For the first time since the 10% threshold of votes at national level was imposed in 1983, a pro-Kurdish party will be able to have seats in the Turkish Parliament. The HDP won 13.12% of the national vote, which allows it to have 80 seats. In consequence, the ruling AKP Party loses the absolute majority it has enjoyed since 200. This puts a serious brake on Erdogan’s ambitions to carry out constitutional changes that would enable him to set up a Presidential regime with greater personal powers — a project that his opponents described as “Sultanic”. Indeed, in the course of the election campaign, the charismatic leader of the AKP had kept referring to the Ottoman past in bizarre and mythical terms.
Although a bomb attack in the last weekend of the campaign cast a pall over Diyarbekir, with 3 deaths (a 4th died a week later) and over a hundred injured, over very seriously, the Kurdish “man in the street” unhesitatingly expressed joy at a “historic” victory in the Kurdish struggle for recognition of its identity.
Other Turkish left voices, especially those from the Gezi park movement, also celebrated the results, seeing them as being, above all, a slap in the face to Erdogan’s authoritarian and “wheeler-dealer” policies. Moreover, his connivance with some Islamist trends his encouragement of very conservative policies regarding women and family affairs had irritated a section of Turkish public opinion.
It was, however, this very conservative attitude that had, hitherto, enabled the AKP to take root in part of the Kurdish electorate, many of who remain attached to traditional values in a provincial society very distant from the urban movements of Istanbul. But the Syrian war, the siege of Kobani and the hostility to “Syrian Rojava” undoubtedly weighed heavily on the outraged Kurdish voter, what ever their personal political opinions, as well as the double standards applied by Ankara to ISIS and the PTD
On 10 June, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s government handed its resignation to the President who accepted it while asking the minister to stay put pending the formation of a new government, for the maximum period of 45 days allowed by law after a general election. At the end of this period, if no cabinet has been formed, a new General Election would have to take place.
The composition on the mew Parliament is as follows:
The AKP remains dominant with 258 seats, after losing 68 as compared with 2011. This is, in any case, its worst result since taking office in 2001. (Ahmet Davutoğlu had promised to resign if the AKP did not win 55% of the votes, that is 330 out of 550).
Next comes the People’s Republican Party (CHP) with 132 seats (3 less than in 2011) a drop in votes of 1%. Despite its avowed intention of winning 35% of the vote, it didn’t even secure 25%.
The Nationalist Movement (MHP) won 80 seats, as many as the HDP, with 16.29% of the votes). It also increased the number of its seats, not so spectacularly (+ 27 seats).
The HDP, obviously, had the most spectacular success since, with 13.12% of the votes, it secured 80 seats.
None of the 17 other little parties reached the 10% threshold (many indeed, won less than 1%)and are not represented in Parliament. The score of the Happiness Party (SP), a conservative religious movement, is worthy of note. It was led by the former Islamist Prime Minister, Erbakan, and won 4-5% of the vote — probably at the expense of the AKP.
In provinces with a Kurdish majority population were as follows:
ADANA (14 seats) with a mixed, Kurdish, Turkish and Arab population, the AKP came first with 5 seats, then the CHP second (4 seats), MHP (3) and the HDP last with 2 seats.
Adyaman (5 seats) also with a mixed Turkish and Kurdish population: AKP 4, HDP 1.
Agri (4 seats) — all went to the HDP
Ankara (the national capital) (30 seats) AKP 15, CHP 11, but HDP still managed to win 1 seat
Batman (4 seats) HDP won 3 to AKP’s 1
Bingol (3 seats) AKP 2, HDP 1
Bursa (18 seats) was dominated by AKP (9) but HDP won 1.
Diyarbekir (11 seats) HDP won 10, AKP 1
Elazig, with (4 seats) MHP 1a mixed Turkish-Kurdish population, but traditionally very Turkish nationalist, AKP 3 seats. Similarly, at Erzincan where AKP and CHP won 2 each, and Erzurum AKP 4 MHP 1
Gaziantepe; AKP 6, CHP, MHP and HDP 2 each
At Hakkari and Igdir the HDP won all the seat — 3 and 2 respectively
Istanbul (88seats) the AKP won 39, CHP 28. The HDP 11, beating the MHP with 10.
