Kurds refuse to back down.
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) security forces are arbitrarily detaining men and boys ages 15 and over who are fleeing Mosul and Hawija during the offensive against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in a facility near the Debaga displaced persons camp.
The men and boys fleeing from ISIS-held territory into the KRG are being detained for indefinite periods even after they pass an initial security check for possible ties to ISIS by KRG security forces. They are denied access to lawyers and detained, sometimes for weeks, even if they are not individually suspected of a crime, while KRG authorities conduct further security screenings on them. The only legal basis for detention under national law is individualized suspicion of having committed a crime recognized in the penal code, and individuals should only be detained under criminal justice system rules.
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.
The question before Masoud Barzani is what to do in order to turn state-building rhetoric into a future Kurdish state.
KRG’s President Barzani has recently intensified his efforts for independence. There might be many reasons for this. First and foremost, the state of Iraq is often regarded uncontroversially as a ‘failed state’, artificially designed by British and French colonisers in the aftermath of WW1, offering the Kurds nothing but a calamitous century-long history including genocidal attempts to eradicate Kurdish nationalism. Added to this, the domestic demand for the right of self-determination is well known to the Kurdish leadership. 98.8 percent of Kurdish voters said yes to independence in the Kurdistan independence referendum of January 2005.
The small region of Kurdistan, little more than an autonomous region of Iraq protected by a no fly zone before the overthrow of Saddam, has now become an international entity. The KRG has its own foreign relations apparatus with 34 foreign consulates operating in Erbil. It has also a vast economic reach mainly because of colossal oil and gas preserves in Kurdistan as well as its trade with neighbouring countries. This has convinced the outside world that the notion of a Kurdish state is no longer out of the question.
Located over territories spread across Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, Kurds are facing multiple challenges on the road to Kurdish statehood. A major problem is the absence of a united Kurdish national movement. The two major power blocks in Kurdish politics, Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP and Abdullah Ocalan’s Kurdistan Worker’s Party PKK ( designated a terrorist group by the US, EU and Turkey), have been vying for political dominance over Kurdish nationalism for many years, and are as divided as ever. The Syrian conflict has brought significant changes to the power dynamics between the two, expanding the power of the PKK at the expense of the KDP. This development itself is very critical for Kurdish politics and the direction it is taking.