B u l l e t i n

c o m p l e t

Bulletin N° 445 | April 2022



The conflict in Ukraine has exacerbated the economic crisis in Syria. As part of the international aid gets redirected to Ukraine, humanitarian agencies are reaching the limits of their capacity. The UN World Food Programme, which provides food aid to 5.5 million people across the country, has indicated that due to lack of funding it will have to reduce its food baskets from May onwards. Prices have soared: sunflower oil and wheat have almost doubled, and other products have also risen due to soaring fuel prices. In the regions controlled by Turkey, where the Turkish lira is used, the price of bread has tripled (Le Monde).

On the military level, the closure of the Straits by Ankara could in the medium term create difficulties for the Russians and the Syrians for in terms of ammunition and spare parts supply. Syrian planes and helicopters in particular are old and in poor condition. Moreover, some Russian forces currently deployed in support of the Damascus regime may have to leave for Ukraine. The resulting weakening of the regime could benefit ISIS and Turkey. The Turkish pro-government daily Hürriyet claimed in early April that the war in Ukraine, by weakening Moscow’s position in Syria, could allow Ankara to enter into negotiations with Bashar al-Assad. Two topics are reportedly on the agenda: the Syrian Kurds and Syrian refugees. Syrian officials have strongly denied any discussion in the daily Al-Watan, denouncing “scandalous media propaganda in the run-up to the presidential election” and pointing out that no discussion is possible before a complete Turkish military withdrawal from Syrian soil.

By redirecting observers’ attention from Syria to Ukraine, the war could also open up new opportunities for Turkey to act against the Kurds.

Giving an idea of the kind of pressure Russia is exerting on the Kurdish-dominated Autonomous Administration of North-East Syria (AANES), the newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported on the 17th that the Russian mediator in Syria had threatened the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) with an invasion by pro-Turkish factions of the towns of al-Darbasiyah and Amuda to reach Qamishli. This blackmail was aimed at forcing the SDF to stop encircling regime-held areas in Qamishli and Hasakeh. The SDF withdrew without incident. Conversely, in the second half of the month, the regime continued its blockade of the Kurdish neighbourhood of Sheikh Maqsuud in Aleppo, which was recently retaken from Ankara’s proxy forces, creating a shortage of food and medicine there (WKI).

Military harassment continued throughout the month, with regular attacks on the strategic east-west M4 highway at both ends, from Ain Issa (north of Raqqa) in the west to Tall Tamr (north-west of Hassaké) in the east. The month began with intense artillery shelling on Ain Issa and surrounding villages, which continued for more than a week, with precarious interruptions, but without causing any casualties. On the 24th, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported the death of a civilian in an artillery attack on a regime checkpoint near the village of Bandar Khan, west of Tell Abyad. On the Tell Tamr side, a Turkish drone wounded a Syriac Military Council commander and a translator in their vehicle while they were accompanying a Russian group to the town’s electricity station, which had been disabled the previous day by Turkish fire. A civilian was also injured near the town. The SOHR reported Turkish artillery fire on 17 villages in the area, mainly directed at civilian targets such as homes, fortunately without casualties. Another drone strike on the 4th hit an Asayish (Kurdish Security) base in Zarkan near Hasaka, in response to a previous day’s SDF infiltration attempt during which a guided missile was fired at the largest Turkish base in the region, in the village of Al-Dawodiyah, near Ras Al-Ain / Serê Kaniyê. On the 6th, a Turkish drone injured 3 civilians, including a woman, in their home near Hasaka. On the 9th, another drone attacked a SDF border guard checkpoint west of Al-Darbasiyah, killing and injuring others.

After a week of relative calm following rocket attacks by regime forces on Turkish bases in late March, Turkish fire also targeted SDF-held villages in northern Aleppo near Minagh. No casualties were reported.

Presumably to prevent further infiltration attempts, the Turks began in the middle of the month to dig trenches between several of their bases in the Zarkan (Tell Tamr) area, provoking protests from local residents, while moving troops and heavy weapons in a way that “gave the impression of an imminent operation” (SOHR). On the 17th, a fighter from an Assyrian group affiliated to the SDF was killed in a Turkish bombing near Tell Tamr, and another fighter and a civilian were injured at a checkpoint by a drone. On the 18th, another Turkish strike on an Asayish base injured 4 people in Zarkan. On the 20th, while Turkish helicopters were flying over the area, more Turkish fire destroyed more than 5 houses near Tell Tamr. On the 21st, a Turkish drone struck a Military Council position in Tell Tamr, leaving 3 people seriously injured. The clashes near Zarkan continued almost until the end of the month... On the same day, 3 Kurdish women fighters were killed by a drone in Kobanê, which was bombed again on the 22nd. It is to be noted that the airspace in this area is under Russian control...

On 22 April, the SOHR published a report showing that Turkey, after a quieter month of March, has resumed its drone attacks: 9 of these attacks resulted in 6 deaths and 17 injuries, mostly in Hasaka province. On the same day, violent exchanges of fire took place between the SDF and the Turkish army in the north of Aleppo province: in the morning, rocket fire from areas where SDF and regime forces are deployed targeted the Turkish-controlled area of Marea, killing 3 people in a Turkish armoured vehicle (1 dead and 2 wounded according to other sources). In response, the Turkish army fired more than 50 rockets at AANES-controlled areas in the afternoon, with no casualties. On the 27th, fighters from the Manbij Military Council were able to shoot down a Turkish “kamikaze” drone. Two days earlier, a similar drone had injured several Council fighters.

Accusing Turkey of exploiting international events, “especially what is happening in Ukraine”, to “pursue policies hostile to the peoples of the region”, the AANES called on the 26th for the “guarantor powers” of the 2019 ceasefires, the United States and Russia, to prevent Turkish escalation, which risks benefiting ISIS.

Turkish Jandarma (gendarmes) have again committed abuses against civilians seeking to flee the war in Syria. Since January, they have murdered 11 Syrians, including 3 children, and injured 20 others. On the 21st, according to the SOHR, they tortured to death a father of 4 children on the Idlib border, dumping his body on the Syrian side. On the 26th, they beat a group of 4 young men with sticks and electric cables in Darbasiyah.

In addition, the level of the Euphrates has been falling alarmingly since the beginning of April: Turkey, still fighting its “Water War” with the Syrian Kurds, is holding back more and more water in its dams. The SOHR has again warned of an impending environmental and humanitarian disaster.

