HDP delegation after visit to Shengal and Maxmur: ISIS draws most of its strength from Turkey

After their visit to Shengal and the Maxmur refugee camp in southern Kurdistan, the HDP delegation reported: "People are called in the name of MIT, coerced into spying and threatened with death if they refuse.”

A delegation of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) has returned from its trip to southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq). The trip was prompted by the Turkish air raids on the main Yazidi settlement area of Shengal (Sinjar) and the Maxmur refugee camp on 1 February.

At a press conference at the party headquarters in Ankara, foreign policy spokesperson Feleknas Uca and MPs Murat Çepni, Hasan Özgüneş and Hüda Kaya reported on their observations.

Çepni began by expressing alarm at the situation in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan, saying: "While the AKP government insists on the policy of tension and war internally and externally, its consequences deepen day by day in unprecedented political, economic, social and environmental destruction."

"The instability of the region is deepening"

Çepni said that the government's only response to the crisis was more war and security policies, more prisons, racism and hostility towards the Kurds. "This policy enriches the palace and its allies. Millions of workers are condemned to hunger and the peoples of the region to lack of prospects. This is how the instability of the region is deepened. As HDP, it is our duty to stand against this system on behalf of the oppressed peoples and build a new life that is equal, free, democratic and dignified. With the government policy, first and foremost, a war is being waged against the truth. When truth is imprisoned, it paves the way for all kinds of evil and oppression. This is the reason for the attacks and lynching campaigns that the HDP is facing."

"The Turkish fight against ISIS is a lie"

In view of the situation in the regions visited, Çepni described the Turkish claim of fighting ISIS as a lie: "As an HDP delegation, we visited Shengal and Maxmur, areas that were bombed by Turkey, between 8 and 12 February. The most striking fact that our delegation was confronted with, and which we did not notice for the first time, is that Turkey's alleged fight against ISIS is a big lie and that the international community is insufficiently addressing this critical issue. We want to say very clearly at this point what the world already knows: the country from which ISIS draws most of its strength, where it builds its structures and which provides it with its logistics, is unfortunately Turkey. Most recently, this was made clear when a person who introduced himself as the ISIS emir of Turkey testified that ISIS has weapons hidden in many cities in Turkey and that the country is ISIS’ new retreat."

"The Yazidi population is being bombed"

Çepni further stated: "Defeated by massive resistance from the people of northern Syria and Rojava, ISIS is preparing for a new invasion and strengthening its structures. The attack on the prison of Hesekê cost the lives of 121 people from Rojava. The attack took place in front of the eyes of all international powers, Turkey, Iraq and Syria. The Yazidi people have experienced 74 massacres throughout their history. The worst of them began on 3 August 2014 with the ISIS genocide in Shengal. In this mass murder, thousands of Yazidis were killed, hundreds of thousands displaced and at least 7,000 women and children abducted by ISIS and sold in slave markets. Today, the fate of 2,800 Yazidi women and children remains unknown. On the other hand, there are still mass graves in Shengal that have not yet been opened. It is highly significant that these people, who have now returned to the region after the mass murder, are being bombed from the air by the palace regime in Ankara under the eyes of the international community.

We would like to recall that Baghdad and Hewlêr reached an agreement on Shengal on 9 October 2020 with the support of the United Nations, the United States and Turkey. After the signing of the agreement, the repression and attacks on Shengal and the Yazidi population increased. For this reason, our delegation visited the region. We visited the democratic self-government of Shengal, the women's movement, the women's council, the people's representative Seyid Mahmud, the council of Yazidi tribes, the Serdeşt camp where people sought refuge after the ISIS invasion, the building of the People's Council of Xanêsor, which was bombed from the air by Turkey at the beginning of February, the PADÊ party and a mass grave where 400 Yazidis murdered by ISIS lie.”

"People are called by MIT"

The HDP deputy continued, “200,000 people live in Shengal. Many people have fled to different countries, including Australia, the USA and Canada. Some are forced to live in camps under UN supervision. There are 13 such camps in total. According to information from the people of Shengal, people are prevented from leaving the camps and are subjected to intense religious and cultural assimilation policies. It is becoming increasingly difficult to reunite families and many of them remain torn apart. One of the most striking pieces of information shared with us in our interviews is the following: People are called in the name of MIT, coerced into spying and threatened with death if they refuse. Another important piece of information we received is the fact that the YBŞ and YJŞ, considered 'terrorists' by Turkey, are officially recognised and supplied by the Iraqi state as the 80th Brigade.

