Archiv für März 2015

A Resistance Which Knows No Borders: Crossing To Kobane

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The following report is the first part of a larger series compiled by Ömer Çelilk and Ferhat Arslan for ANF. It has been translated into English below.

The Kobanê Autonomous Canton, which has won its freedom at heavy cost against a savage ideology left over from the Middle Ages and fueled by weapons of the 21st century, has become the symbol of a new morning still waiting to be born. The cry of freedom which is spreading from this peoples’ revolution has become an object of fear for all tyrants and despots and a melody on the tongues of peoples around the world whose own calls for freedom have been silenced. This resistance and this passion for freedom has become a point of attraction which greets warmly all of those come to its lands.

Madrid, Stalingrad and Kobanê. This is the triplet on the lips of all of those who wake up every day with a new dream for life, and who moreover are attempting to realize this dream. What separates these three cities, which rose up to write history for the people against the tyranny of the hegemons, from other places from which revolutions have been born is there emergence as scenes of international resistance. Today Kobanê, which continues the tradition of these two other cities in this new century, has become a sprout of emancipatory, egalitarian, and democratic life in the heart of a Middle east entirely engulfed by the West and its capitalist system.

The residents of Kobanê – who like those living in the other cities of Rojava had for years waged a struggle for existence under the oppression of the ruling Baath regime in Syria – are continuing a tradition of the uprisings which broke out against the hegemons in the Middle East. Having come together to form a democratic-autonomous administration together with the other two Rojava Cantons (Cizîre and Efrîn) it has forged its path in opposition to both the Baath regime and to the opposition forces supported by the West and Turkey. It is showing that there is a third way.

And for this reason they have become the target of the ISIS gangs – the false messiah of this century.

Kobanê has for months faced the attacks of these gangs which attacked Şengal (Sinjar) with the heavy weapons they had seized in Mosul before turning their heads toward the Rojava cantons. It has become a symbol owing to its will to fight against these attacks. As a symbol Kobanê is much more than a piece of land and remains the only place which is close to realizing the dreams of a new kind of life.

Responding to statements such as ‘Kobane has fallen, it will fall’ from Turkey as the city stood surrounded and under threat of massacre, the October 6-8 protests captivated the whole world, and as result of this resistance and of a support which removed all borders the people of Kobanê declared their freedom to friend and foe alike. We set out on the road in order to witness and understand the revolution being built by these people there.

In Order To Cross We Turned Our Faces To The Border

However even today it’s not that easy to get there. Except for local residents returning to their homes and political delegations and NGO’s with prior approval almost no one can get through the Mirşitpinar Border Crossing. For this reason we rely on established contacts and head for the border.

After getting in contact with our people along the border we establish a meeting time and sit down to wait. When the established hour arrives we receive news that there is a further 1.5 hour delay and we wait some more.

We are Not Alone!

When the appointed hour finally arrived we meet a few people at our rendezvous point. After an initial greeting we begin to shake hands before realizing that one our contacts is missing his right hand above the wrist. At that moment those pictures from the Kobanê resistance come to mind and it is not difficult to to remember the image of that smiling face and that left hand raised in a sign of victory.

A few minutes after our chat, on the other side of the border, the guide who will take us to Kobanê arrives in a vehicle. In the car we are seven people in total in addition to these two journalists. Out on the road in the evening darkness a state of suspense grips our bodies and in our minds we are running through our B and C plans in case we encounter any problems.

We Listen To Some Final Warnings

Despite the nervous rumbling in our stomachs and our increasing heart rates the silence inside the car is only broken as we arrive at the place we are to cross the border. We get our of the car and listen to the final warnings our guide

After making sure we were not seen by the thermal cameras in the pitch dark or the armored cars which patrol the area we turn our faces toward the border we begin to move with small steps toward the other side in order to minimize the sound as instructed by our guide. After a small distance our steps fall into unison and our pace quickens.

Creeping Across The Border

After a short time one our guides turns and and realizes that we are running and unorganized and lets out an angry warning. This time the warning is to walk in a single line to avoid the mines that have been laid along the path. Following this warning we fall into a single line but continue our run. The lay of the field and our backpacks make this difficult. Despite this we reach the border wire within a couple of minutes. On the other side of the wires are the silhouettes of two people. One of them picks up the wire and tells us to cross under quickly. Without a moment’s hesitation we move to pass under. We have difficulty getting our bodies under the way. Some of the barbs have caught on our backpacks. After struggling free of the wires we finally manage to get through and collapse on the ground in exhaustion.