In their areas of occupation, and in particular in Afrin, the Turkish military and its Syrian auxiliaries continue their abuses aimed at driving out the Kurdish inhabitants in order to carry out their ethnic cleansing. On 3rd April, the SOHR published a damning report for the month of March, reporting 79 abductions and arbitrary arrests of civilians, including seven women. Seven people were released after paying ransoms. The NGO documented more than 68 other violations, including 37 seizures of houses, shops and land belonging to people displaced by the invasion. Other abuses include 3 houses of IDPs sold by the occupiers, 8 cases of undue taxation of civilians, and 15 cases of cutting down fruit trees totalling over 880 olive trees. The organisation reiterated its call on the international community to intervene immediately to protect civilians from the systematic violations they are suffering.

Unfortunately, we can expect a similar toll for April, while the Washington Kurdish Institute (WKI) has already reported several new kidnappings for ransom at the beginning of the month... The occupiers have also started to consolidate their presence by setting up several “local councils” at their convenience

Jihadist militias working for Ankara continue to show their indiscipline. In the areas occupied since the “Peace Spring” operation, north of Hasaka, intense fighting with automatic weapons has pitted several factions against each other. The incident that triggered this fighting is not without interest: according to the SOHR, it was the death of a militiaman of the “National Army”, eliminated by two commanders of the pro-Turkish military police for having discovered that they were smuggling ISIS jihadists into Turkey in return for payment...

On 8th August, a joint military police and Turkish intelligence patrol raided a village in the Jendires district and arrested 3 civilians, including a lawyer accused of having “participated in guard duty” under the Autonomous Administration. There were other reports of molestation of civilians and even torture at checkpoints. A shepherd who came to report the discovery of an explosive device to the militia was accused of planting it and severely mistreated.

In the Sharan district, the Sultan Murad faction has organised the construction of a 360-house residential area for displaced persons from Homs, near a forest that has been completely cut down and the trees sold... Other “National Army” factions are engaged near Bulbul or Jendires in similar projects, all aimed at accelerating the ongoing anti-Kurdish demographic changes. In general, the new settlements are built on despoiled and destroyed agricultural land, with the owners first forcibly evicted... The houses are then sold to the newcomers. As the stolen land costs nothing, one guesses that the profits are important. Sometimes the militia forcibly seize a house and evict the rightful owners, then divide the house into two or three parts and sell them separately to maximise their profits. In addition, olive trees continue to be cut down by the hundreds (SOHR).

It is in this context that, on 27 April, Turkish President Erdoğan once again threatened to launch yet another military invasion against the Syrian Kurds...

At the same time, ISIS is far from extinct, and even if current events make the jihadist organisation much less prominent in the media, it still poses a persistent danger. On the 16th, the SOHR documented fifty-nine jihadist attacks since the beginning of 2022 that have left 42 dead: 15 civilians and 27 AANES fighters. This count excludes the attack on Al-Sinaa prison in Hasaka on 20 January, which caused significant casualties.

On the 29th, the same organisation gave an assessment of ISIS’s activities covering the whole of Syria. Combated simultaneously by the US-led international coalition, the SDF on the ground, Damascus regime forces and its Russian allies, the jihadist organisation has nonetheless been able to assert its presence throughout the country and organise 35 different operations, 23 of which were in the territory controlled by the AANES. On the 17th, ISIS announced a terror campaign entitled “The War of Revenge for the Two Sheikhs”, the two leaders killed in early February in US operations. The ISIS attacks left a total of 22 dead, including 11 SDF fighters, and 18 wounded civilians and soldiers. In the Syrian desert, despite increasing pressure from Russian airforce, ISIS was able to increase its activities in April, killing 21 pro-regime military and militia personnel in 10 separate attacks, at the cost of 26 of its own members. Since the beginning of 2022, these attacks have killed 191 Damascus forces.

In addition, the SOHR has chosen to focus on the “ISIS hostages”, thousands of people kidnapped by the jihadists, such as Father Paolo Daololio, Bishops John Ibrahim and Paul Yazji, Abdullah Al-Khalil, several journalists, including a Briton and a Sky News reporter. In addition, hundreds of people were abducted in the regions of Kobanê, Afrin and Deir Ezzor. For the families of these thousands of people who still do not know the fate of their loved ones, the silence on all sides does not bring any answer, only daily anguish... The SOHR, whose activists are also regularly threatened by the jihadists, has once again renewed its call for international justice: “We at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights renew our call to the UN Security Council to refer war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria to the International Criminal Court so that all criminals and murderers of the Syrian people are brought to justice”.

Despite all the security operations carried out by the Kurdish Asayish in Al-Hol camp, new murders are still being committed there by members of ISIS. On the 10th, the body of a young Iraqi man was found shot with a silencer. On the 21st, a Syrian woman was found, also shot dead, and on the 23rd, another Iraqi was seriously injured. Since the beginning of January, the jihadists have killed 10 people in the camp. On the 13th, when General Michael Kurilla, the new commander of US forces in the Middle East, visited al-Hol camp, Kani Ahmed, the local SDF commander, said: “This camp is like a time bomb. […] We don’t know when it will explode”. Kurilla then flew by helicopter to Hasaka, some 50 kilometres away, where he visited the Al-Sinaa prison. The American general also met Mazlum Abdi, the main SDF commander, who told the Washington Post journalist who came with Kurilla that the SDF “needs a lot of help”. According to Abdi, the main American allies on the ground only receive about 20% of their needs, which consist of equipment, but also training (Washington Post). According to the SDF, General Kurilla “pledged to provide more support to secure prisons holding members of ISIS” (WKI).



Between the economic crisis and political repression, the Turks are still suffering. One of the most negative consequences for Turkey of the war in Ukraine is the aggravation of inflation, which was already breaking all records. Soaring oil and agricultural prices have hit an economy that is highly dependent on both Russia and Ukraine (74.8% of wheat consumed in Turkey comes from these two countries). According to official figures published on 3rd April by the Tüik (Turkish Statistics Office), inflation reached 61% annually for the previous month! This is the highest rate for twenty years. With 99.12% increase in one year, transport is the most affected sector. Even with these extravagant figures, some Turkish economists (and the opposition) accuse the Tüik of minimising the increases by more than half...

