Turkey frees Syrian Kurdish singer after detaining him over alleged YPG links

Turkey frees Syrian Kurdish singer after detaining him over alleged YPG links

Syrian singer Omar Souleyman has been freed in Turkey after two days in custody over alleged links to Kurdish separatists.

He was reportedly released in the province of Sanliurfa, on the Syrian border, after giving a statement to security forces.

Souleyman (pictured), whose real name is Omar Almasikhm, was detained over allegations he had joined the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia.

He was accused of “terrorist propaganda” but it is unclear whether any formal charges have been brought against him.

Ankara has labelled the YPG a terrorist organisation and a branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought for independence from Turkish rule since 1984.
Souleyman’s manager denied that he was a YPG member and said the performer was questioned over reports he recently visited a YPG-controlled area of Syria.

The YPG led the fight against Islamic State under the Syrian Democratic Forces banner with the backing of the US-led international coalition.

After beginning his career performing in northern Syria, Souleyman’s upbeat electronica gained an international following.

The video for his 2013 track Warni Warni has received almost 95 million YouTube views.

He has worked with musicians Bjork and Four Tet, played England’s Glastonbury Festival and a 2013 concert for the Nobel Peace Prize award.

Souleyman has lived in Sanliurfa since leaving Syria about 10 years ago as the country fell into chaos. He runs a bakery in the city.

“I love Turkey. The Europeans offered me asylum, but I love this country and I want to stay here,” Souleyman said after returning home.

Around 3.6 million Syrian refugees are living in Turkey.

Turkey’s military has carried out three cross-border raids against the YPG in Syria and frequently detains people for alleged PKK links.

The Kurdistan Freedom Movement (KFM) and other human rights organisations are calling for Turkey to stop using chemical weapons on the Kurdish people.

Turkey denies using chemical weapons. It signed up to the chemical weapons convention in 1997.

The KFM claims chemical weapons are being used on Iraqi Kurdistan.

The Peace in Kurdistan campaign organisation: “Since Turkey’s armed forces invaded northern Iraq/South Kurdistan on April 23, 2021, there have been reports that it has been using chemical weapons against Kurdish guerrillas in the regions of Zap, Metina and Avasia.

“These areas are held by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and associated guerrilla forces. The PKK is demanding an end to the repression and authoritarianism of the Turkish state, and is part of the movement for a radical democratisation of the region through a bottom-up system called democratic confederalism.”

Picture credit: Wikimedia

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