Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief, June 29, 2021
- Thousands of workers at petroleum refineries and power plants across Iran went on strike last Tuesday to protest poor working conditions and the delayed payment of salaries. The massive strike began when 700 workers were fired from the Shahr-e Rey refinery in southern Tehran Province. Iranian authorities arrested several strike organizers but failed to prevent additional workers and unions from joining the strike, including at least 100 workers and activists from Sanandaj (Sena). The Cooperation Center for Iranian Kurdistan’s Political Parties (CCIKP) threw its support behind the strike, describing it as an attempt to secure “legitimate rights” and calling for other domestic and international organizations to back the “workers’ struggle.”
- Iranian security forces arrested a Yarsan activistnamed Kharollah Haqjoian in Kermanshah Province’s Sahneh city last week. Additionally, Iranian authorities detained three Kurds named Zaniar Muradi, Amjad Muradi, and Deler Shamaham in Divandar, two more in Shinno, Raza Ezit and Shorsh Mahmudian, and another in Sanandaj named Mikael Minbari. Meanwhile, the Kurdistan Association for Human Rights (KMMK) reported it had received information on a detained activist named Mahmud Niromand. Niromand has remained missing for over a month since his arrest in Khorasan Province’s Kalat District.
- Iranian border guards killed a Kurdish border porter (Kolbar) named Fahim Rostam Zadeh near Hawraman and another named Wahed Mohammedpour near Sardasht on Wednesday. Iranian authorities also injured a Kolbar, Salar Mirazee, near Salas-e Babajani.
- Three suicide drones, one of which did not explode, landed two miles from the US Consulate in Erbil in Bragh village on Saturday morning, causing property damage. Despite no claims of responsibility, Iranian-backed militias remain the prime suspects due to the fact they have launched three previous attacks on US facilities in Erbil since December 2020. The US Consulate and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) denounced the attack, and US forces struck several Iranian-backed militia facilities along the Iraq-Syria border on Sunday. The US Department of Defensethen released a statement following the strikes that read, “The positions struck were utilized by Iran-backed militias that are engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq.”
- Turkish warplanes and drones struck several locations in Dohuk Governorate’s Amedi District and killed several cattle. Additional Turkish strikes in Hiror caused a power outage. Though Turkey repeatedly claims its incursion into Iraqi Kurdistan is meant to counter the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), it has established numerous military bases and outposts in the region. Turkey’s ongoing operations have also killed dozens of civilians and displaced thousands more. Despite the international community’s failure to take a clear position on the Turkish invasion of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide requested Turkey respect international law and said, “We are concerned about [Turkey’s] increased military activity in northern Iraq.”
- ISIS (Da’esh) terrorists launched several more attacks on infrastructure and security forces in the “Disputed Territories,” including Kirkuk Governorate’s Hawija District, last week. Da’esh continues to exploit the fragile security situation in the region and has now killed 20 Iraqi military personnel during the past two weeks.
- Turkish forces and their Islamist proxies attacked the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Giri Spi (Tal Abyad), Manbij, and the Christian town of Tel Tamer. Turkish proxies also clashed with the SDF-affiliated Manbij Military Council (MMC) on Monday and Tuesday. Moreover, the SDF’s Christian faction, the Syriac Military Council, accused Turkey of violating international law by prosecuting three of its fighters captured in Syria inside Turkey.
- Da’esh terrorists shelled an SDF base near al Omar oil field, east of Deir Ez Zor Governorate’s al Mayadin town, on Monday. The SDF announced the attack caused “material losses” and began implementing precautionary measures in the area to prevent further attacks. At the same time, the SDF announced it detained 22 Da’esh terrorists in Deir Ez Zor’s al Basirah town. Finally, SDF General Commander Mazloum Abdi called for the repatriation of “tens of thousands of Da’esh remnants in Syrian camps.”
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the provision of $436 million in additional humanitarian assistance to vulnerable Syrians in Syria and neighboring countries. Blinken went on to say the aid will be used to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure access to “food, clean water, shelter, healthcare, nutrition, protection, and education, among other forms of relief.”
- The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported the Turkish-backed Hamza Division and Faylaq as Sham seized more Kurdish lands in Afrin’s suburbs. Afrin’s Kurdish population has decreased from 95 percent to approximately 40 percent since Turkey and its proxies occupied the town in 2018.
- Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) leaders Pervin Buldan and Mithat Sancar met with attorneys and experts to prepare a defense against the Turkish government’s legal efforts to close the party. Buldan described the filing as “historic” and said “the closure case will do no good for Turkey’s democracy and its future.” Sancar spoke against the prosecutor’s evidence in saying, “It is not possible to prepare an indictment accusing the HDP of separatism and violence. The HDP is the party that resolutely advocates living in peace and democracy in Turkey.” The Turkish government has already closed over a dozen political parties, including nine Kurdish ones, since the founding of the Republic of Turkey in 1923.
- The third session of the “Kobani Trial” against 108 HDP members continued with several defendants incarcerated for previous offenses participating from prison. HDP Foreign Affairs Commission member and defendant Nazmi Gur claimed he and other detainees were suffering ill-treatment and being harassed by prison officials.
- The Turkish government’s crackdown on Kurdish activism resumed with the arrest of more HDP members and activists last week. Turkish police detained four