Turkey accuses man of terror for joining Kurdistan's Peshmerga in the war on IS

Jiyan Timurtas, a Kurd from Turkey, volunteered as a Peshmerga and took part in the US-backed battles against the Islamic State.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Kurdish man in Turkey is going to stand trial on charges of terror membership and propaganda that could result in years of imprisonment for having joined the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga forces during the war on the Islamic State (IS).

Jiyan Timurtas, a Kurdish citizen of Turkey from the city of Diyarbakir, felt the need to come to the aid of his brethren in Iraq and volunteer in the fight against the extremist militants after Kurdistan came under attack.

But Turkish prosecutors now argue that he is a “terrorist” and should be jailed for up to 17.5 years on both charges, his lawyer Neset Girasun told Kurdistan 24 on Monday.

“He is considered a member of the PKK,” the lawyer said, using an acronym for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a group Ankara and its Western allies outlaws for fighting the Turkish State for four decades over Kurds’ demands of self-rule.

Along with Peshmerga and Syrian-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the PKK was one of the major factions hailing from all parts of Kurdistan leading the US-backed battle from 2014 against IS, but Timurtas who does not share the ideology never took up arms in its ranks.

“His pictures on Facebook showing him in Peshmerga outfits are the evidence. In his interrogation, he said that what he wears is Peshmerga clothes but apparently [in Turkish eyes] Peshmerga is PKK,” the lawyer explained.

An indictment the central government-appointed prosecutor in Diyarbakir prepared last month read that Timurtas’ acknowledgment of his role in Peshmerga forces was an “admission of guilt.”

“Either the prosecutor is very ignorant, or there is some kind of manipulation in this case,” the lawyer said over the phone.

A copy of the indictment shared with Kurdistan 24 showed that the defendant was accused separately of “terrorist propaganda on behalf of the PKK” for posting pictures with Peshmerga, including fighters from the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK), a separate group opposing the Iranian regime.

His denunciations on social media of Turkey’s invasion of Afrin earlier this year in Syrian Kurdistan or Rojava were among the evidence of “a crime.”

Timurtas revealed that he fought against IS in late 2016 when the Peshmerga and Iraqi army launched the final major battle to liberate the city of Mosul.

In one of his pictures, Timurtas is seen with the late Sait Curukkaya, another German-Kurd from Turkey who volunteered as a Peshmerga medic and de-miner in the Mosul front.

Curukkaya later died of heavy wounds he received while trying to diffuse an IS landmine. Buried in his native province of Bingol, Turkish authorities destroyed his grave last year.

In 2017, Timurtas also defended Kurdistan in Newaran and Pirde fronts near Erbil when the Iraqi army and Iran-backed Shia militias turned their US-made weapons on the Kurds in the aftermath of a referendum on secession from Iraq that received approval of 93 percent from the voters.

The first hearing of his trial is set to take place on Jan. 10, 2019.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany