Middle East (OpenDemocracy) – Rather than a unified Kurdistan across borders, a single ethnic group with multiple sovereign territories is more likely to be the political foundation of the modern Kurdish Middle East. In early December 2016, the burning of a…
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.”