B u l l e t i n

c o m p l e t

Bulletin N° 336 | March 2013



Eight Turkish Civil Servants and policemen detained at Qandil for the last two months were released on 13 March by the PKK as a first “gesture” in the peace process initiated between Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK leader, and the Turkish Government. 

On the day these men were freed, Bawer Dersim, one of the PKK’s military commanders, said: “the ball is now in Turkey’s court”, though the latter was very sparing in expressing any gratitude, contenting itself in welcoming the prisoners back.  The Minister of the Interior, Muammer Guler, described the return as “a humanitarian action” but considered their capture as “inhuman violations of freedom that should never occur again”.

Meanwhile there was a kind of effervescence in Kurdish civil society and political circles that reflected an uncertainty and cautious concern about the stages of this process. Meetings and platforms are multiplying between the leading officers of the BDP, the principal pro-Kurdish party and those of the DTK, which covers most of the Kurdish NGOs

The president of the Kurdish HAK-PAR party expressed his conviction that the Kurdish could only be resolved in a federal framework (as with Iraqi Kurdistan). He also insisted that what was beginning was not exactly a phase of negotiations but rather one of “dialogue and of normalisation” and that while he supported the stage-wise withdrawal and disarming of the PKK he also demanded parallel gestures from the Turks to those of the Kurds.

Similarly, Lütfi Baksi, president of the KADEP party, considered that the Kurds and Kurdistan must be explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, otherwise there would not be a real resolution of the Kurdish question, since “Turkish” citizenship means a denial of the reality of the Kurds.

İmam Taşçıer (DDKD) criticised the fact that the BDP alone was represented in these meetings with Ocalan, stressing that they also “had some suggestions”. Others, like Nusrettin Maçin, President of the Diyarbekir Committee of the ODP, enquired whether the Imrali meetings only covered the PKK disarmament or also covered the Kurdish question as a whole. He also criticised the fact that the limelight was only focused on the PKK, ignoring the rest of the Kurdish activist circles, even though he doubts that Erdogan would allow a “Kurdish National Council” like the one in Syria, to be formed in Turkey.

After having received the project drafted by Ocalan, directly given to the Union of Kurdish Communities in Kurdistan (KCK, that is the political wing of the PKK) by a BDP delegation, Murat Karayilan replied by letter to his leader, expressing his support for and commitment to the peace plan, while submitting “opinions and proposals” coming from the activists (without specifying their content):

In all our resolutions, we have agreed and very clearly decided that the strategic perspective put forward by our leader is correct and we stand by it. However, there are several concerns and problems that need to be overcome”.

On 18 March, another meeting took place at Imrali between some BDP representatives and the PKK chief, who increased the pressure by announcing that a historic appeal would be read on 21 March, the Kurdish New Year’s Day, Newroz. This would cover democratisation for the whole of Turkey, a solution to the disarmament question, the support he expected from the Turkish political parties and Parliament, the latter, in his view having to take responsibility for the withdrawal of the guerrillas.

Thus, on 21 March, in front of thousands of Kurds at Diyarbekir, the BDP Member of Parliament, Pervin Buldan, read Ocalan’s message in Kurdish and her colleague Sırrı Sureyya Önder read it in Turkish.

Condemning “the colonialist, negationist and repressive attitudes”, Ocalan thus described the new era that he saw opening ahead an “epoch of democratic policies. An essentially political, social and economic process is beginning. The attitude that stresses freedom, equality and democratic rights is progressing”.

The only concrete and precise points are the confirmation of an insistent appeal to silent the weapons to make room for a political process and that the PKK’s “armed elements” withdrawing from Turkey and the probable abandoning of any form of “autonomy” of the Kurdish regions. Then, addressing the “dear Turkish people” Ocalan stressed the historic unity of Kurds and Turks that must used to enable them to found a “democratic modernity” together. “This is not a time for disunity and war, for fighting this is the hour for union, alliance, or reconciliation and forgiveness”. As for the context and political structure that would be used by this new society, Ocalan suggested that “to create this model, it is inevitable to be inspired by once again by the ancient cultures of the lands of Mesopotamia and Anatolia”, which tells us nothing more.

A little later, the Kurds, Turkomenians and Arabs are also called on to unite within a “Conference of peace and national solidarity” so that they may “discuss their truths, be informed and take decisions”, but this seems to be more concerned with Syria and Iraq.

On the same day, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was visiting Holland, stated that Turkish military operations could cease if the Kurdish PKK forces stopped fighting. Three days later, he even criticised the absence of the Turkish flag during the Newroz celebrations, thereby trying to appear as “the man who is going to save Turkey from war” without appearing too much in the role of “the man who held out his hand to the terrorists” to a Turkish public opinion still very hostile to the PKK.

The cease fire appeal was, obviously, welcomed by all those not directly concerned, be they the European Union, the United States, the General Secretary of the United Nations and Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq.

In the Turkish press, Taraf (a lift-wing paper) was enthusiastic about this “Turkish Spring” and Milliyet headlined “Farewell to Arms” and Hürriyet even announced the end of the military era.

However, in the inside pages of the same papers, editorial writers like the historian, Murat Bardakci (Haberturk), expressed their doubts and uncertainties over the possibility of a peace based solely on Ocalan’s declaration “after so many years of clashes and bereavement” (Fuat Keyman in Milliyet). Some have suggested secret compensations in return in view of the glaring absence of any conditions demanded by Ocalan. Would his release be at issue? The Turkish Prime Minister denied this vigorously, stating that there had not been any “deals” involved.

From the Kurdish point of view, it was also foreseeable that, after the first wave of elation, some doubts and uncertainties emerged on re-reading the statements. Ertugrul Ozkok, in Hurriyet, also remarked that, apart from Diyarbekir, the Kurdish towns did not particularly express much rejoicing or relief — but could not say whether this was a good or a bad sign. Bekir Coşkun, in Cumhurriyet, bluntly asked what concessions the “Turkish Republic” had made to “he who is in prison”.

Only Taraf continued to be carried away by enthusiasm, expressed by its columnist Ildiray Ogur, who also spoke of another era, that of the Second Turkish Republic, saying that Ocalan would be the leader who had solved the Kurdish question.

However, the reaction for which everyone was waiting was that of the guerrillas, who were the most concerned with the demand that it disarm and withdraw from Turkey’s mountains. As usual, Murat Karayılan replied by a “Yes, but…”, pointing out that his fighters would withdraw from Turkey after the government had carried out some concrete steps to prove its “good faith”, namely: the setting up of commissions in the decision making process and their application, and also improvement in Ocalan’s conditions of detention; the use of more peaceful language; facing up to its legal and constitutional responsibilities for carrying out the project proposed by the leader; that the institutions and groups of civil society take part in the process.

Gultan Kişanak, co-president of the BDP, also quickly demanded guarantees from the Turks that those who supported the initiatives of the process should not be, once again, legally harassed, since nearly all the Kurdish political representatives were already facing trial, if they were not just purely and simply imprisoned and that even the head of the MIT, Hakan Fidan, the principal artisan of the negotiations with Ocalan, had been accused by a Public Prosecutor. She also demanded more precisions on Turkey’s determination to really democratise itself.

Erdogan then announced the formation of a “Council of Elders” to be recruited from all sectors of society, which would have a consultative role in the process. The leader of the opposition CHP party, Kemal Kiliçdaroğlu, had already advanced this idea, though in his view, such a Council should be overseen by Parliament and should work in partnership with a “reconciliation commission”.

However, the means of carrying out the withdrawal of the guerrillas had already raised questions. Thus Cemil Bayik, another senior military official who had, after 1999, been seen as a possible successor to Ocalan, (but gradually sidelined by Murat Karayılan) announced on Nûçe TV (a pro-PKK TV channel) that such a withdrawal required “legal guarantees”, since this demand for “protection” had been passed on by other military commanders.

At the end of March, Prime Minister Erdogan pointed out that the PKK fighters had to lay down their arms before withdrawing, according to him to avoid any clashes. To withdraw but to go where? The Prime Minister had not expressed this very clearly, pointing out that it could just as well be to Iraq (where they already have a base) or to Syria (where they would swell the ranks of the PYD — which might well displease Syria’s National Kurdish Council) or even to “the Scandinavian countries (sic) that have not made any comments on this question. Finally, as a way of putting some pressure of the political forces to have them put pressure on the fighting forces, he commented that the BDP was already viewed, in Turkey, as being politically affiliated to a terrorist organisation and that the party had every interest in making the PKK to comply rapidly.


Since the spring of 2011, the situation in Syrian Kurdistan has been one of neither peace nor war, in keeping with the line of the PYD (Democratic Unity Party) but also of the other Kurdish parties that are very reserved about the Moslem Brotherhood. Consequently the Kurds there have been more or less spared the terrible violence in the Arab regions. The Kurds find themselves involved in a situation of political and administrative vacuum similar to that left by Saddam Hussein when he withdraw from the Kurdish autonomous region in 1991. While there were some clashes with  the Syrian army at Aleppo or Qamishlo, it has been essentially to the Syrian irregular fighters that the YPG kept from entering Syrian Kurdistan.

In the last days of February, Asya Abdullah, the co-president of the PYD (the Syrian branch of the PKK) thus explained that the Kurdish zones, already occupied and controlled by her party following the withdrawal of the government forces, were organising themselves into autonomous communities by including the Arab and Christian communities there and by applying the political model recommended by Ocalan, with People’s Councils, Red Crescent offices and Aid Committees given the responsibility for sharing out fuel, bread and various services to the population.

Interviewed by the Arab language paper az-Zaman, Asya Abdullah (who is usually less often heard than Salih Muslim, the other PYD co-president) stuck to the political line her party has adopted since the beginning of the war in Syria: namely that “the PYD was not a branch of the PKK, that it maintained relations with all the Kurdish parties, including those of Northern Iraq (i.e. the Kurdistan Regional Government) and that the PYD was the Syrian party that had suffered most from the Baathist regime”.

Regarding the PYD’s relations with the Free Syrian Army, the political line remained of refusing (at any rate officially) to take sides with either camp and of preventing any incursions into the Kurdish regions (be they by the FSA and even more so by the Islamist or Jihadist militia that the YPG had stopped at Serê Kaniyê). The only change in this situation being that the PYD now called for the overthrow of the regime, which was far from clear at the start of the Syrian revolt.

However, right at the beginning of March this position of “neither with the regime nor with the opposition” was qualified by Salih Muslim who, having met members of the Syrian National Coalition in Cairo on 22 February, let it be understood that some cooperation between the PYD and the FSA might be envisaged in the field — which hitherto had been firmly refused. However, on analysing Salih Muslim’s remarks, this military cooperation would be limited to sharing the areas of occupation and an attitude of non-aggression, since the PYD president did not envisage sending his forces to help liberate purely Arab towns:

The Kurdish fighters will not go to fight at Damascus. If everyone had freed their own towns Syria could be free today”.

Speaking on Sawa Radio, Salih Muslim said his contact with Moaz al-Khatib, the new SNC president, was “friendly and productive”, adding that the aim of this meeting had been to “to know one another better” and that he had been able to tell the Coalition’s head “who we are and who we represent”, reproaching the Syrian National Council (now incorporated into the Coalition) of having refused to include recognition of the Kurdish people in the future Syrian Constitution “or at least write on paper that the Kurdish people were a component part of the Syrian people”.

A police force (Asayish) was also set up, which aroused very sharp criticism from the other Kurdish parties, who accused this force of only being a political police responsible for repressing any challenging of the PYD or the PKK, especially of the demonstrations regularly organised by the political groups that were members of the KNC

To prevent retaliations the PYD wanted to impose a licence for carrying arms that had to be obtained from the Asayish before 31 March. Beyond that date those Kurds still keeping “un-authorised” arms would be “sanctioned”. Naturally the other parties and militia refused to let themselves be disarmed in this way, which sometimes leads to exchanges of fire, followed by arrests and sometimes to negotiations and reconciliation.

Because the PYD is thus undertaking the greater part of the administrative management of the Kurdish areas, it is also meeting with protests actions from the population. Thus, on 27 March, the inhabitants of Amude demonstrated in front of the offices of the PYD, which had taken control of the water and electricity supply companies, to protest at the too frequent power cuts. Since the YPG fired into the air to disperse the rally, some young Kurds retaliated by throwing stones, thus drawing shots in reprisal, which hit three of them.

A member of the PYD, in reply to questions from KurdWatch explained that the electricity shortages were not due to local companies, that electricity was distributed throughout Hassaké and other areas. He also accused the demonstrators of having been violent from the outset, with some of the demonstrators coming armed and that the stones being thrown had also targeted the PYD and the Red Crescent offices.