At Izmir (26 seats) CHP 12, AKP 8 but HDP nevertheless won 2.
In Kars the HDP beat the AKP, winning 2 of the 3 seats, but won no seats at Malatya, whose 6 seats were shred between AKP (5) and CHP 1
In Mersin, the situation is similar to Adana, with a substantial population of Kurdish refugees, who shared their votes fairly equally Ø AKP. CHP and MHP 3 each, HDP 2.
Mus (3 seats) HDP 2 AKP 1, While at Siirt the result was inversed
Urfa (12 seats) a province with a mixed Kurdish-Arab population and an AKP stronghold, the AKP won 7 and HDP won 5.
Other provinces completely won by HDP are: Sirnak, 4 seats out of 4, and, significantly, Tunceli-Dersim, often shared with the CHP but this time giving HDP both of its 2 seats.
Finally, at Van, HDP won 7 seats against 1 for AKP
These elections were also marked by a substantial participation by the Turkish and Kurdish diaspora. The results abroad saw HDP win in Canada, Finland, Italy, Japan, Macedonia, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. In Greece it tied with the CHP. In the rest of the world the AKP won in 23 countries, including France. The only country where MHP won the majority of the vote was Albania.
The Kurdish Institute in Paris, which has been in danger of being closed down since February 2015 because its grants by the French State have been cut off, is campaigning to survive.
A campaign for donations has been launched by an appeal by Kendal Nezan, President of the Kurdish Institute, Bernard Kouchner, former French Foreign Minister and founder of Doctors Without Borders (MSF); Christophe Girard, mayor of Paris’s 4th Arrondissement.
It is entitled: “Let the Kurdish Institute Live on” and reads as follows:
“The Kurdish Institute of Paris is in danger of having to close through lack of funds. Thus is sad news for France as well as for the international community and for all those who, like us, are inspired with a hope for peace in a conflict torn Middle East.
When we opened the doors of the Institute in 1983, thanks to the mobilisation of some intellectuals and political people, we were providing the Kurdish people with a unique place where they could freely express its very ancient culture, its speech and its identity.
This was an act of strong commitment towards the Kurdish people that is the largest ethnic population in the world without a State. Unceasingly oppressed throughout history before the indifferent eyes of the international community, this people, whose culture and language are forbidden over the greatest part of its own lands, inhabits a vast enclave crossing the borders of Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran.
Today they are fighting against terrorism for our freedom as well as their own. Must we again tell how this people, quartered and exiled on its own lands, constantly fleeing the extortions and bloody massacres, unflaggingly has proposed peaceful in the face of its oppression? Need we recall the campaign of extermination organised by Saddam Hussein that includes the appalling chemical massacre of Halabja?
Tragic and edifying, the Kurdish people’s history is such a lesson of life and tolerance, despite the persecutions, that it is absolutely essential constantly to remember it.
For over thirty the Kurdish Institute of Paris was our pride. An independent and secular organisation, open to all, it has enjoyed the status of a Foundation of Public Use since 1993. A refuge of humanity it is an area of freedom, in all the component dimensions of this value, to which we claim to adhere.
The freedom of speech, of ideas: there have been hundreds of conferences and encounters organised in favour of solidarity between peoples, making the Institute play a major role for all those who were concerned and interested in peace in the Middle East.
It is also a haven of culture, housing the biggest Kurdish library in the Western world, bearing witness to a millennial culture, a centre of unique resources for researchers and journalists all over the world.
Moreover the Kurdish Institute is not just the guardian of a threatened culture — it is also the affirmation of the meaning of freedom in France, a area of life, of welcome, of mutual aid and exchange where every year 10,000 people are advised oriented, symbols of a real model of integration in our society.
Thanks to us, throughout those thirty years, in the heart of Paris, behind those doors open to the world, Kurdistan has been expressed and defined.
Today, because the public authorities have disengaged and diminished its grants in a draconian manner, the Institute has to close. An aberration at a time when international recognition is at last beginning to appear since the Kurds have shown themselves to be fighters — heroic and efficient fighters in the face of the advance of the Jihadists of the “Islamic State” in the Middle East.
