Category Archives: Kurds and Kurdistan

106 years and 44 days of the Armenian Genocide

The US decision to recognise the Armenian Genocide has urgent relevance for the country in the wake of last year’s war in Nagorno Karabakh

By Avetis Harutyunyan  Published 5-7-2021 by openDemocracy

A view of Yerevan, the capital city of the Republic of Armenia, with the backdrop of Mount Ararat (locally known as Masis). Photo: Serouj Ourishian/Wikimedia Commons

“You have not seen Mount Ararat how I saw it growing up. I promise, one day I will take you back home.”

Since childhood, my grandfather grew up listening to these words of his great-grandfather, Baghdasar, who fled to Armenia with his family during the 1915 genocide.

My grandfather recollects how Baghdasar would tell stories of their home in Bayazet, or Doğubeyazıt in modern Turkey, in the shadow of Mount Ararat, and promise his grandchildren that one day they would return to their home. In 1915, to save his family from the massacres, Baghdasar closed the doors of his house, crossed the Araks River, which flows along the borders of Armenia and Turkey, and ended up in the Armenian city of Gavar. According to my grandfather, when Baghdasar died, he still had the key to his old house in his pocket. Continue reading

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After 10 Years of Civil War in Syria, US (Quietly) Declares Defeat but Won’t Go Home

After a decade of bombing, invasions, exoduses and economic strife, it is clear that there are precious few winners in the Syrian Civil War — or from the rest of the Arab Spring, for that matter.

By Alan Macleod  Published 3-25-2021 by MintPress News

Montage of the Syrian Civil War. Photo: Collective, CC BY 1.0 via Wikimedia Commons

This March marks the 10-year anniversary of the Arab Spring and the protests that rocked Syria, which were a starting point for the ongoing civil war. That conflict has led to over half a million deaths and nearly 13 million people displaced, according to some estimates.

Now, after 10 years of attempts to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad, it appears that many in the U.S. government and media are quietly conceding defeat. Continue reading

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On 18th Anniversary of Iraq Invasion, Activists Renew Calls for US Reparations

“Americans owe a debt to the people of Iraq that can never be repaid in full. However, it is incumbent and imperative that we try.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-19-2021

On route 27 near An Nu’ maniyah, Iraq during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Photo: Public Domain

Human rights and anti-war activists marked the 18th anniversary of the second of three American-led invasions of Iraq by renewing calls for the U.S.—this time the Biden administration—to pay reparations for 30 years of nonstop aggression against the Iraqi people.

“Eighteen years after the United States invaded Iraq on a patently false basis, we uplift the work of Iraqi activists, civil society, and their partners building local and transnational social justice movements under extremely precarious conditions,” the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) said in a statement. Continue reading

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Sheryl Sandberg and Top Facebook Execs Silenced an Enemy of Turkey to Prevent a Hit to the Company’s Business

Amid a 2018 Turkish military campaign, Facebook ultimately sided with Turkey’s demand to block the page of a mostly Kurdish militia. “I am fine with this,” Sandberg wrote.

By Jack Gillum and Justin Elliott.  Published 2-24-2021 by ProPublica

Sheryl Sandberg. Photo: World Economic Forum/flickr/CC

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

As Turkey launched a military offensive against Kurdish minorities in neighboring Syria in early 2018, Facebook’s top executives faced a political dilemma.

Turkey was demanding the social media giant block Facebook posts from the People’s Protection Units, a mostly Kurdish militia group the Turkish government had targeted. Should Facebook ignore the request, as it has done elsewhere, and risk losing access to tens of millions of users in Turkey? Or should it silence the group, known as the YPG, even if doing so added to the perception that the company too often bends to the wishes of authoritarian governments? Continue reading

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UN Human Rights Expert Urges US to Lift Sanctions That ‘May Exacerbate the Already Dire Humanitarian Situation in Syria’

After nearly a decade of war, the special rapporteur noted, Syrians are living with “extensively damaged houses, medical units, schools, and other facilities.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-29-2020

A study published last year by Amnesty International found that the U.S.-led bombing campaign on Raqqa, Syria in 2017 killed an estimated 1,600 innocent civilians while leveling the city. (Photo: Amnesty International)

A United Nations human rights expert on Tuesday called for the removal of unilateral U.S. sanctions targeting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, warning that despite claims by the Trump administration and congressional leaders that the measures aren’t intended to harm the people of war-torn Syria, they may do just that.

“The sanctions violate the human rights of the Syrian people, whose country has been destroyed by almost 10 years of ongoing conflict,” said Alena Douhan, U.N. special rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights. “The conflict and violence have already had a dire impact on the ability of the Syrian people to realize their fundamental rights, having extensively damaged houses, medical units, schools, and other facilities.” Continue reading

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‘Insane and Pathological’: Head of Iran’s Central Bank Says US Blocking Covid-19 Vaccine Purchases

The Trump administration is allegedly using sanctions to thwart Iran’s efforts to obtain vaccine stock through the WHO’s COVAX program.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-7-2020

Coronavirus patients at the Imam Khomeini Hospital in Tehran, Iran in March 2020. Photo: Fars News Agency, CC BY 4.0

The head of Iran’s central bank on Monday accused the U.S. government of actively blocking the country from purchasing stocks of coronavirus vaccine through the World Health Organization’s COVAX program.

Al Jazeera reports Abdolnasser Hemmati said on Instagram that it should be “recorded in historical memory” that crippling U.S.-led sanctions against the Islamic Republic are preventing the country from buying vaccines against the potentially deadly virus through COVAX, the WHO-led global initiative to fast-track development, production, and equitable worldwide distribution of a coronavirus vaccine. Continue reading

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Washington Post Publishes Names and Details of 1,400 Civilians Killed in US-Led Bombings of ISIS

The Post report relies heavily on figures from the airstrike watchdog  Airwars—without stating the group’s actual casualty numbers.

Aftermath of US led air strikes in Raqqa (Photo: @Raqqa_SL/Twitter)

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-19-2020

The Washington Post on Wednesday published an extraordinary interactive report that names hundreds of civilians killed by coalition airstrikes during the U.S.-led war against the so-called Islamic State.

The report, which contains harrowing survivor testimonies, draws upon data from the U.S. military and the U.K.-based journalistic monitor group Airwars to name each victim, as well as when and where they were killed. The paper mentions “thousands” of civilian casualties since President Barack Obama launched the war against ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria in 2014, but focuses only on the approximately 1,400 deaths acknowledged by both the Pentagon and Airwars. Continue reading

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Though ‘Children Need Peace Now More Than Ever,’ US and Russia Block UN Efforts to Impose Global Ceasefire

American and Russian diplomats have publicly praised calls for a global ceasefire, but say they cannot sign on to a blanket agreement.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-20-2020

Anti-war demonstration, 4/15/2018, Oakland, CA at Oscar Grant Plaza. Photo: Alex Chis/flickr/CC

The U.S. and Russia are reportedly standing in the way of an international agreement for a global ceasefire called for by the United Nations, claiming their militaries must retain the ability to attack enemies even as countries around the world face thousands of coronavirus cases.

The Trump administration is reluctant to agree to a universal ceasefire, Foreign Policy reported Friday, because of U.S. counterterrorism operations and partially because a ceasefire could impede key ally Israel’s ability to conduct military operations throughout the Middle East. Continue reading

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‘Inhumane’ and ‘Reckless’: Amnesty International Condemns Greece’s Measures to Block Migrants at Turkish Border

“People seeking asylum are once again being used as bargaining chips in a callous political game.”

By for Common Dreams. Published 3-2-2020

Photo: Gizli Muhafiz/Twitter

Amnesty International on Monday condemned “inhumane” measures that Greek authorities have taken toward migrants since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced last week that Turkey would no longer stop refugees and asylum-seekers—many of whom have fled the ongoing war in Syria—from crossing by land and sea into Greece.

Turkey eased restrictions at the western border it shares with Greece in response to thousands of migrants from Syria who have poured into Turkey in recent days amid a Russian-backed Syrian government offensive into Syria’s Idlib province and escalating violence between Syrian and Turkish forces. Continue reading

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Top Syrian Official Says US Has ‘Absolutely No Right’ to Occupy or Plunder Nation’s Oil Fields

“He’s talking about stealing it,” Bouthaina Shaaban said of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has kept troops in Syria to guard that country’s oil fields.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-26-2019

An oil refinery in Homs, Syria. Photo: High Contrast Wikimedia/CC

Citing U.S. President Donald Trump’s openly stated plan to maintain a troop presence in Syria with the sole purpose of plundering the country’s oil reserves, a top Syrian government official said America has “absolutely no right” to the nation’s natural resources and warned of “popular opposition and operations” against foreign occupiers.

“It is our oil,” Bouthaina Shaaban, a political and media adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, told NBC News in an interview Tuesday. Continue reading

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