The delegation that arrived in Erbil days ago and who were obstructed from making a press statement at the UN’s representative building in Erbil by KDP’s Asayish forces, are now in Sulaymaniyah and held a press conference outside the hotel that they were staying this morning at 11am local time.
In the statement, that was read out by scientist and President of Swiss Medico International, Dr Maya Hess on behalf of the delegation she explained why they came to Iraqi Kurdistan.
“We, as a delegation from all over Europe, have come to Kurdistan aiming for peace and freedom. Politicians, academics, human rights activists, trade unionists, journalists, feminists and ecologists from over 14 countries wanted to get direct impressions of the situation and stand up, to end the war and destruction. With 150 people, we wanted to first meet with members of parliament of all parties and visit non-governmental organisations in order to contribute to dialogue between the different Kurdish political actors.”
Dr Maya Hess then said that it was their intention to announce their Defend Kurdistan Initiative with a declaration in the front of the UN in Hewler and to visit the destroyed villages and speak to the victims of this war.
However, she continued, “When we first came to Hewler (Erbil), the KDP administration prevented the delegation from establishing dialogues with most political actors in South Kurdistan. Organisations that we had planned to visit were intimidated into withdrawing from their meetings with us. A huge part of the delegation couldn’t arrive in Kurdistan. 50 people have been deported and 27 people were prevented from boarding the flight at Dusselforf in Germany. These travel bans are political and had no clear legal basis.” She said.
Dr Hess explained how the delegation, that now numbers 22, were prevented from walking to the UN Headquarters and how members of the delegation were physically pushed and harassed by the Asayish forces stationed outside their hotel she said, “We came here hoping to be welcomed as guests, but instead we were treated as criminals.”
The statement then listed the demands of the delegation in order to stop the Turkish attacks on South Kurdistan and for a withdrawal of all Turkish troops and Islamist mercenaries:
The delegation called for a halt to the Turkish occupation, demographic change, instability and ethnic cleansing campaign in South Kurdistan. To stop the destruction and exploitation of Kurdistan’s nature. To say no to the complicity of the international and regional powers in the Kurdish genocide. For all Kurdish parties, institutions and Kurdish people to take a united stance behind the guerilla’s resistance against the Turkish occupation and to say no to Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman expansionist project throughout the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean and finally for Kurdistan to be a region free from any occupation.
After the press conference that was very well attended by local media in Kurdistan the delegation, that now numbers 22 people, travelled to the grave site of Jalal Talabani the former leader of the PUK, to pay their respects.
After that they reportedly went to visit the family of a martyr killed by a Turkish airstrike last week in the Qaladze district of Sulaymaniyah and spoke to the sister of one of those killed, Mahabad Ibraheem.
The delegation are continuing their work and have added that they intend to hold a demonstration tomorrow.