Statement, 26 February 2018
It is with profound shock, anger and dismay that we learn of the arrest of Salih Muslim in Prague.
Salih Muslim is the foreign affairs spokesman for the Movement for a Democratic Society, the broad political coalition that governs Rojava, the Kurdish regions of northern Syria; and he was in the Czech Republic in his official capacity.
Salih is widely known across Europe as the leader and official spokesman of the Kurdish movement in Syria. He has been the voice of Kurdish diplomacy on the Syrian conflict and has been in the forefront of resistance to Islamic State since the uprising began seven years ago.
He has been able to travel freely around Europe until now and has become well known for his advocacy of the Syrian Kurdish case in the UK among politicians and the media.
His detention by the Czech authorities acting on an Interpol ‘red notice’ issued at the behest of the Turkish government comes at a time when Ankara is embarked on a unilateral intervention in Afrin province of northern Syrian which is run by a Kurdish led democratic administration.
Turkey’s bloody and protracted onslaught has met with fierce resistance from Kurdish self-defence forces and it is failing to make the advances that Erdogan had anticipated. Hope for a quick victory has proved illusory and appears now to have been a gross miscalculation on Erdogan’s part.
Ankara’s insistence that the Kurds are terrorists contradicts the attitude taken by other NATO members, in particular the Pentagon which had joined with the Syrian Democratic Forces leading the fight to oust IS. Officially the EU and other democratic states such as the USA don’t accept Turkey’s characterisation of the Syrian Kurds as terrorists. Salih Muslim has consistently maintained that the Syrian Kurdish organisations are an entirely independent force within Syria.
Turkey seems now intent on using international legal measures to repress the Kurds in Europe as a means of supplementing its political and military repression of the Kurds in Syria and within its own borders. The arrest of such a leading figure within the Syrian Kurdish political movement is a highly dangerous development that takes Turkish state repression against the Kurdish people to a new level. Salih Muslim is a Syrian citizen and has had no involvement in Turkish politics whatever.
He is the former co-president of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), in Syria, aligned with the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG), which forms part of the Syrian Democratic Forces.
Salih Muslim is not a terrorist. He does not lead a terrorist organisation and he is not engaging in any terrorist acts, not in Europe, not in Turkey and not in Syria. He is part of the courageous resistance of Kurdish men and women against the murderous tyranny of IS.
His arrest is a crudely partisan political action and a wanton abuse of law. It is appalling that he has been arrested by a European state that is supposed to uphold democratic principles, due process of law and human rights. Salih Muslim should be released immediately.
Peace in Kurdistan
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie Gingell – Tel: 020 7272 7890
Fax: 020 7263 0596