SULAIMANI – International Delegation for Peace and Freedom in Kurdistan said that it was “outraged” after scores of its members were detained by the security forces in Erbil International Airport, allegedly coming to make attempts to try to deescalate the current intra-Kurdish tensions.
On Saturday, about twenty members of the group including German lawmaker from The Left Party (Die Linke) Hakan Tas were detained by the security forces affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the Erbil airport, while several other were deported to their countries of origin.
The detentions coincided with
the detention and barring of over twenty other politicians and activists including German lawmaker of Kurdish descent Cansu Ozdemir in Dusseldorf International Airport from flying to Erbil.
“The Kurdish Regional Government prevented the delegation from establishing dialogues with most political actors in South Kurdistan. Organizations we had planned to visit were intimidated into withdrawing from their meetings with us,” the group said in
The delegation consists of 150 individuals, including politicians, academics, humanitarians, and journalists, all aiming to “get direct impressions of the situation and stand up to end the war and destruction,” read the statement, reported by North Press Agency (NPA).
60-70 delegation members in total were either stopped while in transit in Dusseldorf, Doha, or other places, or deported upon arrival to Erbil, according to the NPA.
“The delegation is apolitical,” said the group, noting that they are “outraged by the illegal deportations…and the travel bans on the grounds that these people appeared to be political.”
It called on the KRG and security forces in Erbil to release its members and allow others to rejoin its delegation to continue “intra-Kurdish political dialogue,” and push for “the he withdrawal of Turkish forces.”
Arling Folkvord, a former Norwegian lawmaker and member of the group, said at a news conference on Sunday that they aim to “break silence in the European media about the ongoing occupation from Turkey and the other purpose is to show the Kurdistan people have friends also in Europe and also in the NATO countries.”
Also on Friday, three members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (PYD) and Autonomous Administration of North East Syria (AANEA) were arrested while on way to the Erbil airport. Their fate is unclear so far.
Since April 23, Turkey has started an operation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Duhok’s border areas and erected several military bases adding up to dozen others in the Kurdistan Region.
PKK has started an armed struggle against the Turkish authorities since 1984, calling for Kurds’ cultural rights in Turkey.
On Saturday, a vehicle was destroyed
in a drone airstrike likely to have been carried out by Turkey in Sulaimani’s Pishdar area, killing four people.
Turkey’s airstrikes and artillery fries are almost a daily occurrence in the Kurdistan Region’s border areas that are inhabited by the PKK members.
The conflict has pitted the KDP, which is the main component of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), against the PKK as they are on the brink of a new civil war, reminiscent of a previous one in the nineties that claimed the lives of thousands on both sides.
On Thursday, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Ministry of Interior accused the
PKK of interfering with the internal affairs of the Region by “sending people with European passports” to “spoil the Region’s stability under peace and freedom groups.”