- The Iranian government has banned weekly family visits for Zeynab Jalalian, a female Kurdish political prisoner suffering from serious health issues. During a short interview with the Kurdistan Human Rights Network, Jalalian said “I am mentally strong but my health is failing,” adding that she has “requested several times to be transferred to a hospital outside the prison for proper treatment, but the prison authorities have never paid attention to my need for proper treatment.” The Iranian regime, which has kept Jalalian imprisoned since 2007, refuses to transfer her despite calls from international human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International.
- The Iranian regime threatened to shut down its border with the Kurdistan region of Iraq, if the autonomous region holds its planned independence referendum The Secretary-General of the Iranian national security council, said the independence referendum will “draw an end to security and military agreements with that region, and is considered a declaration of the closure of all border routes with Iran.”
- The High Independence Referendum Committee advised the electoral commission to continue its preparation for the upcoming referendum on September 25th. Despite offers made by the U.S and the U.K to mediate talks between Baghdad and Erbil, the Kurdish leadership demanded “guarantees and alternatives for their future.” Meanwhile, the White House, the U.K Foreign Office, and the United Nations all issued statements against the upcoming referendum. On September 18th, The Iraqi Supreme Court ruled to suspend the referendum. Prior to that ruling, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haidar al Abadi threatened to use military power against the Kurdistan region in order to stop the referendum. Despite such threats, rallies of support for the referendum continue to be held across the Kurdistan region.
- After the Kirkuk provincial council decided to join the larger Kurdistan region in participating in the September 25 Independence Referendum, the Iraqi government voted to remove the Governor of Kirkuk, Najmaldin Karim, from office. Governor Karim has drawn ire from the Iraqi central government before, in March 2017, after he approved the raising of the Kurdistan flag over government buildings in Kirkuk. The Iraqi Parliament decided to vote to remove Karim after Abdai requested the governor’s removal. In several interviews, Karim rejected the legality and authority of Iraq’s Parliament to remove him from office. Kirkuk is a disputed area between Baghdad and Arbil, the provincial laws of Iraq do not apply within the province because of its complicated status — since 2005, the province has not had constitutionally required local elections because of delays and prohibitions from Iraq’s central government. On September 19, thousands of Kirkukis protested the removal of the governor.
- During a “Yes Campaign” (i.e. a campaign in support of the Kurdistan region’s independence referendum) in Kirkuk city on September 18th, guards from a Turkmen political party, with support from Turkey’s government, opened fire on a convoy of Kurdish youth. The shooting resulted in the death of a Kurdish man and wounded five others. After the attack, local security authorities declared curfew in the city for the night as a measure to prevent any retaliatory attacks. Earlier this week, the Peshmerga forces were able to detain 10 members of the Turkmen gunmen, who were also caught attempting to illegally import rifles, mortars, and machine guns into Kirkuk City for militia use.
- After the formation of the Deir ez-Zor Military Council (DMC) by the U.S.-backed SDF, the DMC launched a military campaign to liberate another stronghold of ISIS in Syria: Deir ez-Zor. The DMC advanced and liberated several areas around Deir Ez-Zor from ISIS control. Yet Russian warplanes struck the DMC positions to stop their advance as Assad regime forces (backed by Russia) are also trying to liberate the city from the west side. The Russian strikes resulted in the injury of six DMC-U.S.-backed fighters. The SDF released a statement denouncing the strikes, saying: “On Saturday dawn (September 16, 2017) at 03:00, our forces in the eastern part of the Euphrates River were exposed to an attack by the Syrian and Russian regime’s warplanes that targeted our forces in the Industrial City and in the result of the attack, 6 fighters got wounded with various wounds.” The SDF also called on Russia and the Assad regime to cease their attacks, which they described as serving nobody but terrorism and the terrorists.
- The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continued advancing in Raqqa city. In the past week the SDF clashed with ISIS militants in two neighborhoods in the city center. The special operation elements within the SDF freed 40 civilians from ISIS-controlled neighborhoods in the city.
- The Turkish court of Ankara refused to release on bail the Co-chair of the Pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Figen Yüksekdağ because of “suspicion of flight.” During a hearing of her case, lawmakers of the HDP attended the courtroom outside Ankara in a Prison Compound. Yüksekdağ is facing 83 years in prison on 8 separate charges against her since her detention by the Turkish police last year.
- After spending seven months in prison, the Kurdish lawmaker of the HDP Ayhan Bilgen was released on September 8. However, the Turkish government issued another arrest warrant against him. Similar to a dozen other imprisoned HDP lawmakers, Bilgen is facing allegations of “membership in a terrorist organization.” The Turkish government has made numerous such charges against thousands of other Kurds who are politically active and critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
- In Ankara, a mob of Turkish nationalists attacked the funeral of a Kurdish lawmaker’s mother. Aysel Tuğluk, an HDP lawmaker currently imprisoned by Turkey’s government, was given permission to attend her mother’s funeral but because of attacks by the Turkish nationalist mob, the funeral was canceled and the burial of Tuğluk’s mother was transferred to Derim city. Many gang members chanted “you will not bury her here.” In a letter of condolence, the Kurdish jailed Co-chair of the HDP Selahattin Demirtas said “we condemn the disrespectful mob that dared to attack the funeral during the burial in Ankara. We want to stress that this mindset that has lost all moral and human values is a product of the AKP [Ruling Party of Justice and Development] administrators and their media who constantly target us.”