Category Archives: Kurds and Kurdistan

How to get elected dictator of Turkey: A ten-step guide

Turkish ‘democracy’ has become two Grey Wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

By Dr. Thoreau Redcrow, Published 4-18-2017 by Kurdish Question

It appears that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has gotten himself elected dictator of Turkey through 2029, by a conveniently slim margin of 51-49%. So for other autocratic world leaders out there hoping to replicate his feat—who are tired of pesky Constitutions and Executive limitations—here are a few helpful steps he took that you can follow:

(1) Stage a military coup against your authoritarian regime and blame the so-called conspiracy on an America-living cleric (Fethullah Gulen), who you can then accuse of being a shadowy foreign puppet. And don’t worry if you’re actually a member of NATO and host U.S. military bases on your territory, most of your paranoid lumpen supporters will barely notice the disconnect between your words and reality. Continue reading

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Erdoğan Claims Ultimate Power in Turkey After Nearly Split Vote

As one opponent of the referendum noted: “Threats, oppression, imprisonment, censorship, defamation—and yet half of the people of Turkey voted” against.

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-16-2017

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, image via internet blogspot

In a very close—and closely watched—referendum vote, Turks on Sunday handed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan what many say is authoritarian rule.

With more than 99 percent of ballots counted, Erdoğan claimed a win with 51.36 percent voting in favor of the referendum and 48.64 voting against.

However, the Guardian reported, Continue reading

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Will Turkey Hand Erdoğan Authoritarian Rule With Referendum Vote?

Polls show the public is split ahead of historic vote, but the government’s crackdown on dissent has silenced the opposition

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-14-2017

Turkish women are leading the opposition. “This is not a coincidence,” writes author and activist Elif Shafak. “When societies slide into authoritarianism, ultranationalism and fanaticism, women have much more to lose than men.” (Photo: Guido Menato/cc/flickr)

Turkish citizens head to the polls on Sunday to vote on a historic referendum that could potentially cement autocratic rule in the nation, consolidating power for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

If the referendum passes, “it will abolish the office of prime minister, enabling the president to centralize all state bureaucracy under his control and also to appoint cabinet ministers,” AFP reports. Erdoğan would also “control the judiciary” and essentially “rule by decree,” Foreign Policy in Focus columnist Conn Hallinan further noted. Continue reading

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Love in a time of fear: an interview with Dashni Morad

‘The Shakira of Kurdistan’ discusses feminism, Kurdish unity, and healing the scars of war.

By Benjamin Ramm. Published 3-30-2017 by openDemocracy

Dashni Morad. (Credit: John Wright, February 2016)

As the battle for Mosul nears its conclusion, the fate of civilian survivors remains uncertain. The Kurdish singer and humanitarian Dashni Morad, whose youth was defined by conflict in the region, aims to highlight the psychological scars of living under a brutal regime. In 2014, Morad raised funds for refugee camps outside Mosul, where she witnessed the impact of three years of war on displaced children. Tutored only in fear, the children are aggressive even in play: “it made me so upset to see that a kid can be taken from its inner child”, she says. “It is the worst thing you can do to a human being – to take away that magical world”. Continue reading

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With 200+ Iraqi Civilians Feared Dead, Carnage Surging Under Trump

‘In short,’ says one analyst, ‘Trump has been demanding that the US military consider dropping many of the restrictions which help protect civilian lives on the battlefield.’

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-26-2017

Men load the bodies of people recovered from the rubble of a house in western Mosul. More than 200 are feared dead after what appears to be a U.S. bombing raid. (Photograph: Cengiz Yar)

The carnage continues. And appears to be growing.

With the war that President George W. Bush started and that President Barack Obama failed to end now in the hands of President Donald Trump, global outrage and condemnation was expressed over the weekend as details emerged over a U.S. bombing in Iraq that may have killed 200 or more innocent civilians, many of them children and families seeking shelter.

The aerial attack on homes and buildings in the city of Mosul, where Iraqi and U.S. coalition forces have been battling Islamic State (ISIS) forces for months, actually took on March 17 but as evidence of the destruction and deathtoll emerged, the Guardian reported Saturday it may turn out to be “one of the deadliest bombing raids for civilians since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.” Continue reading

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Injustice is the foundation of the new Turkish state

With the media focusing on Erdogan’s April referendum, it is easy to lose sight of, or cover up, the tensions and serious abuses in the Kurdish areas in the south-east of the country.