However, apart from these skirmishes, (sometimes rather petty) between Kurds, the fighting between the SFA and the government forces that is raging in Syria continues to have spared the Kurdish regions till the end of March.

At the same time, at the beginning of March, the YPG decided to advance their positions so as to take control of some Kurdish towns that, so far, have been theoretically in government hands.

This the YPG, supported by the Kurdish Progressive Democratic Party (close to Talabani’s PUK) surrounded and took control of a number of public building and offices being used as Syrian security force HQs — the Military Intelligence, two police stations, a recruiting office and the Baath Party offices at Tirbesipî (Al-Qahtaniyah in Arabic). However, these places “taken back” by the YPG had also been left empty by the Syrians a few hours earlier.

In the town of Rumailan, which is close to a major oil field, the YPD took over the Political Security Directorate and of the Military Intelligence HQs. This time a down of the staff barricaded them selves in but finally surrendered on 2nd March, In all, 33 prisoners were taken that the PYD released after a few hours.

The taking over of the oil-bearing regions by the PYD was accompanied by a very clear declaration of intent, namely that it was ready to “share these resources with the Syrian opposition if the Kurds received their fair share”.  The PYD certainly seems to intend using these oilfields as a trump card in its negotiations with the Syrian opposition and the YPG general command stated that “only the Kurdish Supreme Council and the Kurdish National Coalition have the right to discuss the future of the Hassaké resources ands the future of the Syrian National Oil Company”.

Alan Semo, the PYD spokesman for the Afrin region sharply expressed these views, which a very similar to the agreement on the management of the same resources in the Kurdistan Regional Government (and which is one of the keenest contentious issues between Baghdad and Erbil): “In any agreement with the future Syrian government, the Kurds will manage their regions. The oil is for the whole of Syria. We are part of Syria— we are not going to take the oil, but we want our share in an agreement between all the Kurds, the Arabs and the Syria people”.

Alan Semo also envisaged as “possible” that, by virtue of a future agreement, the Kurds could supply oil to the zones liberated by the FSA — which would obviously put them is strong position, which is unlikely to be acceptable to either the SNC or the FSA.

This “liberation” of the oil fields by the YPG is, however, attacked by the rival Kurdish parties as a deception since the Baath could have chosen, once again, to leave the field open to the PYD without fighting. They accuse the latter of having reached an agreement with Damascus to “protect” these oilfield, thus enabling the Syrian Army to avoid having to deploy troops there (and allowing the Syrian Government to strengthen the Arab front with these troops).

However, the recent negotiations started between Turkey and the PKK could substantially alter the situation of the Syrian Kurds in the field. A few days after Ocalan’s declaration had been read out in Diyarbekir on Newroz, Kurdish and FSA fighters joined forces against the Syrian Army to take over a Kurdish quarter of Aleppo, Sheikh Maqsud, and a YPG commander told AFP that they “had the same aim” as the Syrian rebels, namely to get rid of Assad.

This Kurdish quarter had been shelled by the Syrian Army at the end of March, causing over twenty casualties and starting a fresh wave of refugees towards the Afrin region, where they sought refuge with relatives or, in the case of Kurds who were not originally from the Afrin mountains, in public buildings converted to accommodation centres.

It is this possible that the political process in Turkish Kurdistan may have repercussions in Syrian Kurdistan: the recent fighting between the YPG fighters and the Syrian Army to control Aleppo and Qamishlo, (which went far beyond the few clashes that occurred last February) may be the start of an about turn in the PYD’s attitude to the Assad regime and the end of its “neutrality” in the Syrian conflict.


After months of tension, the Iraqi Parliament adopted the 2013 Iraqi budget on 8 March, which amounts to $11 billion. Because of the boycott by the Kurdish members’ and those of the pro-Sunni Arab al-Iraqiyya list, only 168 of the 325 members of Parliament took part in the vote. 

The Kurdish government attacked this vote as illegitimate and repeated its demands, namely that the real needs of the Kurdish region, in view of its development, be taken into account in that part of the Iraqi budget allocated to it; that the maintenance of the Peshmerga forces be covered by the central government and that the foreign oil companies that extract and export Kurdish oil be paid (at present Baghdad receives payment for these exports). The Kurds have again threatened to stop their export of crude oil (planned at 250,000 barrels a day) until Baghdad pays its debts. According to the Kurdish M.P. Muhsin al-Saadoun, the KRG plans to export its oil and collect payment directly to repay this debt. In return, the central government has been threatening for several months past to deduct its loss of earnings from the blocked exports from the KRG’s share of the budget.