The inflationary spiral is further exacerbated by the Turkish president’s diehard attitude about interest rates. Since the establishment of the presidential regime, Mr Erdoğan has been playing the role of the country’s “chief economist”, without any counter-power. As an Islamist opposed to interest lending, he imposes very low rates, claiming it improves exports, without taking into account that a large number of raw materials are actually imported. In fact, he is pushing the Turkish lira ever lower and crushing the poorest with suffering. Exports are breaking records, but the country’s budget deficit is at an all-time high and the Central Bank has exhausted its foreign exchange reserves. The Turkish lira, which in 2021 had already fallen by 44% against the dollar, has already lost 10% since January...

Bloomsberg was pessimistic about the future, stating on the 14th: “Inflation will continue to rise and Turks will become poorer due to a massive loss of purchasing power” (Ahval). A shopkeeper in Mardin, a tourist destination in Turkish Kurdistan, described his situation as follows: “How do you expect me to get by? People can no longer pay their bills, they are not about to travel and do tourism... The Kurdish region, which has long been the poorest in the country, is being hit hard. “The vicious circle of 'inflation-depreciation-debt' from which the country emerged in the early 2000s is back” notes Orient-XXI. Hence at international level Ankara’s serial mending of ties with many of its neighbours, such as Egypt and Israel, and first and foremost with those that can bring it foreign currency: the United Arab Emirates and, most recently, Saudi Arabia, visited on 28th and 29th April by the Turkish President. Vis-à-vis Riyadh, Mr Erdoğan’s about-face is total: the transfer of the Khashoggi case to the Saudi judiciary acts as a complete burial of an affair that had provoked a near-total Saudi boycott of Turkish imports. It can be said that in this matter, the Turkish President finally had to eat his hat, but in exchange, Turkish imports have restarted... (Le Monde).

If internally the war, through its impact on the Turkish economy, risks further aggravating Mr Erdoğan’s unpopularity, evident in all opinion polls, internationally it could well offer him opportunities. First of all, in the context of heightened Western-Russian tension, Turkey is once again becoming an indispensable ally on the Alliance’s southern flank, and the war in the Black Sea is restoring strategic importance to the Straits (Orient XXI). The life sentence on 25th April of the Turkish President’s bête noire, Osman Kavala, shows this: in this new geopolitical position, Mr Erdoğan expects to have a free hand at home to repress as he sees fit. On the 8th, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu confirmed that the UK had lifted the EU-level ban on exports of military equipment to Turkey issued in October 2019 after the Turkish invasion of northern Syria. However, this lifting seems to be the result of the Brexit rather than any détente... On the American side, Turkey continues to hope for the sale of 40 F-16 fighters, but despite the intense lobbying of the Turkish ambassador in Washington, the war in Ukraine has not made the most ill-disposed senators forget about Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 defence system, and there is little chance that Ankara will get satisfaction... (Al-Monitor) Finally, within the very circle of those close to Erdoğan, the war has amplified the rift between pro-NATO and “Eurasians”, those nationalist military supporters of an anti-Western Russian alliance...

On the other hand, Turkey is careful not to get too involved against Russia, with which it has many economic ties. Although it closed the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits at the beginning of March in application of the Montreux Convention, preventing the passage of several Russian ships to the Black Sea, it has not followed the United States or the European Union in their sanctions against Moscow. Economic exchanges continue and Turkish airspace remains open to Russian planes: in 2021, Russian tourists were the first in the country, with 4.6 million visitors... (Le Monde) The yachts of the oligarchs are still anchored in Turkish marinas. But if the two leaders share an autocratic vision of power and opposition to the West, Ankara-Moscow relations are not at their best for all that, and the participation of two Turkish Bayraktar drones in the Ukrainian attack that sank the cruiser Moskva off the coast of Odessa on the 14th can do nothing to improve them... “Defending Kiev without irritating Moscow, the way is narrow”, notes Marie Jego in Le Monde...

Internally, however, the big manoeuvres continue in view of the next presidential and parliamentary elections, all scheduled for June 2023. On 31st March, the ruling AKP-MHP alliance passed an amendment to the electoral law lowering the threshold for entering parliament from 10 to 7% of the vote. This provision reflects the government’s concern about the recent drop in the MHP’s vote estimates, which are now estimated at around 7%... But while it is the one that has attracted the most attention, it is perhaps not the most important provision of the new law. In a statement on 4th April denouncing the changes as “only intended to serve the interests of the government”, the HDP pointed to a tightening of the conditions imposed on political parties wanting to take part in the consultation. They will have to have held their provincial conventions in 41 provinces at least six months before the vote. The fact that the party had a parliamentary group before the convention will not be considered sufficient to allow its participation. The law also changes the way parliamentary seats are distributed among alliance members, to the detriment of the opposition. Until now, alliances received proportionally more seats. The new law eliminates alliances from the calculation and considers only each of the parties in isolation, which will give an advantage to the AKP-MHP alliance, consisting of only two large parties, over alliances consisting of more and smaller parties...

The HDP is worried that it will be excluded from the upcoming elections, especially as the judicial harassment against it continues. Earlier this month, the government launched a new case against its former co-chair, Selahattin Demirtaş, imprisoned since November 2016, for messages posted on social networks 9 years ago! For a tweet positively mentioning Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan during the peace process with the Turkish government, the prosecutor requested one to five years in prison... (WKI)

At the same time, the security forces, whether gendarmes, police or military, continue to use regular and unjustified violence against the Kurds. On the morning of the 11th, special police units launched several raids in different parts of Cizre (Şırnak) and the surrounding villages. In Cizre itself, they broke down the door of the local HDP office, which they searched for two hours, before taking nine people into custody, including local branch co-chair Mesut Nart and Esmer Çıkmaz, whose daughter, Yasemin Çıkmaz, had been executed in 2016 in Cizre’s basements by security forces. The same afternoon, the HDP regional leadership condemned the particularly violent raids in a press conference during which MP Nuran Imir addressed the government, vowing that the HDP would not give in: “We will continue to be your nightmare”, she said.

On the 19th, the HDP was one of the only Turkish political parties to denounce the Turkish army’s new invasion of entire regions of Iraqi Kurdistan under the pretext of fighting the PKK, saying that these attacks, far from solving the country’s problems, would “on the contrary aggravate [its] economic, political and social problems [...]”. HDP spokeswoman Ebru Günay also denounced CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s support for the Turkish invasion: “Look at the reaction of the opposition leader. Is this your solution to the Kurdish problem?”.