Warriors for peace, the Kurds are fighting in the Front line and giving their lives to defend democratic ideas. At a moment when the world is waking up to the realities of the Middle East, they appear as our sole source of hope and a calm future. In that region, where the geographic and political borders and those of barbarism have collapsed giving way to chaos and the worse horrors, they are making a real island of stability emerge, defending values that we share. They are receiving all the refugees, preaching and applying equality between men and women, the defence of human rights but also the separation between faith and the governing of peoples.
They are our ramparts against barbarism and they are our friends.
Maintaining the Kurdish Institute of Paris is fighting here for those who are fighting for us over there. It is to join forces against all forms of inhumanity. It is to wage the battle of ideas in which the Kurdish Institute has always played a leading role as during the creation of a Human Rights organisation in Iraqi Kurdistan or by distributing here and there over a hundred thousand copies of a Kurdish translation of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
We must become the spokespeople of a people whose voice is one of peace and not to betray the promise made thirty years ago — that of rising in the face the denial of its existence, inflicted on the Kurdish people.
However, it is not enough to take umbrage, we must act to ensure that the Institute’s doors are not closed.
Your gift is essential, useful, urgent and concrete. It guarantees that the Kurdish voice will continue to be heard, that voice, which has so much to tell us about the history of a humanity that we share, about the present day issues in the field. A voice that it is essential to know better, and about a future with redrawn borders that we have the responsibility of pas sing on to future generations”.
Kenal Nezan, in an opinion column published in Le Monde on 10 February brought the issue to public attention:
“We must say that, with such a minimalist strategy, victory over the Da’ech (ISIS) that already controls half of Syria and a third of Iraq is no closer than the fall of the Damascus regime — that has been trumpeted since 2011. We might have hoped that, failing coming forward to help the Kurds in this trial, the French Government might at least show some solidarity by ensuring the lasting existence of the Kurdish Institute on its own soil. It does nothing of the kind. The approaches we have made to the Elysée and Matignon over the last two years for restoring our grants have been unsuccessful. The argument given is budgetary restrictions. These clearly are based on double standards, since the government continues to subsidise some hundreds of cultural centres of other communities, and to grant a financing of 12.8 million euros to the Institut du Monde arabe. As, indeed, it should. However, it affirms that it is hard put to scrape together 4% of this sum for the sole Institute in France representing the 40 million Kurds in the Near East
In the past being on the Left meant sharing, defending the most disfavoured, the most fragile; It meat giving priority to culture and the social fabric and to voluntary associations; it meant giving hope and even an ideal of life. Short-termist accountancy seems to have gained the upper hand over all political vision with heavy consequences for our collective lives. The world of voluntary associations is being devastated. The associations to help integration are disappearing and with them thousands of jobs. The richly endowed sectarian Islamist networks are taking over the abandoned socio-cultural field.
Faced with the unjust and absurd attitude of the French Government towards the Kurds, we are calling, as a last resort on our French fellow citizens, who all along these last three decades, in difficult times, have shown magnificent solidarity”.
For his part, the editor in chief of Le Monde, Alain Frachon, in an editorial published on the front page of Le Monde of 17 April, entitled the end of a beautiful Franco-Kurdish tale” expressed his astonishment:
“Should we deprive ourselves of such an institution just at the moment of Kurdish re-awakening? The Kurds are our allies in the fight against ISIS. The Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraqi Kurdistan embodies a model of federal autonomy that could, on the context of existing borders, sere as an example for the re-composition of States in the Region. In a divided Kurdish world, the Institute has achieved the feat of maintaining good relations with all the tribes of a family torn apart by history”.
TV5 Monde notes that “in university circles this mobilisation goes beyond France’s borders” since the Paris Kurdish Institute has the biggest Kurdish library in the Western world. “Research workers are appalled at the idea of being deprived of our stock of documents that attracts post-graduate students from Germany, Japan and the United States. Before the emergence of Internet, we also used to receive delegations from Academies of social science of China and the Soviet Union who came to gather material about the Kurds” explained Kendal Nezan. “Then there are everyday citizens who send us little donations and very touching messages. Others also come to us from Germany, Sweden and we have launched an appeal in the United States”. In 1986, in similar situation, it the Swedish government came forward to help us and enabled us to hold out until a left government was elected in France. But in those days no one had heard about the Paris Kurdish Institute — today the whole world knows about the diplomatic and cultural services we have provided to France”.
In Arte Journal Marie Labory lamented “If nothing is done, the Kurdish Institute will close this summer although France shelters the second largest Kurdish community in Europe, 250,000 people (…). “Many are unaware of this but the largest Kurdish Library in the Western world is here in Paris”, commented the Paris editor of Arte Journal.
This campaign has been reported by major papers and reviews and is the subject of a petition of support initiated by many public figures. Last May, an appeal was launched in Libération by Jean-Marc AYRAULT, former Prime Minister, Anne HIDALGO Mayor of Paris, Bernard KOUCHNER former Foreign Minister, Bruno LE ROUX, President of the Socialist group in the National Assembly and Hubert VÉDRINE, former Foreign Minister.
“The oldest Kurdish cultural institution in Europe, created in February 1983 with the support of the French President and government, is in danger of disappearing soon, from lack of finance.
During its 32 years of activity, the Kurdish Institute has become a reference point in Europe. In the field of Human Rights, the Kurdish Institute has played a decisive role in informing Western public opinion about the situation of this people without a State and deprived of recognised political representation. The Kurdish Institute has also done great work for the secular and republican integration of Kurds in France
Because of its contribution to the republican integration of Kurdish population and to French influence in the Kurdish world, Pierre Bérégovoy’s Government granted the Institute the status of “Publicly Useful Foundation”. Later, the Jospin government, following a searching public audit, granted it a public annual grant of 600,000 euros. Gradually reduced after 2002, this grant was completely stopped under Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency.
The Kurdish Institute was then only able to survive thanks to an exceptional effort by the Kurdistan Regional Government. Since January 2014, however, the government, deprived of its share of the Iraqi national budget by Baghdad, inundated by a flood of 1,5 million refugees and displaced people and facing attacks by ISIS has been unable to help the Institute. Calls for help addressed to the French authorities have, so far, been unavailing.
To ensure its survival, the Kurdish Institute had asked for an annual grant of 650,000 euros (less than 4% of the French subsidy to the Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute). Failing a rapid the French authorities, the Kurdish Institute is in danger of seeing all its activities come to an end at the time when the whole world is applauding the courage of the Kurds in Iraq and Syria. It would be an incomprehensible paradox, shocking and absurd.
The signatories are calling on the French authorities to help the Paris Kurdish Institute to perpetuate its existence and continue its missions that are more than ever needed today.
Among the signatories are Pouria Amirshahi, M.P.; Michèle André, Senator, and President of the Senate Finance Commission; Christian Bataille, M.P.; Esther Benbassa, Senator; Michel Billout, Senator; Patrick Bloche, M.P. and President of the Cultural Affaires Commission of the National Assembly; Sergio Coronado, M.P.; Bertrand Delanoë, Honorary Mayor of Paris; Cécile Duflot, M.P. and former Minister; Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam Senator; Jean-Marc Germain, M.P. and International Secretary of the Socialist Party; Jean Glavany, M.P.; Jean-Pierre Godefroy, Senator; Paul Molac, M.P..; Aymeri de Montesquiou, Senator; Jean-Christophe Lagarde, M.P. and Mayor of Drancy; Jean Lassalle, M.P.; François Loncle, M.P. and former Minister; Jean-Vincent Placé, Senator and President of the Green Group in the Senate; Jean-Luc Reitzer, M.P.; Pierre Serne, Vice-President of the Ile de France Regional Council.
Finally, interviewed in Figaro on 16 June, Kendal Nezan recalled that the situation of the Kurdish Institute and the reason for ts financial difficulties: “On 11 June we launched a campaign aimed at finding private sponsors. This is the last path we are exploring before shutting up shop. Our Board of Directors met on 23 June to take a decision. If we do close we envisage moving to Sweden, a country that is ready to welcome us. We will thus be obliged to expatriate”.
Bernard Kouchner personally went to the Institute and recorded a filmed message, published on the change.org site to introduce the petition.
