B u l l e t i n

c o m p l e t

Bulletin N° 403 | October 2018



In Afrin, still under Turkish occupation, Turkey’s jihadist mercenaries imposed 15% tax on the olive-trees harvests that belong to Kurds, the main source of agricultural wealth and confiscated a considerable number of them, an act made easier by the absence of the owners, barred from returning… At Jandaris fighting even broke out between 2 factions over olive harvest stolen from the Kurdish cultivators (WKI). On the 13th fight broke out again between the Ahrar Sharqiyya and Jabhat Shamiyya gangs at Azaz and near the Sujo camp, obliging some families, already displaced once to flee the camp. The fighting expanded to Afrin on the 14th. The military police created by the Turkish Army, arrested several members of Ahrar Sharqiyya, and it is rumoured that tensions are high at Jerablous between this group and the other factions (ANF). Finally news keep arriving about the abuses suffered by Yezidis, sometimes going as far as murder.

The SDF (Syrian Denocratic Forces) have continued their offensive on the last pockets held by ISIS between the Euphrates and the Iraqi border around Hajin, where some 3,000 fighters, mostly foreigners, have dug themselves in. After having taken, late in September, the villages of Al-Sousah and then al-Shajla, the SDF repelled several counter-attacks with some air support from the Coalition, announcing 49 jihadists killed. On the 4th US Marines arrived by air to take part in the final attack on Hajin, while ISIS pursued its counterattacks North of Baghouz with booby-trapped vehicles and some heavy weaponry. On the 9th the SDF announced the “elimination” of 61 jihadists. In Hajin the djihadists dynamited the houses of the families who had fled. Then on the 10th the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced that ISIS had captured 35 SDF fighters and had killed at least 10. However the media officer of the SDF, Moustafa Bali, denied this, while announcing the death in battle on the 6th of a French fighter, Farid Medjahed, from Marseilles.

Taking advantage of a dust storm that hindered air support and considerably limited visibility at ground level the jihadists launched fresh counter-attacks. Despite an SDF defence of several hours, they succeeded in abducting 13 families from the al-Bahra camp for displaced persons, including some ISIS defectors (OSDH), taking them towards Hajin. In three days of heavy fighting 37 SDF fighters and 58 jihadists were killed. On the 14th the SDF announced they had killed 105 jihadists in 2 days (Kurdistan 24). On the 16th, while the SDF were repelling an attack on Baghouz, Major Redur Khalil announced that the capture of Hajin would take longer than originally planned partly because of the weather conditions and the fact that the enemy was quite battle-hardened. According to the SOHR 70 members of the SDF and several dozen jihadists had been killed since the start of the attack on 10th September. According to the SOHR a Coalition air strike killed 28 jihadists in Hajin on the 20th while 7 others were killed by the SDF’s ground level offensive. On the 22nd the SDF regained control of part of al-Susah, gradually reducing the last pockets of jihadist resistance in the town — particularly round a big mosque.

However, on the 27th AFP announced the deaths of at least 41 SDF fighters in a new counter-attack on Baghouz and Al-Sousah, which the jihadists seem to have largely recaptured on the 25th and 26th, using booby-trapped vehicles and suicide attacks… By the end of the day, having discovered more corpses, the assessment had risen to 70 SDF fighters killed and about 100 wounded. The SOHR also announced 24 Jihadists killed. On the 28th the SDF confirmed 72 deaths before announcing the arrival of reinforcements — 500 experienced YPG and YPJ (women’s units) who had come from the West and some heavy weaponry (AFP). About a hundred supplementary fighters arrived from Manbij on the 30th. However, according to a detailed report in France Soir (, on the 28th, ISIS had annulled, in three days, all the SDF’s gains since 10th September…

On the same day the Turkish artillery shelled the SDF positions at Zour Maghar, on the Eastern bank of the Euphrates, just facing Jerablous, in a riposte, according to the State News Agency Anatolia, to some shooting coming from that area… Turkish artillery firing was also aimed at the villages of Charikhli, Siftek and Ashme, to the West of Kobanê, provoking demonstrations of protest at Qamichli. The SDF lost 4 fighters this way between 28th and 31st.

The timing chosen by Ankara for launching these attacks could not fail to suggest a diversionary operation aiming at flying to the rescue of the jihadists… Attacking their “synchronisation” with the jihadist counter-attacks, the SDF announced on the 31st a temporary stop in the anti-ISIS campaign, warning that it was likely to be extended in the event of other Turkish attacks (AFP).That very evening the United States expressed its “extreme concern” at these “unilateral military strikes” at areas where there could also be “American personnel”.

Ever since the occupation of Afrin, the Turkish threat to the rest of Rojava has been constant. Already on the 5th the YPG had reinforced its defences at Manbij, in the middle of rumours of an impending Turkish attack (AMN) and announced on the 9th that it had shot down a Turkish drone at Kobanê. On the same day the Turkish Defence Minister, Hulusi Akar, announced, with the arrival of US troops on the 2nd at Gaziantep, the beginning of a Turkish-American training mission that should, eventually allow joint patrols at Manbij. On the same day, the Manbij Military Council declared it was ready to defend the town. On the 23rd Colonel Sean Ryan, spokesman for the Inherent Resolve operation, confirmed that a common patrol of American troops and fighters of the Manbij Military Council had retaliated to firing on the 15th near the village of Boughaz. Ryan did not identify the aggressors, probably one of the rebel factions supported by Turkey…

The moment chosen by Ankara for launching its shelling on Rojava, just after the Istanbul summit on Syria, to which the Turkish President participated alongside his French and Russian opposite numbers and the German Chancellor, clearly brought to light the lack of any Western commitment to the SDF apart from the alliance against ISIS. Insisting on a diplomatic solution to the Syrian conflict this summit has enabled them to avoid (but for how much longer?) an attack by the regime and its Russian allies on Idlib. However it also showed that Mr. Erdoğan retains all freedom of movement against the North Syrian Federation, their authorities still being described as “terrorists” in the same way as with ISIS… On the 30th the Turkish President announced to the AKP Members of Parliament that preparations for a new offensive in North Syria were complete, making the point: “We are going to destroy the terrorist structure East of the Euphrates”. On the same evening the YPG spokesman, Nouri Mahmoud, warned that the YPG “(would) react to any threat or attack” in legitimate “self defence” (AFP).