At the same time, nearly 80 Kurds and HDP members were arrested, mainly in Diyarbakir, but also in Adana and Van, on suspicion of “terrorism”, and the assets of 90 people, mainly HDP officials, were frozen in the framework of the ongoing “Kobane investigation” (WKI).

In another example of violence by the security forces, in Van, 25-year-old Yakup Avan testified that the gendarmes broke into his house on the night of 2 February, beat him and imprisoned him after shooting his horse. The medical report issued by the hospital mentions several broken fingers, broken bones in both wrists and multiple bruises (Duvar). On the other hand, at Karaman University, a group of “Grey Wolves”, the fascist organisation linked to the MHP, attacked on 1st April Kurdish students who were dancing to Kurdish music in their dormitory (Evrensel). Not only did the governor of the province take no action against the attackers, preferring to deny any incident, but the rector of the university, Namık Ak, even went to the office of the Grey Wolves of Karaman on the 6th! Faced with such impunity, one of the attacked students, traumatised, interrupted his studies to return to Diyarbakir, where his family filed a complaint (Stockholm Center for Freedom - SCF). HDP MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu denounced this situation in parliament.

In another case of anti-Kurdish discrimination, on the 10th, a secondary school teacher in Mersin, Hüdai Morsümbül, was dismissed for speaking Arabic and Kurdish with his students and encouraging them to choose the optional Kurdish language courses. He said he had only informed his students of the rules. He was also criticised for talking about the Islamic leader Saladin in class: his pupils had asked about him after discovering on the Internet that Saladin was a Kurd.

Other violence continues to target Kurdish political prisoners even in their cells. On the 12th, the family of Ferhan Yılmaz, imprisoned for a year in Silivri, announced that he had been killed two days before his release. According to his brother Hikmet, the prison administration initially claimed a heart attack, but the condition of the body that the family saw in hospital showed tell-tale bruises: “Blood was flowing from under his eyes, they had stuffed his nose with cotton wools to prevent the blood from coming out”, Hikmet said, before adding that his brother’s internal organs had exploded: “Two days before my brother, they brought in two other [prisoners] dead. They killed them all together, but they did not take them to the hospital together so that no one would know”... Furthermore, several HDP and CHP MPs had been prevented from visiting the prison (Kurdistan au Féminin)

On the 18th, CHP MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu, known for his human rights activities, published a report listing violations that occurred in March. According to the report, 281 incidents of torture and ill-treatment took place in the country, including 51 in prisons. In addition, 23 people were detained for expressing their opinions, including on social media, of whom 3 were subsequently investigated, and the police arrested 813 participants in demonstrations... As for convictions, these affected 7 journalists, 5 people who used their freedom of expression and 7 participants in demonstrations...

On the 20th, a bomb attack on a bus carrying prison guards killed one and injured four in Bursa. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu identified the perpetrator on a TV channel two days later as the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP), of which he declared: “[It is] a terrorist organisation linked to the PKK which acts as its subcontractor” (AFP), a way of justifying a posteriori the anti-PKK operations recently launched in Iraq...

Finally, the government continues to deny the Armenian genocide of 1915 and to prohibit any commemoration of it. The events are usually remembered on 24th April, when the first Armenian intellectuals were arrested. When HDP MP Garo Paylan, himself Armenian, tabled a bill in parliament on the 22nd to recognise the genocide (for the seventh time), not only did it meet fierce opposition from the AKP (parliamentary speaker Mustafa Şentop refused to allow it to be discussed), but Paylan was personally threatened the next day by AKP spokesman Ömer Çelik. At the same time, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who was on an official visit to Uruguay, made the Grey Wolves sign with his hand in front of Armenian diaspora demonstrators, causing a diplomatic incident (WKI). Meanwhile, the Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned US President Joe Biden’s recent use of the term “genocide” as “incompatible with historical facts”... (Bianet)

On the 24th, a planned ceremony at the Armenian cemetery in Istanbul was banned by the provincial governor. Garo Paylan regretted this, saying: “Turkish policy wants us to remain silent. But we won’t. We will continue to remember our ancestors”. Meral Yildiz, a member of the 24th April Commemoration Platform, added: “It is important to face the past because without commemorating 24 April and the Armenian Genocide, there will unfortunately be no end to these pains. What was done first to the Armenians, then to the Kurds and Alevis, is now being tried on Syrian migrants” (Euronews). In France, the genocide was officially recognised by a law on 29th January 2001. In Turkey itself, from the 1990s onwards, Kurdish local councillors, particularly in Diyarbakir, began a long process of remembrance marked by commemorations and strong symbolic acts, such as the restoration of Armenian monuments, the recognition of the genocide, and even public apologies on behalf of the Kurdish people. In the destruction perpetrated by the Turkish army in 2015-2016, for example on the old town of Diyarbakir, there is a dimension of willingness to destroy the multicultural memory of the region, as the state seized the opportunity to pull down the Surp Giragos Armenian church, restored with the support of the municipality, and the Kurdish-Armenian “Monument of Common Consciousness”, erected just two years before (The Conversation).

Will this have any practical effect? A Council of State prosecutor ruled on 28th April that Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention on Women’s Rights by means of a presidential decree was “illegal”. Women’s associations and several bar associations in the country had argued that since Turkey had ratified the Convention in parliament, it was “a constitutional obligation that the withdrawal should also be done through the will of parliament” (Duvar). We will have to wait and see if this is really good news or a non-event...



The month of April was dominated by the persistence of the political deadlock around the issue of the untraceable Iraqi president and government, while the fragmentation of the Iraqi political landscape has further increased: two of the country’s three main communities, Shiites and Kurds, are now divided into two opposing trends. Thus, while the KDP has joined the Sadrist alliance “Salvation of the Homeland”, the PUK is leaning towards the “Coordination Framework” of pro-Iranian Shiite parties. And above all, the two Kurdish parties are still opposed on the choice of the president, each defending its candidate.

On 30th March, the parliament failed for the 2nd time to appoint a president, a prerequisite for the formation of the future government. The next day, Moqtada Sadr, accusing his Shiite opposition of “obstructing” his attempts to form a majority government, preferred to hand the problem over to it, giving it 40 days to succeed. He knew full well that, with only 70 seats in the assembly, the “Coordination Framework” has little chance of succeeding: he had itself failed with 74 seats and an alliance with Mohammed Halbousi’s Sunni coalition (62 seats) and the KDP (31 seats). The 167 out of 329 seats thus obtained did not reach the two-thirds majority needed to appoint a president (Al-Monitor). But Sadr, who still wants to put an end to the “consensus governments” that have ruled Iraq since 2003, has rejected all offers of an alliance between the two blocs.

