America’s Agreement With Turkey: Another Betrayal of the Kurds

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Nurses tend to a child burned by Turkish chemical weapons attack, Rojava

Nurses tend to a child burned by Turkish chemical weapons attack, Rojava

By Aram Aziz:

Kurds in Rojava have so far been unable to do what they need to do. In truth, Kurds should be able to resolve their cause at the negotiation table: why should they always have to fight to the end? The Kurdish politicians and leaders must revise what has happened over the last two decades for political and emotional reasons. In 2016, for example, Kurdish politicians planned to organise a conference for representatives of the whole Kurdish nation from all four parts in Kurdistan. That plan was aborted, due to the concessions made by various politician to their neighbouring states and their careless attitude towards their national cause. That conference for all the Kurds never took place. At that time, Masoud Barzani was supposed to contact Turkey to organise a meeting between the leaders of Rojava and Erdogan, the president of Turkey; however, the preparations never materialized, partly because Rojava was suspicious of Turkey’s and Barzani’s intentions. Turkey’s history and background has prevented any peace process or negotiated settlement being completed with the Kurdish movement in Turkey or Syria. Therefore, we are unable to predict whether any meeting would produce anything for Rojava, or would be futile.

Mazlum Kobani the commander of the SDF, accepted an agreement with the Syrian regime to protect Rojava. The SDF has also accepted the ceasefire with Turkey on 17th October 2019 even though it was prepared by the US government. Observers understand the desperation of the Rojava leaders to save the lives of millions of their citizens, including Christians, living in the self-ruled region of Rojava and facing the brutality of Turkey’s military forces. Erdogan, the president of Turkey and the leader of this war criminal operation, has confirmed that it is their intention to go inside Syria by 30km by force on the pretext that they are building a safe haven or buffer zone. The Turkish invasion over the course of eight days could not achieve this goal but they have tried instead to achieve it through a few hours of negotiations with the US administration led by Mark Pence. Turkey’s military forces claim to have been given all authority to deal with the SDF and point six of the agreement even refers to the PKK after Trump disgracefully described the PKK as “worse than ISIS”. Finally, there cannot be a lasting and just solution arising from any negotiations unless the SDF, the armed forces of Rojava, are given their place at the table.

Aram Aziz is a writer who originates from South Kurdistan

source: The Kurdistan Tribune

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The World is Shocked by Turkish Atrocities in Rojava

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By Arian Mufid: 

The Turkish invasion of the north of Syria (Rojava) and the atrocities carried out by the Turkish military junta is, by all International standards, a most brutal, ruthless, and bloodthirsty policy.  Sources close to the SDF confirmed to me last night that the Turkish military forces and their proxy militias couldn’t control the city of Gire Spi and couldn’t control the surrounding area. US army lieutenant Mark Meli has confirmed that the Turkish military forces had only managed to take control of two villages. The SDF resistance with their powerful forces have being digging tunnels for months and preparing for this battle. There are civilian casualties and atrocities everywhere, all over the west of Kurdistan.  The SDF has issued a statement on their losses and enemy casualties. The statement yesterday explained that on 9th October the Turkish army forces and their proxy militias commenced their attack on the towns and cities of “Sari Kani, Gire Spi, Ain Essa, Kamishlow, Derik, Trpnsper and Amoda”. Ten drones have been continuously observing the areas. Their statement confirmed the loss of 22 Shervans (Freedom fighters) and the Turkish forces has lost 262 militia fighters and five Turkish soldiers.

The western world is shocked by the Turkish atrocities which people are watching on TV screens all over the world. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said: “We warned the Kurds that the USA will use you”. Putin, the Russian president, said: “The Turkish operation will help the ISIS prisoners to escape”. German chancellor Merkel has confirmed that, “The Turkish military operation is an attempt to destabilise the region”. Also, Macron, the president of France said, “Turkey will be responsible for ISIS if rises up again”. Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, added to the voice of world leaders and said, “The Turkish military operation is a threat to Kurds and their national security”.