Furthermore, the question of the future of the jihadists and their families at present detained in Rojava continues to be raised. To be exact, an estimated 500 of their number has been shown to be more like 1,000 from 24 different countries. New fighters are being captured every day in fighting, and there are also 550 women and 1,200 children. Since 20th September the official responsible for international relations of the North Syrian Federation, Abdul Karim Omar, had warned of the danger of escape in the event of chaos, describing their presence as “a threat to humanity”. Amongst those detained are 2 British citizens, members of a group of 4 nick-named “the beatles” because of their English accents, guilty of kidnappings, torture and decapitations, a Frenchman, Adrien Guihal, the “voice” of ISIS’s claim for responsibility for the bomb attack in Nice in 2016, the French from Albi Thomas Barnouin, close to the brothers Clain who claimed for ISIS the attacks of 13 November 2015 and the recruiter Emilie König… On the 4th Sinem Mohamad, a member of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the political expression of the SDF, requested on Sputnik that all the countries concerned rapidly repatriate their nationals: Omar made the point “We will try the Syrian mercenaries […] but not the foreigners. […] We do not have a legislation that authorises the death sentence. If we were to sentence them and they end up serving their sentences, where can they go?” At least two Americans have been repatriated, and Russia, the Sudan and Indonesia have taken back some of their nationals, but the United Kingdom and France have begun by rejecting any repatriation. In France lawyers and families demand a trial in France. At the end of the month France’s position seemed to have evolved — Paris announced considering the gradual repatriation 150 children, especially from the camp of Roj — but without their mothers, who would have to agree to this separation… (Le Monde)

Relations with the regime still seem difficult. On 1st October the new spokesman of the SDC, Amjad Othman, suggested that of the negotiations were not progressing more it was not because of the presence of the Americans, as Damascus affirmed, but because the regime’s lack of will and refusal of any concessions… A leading member of the PYD warned that the SDC was ready for a dialogue but not “reconciliations” of the kind that Damascus had imposed at Deraa or the Ghouta — a surrender leading to the regime’s Army resuming control (Kurdistan 24). On the 12th the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, accused the US of wanting to “create an illegitimate State on the Syrian lands East of the Euphrates”… (Spoutnik) and on the 15th the Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Moualem, warned: “We will not accept Federalism”, threatening to “liberate the East of the Euphrates”: “The Syrian State is determined to recover the whole of its territorial sovereignty, by dialogue or by other means” (AFP).

Inside the North Syrian Federation, the crisis on Assyrian Community’s educational programme developed, the community itself being divided between those who accept the new programmes introduced by the authorities and those who reject them. About a dozen schools refusing to adopt them have been closed, while the alternative degree course has been adopted by over 2,200 establishments. Some families, fearing that the certificates would only be recognised by the 2 Universities of Kobanê and Rojava, both opened in 2016, have chosen to send their children to schools run by the regime (AFP, Libération).


The electoral schedules at the national and Kurdistan levels were closely linked since parliamentary elections were held in Kurdistan on 30th September, a few days before the election of the country’s new President. While Barham Saleh attained the highest public office in Baghdad, the partial results of the Kurdish Parliamentary elections (947 polling stations out of 1260) showed that the KDP had won it as against the PUK, which regained the second place from the Gorran movement, while New Generation also won some seats (WKI). The Islamic Union (Yekgirtû), seeming the biggest looser, compared with 2013, indeed announced on the 6th that it rejected the preliminary results…

The poll took place in a calm atmosphere, to which the European Union commented in a positive manner, although the different parties traded accusations of fraud: the PUK attacked the results from certain areas, threatening to reject the results and the KDP, for its part, criticised the process in Suleimaniyeh; while Gorran threatened to boycott future parliamentery sessions unless the Electoral Commission cancelled the “false votes”… The Commission announced on the 3rd that it had started checking the complaints, of which there were 425, and that it would not declare the final results until this task was completed (Kurdistan 24). On the 9th, three Kurdish parties, Gorran, the Islamic Group and New Generation, asked the Minister of the Interior of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to form a Commission of Enquiry into frauds having made use of false identity cards, before bringing the request, with the support of the Islamic Union, before the same Ministry in Baghdad. On the 14th the number of complaints filed with the Electoral Commission was established at 1045 (Rûdaw). On the 15th, although the final results had not yet been announced, the Kurdish parties were beginning unofficial discussions about forming a new government. The main issue was whether it should consist of only the KDP and the PUK or whether other Kurdish parties would accept to take part in it.

The results, at first announced on the 23rd, then published in their final form on the 30th October, after verification of the last appeals and contestations and validation by the Kurdistan Judicial Council, did not show much change from the various preliminary results published in the course of the month. The poll was marked by a high rate of abstention (42% as against 33% in 2013). Masud Barzani’s KDP won the elections with a wide margin, securing 45 of the 111 available seats (a gain of 7 seats compared with 2013), followed quite far behind by PUK with 21 seats (3 more seats from 2013). Gorran lost half of its seats with 12 elected M.P.s. The results as a whole, with comparisons with 2013, are shown in the following table.

Results of the Parliamentary elections
of 30 September 2018 in Iraqi Kurdistan


Party or alliance









688 070


743 984



319 219


350 500

Change Movement


186 903


476 173

New Genération


127 115



Islamic Group (Komal)


109 494


118 575

“Reform Alliance”:
- Islamic League (Yekgirtû) +
- Islamic Movement (Bizutinewe)


79 434





186 741

21 834

“Modern Alliance” (Sardam):

- Democratic Socialist Party +

- Toilers Party +

- Democratic Union of Kurdistan


15 581





12 501

8 681

“Liberty Alliance” (Azadi) (Communist Party of Kurdistan – Irak)


8 063


12 392

Sources: AFP, Rûdaw, Kurdistan 24


The Islamic Union (Yekgirtû), like Gorran and New Generation, rejected these results that it considered stained with fraud, and rapidly announced that it would remain in the opposition, whereas, at the end of the month, the Islamic Group (Komal), that had become the largest Islamic party with 7 elected M.P.s, had not yet made any decision but was starting discussions with Gorran.