The pro-Iranian parties chose former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to start negotiations with the Iraqi and Kurdish parties. But as the days passed without progress, talk of early elections began in Baghdad (WKI). By the end of the month, no progress had been made...

This political stalemate persists as the country faces an unprecedented food crisis in the wake of the war in Ukraine. Rising world prices have tripled Iraq’s grain import bill in 2021-2022, from $900 million to $3 billion. This coincides with a severe drought that caused a poor harvest in 2021 for 37% of farmers, forcing the government to increase wheat imports. Iraq’s inefficient food distribution programmes have exacerbated these problems. The public food distribution system can only be sustained if oil prices remain high enough to fund it.

Concerning oil, Iraq is paradoxically exposed to fuel shortages, because it refines very little locally and exports crude. The price of fuel varies greatly depending on the region. While Baghdad has subsidised it to keep it low in the centre of the country, prices have doubled in Kurdistan, causing queues at petrol stations there and in neighbouring cities such as Mosul. Politically, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is said to be closer to the West than the one in Baghdad, but it also has links with Russia: the Russian company Rosneft has a 60% stake in Kurdistan’s main oil pipeline. Moreover, unlike Western countries, Russia did not oppose the KRG’s independence referendum in September 2017... (International Crisis Group).

Western attempts to impose an embargo on Russian oil exports have led to an unprecedented interest in the hydrocarbons of Iraqi Kurdistan. At the same time, Turkey has seen its unique “Eurasian” situation enhanced, making it the obligatory point of passage for all exports to Europe. This point was certainly on the agenda of the discussions between the Turkish President and the Prime Minister of Kurdistan, Masrour Barzani, who was received by the former in Istanbul on the 17th... At the end of March, the Kurdish Prime Minister had declared that Iraqi Kurdistan was going to “become a net exporter of gas to the rest of Iraq, Turkey and Europe in the near future and contribute to meeting their energy security needs”.

This new economic importance does not only have beneficial effects. Already, on 12th March, missile attacks claimed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards had hit Erbil. This attack was generally interpreted as a retaliatory measure against the KDP for its support of Moqtada Sadr against the pro-Iranian Shiite parties. But it could also have “oil” causes: at least one of the missiles hit a villa belonging to Sheik Baz Karim Barzinji, CEO of the Kurdish oil company Kar. According to an Iraqi security source quoted by Reuters, it was used as a meeting place between the Americans and Israelis about a new gas pipeline through Turkey... If such a project were to see the light of day – there is talk of 2025 – Kurdish oil and gas would be in direct competition with Iranian production... (Al-Monitor)

Then on 28th March, PDK’s Baghdad office was attacked and burned down by pro-Iranian demonstrators. The Kurdish party finally decided not to rehabilitate the building and to close its offices in the Iraqi capital altogether (Al-Monitor). Finally, three weeks after the Iranian strike on Erbil, three Katyusha rockets landed on the evening of 6th near one of the most important refineries in Kurdistan, in Kawergosk (20 km northwest of Erbil). They were fired from the outskirts of Mosul. The attack has not been claimed but it bears the signature of pro-Iranian militias.

The management of Kurdistan’s oil remains a point of serious disagreement between Baghdad and Erbil, further dramatised by the Iraqi Supreme Court’s decision on 15th February to invalidate as “unconstitutional” the Kurdistan oil and gas law adopted in 2007. On the 11th, a high-level KRG delegation, headed by the Minister of State for Negotiations with the Federal Government, Khalid Shwani, went to Baghdad for discussions on this issue. During the joint press conference following the meeting, Shwani declared this first round of talks “constructive”, while Iraqi Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismail said he had proposed the transfer of the contracts signed by the KRG Ministry of Natural Resources to a federally-owned oil company that could be called the Kurdistan [Region] Oil Company (KROC). The Iraqi Oil Minister added that “the revenues from the sale of oil would be paid into an account in one of the international banks owned by the Ministry of Finance. [This would be a] payment security account, an escrow account, which would guarantee the payment of the revenues to the Kurdish people, in case the Federal Ministry of Finance was late in sending them” (Rûdaw). On the 13th, after discussing the Baghdad meeting, the KRG in an official statement instructed the delegation to “continue the discussions, while stressing the importance of defending the constitutional rights of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq” (NRT). But on the 14th, Abdul Hakeem Khasro, head of the KRG’s Coordination and Monitoring Department, said that the KRG refused Baghdad’s request “to establish an oil company of its own in the Region”. Khasro said that the KRG offered in exchange to create its own company, equivalent to the Iraqi SOMO, which it called “KOMO”, presumably for Kurdistan Organization for Marketing of Oil (Kurdistan-24). Negotiations have apparently not progressed any further this month.

At the same time, Turkey continued its military operations in Iraq. Taking advantage of the political stalemate paralysing Baghdad, it has used the presence of the PKK in the north of the country as a pretext to station even more troops there. According to the Turkish website Ahval News, Ankara’s objective is to create a “security zone” in northern Iraq based on the model of those already set up in Syria, “60 to 70 kilometres deep”, where it could settle permanently through military checkpoints and so-called “temporary military bases”. Ankara has already set up more than 40 such bases, some of them for years. Ahval also notes that a permanent military presence would also allow Ankara to strengthen its control over Kurdistan’s hydrocarbon exports to Europe.

Earlier this month, the governor of the Dinarte (Dohuk) sub-district told the Kurdish TV channel Rûdaw that recent Turkish air and artillery strikes had forced the evacuation of 24 villages. The secretary of the Duhok Provincial Council, Said Nerwai, told Rûdaw that the Turkish bombardments were creating poverty and unemployment by preventing the inhabitants of the villages from going to the mountains to gather herbs or graze their animals... Out of 92 villages in the sub-district of Shiladze (Dohuk), only 7 are still inhabited. All the others have been evacuated for fear of Turkish bombing (Rûdaw). More widely, during the three decades of the Turkey-PKK conflict, more than 500 villages had to be evacuated in the Kurdistan Region (WKI). The presence of Turkish bases also generates indirect violence, as for example in Bashiqa, near Mosul, targeted on the 3rd by seven rockets which did not cause any victims. This is the fourth attack since the beginning of the year against this base, whose presence is regularly denounced by pro-Iranian militias (RFI).