Finally, Saddam Hussain the former dictator of Iraq, poured chemical weapons onto the entire city of Halabja in 1988. Thousands of Kurds in the south of Kurdistan were buried alive by his terrorist army. Yet the south of Kurdistan is now the safest and the most progressive part of Iraq and (after embattled Rojava) the Middle East. When the Iraqi dictator tried to bury the Kurds in the south of Kurdistan, he didn’t know that he was planting seeds. Rojava will rise in the way the south of Kurdistan did because that’s the Kurdish spirit. But when this is all over the Kurds will not forget the passivity of the world.

source: The Kurdistan Tribune

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World Silence on Turkish Aggression Against Rojava

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By Arian Mufid:

The Turkish aggression received a green light from Trump when he abruptly decided to withdraw US forces from the north of Syria (Rojava). It’s hard to look at what the Trump administration has done and not conclude that it is an utter betrayal of the Kurds in the north of Syria. Kurds in Rojava have been allied to the USA in leading the fight against ISIS and destroying of their caliphate in Raqaa. Today’s invasion reminds us that, if it wasn’t for Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991, the de facto Kurdish state of the south of Kurdistan would not have come into being. The internal political and economic position of Saddam’s regime motivated the dictator to invade neighbouring countries and divert the masses’ attention from Iraq’s internal problems. What is happening today is in a contradictory sense a positive step for the Kurdish movement in Rojava in that it will bring the Turkish state to its lowest point politically and economically. Rojava is a self-ruled and self-reliant region in the north-east of Syria. Rojava has progressed and flourished over the last few years and it is that trend that most upsets the Turkish military junta. Erdogan is a dictator and he is not different to the other dictators in the Middle East. He has not only provoked Kurds in Rojava but also divided his own AKP party into several factions. The departure of former Turkish prime minister Ahmed Davutoglu and former deputy premier Ali Babacan highlights the internal conflict inside that party, with these former allies now accusing Erdogan of no longer being able to provide solutions for Turkey. Erdogan has adopted a different approach, flaunting his wealth and power whilst gearing up the army to invade Syria. Erdogan’s ruthlessness has been clearly displayed both at home and outside Turkey. His policies have inflicted major damage on the Turkish economy and the state of its currency. The Turkish deficit stands at $2.4bn and the economic turbulence along with the presence of almost four million Syrian skilled workers has caused massive unemployment.

Finally, today’s developments can serve to strengthen the Kurdish and Syrian democratic movement against the Turkey state. The Turkish military junta is digging its own grave and history may repeat itself, with Erdogan’s fate likely to be akin to Saddam’s. The western world will pay a heavy price for their effective silence and complicity in the Turkish invasion. The SDF is holding more than five thousand ISIS prisoners in their territory who could now all be freed to pursue attacks across Europe. Turkey is blackmailing Europe and the USA and they should have not accepted this.

source: The Kurdistan Tribune

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Gorran’s Fragmented Forces

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Gorran supporters gather outside the party HQ following the death of Nawshirwan Mustafa, May 2017

By Arian Mufid:

When Gorran’s founder addressed the movement’s first conference in 2016, he stated that he wanted it to be “a solid, coherent and structured organisation with a strong system which cannot be undermined by the disappearance of one or two leaders”. Nawshirwan Mustafa passed away on 19 May 2017 and subsequently Gorran suffered its most profound electoral setback in September 2018 when it lost almost half its parliamentary seats.

Following Nawshirwan’s death, Gorran’s national executive council appointed a new leadership which has little connection to the movement inside and outside Kurdistan. The General-Coordinator, Omar Syed Ali is cut from PUK cloth, heavily influenced by that party’s history and culture and having little in common with the average Gorran movement supporter.

He can be painted as a typical PUK leader; his politics do not fit with the original ethics and ideals of the Gorran movement. The nepotism and familial privileges displayed during the recent assigning of governmental posts by the Gorran leadership is damaging to the core values of a movement founded with the intent to move Kurdish politics away from the corrupt nepotism that has plagued the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The new leader has failed to assert Gorran’s independent identity although, so far as other Kurdish leaders are concerned, he has slotted into his new job easily.

