"The KDP is afraid, that's why it won't give us the bodies"

For 44 days, relatives of fallen guerrillas have been protesting at the Sêmalka border crossing in Rojava, demanding that the South Kurdistan’s ruling party KDP hand over the bodies of guerrilla fighters killed in ambushes by its forces.

On August 29, seven guerrilla fighters were ambushed by KDP special forces in the southern Kurdish region of Xelîfan. Five guerrillas were killed in the ambush, while two survived. Haki Zîlan, one of the survivors of the attack, reported that the KDP special forces riddled the bodies of the guerrilla fighters with bullets in order to kill any survivors. This qualifies the ambush as an extrajudicial execution and thus a war crime. Although 80 days have passed since the attack, the KDP is not handing over the bodies of the fighters to their relatives. For the past 44 days, a vigil has been held by relatives of the martyrs at the Sêmalka crossing on the border from Rojava to South Kurdistan. The relatives are demanding the remains of YJA-Star commander Nesrin Temir and HPG fighter Yusif Ibrahim, both of whom were from Rojava. The action is supported by the Council of Martyrs’ Families in the Cizîrê region. Delegations of mothers repeatedly attempted to reach South Kurdistan to voice their protest; however, they were prevented from crossing the border by the KDP's border troops.

"Nesrin fell due to betrayal by the Kurds"

Evin Temi, sister of martyr Nesrin Temir, said, "We received the news of Nesrin’s death on September 2. This news made us very sad. Nesrin taught us to resist and fight. Nesrin put up with everything and went to fight. She fought for years. Our pain is really great. Nesrin fell because of the betrayal of the Kurds. As Nesrin's family, we participated in all the actions and activities of the Peace Mothers. After that, we went to Sêmalka. We participate in the action as a family. We condemn the actions and attitude of the KDP and curse them. Have they not committed enough treason? How long will they continue to murder their own brothers and sisters?"

"KDP can do anything at any time"

Temir continued, "We want the bodies of our martyrs. We tell the KDP, 'You murdered them, we know that, but hand over the bodies now.' But they haven't given us any information yet about when and if they will hand over the bodies. The KDP is not handing over the bodies because they are afraid. They are the clear proof of their betrayal. They say, 'We didn't kill them and we don't have their bodies.' But it is now, unfortunately, that there is nothing more that the KDP can do that would amaze us. The KDP can do anything at any time. In the 90s, this hostility was not openly practiced by the KDP, but now it is taking place in front of everyone.

"The KDP is a tool of Turkey"

Commenting on the KDP's stance, Temir said, "The KDP has become a tool of Turkey. Whatever the Turkish state says, the KDP does it. Turkey is behind the murder of Nesrin and her companions. The KDP is nothing more than an extension of Turkey. But if we look at history, the PKK has always stood up for South Kurdistan and saved the region from massacres and genocides time and again. It is because of the PKK alone that South Kurdistan exists today. We all saw who protected the Shengal (Sinjar) region in 2014 when ISIS attacked. History will never forget this."

"We will fight for the return of the bodies"

Regarding the prospects of the struggle, Temir said: "We will fight to the end for the return of the bodies of our martyrs. As families, we have sent a letter to those responsible in South Kurdistan. But until today we have not received any answers. The KDP continues to remain silent. They do not release the bodies because they do not want to be seen as guilty in public. We appeal to the people of South Kurdistan: Come and support us. Help us to get the bodies of our martyrs. The international powers should show conscience and build pressure on the KDP. We promise we will continue the struggle where the martyrs ended it. We will keep fighting until their dreams of a free country become reality."

"We are ready to make peace"

The brother of martyr Yusif Ibrahim, Muaf Ibrahim, said, "My brother fought on the holy path of justice. The KDP does not want to hand over the bodies. Because if it gave the bodies, it would look like the guilty party. It knows that very well. The families want the return of the bodies. But the KDP doesn't attach any importance to that. We are waiting here for the bodies of our martyrs. We will not stop until we get the bodies. If they give us the bodies, we are ready to make peace."