Residents in Maxmur Camp: What KDP did to us was worse than what the enemy did

The KDP is particularly brutal against residents of the self-governing refugee camp in Maxmur. Residents report torture and threats.

Around 12,000 people live in the self-governing refugee camp Şehîd Rûstem Cûdi (Maxmur). The families come from North Kurdistan and fled to South Kurdistan in 1994, particularly as a result of the destruction of villages in the province of Şirnak. Instead of individually looking for ways to continue fleeing, people organized themselves and created a new, grassroots democratic life in the refugee camp. However, South Kurdistan is ruled by a puppet government at Ankara's mercy. The Barzani clan and its party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party - KDP, are clinging to power with the help of Ankara. Therefore, the camp has been subjected to countless reprisals by the KDP, as well as Turkish attacks, in its history.

ANF correspondents spoke to Sukrî Nêrwehî and Tekîn Qewalî, residents of the camp, about the situation.

Murders and threats from KDP from the start

Camp resident Şukrî Nêrwehî recalled the early days of the camp: “Because of the tyranny of the Turkish state, we decided to go to South Kurdistan, where Kurds live, where we have a country. Because a revolution had taken place in South Kurdistan, and many people from Botan and our tribe took part in this revolution as Peshmerga. That's why we went south. Unfortunately, we came from North Kurdistan and we were housed in those camps. What happened then? Three people disappeared from the camp. As camp residents, we decided to find out what happened to these people. About a hundred of us went to the security forces. Neçirvan Barzani came, and a meeting took place. At this meeting, Neçirvan Barzani said at the beginning what should have been said at the end. He said that anyone who does not belong to the Barzani family and rebels in South Kurdistan will have their skulls crushed. I will never forget these words from Neçirvan Barzani.

Silence means destruction of the Kurdish people

So he said he would do what the enemy did not do against the Kurdish gains. There is not a single day when the Kurdish people do not face this betrayal. The KDP commits this betrayal in both South Kurdistan, Rojava, North and East Kurdistan, especially when elections are taking place. Even today the enemy is supported in every way. That's evil. The Kurdish people, especially the people of southern Kurdistan, must defend themselves against this. There are those who take a stand, but silence means the destruction of the Kurdish people.”

Nêrwehî added: “Why do they betray our children, our friends? A few days ago, two friends were ambushed by one of them. What morality, what religion approves of something like that? We demand that the people of South Kurdistan stand up to the people who do these things. Position yourself against the attitude of the Barzani clan. The Barzani family does not care about what is lost in the four parts of Kurdistan. It ignores the four parts of Kurdistan in order to maintain its own power. If you look at history, Idris Barzani is seen as a pioneer from a national perspective. Nobody can deny that. Neçirvan is his son, but as long as he follows this backward mentality, I will never see him as his son.”

Agents are not locked up for even a day

Nêrwehî himself experienced the repression of the KDP. He said about his arrest: “In 2015, I was arrested by the KDP in Mêrge Şîşê. Aştî Koçer said: 'You are a PKK member, you joined the PKK.' I said: 'If I were a PKK member, then Mesrûr (Barzani) would also be a PKK member because he also lives in Mêrge Şîşê. ' Then I said: 'That's right, I'm a PKK member, I'm a Kurd. My thoughts are those of the PKK. That's why we don't have any bad intentions. Rêber Apo did not teach us bad consciousness.’ In other words, the Apoist philosophy taught us that we should live in brotherhood and peace. I was detained as if I had done something bad. I was detained for 20 days. Once a day, they came to photograph me.

So should we treat Kurds like this? I even told them that they didn't keep agents in jail for even a day, but they keep us captive here. At that time, for example, some members of the Iranian Hezbollah came to Iraq and Syria, but they were not arrested either. I was released thanks to the efforts of a lawyer friend of my father, but I was told that I would only be released if I did not enter Kurdistan, i.e. Hewler, on the way to Maxmur. I told them that Mosul is also Kurdistan. They said no, you will travel to Maxmur via Mosul. That night they sent me to Mosul and I traveled via Mosul to Maxmur, so I was released.”

I was threatened

In 2018, Tekîn Qewalî traveled to Şemdinli (Şemzînan) in North Kurdistan to earn some money there. When he returned, he experienced reprisals from the KDP. He said: “After we finished our work, we returned from Şemdinli and came to the Zawîte Valley. There they forced us to follow them and directed us to the Security Forces Directorate in Duhok. We were surrounded by vehicles there. Then they took us out of our cars as if we had committed something wrong. During the search, nothing was found that could have posed a danger. Even though it was brief, it was painful. Their attitude and the way they acted was completely unethical. You shouldn't behave like that, even towards an enemy. I mean, on the one hand, they speak Kurdish, and on the other hand, they behave that way. They discriminated against us and even told us that they would extradite us to Turkey and even 'sell' us at the Xabûr border crossing. They threatened us again with torture and beatings. What was the reason for this? We went to Şemdinli to support our families. We worked there. That was enough for them. If we had really done something, they would have found something with us, but they found nothing.”

A year of interrogations and abuse

Qewalî continued: “We were arrested not only at the request of the KDP secret service but also the Turkish state secret service because we had some Turkish messages on our phones. They knew it, they read it to us. It was clear that they were working with Turkish intelligence. Hundreds of people changed their attitude when they learned that we were from Maxmur. That's why they wanted to force us to say that we were comrades, guerrillas. Even though we had refugee cards, even though we said that we were married, that we had a family, that we supported our family, they put pressure on us. For example, they always asked me the question: In which part of Kurdistan, in which region did you work as a guerrilla, what was your task there? In other words, they wanted us to admit that we were members of the guerrillas. Even when we rejected it, they kept trying another way. They blindfolded us, handcuffed us, and left us alone in the dark to scare us. But we didn't give in. We told the truth. That's why we were there for a long time. There is nothing there that can be called law. Six months or a year of interrogations passed before I appeared in court.”

Even in Turkish custody, I have never experienced such treatment

Qewalî added: “At that time they threatened me that if I came to the Behdinan region again, they would kill me and hand me over to Turkey. Now I am forbidden to go to Behdinan. If I go there, they will either kill me or extradite me to Turkey. I was released under this condition and even had to sign a corresponding document. In the end, nothing could be proven against us and some people intervened and so we were released. I have also been arrested in other places. I have been arrested several times in North Kurdistan, but nowhere have I experienced such unjust and dirty actions. Even when they told me that they would extradite me to Turkey, I said: You are Kurdish, I am Kurdish, but if your conscience allows it, then extradite me. I was very sad to have to say those words. There really are a lot of things to talk about, but because these people act so immorally and brutally, many people don't want to talk anymore. The KDP may be in a different situation, but we still want it to turn away from this betrayal. Now three cities such as Hewlêr, Duhok and Zakho are completely Turkish.”