ISIS Has Expanded The Old Mine Fields

Our guide remains on the other side of the wire. At that moment the other person waiting on this side of the border, the one not holding up the wire, crosses to the other side. They greet each other and move away, and our new guide wants us to get moving quickly. We listen to his instructions and follow behind him. We again begin to move forward quietly with slow steps. This ground unlike the other side is covered in knee-high grass. A short while after we enter a canal-like drainage ditch. We go on wading through water which is ankle-deep in certain spots. One of our group walking in the far back must like this as he is yelled at by our guide for walking on top alongside the ditch. According to him the area around the ditch is full of mines and booby traps laid by ISIS. Indeed as soon as he hears the word mines he immediately comes back into the ditch. We continue on in our walk without stopping and after a while we reach the rail-line built by the Germans during the First World War. Its Northern side is known as ‘Serxet’ (Above the line) and its Southern side is known as ‘Binxet’ (Below the line).

Our Noses Fill With The Scent Of Fresh Grass

After we cross the train rails are noses fill with the scent of fresh grass. This smell is one of the reasons that we are slowly able to catch our breath. The nose of a young, strong youth from Kobanê fills with this smell and she pours her desire to step on this grass into words. After these words our march continues silently up a steep incline. At a place where the incline levels out a bit we come across a car waiting for us.

As we get into the car the driver starts the engine and we begin to drive forward through a field with the headlights off in order to avoid being noticed.

We Are Met By Music

A little while later our car breaks and turns sharply onto a sideroad. As he hits this break our looks, which had been gazing off into the darkness, turn to the driver. As we were wondering what was happening he reaches down to put on some music. A couple of seconds later a number instruments strike up a tune we don’t recognize. A chorus of “hello friends” echoes in the car.

Kobanê In The Pitch Dark

We sing along with this welcoming and as the road we follows passes the road sign which informs us we are entering Kobanê and we approach a checkpoint set up by YPG-YPJ forces. We slow down and after the drive waves from the car we pass into the city without stopping. Trenches are visible along the road. It is obvious from first glance that violent clashes took place here on September 16h as ISIS gangs were about to enter the city. We are now in Kobanê.

There is no electricity and the city lies in darkness. Yet the site of the rubble is enough to explain the great battle which took place here. Kobanê is waiting for the sun to rise to show us the rest.

The Rojava Report

Türkische Armee bombardiert Guerilla-Gebiete

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Guerillakämpfer der kurdischen „Volksverteidigungseinheiten“ (HPG).

Gemäß kurdischen Nachrichtenagenturen bombardierte die türkische Armee die Medya-Verteidigungsgebiete mit Mörsern und Granaten. Laut einer schriftlichen Stellungnahme der HPG (Volksverteidigungskräfte) griff die türkische Armee am 26. März zwischen 16:00 – 17:00 Uhr das Gebiet um Gerdiya, ein Bezirk in Şemzînan, mit Granaten und Mörsern an.

Weiter hieß es in der schriftlichen Bekanntgabe, dass Drohnen zwischen 14:00 – 15:00 Uhr um die Gebiete Sehit Rahime und Sehit Gafur, die an der Grenze des Avaşin-Gebietes liegen, gesichtet worden seien. Zeitgleich wurden laut diversen Angaben am Zap-Gebirge Aktivitäten von türkischen Kampffliegern wahrgenommen.

Zur Erinnerung: Am 24. März starteten die Türkischen Streitkräfte (TSK) in Mêrdîn (Nordkurdistan) eine Operation auf vermeintliche Stellungen der PKK.

Kurdische Nachrichten

Tod von Talaat Pascha 1921 in Berlin / Der Mord in der Hardenbergstraße

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Der osmanische Großwesir Talaat Pascha (l., Foto undatiert). Im November 1918 verließ er an Bord eines deutschen Zerstörers seine Heimat.

