Raqqa krabbelt op – Terug naar kleur

Er drijft een rozegebloemd plastic bord in het waterbassin onder de bomen op de noordelijke oever van de Eufraat. Op de rand staan glaasjes met verse thee. Vijf kapotte plastic stoelen eromheen. In een van de bomen is een gele tuinslang om een tak gewikkeld. Er zijn gaatjes in geprikt zodat er een zacht, lauwig regentje over de theedrinkers neerdaalt. Welkom in het paradijs van fotograaf Aboud Hamam.

Hij komt hier elke dag. De schaduw en de regen maken de zomerhitte draaglijk. De stad is vanaf hier niet zichtbaar, maar zijn mensen wel. Er rijden auto’s en vrachtwagens over de gerepareerde brug en jongens springen er vanaf, de sterke stroming van de rivier in. Op de zuidelijke kiezeloever staan enkele auto’s geparkeerd. In het water langs de kant drijven vrouwen met hun kleurige kleren aan en spetteren jongens en meisjes in ondergoed. De mannen staan erbij te roken, hooguit tot hun knieën in het water.

Lees verder bij de Groene Amsterdammer! Deze grote reportage staat ook in de papieren Groene en die ligt nog tot woensdag 21 augustus in de winkel!

De Syrische Koerden dansen op strijdliederen

Qamislo – Twee meisjes van een jaar of zeven staan vervaarlijk te dansen op de dwarsijzers van het hoge hek dat de tribunes van het speelveld scheidt. Vaders erachter, om ze op te vangen als het misgaat. Een van de meisjes zingt uit volle borst de nummers mee, net als de hele tribune, die volgepakt is met families. ‘Guerrilla! Guerrilla!’ scanderen ze een refrein mee.

Lees verder in De Groene Amsterdammer!

The English version is on Patreon, where you can support my work.

In Turkey, violence starts as hunger strikes end

On 27 May 2019, the Turkish army launched a military operation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Hakurk area in northern Iraq. It was not just an air operation for a change but a seemingly limited ground operation as well, with soldiers dropped in the rugged mountains from helicopters.

Five days earlier, the Turkish state allowed lawyers to visit imprisoned Kurdish leader and PKK founder Abdullah Ocalan, the second of two visits since 2011, raising questions about Turkey’s intentions.

Continue reading on Fanack!

A peaceful transition of power

(This piece was published at my Patreon page, where I keep you updated about the news in Kurdistan that you won’t easily find elsewhere. You can support my work there with a donation. It helps me continue this work so don’t hesitate to click the Become a patron button!)

On 21 September 1966, the hope that Nechirvan Barzani (pictured) would one day rise to power in Kurdistan emerged. It was the day he was born into the Barzani family. As the nephew of Massoud Barzani, to be precise, who is in turn the son of the legendary Kurdish resistance leader Mullah Mustafa Barzani. The latter founded the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Kurdistan’s most powerful party, on 16 August 1946, the very same day that Massoud was born. Yesterday, on 28 May 2019, Nechirvan Barzani was elected President of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq.

Continue reading at Patreon! 

De bizarre weg naar de verkiezingen in Istanbul

(Radio interview at popular Dutch current affairs radio show Nieuwsweekend, Saturday 11 May 2019)

Luister het interview terug via deze link!

De oppositie spreekt al van een ‘openlijke dictatuur’ en een ‘civiele staatsgreep’ nu de bevolking van Istanboel volgende maand opnieuw naar de stembus moet. De regerende AK-Partij van de Turkse president Erdogan had om nieuwe verkiezingen gevraagd omdat er sprake zou zijn geweest van georganiseerde fraude bij de verkiezingen. Hoe nu verder in het land nu de politieke, sociale en economische onrust volop borrelt onder de oppervlakte? We vragen het Turkije-kenner Fréderike Geerdink.

Turkey’s ruling AKP manipulates election outcomes in Kurdish South-east, leaves municipalities broke

The big question in the Kurdish-majority municipalities in the south-east of Turkey was whether the candidates for the leftist Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which won the most votes in the local elections on 13 March 2019, would be acknowledged as the winners. Now that most of them have received their mazbata (official certificate) and assumed their positions as mayors, another story has emerged: the crippling public debts the mayors have discovered in their towns. In the background, another issue lingers: will the Kurdish mayors actually get the chance to fulfill their five-year terms?

Continue reading at Fanack!

Turkey’s claims of PKK demise exaggerated

Late last month, Turkey’s state-run news agency reported that a Turkish airstrike had seriously wounded veteran Kurdish fighter Rıza Altun.

Altun is a member of the executive council of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organisation that includes the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting an armed insurgency for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984 and is labelled a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union.

The KCK neither confirmed nor denied the report. Meanwhile, the PKK has been relatively quiet for more than a year now in its fight against Turkey. Has the armed movement really been weakened and reported strike on Altun the icing on the cake of the Turkish army’s victory?

Continue reading at Ahval!

Kurds find cold reception as they flee Kobani into Turkey

As the battle for Kobani rages, up to 200,000 Syrian Kurds have fled into Turkey, where long-running animosities mean a suspicious reception at best. Frederike Geerdink reports from Suruc, close to the border.

(written in cooperation with a foreign desk editor) Continue reading “Kurds find cold reception as they flee Kobani into Turkey”

Kurds not giving up on education in mother tongue

The Kurdish political movement has no intention of giving up on the three private schools they opened to teach exclusively in Kurdish. The opening of the schools last week led to a cat-and-mouse game between the schools’ administrators and the local governors — the latter closing the schools, the former reopening them several times. Clashes between the schools’ supporters and the police erupted, and nearly 100 people were taken into custody.

Read the whole article here! 

An article that explains education in mother tongue in seven questions and one anecdote can be found on my Beaconreader page!

 

Coal mine disaster in Soma, western Turkey

I have updated several radio shows about the mine disaster in Soma, Turkey. Listen back here:

13 May, Dichtbij Nederland, Radio5, Netherlands. The interview starts at 13.20 (scroll down for the podcast).

14 May, The Pat Kenny Show, Newstalk, Ireland. The interview starts at 17.51.

14 May, De Ochtend KRO/NCRV, Radio1, Netherlands.

I couldn’t find the interview for a London based radio station on 14 May.

Since I was not on the spot (I was shortly visiting the Netherlands when the disaster happened) I have not written about what happened at the mine. As you know, I usually try to find an angle that others in Turkey don’t write about, and it struck me how much the Soma disaster resembles the Roboski massacre: both lay bare state structures.

Read about it in this blog post:
The mine killed the people of Soma. Like the planes killed the people of Roboski.

And in this article on Beaconreader (you can subscribe for 5 USD per month, for which you get an exclusive story from me every week and on top of that access to all Beacon writers):
‘Soma mine disaster makes us re-live Roboski massacre’