The last session of the outgoing Parliament took place on the 31st. The first session of the new Parliament is planned for the 6th November, chaired by the oldest member of the Assembly. The newly elected M.P.s will first take the oath, then shall start the process of electing the Speaker of Parliament.


Since the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime, the post of President of the Iraqi Republic has tacitly been reserved for a Kurd. For the first time the Baghdad Parliament, tasked to elect the President on Monday 1st of March at 5 pm, , had had to choose between two Kurdish candidates: the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) fielded as candidate Fuad Hussein, formerly Chief of staff of the Kurdistan Region President Masud Barzani as against the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan’s (PUK) candidate, Barham Saleh, former Prime Minister of the KRG and Deputy Prime Minister of the Iraqi central government. The KDP, claiming the post arguing of its highest score at the Parliamentaty elections, criticised the PUK for having appointed Saleh without prior consultations. Already once postponed because of this disopute, the date for the vote was postponed once more for lack of a quorum… The KDP and PUK continued tense discussion to try and get a consensus, but without success, and on the 2nd of October, Saleh got 165 votes on the first round against 90 for his opponent. As this election requires a two-thirds majority a second round was needed in which Saleh won with 219 as the KDP withdrew its candidate (WKI).

A computer engineer who earned his degree in the United Kingdom, Saleh had withdrawn at the last minute in 2014 from the Presidential contest in favour of Fuad Massoum, also a PUK member. He certainly won the preference of the Iraqi M.P.s by his “moderation” on the issue of Kurdistan’s independence from Iraq. He swore the oath of office before the Members of Parliament on Tuesday evening, committing himself to “preserving the unity of Iraq”. He then had 15 days within which to appoint a Prime Minister, a member of the Shi’ite community, who would form the country’s next government, and it was expected he would be chosen from the members of the 2 coalitions claiming the title of the biggest block in Parliament — the one led by the outgoing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the other led by the Shi’ite leader Moqtada Sadr and the pro-Iran Hashd al-Shaabi militia.                                                                                                                                                                       However Saleh did not wait for 15 days: less than 2 hours after his election he chose an independent, Mr. Adel Abdul Mahdi (AFP), Minister of Oil from 2014 to 2016. For the first time, the function was assigned to someone not from the pro-Shi’ite Dawa Party, the historic islamist opposition to Saddam. This fast decision as well as the choice made seem to be signs of an era of political change, even though the KDP and the PUK have continued to fight over the way that Saleh was chosen and elected. Mahdi had then 30 days to announce the names of his Ministers, each one of whom must be individually approved by the Parliament. Discussions were pursued: a Shi’ite delegation led by Ammar al-Hakim and Salih Motlaq went to Erbil to meet the KDP and PUK, then a KRG delegation led by Nechirvan Barzani came to Baghdad to meet the new Prime Minister. During the night of 23-24 the Parliament (220 M.P.s present out of 329) voted confidence to Mahdi and a limited government of 14 Ministers, eight of the posts remaining to be filled, including the Defence and Interior, because of the opposition of many M,P.s to the candidates proposed. Parliament should vote on the 6th November on the posts not yet filled. If Mahdi has managed to secure the approval of his programme by a show of hands, several M.P.s whose parties have not nor secured any posts, left Parliament in rage, including members of Moqtada Sadr’s Sayroon alliance, Iyad Allawi’s Natawayî and the Sunni Arabs Qarrar block. Among the new Ministers only 3 have occupied such duties before, even if most of them have already served in government. Djabar al-Louaibi, a former Oil Minister, gave up his seat to Thamer Ghadhban but became President of the National Oil Company, recently formed by fusing several different existing public companies… The KDP candidate to the Presidency, Fuad Hussein, acceded to the Post of Minister of Finance and Vice-Premier.

The new government entered into conflict fast with Parliament and the Kurds on the 2019 Federal Budget. Submitted to the Members on the 28th, the draft budget was rejected on the 31st after the Sunni Arab leader, Ousama al-Nujaifi, demanded a rebalancing in favour of the Province of Nineveh (Mosul). As from the 14th, the Kurdistan Islamic Union (Yekgirtû) had announced that it would not support it as it did not take into account Halabja Privince, which had however secured provincial status from Baghdad in December 2013… Furthermore, Kurdistan’s demands, particularly the re-establishing of its 17% budget share, had not been agreed, the 2019 draft giving it 6.72 billion dollars, that is only 12.68% of the total (Rûdaw).

The two new governments, at Erbil and Baghdad will have to rapidly start discussions to resolve their divergences. According to its spokesman, Safîn Dizayî, the KRG received from the Peshmergas Ministry on the 27th, a report intended to serve as a basis for discussions on both the management of Oil Resources and the payment of the Peshmergas as well as on the governance of the disputed territories — three issues that are major sources of tension (Kurdistan 24).

Regarding the disputed territories, security there is still as bad since the withdrawal of the Peshmergas, and there are incessant attacks: at the beginning of the month, an improvised bomb killed at least 3 people in a village of the Dibis district, then 2 explosions with vehicles wounded at least 8 people on the 3rd in the Asra quarter of Kirkuk. Not claimed, these attacks are attributed to sleeping cells of ISIS (Kurdistan 24). Then in the morning of the 9th a new bomb attack caused 2 deaths and 4 injured in a market in the town centre (ISHM) and on the 13th a booby-trapped vehicle exploded in the Mamdoda quarter, wounding 6 civilians, including children…

Besides, the residents of Kirkuk are expressing their frustration at the increasing price of foodstuffs following the installation of two customs barriers between Kirkuk and Kurdistan. They were installed on the orders of the outgoing Prime Minister, Hayder al-Abadi, at the demand of the interim governor, Rakan Said al-Jaburi, a Sunni Arab. The Provincial Council, in which the Brayetî Kurdish block has the majority, was not consulted and considers them illegal, and the KRG’s Minister of the Interior intends to demand they be dismantled.