“The Kurdish institute is about to disappear, is in danger of dying! It has no more money. The best, the biggest Kurdish Institute, which represents 25 million Kurds — perhaps even 30, the only people without a State — the Institute is threatened. So, please, it must be helped.
First of all the petition must be signed. Sign the petition calling on the public authorities to again give it its former grants, so that the Kurdish Institute of Paris may be able to continue working.
Firstly the petition, and secondly the donations: everything depends on you! Think about the values that the Kurds are defending in this Middle East of barbarians, murderers and extreme violence — the Kurds are fighting in our name: in the name of democracy, of equality of men and women, of elections! In the name of the separation of Islam and government — these are our values.
They are there, they are our friends and they are fighting for us as well. So, for all these reasons, you must make donations. Donations are necessary, so that the Kurdish Institute, which symbolically represents us too, in this struggle. If you can, do yet more — if you can set up circuits, contacts so that we don’t allow this Institute to die, I think you will have done a really good deed. I thank you and welcome you”.
The petition can be signed on the change.org site at the following address:
You can also make a donation on the Institute’s site (www.institutkurde.org) or by sending a cheque made out to “Institut Kurde de Paris” to its address at:
106, rue La Fayette, 75010 Paris. Thank you for your support.
On 14 June, the Syrian Human Rights Centre estimated that the YPG now held some twenty villages that were about 5 Kms from Tell Abyad. According to the Centre the Jihadists have retreated rather than resisted and that only about 150 fighters are left to defend the town.
On 14 June the Kurdish units of Kobanî and Jezireh were able to join forces and cut communications between Tell Abyad and Raqqah on 15 despite a suicide attack by a car bomb outheast of the town. By the evening of the same day the YPG controlled 99% of Tell Abyad except for scattered pockets of resistance, which were completely cleared by 16 June.
The fighting for Tell Abyad provoked a fresh wave of refugees and, beginning of 10 June some 2000 civilians sought asylum in Turkey or in the Syrian Kurdish cantons. However, the number of escapees continued t increase and reached the total of 13,500 on 12 June. Turkey then decided to close the border and deploy troops to turn the civilian refugees back. Faced with the chaotic conditions, however, with thousands of families pressing against the fencing and trying to cross at any price right in front of the whole world’s cameras the photographers the borders were finally re-opened on 14 June and another 7,000 refugees were able to cross over.
The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who had just suffered a stinging electoral set back and finding it hard to accept the pro-Kurdish HDP’s success, accused the YPG of ethically cleaning Tell Abyad of its Arab and Turcoman population. The YPG and the Syrian Human Rights Centre both denied these accusations, the latter referring to “some isolated incidents of Arab houses being set on fire but that there was no systematic violence”.
The joint Kurdish and FSA “Euphrates Volcano” forces immediately pushed further South towards Raqqa. The first stage was the small town of Ain Issa and a neighbouring military base, Lawa 93 that ISIS abandoned without a fight on 23 June. The “Euphrates Volcano” unit was only 56 Kms from Raqqa, though ISIS counter-attacked on June 30 and succeeded in retaking part of Tell Abyad.
This ISIS counter-offensive was accompanied by suicide attacks on other Kurdish towns, Qamishlo and Hassaké, causing ten deaths. Hassaké, which is held by both YPG and Syrian Government Army units, came under heavy fire from ISIS troops that temporarily entered the Northeast of the town on 25 June. However the most murderous attack was on Kobanî where, at 5 o’clock in the morning of the same day, ISIS forces entered the town, many apparently wearing YPG uniforms. These units carried out several suicide attacks with car bombs, causing many civilian victims — over 200 deaths.
At Barkh Butan, a village that borders on the town, 23 people, men, women and children, were massacred by the Jihadists. Hundreds of Kurdish villagers, who had returned home after the liberation of Kobanî, again crossed the Turkish borders while many wounded were evacuated to Urfa. The Jihadists were rapidly killed or captured by the YPG, the final attack being launched against the town\s hospital where ISIS members had entrenched themselves.
The Kurds denounced Turkey’s “complicity”, affirming that these ISIS forces had entered Kobanî by crossing the Syrian border through the Mürşitpınar border post ” which Ankara denied categorically and the Urfa Governor told the AFP that the ISIS forces had entered Kobanî through the Syrian town of Jarablus.
Nevertheless, Turkish hostility to the Kurdish PYD as well as its connivance at Jihadist movements, especially those of ISIS, allows one to think that the recapture of Kobanî would not have displeased the AKP government. Since the fall of Tell Abyad, the AKP has continuously attacked the alleged “ethnic cleansing” against Arabs and Turcoman, stating in their headlines that the PYD was “worse that ISIS” (Sabah) and ¥eni Safak even accusing the YPG of being the real authors of the Kobanî massacre while the daily Star suggested an ISIS-PYD alliance directly aimed at Turkey.
This increasingly threatening tone adopted by Ankara against a “possible Kurdish State” in Syria, that Erdogan says will never be “accepted” by Turkey has led many to envisage a Turkish intervention in Syria, probably directed more against the YPG than against ISIS, that the daily paper Hurriyet of 27 June openly evoked such a scenario.
The presidential issue has been sharply raised again in Iraqi Kurdistan as the 2-year extension of Masud Barzani’s term of office draws to a close. This is due to expire on 19 August, but since June 2014, the control of part of Iraq by ISIS and Iraqi Kurdistan’s state of war as well as the great number of refugees and internally displaced persons have led a part of public opinion to question the timeliness and security for elections being held in the Kurdistan Region. This is so widespread that Parliament has envisaged still further extending the Presidential term of office — which is aroused criticism from the opposition.
On 13 June Masud Barzani himself called for elections to be held on 20 August, the day following the end of his term of office, whereas his own party, the KDP considers that the present situation demands that he remain at his post — as proposes by Jaffar Ibrahim Eminki, the KDP spokesman. But it remains uncertain whether the outgoing President will stand as a candidate for such an election.
The adoption of a new Constitution in 2009, which changed the means of his election at the end of the 4 years of his first presidency had given him the possibility, after election by universal suffrage, of another 4-year term of office until 2013. However, parliament then granted a 2-years extension of his term of office while a new electoral law was being drafted. This extension was supported by both the KDP and the PUK, since the latter, at the time was having problems over its own leadership following Jalal Talabani health problems and internal differences over who should succeed him.
Some days after the President’s declaration, Kurdistan’s independent electoral High Commission declared, on 20 June that the legal conditions necessary for organising this election as well as the time available for it, were lacking. The Commission’s Vice-President, Sulaiman Mustafa, recalled that the decision for holding elections were incumbent on the electoral Commission and not on the President, that the Commission had asked to meet the latter, as well as the Prime Minister some twenty days before, but had so far been unable to do so. The Commission also wished for Parliament to take part in this task pointing out that it could not be held responsible if the elections did not take place in August. Sulaiman Mustafa pointed out that budget would have to be allocated for preparing them, so that the commission could open polling booths in the different provinces and provide the staff and observers to man them. Some members of parliament finally met with the electoral Commission to discuss these problems.
The KDP obviously supports Masud Barzani’s initiative but insists that the outgoing President be able to stand as the sole candidate the KDP could envisage, because of “the recent international developments”. The KDP is also opposed to the change in the Presidential elections from the present one of election by universal suffrage to one in which the members of Parliament elect the President.
On 23 June, While the Kurdish parliament was in ordinary session drafting amendments to a number of laws (including the law on the Presidency) the discussions were boycotted by the KDP group (38 members out of 111) as well as members from other small organisations. The Communist Party had demanded the postponement of discussions, a postponement that had been rejected, as Gorran wanted the discussions to continue. Thus the session took place with the PUK, Gorran, the Islamic Union of Kurdistan, the Kurdish Islamic Group and the Communist Party of Kurdistan, attended by several international representatives invited by the parliament. They were the American, Egyptian, German representatives as well as Mohsen Bawafay, the senior advisor to the Iranian Consulate at Erbil. This provoked criticism by the Iranian Kurdish party the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK)
The PUK, Gorran, the two Islamic parties each presented an amendment to the Presidential law but all wished the President be elected by Parliament thus opposing the stand of the KDP, which was absent from the session.