B u l l e t i n

c o m p l e t

Bulletin N° 436 | July 2021



In Turkey, support for Erdoğan follows the Turkish lira: it is plummeting. According to a June poll by the Turkiye Raporu Institute, support for the AKP, the presidential party, has fallen to 26%, but more importantly, nearly 60% of respondents say they want snap elections. Long credited with the good performance of the Turkish economy, the Turkish president is now a victim of its constant deterioration. Since he virtually gathered all the powers in his hands in 2018, the dollar has risen by 86% against the Turkish lira, producer prices have jumped by 90% and consumer prices by 53%: he therefore appears to be the main culprit in the situation. He is betting on a recovery, but this is unlikely: fuelled by the fall in the currency, inflation, which seems to be out of control, reached 42.9% in June for production costs. For consumer prices, it is still (officially) only 5%, but given the differential with production costs, it can only jump too. Al-Monitor predicted on 8 July that it would be 19% by the end of the month, mainly due to increases in energy prices, gas and oil, a consequence of rising global demand. Anywhere else, the Central Bank would have reacted by raising interest rates, but the Islamist Erdoğan will not hear about it. As a result, faced with a power vacuum, foreign investors, vital to the Turkish economy, are pulling out. And the aggressive rhetoric of the president, who for months has blamed the crisis on an “anti-Turkish plot from abroad”, is not doing anything to keep them in...

It is for these economic reasons that Mr Erdoğan has temporarily stopped his insults and provocations and returned to a more... diplomatic language. Last month, anticipating the NATO meeting on the 14th, he had pleaded for a rapprochement with Europe and the new Biden administration. This month, playing the balancing act between Russia and the West, he resumed talks with Moscow...

Inside the country however, public opinion is increasingly hostile and critical of his pharaonic projects, such as Kanal Istanbul, officially launched on 26 June as if nothing had happened. Even in the province of Rize, his Black Sea stronghold, inhabitants started questioning the new port under construction, as they can see no positive impact on their living conditions. Turkiye Raporu director Can Selcuki explains: “It is difficult for the government to justify the cost of mega-projects to the public when household finances are suffering and people are worried about their livelihoods and food expenses” (Financial Times).

According to the World Bank, in 2020, 10 million Turks were below the poverty line. The opposition speaks of 30 million... Moreover, the revelations of exiled gangster Sedat Peker on the corruption and sumptuous spending of AKP politicians make their speeches inciting austerity inaudible. When First Lady Emine Erdoğan, known for her taste for luxury (her $50,000 Hermès bags), suggested to Turks during a campaign against food waste to write a list before going shopping to eliminate unnecessary purchases or... to make smaller portions, the enraged citizens responded by posting on social media pictures of her husband’s huge presidential palace (Al-Monitor).

In this context, Erdoğan’s visit to Diyarbakir on July 9 – the first in more than two years – appears to be primarily electoral in nature. The AKP fell in the province from 35% of the vote to less than 30% last December, according to a poll by the Rawest company, itself based in Diyarbakir. After the loss of Ankara and Istanbul in the 2019 municipal elections, the AKP has understood the importance of the Kurdish vote. Recalling his 2005 statements in the same city, when he proclaimed “The Kurdish problem is my problem”, before launching the peace process, Erdogan claimed that he stood by those words. The failure of the process in 2015, he was careful to blame on the other side, stigmatising the HDP and “those who claim to be politicians [and who] have never distanced themselves from violence and terrorism”, [...] “their ill will, malicious intentions and secret agendas” (Al-Monitor). But the exclusively repressive policy of the AKP for the past five years and the very manner of the Turkish president’s visit totally contradict the will of openness he tries to represent: escorted by thousands of police officers in charge of stifling any expression of dissent, he then locked himself up with the local members of the AKP to defend his policy of repression against Kurdish politicians and to accuse, among others, the HDP of links with Israel. For the record, Turkey is the first Muslim country to have recognised the Jewish state with which, despite the recurrent diatribes of its president, it maintains flourishing trade relations.

Meeting in Diyarbakir two days later, the “pro-Kurdish” party responded through the voice of its deputy chairman Tayip Temel by rejecting any negotiation with the autocrat: “Whatever the AKP leaders and representatives say, [the Kurdish people] have nothing to do with a mentality that has left their will, conscience, justice and the democratic solution of the Kurdish question hostage to the mercy of the MHP”.

Indeed, the Turkish president appears to be increasingly prisoner of his alliance with the Turkish far right. On 1st July, after a violent repression of the Istanbul Pride March the previous weekend, Turkey formally withdrew from the Istanbul Convention on Violence against Women. Thousands of people braved police tear gas to protest, particularly in Istanbul and Ankara. The HDP denounced the decision and drew the conclusions by leaving the parliamentary commission in charge of investigating violence against women, together with the CHP and the IYI Partisi (“Good Party”, a split from the MHP that refused the AKP alliance).

Moreover, after the Constitutional Court agreed at the end of June to the opening of a trial against the HDP on charges of “terrorism”, the HDP is more than ever threatened with a ban. The indictment presented by the prosecutor accuses the “pro-Kurdish” party of being nothing more than a political showcase for the PKK “terrorists” – simply repeating the accusation repeated over and over again for years by Mr Erdoğan. In an interview with the Washington Kurdish Institute (WKI), Armenian-born HDP MP Garo Paylan, recalling that the HDP is the only Turkish party to defend minorities, to have unreservedly supported the peace process with the PKK, and to have recognised the Armenian genocide, said: “This case was opened under the leadership of Erdoğan and his nationalist partner. It is not a judicial case. It is a political case: they did not succeed in beating us in the political field, so they are trying to close our party at the judicial level”. Accusing the government of criminalising the HDP, Paylan added: “Erdogan wants to centralise power. We are asking for decentralisation, [which] they call terrorist activism”. Calling for international solidarity, he stressed: “This is not a struggle between Turks and Kurds. It is a struggle between an autocrat and those who fight for democracy. […] The world needs a democratic Turkey” (WKI). Although the European Parliament condemned the opening of the trial against the HDP on 7 July by 603 votes to 2 and 67 abstentions, the EU will have to go beyond verbal condemnations if it hopes to change Ankara’s policy in any way...

In Washington, an HDP delegation that arrived on 28 June was informed by the State Department that it had been preceded from the 19th to the 26th by a Turkish parliamentary delegation which, to the surprise of the Americans, did not include any HDP member. The “pro-Kurdish” party, which participates in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Turkish Parliament, had not been informed of this visit! The HDP asked the committee for clarification.

Meanwhile, the two former co-mayors of Diyarbakir, Gülten Kışanak and Fırat Anli, dismissed in 2019 and already imprisoned, were charged with “creating a co-chairing system in the provincial council”, a means adopted by the HDP to allow for the equal participation of women: so this would be illegal? In Mardin, Filiz Işık, the former HDP provincial co-chair, arrested in September 2020, was sentenced to six years and ten months in prison for “belonging to a terrorist organisation”. In Istanbul, police attacked a rally commemorating the Suruç attack, attributed to ISIS, which in July 2015 had caused the death of around 30 young Kurds, and arrested 13 people, mostly relatives of the victims. Finally, Turkish authorities arrested 30 HDP members in Iğdir and two HDP officials in Şanlıurfa and Hakkari. On the 14th, the HDP office in Muğla was attacked. The assailant, who had already carried out a similar attack against the HDP in 2018, was arrested. There have been countless such attacks on HDP offices, including the one on 17 June in Izmir, where young activist Deniz Poyraz was shot and killed.

The government bears the responsibility for these aggressions. By setting up the Kurds as an “internal enemy” through his incessant hate speeches in order to preserve at all costs a power that he feels is wavering, Erdoğan, even beyond the incessant arrests of HDP members and the political trial mounted against this party, is nourishing a real systemic anti-Kurdish racism in the whole country. Indeed, on the 12th, according to the news site Artıgerçek, the Diyarbakır prosecutor’s office found no grounds to prosecute police officers who had beaten and injured a Kurdish woman during an anti-drug operation on 18 May: Kevser Demir, who had tried to prevent the police officers who were arresting her son from beating him, had herself several teeth and her arm broken; her daughter was also injured. The Diyarbakir Bar Association, which had afterwards filed a complaint, has indicated its intention to appeal.

More generally, a report published in January by CHP MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu states that 27,493 people were victims of torture and ill-treatment between 2002, when the AKP came to power, and 2020. Another 86 died from such ill-treatment, and the number of reported cases of torture or ill-treatment in 2002, 988, jumped to 3,534 in 2020 (SCF). The 2020 report of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV), published at almost the same time, shows that the increase in torture cases is particularly noticeable in the Kurdish regions. Despite the sanitary confinement, the rate of applications received by the TIHV for torture or ill-treatment increased by 61% compared to the previous year: 572 persons, of which 507 were detained for political, identity and/or opinion reasons. The report clearly shows the correlation between human rights violations and the Kurdish issue: although hosting only 24.6% of the total Turkish population, the Kurdish provinces of the country account for 62.6% of those subjected to torture... The report is particularly damning regarding children: 20 children aged between 3 and 10 were tortured, and all those tortured for ethnic or political reasons had Kurdish as their mother tongue. Moreover, most of the reports concerning children refer to police interventions at night, which indicates illegal procedures aimed at intimidating citizens in their homes. Finally, the applicants report numerous violations of their legal guarantees during the judicial examination, and particularly that the forensic doctors who “examine” them do not take their complaints into account in their examination, thus reinforcing the impunity of the police.

In addition, racist attacks on Kurds are increasing. On the 19th in Afyon, Kurdish agricultural workers were violently attacked by fascists and called “terrorists” simply for speaking Kurdish. Seven Kurds, including two women, were injured. According to a witness, the attack took place after a hairdresser left two young Kurds waiting at the door of his salon for two hours, putting everyone else ahead of them... On the 20th in Ankara, another attack hit a family sacrificing an animal for the Muslim festival commemorating the sacrifice of Abraham. At least 150 people took part in the attack, which left four people with gunshot wounds, two of whom had to be hospitalised in a serious condition. The family of the injured, who were waiting outside the hospital, were ordered to disperse and then attacked with tear gas and batons, this time by the police. But it was in Konya, on the same day, that the most frightening attack took place. A crowd of 60 people shot at a car carrying a Kurdish family originally from Diyarbakir, but settled in the Meram district of Konya for twenty years. Hakim Dal, 43, was killed. His brother Hamdi told the Mezopotamya agency: “They did not want us because we are Kurds. They told us: ‘‘You will sell this place and leave” (Rûdaw). On the 23rd, the HDP listed in a statement the recent attacks and called on the government to react: “If the government does not put an end to its criminalising smear campaigns and incessant hate speech against the HDP and the Kurds in general, and if it does not succeed in effectively prosecuting the perpetrators of these acts, many more bloody attacks are likely to occur”.

But the authorities continue to discriminate. In Bağlum (Keçiören, Ankara), Kurds whose houses and farms had been destroyed because they did not take the necessary steps with the land registry, reported that only property belonging to Kurds had been demolished... 150 families, some of whom have been settled for more than 20 years, are thus threatened. One of the victims of the destruction testified that during a visit by the First Lady to the Keçiören animal shelter on 28 July, several Kurdish women asked her to intervene. Emine Erdoğan reportedly replied: “Go to the mountains”, which in Turkey is synonymous with: “Join the PKK”...

Unfortunately, as the HDP had feared, the worst happened on the evening of the 30th in Meram (Konya). A group of armed individuals attacked a Kurdish family from Kars, who had been living in the Bahçeşehir district for 24 years. Each member of the family was shot in the head; seven people were killed, including three women, and then the house was set on fire. Last May, the Dedeoğlu family had already been attacked by a mob armed with knives, stones and sticks, shouting “We don’t want Kurds living here”. Some members of the family were seriously injured, but the assailants, after being arrested, were later released. The victims’ lawyer, Abdurrahman Karabulut, said that the release of the perpetrators of this first attack had given them a sense of impunity. Commenting on the killings, he said on Arti-TV: “This is an entirely racist attack. [...] The justice system and the authorities have their share of responsibility for what happened”. But Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu blamed years of hostility between two families: “This attack has no connection with the Turkish-Kurdish issue”, he said, adding that denouncing the killings as a racist crime was a “provocation” against the country’s unity...