Finally the Kurds criticise the policies of the interim governor, installed in office by the same Abadi, following the sacking of the previous governor, the Kurd Nadjmaddin Karim. Indeed, this nomination was challengeable in itself: the Constitution gives the Provincial Council only the right to sack or nominate a governor. However it is Jabouri’s support of the return of Arab colonists that aroused Kurds’ most anger. Originally installed by the Ba’athist regime, they left after its fall pocketing financial compensation. Particularly in the Daquq district, the villages of Yangijay Talaban, Abdullah Khanim and Aannana sounded the alarm on the 22nd. Then on the 28th the inhabitants of the Sargaran region received written orders from the governor to stop cultivating their lands until their ownership was ascertained by a Committee created for this purpose by the Iraqi Prime Minister. However a Kurdish M.P. for Kirkuk in the Iraqi Parliament, Rebwar Taha, pointed out to Rûdaw that the Minister of Agriculture had already decided that the farmers could continue their activity, thus making the governor’s letter illegal.

In the town also, Jaburi’s policy is being challenged. On the 19th, he ordered the expulsion within the month of 43 offices of Kurdish organisations close to the KDP, but also of organisations like the Kurdistan Union of Teachers, whose members teach in Kurdish schools in Kirkuk. Since the Federal Army and the Shi’ite Hashd al-Shaabi militia took control of the Province on 16th October 2017, 14 KDP offices and 29 belonging to other Kurdish organisations have already been converted into Army billets and quarters or been attributed to Shi’ite militia, Iraqi government organisations, while dozens of provincial cadres and officials had been sacked to be replaced by Arabs or Turcoman. Any of the premises rejected by expulsion orders were empty, the Kurdish groups having fled before the Army arrived. One of the Provincial Council members told Rûdaw   that he was taking advantage if their absence to rent or just occupy the empty one to prevent colonists from returning.

The Kurds are trying to organise themselves to oppose Jaburi, but disagree over the method. Last month a meeting between the Political Committees of the KDP and the PUK appointed a four-member committee to discuss the Kirkuk question and appoint a common candidate for the post of governor, but it has only held one meeting since. The PUK has held several meetings with Arab and Turkman notables of the city, signalling its readiness to make concessions in exchange for a Provincial Council meeting that would enable it to obtain the post of governor. The KDP for its part proposes the election of an independent Kurd but, like the Chairman of the Council, Rebwar Talabani, refuses to return to the city as long as the situation is not “normalised” with the departure of the Iraqi troops and the dropping of legal proceedings aimed at Kurdish notables, including Talabani himself. On the 19th the latter demanded that Baghdad cancel all the decisions of the interim administration aiming at altering the Province’s ethnic balance and compensate the victims of the military offensive of 16 October 2017. The idea has also been raised of a new nomination of the Governor by Baghdad, though the PUK would prefer an election by the Provincial Council. The Turkmans demand a rotating attribution of the post. Since the last two were respectively a Kurd and an Arab the next one should, in their view, be a Turkman…

The demands of the Kurds of Kirkuk correspond closely with those of the “Social Coalition of the people of Kirkuk”, a group of citizens who, on the 9th, called on the shopkeepers to lower their shutters in protest on the anniversary of the 16 October 2017: demilitarisation and withdrawal of Iraqi troops from the town, re-establishment of the authority of the local civil administration, withdrawal of control points between the town and Kurdistan and a stop to the policies of Governor Jaburi, described as an “incitement to hate and tension” (Kurdistan 24).

By the end of the month, on the 28th, the Kurdish quarter of Shorja in Kirkuk, which had opposed the Iraqi troops in October 2017, was surrounded by Iraqi security forces pretending they were searching for illegal arms and people wanted by the police. They imposed a curfew.

Tensions also broke out outside Kirkuk. In the Yezidi town of Sinjar, Shi’ite militia arrested and expelled in the 19th a correspondent and a cameraman from the Kurdish TV channel Kurdistan 24, after beating and threatening them. Called by the Yezidis, the 2 journalists had tried to film the expulsion by the Shi’ite militia of about thirty families from housing estate in the town’s outskirts, who had been ordered to leave within 24 hours to settle in the town centre. They were obliged to kneel while the militia put pistols to their temples, threatening to execute them. They were finally released with fresh threats and warnings not to film reports about Shi’ite militia…

Finally, as an echo of the anti-ISIS operations by the SDF on the Syrian side of the border, the Shi’ite Hashd militia declared a State of Emergency, after 14 of their fighters (70, according to the SCHR) had been killed in a jihadist attack on the 26th. Further South, troops were positioned in the al-Anbar Province to prevent other ISIS attacks, and on the 31st the Hashd announced having killed two ISIS commanders who had led the last attack against the SDF (ISHM). On the same day the Peshmergas announced having killed three jihadists North of Tuz Khurmatu with Coalition air support, and, on the ground, some French troops (Kurdistan 24).


The alliance between the AKP, President Erdogan’s Islamist Party and the ultra-nationalist (semi-fascist) MHP, led by Devlet Bahçeli, is floundering. The MHP had proposed in September, to relieve the overcrowded prisons, an amnesty for non-political prisoners (including those condemned for drug trafficking and sexual aggressions). Erdogan’s response was: “While there are 50,000 drug dealers in prison we cannot propose an amnesty” had enraged Bahçeli, who accused Erdogan of seeking to link the MHP with drug trafficking. Then on October 18th the State Council proposed the re-introduction of the oath for schoolchildren. Dating from Ataturk’s time, this oath, which begins with: “I am a Turk, honest and hardworking…”, and expresses nationalist and even racist views, is strongly favoured by the MHP. Here too Erdogan, who had criticised it, and had had it suppressed in 2013, had aroused his partner’s fury by this decision. On the 23rd Bahçeli annouced that there would be no alliance with the AKP for the local elections, due in March 2019…

Where repression is concerned, nothing seems able to stop the Turkish judicial machine. This month started with the trial of 9 doctors, 4 nurses and 1 ambulance driver. On trial since 28th September for “membership in a terrorist organisation”, they had wanted, at the end of January 2016, to go and help the inhabitants of Cizre, at that time being attacked by the security forces. Intercepted by the Army, they never reached their destination (Orient XXI). On 2 October the police arrested the HDP co-President of the Hani district (Diyarbakir) during a raid on his home. At Izmir, they arrested 7 Kurds and at Siirt, a member of the Provincial Council, İdris İlhan (HDP), who had posted on social media: “It is not the dollar that is rising but it is us who are sinking”. On the same day the singer Ferat Tunc received nearly 2-year prison for “terrorist propaganda”. He had paid tribute to the the Kurdish anti-ISIS fighters of Kobanê. Still on the 2nd a fascist gang attacked the offices of a Kurdish lawyer at Odunpazarı (Eskişehir), placing there banners marked “No HDP at Odunpazarı” (WKI).

