Blood and Belief: The PKK and the Kurdish Fight for Independence

Blood and Belief: The PKK and the Kurdish Fight for Independence

Blood and Belief: The PKK and the Kurdish Fight for Independence

Blood and Belief: The PKK and the Kurdish Fight for Independence


In Pursuit of Right and Justice chronicles the life of the United States District Court's Judge Edward Weinfeld, from his humble Lower East Side origins to his distinction as one of the nation's most respected federal judges. Judge Edward Weinfeld's personal growth and socio-economic mobility provides an excellent illustration of how Catholics and Jews descended from turn-of-the-century immigrants were assimilated into the mainstream of New York and American life during the course of the twentieth century. Weinfeld left a rich collection of personal papers that William E. Nelson examines, which depict the compromises and sacrifices Weinfeld had to make to attain professional advancement. Weinfeld's jurisprudence remained closely tied to his own personal values and to the historical contexts in which cases came to his court.

Nelson aptly describes how Weinfeld strove to avoid making new law. He tried to make decisions on preexisting rules or bedrock legal principles; he achieved just results by searching for and finding facts that called those rules into play. Weinfeld's vision of justice was simultaneously a liberal one that enabled him to develop law that reflected societal change, and an apolitical one that did not rest on contested policy judgments.


Abdullah Ocalan was born in a typical farming village in Sanliurfa, a province just on the edge of the Kurdish region. He often said he did not know for sure the exact year of his birth. His parents registered it as 1949, but as sometimes was the case among rural people in Turkey, the registration might have been delayed a year or two due to disinterest in such official matters or to give young Abdullah a better chance once he was conscripted in the army. the area where he grew up was populated by Kurds, Turks, and Armenians and the different peoples mixed easily, going to school together, doing business, and among the Muslim villages at least, also intermarrying. Ocalan's grandmother on his mother's side, in fact, was a Turk, and he once claimed that his mother was as well. Still, for all the intermingling, Ocalan did not learn Turkish until he entered elementary school.

Life in this region was marked by grueling poverty for most everyone but the landlords. in Ocalan's village of Omerli, men and women worked the harsh land, harvesting what they could and in summer supplementing the meager income by picking cotton in the fields of the wealthy landowners. It was a tough life with little money for anything but the basics and little hope that things would get better. Later on, Ocalan's supporters would make much of the fact that he came from as depressed surroundings as his followers, unlike many of the earlier leading Kurdish figures, who often were linked to large tribal or wealthy landowning families.

The seemingly inescapable cycle of poverty of such villages was captured more than 30 years after Ocalan's birth in an article in the French newspaper Le Monde, which looked at life in one typical Kurdish village in the Mardin province near the Syrian border: “Each family had a few chickens and possibly five or six goats. the agha [local landlord] would visit occasionally to reaffirm his authority and assign work. This consisted mainly of labor on the cotton plantations of the Mesopotamian plain two hundred metres below. All except the very . . .

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