Smellie: Turkey is using ISIS to weaken Kurds

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  • 13:47 12 February 2022
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ANKARA - Stating that Turkey uses ISIS to weaken Kurds, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign Spokesperson Stephen Smellie said that the responsibility of the ISIS prisoners should not be left to the Kurds alone and they should be prosecuted in their homelands.

The attempt of ISIS to free its senior members by attacking the Sinaa Prison in Hesekê city of Northern and Eastern Syria from inside and outside on 20 January was taken under control by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) within 7 days. 122 people from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) lost their lives in the attack on the prison, where more than 5 thousand ISIS members from 57 countries are detained. Right after the ISIS' uprising was taken under control, Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) fighter jets launched airstrikes on Makhmur Refugee Camp which is under the protection of the United Nations (UN), and the cities of Northern and Eastern Syria, such as Shengal, Derik, Til Temir, Girê Spi, Zirgan and Manbij. The world's silence against Turkey's attacks, which is considered to be the "revenge of ISIS" by the Kurdish public, was criticized. Spokesperson for the Peace in Kurdistan Campaign (PIKC) Stephen Smellie, who criticized that the responsibility of these prisoners is left to the Kurds alone, spoke to the Mesopotamia Agency (MA) about the issue.
Stephen Smellie, Scotland representative of British Union Unison, which has a million and 300 thousand members, renewed the call to the international public regarding the ISIS detainees to be prosecuted in their own countries, Smellie said: "First of all, I would like to say that the resistance of the Kurdish people who defeated ISIS in Northern and Eastern Syria, should always be praised and celebrated. There are ISIS militants from 57 countries there, and the care and control of these people is left to the Kurds. All these countries need to take this responsibility immediately. Citizens of other countries detained there should be brought to their own countries immediately, tried and sentenced in their own country. It is pointless to even discuss who should be responsible for these people. The answer to this question is very clear. Their own country."
Smellie stated that the ISIS members were already radicalised in Europe before they went to Syria. Smellie said: "People from Britain went to the region as well. These people were radicalised before they went to Syria. But they committed these crimes in Syria. Why aren't these people brought back to Britain or the other countries they are from? Because they don't want to admit that they're part of the problem. There's already an issue of Islamophobia at the bottom of it. This means that it was Islamophobia that caused the radicalisation of these people. They are afraid of Muslims, or better to say radicalised Muslims. Therefore, they want others to handle this problem that they have created. In this specific case, they have left their responsibilities upon the shoulders of the Kurds."
Emphasizing that the revival of ISIS is a problem that concerns the whole world, Smellie said, "These countries think that this problem will be isolated in Syria. We saw that this would not be the case in those days when ISIS was terrorizing the whole world. Right now, they are not dealing with the problem they have created. The fact that they are not trying to deal with this is a new problem. They need to be part of the solution, not the problem. ISIS has not disappeared. This is clear. If it succeeds regaining its strength, it will continue to be a problem for all of us. It will be a problem not only for the region, but also for Europe. They need to take action and do something to solve this problem. The first must be taking their own citizens. But that's not enough. The UK and other countries in question should also help Kurdish forces in the region trying to keep these detainees under control."
Smellie underlined that, despite the attacks of ISIS, Kurds displayed a humanitarian and moral approach in the ongoing operations and acted in accordance with the Geneva Convention on the Law of War to which the Autonomous Administration is a party. Pointing out that there are 700 children in Sinaa Prison and that these children are used as shields by ISIS, Smellie continued: "The rehabilitation center in the prison is insufficient, but the effort to rehabilitate these children is definitely commendable because I think it shows the humanity and compassion of the Kurdish people. They are ready to put the necessary resources so that they can be rehabilitated. It is an undeniable fact that these children need to be rehabilitated. They need to be supported and educated. We need to teach these children to recognize love, not hate. They have only seen hate until now, we have to make them see the other side, and rehabilitation is a essential for this. Of course we have to support these children, but we have to do it in their own country. Although it is admirable to have a rehabilitation centre, these rehabilitation centers are not enough. They have to be brought back to their country. It is the only way these children can be brought back to life. On the other hand, there are terrible crimes committed and those who commit these crimes must face the consequences of these crimes and take responsibility.”
Smellie also criticizes the purpose of Turkey's aerial bombardment after the attack, saying, "With ISIS attacks, they want to weaken the Kurdish forces by attacking them whenever they gain strength. This is what Turkey encourages them to do. Turkey is using ISIS to weaken the Kurdish forces.  Of course, if ISIS were going to take out the Kurdish forces, that would be great for Turkey. So Turkey gave them assistance. There is lots of evidence to demonstrate that in the past. I don't think that mindset has changed. So the defeat of ISIS by the Kurds tells Turkey once again that the Kurds are still strong, they still have influence in the region.. And I think the thing that is still evident is they will step in and they will provide support choices either directly or indirectly, in many ways, but ultimately Turkey's main agenda seems to be to weaken the Kurdish people's resolve for self organisation their autonomy and their own defence.
Smellie underlined that the bombing of Makhmur Camp which is under the protection of the United Nations (UN) by the Turkish Armed Forces is a "war crime". Stating that the western powers acted in line with their own interests in these attacks, Smellie said, “All of these forces will act in their own interests at the moment. They want to keep what Turkey does is in its interests, therefore it is in the interest of those countries for Turkey to be to be an ally, both militarily but also in economic terms as well. So they'll give Turkey free rein. I'm not sure I don't know enough about the association in regard as to whether Turkey seeks approval for that actions. But clearly these powers turn a blind eye to those actions and allow them to get away with it. And I think that is being complicit in the war crimes that you described. You know, if you don't condemn it, if you don't try to stop it, then you're complicit and that's something that need to be confronted, the complicity and war crimes."
Reminding the UK's ongoing commercial and military agreements with Turkey, Smellie continued: "My country, the UK purports to be of proper values, and its relationships with Turkey undermines that on every step of the way.  The UK have sadly,  turned a blind eye to all sorts of abuses in Turkey, by the Turkish state against Kurdish population, other minorities, trade unions and women in order to foster relations with Turkey militarily and also economically. And the same goes for looking at Turkeys expansionist adventures in Syria or Iraq or elsewhere. My message to them as a member of Peace in Kurdistan Campaign, and I've been saying this for a long time, we should not be sending items to Turkey,  we should not be sending military aid of any sort to Turkey whilst they do not uphold the Geneva Convention they do not uphold basic human rights and they're not an instrument for peace in the region. So we should stop, it's constantly our message to our government. We continually demand that of our government and lobby them to stop that. Turkey has a choice. To be part of the problem and complicit in war. To be a part of the problem or to be a part of the solution, which means looking for peace, freedom and democracy for all the people in the region. That is that's choices Turkey face.
Explaining that the Peace in Kurdistan Campaign has an action plan in the light of the latest developments and that they will continue its efforts with determination, Smellie said, "We are regularly making submissions to government and to Members of Parliament demanding that these actions by Turkey are condemned, that we hold the relations that we have with Turkey under scrutiny. We are trying to get political parties, trade unions and other non-governmental organizations to take action, to keep their relations with Turkey under in-depth scrutiny. In this sense, we are very determined to continue our work until a final and honorable peace is achieved, until our own government takes a step in this regard. " 
MA / Gozde Cagri Ozkose