On the 3rd, according to Hürriyet, the Turkish President pointed out that after the local elections next he would not hesitate to sack elected representatives found guilty of links with terrorists: “We will not leave in place those who send the people’s money to Qandil” he declared to the mayor of Ağrı, himself one of the 800 unelected “administrators” appointed to replace HDP mayors and elected local representatives dismissed and imprisoned, as are 10 M.P.s and over 7,000 members of the HDP. The latter party hopes to win back numerous city halls in the coming elections, thus getting rid of those undemocratic administrators…

Also on the 3rd began in Ankara a new hearing for Selahattin Demirtaş, detained since 4 November 2016. He has “appeared” from his cell in Edirne via the SEGBIS video system. The Court has decided that he remain in detention till his next hearing, between 12th and 14th December. The Prosecutor has asked a sentence of 142 years’ prison for Demirtaş (SCF). The SEGBIS system is well-known for its poor quality, which seriously harms the rights of defence. For instance, on the 5th for the fourth hearing of the trial of 17 Kurdish children from Nusaybin, the connection could not even be established for 15 of them. These children, for whom a sentence of life imprisonment has been demanded, were blocked in a cellar in the town throughout a curfew and the fighting between the pro-PKK and the the Turkish security forces. The defence denied their participation in the clashes and, on the contrary accused the security of torturing them. The Court prolonged their detention until the verdict was pronounced — postponed till 15 November (Ahval).

Besides, on the 4th, after the present HDP co-president Pervin Buldan, accused of “membership in a terrorist organisation” had refused to appear before the Court, the latter authorised the security forces to bring her by force. The same day, the Ministry of Interior announced the arrest of 88 people for presumed links with the PKK. It was a manner of preventing commemorations of the demonstrations of the 6-7 October 2014, that had caused many victims following the battle of Kobanê. In two days there were 137 arrests (AFP). On the 9th the Office of the Prosecutor of Diyarbekir announced 90 new arrests in an operation of 183 raids spread over 9 towns (AFP). There were arrests in Ankara, Muş and Urfa. At Batman, amongst the 8 people arrested was the HDP co-president. There were 25 arrests in Ağrı (WKI). The purge is now beginning to hit the “village guards” (korucular), those auxiliaries (72.000 in 2016) employed by the Army against the PKK. The Minister of the Interior announced on the 11th having sacked at least 559 of them for links with or membership in a “terrorist group”. Another 76 have been temporarily dismissed pending results of an enquiry regarding their participating in the trafficking of drugs or human beings (Kurdistan 24). Moreover, following police raids on the 11th and 12th , 40 other people were being held pending investigation at Van, Istanbul, Bursa, Sakarya and Antalya in an apparent effort to prevent the HDP to prepare for the local elections next March. Then on the 15th the Ministry of Interior announced he had suspended 259 “muhtars” (elected village or urban quarter chiefs), who play an essentially administrative role, for “links with a terrorist organisation” without the organisation being specified. 103 village chiefs and 156 neighbourhood chiefs have thus been sacked (AFP) and replaced by non-elected administrators.

On the 23rd the pro-government paper Yeni Şafak announced the preparation of a fresh wave of arrests, aimed, this time, at Kurdish businessmen suspected of participating in financing the PKK. It's actually all about targeting financial support for the HDP campaign, that the paper accuses pell-mell of being the political wing of the PKK and of participating in the drug trade, by attacking its rural financial supporters. Early in the morning of the 27th the police carried out a series of fresh raids on the homes of HDP public figures and possible candidates in the coming local elections. The former Member of Parliament for Şanlıurfa, İbrahim Binici at Ankara, and at Kars, the former woman M.P. Şafak Özanlı, the BDP co-president Cengiz Anlı and the HDP co-président Ekrem Savcı amongst others… The people arrested were taken to the Province Directorate of Security…

The Stockholm Centre for Freedom (SCF) also alerted on the 13th on the renewed repression of journalists of whom 237 were in prison on October 7th — 169 of whom in “preventive detention” awaiting trial and only 68 already tried. Amongst the latest to be apprehended is the Kurdish female journalist Kibriye Evren, incarcerated in the context of the operation carried out in Diyarbekir on the 9th, Abdurrahman Gök, Semiha Alankuş, Lezgin Akdeniz, Esra Solin Dal, Cihan Ölmez and Mehmet Akdoğan as well as the distributer of the paper Yeni Yaşam, Savas Aslan, kept in detention in the Diyarbakir police station. On the 12th Servet Öner, the former editress-in-chief of the Istanbul Kurdish monthly Demokratik Modernite was arrested. Turkey also emitted 148 warrants for the arrest of journalists in flight inside Turkey or even exiled abroad… On the 29th, the journalist of the Iraqi Kurdistan TV Channel Kurdistan TV, Mehmet Sanrı, who, after describing the Iranian regime as “blood-soaked” in a twitter post on the rocket attack against the KDPI at Koya and the hanging of 3 Kurdish political prisoners, found himself being sued by a prosecutor for “incitement to hate”… Mr Sanrı faces 3 years imprisonment…

Everything Kurdish continues to suffer discrimination. On the 14th, before a football match between the Diyarbekir club Amedspor and the Sakaryapor club of Sakarya, in Western Anatolia, a video showing an Army operation against Kurds was shown in the stadium while Turkish nationalist chants were sung. After the match, lost by Amedspor, the Diyarbekir players were attacked in their changing rooms. The following weekend the stand of the Avesta publishing house at the Batman Book Fair was surrounded by the police, who confiscated the Turkish translation of the book by the historian Celilê Celîl on the Sheikh Obeidollah revolt (1880 Kurt Ayaklanmasi: Seyh Ubeydullah Nehri) and detained the publisher staff present on the stand. According to Avesta the book is the 13th one to be banned during this year (Ahval).

