the Austrian border, ostensibly for security reasons. Finally, Austria organised special trains to transport some of the refugees to Germany.

Previously, the Dublin Rule kept refugees out of Germany. Now, it is doing the opposite. There is no country to which the German government can pass on the refugees.

In addition, many EU countries, especially Greece, have been so impoverished by the austerity policies imposed by Berlin that many refugees have concluded that better opportunities await them in Germany. Merkel was cynical enough to cite this as proof that “the world sees Germany as a land of hope and opportunity.” She added, with a nod to Germany’s past, “This really was not always the case.”

If one looks at Merkel’s statements to the press more carefully, it becomes clear that she is trying to buy time. She wants to impose her conditions on the other EU member states to remove refugees to the fringes of the EU and—under the pretext of combatting the roots of the refugee problem—prepare new wars and military interventions in Africa and the Middle East.

She has insisted that other European countries, and eastern European countries in particular, take in more refugees. “Europe as a whole needs to move,” she declared. The EU as a whole would be damaged, she said, if Europe failed to address the refugee issue. She announced that, together with France, she will push for the rapid erection of registration centres in Greece and Italy.

In Brussels, EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who works closely with Merkel, wrote a letter to all EU member governments threatening them with fines if they failed to comply with the Dublin procedure. On Thursday, Juncker will admonish Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán personally in Brussels.

In Germany itself, Merkel announced, the processing of asylum applications is to be accelerated, so that rejected applicants can be deported quickly. Refugees will be compelled to remain in prison camp-like reception centres until their applications are processed. Only in the event of acceptance will they be transferred to accommodation in the municipalities.

By September 24, the government plans to present a programme that will significantly lower the standards for accommodation of refugees under the pretext of reducing bureaucratic hurdles. For example, the regulations for fire and pollution control are to be watered down.

Merkel promised that the federal government would support the states and municipalities with “billions” to bear the costs of accommodation and management of refugees. She did not specify an exact amount. However, it is assumed that the sum will be well below the €5 billion Finance Minister Schäuble is due to rake in this year due to increased tax returns.

In the media, there is a growing chorus demanding that the refugee crisis be fought at its root—i.e., via military intervention in those countries already destroyed by previous Western military actions.

On Monday, Richard Herzinger thundered in Die Welt against the “conspiracy theory” that “with its aggressive intervention, especially in the Middle East, the West created the bloody chaos that has forced millions of people to flee.” He continued: “Not the intervention of the West, but its shameful retreat has detonated the region…. The current crisis reminds the West, and particularly Europe, to undertake not less, but more global interventionism.”

‘Pentagon helping ISIS against Kurds’


This video says about itself:

The Kurds Forging A New Nation In Syria

20 November 2014

Secret Revolution: Out of the chaos of Syria’s civil war, Kurdish leftists have forged a mini-state run on communal lines.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Patrick Cockburn

Sunday 30 August 2015

Turkey duped the US, and Isis reaps rewards

The real losers are the Kurds, the only force to have effectively resisted the jihadis in Syria

The disastrous miscalculation made by the United States in signing a military agreement with Turkey at the expense of the Kurds becomes daily more apparent. In return for the use of Incirlik Air Base just north of the Syrian border, the US betrayed the Syrian Kurds who have so far been its most effective ally against Islamic State (Isis, also known as Daesh). In return for this deal signed on 22 July, the US got greater military cooperation from Turkey, but it swiftly emerged that Ankara’s real target was the Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Action against Isis was almost an afterthought, and it was hit by only three Turkish airstrikes, compared to 300 against the bases of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

President Barack Obama has assembled a grand coalition of 60 states, supposedly committed to combating Isis, but the only forces on the ground to win successive victories against the jihadis over the past year are the ruling Syrian-Kurdish Party (PYD) and its People’s Protection Units (YPG). Supported by US air power, the YPG heroically defeated the Isis attempt to capture the border city of Kobani during a four-and-a-half month siege that ended in January, and seized the Isis crossing point into Turkey at Tal Abyad in June.

The advance of the Syrian Kurds, who now hold half of the 550-mile Syrian-Kurdish border, was the main external reason why Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered the US closer cooperation, including the use of Incirlik, which had previously been denied. The domestic impulse for an offensive by the Turkish state against the Kurds also took place in June when the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) won 13 per cent of the vote in the Turkish general election, denying Mr Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) a majority for the first time since 2002. By strongly playing the Turkish nationalist and anti-Kurdish card, Mr Erdogan hopes to win back that majority in a second election on 1 November.

