KNC leader says nine offices burned, 40 members, independent activists held by PYD
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The leader of the Kurdish National Council (KNC/ENKS) revealed that until now at least 40 members of its party and independent activists have been held in prison, and he claimed a total of nine offices belonging to the party have been set ablaze by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the Kurdish enclave of northern Syria. “People are being arrested and released on a daily basis. Until now, 40 to 41 members of ENKS or independent people are jailed,” Ibrahim Biro told Rudaw. “[In total] nine offices have been burned.” Biro claimed that PYD continues to harm people by “attacking civilian houses and villages.” Earlier this month when clashes erupted between Rojava Peshmerga backed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Shingal Protection Units (YBS), a Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the town of Khanasoor in the Shingal region with both sides accusing each other of initiating the fight, the shelters of ENKS were stormed in western Kurdistan or Rojava and their members arrested. PYD officials have rejected claims that they were behind attacks on their rival ENKS group. The ENKS officials accused PYD of masterminding the attacks on their offices and accelerating crackdowns on their members. “No, [the people who did it] are under the authority of the PYD, they have created the administration and they are part of them what they claim is just for media propaganda,” Biro said. “They do not even arrest those attacking our shelters, but rather protecting them.” Biro alleged the PYD banter is what points to the party being responsible for the burnings. “The main thing that the PYD has done recently is an outright political talk of the party and their antagonism in the media against ENKS,” he said. Biro urged parties who have close ties with the PKK and PYD to speak up and call for an end to “all the terrorist actions” against the people of Rojava who “publicly call for Kurdish-Kurdish war. This is a great responsibility on the shoulders of all those parties close to PKK and PYD.” Biro said they have delivered their concerns to international organizations and will continue to do so. “We will file where violations are being carried out against our members, our shelters, in those cities and how many have been jailed and [against] who is responsible for all that is happening,” he said. Commenting on a recent visit ENKS paid to the United States, Biro said there were a number of points discussed, including the situation in Syria, the Kurdish enclave and another on opposition parties. The return of the Rojava Peshmerga to Syria with US officials “was central in our discussions,” he said, not elaborating. In response to a question regarding the US stance on the Rojava Peshmerga known as the Roj Brigade, Biro said “[the US] wants the existence of the PYD, Turkey, Saudi, ENKS and any group fighting ISIS,” adding the Americans have promised to work for the return of the Peshmerga. Speaking about the recent opening of an ENKS representative office in Germany, Biro said it was done in coordination with the German Foreign Ministry, in an effort to increase diplomatic relations with other countries, stressing they will continue to open offices in other countries as well.