On the 12th the probably most famous foreign prisoner in Turkey, the American pastor Andrew Brunson, was finally released. Detained for the last 2 years and charged with ridiculous accusations of links at the same time with the PKK and the Gülenist movement, he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment precisely corresponding with the time he has already served. The charges of spying abandoned, the 3 years reduced to 2 for “good conduct”, he was sent back to the US. Dr. Aykan Erdemir, a former Turkish M.P. and researcher at the Washington Foundation for Defense of Democracies, indicated in a twitter post that 4 of the witnesses to the charges had modified their depositions: one declared having read the charges against the pastor in the press, another that the judge had misunderstood him and the 2 others both claimed they had been informed by the other! For Erdemir, that the whole affair was a plot in the service of Erdoğan’s “hostage-taking diplomacy” is clear (Kurdistan 24). However, the American economic sanctions made also clear the Turkish President had attacked someone too strong for him… The IMF, estimating the Turkish external debt at 457 billion dollars, predicts for 2019 a growth in free fall, from 3,5 to 0.4%, plus a need for 181 billion to reimburse the country’s creditors. A reconciliation with Washington was thus necessary. The conclusion of the “Brunson affair” only provides a supplementary proof of the political corruption of Turkish justice.

On the 23th a Swede, identified only by his initials, accused of PKK links, was arrested in Diyarbakir, and on the 26th Patrick Kraicker, a German arrested in March, received a 6-year prison sentence for being a member of the Syrian Kurdish YPG (AFP). According to Berlin, 5 other Germans are still political prisoners in Turkey.

Just how far can ultra-nationalism go? In the Van high security prison, the journalist Nedim Türfent was the target of a disciplinary enquiry because his manual of German grammar contained a map on which Turkey is too small. Finally, on the 30th the enquirers decided that he had not committed any crime and he was not sanctioned… (SCF)

Finally, on 18th October the businessman and sponsor Osman Kavala reached 365 days of incarceration without a single charge against him. Kavala, who had supported Amnesty International in Turkey, is accused by Erdoğan of Gulenist links. The European Court for Human Rights had, on 23rd August, indicated its pre-acceptance of his case (Site Free Osman Kavala).

The Turkish military operations are pursued in Turkey and in Iraqi Kurdistan as well, they were marked at the beginning of the month by the death of 8 Turkish soldiers killed on the 4th at Batman by the explosion of a bomb at the passage of their vehicle (3 of the 5 wounded by this explosion subsequently died in hospital). These losses, the most important in almost a year, aroused the fury of the Turkish President, who swore, in order to avenge these 8 deaths, to “finish the Kurdish militias in Sinjar and Qandil” and to “kill at least 800” (Reuters). Later on the same day the Ministry of Interior announced the “neutralisation” by an air strike near Nusaybîn of a leading PKK cadre, Mehmet Sait Sürer (nom de guerre Cuma Mardin). On the 9th after having imposed curfews on dozens of villages, the Turkish Army launched an operation in the Lice district (Diyarbakir). On the 30th, the governor’s office at Bingöl announced the neutralisation the day before of 3 Kurdish fighters to the East of the province in a Jandarma operation. On the Iraqi Kurdistan side, the Turkish air force carried out numerous air strikes: on the 9th on several villages of Bradost, particularly near Khalifan and Khwakurk (Rûdaw). On the 16th and then the 17th it carried out strikes on the Amêdî district (Dohuk), claiming the “neutralisation” of 12 Kurdish fighters (Kurdistan 24), on the 20th again on Bradost, and finally on the 30th (Reuters).


Since the establishing of the Islamic Republic in Iran, the Kurdish community is the most hit by repression, abuses and imprisonment. Early in October, thousands of Kurds were still incarcerated and at least 7 executions took place during the month. Moreover, Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhelat) is one of the country’s least developed regions. According to the Hengaw organisation for the defence of Human Rights, more than a hundred Kurds, driven by poverty and despair, have committed suicide in the last six months. Many others turn, in order to survive, to the very dangerous trade of cross-border porter, or kolbar in Kurdish. They then became the victims of extra-judiciary murders by the regime´s repressive forces, who consider them to be smugglers and systematically take them as targets in the mountains…

Between last March and last September, 21 kolbars have been thus targeted, according to Kurdistan 24, by this kind of shooting, and on 2nd October on the Turkish borders near Urmia, 2 others were targeted, one of whom was seriously wounded, according to the Association for Human Rights in Kurdistan (Komeleî mafî mirovî Kurdistan, KMMK). On the 3rd the corpse of another kolbar was found close to Nowsoud (Kermanshah), near the border with Iraqi Kurdistan (Kurdistan 24), and on the Iraqi side of the border another was killed near the Tawella border post (WKI). On the 5th KMMK reported that 2 porters had been wounded near the village of Dinaran. On the 13th two other porters were wounded at Sardasht and at Mahabad (WKI). On the 16th the Iranian border guards fired at a group of porters near Piranshahr, killing one and seriously wounding two others (KMMK, Hengaw).

In the last week of October the repression against the kolbars still intensified. On the 25th the border guards shot down one and wounded another at Salmasa. On the 27th, while one porter was dying of cold the pasdarans (Revolutionary Guards) seriously wounded 2 at Sardasht, before killing a third. On the 28th they also laid an ambush for a group of a dozen who were preparing to crossover to Iraqi Kurdistan. In parallel to this, the Court at Sardasht sentenced 15 kolbars to between 1 and 8 months jail and several fines, sometimes up to 1,800 dollars for “illegal importation of goods”. Also on the 27th two young Kurds from Iran were killed by shots coming from Iran, although they were clearly on the Iraqi side, to which they had come to seek work (Kurdpa).