The Iraqi government and the Kurdish regional government have not protected the people from ISIS. In order to prevent another ISIS attack and to protect the people in the region from another mass murder, the inhabitants of the Shengal region were forced to build their own self-defence forces. On 16 August 2021, a formal meeting was to be held between Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and the Shengal self-government. The delegation, which was to speak to the Iraqi delegation on behalf of the people of Shengal, was attacked by the Turkish Air Force on its way back from a preliminary meeting, killing Seîd Hesen, the head of the delegation, and the driver of the bombed car. On 17 August 2021, the hospital in Sikênîyê village was bombed. Four paramedics and four security personnel were killed, including Yazidi and Arab people. In December, the vehicle of Merwan Bedel, the co-chairman of the Executive Council in the Shengal Democratic Autonomous Administration, was attacked from the air near his house in the city centre. Bedel died and two of his children, who were in the vehicle with him, were injured.

The Xanêsor People's Council building was bombed on 11 December 2021. On the night of 1 to 2 February 2022, 21 different places were bombed for hours. Among the places bombed was the holy region of Çimerê. Three people were killed in these attacks. In all the attacks on Shengal, civilians were killed and property was damaged. On the one hand, the Yazidi community is trying to survive under the threat of ISIS. On the other hand, they are subjected to Turkish airstrikes."

Demands of the people of Shengal

The report presented by the HDP delegation also named the demands of the people of Shengal. According to the report, the most urgent demand is to close the airspace to fighter jets and killer drones. The population appeals to all humanity to work for an end to the terror that is taking place. As the region is under massive attack and siege, the people expect support from the peoples from Turkey and worldwide. All democratic forces, women's and ecological organisations, political parties, intellectuals and artists are invited to visit Shengal.

The people of Shengal also demand the recognition of the genocide of the Yazidi people by all states. The United Nations (UN) and other international powers are called upon to act to prevent further attacks.

The situation in Maxmur

In Maxmur, the HDP delegation visited the People's Council, the Ishtar Women's Council, the Youth Council and the administration, and held talks with residents of the camp. The report presented at the press conference in Ankara stated that thousands of Kurds from Turkey fled to the camp established under the responsibility of the UN in 1993 and 1994, when 4000 villages in Northern Kurdistan were depopulated and more and more people disappeared in state custody. With their own efforts, these people built a camp where a dignified life is possible. According to the report, about 13,000 people now live in Maxmur. "It is a civilian living area with five kindergartens, four primary schools, a high school, a school for children with Down's syndrome, a health station and civilian management and administration," the HDP report said.

"Since 2018, people from Maxmur have been denied access to work in the cities of the KRI (Kurdistan Region of Iraq). Even sick people cannot be taken to hospitals. According to the information provided, several women have suffered miscarriages because they did not get to the hospital in time.

The KRI leadership is applying an embargo against Maxmur. People can only travel to Baghdad and experience difficulties on the way back. The young people were accepted in all universities and Erbil [ku. Hewlêr] until 2018 with the approval of the UN. For the last three years, they are being turned away from universities even though they have passed the entrance exams. Thousands of young people are thus deprived of the right to study and are looking for a solution. Some have managed to get to Erbil, but they cannot return. Some, according to their own accounts, have not been able to see their own family for two years."

Civilian settlement area bombed

The HDP pointed out that the camp continues to be threatened by ISIS and that the population is providing security with its own means: "In a region where almost every tribe has armed forces and ISIS continues to carry out attacks, the Kurds in Maxmur are in mortal danger 24 hours a day. At the same time, the camp is also affected by airstrikes of Turkey. During our visit, we saw once again that the places bombed as 'terror points' are civilian settlement areas."

Demands of the people of Maxmur

According to the HDP report, the people of Maxmur are demanding an end to the bombing, the lifting of the embargo and the ban on travel and work, free access to universities and a military ban on flights over the camp. The people are demanding that the UN work to protect their fundamental rights and end the attacks.

Misrepresentation in the media

The HDP delegation also visited the representation of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria in Sulaymaniyah to express condolences for the 121 people killed in the ISIS attack in Hesekê. Afterwards, a meeting took place with deputies of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

The HDP report on the South Kurdistan trip concluded by pointing out that the visit was portrayed in various media and digital networks as a "visit to PKK camps". In doing so, accounts run by racists and ISIS supporters in Turkey have stood out in particular.