Twenty-seven people from a delegation intending to travel to Erbil (Hewlêr) from Düsseldorf airport on 12 June were blocked by the German police.
They were heading to Erbil to conduct investigations in the area, to see for themselves and report on harm caused to the people, infrastructure and environment due to Turkey’s operations in Iraqi Kurdistan since the 23 April. However they were obstructed and a travel ban was imposed on 19 of the delegates. They were told: “Your visit will negatively affect our relations with Turkey”.
Members of the delegation are taking the incident to the courts. Dolzer, a sociologist, pressed charges at Düsseldorf Prosecution on the 13 July against federal police officers and authorities who prevented them from flying to Erbil, on the grounds of “deprivation of liberty and coercion”, Yeni Ozgur Politika reports.
Dolzer, who is also a former deputy of the Hamburg Federal Parliament, said: “Peace can only be achieved through dialogue, and we were aiming to build dialogue.” He criticises the German government for preventing them from achieving dialogue with residents and political activists in the region. “It should not be in Germany’s interests to prevent dialogue between German politicians and the civilian population and activists in the region,” he stated.
Federal Left Party Deputy Andrej Hunko also reacted to the obstruction of Dolzer and other German politicians by issuing a press statement.
Hunko stated that they had appointed Dolzer as a project worker to make contacts in the region.
“Instead of culling favour from the Erdogan government, Germany should be applying pressure to Turkey to comply with international law and to end the invasion attempt in Northern Iraq (South Kurdistan) forthwith.” he said.
Emphasising that the travel ban against the delegation members is “unacceptable”, Hunko stated that it must never happen again.
“Dolzer, as a project officer, was planning to make contacts with MPs, politicians, and NGO representatives and report them. Although he conveyed this to the police at the airport, with supporting documentation, he was still prevented from travelling,” he stated.
Hunko noted that he too tried to reach out to the police officers to discuss the situation, but that they ignored him.
“The German politicians and activists were blocked from travelling. I am astounded by this scandalous act, which has no apparent legal basis,” he said.
The blocking of the Defend Kurdistan delegation also went on to the German parliamentary agenda. Left Party Deputy Gökay Akbulut submitted a parliamentary question to the federal government asking why travel to Southern Kurdistan had been blocked. Akbulut also asked how the government evaluated the evacuation of 22 villages where 1,500 people live, the burning of thousands of trees, and the killing of civilians in Southern Kurdistan, especially in Duhok.
The Defend Kurdistan Initiative is an international peace delegation, consisting of journalists, feminists, politicians, academics, ecologists, and members of anti-war groups from various European countries. It was established in June 2021.
The peace delegates flew to Iraqi Kurdistan to call for an end to Turkey’s military operations and war there and to also report and monitor the impacts of these military operations on the people and environment of Kurdistan, but many found themselves deported on arrival by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
Dozens of the delegates were prevented from even boarding their flights from Germany, and about 50 were expelled from Erbil (Hewler). In addition, the remaining 70 people were exposed to daily harrassment from the security forces of the KDP.