The recent agreement between Iran and the Kurdistan Regional Government to open the Haji Omran border post 24 hours a day, has, unfortunately, little chance of helping these porters, who cannot pay the customs duties levied at these official passage points …

On the military level, fresh clashes have taken place between the regime’s forces and fighters of the Kurdish parties. On 30th September the KDPI announced that one of its Peshmergas had ben wounded in a strike carried out by Iranian drones on the Iraqi Kurdistan side, and on the 8th an Iranian border guard was killed near Marivan during a fight with an unidentified opposition group 2 of whose members were wounded (Kurdistan 24). On the 12th fresh clashes took place near Paveh (Kermanshah) between pasdarans and some KDPI Peshmergas. According to the party, 2 Peshmergas and at least 3 pasdarans were killed and several others wounded. The KDPI accused the pasdarans of killing one civilian by using heavy artillery (WKI). On the 12th the semi-official Fars News agency announced that the Iranian Intelligence Service had broken up a “separatist cell” and killed 2 of its members in Kermanshah, adding that the group was supported by “unspecified Arab countries”.

On the 18th the KDPI organised at Koya, in Iraqi Kurdistan, a ceremony in honour of the victims of the Iranian attack of the 8th September, criticising Baghdad’s lack of response. On the same day several Kurdish parties of Iran published a common declaration calling on UNO and the Human Rights Defence organisations to act to stop the Iranian violations. A member of the KDPI accused the Iranian pasdarans of spying on the Iranian Kurdish parties from Kirkuk and Iraqi Kurdistan and guiding the attacks against them.

It is true that the regime, whose forces are present in Iraq as in Syria, regularly carries out strikes towards the exterior, like the missiles launched on 1st October towards the East of Syria from some mobile launching pads set up near the Kurdish town of Kermanshah. Presented by the pasdarans as a “revenge” for the attacks of 23rd September against the Ahwaz military parade, these strikes against Abou Kamal, a town held by ISIS, have hit a point less than 5 km from American troops supporting the SDF (WKI).

The repression also continues on the ground against the Kurdish activists. In September, according to Hengaw, at least 80 people, including 3 women, had already been arrested in the provinces of Iranian Kurdistan: 43 in Urumiah, 36 in Sanandaj and 1 in Kermanshah. Of these, 40 were aimed at citizen activists, 17 at political and 18 at people mobilised because of their working conditions. On the 5th it was learnt that in Urumiah on the 30th 2 Kurds from Iran, already sentenced in July to 11 years prison for “membership of an anti-government group” had received a supplementary sentence of one year for having “illegally crossed the border”. They had joined an unspecified armed Kurdish group in Syria. Arrests continued during October, accompanied by sentences and executions. Still at Urumiah, the Kurdish activist Aqbal Ahmadpour, arrested in June by the pasdarans and accused of membership of a Kurdish party, received 5 years imprisonment for “compromising the country’s unity”. At Mahabad an activist charged with the same offence, Kiwan Aliaam, received 10 years and 2 months. Ahmadpour was tortured during his detention and was prevented access to a lawyer during his trial. Then on the 6th the poetess and Kurdish activist Mina Rad, originally from Doroud (Lorestan) was arrested and has been kept incarcerated ever since.

After the strikes and protests that followed in most of Iran’s Kurdish towns the executions of Ramin Panahi and his two cousins Loghman and Zanyar Moradi and the attack on the KDPI headquarters in Kiya on 8th September, the pasdarans have been deployed in greater numbers in Kurdistan on the pretext of “manoeuvres”. On the 8th a national general strike on the issue of the high cost of living and the economic situation also covered Kurdistan. On Sunday 15, another national strike with the same demands mobilised this time the teachers. On Monday 16th, despite the threats of the security forces, the strike was followed in Kurdistan with some specific demands added, such as the right of their pupils to study in their mother tongue — guaranteed by Article 15 of the Iranian Constitution.                                                                                                                 The movement covered the towns of Ilam, Marivan, Saqqez, Kermanshah, Sine (Sanandaj), and Javanrud, whose teachers posted, on their social networks some videos of their sit-ins in the streets. Another demand covered safety in the schools: at the beginning of the month 7-year old schoolgirl was killed by the collapse of a wall in her school in Sine province … (Kurdistan 24) In response to these demands, the regime launched enquiries aimed at the movement’s organisers. According to KMMK, the Security Service interrogated 6 teachers at Saqqez and also arrested 6 Kurds accused of being members of illegal parties …

The repression also covers villagers accused of helping banned Kurdish parties… On the 18th the Security Service arrested 3 inhabitants of a village in Marivan, then a fourth one the next day while the police arrested 2 other villagers (KMMK). On the 21st, dozens of Kurdish students were arrested, and 3 jailed hereafter. Hengaw gives the figure of 32 students, including 3 women, arrested since the beginning of 2018. One of them, Taleb Basati Vand died under torture. Three others were each sentenced to 16 years prison.

To prevent the villagers from watching independent television channels, the police launched at Marivan and Sanandadj new campaigns of raids on the houses during which the satellite dishes were confiscated.

Besides, 5 activists of the defence of the environment who protested against the uncontroled depositing and burning of rubbish by the security forces near a Marivan village were arrested on the 15th, which provoked a demonstration in front of the village mayor’s office. Since the beginning of the year the pasdarans had arrested over 60 ecological activists in the countryside, accusing them of espionage and recently (the 21st) the Public Prosecutor of Teheran had requalified the charges against 5 of them to “corruption” — putting them in danger of receiving death sentences. In August, 4 Kurdish environmental activists had perished during the struggle against a forest fire caused by the pasdarans artillery firing (Kurdistan 24).