On the 17th, Turkish aircraft continued their intense bombing near Shiladze (Dohuk). On the 11th, the PKK had reported that dozens of Turkish helicopters had targeted the Zap region, where Ankara had tried to land ground troops, while Ankara announced that it had launched a new operation. According to Warshin Salman, mayor of Amedi, the 17th “marks the third week of heavy bombing by Turkey on the region”. On the 18th, Ankara announced that it had launched a new anti-PKK offensive in the Zap mountains early in the morning, officially named Operation Claw Lock, supported by ATAK helicopters and drones, and focusing on three areas close to the Turkish border. On the night of the 19th, hundreds of airborne commandos and Turkish special forces were dropped on the ground and clashes began.

Baghdad immediately denounced a violation of its sovereignty and summoned the Turkish ambassador to deliver a protest note denouncing “unacceptable violations”. Iraqi President Barham Saleh, himself a Kurd, called the Turkish operation “a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and a threat to national security” (AFP). While on the 20th the Turkish President declared that the operation was “carried out in close cooperation with the Iraqi central government and the regional administration of northern Iraq”, both parties involved denied any cooperation, which led to the Iraqi ambassador in Ankara being summoned in turn...

On the 22nd, the Turkish President claimed that the operation had “neutralised” 45 PKK fighters – a term indicating fighters killed or captured. The PKK has claimed responsibility for the death of 127 Turkish soldiers in Dohuk province since the 18th (Rûdaw).

In the disputed territories, Kurds continue to face discrimination. This is particularly true in Kirkuk, where the acting Arab governor Rakan Al-Jabouri is particularly active in this respect. Earlier this month, it was reported that on 13th March, the anniversary of the chemical bombing of Halabja, he cancelled the project prepared in 2013 by former governor Najmeddine Karim to allocate land to the KRG to build houses for the families of the victims of ISIS and the peshmerga killed during the war against the jihadist organisation... On the 7th, the Kirkuk Court launched an investigation into the members of the Provincial Council who had been taking part in the independence referendum in September 2017. On the 13th, the publication of the list of students accepted at the military academy provoked the anger of the Kurds: out of 135 students, there were only 6 Kurds! The majority of the 116 Arab Iraqis accepted belong to the Al-Jabouri tribe... At the same time, the Iraqi Ministry of Education launched an investigation into the province’s education department over 23 schools, mainly located in Kurdish areas of the city, which were renovated but have since received no operating equipment. The director of the office, Abed Al-Jabouri, is facing accusations of corruption in other matters…

Another recurrent problem in these territories is the presence of ISIS. The inhabitants of the villages located between the lines of the Kurdish peshmergas and the Iraqi military live in terror of jihadist attacks, and a large number of them, feeling totally abandoned, prefer to leave rather than continually risk their lives... After a slightly calmer period at the end of March, the attacks intensified again this month, particularly in Kirkuk, in the regions of Hawija and Daquq. An Iraqi officer was killed on 22 March in Rashad and an Iraqi soldier injured on 24th March in Daquq. In Sargaran, another attack left one Iraqi soldier dead and two wounded, while the inhabitants of the Kurdish village of Al-Mansour (Daquq) managed to repel another attack on their own at the cost of one wounded person.

Further attacks by ISIS took place at the end of the month in Khanaqin, where 3 members of a Sunni militia were killed and 9 injured on the 22nd. By the evening of the 21st, 3 Iraqi soldiers had already been killed in Jalawla and 7 injured. On the 25th, 2 civilians were killed and 3 injured by an IED near the village of Madan. In Tuz Khurmatu, 4 shepherds were abducted, but one was able to escape quickly and the other 3 were later released. On 23rd April, 2 members of a pro-Iranian militia were killed at the town’s airbase and 3 others were injured. In Mahmour, 2 Iraqi soldiers were wounded on the 19th, and 2 shepherds from the village of Pir Mehdi were abducted.

At the end of the month, the plan to deploy joint Kurdish-Iraqi units had still not been implemented. The peshmergas have been transferred to the Iraqi Ministry of Defence five months ago, but the Ministry still refuses to pay them. They have been demonstrating to claim their back pay.

Finally, the situation in Sinjar (Shengal) remains tense to say the least, as the Baghdad government continues to try to implement the October 2020 agreement with the KRG to disarm the militias. On 7th July, the director of the IDP office in Dohuk reported that 400 Yezidi families had asked to leave their homes again and return to camps in the province because of the lack of public services and the security situation in Sinjar. On the 18th, clashes broke out between the Iraqi army and the Yezidi security force Ezdixan, which is close to the PKK. They continued intermittently for several days, with injuries on both sides (Bas News, WKI). At the end of the month, the Iraqi army appeared to be concentrating on launching a new attack with tanks and heavy weapons against the PKK-backed YBŞ. Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, facing massive public opposition, suspended his earlier decision to appoint the governor of Nineveh province as interim mayor. Sinjar remains without a mayor since Mehma Khalil (KDP) won a parliamentary seat in the October 2021 elections.

Concerning economic projects in Kurdistan, the Minister of Construction Dana Abdul Karim has commissioned an economic feasibility study from a Spanish company on an important railway project. In the first phase, it is planned to create a line linking the Ibrahim Khalil border post with Turkey to the Parwezkhan crossing point to Iran, a project whose study, planned before the pandemic, had been delayed by it. In a later phase, the project should link the main cities of Kurdistan.



As the economic situation in Iran continues to worsen, more and more Iranians are falling into poverty. In his inaugural speech, the ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raissi blamed his predecessor for a situation he promised to improve. Eight months later, his promises have remained unfulfilled. At the beginning of April, his government even announced a 25 to 35% increase in transport prices for the 21st. Even the pro-regime media, known for playing down the figures, are forced to acknowledge that inflation is “over 40%” and that the unemployment rate is “over 12%”.

A lifting of US sanctions might bring an improvement, but it depends on the success of the Vienna talks on the nuclear programme, which have been suspended since 11th March, after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on 5th March sought assurances from Washington that sanctions against his country would not impede “Russia’s free and full cooperation with Iran in the fields of trade, economy, investment, defence and technology”.

