- Joint forces from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Ministry of Intelligence continued their arrest campaign against Kurdish activists and participants in the recent protests in Iran. Hundreds of protesters remain imprisoned as new waves of arrests took place in Kermanshah, Orumiyeh, Mahabad, Sanandaj, Mariwan, and Bokan. The two exiled Kurdish parties of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PKD-I) and the Society of Revolutionary Toilers (Komala) released a joint statement calling on “the international community and human rights organizations to take a stance against the Iranian regime’s crackdown on peaceful demonstrators in several cities and towns across Iran.” With countless protesters remaining missing, the names and identities of many of these Kurdish students and activists were recently revealed by their families and friends. On a different front, since the launch of the “Zagros” resistance campaign, the KDP-I announced that they will begin attacking the IRGC in retaliation for the continued arrest and killing of Kurdish civilians in Iran.
- A Kurdish wedding singer, Payman Mirzada, was sentenced to six months in prison for singing Pro-Kurdish nationalist songs during a wedding in December of 2017. Mirzada is from a village near Urmia city.
- Two Kurdish border workers (also known as Kolbars) have died since early January 2018. One of the Kolbars was shot and killed by Iranian regime border guards while in his vehicle in Sardashet. The second Kurdish Kolbar died in an avalanche.
- After two meetings between delegations from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi government, the two sides were able to reach a consensus and sign an agreement to reopen the airports in the Kurdistan region to international flights. The agreement, which is currently awaiting approval from Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, consists of six points — including supervision of the airports by the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority. Since early October 2017, after the KRG’s Independence Referendum, the federal government of Iraq has shut down two airports in Kurdistan, barring them from international flights.
- On January 15, the Kirkuk Political Bureau of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) announced its boycott of the upcoming elections in Kirkuk and the disputed territories. The KDP described Kirkuk as being “under military occupation,” specifically in reference to the Iranian-backed militias and Iraqi military forces still present in the area since October 16, 2017. The KDP statement also said that the political party will not do anything to legitimize the occupation.
- After the withdrawal of the Islamic Group and the Change party from the KRG, the Islamic Union is holding an unorthodox, ad hoc leadership meeting to decide whether to stay or withdraw from the KRG. In the last two weeks, the Islamic Union party has met twice with KRG representatives, headed by the Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, regarding demands from the Kurdistan government for the Islamic Union to remain within the KRG.
- On Wednesday January 10, the local council of Tuz Khurmatu town voted in favor of removing the Kurdish mayor of the town of Shalal Abdul. The Mayor rejected the decision and vowed to appeal the decision to the Iraqi courts. The Tuz Khurmatu council consists of 7 members, including Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen. This recent vote took place in the absence of the council’s Kurdish and Arab members. The town’s displaced Kurds and Sunni Arabs have yet to return to Tuz Khurmatu amid the presence of Iranian-backed Shia militias in the area.
- A few days after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeated his threat to invade the Kurdish city of Afrin, in western Syria, the Turkish military and its Islamist militant affiliates began bombing Afrin and its suburbs. The attacks intensified after the Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG) responded in to protect the area. According to sources in Afrin, the bombings are sporadic. There are also various reports of Turkish troops preparing to mobilization in the area, especially after Erdogan opening up another border crossing between Turkey and Afrin. The council of Afrin canton denounced Turkish attempts to occupy the city and promised “lawful defense” against this aggression. The local council of Afrin, which is part of the Northern Syrian Federation, called on international forces to intervene, saying: “we, in Afrin canton, call for all the regional forces that are activate in the area, all the international institutions, and Human Rights organizations to conduct their role, and prevent the Turkish state from targeting the civilians and the safe areas.” Also, in reaction to this recent aggression from Turkey, the former Co-president of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) Salih Muslim said “as the Kobani people resisted and liberated it, Afrin’s resistance will be greater.” As of January 15, the Turkish military build up has only increased, as photos of trucks carrying tanks were posted on social media.
- The U.S.-led coalition in Syria plans to form a new border force made up of 30,000 troops. This new force will be organized in territory currently controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the Northern Syrian Federation.
- After 14 months of imprisonment, Selahattin Demirtas, the Co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was given permission from the General Court of Istanbul to attend his hearing for the first time, but under a high-security presence. During the hearing, about one thousands HDP supporters gathered by the court and chanted slogans like “Selahattin Demirtas is our pride,” and “shoulder to shoulder against fascism”.
- The Turkish Parliament dismissed Kurdish veteran politician Leyla Zana from her membership in the Parliament on January 9. The majority voted to strip Zana from her membership after they accused Zana of not taking her parliamentary oath. Zana was stripped of her Parliamentarian status before in 1994 when she took part of her oath in Kurdish. She was jailed for 10 years for using the Kurdish language in the Turkish parliament.
- The Çatak Criminal Court of General Jurisdiction of Van Province sentenced HDP Kurdish lawmaker Botan Lezgin to two years in prison and a fine of $3,300. The court charged Lezgin with “insulting a public officer” during a speech in 2015 during an election campaign.