UNITE union has welcomed the release of Syrian Kurdish leader Salih Muslim, saying it was “disgusted” with Saturday’s arrest in Prague.
Mr Muslim was visiting the Czech Republic in an official capacity as the foreign affairs spokesman for the Movement for a Democratic Society, the broad political coalition that governs Rojava, the Kurdish region of northern Syria.
Turkey’s government, which is bent on repressing the country’s large Kurdish minority, was seeking Mr Muslim’s extradition from Prague, linking him to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which it regards as terrorists.
The union said it was “extremely disturbed” that the Czech Republic was considering his extradition and that his release was “cautiously welcomed,” though “outrageous” that it was conditional.
“Unite is appalled that a European state, supposed to uphold democratic principles, due process of law and human rights, has become a pawn for the authoritarian dictatorship of Turkey,” it said.
“The union believes that any extradition to Turkey is illegal as Salih is a Syrian national and not a Turkish citizen.
“The very thought of extraditing him to Turkey is akin to handing a resistance leader over to the Third Reich.
“Salih Muslim is not a terrorist and is not part of a terrorist organisation. Salih and the Kurdish people of northern Syria sacrificed more than anyone else in the fight against the barbarism of Isis and deserve our support. We must not turn our back on him or them now.”
Mr Muslim’s detention followed Turkey’s launch of an unprovoked invasion of the Kurdish Afrin area of northern Syria.
Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign co-chairman Mark Campbell said that Turkey was continuing to criminalise any expression of Kurdish self-organisation and self-determination.
He said: “The detention of Salih Muslim should be seen in the same way as the stripping of the parliamentary status of two more Kurdish MPs in the Turkish assembly just yesterday, adding to the brutal suppression and political persecution of the Kurds wherever they may live.
“[Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan is also eager to draw attention away from the disastrous illegal invasion of Afrin at a time when his forces are becoming bogged down and facing fierce resistance from the people of Afrin.
“It is time for the UK government to cease arm sales to the Turkish regime that has been found guilty of using weapons against Kurdish civilians both inside Turkey and in Afrin.”
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