The Erbil (Hewlêr) representative of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), Jihad Hesen, and Democratic Union Party (PYD) members Mistefa Osman Xelil and Mistefa Eziz Mistê were abducted by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) forces on 10 June, while heading to Erbil International Airport to meet a human rights and peace delegation from France.
Although AANES repeatedly demanded that the Iraqi Kurdistan authorities ”immediately” release its representative in Erbil, the KDP made no statement regarding the fate of the abducted AANES officials.
The authorities released the two members of PYD, Mustafa Khalil and Mustafa Aziz, after a 50-day detention, while the Erbil representative of AANES, Jihad Hesen, was released 112 days after his abduction by KDP forces. He was deported from Iraqi Kurdistan and placed with a ban on entering Erbil ever again.
”I never saw a judge or a lawyer. They asked me to be an informant,” Jihad Hesen told MA.
Describing his abduction as a “crime against humanity,” Hesen stated that they were detained with 30 people and kept crowded together in a room of six-square meters, where they were also subjected to torture.
“We were lying almost on top of each other. There was also a mange infection: 112 of us out of 126 were infected with it. They imposed a medicine for animals on us, those who accepted that were stripped naked and given the medicine; those who did not accept it, including me, were forcibly given this medicine. It was such a tragedy. I still carry the marks of that disease.”
Sharing more details about the torture he was subjected to, Hesen said: “A special team with heavy weapons, covered faces, put a sack over our heads, tied our hands from behind. It was like they had caught a terrorist group. They took us to the general public security building. The place was awful. It was easy to torture and kill people in there. They tried to take my phone and open it, but I did not allow that.”
He added: ”They accused me of being an agent of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). But I knew that since there was no legal reason for them to keep me like that, they created made-up grounds for my abduction. They accused me of a variety of things: they said that I was affiliated with Mazloum Abdi.”
He said that being accused of posing with Abdi was presented against him as a crime. “‘You have a photo with Mazlum Abdi. We have the photos,’ they said. Yes, two years ago, I went to a congress and visited the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] administration and they used this as if it was evidence of a crime against me.”
Stating that the authorities threatened to deport them during the first days of their abduction, he said, ”They threatened me saying, ‘We will deport you to Rojava,’ as if Rojava was a bad place. I kept telling them, ‘Rojava is my homeland.’ They could never break me. They were not able to achieve their goals.”
After the first 40 days, the detained were allowed to talk to their families. After that period of complete isolation, they were allowed to talk on the phone for three minutes, every two weeks.
Hesen said his health deteriorated during his abduction. “They refused to give me medicine until I began to vomit blood a few times a day.”
The AANES official says his hopes for the Kurdistan Region of Iraq were completely destroyed after such a horrific experience.
“I never though of Kurdistan as a place like that. As a Kurd, my hopes were shattered in the face of what I had experienced. If anybody told me all these things I have just recounted, I would say they are lying. But what I have described is only a part of what we have been through there. DAESH members were kept in a nearby place where we were kept. Such mistreatment should never be repeated ever again.”