- A Kurdish man was sentenced to one year in prison for alleged affiliation with a Kurdish political party. The Kurdish man, Mahmoud Nezhad, was detained while in his car by Iranian security forces. During the detention, the passenger in the car was shot and killed while Nezhad was shot and wounded. After being admitted to the hospital for six days to treat his gunshot wound, Nezhad was held in detention for a one-and-a-half month interrogation. He served his time at Orumiyeh Central Prison, a facility with a mixed population of prisoners of varying charges. The prison regularly carries out executions — this past week alone, six prisoners were hanged on drug charges.
- An expected Islamic State deserter (an American of Pakistani origin) was arrested by Peshmerga forces near the Mosul Dam. Arrested while not wearing any pants, the suspect was was brought in for questioning. As the jihadist organization continues to fall apart in Mosul, more and more deserters are expected to arrive in the Kurdistan region. Reports of men shaving their beards, blending in with refugee populations, and even dressing in traditional Muslim women’s outfits in order to escape capture have recently surfaced.
- On July 15, in a joint operation between the Counter Terrorism Group (CTG), the Asayish (Public Security), and the Peshmerga successfully extracted a Peshmerga fighter in a rescue mission who had been captured by ISIS. About two months ago, ISIS terrorists attacked a group of Peshmerga on the frontlines near Tuz, wounding four Peshmerga and capturing another, Saed Ahmed Omar. A chef for the unit, Omar has a speech impediment and lives with his wife and five children in Soran district. Following his rescue, Omar reunited with his family.
- Clashes between the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) factions and Turkish-backed Islamists groups intensified last week in Afrin and northern Aleppo (Shahba region). According to the YPG, the Turkish army and their Syrian proxies shelled each other with heavy artillery in Tel Rifat, Sheikh Issa, Garnata, Halisah, Hasiya, Qoul Serouj, Tel Jijan, Tel Madiq, Tel al-Inab, and al-Nayrabiyah. The clashes resulted in the death of three “mercenaries,” according to the Pro-Kurdish Hawar News Agency. In addition to the YPG, the Syrian Jaish Al Thwar (Army of Rebels) is also fighting Turkish-government-backed groups alongside the YPG. The Turkish artillery also targeted Afrin city for the first time.
- During the campaign to liberate Raqqa, the SDF continued their advance inside the city, liberating three more neighborhoods. In al-Tayar neighborhood, the SDF freed about 450 civilians trapped by ISIS terrorists. Currently, the SDF holds 35 percent of Raqqa city after intense fighting with ISIS over the past 40 days.
- The Turkish government sentenced two more Kurdish lawmaker of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) to prison. Abdullah Zeyda, a representative from Hakkari Province was sentenced to eight years and 45 days in prison for allegedly “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization.” Zeyda has been imprisoned since November 4, 2016. The Turkish government also sentenced Çağlar Demirel, a lawmaker from Diyarbakir (Amed), to seven and a half years for alleged “membership in a terrorist organization.” Meanwhile the Turkish court rejected an appeal for the case of a Kurdish lawmaker, Besime Konca, charged with “engaging in terrorism propaganda.” The court approved the prior verdict for a two and half year imprisonment for Konca, the HDP’s Batman lawmaker. The Turkish government also detained two more HDP lawmakers, Dilan Taşdemir, HDP Deputy Co-chair, and Adem Geveri. Taşdemir was taken into custody at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul while Geveri was detained in Ankara.
- The Group of the Unified European Left (UEL) in the Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) nominated the Kurdish Co-chair of the HDP, Selahattin Demirtaş for the 2017 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize. The UEL released a statement saying: “The UEL Group believes that the nominee greatly deserves the recognition of his enduring struggle in the name of human rights and especially in the name of the rights of the Kurdish population.” Demirtaş has been imprisoned by the Turkish government since November 6, 2016. Demirtaş is facing several charges, including “insulting the President.” Demirtaş isn’t the first Kurd to be nominated for the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize: in 2016 it was won by Yazidi human rights activist Nadia Murad and in 1995 it was won by Leyla Zana, a Kurdish parliamentarian who spent 15 years in a Turkish prison.