There are signs of a growing understanding in Washington that the US was duped by the Turks, or at best its negotiators deceived themselves when they agreed their bargain with Ankara. Senior US military officers are anonymously protesting in the US media they did not know that Turkey was pretending to be going after Isis when in practice it was planning an offensive against its 18 million-strong Kurdish minority.

Further evidence of misgivings in Washington came last week with an article in The New York Times entitled “America’s Dangerous Bargain with Turkey” by Eric S Edelman, former US ambassador to Turkey and under-secretary for defence policy, who is normally regarded as a neo-con of good standing. He accuses Mr Erdogan of unleashing “a new wave of repression aimed at Kurds in Turkey, which risks plunging the country into civil war” and he goes on to suggest that this might help the AKP win back its majority, but will certainly undermine the fight against Isis. He says: “By disrupting logistics and communications between the PKK in Iraq and the PYD in Syria, Turkey is weakening the most effective ground force fighting the Islamic State in Syria: the Kurds.”

In fact, there is growing evidence that the Turkish government has gone even further than that in weakening US allies opposing Isis in Syria, Arab as well as Kurd. For several years the US has been trying to build up a moderate force of Syrian rebels who are able to fight both Isis and the Syrian government in Damascus. The CIA-run initiative has not been going well because the Syrian military opposition these days is almost entirely dominated by Isis, which holds half Syria, the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, and the equally sectarian Sunni Ahrar al-Sham.

Read more: Modern-day Monuments Men take on Isis
Site fighting Isis run by British ex-jihadi too scared to go public
Isis militants routed from village in Northern Iraq

But in July, the US plan to create such a moderate force was humiliatingly knocked on the head when Jabhat al-Nusra attacked and kidnapped many of this US-trained force as they entered Syria from Turkey. It now seems certain that Nusra had been tipped off by Turkish intelligence about the movements of the US-backed unit known as “Division 30”. Turkey apparently did this because it does not want the US to have its own surrogate in Syria. According to an investigation by Mitchell Prothero of the McClatchy news organisation, citing many Syrian sources in Turkey, the Turkish motive was to destroy the US-run movement, which was intended to number 15,000 fighters targeting Isis. Its disintegration would leave the US with no alternative but to train Turkish-sponsored rebel groups whose primary aim is to topple Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. The article quotes a Syrian rebel commander in the Turkish city of Sanliurfa, 30 miles north of the Syrian border, as saying that the Turks “don’t want anything bad to happen to their allies – Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham – along the border, and they know that both the Americans and the Syrian people will eventually recognise that there’s no difference between groups such as Nusra, Ahrar and Daesh.”

How does Isis itself assess the new US-Turkish accord? Its fighters may find it more difficult to cross the Syrian-Turkish border, though even this is uncertain. But it will be relieved that its most effective enemy in Syria, the PYD, will in future be restrained by Turkish pressure. Its PKK parent organisation is coming under sustained attack from Turkish forces in south-east Turkey and in the Qandil Mountains of Iraq.

The destruction of one of the most famous temples at Palmyra by Isis last week, and the decapitation of the site’s most famous archaeologist a few days earlier, are a show of strength and acts of defiance very much in the tradition of the Islamic State. The aim is to dominate the news agenda, which can easily be done by some spectacular atrocity, and thereby say, in effect, “you may hate what you are seeing, but there is nothing you can do to stop it”.

And this is demonstrably the case not just in Syria but in Iraq. Isis captured Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province in Iraq on 17 May and Palmyra five days later on 22 May. In neither case has there been an effective counter-attack. Isis is still winning victories where it counts, and faces no real threat to its existence.

The US campaign against Isis is failing and the US-Turkish deal will not reverse that failure and may make it more complete. Why did US negotiators allow themselves to be deceived, if that is what happened. No doubt the US air force was over-eager for the use of Incirlik so it would not have to fly its planes from Jordan, Bahrain or carriers in the Gulf.

But there is a deeper reason for America’s inability to confront Isis successfully. Ever since 9/11, the US has wanted to combat al-Qaeda-type movements, but without disturbing its close relations with Sunni states such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the Gulf monarchies. But it is these same allies that have fostered, tolerated or failed to act against the al-Qaeda clones, which explains their continuing success.

‘Government, stop your war’, Turkish lieutenant colonel says


Dutch NOS TV writes (translated) about this 23 August 2015 video from Turkey:

Grieving Turkish soldier angry about Erdogan’s war

Today, 06:56

By correspondent Lucas Waagmeester

Lieutenant Colonel Mehmet Alkan falls down on the coffin of his brother. The Turkish flag is draped over it. “Ali, Ali,” he cries weeping. Then he raises himself up and starts a speech against the Turkish government.

“Who killed him? Those who first talked about a peace process, and now only talk about war!” He is referring to the Turkish President Erdogan, who at first started the peace process with the Kurdish terrorist organization PKK.

‘Terrorist’ according to the Turkish government, and according to NATO and Australian governmental allies of that government. However, the PKK and their Syrdian Kurdish allies are the only effective force against ISIS terrorism.

Now that it is politically more convenient, Erdogan chooses war against the same PKK.

It happened Sunday at the funeral of Ali Alkan, but the images are still repeated on Turkish television. In front of dozens of cameras Ali’s brother Mehmet uncovered the growing discord in Turkey: is the fight against the PKK a genuine “war against terror“? Or is it a sleazy political ploy by Erdogan?

Overtly

Erdogan’s AK party lost the elections in June for the first time in twelve years, they lost their absolute majority. Coalition negotiations failed and this week, Erdogan announced there would be new elections in November.

His opponents say that after he lost the elections he has consciously sought conflict with the PKK again. It would be an attempt in the run-up to the elections to turn the political tide.

But since one month ago, the conflict between the PKK and the Turkish army has flared up again, more often overt criticism is heard. More than sixty Turkish soldiers and police officers have been killed in attacks by the PKK. At their funerals sometimes the government gets unusually strong criticism.

‘They say they would like to be martyrs, but they have palaces with thirty bodyguards and armoured cars’. Mehmet Alkan, brother of killed soldier

Terrorist

When Ali Alkan was buried on Sunday, it was no different. Two MPs of the AK party, who during the ceremony wanted to pay their last respects to the victim were turned away by the attendees. “Villains, you have no business here, go away.”

Hanging over the coffin of his brother Mehmet Alkan expressed his anger over government members who previously said they would like to die in the war on terror. “They say they want to be martyrs, but they hang around in palaces with thirty bodyguards and armoured cars.”

Booed

In government media there is nothing about the incident at the funeral. But on social media supporters of the AK Party went on a rampage. Alkan was called a PKK sympathizer, a terrorist and an Alevi. The latter is a religious movement in Turkey, but it is commonly used among the Sunni supporters of the AK party as an insult.

Twitter users responded with #YarbayMehmetYalnızDeğildir: Lieutenant Colonel Mehmet is not alone. Earlier in the week, the Health Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister were booed while attending the funeral of a dead soldier.

Stunt

The mood in Turkey about the termination of the peace process with the PKK is crucial for Erdogan. He hopes in November to get an absolute majority for the AK party again. When a country is at war, that may possibly benefit those in power.

But if a majority of Turks see the new ‘war on terror’ as a political stunt, then the election may as well go wrong for Erdogan. The anger of Mehmet Alkan is an omen, the President has not won yet.

Turkish media reported yesterday evening that the army is currently investigating whether disciplinary action against Mehmet Alkan should be taken.

Chukar partridge headbutts Turkish President Erdogan


This is a 14 August 2015 video from Turkey. It shows Turkish President Erdogan at the opening ceremony of a mosque. Part of that ceremony was a cage with pigeons and a chukar partidge inside.

The idea was that Erdogan would set the birds free ceremonially. However, the birds had other ideas.

Most Turkish people don’t really like Erdogan, as the recent elections showed. Polls about the next elections, on 1 November 2015, say so far that even less Turkish people will like Erdogan then. The chukar partridge apparently wanted to show that it did not intend to vote for Erdogan either …

Chukar partridge headbutts Turkish President Erdogan

From Mashable.com (with more photos there):

Renegade partridge headbutts Turkish president at mosque opening

By Sam Hayson

17 August 2015

LONDON — Whenever animals are used in shows, speeches, or — as in this case — to mark the inauguration of a mosque, there’s the potential for something to go badly wrong.

This is something Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discovered Friday, when he attempted to release a group of birds to mark the opening of a new mosque in Rize – and ended up having a head-on collision with a partridge.

Things got off to a shaky start when the birds proved reluctant to take part in the ceremony.

The President tried to use an umbrella for encouragement, but didn’t have much luck.

Suddenly, disaster struck.

The bird proceeded to scramble over Erdogan’s head while photographers captured the moment.

Turkish government, more war and oppression


This video from Turkey says about itself:

Turkey: thousands gather for peace rally in Istanbul

9 August 2015

Thousands of people have attended a peace rally in the centre of Istanbul.

The event was organised by the Peace Bloc, a group of around 80 Turkish civil society organisations, to mark the killing of 32 aid workers in a suicide bombing in the town of Suruç – and to call for peace in their name.

Those gathered heard a warning about a return to the 1990s era of deadly fighting between the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, and the Turkish Army.

“People want peace,” Selahattin Demirtaş, the Chair of the People’s Democratic Party said.

READ MORE here.

By Halil Celik and Jean Shaoul:

Turkish government steps up repression of political opponents

Washington launched the offensive under the pretext of fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), its former ally, which has seized vast swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, cutting across US interests in the region.

After months of equivocation, Ankara finally allowed the US to use its Incirlik airbase in southeastern Turkey to bomb ISIS positions. In return, Washington agreed to the establishment of a “safe zone” in northwestern Syria for “moderate Syrian opposition forces,” backed up by Turkish and American air power. This is a flagrant violation of Syria’s territorial integrity and constitutes an act of war that is almost certain to widen the conflagration.

It also gave the nod to Ankara’s real target, the PKK in northern Iraq and its allies, the PYD/YPG in Syria, which have carved out autonomous areas along the border with Turkey. Turkey’s purpose in establishing a “safe zone” is to prevent the formation of a contiguous Kurdish controlled area along the border that could lead to an autonomous Kurdish territory in Turkey as well.

Washington gave its agreement despite the fact that the Kurdish peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, the PYD/YPG and the PKK have been the most effective fighting forces against ISIS. But this evidently was a price worth paying to have Turkey on board.

Ankara joined the US-led coalition following the July 20 suicide bombing in the predominantly Kurdish border town of Suruç, which killed 31 activists, and injured many more people, who had planned to travel to the Syrian city of Kobane and assist in its reconstruction. While the government attributed the bombing to ISIS, the Kurds accused the government of organising a false flag operation to provide the pretext for military action in Syria. The PKK accused the government of doing nothing to prevent the bombing or protect the people.

Ankara’s broader political objective is to open up the Incirlik airbase to other air forces from France, Britain, Belgium and Canada, and thus get NATO rather than just US backing for its war drive against Syria. At the same time, Washington is pressing for Turkey to open up Malatya and Diyarbakir air bases to operational flights.

Turkish forces have made a show of bombing ISIS targets. However, they have reserved their heaviest firepower for airstrikes against PKK positions in northern Iraq, in an effort to get the KRG to expel the PKK.

Yesterday, Idris Baluken, the deputy parliamentary group chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), accused the government of committing a war crime. He claimed that an Interior Ministry official had told him that six fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the military wing of Syria’s Democratic Union Party (PYD), had been handed over to Ahrar Al Sham, a coalition of Islamist militias that includes the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Nusra Front.

While praising Ankara’s active participation in the anti-ISIS coalition, Turkey’s allies are nevertheless concerned that the Turkish offensive in northern Iraq will endanger the effectiveness of the US-led coalition and stoke up the already tense situation in Turkey.

The launching of war on two fronts testifies to the determination of Erdogan and the AKP to suppress the working class and hold on to power on behalf of the financial and corporate elite at all costs. War abroad, coupled with the renewed civil war at home, serves to deflect the mounting anger over social, economic and political issues, sow divisions within the Turkish working class, and create the conditions for an even more authoritarian form of rule.

Over the last few days, more than 1,600 people have been arrested, mostly PKK members, ISIS supporters and members of the DHKP-C, but also some trade unionists and left-wing activists. Many Islamists have since been released.

The police have broken up peaceful anti-war demonstrations with the utmost violence, while the authorities blocked more than 90 news websites on August 3, including the mainstream Evrensel and Ozgur Gundem. The only news media widely available are those that toe the government line. To step outside the boundaries of what the government deems acceptable means imprisonment.

The AKP is trying to close down the HDP under the mantra of “fighting terrorism.” One of its co-leaders, Selahattin Demirtas, now faces a judicial investigation over his support for last October’s protests against the government’s aid to Islamists fighting the Syrian Kurds in Kobane. Supporters of the opposition Gulenist movement founded by US exile Fethullah Gulen, former allies of the AKP, are also being targeted for their support of investigations into leading AKP figures for corruption.

The reckless turn to war and authoritarianism, after several years of covert support for Islamist militias in Syria, took place within weeks of the June 7 elections in which the HDP, the new pro-Kurdish Party, won 13 percent of the vote. The result deprived the AKP of its majority and halted Erdogan’s move to amend the constitution in favour of an executive presidency.

Acting Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has until August 23 to form a coalition government. Should he fail to do so, either with the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) or the fascistic Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), new elections must be held, probably in November.

Now, rather than form an unstable coalition government, it would appear that Erdogan and the AKP have deliberately stoked the conditions that will enable him to suppress all opposition and emasculate or outlaw the HDP in order to achieve a majority in new elections.

Turkish government fights WordPress and Kurds, not ISIS


This video from the USA says about itself:

16 November 2014

Jon Stewart: Turkey: Erdogan helps ISIS at Kobane.

From the Peace in Kurdistan campaign in Britain:

Kurdish message of peace stifled by Turkish censorship

Monday 10th August 2015

The Peace in Kurdistan campaign explains how President Erdogan is more interested in trampling the Kurds than fighting Isis

DAYS ago, the Peace in Kurdistan Campaign’s website was blocked to users in Turkey in the latest government crackdown on Kurdish and pro-Kurdish news and media.

As part of a broad attack on internet freedom, 77 million websites hosted by WordPress.com were temporarily blocked under Turkey’s Internet Law 5651. After WordPress challenged the ban, the Turkish government lifted restrictions on the majority of sites, leaving just five — which included peaceinkurdistancampaign.com and four other pro-Kurdish sites — inaccessible inside Turkey. WordPress’s appeal to the courts regarding our site and the others is still pending.

The move came as the Turkish air force’s heavy bombardment of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) sites in northern Iraq and Rojava, the first such strike since 2011, threatened to put a definitive end to the more than two-year peace process.

Using their participation in the US-led anti-Islamic State (Isis) campaign as cover, the Turkish government has taken the opportunity to wage war not against Isis at all, but against the Kurdish movement, human rights defenders, activists and the peace process by breaking the 10th ceasefire called by the PKK in the last 15 years.

What is especially galling for the Kurds is that this new clampdown on freedom of expression, combined with the renewed offensive against the PKK, comes in the wake of the Suruc massacre of young Kurds who were preparing to take part in a voluntary mission to aid the people of Kobane — the city that became a symbol of Kurdish resistance to Isis.

The massacre, carried out by an Isis-inspired suicide bomber, left 33 youths dead and hundreds more badly injured. The Kurds immediately blamed Turkey because of its complicity in aiding Isis — assistance which has been well documented.

However, Turkey’s AKP government has quite cynically used the outburst of popular anger at the massacre as a pretext for launching its attacks on the Kurdish movement, both within the country and across the border, by systematic bombing of PKK camps in Iraq. Hundreds have since been killed and maimed by indiscriminate bombing, including many civilians, according to reports.

At the same time, the Turkish authorities, steered by an increasingly authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have begun attempts to lift political immunity from pro-Kurdish HDP parliamentarians, which will pave the way for their prosecution and possible disqualification from standing for re-election in the event of the president calling a snap general election. This is likely if coalition negotiations fail.

The latest wave of censorship included a temporary ban on Twitter, a platform used by nearly a third of the country’s population. In total 96 sites have been blocked on the grounds they are publishing “terrorist” propaganda. The vast majority of these were pro-Kurdish or leftist political sites.

This duplicity was mirrored in police raids and air strikes that took place the same week, ostensibly part of Turkey’s fight against Isis. Of the 1,050 arrests that took place across Turkey in nationwide “anti-terrorism operations” last week, 137 were alleged Isis sympathisers while 847 were Kurdish activists suspected of links to the PKK. Similarly, on the day the supposed anti-Isis air strikes began, just one sortie was sent to attack Isis targets, while 75 F-16s and F-4E 2020s dropped around 300 smart bombs onto 400 PKK targets in just two days.

For those us familiar with Turkey’s repressive, vague and draconian anti-terrorism legislation, these acts come as little surprise. Over the years we have campaigned for journalists imprisoned for speaking in support of Kurdish rights and for the reinstatement of media outlets after they were repeatedly banned or taken off the air. One such campaign was for the Kurdish-language broadcaster Roj TV, which, although based in Denmark, was forced from the air after the Turkish government agreed to support former Danish PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s appointment as Nato secretary-general.

We are well aware that we too are working under the suspicious gaze of an integrated surveillance system with global reach. Our peaceful activities that advocate for the inviolable rights of Kurdish people and a peaceful, negotiated resolution to the conflict are still seen as a threat.

For more information see peaceinkurdistancampaign.com.

Under the guise of fighting ISIS, Turkey’s president is re-igniting a bloody war with the Kurds for his own political purposes: here.