On 8 October, I was a guest in Dutch current affairs radio show Spraakmakers to speak about the imminent Turkish invasion of Syria. You can listen to the item here (in Dutch).
In Dutch durrent affairs radio show Nieuwsweekend I commented on the deteriorating situation in Al Hol-camp in northeast Syria, where IS-women impose their rule. Listen here! (In Dutch)
Legally speaking, Selahattin Demirtaş should have been freed from prison three times already. Also legally speaking, he shouldn’t have been jailed in the first place.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said so and a Turkish court said so. Despite that, the former co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is not a free man. Meanwhile, on Sept. 18, the ECHR will look at the case again. Demirtaş’s team of lawyers have high expectations for the hearing.
On 17 October 2019, it will be two years since the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) declared victory over Islamic State (ISIS) in Raqqa, which since 2014 had been the capital of the self-proclaimed ‘caliphate’. Tens of thousands of people who left the city before the final battle have now returned. But life is far from easy: most of the buildings are in ruins, there is no electricity and IS sleeper cells still pose a threat. Crucially, a lack of international recognition of the city’s civilian administration is hampering reconstruction.
The predominant colour in Raqqa is grey. Grey is the colour of destruction, the colour of bomb-blasted walls and of collapsed roofs that hang suspended like curtains. Anything that had colour in the destroyed buildings – carpets, furniture, personal belongings – are covered with a layer of grey rubble and dust.
‘The Act of Killing’ is by far the most overwhelming film I have ever seen. It was recommended to me by the lecturers in my International Journalism Master’s as an example of a documentary film in which the unexpected form, re-enactment, is exceptionally well chosen. It is, but the film hit me mostly because of its content. All the violence was re-enacted, but revealed a shocking truth.
‘The Act of Killing’ is met afstand de meest overweldigende film die ik ooit heb gezien. Hij werd me getipt door docenten van mijn master-opleiding ‘International Journalism’ als voorbeeld van een film waarbij de onverwachte vorm, namelijk re-enactment, uitzonderlijk goed gekozen is. Dat is het, maar de film heeft me vooral inhoudelijk een oplawaai gegeven. Al het geweld was nagespeeld, maar legde een schokkende werkelijkheid bloot.
Vanuit het vluchtelingenkamp Al Hol zijn met hulp van stamleiders IS-vrouwen en hun kinderen teruggehaald naar de regio Raqqa. Hun vrees dat de gemeenschap ze zou afwijzen bleek ongegrond. ‘Onze vrouwen zijn hierin verzeild geraakt.’
The mayors of Diyarbakir, Van and Mardin were elected with more than 50 per cent of the vote in local elections on 31 March 2019. Yet on 19 August, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) announced it had removed them from office and appointed local governors in their place. Several government officials, including Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, stated that the mayors needed to be replaced because they were misusing their positions to support terrorism, referring to the mayors’ alleged ties to the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
His absolute independence is what saved him in all the years that he stayed in Raqqa, the Syrian city where photographer Aboud Hamam was born and raised and that he refused to leave, even during the years that Isis was in charge. Under the current rule, he finally let go of his pseudonym for years, Nur Firat. “I miss Nur Firat sometimes,” Hamam said during a recent interview in Raqqa. “He achieved a lot.”
I made this short film (less than seven minutes!) about the reconstruction of Raqqa for my master International Journalism at Edinburg Napier University. I published it on my Patreon page – where you can support my work by becoming a Patron! Why don’t you? Watch the film here!