Seven candidates with links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) will run in Iraq’s October parliamentary elections after the authorities approved their applications, the New Arab reported at the weekend, citing an official.
The candidates will seek to represent a constituency that includes the Yazidi town of Sinjar in the elections, the Arab News said. Sinjar has been a focus of intense fighting between Kurdish militants in Iraq and the Islamic State (ISIS), which persecuted the Yazidis for not being Muslim.
The applicants belong to several Yazidi political groups, the official said.
“The electoral commission bears the responsibility of passing a number of candidates politically and ideologically linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is classified as a terrorist group by a number of countries,” the official said.
The PKK is labelled as terrorist by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union. Turkey has escalated its military presence in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq to combat the group, drawing criticism from the Iraqi government, which says the operations are against international law that protects its territorial integrity.
Sinjar is part of federal Iraq. Some fear that the PKK’s presence there will make it a Turkish target, the New Arab said.
Cemil Bayik, a top leader of the PKK, said the candidates have been accepted by Yazidis “as they contain well-known personalities who have contributed to the liberation of Sinjar from IS and its protection over the past years”, the website reported.
The PKK denies the terrorist label saying it is fighting a legitimate war for autonomy in Turkey and does not target civilians.