Fleeing or staying behind?
Turkey’s post-coup crackdown continues to make international headlines in its fourth month, with November bringing an attack on independent media outlets and the arrests of multiple politicians from the pro-Kurdish opposition People’s Democatic Party (HDP), including the party’s co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag.
The party, which also advocates for women’s and LGBTQ+ rights alongside those of other minority groups as well as the Kurds, first entered parliament last year. There are a total of 59 HDP parliamentarians.
On November 4, Demirtas and Yuksekdag were arrested alongside eight other HDP parliamentarians in connection with an anti-terror investigation. Reports initially claimed arrest warrants had been issued for all 59 HDP MPs, though this has since been proven false. A total of 14 arrests warrants have been issued.
Iraqi Kurdistan has asked Russia for military and humanitarian aid. The request was made by Falah Mustafa Bakir, the head of the foreign department of Kurdistan’s Regional Government (KRG), after his visit to Moscow on November 1 to hold talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and North Africa Mikhail Bogdanov.
The KRG delegation made a trip to Russia to boost the bilateral ties, especially with regard to energy cooperation. Gazprom Neft, a subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned energy company, has been drilling in the Kurdistan Region for almost two years. According to Mr. Bakir, the KRG considered Russia as an ally, so it was only natural to asks it for all kinds of assistance, including military aid.
Massoud Barzani, the President of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, has called for Russia and the US-led coalition to joint efforts in the fight against Islamic State (IS). According to him, «The Kurdistan region… welcomes Russia if it supports the peshmerga in the fight against Daesh (IS)».
Two leaders of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition party have reportedly been detained, along with six party deputies.
“At night in Ankara police detained the party’s chairwoman Figen Yuksekdag, the door was broken during the storming of the house,” said a representative of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
“Half an hour later, [chairman] Selahattin Demirtas was detained.”
At least six other HDP deputies were also apprehended as part of a “counter-terrorism” investigation, the representative added. Some reports suggest as many as 15 HDP members have been detained
Viyan Antar, 19, was killed fighting Islamic State forces in Northern Syria last month. Undoubtedly, Viyan, like many Kurdish fighters, was gorgeous. Western media outlets sought to capitalize on the death of the “Kurdish Angelina Jolie”. Her photo was plastered all over the media. Her death was used to further the march for war in Syria. Had this been a US soldier, the incident would have been forgotten before her body was cold. In this case, the media’s treatment of the young Kurdish fighter unleashed a firestorm of criticism and sparked multiple debates.
The first and most obvious is the sexualization of a fighter who gave her life fighting in support of a philosophy that seeks to end the sexualization of women. In something glossed over in the rush to create propaganda, the media failed to mention that Viyan was fighting with the YPG, a Kurdish group dedicated to a certain set of ideas. One of the major beliefs is that people are judged by their service to cause of liberation, not their appearance. Casting Viyan as the teenage beauty queen martyred on the alter of fighting the Islamic State betrayed everything she actually fought and died for. It was a travesty of journalism.
With Turkey’s incursion (or invasion) of Syria this week; Kurdish fighters have been ordered to stand down. Some in the West are disappointed by this turn of events but historically it’s just another instance of the Kurds being used as a political prop by U.S. when it’s to their advantage.
Since the escalation of the war in Syria, The United States has been supplying Kurds in Syria with weapons and support in order to combat the Islamic State. The Kurdish YPG have proven themselves to be a competent force in fighting extremism and managed to gain significant amounts of territory.
For a lot of younger people in The West just waking up to geopolitical events this may be the first time they’ve learned of the Kurdish population in the border region of Turkey, Iraq and Syria. If you’re just hearing of the Kurdish struggle for autonomy then you’ve missed the U.S. turning a blind eye to their slaughter for decades and constantly using their plight whenever it’s convenient.
Threatened by Security Forces Over His Reporting
An Iraqi Kurdish journalist who had been threatened by security services was abducted and found dead on August 13, 2016. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) should ensure a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation into the killing of Wedad Hussein Ali, 28, who was allegedly affiliated with the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Witnesses described his apparent kidnapping by unknown assailants, who claimed to be Kurdish security forces, following repeated interrogations by the KRG’s Asayish political police forces over the past 12 months about his writings critical of Kurdish authorities.
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.