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Kurdish geography is burning and Turkish environmentalists stand watching

Devastating forest fires, sparked by military operations, have raged for two months in Dersim, a Kurdish province in eastern Turkey. Officially named Tunceli, Dersim is populated by Alevi Kurds and was the scene of a brutal massacre carried out by security forces in 1938 in which tens of thousands were killed and displaced. The city of Dersim […]

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The state refuses to see and hear ill prisoners

These were the last words of a 65-year-old seriously ill prisoner, Koçer Özdal, who died in a Turkish hospital last week while his hands and feet were cuffed. Özdal was jailed in 2014 and sentenced to life in prison in 2016. In 2018, he was diagnosed with cancer but denied treatment. Human rights organisations campaigned for […]

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Lies upon lies told about ancient Sur district in Turkey’s southeast

Every day there is more fake news about Sur, the historic centre of the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakır that was battered in months of fighting from late 2015 as Turkish battled Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels in the narrow, densely packed streets. When the fighting ended, bulldozers moved in and flattened much of what […]

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Jailed Kurdish mayor faces trial on evidence police admit was faked

When I first met her, she was walking down the beautiful stone steps of the municipality building of Nusaybin, a small, predominantly Kurdish city in southeast Turkey that sits right up against the Syrian border. I remember that day distinctly because there was a commemoration in Qamishli, directly across the frontier that divides the two […]

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‘We want their bones if they are dead, that’s all!’

“Being able to hold their dead body, to hug them, is something else. It must be a special feeling, to hug their lifeless body, to send them on their last journey. (…) I think that having a grave must provide some closure, the sense of knowing they are resting here. Sharing your problems with them, […]

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Turkey is selling a story about refugees, and the EU is buying it

Before the European Union and Turkey signed an agreement in 2016 to limit the number of Syrian refugees heading to Europe in return for aid to help those who had fled the war to Turkey, I was among a group of academics and activists who work on refugee issues in Turkey invited to Berlin to […]