By Lutz Oette. Published 3-25-2017 by openDemocracy

The Turkish government’s response to the 2016 coup attempt is well known. In the name of national security, it has pursued a concerted campaign to crack down on the media, academics, the independence of institutions, human rights defenders and political opponents.

According to Erdogan’s critics, we are witnessing a barely veiled attempt to establish a new sultanate. The speed and magnitude of measures taken is dazzling. With the media focusing on Erdogan’s April referendum, it is easy to lose sight of, or cover up, the tensions and serious abuses in the Kurdish areas in the south-east of the country. Continue reading

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Trump’s Syrian “safe area” is just another wall

Without a true and robust commitment to save lives, Trump’s idea for a safe area in Syria looks more like a death trap.

By Bill Frelick. Published 3-21-2017 by openDemocracy

Photo: YouTube

Just as the Berlin Wall was the iconic symbol of the Cold War era, so the emblematic symbol of President Donald Trump’s administration, if he has his way, could well be the Mexican wall. It represents a simplistic, concrete solution to a complex human problem, but also, like the Berlin Wall, a fitting symbol for the larger Trump doctrine.

Trump’s wall concept goes beyond the US-Mexico border. He speaks favorably of Israel’s separation wall and Hungary’s border fence.

Although he has yet to comment on the wall Turkey is constructing on its border with Syria, Trump has said, “I think Europe has made a tremendous mistake by allowing in these millions of people. Continue reading

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29 Years After Genocide, Kurds Still Suffer

Occupy World Writes commemorates the anniversary of the Halabja genocide

Written by Carol Benedict

Black Friday.

“Halabja, standing against oppression.
Joy and happiness permeated the air in Halabja.
Smiles never faded from the lips of the ever oppressed people of this town.
The Iraqi fighter planes carried out the chemical bombing of Halabja,
and some hours later the news came that Khormal, too, had suffered chemical bombing.
The sound of laughter died down.
Children sought the shelter of their mothers’ arms.
March 16, was the beginning of the great crime of history.
On Thursday March 17, 1988, and on Friday March 18, there took place one of
the most shameful and fearful inhumane crimes of history in Halabja. The town of
Halabja was bombed with chemical and cluster bombs more than twenty times
by Iraqi fighter planes.
In every street and alley women and children rolled over one another.
The sound of crying and groans rose from every house in the town.
Many families who were sleeping happily in their beds in their liberated town,
were subjected before sunrise to chemical bombing,
and poisonous gases did not even allow them to rise from their beds.
Such was the situation on the bloody Friday of Halabja.”
from Kurdistan Democratic Party – Iraq

Exhumed Shoes of Child Victim of Anfal Genocide - 3rd International Conference on Mass Graves in Iraq - Erbil - Iraq. Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Exhumed Shoes of Child Victim of Anfal Genocide – 3rd International Conference on Mass Graves in Iraq – Erbil – Iraq. Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

March 16, 1988:  A chemical weapon attack on the civilian population of Halabja killed an estimated 5,000 persons immediately and injured another 7,000 – 10,000. In the aftermath of the attack, thousands more died of complications, disease and birth defects.  The attack was and remains today the largest chemical weapons attack against a civilian population in human history.

According to an account in KurdishPain.com, written by Huner Anwer, “The gas attack took place over a period of approximately five hours.  The attack was preceded by the dropping of conventional weapons and by the dropping of paper in order to determine the direction of the wind.  The dropping of the conventional weapons led the citizens of Halabja to retreat to basements and shelters for protection which made the gas more effective as it settled into low lying areas.”

Photo by Zaxo (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Halabja before the attack. Photo by Zaxo (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

“Survivors spoke most often of the gas smelling like sweet apples, but others said it was more like garlic and still some others like the gas used in a kitchen stove. This suggests multiple chemicals were used, including mustard gas, the nerve agents sarin, tabun and VX. Some victims died almost immediately, others were laughing as they died; still others experienced intense burning, blistering and vomiting,” Anwer writes.

