A weekly brief of events occurred in the Kurdistan regions of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.
Iran On International Mother Language Day, February 21, the Cooperation Center for Iranian Kurdistan’s Political Parties (CCIKP) said the Islamic Republic of Iran has contradicted “its own laws” by repressing the Kurdish language for over four decades. The CCIKP also drew attention to the five-year prison sentence imposed on a female Kurdish language teacher named Zara Mohammadi for “establishing a committee against the stability and security of the Iranian system.” Kermanshah’s Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced a Kurdish activist and poet, Kamaran Takouk, to two years and four months in prison for “disrespecting the Supreme Leader” and “propaganda against the state.” Moreover, Iranian security forces arrested an activist named Kaiomaras Latifi in Sanandaj (Sena). Iranian intelligence officers (Ettela’at) then raided Latifi’s sister’s home and took her into custody. Concurrently, Iranian authorities detained several activists, including Nadir Aminzadah, Mawloud Khawanche, and Salman Imamzanbil, in Bokan and a Kurdish language teacher named Maisam Khorani in Ilam.
The Turkish government returned another Kurdish activist to Iran last week. The Hengaw Organization for Human Rights said the activist, Saed Mirzaee, was deported to Iran from Turkey in early February and is currently jailed in Urmia. Iranian border guards wounded two Kurdish border porters (kolbars) in Nusa and Baneh last Tuesday and Wednesday. Another kolbar named Ali Daweshanafard died of a heart attack near Salas-e Babajani.
Iraq Iraqi Kurdistan continues to grapple with the ramifications of the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq’s decision to declare the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Oil and Gas Law No. 22 of 2007 unconstitutional. All of Iraq’s major Kurdish parties, except the New Generation Party, denounced the ruling, which effectively prevents the KRG from producing and selling its oil and gas and raised Kurdish fears of future rulings that could dissolve the Peshmerga and shut down the KRG. At the same time, several observers have said the ruling is an Iranian attempt to pressure Muqtada al Sadr’s coalition, which includes the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), into adopting positions more favorable to Iran’s interests. The KDP’s leader, former President of Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani, spoke with al Sadr on the phone on Thursday. Additionally, a senior KDP official announced plans for the KDP, al Sadr’s party, and the Sunni members of al Sadr’s coalition to meet in Erbil. Simultaneously, the US Ambassador to Iraq, Matthew Tueller, met with Kurdish officials and discussed recent developments regarding Erbil’s relationship with Baghdad. Barzani’s office claimed Ambassador Tueller and Barzani discussed the “constitutional steps” following the new parliament’s first session. Turkish airstrikes hit two locations near Duhok Governorate’s Amedi District and Shiladze subdistrict. The strikes are part of Turkey’s ongoing military incursion into Iraqi Kurdistan that it professes is meant to counter the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Syria The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) conducted joint military exercises with US armored units in Deir Ez Zor Governorate’s rural areas. The SDF said the exercises were intended to “test new tactics for combating ISIS (Da’esh) cells” and improve “methods of providing rapid support to military outposts.” The SDF also claimed it killed a Da’esh leader and arrested three terrorists, including a teenage suicide bomber, while conducting raids in Deir Ez Zor. Separately, the Tal Tamer Military Council announced two of its personnel were wounded by a Turkish drone strike near a Russian military base in the region on February 17. Finally, Kurdish sources announced a member of the local security forces (Asayesh) died, though no further information was provided regarding the cause of death. An Afrin Human Rights Organization spokesperson, Ibrahim Shekho, said Turkish proxies have kidnapped 96 people, including 11 women and five children, in occupied Afrin in 2022. Sheikho also told the Kurdish Hawar News that Turkey and its proxies have killed ten people, cut down five thousand trees, and pillaged nine archeological sites in 2022 so far.
Turkey Last Wednesday, Ankara’s 18th High Criminal Court held a new hearing against the Co-leader of the Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Pervin Buldan, for speeches she delivered and attended certain “events” years ago. The court requested further information from the constitutional court, and the next hearing will hold in May. Further, Turkey’s Appeals Court upheld three years and six-month sentence against the jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas. Last year, Demirtas was sentenced for “insulting the president” publicly. The Kurdish politician has been jailed since 2016 and faces more than 140 years in prison. Likewise, in Istanbul, a Turkish court decided to continue jailing dozens of activists, including the renowned Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala. In the newest hate crime against the Kurds, the HDP office in Adan’s Yüreğir District was attacked by “Molotovs,” resulting in property damages only. HDP supporters and other Turkish organizations held a protest in front of the office, but the police blocked HDP politicians from holding a press conference. “The governor and the police chief of Adana are favoring illegal practices. We have the right to make a statement wherever we want. They are trying to suppress us because they’re afraid. We will get rid of this oppressive government by developing our own solidarity against this fear,” said Kemal Peköz, the HDP lawmaker.
Washington Kurdish Institute