In such a bloody context, one hardly dares to recall two events of the month that give hope that resistance can still carry weight. On 1st July, the Turkish Constitutional Court ruled in favour of imprisoned HDP MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, finding in a ruling that his right to carry out political activities and his personal freedoms had been “violated”. The annulment of his conviction forced the Kocaeli court to release him on the 6th, and allowed him to regain his status as a member of parliament on the 16th, after the official reading of the decision in parliament (AFP). Was this a decision teleguided by the government to counter the EU accusations? On the other hand, on the 15th, it seems that the Turkish President had to back down: he dismissed the rector of the Bosphorus (Bogazici) University in Istanbul, Melih Bulu, he had himself appointed by decree six months earlier. The latter had become increasingly authoritarian: he had banned protesting students from the campus with the help of facial recognition cameras and had withdrawn about a hundred scholarships. In vain: the CHP mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoğlu, substituted municipal scholarships (Le Monde). As the case turned to the advantage of the opposition, the Turkish president probably chose to get rid of a character who had become an embarrassment...


The region controlled by the Autonomous Administration of North-East Syria (AANES), with a Kurdish majority, is condemned to remain in isolation. It is true that on 9 July the UN Security Council unanimously extended the opening of the Bab Al-Hawa crossing point on the Turkish border for six months. This will allow humanitarian aid to be delivered to Idlib province and northwestern Syria, where four million civilians live, and everyone welcomed a “victory” that had made it possible to “avoid a humanitarian catastrophe”. But in 2019, there were five cross-border crossing points, and NGOs find Bab Al-Hawa largely insufficient. The French ambassador to the UN, Nicolas de Rivière, one of the only members of the Council to speak clearly about it, was clear: “The mechanism we have just renewed is and will be insufficient to meet humanitarian needs. We regret that the Bab Al-Salamah and Al-Yaroubiya crossings [abolished in 2020 under pressure from Moscow] will not be reopened, while, since last year, humanitarian needs have increased by more than 20% in the north-west and 38% in the north-east” (Le Monde). The Autonomous Administration has obviously denounced in a statement this decision which isolates Rojava: “We are not opposed to the delivery of aid to the Syrian people [...] but we are opposed to [this policy of] double standards. […] This decision accentuates the humanitarian tragedy by prolonging the siege that we are suffering on all sides”.

While Amnesty International also condemned this “compromise” vote (AFP), the regime obviously adopted the opposite position, welcoming this decision as a reaffirmation of Syria’s unity: controlling all humanitarian aid arriving in the country provides Damascus with a means of putting pressure on the territories that escape its control. Earlier this month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov again accused the United States of encouraging the Kurds to “separatism”, a position taken up at the end of the month by his Syrian counterpart, who accused the AANES of “separatist projects” aimed at “weakening Syria”. In the same statement, Lavrov said he was ready to mediate between AANES and Damascus, a proposal that the Kurds had implicitly accepted, speaking of a “positive step towards a solution”. However, the talks with Damascus, which started in January, have been fruitless so far due to the intransigence of the regime. In June, tensions increased again between the pro-regime militias and the Asayish (Kurdish security), leading to cross-arrests, especially in Qamishli, followed by a relative easing of tension with the release of detainees by both parties. At the beginning of July, the soldiers of the regime’s crossing points, which control the “Security Circle” in the city (the area around the barracks and the bazaar), started to block the passage of civilians. And on the 3rd, Syrian soldiers literally stormed the homes of several AANES employees living in Zanoud, a Damascus-controlled village near Qamishli, threatening them with arrest if they did not abandon their work...

On the 20th, it was learned that a 35-year-old Kurd from Afrin, Azad Ebdulqadir Soran, kidnapped two months earlier in Aleppo at a regime checkpoint between the Sheikh Maqsoud and Ashrafiyeh districts, had been tortured to death in prison. Those responsible for his abduction are said to belong to the “Baqir Group”, supported by Tehran... (Kurdistan-24) Finally, according to the SOHR (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights), we learned on the 31st of the death of a man and four children from Afrin due to lack of medical care: the “Fourth Division” of the Syrian army refused to allow their ambulances passage to Aleppo hospitals for care. Following these deaths, hundreds of Afrin residents held a vigil in front of the Russian post in the village of al-Wahsheyah to demand that the military obtain from their Syrian counterparts free passage for patients to the city and, in the other direction, for humanitarian aid to the villages...

By mentioning a siege from “all sides”, the AANES was also referring to the continuing intense Turkish military harassment. The Tall Tamr region was targeted throughout the month, as well as Manbij, with about 15 rockets fired from the Turkish base of Tukhar on villages west of the town on 1st July, accompanied by clashes using small arms between pro-Turkish mercenaries and fighters from the town’s military council. In response, the latter carried out an infiltration operation on the 3rd which left one mercenary dead and five injured. Two women seriously injured by rockets had to be hospitalised (SOHR). More Turkish fire killed a woman and a child in Tall Rifaat on the 4th, where a Turkish drone struck a position of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) the next day. Manbij was targeted again on the 9th, without casualties, as well as several villages in Aleppo province (WKI). On the 11th, another Turkish drone hit a house near Tall Rifaat. On the 13th, a SDF infiltration operation against pro-Turkish mercenaries near Raqqa left one dead and four injured among them (SOHR).

On the 17th, SOHR spoke of an “alarming military escalation” in Manbij, with casualties on both sides since the beginning of the month: “On many occasions, the escalation is triggered by the Turks and [mercenary] factions firing numerous artillery shells and rockets, in addition to daily clashes between the two sides with light, medium and heavy weapons”. At the same time, Turkish attacks also targeted the Tall Rifaat area, resulting in five civilian casualties, including a child, according to the SDF. In addition, for the past five months, Turkey has been pursuing its tactic of make Rojava thirsty by limiting the flow of the Euphrates, which causes water and electricity shortages and puts agriculture at risk (WKI). On the 20th, the strategic M4 highway was targeted by heavy artillery fire north of Raqqa. On the 27th, a precarious calm prevailed in the Tall Tamr countryside, but bombing resumed until the end of the month, this time prompting a response from the SDF.

On the 25th, the Turkish Ministry of Defence announced without specifying the location that an attack on a military vehicle had left two Turkish soldiers dead and two wounded (L’Orient-Le jour). According to media reports, the attack took place in the region of al-Bab, a Turkish-controlled town 30 kilometres north-east of Aleppo. The very next day, apparently in retaliation, Turkish forces and their mercenaries fired dozens of rockets from their areas of control, with no response from the SDF or regime forces. On the morning of the 30th, Turkish rockets killed two fighters of the SDF-affiliated “al-Bab Military Council”, installed near this town, which it aims to recapture. Another had already been killed on the 23rd. Also on the 27th, Turkish fire resumed in Sharra (Afrin), without causing any casualties, and the SDF retaliated by shelling the village of al-Maqri near al-Bab and the western outskirts of Azaz (SOHR). Finally, on the 30th, a Turkish drone targeted two civilian vehicles south of Kobanê, without causing any casualties.

