On February 24, Syrian Kurdish political leader Salih Muslim, a TEV-DEM diplomatic official and former PYD co-chair, was arrested in Prague on Turkish orders. Turkey has since requested his extradition—though he is a Kurdish Syrian citizen acting in a legal diplomatic capacity in Europe.
While Erdoğan’s Turkey aided and abetted terrorists in Syria, Salih Muslim worked to gain world support for Northern Syria’s fight against ISIS. He has always called for a peaceful and democratic solution to the Syrian conflict, based on Northern Syria’s democratic and pluralistic political structure. Prior to his arrest, he had met with high-level Western officials to discuss the Turkish attacks on Afrin, which have killed nearly 200 civilians in the past month. It is clear that Turkey called for the arrest now in order to silence any discussion of its crimes against Afrin, and to show Kurdish activists mobilized against the invasion that they, too, are in danger.
The North American Kurdish Alliance condemns this arbitrary arrest in the strongest terms possible. The Czech Republic must not participate in Erdoğan’s now-global efforts to purge all opposition. They must release Salih Muslim immediately, and under no circumstances comply with Turkey’s illegal extradition order. The U.S., which worked with Northern Syria to defeat ISIS, must stand with them again. We urge the U.S. to condemn the arrest, to encourage the Czech Republic to release Salih Muslim, and to make it clear to Turkey that it may not abuse international criminal frameworks to silence its opposition.