A weekly brief of events that occurred in the Kurdish regions of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.
- The Statistical Center of Iran (SCI) released its annual consumer price index last week. The SCI’s index found some of Iran’s highest inflation rates were in its three Kurdish provinces, with Kermanshah Province having the highest rate at 40.1 percent, Kurdistan Province having the fourth-highest at 39.2 percent, and Ilam Province having the eighth-highest at 38.6 percent. Iran’s Kurdish provinces also scored poorly in last year’s SCI report and remain plagued by unemployment and poor living conditions that are exacerbated by the Iranian regime’s discriminatory policies.
- The Iranian regime’s ongoing campaign against Kurdish political rights resulted in numerous prison sentences for activists and multiple arrests last week. For starters, Iranian authorities detained five Kurds from the same family in Baneh’s Ya’aqob village, and Darreh Shahr’s Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced a Kurdish activist named Ayoub Warzi to 11 years in prison for “insulting the Supreme Leader.” At the same time, Piranshahr’s Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced a Kurdish religious leader named Rasoul Hamzapour to three years in prison for “propaganda against the Islamic Republic” after he opposed the regime’s crackdown on religious leaders. Lastly, a Kurdish labor activist named Jwanmir Muradi was sentenced to one year in prison in Kermanshah.
- The Hengaw Organization for Human Rights reported the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) carried out several indirect fire attacks near Sarvabad (Sewllawa) that probably targeted Kurdish opposition groups in the area. Kurdish activists in the area previously raised a large Kurdistan flag to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the March 31, 1946 execution of Kurdish leader Qazi Mohammed.
- The Council of Representatives of Iraq (CRI) unanimously passed Iraq’s 2021 budget bill on Wednesday in a vote viewed favorably by Iraqi and Kurdish leaders. Among other things, Article 11 of the bill formalizes the recent agreement between Baghdad and Erbil that entails the Government of Iraq’s provision of Iraqi Kurdistan’s share of the federal government and employee salaries in exchange for revenue from oil sales, customs duties, and taxes. Meanwhile, during the same session, the CRI voted to dissolve itself on October 7, 2021, three days before the Iraqi general elections scheduled for October 10, 2021.
- Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar issued new threats against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Shingal and Makhmour and said, “We are waiting for what needs to be done to neutralize them as soon as possible.” The Iraqi government previously warned Turkey not to invade the town, as Turkey has already invaded and occupied sizable portions of Iraqi Kurdistan in military operations it claims are intended to fight the PKK but have killed dozens of civilians and displaced thousands more.
- The US-led coalition supported Peshmerga and Iraqi operations targeting ISIS (Da’esh) cells in the Qarachogh Mountains, which remain a key base of operations for the organization, last week. Moreover, security forces in Kirkuk Governorate arrested several Da’esh terrorists and seized rockets in the Hawija District.
- The Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) Anti-Terror Units (YAT) continued operations for the second week in a row in the al Hawl camp, which houses thousands of Da’esh members and relatives. Thus far, the YAT has rounded up nearly 130 Da’esh suspects, including a senior leader and numerous female members. The SDF described the raids as “phase I” of an ongoing campaign but did not announce a date for the beginning of the second phase. Da’esh previously established a “mini-caliphate” inside the camp and has assassinated or executed over forty camp residents in 2021 so far. On another note, the SDF launched operations targeting Da’esh in northeastern Syria and captured several Da’esh terrorists in Deir Ez Zor Governorate, which has been plagued by a recent wave of bomb attacks, kidnappings, and assassinations.
- A Turkish drone struck a sand quarry in Hasaka Governorate’s Ain Dewar village on Sunday and caused property damage. The local administration responded by releasing a statement denouncing the attacks that read, “These acts are condemnable and amount to war crimes that aim to cut off the livelihood of civilians.” Concurrently, Turkish proxies shattered a period of relative calm by launching indirect fire attacks on the Ain Essa suburbs and villages near the Christian town of Tal Tamir.
- Turkish police detained 22 Kurdish women, most of whom were members of the Rosa Women’s Association, in Diyarbakir (Amed) on Monday. The Rosa Women’s Association claimed the government crackdown was intended to stifle a planned protest against Turkey’s withdrawal from the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence that is also known as the Istanbul Convention. At the same time, the Constitutional Court of Turkey returned the case of closure against the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) to the Chief Public Prosecutor of the Court of Cassation, citing “procedural deficiencies.” That said, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), continued efforts to shut down the HDP, which is Turkey’s third-largest political party. Simultaneously, the Constitutional Court of Turkey intends to reexamine the closure case against the HDP once its deficiencies are rectified.
- On Friday, Turkish police dragged former HDP lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu from his apartment and arrested him for refusing to appear at a police station within a ten-day window that was previously imposed upon him. Gergerlioğlu, who is also a renowned human rights activist and physician with a history of defending Kurdish rights, was stripped of his parliamentary membership on March 17 after being sentenced to two years and six months in prison for posting an article on Twitter about the peace process between the PKK and the government. Meanwhile, Turkish police arrested eight people in Adana and stormed the HDP building in Adiyaman.