Our delegation made an investigatory visit from 8 to 12 February to Shingal and to Makhmur Camp. The delegation consisted of Feleknas Uca, vice co-chair in charge of foreign relations and MPs Hüda Kaya, Hasan Özgüneş and Murat Çepni presented their report to the public in Ankara on 16 February. The English version of the report is as follows:
While the AKP government is insisting on the politics of tension and war, in the country and abroad, the consequences of unprecedented political, economic, sociological, and ecological destruction are getting deeper day by day.
The government’s only solution for this destruction, of which they are the direct cause, is more war, more security policies, more prisons, more racism, and hostility towards the Kurds. While these policies enrich president Erdoğan and his allies and followers, they condemn millions of workers to hunger, and leave the country’s peoples without a future. They also deepen regional instability.
As the HDP, our reason for existence is to stand against this system on behalf of the oppressed peoples, to build a new life that is fair, free, democratic, and supportive of human dignity.
It is our duty to remove the veil of lies and reveal the truth, and to take the initiative in solving problems, because this AKP policy first declares war on the truth. Once the truth is imprisoned, the door is open to all kinds of evil and oppression.
This explains the attacks that the HDP has suffered while carrying out this struggle. And this is the context in which we planned our visit to Shingal and Makhmur. As an HDP delegation, we made an investigatory visit from 8 to 12 February to Shingal and to Makhmur Camp, both recently bombed by Turkey. Our delegation consisted of Feleknas Uca, MP and Deputy Co-Chair in charge of foreign relations; Hüda Kaya, MP for Istanbul; Hasan Özgüneş, MP for Şırnak; and Murat Çepni, MP for İzmir.
After our visit, we announced that we would present our report to the public in Ankara.
The most striking fact encountered by our delegation is that Turkey’s fight against ISIS is a big lie, and that the international community has failed to address this critical issue. We would like to state openly what the world now knows: unfortunately, Turkey is the country from where ISIS has gained the most strength – where they gather power and logistical support.
Recently, as reported in the press, a person who described himself as ISIS’s emir in Turkey clearly stated that they had buried weapons in many cities in the country and that Turkey was their new base. All the gains that the Kurds have made and all they hope to achieve are targeted for destruction by this proxy organization.
ISIS, which was defeated by the great resistance of the people of Northern Syria-Rojava, can prepare for re-occupation and rebuild its strength. It was able to carry out the attack on Hasekê prison, in which 121 people from Rojava lost their lives, in front of Turkey, Iraq, and Syria, and all international powers.
The Yazidi people, who have been subjected to massacre 74 times over the centuries, faced one of the biggest genocides in history when ISIS barbarians attacked Shingal on 3 August 2014.
In this massacre, thousands of Yazidis were killed, hundreds of thousands were displaced, and at least 7,000 women and children were kidnapped by ISIS and sold in slave markets. The fate of 2,800 Yazidi women and children is still unknown, and there are still unexplored mass graves in Shingal.
It is especially shocking that Yazidi people who returned to their lands to re-establish their lives after this massacre are now exposed to Turkish aerial bombardments in front of the international community.
We also want to draw attention to the “Shingal Agreement”, which was signed between Baghdad and Erbil, with the support of the UN, the USA and Turkey, on 9 October 2020. After this agreement, the pressures and attacks on Shingal and the Yazidi people began to increase.
Our delegation met with Shingal Autonomous Democratic Administration, Shingal Free Women’s Movement, Women’s Assembly, Shingal SIA people’s representative Seyid Mahmud, Yazidi Tribal Council and PADE (Democratic Free Yazidi Party). We visited Serdeşti area, where people took shelter after the invasion attack by ISIS; Hanasor People’s Assembly building, which was bombed from the air by Turkey in early February; and the mass grave where 400 Yazidis were buried after being killed by ISIS.
The findings from our interviews are as follows:
200,000 people live in Shingal. And about that many have immigrated to dozens of different countries, including Australia, the United States of America, and Canada.Some of them are forced to live in camps affiliated with the KDP, under the supervision of the UN. There are thirteen such camps. We were told that residents are prevented from leaving the camps and are subjected to a policy of intense religious and cultural assimilation. It is difficult for families to come together, and many are fragmented. One of the most striking pieces of information conveyed to us in our discussions was that Yazidis were being called for interviews with people acting for the MIT (the Turkish National Intelligence Organization), and being made to act as spies with threats of death if they did not comply. Another important piece of information is that although Turkey sees the Shingal Defense Forces as “terrorists”, they are accepted as an official force by the Iraqi State – the 80th Brigade – and all their needs and equipment are met by the state.
Turkish attacks on Shingal:
Since the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government could not protect them from ISIS attacks, the people of Shingal had to create their own self-defense in order to be protected from a possible further attack by ISIS and not be subjected to a massacre again.
On 16 August 2021, an official meeting was due to take place between Iraqi Prime Minister Kazimi and Shingal Autonomous Administration. After preliminary meetings, the delegation from Shingal that was on its way to meet with Prime Minister Kazimi was shot down by the Turkish Air Force. Said Hesen, who headed the delegation, was killed, along with his driver.
At noon on 17 August 2021, the hospital in the village of Skeniye was bombed. Four health workers and Four security guards – Yazidis and Arabs – lost their lives.In December 2021, the car of Shingal Democratic Autonomous Administration Co-Chair, Mervan Bedel, was bombed in the city center near his house. Bedel died, and two children in the vehicle were injured.On 11 December 2021, the Xanesor People’s Assembly building was bombed.On the night of 1-2 February 2022, 21 different targets were bombed over a period of hours. The bombed areas included the Çılmere region, which is considered sacred by the Yazidis. Three people died as a result of these attacks.
In all these attacks on Shingal, civilians lost their lives and the people suffered. While Yazidis try to live under the threat of ISIS, Turkey also exposes them to bombings.
Demands from the people of Shingal:
The people of Shingal want warplanes and armed drones to be banned from flying over Shingal. Shingal calls on the whole world to take action to end this persecution. The people of Shingal, who are trying to live under bombs and siege, expect support from the peoples of Turkey and from peoples all over the world. The people of Shingal invite the forces of democracy – women’s organizations, political parties, democratic mass organizations, ecological organizations, intellectuals, artists – to visit Shingal.The people of Shingal demand the recognition of the Yazidi genocide by all states.The people of Shingal demand that relevant international organizations, especially the United Nations, speak up on the situation and take the initiative in preventing attacks.
After Shingal, our delegation visited Makhmur Camp. This camp was established in 1998 under the responsibility of the United Nations for thousands of Kurds who had escaped the destruction of their villages in 1993-94, when massacres, torture, and arson forced Kurds to evacuate four thousand villages in the Kurdish majority provinces of south-east Turkey. In Makhmour, we visited the General People’s Assembly, the İŞTAR Women’s Assembly, the Youth Assembly, and the Local Municipality. We made observations and listened to the people.
Conditions were initially extremely harsh, but this camp has been transformed into a livable area through the handiwork of its people. About 13,000 people live in the camp. The camp is a civilian living space with at least 5 kindergartens, 4 primary schools, 1 high school, 1 school for children with Down’s syndrome, a health center, and its own local government. Since 2018, camp residents have not been allowed into cities run by the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government to work, or even to go to hospital. We were told that many women who were unable to reach the hospitals had had miscarriages. Due to the embargo imposed on Makhmur by the Kurdistan Region Government, residents can only go to Baghdad, and they also have trouble returning from there. Since 2018, young people, who would previously have been accepted at the universities in Erbil, are not allowed to study there, even if they have good grades. Young people are thus deprived of their right to university education and are looking for a solution. Some who were able to go to Erbil cannot now return to Makhmur and have not seen their families for two years. The camp continues to be exposed to ISIS attacks, and residents try to ensure their safety with their own means. In a region where almost every tribe has armed forces and ISIS attacks continue, the Kurds living in the camp are under threat around the clock. The camp is also exposed to air attacks from Turkey. With this visit, we observed, once again, that the targets of Turkey’s attacks, which they describe as “terrorist points”, are in fact civilian settlements.
Demands from the people of Makhmur:
The bombings must stop. The embargo should be lifted. Travel and work bans should be lifted. Barriers to university education should be removed. Military flights should not be allowed over the camp. The UN must take action for the protection of the fundamental rights of the people staying in the camp and must carry out activities to prevent attacks.
Our delegation also made a condolence visit to the Sulaymaniyah office of the Autonomous Administration in North and East Syria, to remember the 121 people who lost their lives as a result of the ISIS raid on Hasekê prison.
Finally, we visited the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Party (PUK) deputies in Sulaymaniyah, where we conveyed our observations and demands to the parliamentary delegation.
In some media organizations and on some social media, the visit of our parliamentary delegation to Shingal, Makhmur, and Sulaymaniyah has been portrayed as a “PKK camp visit.” These false reports used images that had already been shared publicly by us of the condolence visit made by our delegation to the representation of the North and East Syria Administration in Sulaymaniyah. These racist and pro-ISIS accounts were circulated, and photos of SDF members who lost their lives in clashes against ISIS were distorted as “PKK camp visits.” We made this visit to express our condolences for the death of 121 people who were killed by the ISIS in the recent prison riots in the Hasekê region of North Syria.
While the international community, especially the coalition forces against ISIS, is also conveying condolences for these brave souls, we find it noteworthy that such lies and slanders are fabricated and circulated by racist and pro-ISIS accounts in Turkey. We condemn those who shamelessly serve the ISIS with such lies and slanders.
16 February 2022