On 14 March, Massud Barzani publicly expressed his views, at the opening of an international conference on the definition of genocide against the Kurds, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Halabja massacre. Recalling that the Kurds had played a major role in the reconstruction of Iraq, the President of Iraqi Kurdistan reaffirmed his people would not “accept being under guardianship of anyone” and insisted on the need for carrying out the agreements reached in 2012 at Erbil.

Despite the political crisis — or rather because of it — the fuel and power projects between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan are continuing. On 30March, the Turkish Prime Minister announced on CNN-Turk that a trade agreement was being prepared between the Kurds and the Turks with the object of making “more active” the existing oil pipeline that carried 70.9 million tons of crude oil from Iraq. Turkey hopes, in fact to add other oil and gas pipelines to it.

Moreover, the need to deal with Erbil via Baghdad does not only irritate the Iraqi central government. The United States has long been concerned by the increasing gap between the Kurds and the Arabs. Washington is not reassured by Kurdish desire for autonomy in energy sources.

The Turkish Energy Minister, Taner Yildiz, for his part envisages a “structure” for sharing the distribution of Iraqi oil throughout the country, which would be set up and supervised by Ankara: “We accept that all the revenues of all Iraq’s regions belong to Iraq as a whole — that is correct, we must pay attention to the feelings of the central government in all that we do”. (Reuters). 

Indeed, Article 112 of the Iraqi Constitution provides for the revenue from resources of all the provinces be sent to Baghdad which undertakes the responsibility for redistributing it to each province or Federal Region (like Kurdistan) in accordance with their needs, to be estimated in proportion to their population.

However, this issue of “sharing” to which Taner Yildiz alluded, is far from being the unanswerable response to this conflict since it is, in fact, one of its sources. In fact, this constitutional arrangement has never really been carried out because there has been no census of the population since the 60s. The shares of the budget are allocated by Baghdad’s estimation of needs and population, which is precisely one of the main disputes between the Kurds and Baghdad, that has just reduced the percentage of the total budget to be allocated (in principle) to the region from 17% to 12%. The figure of 17% was fixed following long and tense negotiations between Baghdad and Erbil over several years

Nevertheless, as can be seen, anyone can claim to base themselves on the Iraqi Constitution to judge whether or not the trade agreement between Turkey and Kurdistan is legal since interpretations of Article 112 seem to diverge so greatly.


On 7 March last, the inhabitants of Halabja were asked to answer a questionnaire, 25 years after the massacre of the towns population with chemical weapons. The questionnaire was drawn up and distributed by the Dengî Nwe (New Voice) Radio and a team composed of the Spî organisation and local volunteers. 

Of the 2500 who took part  (in 1988, the population was estimated at 80,000, in 2003 at 50,000)

1359 were men (54.36%),

1118 (44.72%) were women 

23 (0.92%) forgot or refused to give their sex.


178 persons were between 12 et 18 years  (6.72%).

414 between 18 et 25 (16.56%).

345 between 25 et 30 (13.8%).

213 between 30et 35 (8.52%).

158 between 35 et 40 (6.32%).

230 were over 40 years old 9.2%.

962 did not give their (38.48%).

Education level:

62 were illiterate,

82 could read but not writes

67 could read and write,

282 had attended primary school,

363 had skipped primary school,

463 had gone to preparatory school,

557 gone to teachers training 

515 had gone to university.

39 had a Masters degree,

3 a Doctors and 

67 did not indicate their education level.  

Marital Status

191 did not say (7.64%).

1036 said they were single (41.44%).

1273 were married (50.92%). 

The declared aims of this questionnaire were:

1- To give the townspeople the possibility of directly expressing their opinions, without any censoring, on the extent of the Halabja’s problems, on the crime, the scares that that had left, the actions undertaken, the shortages and the degree of neglect

2- To obtain information on the citizens’ degree of satisfaction with the services provided

3- To get to know the degree of participation of Halabja’s population and the way this commemoration was carried out.

