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Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief March 9, 2021

10.03.2021
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Washinton Kurdish Institute

Turkey

  • Many of the Kurds arrested during Turkey’s most recent campaign of mass arrests remained jailed last week, including members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and MEBYA-DER organization that offers solidarity to families of those killed in Turkey’s ongoing conflict with the Kurds. At the same time, Antalya’s High Criminal Court sentenced the former Kurdish mayor of Diyarbakir’s Kayapınar District, Fatma Arşimed, to six years and three months in prison for “membership of an illegal organization.” Moreover, Omer Gergerlioglu, an HDP lawmaker and prominent human rights activist, filed an appeal with the Constitutional Court of Turkey after the Court of Cassation upheld his 30-month prison sentence. Additionally, a senior official from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) responded to repeated calls from its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), to shut down the pro-Kurdish HDP by vowing to pursue the HDP’s closure.
  • Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers to pressure Turkey to release the jailed Kurdish politician Selahhatin Demirtaş and requested Turkey comply with the verdict of the European Court of Human Rights calling for Demirtaş’s release. An HRW senior legal adviser went on to say, “The Committee of Ministers should call on Turkey to release Demirtaş immediately and leave no doubt that disregarding or attempting to bypass judgments of the Strasbourg court is unacceptable.” Furthermore, 590 European lawmakers voted to allow debate on a measure demanding Demirtaş’s release in the European Parliament.

Iran 

  • The Cooperation Center for Iranian Kurdistani Parties (CCIK) released a statement to commemorate International Women’s Day on March 8 that accused the Iranian regime of imposing “inhuman laws” on Iranian and Kurdish women and said, “In the Iranian system, a woman is considered as a half-man and has been seen as a pleasure tool for the man. Women have been stripped of all their rights.” At the same time, the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights reported Iranian authorities have detained at least 33 Kurdish women in the last year, including language teachers and political activists. 
  • Several detained activists from Dewalan, Mehabad, and Urmia were released on bail by Iranian authorities last week. That said, dozens of political and environmental activists remain jailed, including three from Rabat city named Bahman Yousif, Farhad Mosapour, and Faraidon Mosapour. At the same time, Iranian intelligence officers (Ettela’at) arrested six Kurds from Marivan, two from Saqqez, and another from Javanrud (Jwanro).
  • Iranian border guards killed a Kurdish border porter (Kolbar) named Wazier Mohammadi near Nowsud last week. Another Kolbar named Ibrahim Mohammadpour froze to death near Chaldaron. Lastly, the Kurdistan Association for Human Rights (KMMK) reported Iranian security forces shot and wounded a Kurdish man named Qubad Nawkhasi near Saqqez on Friday.  

Iraq

  • Pope Francis concluded his three-day visit to Iraq on Monday after visiting several historical sites and churches and meeting with religious leaders throughout the nation. In the Kurdistan region, the Pope was welcomed by top Kurdish officials and held a mass at a soccer stadium in Erbil. The Pope also thanked Iraqi Kurdistan for providing sanctuary to displaced Christians.
  • Prime Minister of Iraq Mustafa al Kadhimi addressed the country after Pope Francis’s visit, praising the Pope for his “kind and beloved” visit and thanking him for loving Iraq and promoting dialogue, tolerance and peace. Al Kadhimi also addressed many issues facing the country and called for “a deep and genuine” national dialogue to reach a final agreement intended to overcome decades of contention between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Government of Iraq (GOI). Kadhimi’s call was welcomed by KRG officials, who also expressed support for his proposed initiative. 
  • The Council of Representatives of Iraq (CRI) finally agreed to vote on the 2021 budget bill on March 15. Though the bill is expected to pass, several blocs have yet to take a public position on it. Likewise, despite the progress made by the KRG and the GOI in reaching agreements on the KRG’s allocated budget and the production of natural resources in Iraqi Kurdistan, it remains unknown which way the CRI’s Iranian-backed blocs will vote on the articles related to the Kurds.
  • An ISIS (Da’esh) IED wounded at least seven Iraqi federal police in Kirkuk Governorate’s Hawija District last week. That said, security forces raided several Da’esh safehouses and confiscated weapons in the western part of the governorate. The security situation in the area encompassing Kirkuk, Diyala, and Saladin governorates, known as the “Triangle of Death,” remains fragile amid an ongoing uptick in Da’esh activity that accelerated in October 2017.

Syria 

  • The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported a 73-year-old man kidnapped by Turkish proxies in Turkish-occupied Afrin was tortured to death last week. Turkish proxies in Afrin also continued to confiscate and destroy Kurdish-owned olive tree farms.
  • Suspected Da’esh sympathizers assassinated two young Iraqis and a female Syrian with silenced pistols in al Hawl camp last week. The camp, which houses approximately 62,000 refugees and displaced persons, of whom approximately half are Iraqi, and thousands of Da’esh members and their relatives, has been the site of 37 murders since the fall of Da’esh’s physical “Caliphate” in March 2019. 
  • The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced the capture of two Da’esh terrorists responsible for the January 2021 beheading of two local female politicians in al Hasakah Governorate last week. Meanwhile, the public security service (Asayesh) of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) released statistics for the month of February that outlined 14 US-supported SDF raids targeting Da’esh and 12 civilian deaths resulting from 24 terror attacks in the region. Da’esh continues to carry out assassinations and terror attacks in northeastern Syria and most recently beheaded another female in Deir Ez Zor Governorate’s as Shheel town. Simultaneously, Russia launched dozens of airstrikes on Da’esh militants in Syria’s Badiya as Sham region, which has recently been the scene of intense conflicts between the Syrian Arab Army and the terror group. 
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