Czech couple involved with Kurdish group facing terror charges in Turkey

Two Czechs involved with the Kurdish Peoples Protection Unit in northern Syria have been and charged with terrorism and gun running by the Turkish authorities. But are the pair really terrorists or just naïve idealists? And what fate awaits them now?

Markéta Všelichová, Miroslav Farkas, photo: Sirnak Police, Mete SohtaoğluMarkéta Všelichová, Miroslav Farkas, photo: Sirnak Police, Mete Sohtaoğlu Miroslav Farkas and Markéta Všelichová were arrested in Sirnak in southeastern Turkey as they were trying to cross the border from Turkey to Iraq, the Czech Foreign Ministry said.

The couple have spoken very openly in the Czech media about their involvement with the Kurdish People's Protection Unit, or YPG. Indeed, they first met earlier this year in Rojava, a Kurdish autonomous region in Syria.

Farkas, a former aid worker, says he has fought on the frontline with the YPG against Islamic State. Všelichová says she screened refugees fleeing from the terror group.

Pavel Novotný is a Middle East analyst with Czech Radio Plus. He believes the pair are romantic idealists with positive intentions – but have behaved very naïvely.

“They really just want to help, but they did it in a way I can describe as stupid. Because they openly said many times that they had travelled there and had fought with Kurds against the Daesh or ISIL. They said it openly many times and if somebody would like to use it against them, they can, because it’s really easy. They’ve published many pictures with many [YPG] flags, many times. But I don’t believe they are real terrorists.”

The United States and European countries support the YPG. However, Ankara regards it as a terrorist group because of its links to the PKK or Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

YPG fighters, photo: Voice of America / Public DomainYPG fighters, photo: Voice of America / Public Domain The Turkish authorities have filed charges of terrorism and gun running against Farkas and Všelichová, the newspaper Hürriyet reported.

Here in Prague the Foreign Ministry says it is doing all it can to secure the pair’s deportation to the Czech Republic as soon as possible.

Analyst Pavel Novotný says the pair’s fate is now up in the air.

“If Ankara decides to make an example of them as terrorists from abroad, foreign ones who would like to destroy Turkey and its system, then it’s very bad for them. If not, they will be in the Czech Republic in two or three days and till the end of their lives they will be prohibited from entering Turkey. But it really depends on the government.”

Turkey’s ambassador to Prague says if the pair are tried in the country it may not be for some time. A number of terrorists have been arrested there recently, he said.