Rojava Film Commune: “We don’t mourn. We make films”

Patron was on the road with the Rojava Film Commune to screen their latest film ‘The End Will Be Spectacular’ for their home audience.

“When we need a tank, we get one”, said Sêvînaz Evdike. It has to sink in before the coin drops that it’s actually about an army tank, which is provided by the SDF, the forces of the autonomously administered northeast of Syria, to the Rojava Film Commune when they need one. They can provide fighters as well, or helmets, uniforms, you name it: the SDF likes to make its contribution to the artistic work of the film community. But it’s not a one way gift. Sêvînaz, the co-leader of the commune: “Both the SDF and we are parts of the same body, which is the self-administration of Northeast Syria. We both do our best to make it a success.”

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Families of Turkey’s political prisoners fear coronavirus impact

The families of political prisoners, especially those in poor health, are worried for the safety of their jailed loved ones after Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül said on Friday all family visits would be suspended for the next two weeks in an effort to contain coronavirus infections.

The ministry also said the temperature of everybody who enters or leaves prison would be checked. Requests by family members for permission to have extended phone calls or ‘closed visits’ – in which there is no physical contact between prisoner and visitor – seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

Continue reading at Ahval!

Kurds want recognition of their courts – and their autonomy

Details haven’t emerged yet about the plan of the Kurds in Northeast Syria to prosecute in local courts the foreign ISIS-fighters they are holding captive. Besides judicial questions, it raises political dilemmas. What are the Kurds really after? Trials, or recognition of their autonomy?

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De berechting van IS-strijders – Handen schudden op Koerdische grond

De Koerden zijn bereid om buitenlandse IS-strijders zelf te berechten. Dat zou hun statuur in de wereld vergroten, een van hun vurigste wensen. Alleen hebben de Koerden geen erkende staat en dus ook geen erkende rechtbanken.

Lees verder bij De Groene Amsterdammer. The (slightly adjusted) English version is on my Patreon page!

After Belgian court ruling, PKK might be removed from EU’s terrorist organisations list

A ruling by Belgium’s highest court last week can have far-reaching consequences that can end the practice of enlisting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed group which has been fighting inside Turkey since 1984, as a terrorist organisation in Europe.

The court approved a previous decision made by a lower court in March, which said the PKK could not be considered a terrorist organisation.

While Kurdish activists celebrated the Belgian court’s ruling, both Belgian and Turkish government officials firmly rejected it.

Continue reading at Ahval.

Boycott of Turkish products: ‘Resistance is not only military’

Boycotts of Turkish products are ongoing in both the Kurdistan Region in Iraq and in the autonomously governed northeast of Syria. There are similarities: in both regions, the people started the boycott and many business people support it. But there are striking differences too. A report from Qamislo and Sulaymanya.

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Our heart shrivelled because we forgot Roboski

On Dec. 28, 2011, late at night, the Turkish warplanes bombed a group of Kurdish villagers, who had gone across the border into Iraq to load packages with cigarettes and tea and barrels with petrol on their mules. They were about to enter the Turkish territory again when the bombing started. Not much later, 34 traders, 19 of whom were underaged boys, were dead. One of the victims was 34-year-old Osman Kaplan, married to Pakize and father of five children. All I ever saw of Osman was a photo of him while working in a small garden where the family grew some vegetables. Spade in his hands, looking up into the camera.

Continue reading at Ahval.

Kurdish singers follow in the footsteps of dengbej-singing ancestors

When you grow up with dengbej, as is the case with all Kurds who were born and raised on their ancestral lands, it will be part of you for the rest of your life. For Kurdish singers, that is even more the case.

Acclaimed Kurdish singers Şivan Perwer and Mem Ararat talked to Ahval about the influence the old Kurdish story-telling tradition has had on their art. Even when life took them far from where their cradle stood, it is the dengbej tradition that they continued to build on.

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New book! Hope became a dream – Press freedom in Iraq

Iraq is consistently doing bad in all lists about press freedom. Journalists are kidnapped and murdered, there are taboo topics no reporter can publish about and the sectarianism of Iraqi politics, which is closely entwined with the country’s media, makes it close to impossible to work independently. The situation in the Kurdistan Region, in the north of Iraq, is not fundamentally different. This booklet, published in December 2019, offers interviews with journalists and lawyers and with the wife and brother of a Kurdish journalist who was killed because of his stories about corruption, gives insight in the historical backgrounds of the media in Iraq – it wasn’t always this bad! – and examens the laws that urgently need change.

The full PDF of my booklet about press freedom in Iraq is now available online, without paywall! Click the link on this page!