Topographical map of Kurdistan - Iraq. Halabja is on the far right, in the mountainous region. Note location in area to trap the chemicals used. Public Domain via Wikimedia.

Topographical map of Kurdistan – Iraq. Halabja is on the far right, in the mountainous region. Note location in area to trap the chemicals used. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The poison gas attack on Halabja was just part of what has become known as the Anfal Campaign. It began unofficially in 1986 and continued until 1989: officially it was conducted between February 23 and September 6, 1988. It was led by a cousin of Saddam Hussein, Ali Hassan al-Majid, who became known as “Chemical Ali” as a result of the atrocities. The Campaign consisted of:

  • the mass executions and the mass disappearance of tens of thousands of persons;
  • the widespread use of chemical weapons;
  • the destruction of over 4,500 Kurdish and at least 31 Assyrian villages;
  • the death of over 182,000 persons;
  • the displacement of over a million of the country’s estimated 3.5 million Kurdish population.

“(There is legal and convincing proof that) the Kurdish population meets the requirement under the Genocide Conventions as an ethnic group. The court has no other conclusion than that these attacks were committed with the intent to destroy the Kurdish population of Iraq,”  declared The Hague in a court ruling from December of 2005.

Bakhtiar Awmar points to grave where his father, mother and sister are buried - victims of the 1988 Chemical Attack - Halabja, Kurdistan - Iraq. Photo By Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bakhtiar Awmar points to grave where his father, mother and sister are buried – victims of the 1988 Chemical Attack – Halabja, Kurdistan – Iraq. Photo By Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

We have talked about this issue in a previous story, Honor and Dignity. The struggles of the Iraqi Kurdish population, like that of all Kurds living in the region, continues to this day. Finding a solution rather than a continued assault on what has become recognized as the largest ethnic group on Planet Earth with no borders, no home, no country and no rights becomes the DUTY of the world. Current estimates place the Kurdish population at 30 – 35 million people.

Since this tragedy, the world has continued to witness the use of chemical weapons to exterminate populations. March 14, 2014 marks the 3rd anniversary of the Syrian crisis, also involving the use of chemical weapons against Kurdish and other populations. These attacks are carried out by government forces. The Ghouta chemical attack occurred on August 21, 2013, during the Syrian civil war, when several opposition-controlled or disputed areas of the Ghouta suburbs around Damascus were struck by rockets containing sarin. Hundreds were killed in the attack, which took place over a short span of time in the early morning. Estimates of the death toll are upwards of 1,729 fatalities.

We wanted to construct a list of genocides since 1988 to demonstrate that no resolution has come. When researching the genocides across the globe that have occurred since this event, we were overwhelmed with the list. Rather than diminish any of these tragedies, we found this summary, which also includes genocides from 1945 forward. World Genocide Since 1945 {PDF}

Genocide is the worst dimension of despicable behavior the human race can sink to. It has no justification in ethics, morals, religions, war, terror or policies. Occupy World Writes joins all those who call for an end to this crime against humanity, and we support a resolution marking this day as International Day Against the Use of Chemical Weapons, so that the world never forgets the injustices that have been administered on innocent victims and brings honor to the victims of Halabja.

Exhumed Clothing of Victims of Anfal Genocide - 3rd International Conference on Mass Graves in Iraq - Erbil - Iraq. Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Exhumed Clothing of Victims of Anfal Genocide – 3rd International Conference on Mass Graves in Iraq – Erbil – Iraq. Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

We call on the international community to recognize the need for an immediate solution to “the Kurdish Problem.” This would help alleviate pressures in Syria, called Rojava by the Kurdish people, or Western Kurdistan,  Northern Kurdistan, the Kurdish area in Turkey; Southern Kurdistan, the Kurdish area in Iraq; and Eastern Kurdistan, the Kurdish area in Iran. We implore the world to find a means to an end of genocide the world over immediately, and those responsible must be brought to justice.

For a completely separate perspective on Iraqi children suffering to this day from the Bush Administration’s policy of “Mission Accomplished,” read Weapons of Mass Destruction.

A video about Halabja from the Rudaw Facebook page :

About the Author:
Carol Benedict is an indépendant researcher and human rights activist. She is also an independent Journalist and a professional member of the US Press Association.