In the Turkish-occupied countryside of Afrin, infighting between two mercenary factions continued on 2nd July. On 5 July, the Sultan Sulayman Shah faction released for a ransom of US$ 3,000 a 50-year-old man arrested on 27 June for “contacts with AANES”. On 6 June, members of Liwaa al-Waqqas set fire to orchards and olive trees near Jendires to cut down and sell the wood (SOHR). On the 9th, the RojInfo website reported on a damning report by the Afrin Human Rights Organisation showing that women are the first victims of the occupier’s war crimes: according to this NGO, in the last 18 months pro-Turkish mercenaries have murdered at least 83 women and abducted another 200... In an interview with the Kurdish news agency Hawar News (ANHA), a member of the organisation, Naile Mehmud, recalls that hundreds of thousands of crimes have been documented since the occupation of the region by Turkey, and added some recent examples: “We have documented the rape of 70 women [...]. In the last 6 months alone, 25 women have been abducted, including children [...]”. A two-year-old girl was also murdered... Suzan Mistefa, from the Kurdish women’s organisation Kongra Star, pointed out that for the past three years the Turkish state has systematically targeted women and children: “Many girls are forced into marriage. Some women are abducted and taken to Turkey. The situation of women in prison is appalling”. The fate of 1,200 women who have disappeared since the occupation of Afrin is still unknown. Mistefa denounced the silence of the international community in the face of these crimes against humanity. Also according to the Afrin Human Rights Organisation, at least 35 Kurds were killed in 2021 in Afrin, where at least 100 settlements have been created for non-Kurds (WKI). Finally, the SDF denounced the abduction of at least 80 of its members, who were taken to Turkey for imprisonment, in violation of international law and the Geneva Convention. Their spokesperson, Kino Gabriel, called on the 18th for the international community and the UN Security Council to react.

Without responding to the accusations of crimes against humanity against it, Turkey sought to counterattack by referring a similar accusation to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Kurdish militia of the PYD (People’s Unity Party), the main component of the SDF. On the evening of the 14th, the Turkish Ministry of Defence announced the discovery of a “mass grave” in the Afrin region containing 35 bodies. The next day, the governor of the Turkish province of Hatay, Rahmi Dogan, spoke of 61 bodies and, without providing evidence, said that they were civilians executed by the YPG a few days before the start of the Turkish offensive in Afrin in 2018. The authorities in Afrin, exiled since the Turkish invasion and occupation, rejected the accusations, telling local journalists, including AFP, that it was not a mass grave but an informal cemetery created by the SDF just before the Turkish invasion. The spokesman for the Afrin Human Rights Organisation, Ibrahim Shaykho, explained that the cemetery contained remains of fighters and civilians killed during the Turkish operation and who could not be transported out of Afrin because of the siege imposed by the attackers (AFP). Following this exchange, the SDF commander Mazloum Abdi reiterated his call to the international community to “investigate the crimes committed by Turkey and the militias in Afrin and to put an end to crimes against humanity” (WKI).

On the 27th, the SOHR again reported abuses committed at the border against Syrians trying to flee the war by Turkish gendarmes (jandarma). The latter regularly target them with gunfire or torture them. This time, about 20 Turkish soldiers successively beat up two young Syrians who tried to enter Turkey near Derbassiyah (Hassaké) and stole their money and mobile phone before sending them back to Syria. Earlier this month, in the same place, these jandarma had already exchanged fire with Kurdish Asayish.

Meanwhile, the resurgence of the ISIS jihadist organisation continues. Earlier this month, the SDF announced the capture of an explosives expert in Shaddadi (Hassaké), and the following week, in the same location, that of three other jihadists. In the middle of the month, the SDF dismantled a cell that was organising the escape of detainees from the Al-Hol camp to Turkey. At the end of the month, the SDF announced the death of two jihadists in a US-supported raid in Hassaké and the arrest of more ISIS members on the outskirts of that city. However, in Al-Basire, jihadists killed two women and wounded a man and two children in an attack on their home (WKI). Despite several SDF successes against ISIS, the organisation remains a real threat, particularly in Deir Ezzor province, partly due to the inability of the regime and its Russian allies to contain it in the desert south of Badiya, where dozens of soldiers and militiamen have been killed in the past three months (WKI). Notably, on the 28th, the SOHR reported a major jihadist attack in the Damascus-held part of this province, which provoked violent clashes with heavy weapons and forced the Russian air force to intervene to repel the attackers. The fighting left seven people dead on the regime side and at least five from ISIS.

Moreover, the situation remains difficult in the camps where former jihadist fighters and their relatives are held. The camp of Al-Hol, in particular, with 62,000 residents, 93% of whom are women and children, remains, despite several security operations, what the SOHR describes as a “mini-Islamic state”, as ISIS killers are still very active there. On the 6th, the SDF published its monthly report on the situation. It states: "ISIS terrorist cells continue to operate in Al-Hol camp with new killings against residents who deviate from the organisation’s extremist ideas”. The camp has seen dozens of killings, escapes and attacks on guards and aid workers in recent months, and in June alone, “Eight people of Syrian and Iraqi nationality were shot in the head”. Despite repeated exhortations from the Kurds, most countries – especially European ones – refuse to repatriate their citizens. Some, including France, have only done so for a limited number of minors, including orphans (AFP).

The AANES authorities are trying to decrease the pressure in the camps in several ways. On the 2nd, they transferred about 30 teenagers from Al-Hol to a rehabilitation centre for children of jihadists. Abdelkarim Omar, head of foreign affairs at AANES, who deplores the fact that the international community is not taking its responsibilities, insisted on the importance of creating such centres: “The place of children is neither in prison nor in camps”, he told AFP. A first centre, set up a few years ago and currently accommodating about 120 children, is giving good results, and others are being prepared, he said, asking for international help to set up about 15 of them: “At least help us get these children out of this radical environment, because keeping them in this atmosphere will lead to the emergence of a new generation of terrorists”, he warned. Another AANES action is the repatriation of children to their country of origin. On the 3rd, Anna Kuznetsova, head of the Russian Presidential Commission on the Rights of the Child, led a Russian delegation to repatriate 20 children of Russian nationality detained in the Roj camp (AFP). Kurdish officials later announced that they had returned over 250 children to the Russian government. In other cases, AANES has negotiated with tribal leaders to return detainees from their camps to their homes. In mid-July, 82 families were able to leave Al-Hol and return to Raqqa (WKI).

