PYD not engaged in violence against Turkey, court document reveals

Turkish tanks at the Syria border, YPG fighters and PYD co-leader Salih Muslim

A secret document provided to a Turkish court by the country’s Interior Ministry has revealed that the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) has not carried out any violent acts against Turkey.

A document provided in the trial of Peoples’ Democratic Party co-leader Figen Yuksekdag has refuted claims by Turkish officials and authorities that the PYD carried out terror attacks in the country, according to Dihaber News Agency.

Yuksekdag was imprisoned on terror charges in November 2016, for a speech she had made in July 2015, at the border between Turkey and Syria. In the speech the HDP co-leader had said:

“We are with those who are fighting the dark gangs calling themselves ISIS [Islamic State]. We are with the people who defended the values of humanity in Kobani and Girespi [Tell Abyad]. We are with the YPG, YPJ and PYD.”

The document in question was first presented in another case at the 4th Diyarbakir Criminal Court on 30 April 2015, after the court asked whether the PYD had been responsible for any attacks in Turkey.

Defending her client in court, lawyer Sevda Celik Ozbingol said the HDP co-leader had been targeted for being a women and because of her stance against a “regressive, monist, militarist patriarchal mentality.”

The lawyer went onto say at the time of Yuksekdag’s speech, the PYD and YPG had been engaging in discussions and diplomatic meetings with Turkish bureaucrats and officials.

“As the political climate began changing so did Turkish officials’ rhetoric,” Ozbingol said, before adding, “we asked the court for information on when the YPG and PYD had been deemed terrorist organisations, but they refused our request. There is only a two month period between the date of the document and when my client made her speech”.

Turkish officials met with PYD representatives, including co-leader Salih Muslim on several occasions as the solution process between the government and Kurdistan Workers’ Party continued between 2013 and 2015. The PYD and other groups in the de-facto autonomous administration (Rojava) in Syria also facilitated the relocation of the Suleyman Shah tomb, belonging to the father of the founder of the Ottaman Empire, in early 2015.

However, according to commentators, relations slowly began souring after it became clear that the solution process was working against the government, leading to President Erdogan putting an end to it in April 2015. Clashes resumed soon after in July.

Turkey has consistently accused the PYD of being an affiliate of the outlawed PKK and prevented it from attending international talks in Astana and Geneva. Ankara has also demanded that the US end support for groups (SDF and YPG) it says are affiliated to the popular party.

The PYD has rejected Turkey’s claims and accused the Turkish government of supporting jihadist groups in Syria as part of a wider anti-Kurdish policy.