After bilateral talks with Tehran, Russia lowered its demands, but very quickly the resumption of talks came up against another problem: Iran is demanding the removal of the Revolutionary Guard Corps (Pasdaran) from the State Department’s list of terrorist groups, where the Trump administration had put them in 2019. The United States does not seem ready to take such a decision, especially as both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are increasingly opposed to the direction of the negotiations with Tehran...

On the 9th, Tehran announced sanctions against 24 US officials, the majority of whom have served in the Trump administration. All are accused of supporting anti-Iranian “terrorist activities” (Reuters).

On the 26th, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh called for the resumption of talks “as soon as possible”, but by the end of the month, nothing had happened. As RFI notes, for weeks now, the agreement has been “imminent”, but nothing has happened... The paradox is that a success would suit all parties: Iran needs a lifting of sanctions, and the West, which wants to free itself from Russian hydrocarbons, would welcome the return of Iranian oil to the market...

In the country, demonstrations against the high cost of living are multiplying. In particular, teachers marched by the thousands in more than a hundred towns across 24 provinces, and especially in the towns of Iranian Kurdistan, such as Baneh, Bokan, Ilam, Kamyaran, Kermanchah, Marivan, Sanandaj, Saqqez, or even Sardasht...

The protests are making the regime increasingly nervous, and it has just appointed former Pasdaran commander Hassan Askari, known according to the PDKI for his role in the crackdown on the 2019 protests in Kurdish towns, as head of security in the large Kurdish town of Sanandaj.

Despite the worsening poverty, the repressive forces remain merciless to the cross-border porters, the kolbars, whom they continue to systematically shoot in the mountains. In its latest monthly report, the KHRN says that in March, at least one kolbar was killed and 11 others injured by Iranian border guards. According to the Hengaw human rights organisation, at least 52 were killed and 163 injured in 2021. On the evening of 6th April, the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) reported that protests broke out in Paveh (Pawa) shortly after 3 kolbars were shot and injured. By this time, at least 4 kolbars had already been injured since 1st April.

On the 26th, another porter was killed in an ambush on his group near Nowsud. The Hengaw Human Rights Organisation reported that 3 kolbars had died and 34 had been injured in only the previous two weeks. Despite the large number of kolbars regularly killed by border guards, the authorities have never seriously investigated these killings and seem to be completely uninterested (Rûdaw). At the end of the month, several kolbars had been killed and almost fifty injured. On the 19th, the Washington Kurdish Institute (WKI) counted at least 17 wounded near Nowsud (Kermanshah) in a single week.

Throughout the month, security forces have arrested many people in Iranian Kurdistan. The Washington Kurdish Institute (WKI) estimated the number of arrests of Kurdish activists this month to be at least 120. On the 3rd, in the village of Karkhaneh-ye Qand (Piranshahr), 5 youths including a 17 year old girl were arrested and taken to the city for questioning, without a warrant, according to witnesses. The reason for the arrest is not known (KHRN). Only on the 6th it was reported that 7 residents of Nalous had been summoned and interrogated on 30th March in Oshnavieh for participating in the Newrouz. They were released after questioning. On 9th March in Baneh, 2 brothers were arrested at their workplace and taken to an unknown location. Finally, at the end of the month, the Pasdaran intelligence services preventively arrested a large number of activists in anticipation of the May 1st demonstrations. Etelaat (Intelligence) agents warned several trade union activists not to participate in International Workers’ Day activities. In Baneh, 6 women’s and workers’ rights activists were arrested and their houses searched. Some items were confiscated from them and 5 of them were taken to the detention centre of the pasdaran in Sanandaj. The provincial security office said on 29 September that it had identified and arrested “the core of the communist terrorist group Komala”. In Saqqez, the well-known militant Osman Ismael was arrested a few days before 1st of May. Finally, several Kurdish activists arrested for organising the Newrouz celebrations were released on bail.

The courts also handed down numerous convictions throughout April. In Oshnavieh, on the 4th the Criminal Court sentenced 3 Kurdish defendants, the first to 8 years in prison and a fine of 9 million tomans (€2,000) for “collaboration with an anti-regime party and carrying an illegal weapon” and the other 2 to 6 months for “collaboration with an anti-regime party”. On the 5th, 2 other defendants were sentenced to 4 and 2 years respectively for the same charge. It was also learned on the 6th only of several convictions handed down at the end of March: in separate trials, 2 Oshnavieh residents were each given 2 years for the same charges on 27th March (HRANA). Other residents of Oshnavieh and Naghadeh received sentences of several months imprisonment on April 8th and 14th, again for “collaboration with an anti-regime party” or “propaganda against the regime in favour of an anti-regime political party”. Other sentences of several months and one year in prison were handed down in Naghadeh and Baneh respectively. In Urmia, the trial of 21 Kurds arrested in 2021 and tried for “belonging to anti-regime political parties” started on the 19th. In Kamyaran, 4 people were each sentenced to 3 months in prison only for attending the funeral of Kurdish activist Haider Qurbana, executed by the regime in late 2021.

Regarding death sentences, on the 14th, the death sentence against PKK member Hatem Özdemir was upheld on appeal in Urmia. Özdemir had been seriously wounded and taken prisoner in an ambush by the Pasdaran of his guerrilla unit on 2nd July 2019. Another prisoner held in Urmia has also been sentenced to death: Firaz Mousallou had surrendered to the Iranian authorities in 2019 after an amnesty promise. He is to be executed for “rebellion against God and the State” and membership of the PKK or PDKI.

According to a joint report published on 28th by the two NGOs Iran Human Rights (Norway), and Ensemble contre la peine de mort (France), the number of executions in Iran increased by 25% in 2021, with at least 333 executions against “only” 267 the previous year. The rate also accelerated after the arrival in power of Ebrahim Raissi, himself accused of crimes against humanity for his participation in the mass executions of prisoners in the 1980s. The report states that more than 80% of the executions have not been officially announced, including all that are drug-related. There are 17 women among those executed in 2021, many of them convicted of murdering their husbands, which suggests situations of abuse or domestic violence. The report also draws attention to the disproportionate number of executions of members of Iran’s ethnic minorities. Most of the prisoners executed for security reasons belonged to the Arab, Baluchi and Kurdish ethnic minorities. Baluchis accounted for 21% of all executions in 2021, while they are only 2-6% of the population... The only positive news in the report is that public executions have been stopped this year for the first time in 10 years – but there is no certainty that it will be permanent (Rûdaw).

