Salih Muslim: The KDP is covering up the crimes of the enemy

PYD leader Salih Muslim criticises the international silence on the Turkish chemical weapons attacks and the negative role of the KDP.

In an interview with ANF, the co-chair of the Democratic Unity Party (PYD), Salih Muslim, criticises the international attitude towards the war crimes committed by the Turkish army in the guerrilla-held Medya Defence Zones in southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq) and in Rojava, accusing the states of interest politics.

How do you assess the increase in the use of chemical agents and other internationally outlawed weapons by the Turkish army?

Let us first take a look at Turkey's policy towards Kurds. From the beginning, Turkish fascism pursued a policy of extermination against the Kurdish people. In the past it was not said openly, but now it is being said quite clearly. In the past, it was said that it was a question of existence. What does this question of existence mean? If Kurds existed or if they had any status, that is, it would mean the downfall of Turkey. Let us look at it this way: the extermination of the Kurds is not only through war, not only through violence. The extermination has always been implemented first by "soft" means, with measures such as assimilation, forced migration, targeted impoverishment, restriction of life and expulsion. And also, the prevention of any political work ... Six parties were banned in Turkey. What did these parties do? Did they take up arms? No. They have been politically involved with the Kurdish question since the 1990s. The state blocked both political and diplomatic channels. Social and cultural channels were also closed, leaving only one way: the guerrilla.

The guerrilla is a legitimate means of defending the Kurdish people. What is one supposed to do when all other doors are closed and one's existence is threatened? One will defend oneself. The very existence of the guerrilla is a means of legitimate defence. It has never been anything else. The guerrillas have never been able to defeat the Turkish army as a whole. It only defends its own regions and villages. The Turkish regime thinks that only the guerrillas are left to deal with after the obstruction of all political and diplomatic means. That is why it attacks them so brutally. We see this clearly. This had already started at the beginning of the 1990s.

But it is not possible to fight against an ideological and principled force that brings millions onto the streets. This has been clear since 1984 [the beginning of the PKK's armed struggle]. The guerrilla resistance is growing. There are political, social and economic pressures on people. As a result, a transition to legitimate self-defence is taking place. The guerrillas will defend their people and their existence. No matter how many attempts have been made to contain the guerrilla, they have all failed. When the hoped-for success against the guerrillas was not achieved, the cruelest means were resorted to. The Turkish state does not abide by any rules. We call this war a crime against humanity. Turkey has been committing such crimes since the 1990s.


The Turkish state has also used chemical weapons in Rojava before. Why are there so few protests against this?

Right, chemical weapons were also used in Rojava. In 2018, they were used in Afrin. We screamed loudly, but nobody made a sound. No one did anything to investigate. In 2019, chemical weapons were used in Serêkaniyê. The victims travelled to Europe and had their injuries certified. But again, there was silence. It is the same with the current attacks. It is as if the last strength of the Kurds has been cornered and now they can do anything. And the whole world is silent.

But there is a point: if this happened elsewhere, the whole world would rise up. Then why are there no such reactions towards Turkey? What is Turkey doing? It is trampling on humanity, on states and on international law. But nobody stands up and opposes it. Why? International relations, relations between states, are based on balances of interests. Turkey exploits this very well. Because of its geostrategic position, it uses this against Europe as well as against other powers. That is why they prefer to remain silent. Haven't they known about these things since the 1990s? Don't they know that the weapons used here are part of NATO's inventory? They know it. But they remain silent. For some reason, the existence of the Kurdish people is not an issue for them. Those who speak of democracy seem to believe that this does not apply to the Kurdish people.


The HPG released the identities of 17 guerrilla fighters killed by chemical weapons. What do you say to the silence of parties like South Kurdistan’s KDP?

According to the information we have so far, 47 guerrilla fighters have been killed by these chemical weapons. The latest incident, the announcement of the death of 17 guerrillas and the publication of images of dying guerrillas have shaken up the entire Kurdish people. The 17 fallen guerrilla fighters came from all parts of Kurdistan. They are the most honourable children of Kurdistan. They went there to protect their honour and dignity. A crime against humanity was committed against them. No one should remain silent. Our pain is really great. We offer our condolences to the Kurdish people. It is not possible to forget this pain. We will do our best.

These attacks are truly inhumane. The Turkish army is violating all international conventions. These are war crimes against humanity. So why is the Turkish state getting away with all this? Investigations are not even being launched. Some people wanted to go there voluntarily to investigate the attacks. But the KDP prevented this. Not only the guerrillas are affected, but also the hospitals in the region are full. Victims of chemical weapons are treated in secret in the hospitals there. They are prevented from meeting with others. We understand the Turkish state, but what about the other Kurds? Why are they silent when something like this happens to their people in their regions, in their homeland? They remain silent as if nothing has happened or as if it is happening in another part of the world. The Kurdish people are angry about this. Moreover, 1,200 gas masks were delivered to the guerrillas some time ago. They did not want to fight or kill anyone with them, but to protect themselves from chemical weapons. The KDP confiscated them. The mother of a fallen guerrilla said, "If my daughter had received those masks, she would not have fallen." When we take all this into account, we can understand how brutal this attack is.

The KDP's only concern is how much oil it sells and how much money it makes. It does not care about the dignity of the Kurdish people. If there were a democratic election, it would get zero percent of the Kurdish population. It is committing blatant treason. How can those who do this represent Kurdishness to the international community? They are not fulfilling their humanitarian duty. This is a great shame. It is a shame that the MIT (Turkish intelligence service) is there. Something must be done about this. The guerrilla fighters also protect the KDP, which, however, opens the door to the enemy.


The KDP had taken a similar stance after the Turkish massacre of picnicking tourists in Zakho.

Yes. At that time, Iraq threw the world into turmoil. The Iraqi government turned to the United Nations Security Council. Then the KDP went to Baghdad, went to the families and tried to silence them. It told the victims' relatives: "Don't go to the United Nations. We will give you what you want." This was an attempt to silence them. So many people are killed every day in so many countries and cities. When the killing of Arabs causes protests, attempts are made to silence them. Today, their brothers and sisters are also being killed. But the KDP remains silent. Isn't that a disgrace? For whose sake is it doing this? Why is it covering up the crimes of the enemy? This reality must be seen now. We leave these facts to the discretion of the Kurdish people.

Why are there no statements in the South Kurdistan parliament and from the other forces?

When you talk about the Kurdistan parliament, it's hard not to laugh. The people they desire are installed there. The Kurdistan parliament has no will of its own. Whoever raises his voice is killed in the open street. People are intimidated, nobody says anything.


And what are you doing as the PYD in the face of this situation?

We shout it out from morning till night. We talk about these issues with everyone we meet. We tell them openly that they are accomplices. They are all accomplices in the use of drones, chemical weapons and tactical nuclear weapons. Who is manufacturing them? Turkey does not have the power and the know-how to do so. So someone gave it to them. Turkey cannot do this without the approval of the international powers, so they are also accomplices. Why don't NATO rules apply to Turkey? Why does Turkey get away with every crime? When it comes to the Kurdish question, it is turned a blind eye. I think it depends on the public to at least make them stop this practice. We will defend ourselves wherever we are, in all four parts of Kurdistan, because we are dealing with an enemy the likes of which has never existed in history. We will resist at all costs in order to protect our own existence, and that is what all our people should do.