Category Archives: Kurds and Kurdistan

Turkey funds women’s groups to counter ‘feminist threat’

Government-operated women’s organisations are drowning out genuine feminist voices in Turkey, my research reveals

By Anna Ehrhart  Published 5-20-2022 by openDemocracy

“Kıyafetime karışma” protest in Kadıköy, Istanbul on July 29, 2017. Photo: Neslihan_Turan/Wikimedia Commons/CC

Government-controlled women’s organisations in Turkey are undermining genuine feminist organisations in the country, according to research I have undertaken over the past three years.

I have been studying how the Turkish leadership under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan strategically uses women’s organisations that it funds and controls – so-called ‘women-GONGOs’ – in order to mimic and undermine feminist groups. My qualitative research is based on interviews and meetings with more than 20 feminist women’s organisations across Turkey and explores their experiences of the country’s changing civic space. Continue reading

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US Military Clears Itself of Blame in Syria Strike That Killed ‘Piles’ of Women and Children

“It’s the standard government line: Mistakes were made but there was no wrongdoing. But if the same mistakes were being made over and over again for years, shouldn’t someone have done something about it?”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 5-18-2022 by Common Dreams

Airstrike on Baghuz – March 2019. Photo: Voice of America {public domain}

No U.S. personnel will be held accountable for a March 2019 airstrike that killed scores of Syrian civilians including women and children, the Pentagon said Tuesday in announcing that an internal investigation into the massacre found that no laws of war were broken and that there was no cover-up of the incident as alleged in a New York Times exposé.

An executive summary of a classified investigation led by U.S. Army Gen. Michael Garrett stated that “no rules of engagement (ROE) or law of war (LOW) violations occurred” in connection with the March 18, 2019 strike near the Syrian town of Baghuz that, according to an initial battle assessment, killed around 70 people. Continue reading

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‘Stomach-Wrenching’ Report Reveals Secret US Strike Command’s High Civilian Death Toll

The unit, called Talon Anvil, is said to have killed Syrian civilians at 10 times the rate of similar airstrikes elsewhere in the so-called War on Terror.

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 12-13-2021 by Common Dreams

In a 2019 U.S. airstrike in Syria killed dozens of civilians, including women and children. Screenshot: CBS News

Peace advocates on Monday responded to a report about a U.S. military unit that killed Syrian civilians at 10 times the rate of similar operations in other theaters of the so-called War on Terror by accusing the United States of hypocritically sanctioning countries while committing atrocities of its own, and by reminding people that there is no such thing as a “humane” war.

On Sunday, The New York Times reported the existence of Talon Anvil, a “shadowy force” that “sidestepped safeguards and repeatedly killed civilians” in aerial bombardments targeting militants in Syria. The unit “worked in three shifts around the clock between 2014 and 2019, pinpointing targets for the United States’ formidable air power to hit: convoys, car bombs, command centers, and squads of enemy fighters.” Continue reading

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Kurdish group claims Turkey is using chemical weapons. Why is nobody investigating?

The international community is failing in its duty to investigate allegations that Kurdish forces are being killed in Turkish attacks

By Sarah Glynn  Published 11-5-2021 by openDemocracy

Kurdish protesters attend a demonstration against Turkey’s military action in 2019. Photo: The Left/flickr/CC

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has called on international organisations to investigate its claims that Turkey has used chemical weapons against Kurdish forces in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq more than 300 times. The party invited international delegations to visit the region and inspect the mountain tunnels where it alleges chemicals still linger and examine the bodies of PKK guerrillas whom it says were killed in the attacks.

The PKK has published videos of gases welling from tunnel entrances, as well as details of those who have allegedly been killed and accounts of survivors. Continue reading

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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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