The principal problems encountered by the questionnaire team

1-     The great number of questions and the extent of the questionnaire took a great deal of time to complete. However the teams felt this seemed necessary to provide sufficiently information since this was the first time that such an enquiry had been carried out

2-     The limited time available for filling the questionnaire was 75 days, whereas such a questionnaire needed more than four months.

3-     The loss of confidence in the government and the organisations meant that many people also lost confidence in this kind of activity

Those being questioned had, most of the time, a choice between giving a positive or a negative opinion. Many of the questions were left unanswered either because of lack of time or because they did not know the answer or refused to commit themselves.

On the work of reconstructing Halabja:

- Has the government kept its promises?

1436 people considered that very few of the promises had bee kept 57.44%). 

 631 said that none of them had been kept (25.24%)

179 said that most of the promises had been kept (9.16%). 

- Regarding financial and moral compensation of the victims

962 had a negative opinion (38.48%).

676 had a positive opinion (27.04%).

- Regarding the reconstruction of buildings in ruins

1076 had a negative opinion (43.04%). 

566 of the answers were positive (22.64%). 

- On housing assistance for those most hit by the gas and/or who had lost their family

1036 of the answers were negative ( 41.44 %).

476 of the answers were positive  (19.04%).

 - Regarding rebuilding the roads

844 of the answers were positive (33.76%). 

824 of the answers were negative (33%). 

- Regarding the building of new housing

890 of the answers were negative (35.92%). 

747 of the answers were positive (29.88%). 

- On the opening of schools and universities

1005 of the answers were positive ( 40.2%).

652 of the answers were negative (26.08%). 

- As citizens of Halabja are you satisfied with the drinking water?

1671 of the answers were positive (66.84%). 

773 of the answers were negative (30.92%.)

- Are you satisfied with the cleanliness of your town?

1108 of the answers were positive  (44.32%)

1392 of the answers were negative (53.16%). 

- Are you satisfied with the projects carried out at Halabja?

1106 of the answers were positive (44.24%)

1288 of the answers were negative (51.52%). 

-Are you satisfied with the national government (the KRG)?

1577 of the answers were positive (63.08%)

870 of the answers were negative  (34.08%)

Regarding the annual commemoration of 16 March 1988

- Do you celebrate the anniversary of Halabja’s bombing every year? 

732 Said YES (29.28%).

735 Said SOMETIMES (29.4%).

861 Said  NO (34.44%)

NB. The reasons for not taking part in the commemorations are

1. The commemorations are turned into a 'ceremony-party'.

2. Some promises have been made but not kept.

3. It’s just a symbolic commemoration, simply to spend the day.

- Who would you prefer to run the commemorations of the gas attack on Halabja?

308 said the organisations of civil society (12.32%). 

285 said the government  (11.4%). 

39 said the parties in office (1.56%). 

108 said the political parties (4.32%). 

263 preferred the families of the victims (10.52%). 

610 think all these groups and the parties should commemorate it jointly. (24.4%) 

887 did not reply (35.48%).

- How should this anniversary be commemorated?

Those taking part had three alternatives that should be used concurrently

  506 Said that artistic activities should take place

1116 Said that vestiges of the chemical bombing and documents should be shown

1079 think a committee should be formed to follow up promises made on this anniversary.

 207 said that sacrificing of sheep and cattle should be banned on this occasion

   66 think that someone should just make a speech

- Regarding the actions already carried out for international recognition of the Halabja genocide

544 said that serious efforts had been made (21.76%). 

983 say the government was negligent (39.32%). 

  Are you satisfied with the efforts of local leaders to secure recognition of the Halabja massacre as an act of genocide?

493 replies were positive (19.72%). 

364 gave a middling note (14.56%). 

789 replies were negative (31.56%). 

- Are you satisfied with the role of international NGOs to secure recognition of the Halabja genocide?

674 replies were positive (26.96%). 

367 relies gave a middling note (14.68%). 

521 replies were negative (20.84%). 

Regarding Halabja’s future:

- Regarding the project to made Halabja a province in its own right

252 replies were positives about the seriousness of the authorities in the project to make Halabja a province (10.08%). 

1237 replies were negative (49.08%).