Meanwhile, the situation for detainees in Iranian prisons remains dire, and according to the Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA), many have gone on hunger strike this month in protest. On the 4th, Mehdi Sane-Farshi went on hunger strike in Urmia prison to protest against the increasing pressure on political prisoners and the confiscation of his belongings in prison. Arrested in August 2020 while he had come from Turkey to visit his mother, he was sentenced in November of the same year to 5 years imprisonment for “collaboration with one of the anti-regime groups and propaganda against the regime”. On the same day, the German-Iranian prisoner Jamshid Sharmahd was finally able to call his family, after 7 months of isolation and daily interrogations. According to his relatives, he is in a deplorable state of health and does not receive his medication in sufficient quantities or on time. On the 6th, political prisoner Soheila Hijab, currently detained at the Kermanshah Correctional Centre, announced in an open letter that she had started a hunger strike after being beaten by guards and denied access to her family. Hijab is serving an 18-year prison sentence for “propaganda against the regime”, “illegal assembly”, “inciting public opinion to riot” and “organising illegal political groups”. On the same day, HRANA reported that Shaker Behrouz and Nayeb Askari, also in Urmia prison, went on hunger strike on 31st March. Behrouz, sentenced to death for the murder of a member of the pasdaran despite an alibi, was protesting against his transfer to the wing for violent common-law prisoners. Askari was protesting against the refusal of the prison authorities to send him to a hospital outside the prison, despite the advice of the prison doctor.

On the 14th it was reported that Milad Jafari, a 25-year-old Kurdish man from Kermanshah, who had been imprisoned in Tehran on 7th April on “drug-related” charges, had died suspiciously in a police detention centre. Forensics told his family he had fallen during his arrest, but photos seen by his relatives showed bruising on his body and bleeding on his face, leading them to conclude that Jafari had died under torture. They refused to take the body until they received the results of the autopsy (Kurdistan au Féminin). On the 20th Majid Keshvari, imprisoned in the Central Penitentiary of Greater Tehran, attempted to commit suicide by hanging after being refused surgery and had to be hospitalised. He is mentally ill and had already attempted to commit suicide in the past.



After 1,637 days in detention – more than four and a half years – Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala was sentenced on Monday 25th April in Istanbul to life imprisonment for “attempting to overthrow the government”. His seven co-defendants, accused of supporting him, were sentenced to 18 years in prison for “complicity”. The judges said in their verdict that the accused would not be eligible for any remission. Their decision, made after less than an hour’s deliberation, was met with boos in the courtroom.

Osman Kavala’s lawyers, who have consistently argued for acquittal for lack of evidence, have stated their intention to appeal. They recalled that the judges had never even asked the accused “where he was” during the events of which he is accused.

Kavala himself, who followed the hearing by teleconference from his cell in Silivri, a suburb of Istanbul, denounced at the close of the proceedings a “judicial assassination” against his person, the use of “conspiracy theories, put forward for political and ideological reasons”, and above all the influence of President Erdoğan on his trial.


The Contemporary Turkish Lawyers Association (CHD) called on lawyers to participate in a vigil in front of the courthouse to protest against the verdict. For his part, Kemal Kiliçdaroğlu, leader of the opposition Kemalist Party (CHP), said: “This government, which has descended on the country like a nightmare, continues to trample on the law”.

Already on the 16th, in a premonitory manner, the German Minister of Culture and Media, Claudia Roth, who had come to participate in the Mediterranean Literature Days, a literary seminar organised in Bodrum, mentioned Kavala in her speech: “Good morning Osman Kavala, good morning my dear friend; we would have liked you to be here today because your place is not in prison. Your place should have been here today...”.

On the 26th, the PEN Club France issued a statement demanding the immediate release of all those convicted in the Gezi trial. At the top of the statement is this short text by the writer Aslı Erdoğan: “Many people use the words freedom, equality and democracy; but very few are willing to devote their time, energy and money to these ideas. Osman Kavala is one of them. He has dedicated his whole life to freedom, equality and democracy. He is the true friend of Kurds and Armenians, of the underprivileged and oppressed, of Arts and artists, of culture, of land and trees... He has always been and will always be the true friend of the truth. The only people who deserve to be tried in a court of law for what happened in Gezi are the police and the violence with which they killed civilians, including a fourteen year old, and injured thousands. And of course those, whoever they are, who gave the order to act with such violence”.

PEN’s press release recalls who Kavala is and what its activities have been, in terms that are worth quoting here:

Highly committed to the defence of cultural and human rights, Osman Kavala had established the Anadolu Kültür cultural centre in the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in 2002. With his team, in which the writer Aslı Erdoğan was also involved, he promoted Kurdish culture as well as Armenian culture. Anadolu Kültür had an impact on the whole of Turkey and worked for the recognition of cultural diversity as a richness.

Osman Kavala was very active in the recognition of the Armenian genocide.

He also founded several publishing houses, including Iliteşim Yayinlari, in the spirit of changing society and defending democracy after the September 1980 coup.

It is undoubtedly this commitment to “minority” cultures in Turkey that the Erdoğan government has not forgiven Osman Kavala, and this is the real reason for his conviction.



The Values and Attitudes among Kurds report of the Kurdish Studies Center has just been published.

This is a “general public” version of a field research, which was carried out by Rawest Research with the support of the German Heinrich Böll Institute (Heinrich Böll Stiftung) in Istanbul. Based on empirical data collected in 11 cities, the report aims to contribute to a better understanding of the values and attitudes of Kurds over the age of 18, and to present the similarities and differences between them and Turkish society.

The most general result of the report is that the Kurds, in addition to the similarities and differences they have with the rest of Turkey, also differ from each other according to factors such as world view, political tendency, migration and sometimes gender. While some results could be expected, such as the fact that more than half of the participants state that they are not very satisfied with their living situation, others are less expected, such as the existence of a still quite strong religiosity among the Kurds supporting the HDP. The report also points to the existence of significant generational differences: the gap between the participants’ level of education and that of their parents is greater than in the rest of Turkey. Not surprisingly, the majority of the participants in the survey believe that Kurds and Turks are not equal before the State... Finally, “the most frequently expressed demand by the participants concerning the Kurdish issue is [the right to use] their mother tongue. This appears to be the common demand of all Kurds, regardless of their opinions”.

The full report can be downloaded in PDF format by following this link: