The International Delegation for Peace and Freedom in Kurdistan had been planning to meet with Kurdish political representatives in the autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, run by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
The delegation announced that they were trying to establish contacts in the region with regard to Turkey’s ongoing military campaign in the mountainous range of Zap, Metina and Avashin, known as the Medya Defence Zones of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and to promote a political solution and dialogue to prevent a possible intra-Kurdish conflict in the region.
However, some members of the delegation, which consisted of 150 people from fourteen different countries, were prevented by German and KRG authorities from travelling. The members of a peace delegation arriving in Iraqi Kurdistan were detained on 12 June at Erbil (Hewlêr) airport in Iraqi Kurdistan. A group of politicians, intellectuals and journalists also refused to eat while waiting in the airport to be deported, in protest against the KRG’s actions.
More delegates on 12 June, including German MPs heading to Iraqi Kurdistan, were blocked by police at Düsseldorf airport. Twenty-seven delegates were detained by the police and had their passports confiscated. The International Delegation for Peace and Freedom in Kurdistan issued a written statement regarding the obstacles they faced in Erbil and Dusseldorf and called upon Turkey to withdraw from the region, ANF reported.
“We, as a delegation from across Europe, have come to Kurdistan with the aim of achieving peace and freedom. Politicians, academics, human rights activists, trades unionists, journalists, feminists, and ecologists from 14 countries wanted to view the situation at first hand and take a stand to end the war and destruction,” the delegation said.
“With 150 people, we wanted to establish a dialogue with members of parliament of all parties and visit non-governmental organisations in order to contribute to a dialogue between the different Kurdish political players.”
The delegation also stated that “the invasion by the Turkish military is a blatant violation of international law, and is without doubt unacceptable. We are sad to observe that the international community remains silent and inactive on this issue, taking no action to insist on Turkey’s compliance with international codes and human rights law.”
“The Kurdish Regional Government,” the delegation further noted, “prevented the delegation from establishing dialogue with most political players in South Kurdistan. Organisations we had planned to visit were intimidated into withdrawing from their meetings with us. A large part of the delegation has been unable to get to Kurdistan. Twenty-five people so far have either been deported or are about to be. Furthermore, at least 27 people were held at Dusseldorf airport in Germany and prevented from even departing for Kurdistan.”
The delegation further added: “We are outraged by the illegal deportations of our international friends, carried out by the Kurdish Regional Government, and by the travel bans on the grounds that these people ‘appeared to be political’ with no legal basis. Free media coverage and engagement of civil society are components of every vital democracy, and there is no legitimate reason for this repression we are facing.
“We have spared no pains in order to support peace, and we have been welcomed in South Kurdistan. We have taken trips to see cultural, religious, and historical places and have been invited to start a conversation with Baba Șeix, the highest religious representative of the Êzîdî community.
“In the Êzîdî refugee camp Șarya, which suffered from a big fire about a week ago, we spoke to people that are especially affected by the war, displacement and destruction. The friendship and hospitality we experienced from people living here warms our hearts, and motivates us even more to work towards our goal. We are here to be in solidarity with the Kurdish people, and with all ethnic and religious groups of Kurdistan.
“We are internationalists, and we do not represent any Kurdish parties or specific political movements. We stand against the colonisation of Kurdistan by external states. We are not here to stand against any Kurdish parties. Quite the contrary, we want to support a dialogue between all different views. It is not about a Kurdish problem, but aggression coming from the Turkish state and Turkish military, directed at the local people and the ecosystems of the Kurdish regions. This situation is a trap: creating problems between Kurds, with the worrying potential to escalate into armed conflict, which would endanger peace and the future of the whole Middle East.”
The Delegation for Peace urged all Kurdish parties of a possible conflict to find a political solution and listed their three urgent demands as follows: “All delegation members who were arrested or deported at one of the airports should be set free and granted permission to join the rest of the delegation. All Kurdish political actors should return to dialogue with each other. We call on all international humanitarian organisations and political institutions to support a peaceful solution. The Turkish state and military must immediately withdraw from the whole region.”