Tag Archives: Kurdish

Iraq Feature | Ethnic & Religious Minorities

The Unweaving of Mosul

As the battle rages between the Islamic State and a coalition of forces led by the Iraqi government for control of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, many of the ethnic and religious minorities who called it home for generations fear the city will never again be the tolerant, culturally rich home it once was. Sunnis, Shiites, Yazidis, Christians, Kurds, Arabs, and others all coexisted in the vibrant cultural landscape of a city with both historical and contemporary significance, but the 2003 American-led invasion of Iraq and the recent occupation of Mosul by the Islamic State have all but decimated the minority communities that called the city home. The New York Times takes a look at the city’s decline, the uncertainty of its future, and the stories of those who once flourished in a cosmopolitan city known for its diversity and tolerance.

Read:
In Once-Tolerant Mosul, a Social Unraveling That Feels Permanent” (The New York Times)

Additional reading:
Iraq: Can Mosul survive ISIL?” (Al Jazeera)

(Image Credit: Felipe Dana/Associated Press, via The New York Times)

Japan Feature | Refugees & Immigrants

The Narrow Lane of Life for Refugees in Japan

“The truth is I have lived in Japan for such a long time. … All I want to do is work and carry out a decent life.”

Despite international pressure, Japan has allowed only a trickle of politically persecuted and war-fleeing migrants to make their way into the country, with migrants only accounting for 2% of the population. The government’s economy-first stance has led some to question political blindness to the relationship between immigration and the economy, and Japan’s declining birth rate and aging population have led pro-immigration advocates and the business community alike to push for a relaxation of immigration policies.

The New York Times takes a closer look at the situation facing Kurdish refugees in the context of Japan’s political and cultural resistance to immigration. Visa-free travel made Japan an alluring destination as violence in the 1990s led many Turkish Kurds to look abroad for relief from conflict, but arrivals have found significant resistance to demographic change in the country. The same fears that drive anti-immigrant sentiment globally have been amplified in the largely ethnically homogeneous echo chamber of Japan: ignorance of cultural backgrounds, limited economic prospects, and hyperpolicing have created a narrow lane for Kurds to thrive.

Read more:
Ethnic Kurds Find Haven, but No Home, in Insular Japan” (The New York Times)

(Image Credit: Ko Sasaki/The New York Times)

Armenia News | Yazidis

Largest Yazidi temple in world in plans to be built in Armenia
  • Funded by a Moscow-based Yazidi businessman, the temple (Quba Mere Diwane, or “All Will Come Together”) is set to be built in the village of Aknalich, near the Armenian capital of Yerevan.
  • Though set to be the physically largest, the most theologically sacred temple will continue to be Lalesh, a pilgrimage site located north of Mosul in northern Iraq.
  • Yazidis are one of the largest ethnic minority groups in Armenia, with their community expanding as the global diaspora has ballooned in the wake of systematic persecution by the Islamic State.

Read more:
Armenia to House World’s Largest Yazidi Temple” (EurasiaNet)
World’s largest Yazidi temple under construction in Armenia” (The Guardian)
Largest Yazidi Temple to Be Built in Armenia” (The Armenian Weekly)

(Image Credit: Maxim Edwards via The Guardian)

Iraq & Syria News | Yazidis

Thousands of Yazidis remain in captivity on anniversary of massacre
  • The U.N. reported that around 3,200 Yazidi women and girls are being held in sexual slavery and thousands of Yazidi men and boys are missing, many presumed dead.
  • August 3 marks the second anniversary of the Islamic State’s attack on Sinjar, Iraq, which left 10,000 Yazidis dead or enslaved in what observers have increasingly called a genocide.
  • Prior to the attack, Sinjar had been home to the largest Yazidi community in the world.

Read more:
Thousands of Yazidis missing, captive, two years after start of ‘genocide’: U.N.” (Reuters)
Yazidis Mark Second Anniversary of Islamic State Massacre” (Voice of America)
Yazidi Activist Nadia Murad Speaks Out on the ‘Holocaust’ of Her People in Iraq” (TIME)

(Image Credit: Z. Yasar/Voice of America)

ClimateWatch | Turkey

ClimateWatch
Turkey’s “Purge”

The recent attempted coup by a faction within Turkey’s military has left the country in the throes of uncertainty, further increasing citizens’ and human rights watchdogs’ already pronounced concerns about the future of civil liberties in Turkey. Ground zero for the attempted overthrow of the government were Ankara and Istanbul, home to journalists overrun on the air by military forces and ordinary citizens called into the streets by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan via FaceTime.

Daylight illuminated the deaths of nearly 300, the wounds of the 1,400 injured, and the beginning of a so-called “purge” that has further endangered groups already vulnerable under Erdogan’s regime: political critics, journalists, and intellectuals. Women, too, found themselves targeted amidst the instability, and Turkish Kurds worry that the aftermath will further heighten anti-Kurd sentiment.

But the coup attempt and retaliation are only the latest in Turkey’s security woes. Terrorist attacks in Istanbul and Ankara, conflict with Kurdish militants and pro-Kurd advocates, ongoing intimidation and blackouts of journalists and political dissidents, and a regional refugee crisis have upended the tenuous stability in the country secured through a 2013 ceasefire with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). While the restoration of Erdogan’s government was seen as a victory for democracy, Turks and observers alike fear what measures Erdogan, already intolerant of dissent, will take in its wake.

Here is a look at coverage of the destabilizing security situation for at-risk communities in Turkey: Continue reading ClimateWatch | Turkey

Turkey News | Kurds

Turkish president backs criminal probe into Kurdish opposition party leaders
  • President Tayyip Erdogan threw his support behind a criminal investigation into the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag.
  • The call comes after a two-day meeting of Kurdish groups called for greater self-governance in Turkey’s embattled southeast region, where Erdogan’s government has attempted to quash a fresh wave of separatist sentiment led by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
  • Erdogan has called for parliament to lift the political immunity of MPs to facilitate the investigation of politicians suspected of working with militants.

Read more:
Turkish parliament to consider ‘lifting Kurdish leaders’ immunity’” (AFP, via Yahoo! 7 News)
Erdogan backs criminal probe into Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition” (Reuters)

(Image Credit: Christian Hartmann/Reuters)

Turkey News | Left-wing Kurds

Turkey blocks pro-Kurdish and left-wing websites as military action ramps up
  • The Telecommunications Directorate, Turkey’s official Internet-monitoring organization, targeted websites from Turkey and Iraq in the shutdown following the murder of two police officers by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
  • Although officials denied involvement, Internet users also reported a slowdown in access to Facebook and Twitter, the latter of which was last blocked for two hours on July 22 after an Islamic State attack on the southern town of Suruc.
  • To date, more than 81,000 websites have been blocked in Turkey following the March passage of a law enabling removal or blockage of an online publication for national security.

Read the full story at the Hurriyet Daily News.

(Image Credit: via Hurriyet Daily News)