- The Kurdistan Human Rights Association (HARAN) reported that prisoners from Sanandaj prison continue to engage in various protests — such as hunger strikes, suicide attempts, and acts of self-mutilation — in response to leadership ignoring numerous prisoners’ demands for greater rights and fair treatment. As of April, the report states, 28 people are suffering from infectious diseases such as hepatitis. Meanwhile, 29 members of the European Parliament wrote a letter to the head of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs, demanding that the EU called upon Iran to release its political prisoners, journalists, and activists before the upcoming elections. Hundreds of Kurds remains in Iran’s prisons because of their political activism.
- Four Pro-Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) affiliate parties in Iran have decided to boycott the country’s upcoming elections. The Democratic and Free Society of Eastern Kurdistan (KODAR), Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), Community of Free Women of Eastern Kurdistan (KJAR) and Eastern Kurdistan Youth Society (KCR) held a joint press conference and said “we as KODAR, PJAK, KJAR, and KCR doom and boycott participation in the Iranian Presidential elections as a historic duty.” The press conference noted several points that led to their final decision. Last month, the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) and KOMALA parties also decided to boycott the upcoming presidential elections.
- Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS Brett McGurk visited Kurdistan and held meetings with Kurdish officials in the region, including the President, Prime Minister, and Deputy Prime Minister. During a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, the two sides talked about countering ISIS and the military success that has been achieved over the terrorists. In regards to the independence referendum, Talabani said “similar to other nations in the world, the Kurds have the right to self-determination.”
- After several meetings among the various Islamic parties in the region, Irfan Abdul-Aziz, the head of the Islamic movement, told NRT that the meetings were successful and that, during future meetings, the parties will hold additional talks to discuss a united list for the Islamic parties in the upcoming regional elections. The Islamic movement is the oldest Salafi political party in Kurdistan. It was founded on May 13, 1987.
- For the first time in Iraq’s history, a Kurdish female will serve as the Captain of a Boeing 737 jet airliner. The female pilot, Warte Abubakir Ali, 26, from Sulaymaniyah, earned her certificate in civil aviation in 2015 in Denmark.
- As the operation to liberate Raqqa continues, the U.S. backed-Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) liberated the city of Tabqa on May 10, shortly after liberating the Tabqa Dam. On May 11, the SDF reported that its forces thwarted an attempted ISIS attack on two recently liberated villages southwest of Tabqa. (Ayed al-Kabeer and al-Masherfeh). According to the SDF, 26 ISIS members were killed in the attack and 7 ISIS vehicles were destroyed. Supported by the U.S.-led coalition, the Raqqa liberation operation, “Wrath of Euphrates,” continues, with the SDF currently 4 miles away from one axis of the city. Meanwhile, one hundred Arab forces from the village al-Kaltah, northern Raqqa, joined the SDF to participate in the liberation of the city.
- After the U.S. decided to arm the SDF and the People’s Defense Units (YPG), Redur Khalil, YPG spokesperson, released a statement welcoming the decision. The statement said “we believe that this historical decision will further strengthen the struggle of our forces against terrorism…because this decision will bring rapid and important results for the democratic forces fighting against terrorism.” In a recent interview, the Co-President of the main Kurdish party in Syria, the Democratic Union Party, Saleh Muslim welcomed the decision, saying “there are common goals between the Kurds and the United States in Syria,” adding that the decision was “very good.”
- The Diyarbakir (Amed) court sentenced Kurdish lawmaker Nursel Aydogan, of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), to four years, eight months, and seven days in prison. Nursel was jailed with a dozen other HDP deputies in November 2016, but was later released on April 21 with travel restrictions. Upon being sentenced, Nursel officially lost her Parliamentary seat. Nursel and her jailed HDP colleagues are accused by the Turkish government of “membership in a terrorist organization” and of “spreading terrorist propaganda.” In reaction to the sentence, the HDP Foreign Relations Department described it as a “clear violation of the Constitution and international conventions.” Separately, the Turkish police detained Necla Yildirim, Kurdish co-mayor of Mazidagi district in Mardin Province. Yildirim was sacked from her duties as co-mayor on July 14, 2016. In Eskishehir Province, three HDP members and three students were also detained by police for their political activism. Over 80 elected Kurdish mayors and twelve HDP lawmakers remain in jail since November 2016, when the government’s crackdown on Kurdish politicians and journalists started.