Members of Tavgari Azadi speak during a press conference in Sulaimani on Saturday. Photo: Rudaw
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – Tavgari Azadi accused the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of cracking down on their party in order to curry favour with Turkey.
"They want to ban democratic movements like Tavgari Azadi for the sake of political agreements," a representative of the PKK-linked party read from a statement during a press conference on Saturday.
In recent days, Asayesh (security forces) associated with the PUK have raided offices of Tavgari Azadi, arrested members, and banned the screening of a film about the life of an assassinated PKK founder.
Late last year, the PUK ordered the party to close its offices in the Kurdistan Region.
Tavgari Azadi, however, maintains it is authorized to operate because it is licensed by Baghdad.
Next week, a delegation plans to visit the Interior Ministry to try and sort out the problem, they said.
The party’s application for a license from the Kurdistan Regional Government has been unprocessed
This past week, Asayesh have arrested 65 Tavgari Azadi members, their representative told reporters, saying this was part of a “wide attack” on them.
The women have been subsequently released and some were present at the press conference.
They claimed their members had been mistreated while detained and called on the international community to intervene and end the “brutal attacks” against them.
Two of the people detained are journalists and a Sulaimani-based media watchdog condemned
the PUK’s actions, accusing the dominant party in the province of trying to “silence people.”
The crackdown on the PKK-linked organization comes as the PUK is trying to negotiate an end to a flight ban imposed by Turkey on Sulaimani airport that has caused millions of dollars in damage. Ankara imposed the ban after accusing the PUK of supporting the PKK.