Im März 1921 schoss der Student Soghomon Tehlerjan, der bei dem Genozid an den Armeniern seine ganze Familie verloren hatte, dem osmanischen Großwesir Talaat Pascha in den Kopf. Ein Berliner Gericht sprach ihn frei.

Nikolaus Jessen, Vertreter einer Fleischfabrik, wollte an jenem Dienstagmorgen noch einige Kunden aufsuchen. So ging er in Berlin-Charlottenburg die Hardenbergstraße entlang, Richtung Bahnhof Zoo. Vor ihm schritt ein Mann in grauem Ulster. Ein zweiter trat von hinten an diesen heran, zog eine Pistole aus der Brusttasche und „schoss aus unmittelbarer Nähe den Herrn in den Hinterkopf, der in dem gleichen Moment nach vorn zu Boden fiel“, wie Kaufmann Jessen zu Protokoll gab, „die Schädeldecke klappte auf“. Erst habe er eine ohnmächtige Dame aufgehoben, dann sei er dem Täter hinterhergerannt, den er schließlich in der Fasanenstraße zu fassen gekriegt habe, berichtete Jessen weiter. Er sei Ausländer, habe der junge Mann gesagt, und der, den er getötet habe, sei auch Ausländer, und all dies gehe die Deutschen nichts an.

„Er war ein feiner, anständiger Junge, er war ruhig und sauber. Er hat alles in Ordnung gehalten“, sagte Frau Dittmann aus Charlottenburg, wohnhaft Hardenbergstraße 37, aus, bei der der Attentäter zuletzt ein Zimmer gemietet hatte, „am Vormittag des 15. März, als die Tat passierte, da sagte das Mädchen zu mir, ich sollte mal kommen, der Herr weint in seinem Zimmer.“

Bürokratisch organisierter Massenmord

Was er an jenem 15. März 1921 gespürt habe, wurde Soghomon Tehlerjan später vor Gericht gefragt. „Ich fühlte eine Zufriedenheit des Herzens“, gab er in gebrochenem Deutsch zur Antwort, „ich bin auch heute noch sehr zufrieden über die Tat.“ Der Mann, den der armenische Student erschossen hatte, war Talaat Pascha, Innenminister und Großwesir der Regierung der Jungtürken, die sich 1908 im Osmanischen Reich an die Macht geputscht hatten.

Die Jungtürken nahmen eine Reform der Verwaltung, des Heeres und des Bildungswesens in Angriff. Doch in der Frage der Behandlung der nationalen und religiösen Minderheiten im Vielvölkerstaat waren sie radikale Nationalisten. „Ihr wisst, dass nach den Paragrafen der Verfassung die Gleichheit von Muslimen und Ungläubigen garantiert ist“, sagte Talaat Pascha schon 1910 auf dem Kongress der Ittihad, der Partei der Jungtürken, in Saloniki, „aber es kann von Gleichheit nicht die Rede sein, solange wir die Osmanisierung des Reichs nicht verwirklicht haben.“ Dass er unter Osmanisierung die Türkisierung verstand, bekamen am schlimmsten die Armenier zu spüren.

In der Nacht vom 24. auf den 25. April 1915 verhaftete die Polizei in Istanbul 235 armenische Persönlichkeiten. Ein Monat später war die Zahl der arretierten Armenier allein in der Hauptstadt aufs Zehnfache angestiegen. Die meisten wurden nach Anatolien verschleppt und dort ermordet. Schon im Mai wurde der Massenmord dann bürokratisch organisiert. Die Regierung erließ ein Gesetz, das die Befehlshaber der Armeecorps, der Division und der lokalen Garnisonen ermächtigte, die Deportation von Bevölkerungsgruppen anzuordnen, die der Spionage oder des Verrats verdächtigt wurden oder deren Dislokation aus militärischen Gründen opportun schien. In ganz Anatolien wurde die armenische Bevölkerung deportiert. Hunderttausende wurden auf den Märschen erschlagen, ertränkt oder in Schluchten geworfen, Hunderttausende, die die ersten Strapazen und den Terror des Wachpersonals, organisierter Banden und kurdischer Bauern, die man zum Heiligen Krieg gegen die Christen aufgehetzt hatte, überlebten, verhungerten und verdursteten in den Ebenen der mesopotamischen Wüste. Insgesamt kamen über eine Million Armenier um.

Schädel mit dem Beil gespalten

Die Vernichtung der Armenier wurde offiziell nicht von der Regierung, sondern von der regierenden Ittihad-Partei beschlossen, deren Chef Talaat Pascha war. Und es ist eine ganze Reihe chiffrierter Depeschen an die Präfektur von Aleppo erhalten, in denen Talaat persönlich die Ausrottung sämtlicher Armenier anordnete.

Eine von einer Million Leidensgeschichten erzählte der armenische Student Soghomon Tehlerjan am 2. Juni 1921 vor Berliner Landsgericht in Berlin-Moabit: „Anfang Juni (1915) wurde der Befehl gegeben, dass die Bevölkerung sich bereit halten solle, die Stadt zu verlassen. (…) Drei Tage später wurde die Bevölkerung am frühen Morgen aus der Stadt gebracht (…). Als sich die Kolonne eine Strecke von der Stadt entfernt hatte, wurde Halt geboten. Die Gendarmen (…) versuchten, das Geld und die Wertsachen der Kolonne zu bekommen (…) Bei der Plünderung bekamen wir Gewehrfeuer von vorn in die Kolonne (…). Dann sah ich, wie der Schädel meines Bruders mit einem Beil gespalten wurde (…) Meine Schwester wurde weggeschleppt und vergewaltigt (…). Als die Massaker von den Soldaten und den Gendarmen angefangen wurden, kam auch der Pöbel hinzu. (…) Die Mutter ist gefallen (…). Ich habe den Vater nicht gesehen, er war weiter vorn, wo auch ein Kampf war (…). Ich habe einen Schlag auf dem Kopf gefühlt (…). Als ich wach wurde, sah ich in der Nähe viele Leichen.“ Dann sei er in die Berge geflohen, erzählte der Attentäter von der Hardenbergstraße weiter. Über Tiflis sei er nach Istanbul gelangt, von dort nach Saloniki, weiter nach Paris, Genf, Berlin.

Dort kam Tehlerjan Anfang Dezember 1920 an. In der deutschen Hauptstadt wohnte auch Talaat, der Organisator des Völkermords. Er war von einem osmanischen Gericht in Istanbul 1919 zum Tode verurteilt worden. In Abwesenheit. Denn schon im November 1918 hatte er an Bord eines deutschen Zerstörers seine Heimat verlassen. In Berlin traf der flüchtige Großwesir am 10. November ein, einen Tag nachdem der Sozialdemokrat Philipp Scheidemann von einem Balkon des Reichstagsgebäudes aus die Republik ausgerufen hatte.

Zum Zorne gereizt

Talaat hatte gehofft, im deutschen Kaiserreich, an dessen Seite das Osmanische Reich in den Krieg eingetreten war, Schutz zu finden. Der preußische Generalmajor Fritz Bronsart von Schellenberg war Generalstabschef des osmanisches Feldheeres und enger Berater des jungtürkischen Kriegsministers. Er begrüßte die Deportationen der Armenier, die „neunmal schlimmer im Wucher wie die Juden“ seien. Korvettenkapitän Hans Humann, Sohn des Archäologen, der den Pergamon-Altar entdeckte, schrieb dem Konsul in Mossul 1915: „Die Armenier werden jetzt mehr oder weniger ausgerottet. Das ist hart, aber nützlich.“

Aber von der deutschen Beihilfe zum Völkermord war am 2. und 3. Juni 1921 im Moabiter Gericht nicht die Rede. Es ging um den Mord an der Hardenbergstraße, und auf Mord stand damals nach Paragraph 211 die Todesstrafe. Nur wer „ohne eigene Schuld durch eine ihm oder einem Angehörigen zugefügte Misshandlung oder schwere Beleidigung von dem Getöteten zum Zorne gereizt und hierdurch auf der Stelle zur Tat gerissen“ worden war, durfte nach Paragraph 212 mit einer Gefängnisstrafe rechnen. Straffrei ging nach Paragraph 51 aus, wer sich bei der Tat „in einem Zustand von Bewusstlosigkeit oder krankhafter Störung der Geistestätigkeit befand, durch welchen seine freie Willensbestimmung ausgeschlossen war“.

Mit Bedacht gehandelt

Nun, im Affekt hatte Soghonom Tehlerjan den Innenminister und Großwesir des Osmanischen Reiches, Talaat Pascha, gewiss nicht umgebracht. Immerhin hatte er zwei Wochen vor der Tat mit Bedacht ein Zimmer in der Hardenbergstraße 37 bezogen, schräg gegenüber der Neunzimmerwohnung Talaats in derselben Straße Nummer 4. Paragraph 212 kam also nicht in Betracht. Ob der Geisteszustand des armenischen Studenten, der auch schon epileptische Anfälle gehabt hatte, in einer Weise gestört war, die eine freie Willensbestimmung ausschloss, darüber stritten sich fünf Sachverständige vor Gericht des langen und breiten. Drei von ihnen erklärten, die Voraussetzung für die Anwendung von Paragraph 51 seien nicht gegeben.

Teil einer „Fünften Kolonne“

Nach einstündiger Beratung verkündete Otto Reinicke, Obmann der Geschworenen, das Urteil: Freispruch. Das war eine Sensation. Der ermordete Talaat wurde als Täter wahrgenommen, als Organisator eines Genozids. Und der studentische Täter, der auf der Hardenberger Straße die tödlichen Schüsse abgefeuert hatte, wurde zum Opfer, das seine gesamte Familie verloren hatte. Vermutlich waren die Geschworenen von den Aussagen des deutschen Schriftstellers und Theologen Johannes Lepsius und des armenischen Bischofs Krikoris Balakian, beide Augenzeugen von Deportationszügen und Massakern, tief beeindruckt − und auch von der Leidensgeschichte Soghomon Tehlerjans.

Doch diese war, was das Gericht nicht wissen konnte, zum großen Teil erfunden. Zwar hatte der armenische Student tatsächlich im Genozid die ganze Familie verloren. Aber er selbst war nicht unter den Deportierten gewesen. Er hatte auf russischer Seite in einem armenischen Freiwilligenbataillon gegen die türkischen Truppen gekämpft. Er war also – im Jargon der türkischen Propaganda − Teil einer „Fünften Kolonne“, mit deren Existenz die Deportationen begründet wurden, die in einem Genozid endeten. Allerdings sah Tehlerjan die Zerstörung der armenischen Dörfer mit eigenen Augen, als seine Einheit bei einem Vorstoß der Russen in seine Heimatgegend vordrangen.

Und noch etwas wusste das Gericht nicht: Tehlerjan war kein Einzeltäter, kein einsamer Robin Hood. Er gehörte einem geheimen armenischen Kommando an, das sich vorgenommen hatte, die obersten Verantwortlichen des Völkermords weltweit zu jagen. Es war die „Operation Nemesis“, benannt nach der griechischen Göttin des gerechten Zorns. Etwa ein Dutzend Protagonisten des Genozids wurden umgebracht – in Istanbul, Tiflis, Rom und Berlin.

Soghomon Tehlerjan verließ das Gerichtsgebäude in Moabit als freier Mann und starb 1960 im amerikanischen Exil. Talaat Pascha wurde im Mätthaus-Friedhof in Berlin-Schöneberg bestattet. Seine Überreste wurden 1943 nach Istanbul überführt – unter militärischen Ehrenbezeugungen des Hitler-Regimes.

Berliner Zeitung

BONN – GERMANY 2015 / NEWROZ

16.03.2015 WAN / NORDKURDISTAN

Turkish police have raided a high school in Van and tried to seize the footage of security cameras.

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Turkish police have raided Vangölü Anatolian Occupation Technical High School in Hacıbekir (Xaçort) neighbourhood of Van. Police tried to seize the footage of security cameras unlawfully and faced reactions of the administrations of the school. Police interfered fiercely and rained water canons and gas canisters to the school.

Following a reinforcement police team, the police increased the dosage of the attack and broke the doors and windows of the school. Police also removed ladders in the front of the high school. Lots of people including school managers, teachers and students have been wounded due to police violence.

DIHA

VIDEO

KCK: Hasekê massacre will be called to account

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The KCK Executive Council Co-presidency has vehemently condemned the massacre carried out by ISIS fascists in Hasekê, and offered its condolences to the families and the people of Kurdistan.

The KCK Executive Council Co-presidency has vehemently condemned the massacre carried out by ISIS fascists in Hasekê, and offered its condolences to the families and the people of Kurdistan.

The KCK Executive Council Co-presidency called on all democratic forces to unite against the fascist attacks of ISIS, adding that those responsible for the massacre would definitely be called to account.

The KCK Executive Council Co-presidency has issued a written statement regarding the massacre in Hasekê on 20 March, vehemently condemning the attack and offering its condolences to the families and the people of Kurdistan.

The statement said those who carried out the attack should be aware that they would pay many times over for the slaughter that they had wrought. The statement continued:
“Our struggle will continue until Kurdistan is entirely cleansed of ISIS fascism. ISIS fascists are the target of our struggle wherever they are, not just in Kurdistan. This fascist gang that is the enemy of humanity, history, culture and nature must be wiped off the face of the earth. Following its defeats in Kobanê, Sinjar, Til Hemis and Til Temir the ISIS fascists are resorting to savage massacres out of vengeance. But nothing will break the people’s spirit of resistance, on the contrary, it will heighten the resistance.”

The statement continued, noting the pressing need for joint struggle to achieve democratisation and freedom in the Middle East. “Rojava is in the vanguard of this struggle today,” the statement said, adding that regional states and international powers that were opposed to democratisation in the region had played a major role in the emergence of organisations such as ISIS. The statement called on these forces to abandon the policies that were inflicting such pain on the peoples of the region.

The statement concluded by calling on all democratic forces to join the Kurdish people in struggle against ISIS fascism, and reiterated that those responsible for the Hasekê massacre would be called to account.

ANF

Polizisten stürmen Newroz-Feier in Batman ( Êlih ) / Nordkurdistan

In Batman kam es während der friedlichen Nerwoz-Feier zu einem Einsatz der türkischen Polizei. Aus bisher unerklärlichen Gründen wurden die Besucher mit Tränengas beschossen und mit Schlagstöcken auseinander getrieben. Die Feierlichkeiten wurden unterbrochen. Menschen flüchten in Panik. ( 19.03.2015 )

VIDEO

Let’s rebuild an ecological life together / ROJAVA- KOBANE

Why Halabja? – The First Anfal

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“…On the still night of February 23rd 1988, artillery was volleyed across the mountains blasting the village-lined Jaffati valley, signalling the beginning of the al-Anfal campaign.

The anti-aircraft missiles, gifted by Iran to the peshmerga, were stationed all across the mountain range and heavily utilized against the Iraqi offensive. The Iranians helped many of the Kurdish peshmerga groups as they served as multiple thorns in Saddam’s side whilst Iran and Iraq traded blows. They had provided weapons, ammunition and gas masks to the KDP, KSP-I and PUK, as well as injections of atropine to help combat the effects of the chemical weapons.

There were 30 villages nestled within the valleys of the surrounding region. The huge 700 PUK peshmerga force were charged with their protection, dotted also with KSP-I peshmerga, they soon became overstretched as Iraq attacked from both flanks in a sandwich manoeuvre.

Spearheading the Iraqi offensive were Commando and Special Forces teams bolstered by: infantry regiments, heavy artillery divisions, air force regiments and obviously, serving as cannon-fodder, the Kurdish National Defence battalions (Jash). It was also, notably, one of the few times that Saddam’s elite Republican Guard participated in Anfal. This was Saddam’s personal force; highly trained and answerable only to the palace- they were brought in for operations where they’d face considerable defiance. In the late 1980’s the PUK peshmerga fighters were unarguably the most formidable force in the region- Saddam and al-Majid’s acknowledgement of this is clear, their decision to begin Anfal by attacking the PUK fortress was an effort to ‘cut the head off the snake’. It is also clear that whilst Anfal was a genocidal campaign, it was equally a military operation; Anfal spanned from mid-February to early September, 6 months would be dedicated on exterminating the PUK resistance and 2 weeks on the KDP-held territory. Tens of thousands of dark green uniforms started to ram the 40 mile peshmerga frontline; to their surprise, they struggled to penetrate the defenses- with all the odds stacked against them, the peshmerga forces were holding the battle line. Whilst they kept the Iraqi forces occupied with fighting; they established a small pocket of escape for thousands of families in the east of the valley. This allowed the villagers, accompanied by peshmerga, to escape into Iran. This was no easy task as evident in the many villagers that died in the harsh conditions and crossing Iraq’s no-man’s land with Iran which was freckled with Italian manufactured landmines.

The Iraqi army began systematically using chemical weapons on the mountains and villages in their offensive making them impossible to defend. As they would drop the bombs, the remaining villagers and peshmerga would desperately flee, the Iraqi troops and tank regiments would then pour in to gain the ground.This is how they made advances. They also began dropped chemical weapons on the fleeing villagers in camps at the Iran-Iraq border.

By the second week of the attack, the Iraq unceasingly pounded peshmerga positions and with increasing low supplies of the line of defence began to falter; resistance was flailing as some peshmerga had opted to shoot themselves with their last remaining bullet rather than be captured.

The peshmerga knew they couldn’t win this battle. Guerrilla teams started to leak out of the area, positioning themselves elsewhere to mount distracting attacks, most were told to flee south to the PUK’s 1st Malband in the Qaradagh mountains, some went northwards to the Balisan valley and the Qandil mountains.

The heroic peshmerga that remained in the Jaffayati valley desperately needed some respite; they needed to guide the large ground troops of the amassed Iraqi army away from the valleys. PUK conspired with the Iranians; they planned to open a new front against the Iraqi’s by taking control of a large Iraqi town.

The chosen town was Halabja.

Halabja was a Kurdish town that lay on the Iraq-Iran border; it was agriculturally strong and the resting place of Lady Adila Khanim. Iranian influence had already created simmering Islamic movements here, and although Halabja was never in the initial blueprint of the Anfal campaign- it would become the single most merciless act ever committed against the Kurdish people.

Iraqi intelligence was wise to this plan. Documents captured from the Iraqi army in 1991 show that they knew about the amassed Iranian troops and 500-strong PUK force led by Shawkati Haji Mushir, but yet they didn’t decide to reinforce their troops in Halabja. So when the peshmerga and Iranian pasdaran descended on the town on March 13th, it was taken relatively easily- the joint strength of the forces chasing the Iraqi’s away.

A jubilant air swept across Halabja with people chanting and cheering in the streets. They were now ‘free’. Free from Saddam. Free to live how they wanted. Free to die. In an eerie calm, an Iraqi Amn cable was sent to the town, ordering all public service employees in the Halabja area to evacuate.

It wasn’t until three days later, on March the 16th 1988, when in mid-morning, conventional Iraqi artillery and airstrikes were launched on the town.

The civilians hid in their homes, or purpose built basement bunkers and shelters- shielding them from the worst of the explosions. They thought they were relatively safe…until it changed.

People could hear the aircraft flying over, but now the explosions were muffled. They were no longer large bangs but awkward thuds. They sat in their shelters with their children cradled in their arms when a smell penetrated the gaps in the doors and windows, stinging their noses as it wafted into their homes.

Some argue that it smells like rotten garlic, others say it is more like sweet apples- whatever the smell, panic swept over the people once they had the sickly realisation of what it was. There was to be an almighty vengeance for defying the Iraqi’s and openly working with the Iranians just as there had been against the Barzani’s in ’83.

They had heard of these bombs; it was these same bombs that had dropped previously in the ‘prohibited areas’; these bombs that had worked to such crippling effect on the Iranian ‘Basij’ waves. In a desperate attempt to escape, they poured out of their shelters onto the streets. Many didn’t make it that far, choking to death in their homes and doorways. Those that did, collapsed in the courtyards of their homes or stiff on the streets of Halabja – the expressions of horror stomped on their faces. A few managed to make it into their large trucks and pick-ups, fleeing as fast as they could- but as effects of the chemicals began to take deep effect, one by one they would lose consciousness and die. In the next few hours. Iranian Pasdaran walked amongst the chaos in gas masks, seeing the roads strewn with dead, as those blinded by the chemicals clawed at the earth and morbid laughter rang out as people died in hysterical giggling fits.

Doctors lay in wait on the Iranian border to administer drops of atropine for those that managed to flee.

Nobody could have known the Iraqi’s would respond like this. Talabani received the call; ‘They are all dead’ the voice on the phone uttered. The people were stunned, the peshmerga despondent, the Iranian’s sympathetic. They ferried in foreign journalists to help wage their propaganda war. Staggeringly, the US and other governments dismissed claims this was committed by the Iraqi’s; citing there was ‘no proof’.

5000 were killed on that day in Halabja. Several thousand followed in the coming months and years. 10 thousand were injured and new scars appear in the form of birth defects and disabilities.

Halabja was abandoned; the Iraqi’s returned four months later to find rotting bodies still on the streets. Halabja was levelled.

The message from Iraq, ‘Chemical Ali’ and Saddam was clear; they no longer cared- it was time for the Kurds to die.

“I will kill them all with chemical weapons! Who is going to say anything? The international community? Fuck them! The international community and those who listen to them. Even if the war with Iran stops and the Iranians withdraw from all occupied lands, I will not negotiate with him [Talabani]…” -A recording of ‘Chemical Ali’ declares plainly his villainous intent. Dated May 26, 1988,

Kurdish morale hit an all-time low. The peshmerga defence of Sergalou collapsed three days after Halabja- the day after; Bergalou followed.

The first Anfal had taken the Iraqi army three weeks to overrun the PUK headquarters, destroying all the villages in the region also- in the same time, the world had watched them annihilate Halabja. Thousands of civilians had perished and over 300 peshmerga had been killed.

In a haunting communiqué to the Kurdish people; the Iraqi army announced their victory.

“Our forces attacked the headquarters of the rebellion led by traitor Jalal Talabani, the agent to the Iranian regime, the enemy of the Arabs and Kurds, in the Sergalou, Bergalou and Zewa areas and in the rough mountainous areas in Suleimaniyeh. At 1300 today, after a brave and avenging battle with the traitors, the headquarters of the rebellion was occupied…Many were killed and others escaped in shame.

This is unique bravery and faithfulness. This is a struggle admired by the entire world, the struggle of leader Saddam Hussein’s people, Arabs and Kurds, who placed themselves in the service of the homeland and gave their love and faithfulness to their great leader, the symbol of their victory and title of their prosperity.

Praise be to God for His victory. Shame to the ignominious.”

[signed] The Armed Forces General Command, 19 March 1988

A dreadful feeling widened the eyes of the Kurds; the climax had arrived.

This was to be the Kurdish Apocalypse.”

Kurdish Question

First school opened in Kobanê

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As part of the reconstruction works in Kobanê, a primary school has been opened under the leadership of 10 teachers who had been providing education in the schools in the town before the attacks of ISIS gangs began.

Thousands of Kobanê citizens have turned back to their hometown which was liberated by YPG/YPJ (People’s/Women’s Defense Units) after three months of heroic resistance to the occupation attempt and attacks of ISIS gangs.

While the needs of the returnees are being met through in a communal way, the people are trying to rebuild the life in the town with restricted opportunities. Volunteers are performing an intense work, also with regards to education in the face of the increasing number of children among those turning back to the war-torn town.

As part of the reconstruction works, a primary school has been opened under the leadership of 10 teachers who had been providing education in the schools in the town before the attacks of ISIS gangs began. Training materials in the school, which has 8 classes, consist only the already available materials left after the months-long battle.

A total of 250 children are provided education in the Martyr Osman primary school which has already entered the second week of training.

Hosting the students in two separate sessions, the school provides education for the pupils at 7-10 age group in the morning and those at 11-15 age group in the afternoon.

The daily program of the school begins with the Kurdish anthem ‘Ey reqip’.

The children attending the school in the morning receive courses on Life and Environment, Mathematics, Physical Education, Music, while those attending in the afternoon are given Kurdish, Arabic and English education.

One of the teachers, Ruken Muhammed, tells that all educational institutions in the town have been destroyed in the ISIS attacks, adding; “We have reopened this school through our own means in order to make sure the children who have been severely affected by the battle can live their childhood and continue their interrupted education.

Muhammed notes that they lack training materials, adding; “We are waiting for the support of all people, institutions and establishments to enable the children of Kobanê to grow up with the education they need, not in a conflict psychology.

You can also help by donating money. Here is Kobanê Reconstructing Board Bank Account:

Kobane Reconstruction Board
IBAN: DE96 1005 0000 0190 3910 90
BIC: BELADEBEXXX

Thank you!

Kurdish Red Crescents
ANF




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