SchNEWS has received this report from a British Activist who recently
visited the Kurdish area of Turkey to observe the Kurdish Newroz
celebrations and to report on changes in the human rights situation
in the area since the start of the EU accession process.
The Newroz spring fire festival, which had been illegal until
2000, took place on 21 March just outside Diyarbakir, the cultural
capital of the Kurds in Turkey. The police stopped the coach before
we entered the event and our passport details were noted. Police
and military surrounded the event and had commandeered some nearby
This years celebration was the largest ever, with an estimated
one million people taking part in spite of the distance from the
city and a ban on all civil servants attending. Many people made
the journey on foot, others utilised whatever transport they could
find, overloading motorcycles, hanging off the backs of lorries,
with a few riding in on horseback. It was a display of unity, peaceful
defiance and pride, with real warmth shown to outsiders who wanted
to share it with them. There was much traditional dancing and people
displayed their red, yellow and green national colours, making endless
and enthusiastic peace signs, waving various Kurdish flags and placards
of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdish movement.
The police were moderate in their behaviour but the military sent
their jets screaming noisily overhead several times and helicopters
constantly circled the event.
We also visited the ancient city of Hasankeyf, which is at risk
from the new plan to build the Ilisu Dam. The Turkish government
has begun negotiations with the Austrian firm VA Tech to build the
dam. When complete the dam would not only flood Hasankeyf but also
forcibly displace 80,000 people.
Although physical brutality by the police and security forces has
been reduced, it has often been replaced by psychological torture
and increased harassment of Kurdish and human rights activists.
This takes the form of prosecutions, raids, threats, intimidation,
and bureaucratic obstacles. There had been an improvement in the
incidences of torture and violence in the preceding period but,
regrettably, despite the reduction in extra-judicial killings and
disappearances there had been recently a resumption of killings.
These included the state murder of 12-year-old Ugur Kaymaz and his
father. This atrocity has evoked fear and alarm that the country
was returning to the terror and lawlessness of the past.
The Diyarbakir branch of GOC-DER (Immigrants Association
for Social Cooperation and Culture) which works with internally
displaced people expressed concern over the new compensation laws
for those internally displaced during the conflict. The government
has refused the offer of EU assistance stating there was no problem
a point vehemently disputed by GOC-DER, who also reports
that the burning of villages by the state was continuing.
One of the most moving visits for me was to the Diyarbakir branch
of Mothers for Peace, an organisation made up of the mothers of
guerrillas who had died and now worked tirelessly to promote peace.
These indefatigable women, many of whom were in their seventies,
reported being severely harassed, their homes raided and they are
constantly stopped at police checkpoints and regularly beaten whilst
demonstrating. But as one of the women told us, We have nothing
left to lose, what else can they do to us?
The distinctive red, yellow and green of the Kurdish flag is banned
in Turkey, indeed at the height of the conflict in Batman, one of
the largest towns in the Kurdish area had the amber light of the
traffic lights removed as the red, amber and green was seen as symbolizing
the Kurdish struggle! The Turkish flag however, was flying everywhere,
some of the flags so big they covered the fronts of entire buildings.
Also written everywhere above the streets, in very large letters
was the slogan, How happy is he who calls himself a Turk?
- Maybe, but what about the Kurds?
* For further information or to get involved, please contact
the Kurdish Solidarity Committee: firstname.lastname@example.org
SchNEWS and Dissent! Brighton Benefit Show
With Fuck the Pain Aways DJ Wanker and A-Dam
Wednesday 11th May, 10pm-3am
Volks Tavern, Madeira Drive, Brighton
Crap Arrest of the Week
For bringing art to the brasses!!!
Naughty interventionist artist Jo Furlong has been
bound over to keep the peace for six months for the heinous crime
of attaching small brass plaques to seven benches along the Mumbles
seafront last September. The plaques had inscriptions such as For
Miriam, whom I should have married, Dedicated to Dafydd,
who was conceived here in May and Coffa da amdano Angharad,
a wneaeth byth eistedd yn llonydd. (No were not going
to translate it for you!)
Jo said his art is designed to have a low economical and
environmental impact while reaching a public less likely to go to
Do EDO Demo!
Anti-war campaigners won a major victory in the High Court last
Friday. Arms manufacturer EDO MBM had applied for an injunction
under anti-stalking laws to restrict protest outside their Brighton
factory. The order sought by the corporation would have created
an exclusion zone where protests would only be allowed on Thursday
afternoons for two hours with a maximum of 10 silent protestors.
Judge Gross (!) ruled against EDO, saying freedom of expression
is a right jealously guarded in English law Smash EDO are to step
up the campaign, beginning with a Pro-EDO demo on 11th
May . We will be telling the warmongers what a wonderfulservice
they provide and how grateful their end-users are. Lets
give them a heros welcome! Meet at entrance to Wild Park at
4pm. Then on Tuesday 31st May theres another Noise Demo
at EDOs factory gates - make them realize spending £500 per
hour on lawyers is a waste of money, 3pm-6pm.. www.smashedo.org.uk
Keith Mann was sentenced to 6 months in prison on Friday, in relation
to the raid on Wickham Labs when 700 mice were rescued and evidence
of botox experiments on animals was uncovered. Keith would really
appreciate your letters of support, at the following address: Keith
Mann [KJ0365], HMP Winchester, Romsey Rd, Winchester, SO22 5DF.
Later this month the Ukrainian capital Kiev is to host the crappest
music contest in the world - the bastion of bland euro-pop that
is the Eurovision Song Contest. Like all cities that host corporate
bullshit events, they are having a clean up of the streets; while
Brighton have a blitz on graffiti when Neo-Labour comes to town
and Sydney swept all the homeless off the streets prior to the Olympics,
Kiev is trying to wipe out all the stray cats and dogs.
The city is being cleansed of animals through the putting
out of poisoned meat, but its not just strays that are getting
sick and dying, its also pets, wild birds and other urban
wildlife. The state funded animal shelter now looks more like a
slaughterhouse where sick animals are put down.
Kiev animal rights group SKA (Stop Killing Animals) have held actions
at the Kiev State Administration and are asking for solidarity actions
and a boycott of Eurovision-2005 (As if we werent anyway?).
How do you prefer it, sir/madam? Electrocuted, stunned, overheated
or beaten up with a good old fashioned baton?
The US (where else) Police are developing new non-lethal
weaponry in the war against the have-nots. Taking cues from
the US Army, they are trying guns that fire electricity, heat and
stun bombs. The guns leave no lasting physical scarring, thus making
abuse cases harder to prove. They build on previous weaponry like
the Tazer, which is so non-lethal Amnesty International have attributed
it to 103 deaths thus far. This stuff is all in the research stage
still, so SchNEWS advises its gentle readers not to be too
alarmed (or shocked) just yet
Meat, meat, meat! It might not be all that they grow in Central
America, but vast tracks of land are still being turned over for
cattle grazing to satisfy the growing need of the rich and foreign
visitors to munch on beefburgers and the like. Contrary to popular
opinion, the beef reared in the region is not all ending up on North
American dinner plates; Central America is awash with its own burger
chains where you can blow a months worth of minimum wage earnings
on McCrap. Despite Costa Ricas eco friendly image, during
the 1970s and early 1980s vast stretches of rainforest were burned
and converted into cattle pastures. Nicaragua has been losing its
forest at a rate of 3% a year. Deforestation has resulted in flooding,
the conversion of land into barren wasteland, soil erosion and silting
up of rivers, making it much harder to farm - and in Nicaragua they
need to farm: half of the population do not have enough to eat.
Pissed off at losing control over their food to the multinationals,
people are fighting back with alternatives. On the volcanic island
of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua, land previously used for cattle ranching
is being turned into permaculture settlements. Organisations like
finca Magdalena and finca El Zopilote are sharing self-sufficiency
techniques with farmers who had previously been used to watching
their food being exported to rich countries. The emphasis is on
a positive environmental footprint putting more into the
land than taking away, and some of the farms are looking to move
towards wind power. Why are people always looking to work
so hard? asks one of the farmers cant they just
sit back, relax and take in the nature? I might not have a lot of
money coming in, but Ive got no boss and only have to work
4 hours a day, leaving plenty of time for family and friends.
Not good enough says the World Bank. In a 1999 report on Nicaragua
it argued, Factory work brings discipline and an acceptance
of routine by workers. Work for a day at 50p an hour and you
might just be able to afford a walk to the mall to pick up a Big
Mac. Nice. SchNEWS will leave it up to readers to decide whose advice
theyd prefer to follow.
The charade has come full circle again. Every four years this sham
of democracy bids us to choose, to take our part in
the decision-making process. X marks the spot. Out of respect for
those who suffered and died - the Chartists, the Suffragettes -
we vote, but as we do so we must push to the backs of our minds
the painful reality.
Government, any government, always jumps to the beat of the economic
drum. Long gone are the days of Party Principals and Ideology, for
all their faults. In these days of free-markets and
business conglomerates, real control of the economy, and by implication,
of society is in the hands of unelected, unaccountable corporations,
who only believe in the bottom line. The State, meanwhile, merely
act as the mouthpiece for decisions made higher up the power chain,
in boardrooms across the globe.
This is why it doesnt make any difference was elected yesterday.
Its not so much that the State isnt listening; its
more that they have no control over what is happening. However the
illusion of democracy is always maintained in order to make us think
we have a voice in how our lives are governed. Until there is economic
democracy, nothing will fundamentally change in our lives. Voting
never got rid of GM food, the Poll Tax and the road building schemes
of the 90s it was through DIRECT ACTION.
Direct action organizing together as equals is the
seed from which true freedom grows. Anything else and we only fool
SchNEWS In Brief
- Shameless Peter Mandelson is calling for a lift on the long
standing arms embargo on China. As EU Trade Commisioner, Mandelson
critisised the Ban, saying China should be welcomed into the Neo-liberal
fold. Plus, it will be a godsend for the UK Arms Trade. Hooray!
China, meanwhile, promises to get tough on its huge black market.
- Our Man on the Street has been testing the new TV-B-GONE devices
around betting shops in sunny Brighton. These little fellas are
key ring sized zappers that will turn off TVs anywhere.
Just point and press. Fun guaranteed. Anti TV group White Dot
are giving out a load of them for free. www.whitedot.org
- This years Mayday being on a Sunday, London activists targeted
that bastion of casualisation (or precarity as its now known),
Tescos. A Samba Band led the march into Tescos Hackney while others
handed out leaflets to happy shoppers. Police violently ejected
the MayDayers, with a handful of arrests. See www.indymedia.org.uk
for a full run down on events around the country.
- A new film entitled Capitalism and Other Kids Stuff,
which argues the anti-capitalist case in simple language can be
viewed free at www.socialist-tv.com
- A new search engine has been created by and for activists. www.activista.org
is a multi-language ad-free resource site for info and links on
all we hold dear.
- Statewatch UK have teamed up with the American Civil Liberties
Union to produce a report on the increasing use of surveillance
by Governments worldwide. Read the full report: www.statewatch.org/news/2005/apr/icams-report.pdf
- Manchester No Borders are to launch a spoof newspaper, called
the Hate Mail this Wednesday. 30,000 copies are to
be distributed nationwide, attacking with humour and anger the
fear-mongering of the medias reporting on immigration. Look
for a copy in your town. Call May on 07730523537 or Jackie on
Two new examples of rampant US paranoia
Its A Wrap
Police were called to a school in New Mexico, US, when a boy carrying
a suspicious item was seen approaching his school. Fearing the worst,
snipers were put on rooftops, streets closed and the school locked
down. As the kids were being told what was going on by their principal,
a young boy came forward carrying a 30-inch burrito wrapped in tinfoil,
saying I think Im the boy they saw. The burrito
was part of an extra-credit assignment to create commercial advertising
for a product. Cue tears of relief all round.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No its supercloud!
Meanwhile, President Bush was bundled into an underground bunker,
Dick Cheney was evacuated to an undisclosed location
and heavily armed secret servicemen took up defensive positions
when a fast-moving object scudded towards the White House last Friday.
It was, in fact, a cloud that had materialised 30 miles south of
Washington on Wednesday morning. It was so dense it triggered radar
monitors of the Domestic Events Network, seemingly unable
to distinguish between man made flying objects and unusual weather
phenomena. It wasnt until a black-hawk helicopter was scrambled
to intercept the offending object that it was found to be a cloud
in the shape of Osama Bin Laden.
SchNEWS warns all readers to vote with your feet, a D-lock and
a tube of superglue...Honest!
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