The Ezidi supreme commander Haydar Shesho has been held captive for the past seven days. Meanhwhile, more reasons for his arrest come to light.

On the evening of the 5th April at 21 o´clock local time security forces of the Kurdish Regional Government stormed Shesho´s family estate in Khanke, Duhok province and arrested him as well as two of his bodyguards and his brother-in-law.

From the beginning, the arrest was considered to be targeted at Shesho. Previously, it had been speculated whether one of Shesho´s relatives was supposed to be arrested. Shesho´s bodyguards were ready to prevent the security forces from entering the estate, which Shesho however rejected. The Kurdish security forces eventually took him away. Shesho´s father Qaso told ezidiPress that he had no knowledge about his son´s whereabouts nor he was permitted to contact him.

The Kurdish government contacted Shesho´s family through Ezidi PDK officials and asked him to sign a so called power of attorney which would authorize the government to enforce its demands. The government´s demands include a closure of the HPS, the waiver of the Ezidi resistance flag, the submission of Ezidi fighters to KDP-affiliated Peshmerga and, recently, the deportation of Shesho from Iraq and a ban of his political as well as military activities.

Qaso Shesho, however, rejected the Kurdish government´s demands, stating that only his son was authorized to make decicions on his own behalf. Haydar Shesho `was not only his son but the son of all Ezidis´, the father told ezidiPress, adding that his son´s arrest was devoid of any legal basis and politically motivated. Qaso Shesho is a veteran himself who fought as a Peshmerga against Saddam and was therefore in prison for a long time.

The father makes serious allegations against the Kurdish government which he accuses of being only interested in prohibiting any activities of the Ezidis, despite the previous genocide and the necessity to establish an own self-defense force.

The fighters of the HPS, including the HPS´s second supreme commander Dawud Jindi also reject the Kurdish government´s demands. The HPS spokesperson announced in a press release that the HPS was not ready `to discuss any demands as long as their supreme commander Sheso was being held captive´.

The Kurdish government under Massoud Barzani ordered Shesho´s arrest on the grounds that he allegedly formed a so called illegitimate militia on Kurdish territory which is being financed by the Iraqi government in Baghdad. Because the HPS pro forma belongs to the Popular Mobilzation Units or  al-Hashd al-Shaabi , the general mobilization of Iraqis against the Islamic State that also includes Shia militias, Ezidis are being accused of `collaborating with the enemy´.

"We are all Haydar Shesho". Ezidis demonstrate in Hannover, Germany against Shesho´s arrest
“We are all Haydar Shesho”. Ezidis demonstrate in Hannover, Germany against Shesho´s arrest

In the meantime the Kurdish government has established its own PMU militias that partially operate on Kurdish territory: The Iraqi provincial governor of Mosul stated that the ruling KDP formed a 5,000 man strong al-Hashd al-Shaabi militia consisting of Sunni-Arab tribes.

Weeks ago, unconfirmed reports circulated according to which the Kurdish government had formed a militia that also included Sunni Arab tribes from Shingal region which had joined ISIS and participated in the Ezidi genocide. The Union of Sunni Arab Tribes which has its headquarters in the Kurdish capital Erbil had already armed its tribes before without the approval of Baghdad. The same Union of Sunni Arab Tribes refused to condemn ISIS´s atrocities against Ezidis at a conference in Kurdish Erbil.

The HPS was initiated by Ezidis after the around 10,000 KDP-affiliated Peshmerga fled in August 3, 2014 when ISIS launched its offensive on Shingal region and conducted a genocide. According to Dawud Jindi, the HPS has around 3,200 fighters among its ranks, 1,000 of whom are registered and financially supported by Baghdad.

The HPS ended its statement by stating that no one but the two supreme commanders and subcommanders were authorized to speak on behalf of Shingal´s Protection Force HPS.