Germany (Sputnik) – Around 30,000 Kurds and Kurdish supporters took to the streets of the German city of Frankfurt on Saturday to protest against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the approaching referendum that would vastly expand his powers. The demonstrators,…
A 23-year-old Danish woman who attracted international attention for joining the Kurds in battling Daesh has been imprisoned, stripped of her visa, and banned from international travel for 12 months by the Danish government.
Joanna Palani seemed a natural to attract international attention. The daughter of Iranian Kurds, Palani was born in a UN Iraqi refugee camp in 1993. In 2014, she dropped out of college, returning to her motherland to “fight for human rights for all people,” in her own words. Her father and grandfather were soldiers as well, and she has been operating firearms since the age of nine.
A United Nations (UN) special rapporteur has announced the preliminary results of a study on torture in Turkish jails, prisons and extrajudicial sites stating he has found multiple abuses and cases of torture following July’s coup.
UN human rights expert, Nils Melzer conducted interviews with inmates, lawyers and advocacy groups over the course of six days last week. Melzer says the reports of torture are widespread through facilities at all levels and were most likely to occur upon initial arrest and detention of suspects. A recent investigation from BBC discovered that the recent purges and arrests aren’t limited to potential coup-plotters but also include many Kurds and leftists.
Kurds find themselves in the eye of a fast paced and changing storm in the Middle East. We travel to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party mountain stronghold in northern Iraq to get a first-hand take on a critical moment for the whole region. Karlos Zurutuza interviews Riza Altun, Kurdistan Communities Union executive member and co-founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast is witnessing, what is possibly, an unprecedented peak of violence. Fierce clashes between Turkish security forces and urban militants have levelled districts to the ground. The ongoing post-coup crackdown in Turkey targets Kurdish political representatives as new fronts also open for Kurds across the Middle East. ‘It’s a turning point for our people,’ says Riza Altun from the headquarters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Qandil mountain range.
In May 2015, Mahabad, the capital of Iran’s Kurdish region, burned as riots and protests spread following the mysterious death of a young Kurdish woman in the city. Activists claimed that she had fallen to her death from the window of a hotel while escaping an attempted rape by an Iranian security official. The incident garnered international attention and was the focal point for geo-political propaganda battles.
The riots in Mahabad were not only indicative of the latent rage among the Kurdish population, but were also a symbolic reminder of the flame that has long burned within the city of Mahabad.
Recruited Children as Fighters From Camp for Displaced People
Iraqi government-backed Hashad al-Asha’ri militias detained and beat at least 22 men from two villages near Mosul. The militias also recruited at least 10 children in a camp for displaced people as fighters against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
“Civilians in ISIS-held territory in and around Mosul are asking themselves what will come next. The answer to that question should be greater respect for human rights,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “For some civilians who have come under the control of Hashad al-Asha’ri militias, however, the change in guard has not meant protection from rights abuses.”
Another US soldier has died as the result of Iraq’s third American-involved war. The operative’s death both shadows the new Mosul offensive, and a massive US troop surge launched shortly before. Those forces, like this most recent casualty, are almost entirely dark shades of special forces.
Chief Petty Officer Jason C. “JJ” Finan died as a result of wounds sustained by an improvised explosive device. Few details are currently available, and officials are cautious to admit Finan was directly involved in the battle. Islamic State militants have held Mosul, one of Iraq’s largest, since the beginning of the war. Militants seized the town with American arms and vehicles, with many Iraqi forces retreating without a fight. Many Iraqi soldiers stripped their fatigues, vests, and put down their guns fleeing the Islamic State’s hard-charge from Syria.
The bizarrely intertwined events of the Syrian conflict are suddenly playing out in a less than logical manner, but in fact this big reversal for the Kurds – who make up about 10% of Syria’s population – is no surprise. Although they’ve not lost a single battle and have made real gains in their fight against the Islamic State (IS), they have suddenly found themselves forced to abandon the vast swaths of the territory they had liberated east of the Euphrates.
Now that the Turks have invaded Syria, there is no more talk of granting the Kurds the status of a separate federal region within a new Syrian state – something the Kurds very much want – much less the independence for which many of them have secretly dreamed.
After this military coup, the government may use this as an excuse to strengthen their sexist, militarist and anti-democratic policies further. We face this danger now.
The authors write:
The prominence of Kurdish women in Rojava (western Kurdistan/northern Syria) inspired us initially to understand the historical role of women in the Kurdish political movement. We were also interested in the role of Kurdish women in challenging traditional patriarchal society and rules. As part of this wider project, we wanted to hear the thoughts of Gültan Kışanak, the female co-mayor of Diyarbakır, the largest Kurdish city in southeastern Turkey.
She has been a long-term activist in the Kurdish women’s movement in addition to being a former MP for the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). Ms Kişanak was imprisoned as a student after the military coup in 1980, and as a woman’s rights activist and Kurdish politician has witnessed the violent aftermath of previous coups as well as the radically changing political landscape over the past decades.