Syria's Kurds (12 percent of the population) rarely get mentioned. There are several reasons, but the biggest one is that the Syrian government cooperates with the PKK as long as the PKK does not launch attacks in Syria. Still, the situation in Syria for Kurds is not good. Occasionally stories appear in the Turkish press of Kurds in Syria staging protests. There was a big one in 2004 and another in 2007 (that ended in bloodshed). There are plenty of rumors about Kurds getting harassed by Syrian police. The Syrian dictatorship oppresses everyone, but in the last few months it appears the government is worried about new Kurdish demands for ethnic rights, including the use of the Kurdish language. Turkey has relented on the language issue. The Syrians may believe this will encourage Kurds in Syria to agitate.
December 19, 2009: 19 members of the Turkish parliament who belong to the now-banned Democratic Society Party (DTP, the ethnic Kurd party in Turkey) have decided to remain in parliament. The government hoped the parliamentarians would remain. The 19 indicated they will join the new Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). The BDP was formed when the court began investigating the DTP for links to the PKK. In other words, the BDP is a replacement for the DTP. The Justice and Development Party (AKP), which is the governing party, has made no secret of its dislike of the court ruling banning the DTP. AKP leaders maintain the court ruling is designed to derail its peace initiatives. A government spokesman said on December 17 that it did not intend to stop political and economic reforms designed to end the Kurdish insurgency.
December 14, 2009: Protests by Turkish Kurds continued over the Turkish Constitutional Court's December 11 ruling that banned the DTP. Most of the protests are occurring in southeastern Turkey (the predominantly Kurdish area). Two people were killed in demonstrations in the town of Bulanik (Mus province). The European Union has also criticized the ruling.
December 13, 2009: A group of Kurdish members of parliament said that they intend to resign from parliament, following the Constitutional Court's ruling that banned the DTP. The Kurdish Mps said that the ruling was illegal. Several Kurdish spokesmen attacked Turkish president Abdullah Gul (a member of the AKP). Gul said he supported the decision (though reluctantly).
December 12, 2009: The U.S. believes the Iraqi government and Iraqi Kurdish leaders are effectively addressing issues over power-sharing in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. How to deal with ethnic conflict in Kirkuk has been one of Iraq's biggest political concerns. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has made solving the problem one of his government's central goals.
December 11, 2009: Turkey's Constitutional Court has banned the Democratic Society Party (DTP). The court banned the DTP for having strong links to the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which Turkey (and now most of Europe as well) calls a terrorist organization. The ruling declared that the DTP served as a "focal point of activities against the indivisible unity of the state, the country and the nation." After the ruling street protests broke out in several places in Turkey. The government said it was worried about violence. One of the biggest demonstrations in Hakkari (southeastern Turkey) did turn violent as over 1000 protestors fought with police. The Turkish government is particularly concerned about Diyarbakir, which is the largest city in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast. The DTP has 21 members in parliament. The ruling also banned two of the DTP members from all political activity for five years.
December 7, 2009: The Turkish military said that seven soldiers were killed in an attack near the town of Resadiye (Tokat province, northern Turkey). Four soldiers were injured. The soldiers were on a ptarol near a mountain outpost. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
December 6, 2009: The Turkish government and Turkish media reported that public protests by Turkish Kurds are increasing in anticipation of a Constitutional Court ruling on the legitimacy of the DTP. One protestor died in a confrontation with police in southeastern Turkey.
November 26, 2009: The PKK said that it wanted to have a direct dialog with the Turkish government. The direct talks would discuss ending the PKK's war with the Turkish government. The Turkish government refuses to negotiate with the PKK.
November 22, 2009: A number of Alevi Kurds are very upset with a speech delivered November 10 by Republican Peoples Party (CHP) member Onur Oymen. Oymen, which raised the touchy subject of the Dersim Uprising (1937) and implied it was a terrorist uprising. Around 13,000 Alevis died when the Turkish Army put down the revolt in 1938. One Turkish journal said that Alevi Kurds who are members of the CHP are considering quitting the party. The town of Tunceli (in Tunceli province) was called Dersim prior to the revolt. Alevi Kurds are the predominant group in Tunceli. Alevi Kurds are sometimes called Anatolian Alevis or Kizilbash Kurds. Alevis are not Arab Alawites (as in Syria).