However, the Asayish had to launch a new security operation in Al-Hol on the morning of the 30th, during which they arrested 15 civilians accused of having links with ISIS, some of whom even accused of having participated in assassinations. The killings continued in parallel with the Asayish operation, as three Iraqi refugees, including a woman, were shot dead in the last few hours. There have been 22 killings since the end of the first phase of the security campaign (SOHR).

At the same time, it seems that the Iranian-American conflict has spilled over into Rojava from neighbouring Iraq. On the 7th, the SDF announced that it had foiled a drone attack targeting an anti-ISIS coalition base near the al-Omar oil field, not far from the Iraqi border. According to the SOHR, pro-Iranian militias probably launched the drones from a rural area outside the town of al-Mayadin, southwest of al-Omar. These attacks were concomitant to the one carried out on the American base of Ain al-Assad, in Iraq (AFP).


When the new Iranian president, the ultra-conservative Ebrahim Raissi, was head of the judiciary, he distinguished himself by his ruthless repression of the November 2019 demonstrators and the impunity he granted to the repressive forces guilty of murdering hundreds of protesters. Already in 1988, as a member of Tehran sinister “Death Commission”, he had participated in thousands of extrajudicial executions of political prisoners. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) also recalls that in 2020 he had a prisoner hanged simply for creating a Telegram channel... The prospect of him becoming President was already a message of terror to the whole of Iranian civil society. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has now added to the threat by appointing Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei, another cleric also known for his human rights abuses, to succeed Raisi as head of the judiciary. “Ejei’s appointment is a clear threat to Iranian civil society, given the considerable role he has played in suppressing popular protests and fabricating cases against human rights defenders and political activists”, said Hadi Ghaemi, director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). Mohseni Ejei, a former deputy chief of the judiciary and former intelligence minister, has a long history of illegal actions and serious human rights violations. He notably organised the obtaining of false televised confessions through torture, and is also behind the “serial murders” of intellectuals in the 1990s, some of whom were found strangled in vacant lots. Since 2010, he has been subject to sanctions by the United States and the European Union.

RSF refers to Iran’s ruling “Duo of Death”, and indeed, Raissi and Ejei have worked together before. In 2009, after numerous reports of torture and sexual assault of protesters arrested after Ahmadinejad’s fraudulent re-election, they co-led a commission of inquiry. Together, denying the validity of clear evidence, they ensured the impunity of the perpetrators.

This ultra-repressive orientation will further widen the divide between Iranians and the mullahs’ regime. Not only did the boycott of the elections lead to an unprecedented level of abstention: 74% in Tehran (51.8% nationally), and four million invalid or blank votes, 13% of the vote, but now, as Le Monde points out, the anger of the citizens is such that it is expressed without any apparent fear of the consequences. One example among hundreds filmed with mobile phones: a woman, face uncovered, taking the audience as witness, yells at a mullah in a Tehran park: “The children of those who chant ‘Death to America’ are themselves living in the United States... with the money of the people [...]. Raisi himself was the head of justice. What thieves did he punish, while he is now talking about waging a war against corruption? You are all the same shit!

However, the government, now fully controlled by the conservatives, is initiating ­worrying legal developments. In the last days of Ebrahim Raisi’s tenure as head of the judiciary, a new regulation of the legal profession was approved. The licence to practice, which was previously held by the bar association, was transferred to the judiciary. The judiciary can now refuse to allow anyone to practise the profession and can also revoke an existing licence. For CHRI, which is calling for international reactions, “This new regulation [...] empties the right to due process and a fair trial of its meaning”.

In addition, at the end of the month, the Parliament referred to an internal parliamentary committee a controversial draft law aimed at granting control of the Internet to security agencies in case of serious events, such as demonstrations. Article 85 of the Constitution allows for the adoption of a text in an internal committee, a way of bypassing the plenary debate... Once approved by the Council of Guardians of the Constitution, the text becomes law for a trial period (CHRI).

This proposal does not come about by chance; it follows the closure of the Internet ordered after protests against water shortages in Khuzestan province began on 15 July. The demonstrations quickly became anti-regime protests and began to spread outside Khuzestan, and they were ruthlessly repressed.

In Khuzestan, it all started with a prolonged drought, partly due to climate change, coupled with years of mismanagement of natural resources and a lack of interest by the state. The many dams diverting water from the province to the centre of the country, where many of the leaders come from, have added to the anger of the people. Even if the demonstrators have been careful to distance themselves from any separatism in order to avoid even harsher repression, this province, which borders Iraq and has an Arabic-speaking majority, is still marked by economic discrimination: while Khuzestan is home to 80% of Iran’s oil reserves and 60% of its gas reserves, it has a very high level of poverty and unemployment, up to 50% in some places, compared with 9.6% nationally...

In the words of the Centre for Cooperation of Iranian Kurdistan Parties (CCIKP), which issued a statement in support of the protests, the government is resorting to its “usual policy [...] against the people’s protests and legitimate demands”, deploying its repressive forces to fire live ammunition. Videos shared on social networks show large crowds shouting “I am thirsty!”. “We kept shouting, ‘‘We want water, just water, we have no water” a street vendor said from Ahvaz in a telephone interview with The New York Times. “They responded to us with violence and bullets”. Several videos show members of the security forces firing at fleeing protesters. But the shooting, which killed at least three young men, far from extinguishing the movement, caused it to spread to other provinces: East Azerbaijan, Lorestan, Isfahan, North Khorassan and Tehran (WKI), and provoked a change in slogans. In Izeh, Khuzestan, the videos show cries of “Death to Khamenei” and “We don’t want an Islamic Republic”. In Tehran and Mashhad, crowds demonstrated in solidarity with Khuzestan. In a Tehran metro station, passengers waiting for trains chanted “Death to the Islamic Republic”. In Kermanshah, in Iran’s Kurdistan region, dozens of Kurds protested against local power cuts while affirming their solidarity with the demonstrators in Khuzestan. According to Hengaw, about twenty were arrested. The regime has in fact launched arrests throughout the country in an attempt to stem the spread of the protests.

On the 20th, the Human Rights News Activist Agency (HRANA) reported that it had identified at least 18 arrested activists. On the 22nd, the human rights organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) denounced the “excessive use of force” against the protesters. On the 23rd, the Centre for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) expressed concern about a repeat of the 2019 massacres and denounced in a statement “the total disregard for law, life and all international standards of maintaining order” demonstrated by the Iranian authorities, as well as “state-imposed internet outages to cover up its violence”. On the same day, Amnesty International estimated in a report that since the 15th, security forces had “killed at least eight protesters [...] in seven different cities” and that “dozens of people, including children, [had] been injured, including by birdshot”, [of whom] “several are hospitalised in critical condition”, while many injured protesters avoid hospital treatment for fear of arrest, making the figures a likely underestimate.

