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World must act to free Kurdish political prisoner Cicek Kobane from Turkish jail

KURDISH women’s organisations in northern Syria called for the international community to demand the immediate release of a medic from the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) held illegally in a Turkish prison today.

The Deir ez-Zor Women’s Council said that bodies including the United Nations must take a stand against Turkish crimes committed in the north of Syria — known by Kurds as Rojava — and secure the safe return of Cicek Kobane.

The YPJ medic was kidnapped by Turkish-backed jihadists Ahrar al-Sham — part of the Syrian National Army (SNA) —  in Ain Issa in October 2019 during Turkey’s illegal invasion of Afrin.

The militia filmed themselves with Ms Kobane, who has the civilian name Dozgin Temo, calling her a “pig” and threatening to slaughter her as she was carried away.

A wounded Ms Kobane was taken across the border into Turkey where she claims to have been tortured over an 18-month period and forced to make a false confession. 

Turkish state broadcaster TRT published footage of Ms Kobane soon after her abduction, branding her a “[Kurdistan Workers Party PKK/YPG terrorist” while she was seen looking clearly distressed as she praised her captors.

Her father Salih Temo and her two brothers Mustafa and Mahmut were attacked at their workplace in Turkey by police and deported to Syria in March 2020. Her mother followed soon after.

Last month Ms Kobane was sentenced to life imprisonment by an Urfa court for “violating the unity and integrity of the Turkish state” despite being a Syrian citizen on Syrian territory and part of a Syria-based armed force.

Her lawyer Hidayet Enmek, who was himself arrested last year, said that the trial was unfair and a violation of international law, announcing they would appeal the life sentence.

Spokeswoman for the Deir ez-Zor Women’s Council Mone el-Uweyd said that they would be standing by Ms Cicek and all women in north and east Syria.

She called for international bodies to “take action immediately for Turkey to release her” and to “put pressure on the Turkish state so that it stops its crimes against north and east Syria and the women there.”

Hajin Women’s Council spokeswoman Fatma Salim called for international organisations to “do their duties” regarding Ms Kobane.

“Cicek Kobane defended her rights and the rights of all women in north and east Syria. She didn’t commit any crime. She just defended her land, country and herself against gangs,” she said.

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