"Around 150,000 showed up to claim that we, Basques, want to decide the future of this country,” Urtzi Urrutikoetxea, journalist, writer and member of the Basque people’s organisation Gure Esku Dago
(GED), told IPS after on the 123-kilometre long human chain “for the right to decide” organised Sunday.
“We all know that Ankara and Erbil have a joint plan to evacuate the entire region," Abdurrahman Hemo, head of the Kurdish Humanitarian Aid Committee tells IPS. "They want to choke the people here until they flee en masse."
Malki Hana says his men are afraid of cameras. “Most of them are army defectors and they may easily get in trouble," says this commander of a mostly unknown armed group in Syria.
"I don’t dare tell you who the murderers are but their target is just us, Turkmens," says Ahmed Abdulla Muhtaroglu, sitting by the portrait of his brother who was killed last year.
Sunni Muslims have set up a new party amidst uncertainties as to whether elections can be held as scheduled in the troubled western regions of Iraq. Polling for the 328-seat Iraqi parliament is due Apr. 30.
Everybody in this mountain village is seemingly familiar with the new regulations. “People other than militiamen or policemen will be fined 500 dinars [around 300 euros] for carrying guns,” local resident Younis Walid tells IPS.
Unless immediate changes are enforced, Libya is heading towards an "Afghan" model regarding women´s rights, Aicha Almagrabi, a Libyan writer and senior women rights activist, told IPS from her residence in Tripoli.
Youssef crossed the Sahara desert with a folded school map of Europe in his pocket. “Could you please point [out] Lampedusa in the map for me? I cannot find it.”
"Can there possibly be anything more satisfying than teaching your own language to your own people?" Abdel Salam Wahali remarked to IPS. He is a teacher of Tebu, an ancient language which is experiencing a boom in post-Gaddafi Libya.
Car accident in Omar Mokhtar Avenue in downtown Tripoli. Nobody was injured but there’s a bumper hanging off the back of a car. In just a few seconds, a group gathers around.
"Oil tankers won´t get crude from this port until Tripoli finally meets our demands," says Younis, one of the Amazigh rebels today blocking one of Libya´s largest gas and crude oil plants.
"I got married when I was 14 and I already had four children at 20," recalls Nafia Brahim. In her fifties now, she is working hard so that no other woman loses control of her life.
"The whole region is under control but be careful in the city centre," says a Kurdish militiaman at the eastern gate of Qamishli, 600 km northeast of capital Damascus, confirming rumours about breaches in Syria’s relatively stable northeast.
Kurdish fighters have emerged as a powerful player in the Syrian war thanks to the Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YPG - “People's Protection Units”), a seemingly well-organised armed group which has so far proved capable of defending the territory it claims in northern Syria.
After fleeing the war three months ago, Gulnaz is headed back for Syria to bury her brother within the 24 hours Islam stipulates. But it is far from easy to take the coffin across the Syrian-Iraqi border.
People run back home at dusk, just when the shooting intensifies. To Sha Mehmed the experience is familiar. He was 11 when he left his native Afghan village to settle in this small Turkish town on the border with Syria.
"The soul needs to reincarnate a thousand times before becoming one with god," says Rajab Assy Karim from Ali Saray, 190 kilometres north of Baghdad. Iraq is full of "shortcuts" to the ultimate, and several seem to pass through this tiny desert village.
“Life is almost normal in the centre of Damascus," local resident Hisham says from the predominantly Christian neighbourhood of Bab Touma. "Only the occasional noise of artillery on the outskirts reminds me that we are at war."
Zuhair Hassib did not witness the last and the most ghastly massacre in Syria. Images of last year’s Siege of Homs were enough for the artist to have seen. His paintings have brought those horrors home in a way pictures could never have.
"The Islamists’ announcement that god supported the killing of Kurds in Syria made us react," recalls Farouk Aziz Khadir. This 60-year-old Iraqi Kurd is ready to take up arms to defend his kin in the neighbouring war-torn country. And there are many more like him.
Two teams struggle to find an olive under one of the 11 cups displayed on a tray. The traditional game sin-u-serf
(tray and cup in Kurdish) is only played during the Muslim fasting month. In one of Iraq’s most violent cities, it is nothing less than a challenge to death.