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Why the U.S. Is Really Putting Boots on the Ground in Syria

By , Published 3-14-2017 by The Anti-Media

Photo: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Though a number of U.S. soldiers were previously deployed to Syria under the Obama administration, the U.S. government has just sent an additional 400 troops to Syrian territory without congressional approval, without approval from the Syrian government, and without approval from the U.N.

Given the illegality of the move, the real question regarding the operation must focus on the motive. Why is the United States military, under a president who ran on a campaign of focusing less on wars abroad, sending more troops to Syrian territory? Trump supporters often argue this is to fulfill his campaign promise to defeat ISIS. Continue reading

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Nadia Murad recognized by Occupy World Writes on IWD

“I have met young girls who were raped at an age when they didn’t even know what the word meant. I met people who lost their entire families; whole families were wiped out.”

Written by Carol Benedict

In 2014, ISIS advanced on Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq (also known as Şengal in Kurdish), capturing or killing thousands of Yezidi (Ezidi) people. Many of the women were taken as sex slaves into the ISIS barbaric practices. Nadia Murad Bassee was one of those women. She survived long enough to escape.

Driven to end the suffering for her community in captivity and to stop an enemy bent on genocide of the Yezidi people, Nadia began to tell her story. Again and again. It became a burden of reliving those moments of hell so others would not have to. It meant revealing the most horrific details of her ordeal to get people to understand and listen. It is easier to hide than to step out of the shadows. Nadia did that, knowing full well what it meant.

In an interview from October of 2016, Nadia commented, “I was not raised to give speeches. Neither was I born to meet world leaders, nor to represent a cause so heavy, so difficult,” she said.

But she would continue “so that one day we can look our abusers in the eye in a court in The Hague and tell the world what they have done to us,” she said. “So my community can heal. So I can be the last girl to come before you.”

Murad was awarded the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, was named a United Nations good-will ambassador on behalf of victims of human trafficking, and she was widely mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2016.

NADIA’S MESSAGE

Being a survivor of genocide comes with great responsibility –for I am the lucky one.  Having lost my brothers, mother and many more family members and friends it is a responsibility I embrace fully and take very seriously.  My role as an activist is not just about my suffering  — it is about a collective suffering.  Telling my story and reliving the horrors I encountered is no easy task, but the world must know.  The world must feel a moral responsibility to act and if my story can influence world leaders to act then it must be told.

After the Holocaust, the world decried, “never again” but yet Genocide occurs with haunting frequency.  What’s puzzling to me is that it occurs in full view of the world community.  When ISIS trapped the Yazidi community on Sinjar Mountains, the world watched and world leaders chose not to act.  In fact, we still find ourselves begging the United Nations to act – to stop ISIS – to hold ISIS accountable for all the horrific crimes committed. A fundamental goal for me is to fight impunity for crimes committed against all margined communities devastated by global terrorism.

I am committed to leading a campaign to prompt peace through de-radicalization. I will focus my power to deliver a message to the Muslim world to condemn extremism, particularly against children and women, carried out in the name of Islam.  We must work together to counter terrorism and deter the youth  from joining or supporting radical groups and united to teach all youth the importance of tolerance towards the beliefs of others.

Recent terrorism brought sufferings beyond our any understanding, and women and children have become the population mostly affected, notable, human trafficking and mass  enslavement have become a tool used by terrorists to humiliate societies and humanity at large, I am committed to fight human trafficking and mass enslavement.

We cannot depend solely on the actions of the United Nations and world leaders.  Individuals can contribute to the fight as well.  If we all do our small part, in every corner of the world, I believe we can end genocide and mass atrocities against women and children.  If we have the courage to stand up and fight for those we don’t know – who live thousands of miles away – we can make a difference.   The world is one community and we need to act as such.

I ask you as a survivor and a friend, to join my Initiative and help all victims in the conflict zones, especially those targeted for their identify .  ISIS must be stopped.  Please contribute to this important cause, for we all humans that deserve to live peacefully.

With much gratitude,

Nadia Murad Bassee

About the Author:
Carol Benedict is an indépendant researcher and human rights activist. She is also an independent Journalist and a professional member of the US Press Association.

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