On 1st March the British Parliament unanimously voted to recognise the Kurdish genocide perpetrated in Iraq between 1987 and 1988.  While the government did not recognise it officially, considering that this was up to the International Criminal Courts, it agreed, as did the opposition, to secure recognition of this genocide at international level.

This recognition by the British Parliament ends a one yearlong campaign to inform the British about the reality of the Anfal genocide, including collecting nearly 28,000 signatures for this. 

The Prime Minister of Iraqi Kurdistan, Nêçirvan Barzani, and, a few days later the Presidency of the Kurdistan Region, welcomed this vote and thanked all those who had participated in this campaign as well as the United Kingdom members of Parliament.

The recognition of the genocide by the British Parliament follows similar recognition by the Swedish and Norwegian Parliaments last year. We thank them and hope that they will inspire our friends and the friends of human rights and freedom in other countries to do likewise. We must all stand together against tyranny wherever it appears”.

The Minister for the Anfal Martyrs, Aram Ahmed, declared that this day was “a white stone for the Kurdish people, and especially the victims of the genocide and we thank the British parliament for its support of those who have suffered so much. Parliament’s decision and the government’s positive attitude mean that we have made one more step towards a wider international recognition”.

Ms. Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the KRG’s representative in London also described this recognition as a “major historic advance for all Kurds. Parliament recognised the genocide unanimously. The government’s Minister for the Middle East was so moved by his impassioned pleading for recognising the genocide that the strayed form his prepared speech and committed himself to working with the opposition to see how the government could work in the most positive way regarding the genocide. This is a most unusual change. We must thank the Kurdish community and all those who signed the petition as well as the members of the multi-party parliamentary group who spoke so convincingly in the debate”.

Nadhim Zahawi, who is the first British M.P. of Kurdish origin said he hoped that his parliament’s vote would be an encouragement to other governments, the United Nations and the European Union to also recognise the genocide. During the debate he had recalled the fate of his own family that fled to Britain from Saddam’s regime.

In addition to recognising the crimes committed against the Kurds during the genocide, the M.P.s also stressed the good relations between the Kurdistan region and the United Kingdom, praising “the hospitality of the Kurds and their optimism”.


At the beginning of March, the last book that Mirella Galletti was working on before her death was published posthumously thanks to the efforts of her nephew, Andrea Galletti and his friends and colleagues. 

Entitled “Storia della Siriana Contemporanea”, is the republication, with considerable updating, of an essay that had already appeared in 2006, which the author wanted to bring up to date in view of the latest events in Syria and it is thus presented by its publisher.

This history of Syria, the first to appear in Italy, outlines in an exciting account the historic and politically turbulent developments of this nation, devoting a large place to the cultural aspects of Syrian society and the ethnic and religious mosaic of the region. Showing the key steps of its road to independence, the differences and conflicts with the neighbouring countries, the Lebanese and the Palestinians, the birth of the Kurdish question, this book helps one to understand the central role of Syria in the Middle Eastern checkerboard and plunges the reader into the enchanted atmosphere of a still mysterious nation with rich traditions. This new version gives an account of the events that took place in the country following the “Arab Spring”: the shadows of the al-Assad regime, the tensions with Turkey and the median position of the West”.

The first section is devoted to a general overview of Syria from a geographic and historical point of view, with a chapter on the ethnic and religious communities.

Then it deals with the history of Syrian divided in two parts: the first period is that of the French mandate (1920-46) followed by the period of independence up to 2004. This is followed by a review of Syrian political and diplomatic relations with each of its neighbours: Syria’s position in the Israeli-Arab conflict, as well as its links with the other Arab counties then its relations with Turkey and Iran. This part ends by updating the situation in Syria in 2005 with a chapter on the “Àrab Spring”.

The second section deals with strain culture and with its most outstanding intellectuals, poets and novelists. The Kurds are not forgotten, amongst them the historian, Muhammad Kurd Ali, (1876-1953) and the novelist Salim Barakat. Mirella Galletti recalls that alongside Arabic, which is the predominant language, Syria is a multi-lingual country, in which Kurds, Armenians, neo-Aramaic, Cherkassy Turkish live together and that all the Syrian communities actively preserve their ethnic, linguistic, religious and cultural particularisms.

The history of the media (press, radio, television) is outlined as from the Ottoman period, with the first periodicals (1965-67). A review of the Syrian cinema and music concludes the book, which has a rich and equally up to date bibliography.