Last week I was invited to speak at a Kurdish solidarity meeting organised by Rojava Calling at the Teacher's Club on Parnell Square. Faysal Sariyildiz, a MP from the HDP party was to attend but had his passport revoked by the Turkish government while he was in Belgium. He managed to speak via skype and answered some questions fielded by a very concerned audience. Arrest warrants were issued for all members of his party, including Faysal himself. Whats going on here will have serious implications for not only the Kurds but for the rest of us as well.
I'll give a brief lowdown on how this came to be and what the craic will be in the future if we as Europeans don't address this. Last year in the Turkish general elections, HDP needed around 8% of the national vote to win representation in parliament. They received a massive 11% making history as the first democratically elected Kurdish party to have a voice in Turkey. A major victory it would seem. However President Erdogan from the ruling AKP party wasn't happy with this and called for a re-election.
Straight away he began attacking the PKK, poking the bear you could call it, after there had been a peaceful ceasefire for the past two years. At first retaliation Erdogan imposed curfews and began heavy military bombardments in major cities across the Kurdish region. These curfews meant that people could not leave their homes and would be shot. These curfews lasted up to and above three months and resulted in the near destruction of cities like Cizre, Sirnak and Nusaybin. When re-election time came the Kurds were afraid to come out and vote or were afraid of the repercussions should this election yield the same result as the last one.
When I lived in Qamishlo, Nusaybin was 1km from my house. Every single day, round the clock the air was filled with mortar and gunfire. Explosions every 20 seconds for a whopping 82 days. I regularly checked western media to see if anyone was reporting this war crime. As you'd expect, nothing.
President Erdogan is now fully at war with the Kurds. He has flooded northern Syria with Jihadis under the pretense that they would fight ISIS but are instead attacking the Kurds. Manbij, the last operation I worked on in Syria was bombed by Turkish planes earlier in the week. After the Kurds liberated the city the US insisted that they pull out. The city set up a local military council to administer the region and the Kurds pulled out a few days ago after the new council and police were trained and implemented. Now they are under attack from Turkey who want to take the city so they can access Aleppo and Raqqa.
Right now Turkey is planning to invade northern Iraq. Some world leaders are 'condemning' these actions but as Erdogan put it himself, it's going in one ear and out the other. Erdogan is happy to leave the dream of EU membership behind and return Turkey to the Ottoman empire. He is committing war crimes every day, ridiculing human rights and no one is doing anything about it. Since the coup earlier this year he has detained tens of thousands of politicians, opposition figures, lawyers, journalists and even children. He has closed down hundreds of universities, schools and newspapers. Turkey is on the brink of a civil war which when it happens, will have a disastrous effect on the world. First of all Turkey is bigger than Syria and Iraq and is more powerful than both of them. Europe had a hard time trying to deal with the refugee flow from these countries so try to imagine what it will be like when over 15 million people are trying to get out. The Turkish government attacks not only the Kurds but the educated and women who dare step outdoors. Where would these refugees go? Iraq? Syria? Could Armenia take 15 million plus people?
Turkey is on a path to destruction and is willing to take Syria and Iraq with it. I've been asked by several people what can we do about it. We can write to our politicians and request that ambassadors be pulled out of Ankara. That our governments sever links with Turkey. We need to boycott Turkish products and refuse to holiday there. If you have a holiday home there get rid of it and buy one in Greece! God knows our Greek brethren could do with the investment. Avoid flying Turkish Airlines and we need to spread awareness of the horrific war crimes Turkey is committing domestically and in Syria and Iraq.