Keynote Speaker: David L. Phillips-Director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights:
“Iranian Kurdistan, also known as East Kurdistan or “Rojhelat”, is home to 12 million Kurds who are dispersed in parts of Kermanshah, Ilam, West Azerbaijan, and Kurdistan provinces. In return for supporting the Iranian revolution in 1979, Iranian Kurds were promised local self-government, and control over natural resources and economic decision-making. They were also promised cultural rights, including use of both Farsi and Kurdish in education.”
Connor Hayes speaks with Jan Fermon, lead solicitor in the case in which the Belgium Court of Cassation ruled the PKK is not a terrorist organisation, about the implications of the Belgian court ruling, the PKKs broader struggle for decriminalisation, and the future of resistance in the war on terror era.
İlhan Çomak: When in prison, poetry, too, is confined
“I have never self-censored my poetry, neither has my poetry ever been censored; to the contrary, I actually hear that many of the officials here, who are obligated to read my poetry, quite like it.” Ayşen Güven from Speak Up Platform spoke to the poet İlhan Çomak, who has been in prison for 26 years, about the prison conditions during the pandemic, the injustice he experienced, and his poems
Dr. Jeff Miley interviews Meral Çiçek about the recent Turkish bombing of the Makhmur Refugee Camp and Sinjar, in Iraq.
Meral Çiçek was born in 1983 in a Kurdish guest-worker family in Germany. She started political and women’s activism at the age of 16 within the Kurdish Women’s Peace Office in Dusseldorf. While studying Political Science, Sociology and History at the Goethe-University in Frankfurt she started to work as reporter and editor for the only daily Kurdish newspaper in Europe, Yeni Ozgur Politika, for which she still writes a weekly column. In 2014 she co-founded the Kurdish Women’s Relations Office (REPAK) in Southern Kurdistan (Northern Iraq). She is also editorial board member of the Jineoloji journal.
Jeff Miley is a Lecturer of Political Sociology at the University of Cambridge, and a member of the Board of the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) and a Patron of Peace in Kurdistan. He is co-editor, with Federico Venturini, of Your Freedom and Mine: Abdullah Ocalan and the Kurdish Question in Erdogan’s Turkey (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 2018).
At the latest since the historical resistance against the so-called Islamic State in Kobanê, the images of the Kurdish female fighters of the YPJ have been present everywhere.
But many people do not know that the Kurdish women in Rojava derive their strength for the construction of a democratic, multi-ethnic, ecological and gender-free social system from more than 40 years of resistance against the Turkish occupation and annihilation. In this seminar we want to learn about the manifold and enlightening history of the Kurdish women’s movement in all four parts of Kurdistan.
Dr. Jeff Miley interviews Ercan Ayboga about the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in North Kurdistan and the rest of Turkey, and about the response of the Kurdish freedom movement.
Ercan Ayboga has worked in the town administration of Diyarbakir (Amed) and was co-coordinator of International Relations and heritage sites, including the urban Tigris River project. At the same time is active in the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement, based in Turkish-Kurdistan. He is a co-author of Revolution in Rojava: Democratic Autonomy and Women’s Liberation in the Syrian Kurdistan (Pluto Press, 2016) which has been published also into German, Russian, Italian, Spanish and Greek.