Regarding the executions, the month of October established a grim record. In just the week of the 15th, seven men sentenced to death were executed in 5 different prisons, 3 of whom were Kurds. Mawloud Sha-Husseini, of Diwandara, sentenced in 2014 for drug trafficking, was hanged on the 16th at Isfahan after 4 years waiting in “Death Row”. On the 14th a Kurd from Miandoab, Aslan Shirani, sentenced in 2015 for “premeditated murder”, was executed at Maragha. Then on the 17th a Kurdish prisoner, Kurosh Behzadian, sentenced in 2012, was also hanged for the same charges. This is just a part of the executions reported by Kurdistan 24… According to Amnesty International, Iran carried out at least 507 executions in 2017, and at least 31 were public, and Hengaw counted that from March to September 40 Iranian Kurds were executed …

Finally, Amnesty drew attention to the fate of Zeynab Sekaanvand, hanged on 2nd October in Ouroumieh Prison. Just 24 years of age, she had been arrested when she was 17, accused of having killed her husband, to whom she had been forcibly married when she was 15 and who had repeatedly abused her. According to Amnesty, tortured by the police who questioned her, she did not have access to a lawyer during her proceeding but only at her last hearing in 2014, where she withdrew her confessions. Pregnant after having married another detainee in her prison, she saw the date of her execution postponed, but after the child was still-born she was returned to “Death Row”. She was finally executed despite repeated requests by Amnesty international for a retrial — a fair trial respecting the principles of justice for minors.


During October, several international or national awards were awarded to Kurds or people working in defence of Kurds’ rights.

On 5 October, the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to two champions of the fight against violence against women and in particular the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war: Kurdish Yazidi activist Nadia Murad shares the prize with Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege. Norwegian Nobel Committee Chair Berit Reiss-Andersen said: “Denis Mukwege is someone who has dedicated his life to defending victims of wartime sexual violence. Nadia Murad is the witness who has been reporting the abuses perpetrated against herself and other”. Nadia Murad, 25, who was captured in Sinjar in August 2014 and reduced to sexual slavery by ISIS jihadists before she managed to escape after 3 months, said: “I share this prize with the Yazidis, the Iraqis, the Kurds, other persecuted minorities and the countless victims of sexual violence around the world”.

Murad, who decided to devote her life to spreading awareness of the atrocities committed by ISIS jihadists and the sufferings of their victims, had already been awarded the Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament in October 2016, just after becoming on September 16 Good will ambassador of the United Nations for the dignity of the victims of human trafficking. She testified in December 2015 before the United Nations Security Council to request an international intervention against ISIS, which she then accused of genocide against the Yazidis. In March 2018, the NGO she founded, Nadia's Initiative, published a report on the situation in Sinjar, indicating that since the genocide, 300,000 Yazidis were still in IDP camps, mainly in Kurdistan of Iraq, and that 90,000 had fled Iraq, mainly to Germany, while only 70,000 were able to return to their original homes.

It was also after a meeting between Nadia Murad and the French President that his Cabinet announced on the 25th that France would receive on its territory 100 Yazidi women currently in IDP camps in Iraqi Kurdistan. Nadia Murad was in Paris to present a report of the International Federation of Human Rights (IFHR) on the atrocities committed by ISIS, accessible online ( The French President said that 20 of these women currently deprived of care, including psychological, could reach France by the end of the year, the others to arrive in 2019. Emmanuel Macron added that he would support the Murad's initiative for the creation of a fund for the reconstruction of Sinjar and the construction in this area of hospitals and schools to help the return of its inhabitants (Arab News).

Another award attributed to survivors of the genocide perpetrated by ISIS against the Yazidis was the Mother Teresa Prize for Social Justice, received on October 21 by Layla Taalo and Idris Bachar Silo Taha in Mumbai, India. Like Nadia Murad, Layla Taalo, escaped from the clutches of ISIS jihadists, then devoted herself to a campaign to publicize the crimes committed against her community (Rûdaw).

On the 24th, Turkish lawyer Eren Keskin was nominated for the Martin Ennals Award, sometimes called the “Nobel Prize for Human Rights”, named after the first Secretary general of Amnesty International, deceased in 1991. The award will be announced on February 13, 2019 in Geneva. Sentenced and jailed many times, Keskin has been campaigning for human rights for more than 30 years, particularly defending Kurds, women and the LGBTI community. After agreeing to become editor-in-chief of the opposition newspaper Özgür Gündem, closed by an emergency decree, she was sentenced on 30 March 2018 to 12 years and 6 months in prison for publishing articles “degrading” the Turkish nation and “insulting” President Erdoğan. Keskin was released while awaiting her appeal judgment (VOA Africa).

Finally, let us mention the “Dutch Refugee Prize”, which rewards talented and persevering refugees, awarded on 7 October to Peshmerge Morad, an Afrîn Kurd named after the Kurdish pechmerga fighters. Since his arrival in the country, Morad, after learning Dutch, has enrolled in one of the best-known vocational training institutes in the country and has obtained “with honors” (cum laude) a diploma of computer science thanks to which he now works as an engineer (Kurdistan 24).


Migrants continue to pay a heavy price in their attempts to reach Europe. On the 11th, the Iraqi Kurdish channel Rûdaw reported that a boat carrying 35 migrants, mostly Iraqi Kurds, but also Afghans, had capsized in the Aegean Sea near the Turkish coast, and that only one woman had survived. The survivor of the sinking, Mahabad Ismail, who lost her 5 children and her husband, said that most of the Kurds on board came from 2 families in Dohuk and Zakho. According to relatives, among the drowned is a former pechmerga who participated in the fight against ISIS, and had decided to leave to try to find a treatment for his eldest son suffering from a serious form of diabetes.

On 23 October, the Puythouck camp in Grande-Synthe, inhabited by 1,800 migrants, most of them Iraqi Kurds, was quietly evacuated by the security forces deployed in numbers. Migrants were referred to reception facilities in the Hauts-de-France, Normandy, Île-de-France and Grand Est regions. It was the 3rd evacuation operation in Grande-Synthe, the first having taken place on September 6th for 539 people, 95% of them Iraqi Kurds, the second on the 28th of the same month for 4 to 500 people. After the 6th, some 200 migrants who could not find a place in a refuge had returned to a few hundred meters from the old camp... Because of the lack of durable solution, fifteen associations had undertaken to distribute food, clothing and blankets, while mobile clinics are trying to treat health problems. But this 3rd evacuation might not solve the problem for good… Due to the many returns from the reception centers, the mayor of the city, Damien Carême (ecologist), still plans to reopen the camp of Linière, destroyed by a fire in 2017 and which received 1,500 people (AFP).