In parallel to these events, the routine repression and killings of Kurdish cross-border carriers, the kolbars, by border guards continued throughout Iranian Kurdistan. Earlier this month, two were shot in Hawraman, one of whom died, three were injured on the Iraqi border and one was killed in a fall while fleeing (WKI). Another group was attacked by border guards near Baneh. According to the latest report by the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN), at least 21 kolbars were “killed or wounded” in the border areas in June, including at least 10 shot by Iranian, Turkish or Iraqi border forces (Rûdaw). The following week, two porters were killed near Ouroumieh and Baneh respectively, three injured in Baneh and one in Marivan. The human rights organisation KMMK also reported that in Nowsud, dozens of arrested kolbars were tortured and their goods confiscated. Four more porters were subsequently injured in Nowsud and Piranshahr (WKI). In Baneh, after an attack on the 26th that killed one kolbar and injured 12 others, hundreds of people gathered in protest in front of the district administration building. On the 30th, Iraq’s Kurdish channel Rûdaw reported that one of the injured kolbars was at risk of losing a leg and recalled that in its latest report on the human rights situation in Iran, the UN had expressed concern about the “excessive use of force” against kolbars: “According to several reports, about 70,000 Iranians, mainly from the Kurdish minority, depend on their kolbar status for their livelihoods, including women, many of them female heads of household”. According to the UN, about 60 kolbars, including children, were killed and over 170 injured in 2020.

In addition, arrests of Kurdish activists and convictions continued throughout the month. According to KMMK, on the 2nd, the authorities arrested 15 Kurds in Kermanshah on suspicion of links with Sunni groups. While Iran has harboured al-Qaeda leaders and supported the Iraqi Kurdish Islamist organisation Ansar al-Islam, it has recently intensified its crackdown on Sunni Islamist organisations. Earlier this month, several activists from Iranian Kurdistan went on hunger strike to protest the continued detention of Kurdish activist Kharollah Haqjoian, a follower of the Yarsan (Ahl-e Haqq) faith. Other activists were also arrested in Sanandaj and Piranshahr, and on the 31st, the Oshnavieh Revolutionary Court sentenced Kurdish activist Salah Barhamian to two years in prison on charges related to his ethnicity (WKI).

Officers of the Etelaat (Intelligence Service) tortured to death a Kurd named Ahmed Rahmanian after his arrest on 13 July. They also tortured two sisters of a Kurdish activist exiled in Norway, Sanar Arsazeh, in order to force him to return and face prosecution (Hengaw). In addition, in two days, five Kurdish prisoners were executed in the central prison of Ouroumieh (Hengaw). On the 4th, two prisoners were executed on drug-related charges (KMMK). The next day, three other prisoners were hanged for premeditated murder, including two brothers, one of whom suffered serious spinal injuries as a result of torture in prison. In Iran, there is no such thing as manslaughter, and all murders attract the death penalty, regardless of the circumstances... Another Kurdish prisoner, Hossein Kheiri, 32, from Lorestan, is also on death row after being convicted in Tehran of moharebeh (“war against God”): during anti-regime protests in November 2019, he destroyed private sector property. According to Hengaw, Iran has executed 119 prisoners, including 21 Kurds, since the beginning of the year (Zhyan).

On the 32nd anniversary of the assassination of Iranian Kurdish leader Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou in Vienna by Tehran agents on 13 July 1989, the Cooperation Centre of the Kurdistan Parties of Iran called on the international community to re-launch the investigation into the attack. The regime has never since abandoned its operations abroad to assassinate members of the opposition. For instance, a foiled attempt in Brussels in July 2018 resulted in several arrests, including that of a serving Iranian diplomat. Ironically, just a few days later, the United States issued wanted notices against four Iranian agents accused of planning the kidnapping in New York of Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad. She had been a target since 2014, when she launched a campaign against compulsory veiling in Iran. The plan appears to have been to transport her by fast boat to Venezuela or lure her to Turkey or Iraq, from where she could have been abducted and transferred to Iran. This was the method used in 2019 against the dissident refugee in France, Rouhollah Zam: abducted in Iraq and then transferred to Iran, he was sentenced to death and executed at the end of 2020 for his role in the anti-regime protests of the winter of 2017-2018. In October 2020, the opponent Habib Chaab, a refugee in Sweden, disappeared during a trip to Turkey (Le Monde).

Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to explode in Iran, now facing a fifth wave and the rapid spread of the Delta variant. On 1st July, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), which compiles its own figures on the epidemic from regional data, estimated the number of deaths from the coronavirus in 547 Iranian cities at over 320,800; on the 16th, the calculated figure was 330,500 deaths, and on the 30th over 342,100 (CNRI), giving an estimated death toll of 21,300... in a single month. These figures are nearly four times higher than the official figures as reported by RFI at the beginning of the month, nearly 85,000 dead and 3,240,000 people infected. But by the admission of many regime officials, these figures are grossly underestimated. With only 6 million people vaccinated out of 81, and vaccination very slow, the country has little means of control, and has had to take new measures. On the 4th, the closure of department stores and bazaars was decided. On the 17th, in view of the explosion of cases and the predominance of the Delta variant, administrations, banks and non-essential businesses were closed for six days in the neighbouring provinces of Tehran and Alborz (almost a fifth of the population), which were isolated from the rest of the country. After having refused them for a long time, Iran was counting on the arrival of more than six million foreign vaccines to vaccinate the over-sixties (RFI). On the 26th, the official daily number of contaminations passed the 30,000 mark for the first time, with 31,814 new cases, for a total number exceeding 3.7 million (Le Figaro). The health management of the regime is increasingly criticised.


In the late evening of 6 July, Erbil International Airport was again targeted by a drone attack. Fortunately, there were no injuries or material damage, and the fire brigade put out the fire. The target was the American military present in the framework of the anti-ISIS coalition, which had already been targeted in Erbil on several occasions, as in the drone attack of 27 June. The day before, another drone had been shot down in Baghdad near the American embassy, while three rockets had just hit the American air base of Ain-al-Assad, in the desertic west of Anbar province. In total, 48 attacks since January. These latest attacks were certainly in response to the American strikes launched on 28 June on the Syrian border against the pro-Iranian militias of the Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Units), which had killed a dozen fighters (AFP). The next day, Ain-al-Assad was hit again, this time by 14 rockets that caused three light injuries (Le Figaro). The message addressed to the United States is also addressed to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), their Iranian neighbour indirectly signifying them that their links with the Americans can be a source of problems... Along with Ain Al-Assad, Erbil airport is one of the two main American support points for the coalition in Iraq, and therefore a major potential target, while existing defence systems are bad at intercepting these newcomers that are the drones packed with explosives.

