A weekly brief of events occurred in the Kurdistan regions of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.
The Cooperation Center for Iranian Kurdistan’s Political Parties (CCIKP) released a statement on the 42nd anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s declaration of “jihad against the people of Kurdistan,” it described Iran’s policy towards its Kurdish population as “killing, destruction, spoiling, and an attempt to erase the identity and culture of the Kurdish nation.” The CCIKP also renewed its pledge of loyalty to the struggle to “meet the demands of the Kurdish people in Iranian Kurdistan.” Khomeini issued a fatwa against Iranian Kurds for boycotting the Islamic Republic referendum in March 1979.
The Hengaw Organization for Human Rights denounced the erasure of Kurdish writing on all signage at the University of Kurdistan in Sanandaj (Sena). Hengaw also dismissed the notion that campus security personnel were unaware of the erasures since the campus is subject to extensive government surveillance and hosts Iranian intelligence officers (Ettela’at).
A Kurdish activist named Shoresh Khazadah died four days after being arrested in Bokan. Khazadah returned to Iran last week and surrendered to Iranian authorities, and his family was told to retrieve his corpse following his suspicious death. Iranian security forces arrested several activists across Iranian Kurdistan, including a female Kurdish teacher named Chiro Ahmadi in Divandareh, Amir Hoshmand in Sena, Sardar Alani in Shinno (Oshnavieh), and Ibrahim Alizadeh and Salah Osmani in Piranshahr. The Iranian regime has now detained at least 100 Kurdish activists since July 1st of this year. On another note, Iranian border guards shot and wounded three Kurdish border porters (kolbars), Obaid Ahmadi, Khalil Khalidi, and Faridoon Mohammed, near Baneh on Monday and Tuesday.
The US Consulate General Erbil enacted its alert system, which included sirens and loudspeakers warning occupants to avoid open areas and windows, on Sunday night. Though the Consulate General did not issue a statement, Rudaw reported a drone was seen over the consulate, and two US fighter jets were later observed in the area. Several other reports claimed US forces downed a drone. Iranian-backed militias have attacked US forces in Iraqi Kurdistan at least five times since December 2020.
On Tuesday, August 17th, a Turkish drone strike on a clinic used by the Sinjar Resistance Units (YPS) killed at least eight people, including four YPS members, a physician, and three nurses. The attack angered local Yazidis and was met with calls from the US Department of State for Turkish operations to “respect Iraqi sovereignty.”
A Turkish airstrike killed two Arab tourists from Mosul named Ahmad Shaker and Yousif Omar near Duhok Governorate’s Batifa sub-district. Duhok and surrounding areas have been subject to an intense campaign of air, artillery, and drone strikes since Turkey launched the latest phase of a military campaign it claims is targeting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in April.
Turkey and its Islamist proxies launched several deadly attacks on Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)-controlled territories last week. Last Tuesday, a Turkish indirect fire attack on Zagan (Abu Rasein) killed a woman and injured 16 others. On Thursday, a Turkish airstrike on an SDF position in the Christian town of Tal Tamer killed four SDF personnel, including a female fighter. Also, on Thursday, a Turkish drone strike destroyed a vehicle between Qamishli and Hasakah and killed a senior People’s Defense Units (YPG) commander named Renas Roj. A second Turkish drone strike hit a vehicle in Kobani and wounded a local security official escorting two civilians on Saturday. Turkish proxies also shelled several areas north of Manbij on Sunday. The SDF responded to Turkey’s aggression by vowing “tough revenge” and joined the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) and Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) in condemning the attacks and criticizing Russia and the US for not enforcing Turkey’s adherence to the ceasefire it signed with both powers in October 2019. “The SDC holds the government of the Russian Federation responsible for the Turkish attacks, and we also call upon the US-led coalition to clarify its position on the Turkish hostilities and the international community to condemn the Turkish attacks,” read an SDC statement. Thousands of local residents also protested the Turkish attacks.
The SDF announced the arrest of 36 Da’esh operatives in Raqqa and Deir Ez Zor governorates, including “three terrorists suspected of collaboration with Turkish forces in northeastern Syria.” The SDF also seized weapons, ammunition, and explosives during the US-backed counter-terrorism raids.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported the Turkish-backed Sultan Murad group arrested 29 civilians in Afrin. Turkish proxies also killed a Kurdish man named Rithwan Abdul Rahim, who was kidnapped when he tried to reclaim his olive farm near Afrin’s Mabata District. At the same time, an intense barrage of indirect fire struck Afrin’s city center, though damage reports remain unavailable, and no group has claimed responsibility.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) held public gatherings and unveiled several new slogans to rally support for its defense against the Turkish government’s closure case that is scheduled for September. HDP Co-chair Mithat Sancar addressed a massive crowd in Shirnak saying, “We will either pave the way for democracy, peace, justice, freedom, or this dark order will continue to dominate for some time.” Thousands of HDP supporters participated in another rally in Siirt that was held under the slogan “Time for Freedom.” That said, Turkish police arrested at least 15 people, mostly HDP members, in Istanbul on Friday.
The Turkish government unveiled additional charges against imprisoned Kurdish politician Leyla Guven and eight other female inmates for singing in Kurdish. Jin News disclosed disciplinary proceedings were set in motion after Guven and other political prisoners sang Kurdish revolutionary songs, which were described by prison authorities as being in an “incomprehensible language.” Guven, who was stripped of her parliamentary immunity in 2020, is currently serving a 22-year sentence.