The interior ministry of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region said on Monday that Kurdistan Workers’ Party rebels had kidnapped three Iraqi citizens, one of whom was later found dead.
It is the first time that the region’s government, which tolerates the PKK’s presence in Kurdistan despite the resulting Turkish bombardments and ground incursions, has made such an announcement.
The interior ministry said in a statement that on December 29, PKK members detained three Iraqi citizens — Mussa Yunis Abdullah, Sami Mohammed Taher and Mohammed Shahwan — in the Zakho area of Dohuk province.
Their fate was unknown until January 27, when the latter two were released, the statement said, while Abdullah’s body was found two days later.
“We in the interior ministry and the government of the Kurdistan region of Iraq condemn these practices by Kurdistan Workers’ Party gunmen toward civilian citizens in the border areas and consider them illegal actions that are far from the principles of human rights.”
The statement said a special committee had been formed to look into the issue “and follow the legal process against the perpetrators of this action.”
“We will not permit any person or party to take the role of the courts and take decisions in detaining and carrying out orders to kill citizens,” it said.
“The Kurdistan region is a secure region governed by the legal and judicial system, and the first and last decision is for the courts and the rule of law.”
The PKK first took up arms for self-rule in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 45,000 lives.
Hawlati, an independent Kurdish newspaper, said on Sunday that Abdullah, the citizen found dead, was a spy for Turkish intelligence who was obtaining information from the intelligence service of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
The newspaper said Abdullah allegedly gave Turkey images of an area on the Iraq border that it bombed in late December, killing 35 people.
The Turkish military said it was targeting PKK militants, but the vice-president of Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party then said that initial reports indicated that those killed were smugglers.