The Gorran movement has agreed to join the new KRG cabinet, taking four ministerial appointments. However, the membership is divided on whether the movement should participate and have a say within the government or else go back to the strategic approach of building a strong opposition towards the mainstream duopoly of Kurdish politics. Political observers note a clear division inside the movement on the assignment of posts to the leadership’s friends, family and loyalists. In particular, the post of finance minister has been assigned to an individual who does not possess the required skill or knowledge to undertake such a role. While it’s true that modern jobs often have an entire supportive crew, it still requires a competent person to lead. Although Gorran’s founding purpose was about establishing true democracy and justice, ever since Nawshirwan’s death the movement seems to have been infiltrated by endless nepotism and corruption. At this stage Gorran are furnishing their castle with autocratic and Stalinist style leadership.

Gorran is critically divided into at least four fractions: a group around the leadership who mainly originate from the PUK; a group led by Kadr Haji Ali, claiming that Gorran must stick to its 2009 founding principles; grassroots opponents to the movement’s participation with the KDP in the new KRG cabinet; and an ineffective group around Nawshirwan’s two sons. In order to save and revive the movement before it’s too late, principled politicians within Gorran must:

First, press for a conference at the earliest stage possible and new leadership elections. This will be crucial for the movement to take a new direction and also develop effective short-term tactics.

Second, campaign for the removal of all the government ministers selected by the current Gorran leadership and their replacement by suitably qualified individuals.

source: The Kurdistan Tribune

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HDP Urgent Statement: The “Civil Coup” Against Elected Kurdish Metropolitan Mayors in Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van

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By the Central Executive Board, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP):

We will not be silenced, we will not be stopped…

Our Municipal Co-chairs, who were elected with 63% of the vote in Diyarbakır, 56% of the vote in Mardin and 53% of the vote in Van, have been removed from duty with an Interior Ministry order based on lies and unlawful grounds. A severe operation of detentions targeting our municipal council members and employees continues at this moment.

This is a new and clear political coup. It also constitutes a clearly hostile move against the political will of the Kurdish people. The Interior Ministry is acting as the enforcer of decisions and practices that usurp rights and freedoms, carry out provocations and leave not even a single grain of democracy behind.

During the period of kayyıms- the unelected administrators appointed by the state, the resources of all municipalities were squandered, leaving a wreck behind. As reports of the Supreme Court of Public Accounts have revealed, the Interior Ministry and the government have become a center of corruption and embezzlement.

This government and the Interior Ministry have not been able to digest the fact that the corruption and irregularities of the kayyım period and the disgrace of the kayyıms who stole and wasted public resources have been revealed. Since the local military and civilian bureaucracy also fed off this system of corruption, they also became supporters of the period of kayyıms.

This government no longer has even a modicum of democratic legitimacy. To usurp the will of the people, and to extort what they could not gain at the elections, through state violence, force and trickery have become the practices of this AKP-MHP alliance.

The people will never accept such practices. As in the past, the people will claim and protect their will, its elected representatives and its party.

Against this government that usurps the will of the people and refuses to accept the ballot and the elections, we hereby issue our call for solidarity to all forces of democracy, to all our citizens who carry a conscience, to all oppositions parties in or outside Parliament, to all civilian society organizations, to unions and professional associations and to all democratic associations.

It is an indisputable right, in both the constitutional sense, and in terms of universal law, to use all manners of legitimate and democratic methods of struggle against this government. We can win democracy only through the common and determined struggle of the forces of democracy.

This is our call to everyone who voted at the 31 March and 23 June elections across Turkey for democracy, and against the AKP-MHP alliance. This is not only the problem of the HDP and the Kurdish people, but the common problem of all the peoples of Turkey and all forces of democracy. Do not remain silent -to remain silent is to give approval.

Peoples’ Democratic Party

Central Executive Board

19 August 2019

source: The Kurdistan Tribune

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Ilisu Dam: A Critical Juncture – Open Letter to UK Foreign Secretary

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Hasankeyf

Rt. Hon. Dominic Raab MP
Foreign Secretary
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
Whitehall
London SW1A 2AH

7 August 2019

Dear Foreign Secretary,

The Ilisu Dam: a critical juncture

Over the past two decades, we have written to your predecessors on numerous occasions (most recently on 10 June 2019) to express our grave concerns over the adverse environmental, social and geopolitical impacts of the Ilisu Dam on the River Tigris in Turkey, which is now nearing completion.

You will recall that in 2001 the UK construction company Balfour Beatty, which had been seeking UK export credit support for the project, withdrew from the project after parliamentarians, experts and non-governmental organisations had expressed their opposition. Since then, other EU companies have also withdrawn due to environmental, human rights, cultural heritage and other concerns.

Despite this strong international opposition, mirrored domestically, the Turkish government has now commenced filling the reservoir of the controversial Ilisu Dam on the Tigris River in the Kurdish Southeast of Turkey without giving any official warning to those still living in the area. Neither the state agency responsible for the dam, the State Hydraulic Works (DSI), nor any other governmental institution has made a statement on the flooding of the reservoir, although the DSI has informally acknowledged that it has initiated a ‘test filling’.

Photos shared on social media show how a road along the Tigris River just upstream of the dam is already under water and satellite photographs (attached) reveals that the reservoir is now several kilometres long.

Around 80,000 people in 200 settlement sites will lose their livelihoods as a result of the dam, threaten them with impoverishment. The Tigris is the last major river in Turkey (and probably also in the Middle East) that is largely free-flowing. It is home to a rich biodiversity with endemic and threatened species.

Once filled, the reservoir will also drown the 12,000-year-old town of Hasankeyf, a site of international historical and cultural importance whose flooding would be a loss not just to the region but to humanity as a whole. Hasankeyf and the surrounding Tigris Valley fulfil 9 out of 10 the criteria for listing as a UNESCO world heritage site, according to independent researchers. The threat posed by the Ilisu Dam project to Hasankeyf prompted the World Monuments Fund to list the city on its 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world.

The dam was planned without proper consultation with downstream states, in contravention with international customary law. Even today, 13 years after construction began, there is no agreement between Turkey, Syria and Iraq on downstream flows as required under international customary law; this despite expert reports suggesting that operation of the dam, in conjunction with a further planned project at Cizre, could reduce the flow of the Tigris during dry years to a trickle. There is a very real fear that the project could seriously jeopardizing the water supply of major Iraqi towns,and put agriculture downstream at risk. The UNESCO site of Mesopotamian Marshes in southern Iraq would be threatened with drying out due to reduced downstream flows. The potential for the dam to exacerbate existing regional conflicts, not least over water, is thus severe, a threat recognised by the FCO under previous administrations.

At a time when the jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan is calling for a resumption of the peace process between the PKK and the Turkish Government, the filling of the reservoir is a provocation to the local Kurdish population, whose opposition to the dam is widespread.

In the interests of peace, international law and sustainable development, we would therefore urge you to use your good office to underline to the Turkey Government the extent of international concern over the project and to urge that the filling of the reservoir be put on hold pending:

  • a mutual agreement with Iraq and Syria guaranteeing sufficient downstream water flows to safeguard water supplies, agriculture and ecosystems (notably the Mesopotamian Marshes) in Syria and Iraq;
  • the outcome of a broad, participative, inclusive and transparent discussion with representatives of affected communities, both within Turkey and regionally, aimed at evolving policies for the sustainable and equitable use of the Tigris.

We look forward to your response and remain available for any further information.

Yours sincerely,

(Signatories below)

  • Hasankeyf Briefing (pdf) – Based on a visit by Julie Ward MEP, Prof. Felix Padel, and Henry Brooks (Kurdish Solidarity Cymru), 13-16 July 2019

 

Signatories:

The Corner House

Peace in Kurdistan

Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive

The Mesopotamia Ecology Movement

Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) UK

Kurdish People’s Democratic Assembly, UK

Maxine Peake, actress

Julie Ward MEP

Dafydd Iwan, LL.D., B.Arch., Past President, Plaid Cymru

Hywel Williams MP

Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Cambridge University

Dr Felix Padel, anthropologist, Oxford University

Dr Camilla Power, University of East London

Dr Derek Wall, Goldsmiths College, University of London

Ian Lawrence, General Secretary at Napo

Christine Blower, NEU International Secretary

Tony Burke, Assistant General Secretary, UNITE

Matt Nathan, Campaigns Director, Freedom for Ocalan Campaign

Stephen Smellie, Deputy Convenor, UNISON Scotland

Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, General Federation of Trade Unions

Mick Wheelan, ASLEF General Secretary

Alan Mardghum, Secretary of Durham Miners Association

Manuel Cortes, General Secretary TSSA

Steve Sweeney, International Editor, Morning Star

Bill McKeith, Executive member, Oxford Trade Union Council

Father Joe Ryan, Chair of Westminster Justice and Peace Commission

Dr. Isabel Käser, SOAS

Rahila Gupta, writer and journalist

Barry White, NUJ member

Emily Apple, journalist, writer

Jonathan Bloch, writer

Dr Sarah Glynn, architect and academic geographer

Paul Scholey, Morrish Solicitors

Dr Thomas Phillips, University of Liverpool

Bruce Kent, peace activist, CND

Christopher Gingell, Ecologist and Archeologist

Henry Brooks, Kurdistan Solidarity Cymru

Les Levidow, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)

Saleh Mamon, CAMPACC

Margaret Healy

Aodh O’Halpin

Trevor Rayne, writer, FRFI

Sarah Parker, writer and activist

John Hunt, journalist

David Morgan, journalist

For information contact: Peace in Kurdistan – Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question

Email: estella24@tiscali.co.uk  / http://www.peaceinkurdistan.com

source: The Kurdistan Tribune

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The Region of Iran and Iraq Cannot Afford Another War

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Aftermath of ISIS bomb attack near Baghdad, 2016

By Arian Mufid:

When the American administration made a political decision to invade Iraq militarily, they never fully calculated the consequences and how bloody that war would be. The USA acted largely on the advice of the Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi who helped imbue their invasion plans with false optimism as to medium and long-term results. In the wake of the invasion and toppling of Saddam, conflict engulfed much of the country, resulting in thousands of US military dead and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian casualties. Iraq became the one of the most unmanageable areas of the world for controlling terrorism. In early 2003, Al Qaida and other terrorist elements had small cells in Baghdad and areas of Tikrit and Anbar province. By 2012, ISIS was operating across Iraq with the support of substantial elements of the old Baathist regime. Iraq up to now still endures an unfinished and futile war. The American administration knows there is no way it can win a war in the Middle East. David Petraeus, the famous US General during the Iraq insurgency war, advised one of his lieutenants to go and study for a PhD as he believed “… counterinsurgency is the future, and the military isn’t ready for it, We’re not going to be fighting states, or people who fight like us” (McFate, 2019). The USA lost the Iraq war on the ground and paid a heavy price for this. Up to now, except for the areas controlled by the Kurdish Regional government, Iraq is a highly unstable area.

The USA has made another great mistake by abandoning the nuclear agreement with Iran which was previously reached under the Obama administration. Iran is not Iraq and the people of Iran know too well the consequences of Western intervention, for example, in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt. Any intention of war by the UK and USA will be the biggest mistake and the region cannot afford another futile conflict. The Iranian regime and its Mullahs cannot be contained by war. Any military provocation against Iran in the area of the Gulf states will be catastrophic for the whole world and as well as heaping more tragedy onto the peoples of Iran and Iraq.

The next question is: what are the differences between 2003 and 2019? It’s time for the USA and UK to take a step back and acknowledge that 2019 isn’t 2003, not least because of the profound economic, social and cultural entanglement of the Western world and Iran. On the same basis, today’s world is not bipolar. America can tell others to boycott Iran, but not all European and other states will comply. Iran is a huge territory and has long borders with Russia, Turkey and Iraq. Sanctions and war will starve the Iranian masses but not the Mullahs. Only the democratic forces of the Iranian people can topple the Iranian regime.

McFate, S “Why the west doesn’t win wars. And what we need to do about it” 2019

source: The Kurdistan Tribune

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Leyla Güven Enters Turkish Parliament One Year After Her Election

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KT News:

Leyla Güven, the renowned MP for the HDP (People’s Democracy Party), finally took her place in the Turkish Assembly yesterday, more than a year after her election.

The MP for Hakkari, who is also co-chair of the DTK (Democratic Society Congress) was elected in last year’s June 24 elections although she was in jail at the time, having been arrested in January after she denounced the Turkish invasion of the mainly-Kurdish province of Afrin in Rojava / northern Syria.

In October Leyla began a hunger strike demanding an end to the isolation of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan who is serving a life sentence on Imrali island. After 79 days, the authorities released her from prison, but she continued the hunger strike from her home where she was visited by political figures and human rights campaigners from around the world. In May, Leyla ended her fast after 200 days, following a request by Abdullah Ocalan conveyed to her through his lawyers who he’d been allowed to meet for the first time in more than seven years.

When Leyla Güven went to the Assembly podium yesterday to take the oath, she was applauded by opposition HDP and CHP deputies.

source: The Kurdistan Tribune

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Sardasht Osman Remembered on the Ninth Anniversary of his Murder

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Sardasht Osman

Sardasht Osman

By Ismael Aziz:

Journalists and human rights activists have been remembering Sardasht Osman, who was murdered nine years ago this month. On 5 May, the 23-year-old Kurdish freelance journalist and anti-corruption campaigner was commemorated across the Kurdistan Region and around the world.

In Kurdistan’s Erbil region, there was a gathering at Sardasht Osman’s graveside in the village of Azaban. In Sulaymani, a group of writers and journalists held a vigil in front of the local university and there were also commemorations held in the cities of Kalar and Ranya. In the UK, Kurds and other human rights activists attended events called by the Kurdistan communist party in London, in front of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) offices, and in Manchester. Commemorations were also held in Gottenburg (Sweden), Brussels (Belgium), and Vancouver (Canada).

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued a statement saying: “The CPJ calls on Iraqi officials to reinvestigate Sardasht Osman’s murder and hold the penetrators accountable”. On its website the CPJ clearly identifies ‘government officials’ as the likely suspects for the murder and says the crime has taken place with ‘complete impunity’.

People are still asking about what happened and how this young man became a victim of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) after he criticised the KRG and the Barzani family’s power and wealth. On 13 December 2009, he published a satirical poem with the title “I am in love with Barzani’s daughter”, in which he compared how vastly different his life would be as a member of the Barzani family compared to that of an ordinary Kurdish citizen. It attracted a widespread readership all over the world. After being intimidated and sent death threats, he published another article on 2 January 2010 entitled, “Neither the President Nor his Daughter are God”. This was published in his own name and carried his photograph. On 20 January, he published a further article entitled, “The First Warrant For My Death Has Been Issued”.

In this article he explained that members of the security apparatus surrounding the Barzani family had sent him messages threatening to kill him. However, no one in authority in Erbil paid heed to this or responded to his call for help and protection. A few months later, on 4 May 2010, Sardasht Osman was abducted in front of the College of Literature, University of Salahadin, in Erbil by security officers driving a white-plated airbus vehicle. The next day his body was found, dumped in the city of Mosul.

source: The Kurdistan Tribune

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Imrali – New Film on the Isolation of Ocalan, Narrated by Maxine Peake

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A group of human rights activists, among them British actress Maxine Peake and former Icelandic Minister of Justice Ögmundur Jónasson travels to Turkey. They want to visit Imrali Prison. But the prisoners there cannot be visited by anyone…

This short film (8 mins) tells the story of the 2019 international Imrali Peace Delegation and places the isolation of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan within the context of the state repression experienced by millions of Kurds in Turkey and their enduring resistance.

It includes interviews with Rezan Sarica, one of Mr Ocalan’s lawyers who has never been allowed to meet his client, a bereaved mother whose 16-year-old son disappeared during the 2015 siege of Sur, leaders of the ‘Saturday Mothers’ whose relatives disappeared in the 1990s and it also features the hunger strike movement, started by Leyla Guven, of 7,000 Kurdish prisoners and their supporters across Europe. Ending Ocalan’s isolation can lead to a renewed peace process in Turkey, says HDP MP Berdan Ozturk. The narrator, BAFTA award-winning actress Maxine Peake, tells us how she has been inspired by the ‘incredible’ people she has met on the journey.

source: The Kurdistan Tribune

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