The next day, the Pentagon announced a rotation of troops that will see the soldiers of the Louisiana National Guard leave Erbil, replaced by some 1,800 soldiers of the Stryker Brigade, from Colorado: there is therefore no word of leaving Iraq or Kurdistan. On the Iraqi side, faced with the resurgence of ISIS, Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi is not ready to do without American support. On 26 July, he led to Washington an Iraqi delegation that came in the framework of the strategic dialogue between the two countries, in which the Kurdish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fouad Hussein, and several KRG representatives participated. At the same time, the Kurdish Peshmerga received new logistical equipment from the coalition, while the Peshmerga Ministry announced the forthcoming formation of two joint brigades with the Iraqi army to restore security in the “disputed territories”. Negotiations are continuing to arm and finance these brigades (WKI).

It is to be hoped that this announcement will be implemented quickly, as ISIS continues to reorganise itself in these territories, taking advantage of the security vacuum that still prevails there to carry out attack after attack. The Washington Kurdish Institute (WKI) estimated on the 6th that the jihadists had killed at least 25 Iraqi security personnel during the last two weeks of June, mainly in Kirkuk province. They have also kidnapped or killed many civilians.

In a new strategy clearly aimed at provoking the anger of citizens against the authorities, ISIS has since the beginning of July systematically attacked energy production or transport installations: dozens of sites, energy lines, natural gas production and power stations have been hit by homemade bombs or rockets, causing serious electricity shortages. In addition to the destruction of infrastructure, the jihadists continued their attacks against villages and security forces. On 16 September, a Kurdish family travelling by car was killed by gunfire near a fake checkpoint in Pirde district and two other passengers were injured. On the 24th, three federal policemen were killed in an attack on their checkpoint, and the next day jihadists fired a Katyusha rocket into Riyadh without causing casualties, the first such attack in the region since the fall of the “Caliphate”. From Tuz Khurmatu (Kirkuk) to Khanaqin on the Iranian border, the jihadist danger has become permanent. At Tuz Khurmatu airbase, two federal policemen were killed and five injured on the 3rd, and another attack on a military checkpoint left one dead and two injured. In Khanaqin, five civilians attempting to free farmers captured by jihadists were killed near Jalawla. Two of the farmers were able to flee. On 29 September, one Iraqi soldier was killed and two others injured near Nafitkhana.

The Iraqi and Kurdish security forces have not been idle. They announced the discovery of three jihadist hideouts between Hawija and Daquq, and in Erbil, the capture of a jihadist who was planning to attack a prison to free the detained jihadists. The following week, Erbil security released a video of captured jihadists confessing to planning suicide attacks during Eid. According to the Kurdistan Security Council, attacks were also planned on places frequented by foreigners. In Kirkuk, security officials announced the arrest of several jihadists in the city, including a suicide bomber. On the 18th, four caches containing drones and small arms were discovered near Riyadh. At the end of the month, the KRG announced the arrest in a camp for displaced persons of one of the jihadists responsible for the 19 July attack in Baghdad, which killed at least 35 civilians. In the last week of the month, another cache was discovered near Dawda, between Kifri and Tuz Khourmatou. But these successes are not enough to stop the resurgence of ISIS...

As investigators from UNITAD, the UN-appointed team tasked with gathering evidence of crimes committed by ISIS in order to bring its members to justice, work hard, two bills concerning the issue have been put forward for consideration, one in the federal parliament in Baghdad, the other in the Kurdistan parliament. The one in Baghdad concerns the transmission by UNITAD to Iraq of evidence that could lead to a death sentence; in Erbil it goes further, since it aims to establish a special court with foreign judges to judge, in collaboration with UNITAD, mass crimes committed by ISIS, even if they were committed outside Iraq. The Kurdistan Region of Iraq would thus acquire, as Belgium has at present, universal jurisdiction. However, Baghdad sees this initiative as a violation of its sovereignty, and at the end of June, the Supreme Court rejected the proposal... “According to two sources [notes Le Monde], the Shiite parties in power are opposed to any law, for fear of seeing the militias prosecuted in turn, even if the two bills specifically target crimes committed by the Islamic State”.

The disputed territories have also been the scene of numerous citizen protests against lack of services and corruption, similar to last year’s demonstrations in Southern Iraq. In Kirkuk, while the heat is unbearable, electricity is cut off frequently, either because of attacks by ISIS or because Iran has stopped supplying energy to Iraq. Taxis in the city have protested against the shortage of subsidised petrol, and engineering students have gathered outside the governorate demanding work. The Iraqi oil ministry had pledged to hire 1,000 graduates, but the process stalled due to corruption in the hiring process... In Khanaqin, people also protested against electricity cuts on 1st July. The region is facing a permanent water shortage due to the lack of rain but also to Iran’s interruption of the water supply of the Little Zab. Compared to 2020, wheat production in the region has been reduced by 33%... After protesters blocked the Iraq-Iran international road, the municipality agreed to a deal giving the government ten days to improve electricity and water supplies. On the 22nd, however, as the situation had still not improved in any way, the protests resumed…

The continuing revelation of corruption cases has done little to calm the anger of citizens. While Kirkuk has been suffering from a fuel crisis for weeks, the city’s police announced on the 7th that they had seized 25 tankers illegally sent by the Oil Department to a private petrol station. The pro-Iranian militias of the Hashd al-Shaabi have also used fuel smuggling to finance themselves, so much so that on the 11th, the Iraqi oil minister, Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar, went to Kirkuk to meet with provincial and security officials... Even more seriously, for years the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (pasdaran) have been using Iraq as a drug smuggling route, especially for crystal methamphetamine. A dozen people were arrested in Kirkuk and five kilos of methamphetamine were seized. On the 22nd, the Iraqi Integrity Commission reported that it had uncovered corruption cases involving the Kirkuk administration worth more than three billion dinars, US$200 million. These include illegal construction of flats (often for the benefit of senior officials), road construction, and even misappropriation of fuel supplies by the city’s federal police: they registered 303 vehicles instead of 213, so that they could sell 32,000 litres of petrol to private petrol stations each month! Fuel distribution offices, and more broadly the oil sector, are hotbeds of corruption in Iraq. In Makhmur, the Commission issued an arrest warrant against the town’s silo manager for improperly accounting for poor quality (“grade 3”) wheat as “grade 1”. Agriculture is second only to oil as a sector plagued by corruption...

There were also renewed attempts to Arabise Kurdish-owned land. For example, on the 7th, a village in the sub-district of Sargaran was again targeted by Arabs from outside the province, who tried to evict the inhabitants. As in previous cases, they held written“permission” from the acting governor Rakan Saed, but the Kurdish villagers prevented the takeover. After the incident, the police intervened, but the issue remains unresolved.

Another source of strong tension is the Turkish military presence and operations, which are as violent and indiscriminate as ever. In clear violation of international law and Iraqi sovereignty, air strikes by planes and drones targeted several localities in Kurdistan at the beginning of the month, including Kista, Amedi and Qandil. A vehicle in the Yezidi town of Shingal (Sinjar), possibly affiliated to the Sinjar Resistance Units (YPS), was also hit. The Turkish invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan has already resulted in the recent deaths of dozens of civilians and the evacuation of at least 38 villages, both Kurdish and Christian (WKI).

The following week, as Turkish aircraft struck a mountainous area of Sheladiz (Dohuk) and a Christian village of Chaminke, the Special Parliamentary Commission responsible for assessing Turkish military operations in Kurdistan presented its report to the Speaker of Parliament, Rewaz Fayeq. First denouncing the presence of the PKK, which gives Turkey a pretext for its invasion, the report goes on to state that the Turkish operations violate “international laws and norms”. It also denounces the Iraqi government’s silence in the face of Turkey’s continued violation of its sovereignty, and then draws up a damning assessment of Turkish military activities: hundreds of Kurdish villages destroyed, a zone of occupation 15 to 40 km deep, the establishment of 70 Turkish military bases and observation posts.

Furthermore, Turkish “diplomatic” activities in Iraq, which border on interference, have caused a scandal. On the 13th, the Turkish ambassador Ali Riza Gunay went to Kirkuk to meet the Turkmen Front, supported by Turkey. Ankara cultivates relations with the Sunni part of this community from which it excludes the Shiite Turkmen, considered as supporters of Iran. During the meeting, several members of the Turkmen Front greeted the ambassador by unfurling the Turkish flag and forming the racist “Grey Wolves” symbol with their hands to the sound of an ultranationalist anthem. Not only did these provocative visit and attitude arouse the anger of the population, but they also led the Iraqi Ministry of Interior to launch on the 22nd an investigation against three Turkmen police officers. Iraqi law indeed forbids Iraqi soldiers and police officers to salute foreign anthems.

Lastly, after months of back and forth between Baghdad and Erbil concerning the share of the federal budget to be given to Kurdistan and the adoption of the Iraqi budget law for 2021, the KRG announced on the 25th that it had received 200 billion dinars from Baghdad and that it could envisage the rapid payment of its civil servants without any deduction from their salaries.


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Link to the header photo from our site

Légende: Photo of this state vandalism: the “Turkish Toledo”.

Diyarbakir, the political and cultural capital of Kurdistan in Turkey, known in ancient times as Amida, which became Amed in Kurdish, is one of the oldest cities in Mesopotamia.  It has been inhabited since the time of the Hurrians and Hittites about 5500 years ago.  An important regional metropolis, built on the right bank of the Tigris, it was until the Muslim conquest in 638-39 a Roman city, then a Byzantine one, strategically located on the borders of the Iranian empire.  In the 4th century, under the Byzantine emperor Constantine II, the city was surrounded by imposing walls which are still in good condition.  Capital of the first Kurdish state of the Merwanids in the 10th-11th century, it was then subjected to successive Turco-Mongol invasions and served as the capital of the Turkic state of the Aq Qoyunlus (White Sheep).  Diyarbakir came under Ottoman rule in 1515 and has remained a cosmopolitan economic, intellectual and artistic centre with its Christian (Armenian and Syriac), Jewish, Kurdish, Arab and even Turkish (especially civil servants and military) neighbourhoods, and numerous mosques, churches and synagogues.

Its rich past and its exceptional historical and architectural heritage have earned the Kurdish political and cultural capital the distinction of being included on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

Since 2016, this jewel of history has been ransacked by the Turkish authorities.

Following the unrest between Turkish special forces armed with tanks, helicopters and heavy weapons and Kurdish militants protesting against the military control of their neighbourhoods, the Turkish government, by a decree of the 21 March 2016, taken in emergency by the Council of Ministers, decided to expropriate six neighbourhoods affected by the unrest.  According to official figures, 22,323 inhabitants of these neighbourhoods were evicted by force. And the excavators went into action to completely raze these neighbourhoods “for security reasons”, erasing forever their history and an important part of the history and collective memory of the Kurds, but also of the Armenians and Syriacs, from these neighbourhoods.

The Turkish President, who vehemently protests when some Palestinian families in Jerusalem are threatened with expulsion, unabashedly assumes this massive crime against the historical heritage, with impunity, in the silence of the international community.  Even UNESCO did not have the courage to protest.

In 2016, the Turkish government, through the voice of then Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, promised a “reconstruction plan” that would transform these ransacked districts into a “New Toledo” that would attract tourists from all over the world.  Six years later, we discover a series of buildings of a distressing banality built according to the official Turkish bad taste that the local Union of Architects describes as “prison blocks”.  The medieval alleys have been replaced by wide pavements allowing tanks to circulate easily.  Police stations are everywhere to remind of the Turkish military occupation. Multi-storey houses with paved courtyards, ornamented with ponds and wrought iron balconies, elaborate doors and windows have been replaced by ugly impersonal concrete cubes.

Photos from the book Diyarbakır evleri, Orhan Cezmi Tuncer, published by the Municipality of Diyarbakir in 1999 (Notice and cover in our catalogue:


Al-Monitor released on July 22, 2021 a well documented on the abuses committed by Syrian rebels used as proxies by Turkey, under the title: “Turkish-backed rebels leave trail of abuse and criminality in Syria's Afrin”. The three authors are mentioned below:

- Dan Wilkofsky (@Dwilkofsky1)
- Amberin Zaman (@amberinzaman)
- Mohammed Hardan (@_MohammedHardan)

See the full text on page 58 of our Bulletin or: