MESOP MIDEAST WATCH : Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief November 23, 2021 -A weekly brief of events occurred in the Kurdistan regions of Iran, Iraq, Syria + Turkey.
Despite some Kurdish activists being released on bail, the Iranian security forces continued an extensive crackdown for the second week in a row. The total number of arrested activists now stands at 40, with 19 of them being from Baneh. In Piranshahr, authorities detained three civil rights and environmental activists, Milad Hatef, Khabat Khatyal, and Jahangi Sagharnya. Further, Iranian intelligence officers (Ettela’at) arrested a teenaged Kurdish female in Sardasht named Sharara Ismaeli, holding her hours before releasing her after investigating her for being affiliated with a Kurdish opposition party.
The Islamic Revolutionary Court in Bokan sentenced a Kurdish activist, Chya Aqabayeg to 18 months in prison and 660 lashes for “ propaganda” against the government. Moreover, the Hengaw organization for Human Rights said the Kurdish political prisoner in Urmia named Shaker Behrozi launched a hunger strike after confirmation of his death sentence. Behrozi was charged with killing a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He denies the charges and protests the sentencing imposed by the authorities who accuse Behrozi of being responsible for the death of an IRGC member. Meanwhile, Aresow Malarahimi, a Kurdish activist was sentenced to seven months and 16 days in prison for his “membership” in the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI).
At least five Kurdish border porters (Kolbars) were injured when their vehicle fell off a cliff near Rawansour (Ravansour). Further, the Iranian border guards wounded two Kolbars on both Sunday and Monday near Nowsud, while the Kurdistan Human Rights Association (KMMK) reported the arrest of three Kolbars by the security forces in Marivan on Friday. Lastly, a 15- year old Kolbar teen named Rerosh Rahmani committed suicide after Iranian guards killed his mules used for smuggling goods. According to the right groups, Rahmani worked as a Kolbar to help pay his father’s medical expenses as he battles cancer.
On Thursday, hundreds of Kurdish refugees returned to the Kurdistan Region from Belarus after weeks of being stuck on the borders of Belarus and Poland. Upon arrival at Erbil International Airport, many of the asylum seekers complained about the mistreatment by the Belarusian authorities, including a Kurd who accused the police of drowning a Kurdish refugee in the water. Among the migrants were Yazidi Kurds, survivors of the ISIS (Da’esh) Genocide.
The Ministry of the Peshmerga denounced remarks by Turkey’s Defense Minister, Hulusi Akar, denying the existence of Kurdistan in “Turkey or elsewhere.” The Peshmerga Ministry described Akar’s remarks as “ surprising” and said, “For us, it is a question, a person in this official position of the state to allow himself to deny a historical demographic and geographical reality.” The statement also highlighted Akar’s previous official visit to the Kurdistan Region in the past. “The mentality of denying a nation or its geography has always been the source of problems and does not lead to anything good.” Concluded the statement. At the same time, Turkish-backed, Iraqi-Turkmen Front politician Arshad Salihi said that Kirkuk is the “inheritance” Turkmen population from Ataturk. Salihi’s remarks faced harsh criticism from Kurdish politicians, due to it being a historically Kurdish city.
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden Ann Linde visited the Kurdistan Region and held meetings with top officials, including President Nechirvan Barzani. “covered a wide range of pressing issues” The meeting covered a wide range of pressing issues,” read a statement by Barzani’s office.
For the third day in a row, college students in Sulaymaniyah province held mass protests, demanding the government to restore the monthly stipends for students, which has been stopped since 2014. Clashes erupted between students and police, resulting in minor injuries.
Due to pressure by Iranian-backed parties, losers of the October 10 parliamentary elections, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) is yet to announce the final results of the elections. An IHEC official told Rudaw that the results would change in six provinces. So far, leaked information from IHEC suggests changes of results in favor of Iranian-backed Shia blocs, a step the largest winner, Moqtada al-Sadr denounced. In Kirkuk, the Iranian-backed Fateh bloc candidate is set to replace the Turkish-backed female winner. Further, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) anticipates losing two seats among the 33 announced earlier. The senior KDP leader, Hoshiar Zebari, said a “political manipulation” resulted in KDP losing two seats.
The Democratic Union Party (PYD) released a statement bashing the Syrian regime officials for their repeated anti-Kurdish statements and accusations of “separation” and “collusion.” The PYD accused Damascus of being “solely responsible” for the “presence of the American, Russian and international forces in Syria” and the “Miserable reality of the Syrians.” The Kurdish officials reaffirmed commitments of holding serious talks with Damascus but accused the regime of not granting any rights to the region. Meanwhile, amid continued Turkish attacks and threats of further invasion, Kurdish politicians say Russia is pressuring the Autonomous Administration for North and East of Syria (AANES) to surrender areas under its control to the Syrian regime. Kurdish leader of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) Ilham Ahmed visited Moscow to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for official discussions.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) rejected a Guardian report addressing the release of Da’esh terrorists for a fine, stating that the newspaper “fell into the trap of forgery and false testimony and insisted on publishing the report with the forged document.”
Turkish forces and their radical proxies continued heavy bombardment of AANES areas, including near the M4 highway and villages of Ain Essa. The SDF accused Turkey of “violating” the agreed ceasefire with Russia and US “13 times in three days.” Meanwhile, the local security forces (Asayesh) announced the capture of a Da’esh cell consisting of four terrorists in Tel Hamees North of al Hasakah. Further, the SDF released the footage of a previous operation, targeting car bombs that were preparing to hit a prison and free Da’esh terrorists.
The Turkish lira hit a new historical and “insane” low while inflation reached 20%. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “With the help of Allah and the support of our nation, we will emerge victorious from this war of economic liberation,” as he has been the leading cause of the lira crash. In a press conference, HDP Spokesperson Ebru Günay called on the government to “admit that they cannot govern the country and they won’t be able to do so in the current situation and to initiate the electoral process.”
A Penal Court in Izmir court sentenced two people who participated in anti-Da’esh protests to 10 months in prison, while another was sentenced to 6 months. The three defendants were charged with “propaganda” and “membership of a terrorist organization.” Furthermore, both the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and defense team of the 108 Kurdish and Turkish members and lawmakers facing charges in the “Kobani Trial” warned of unconstitutional trials and prosecution. The defense team has faced legal “complaints” in the recent trial hearing for the defendant’s absence.
The Asrin Law Office, representing the imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan applied to a court in Bursa for an “urgent visit” to see their client. The law firm had applied for hundreds of visitation permits without success over the past year. Ocalan has been in isolation for years. In March of 2021, Ocalan held a short phone call with his brother, Mehmet Ocalan.