Stop governments from criminalising Kurds, & stop exportation of weapons to Turkey

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The Turkish state has criminalised the very identity of Kurds and labelled us as terrorists for wanting to keep our language, identity and culture. We are tired of being used when we are needed, making our lives seemingly dispensable in return for financial benefits from the Turks. Since World War I, Kurds in Turkey have been the victims of persistent assaults on their ethnic, cultural, religious identity and economic and political status by successive Turkish governments.

Massacres have periodically occurred against the Kurds since the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. Leading up to and during World War I, the Ottoman Empire conducted a number of genocidal campaigns against the Kurdish minorities living within Turkey as well as other provinces under its control. The most well-known is the Armenian genocide. Between 1925 and 1939, 1.5 million Kurds, a third of the population, were deported and massacred. There were also lesser known, but no less brutal, genocide campaigns against the Assyrian Christians in Southern Kurdistan, Northern Iraq. After World War I, the newly declared Turkish Republic leader Kemal Atatürk repudiated the Treaty of Sèvres which proposed a referendum be conducted in the Kurdish homeland. Among the most significant is the Derism Rebellion when 13,160 civilians were killed by the Turkish Army and 11,818 people were sent into exile. 40,000 innocent civilians had been murdered on the soil of their own motherland, some had been buried alive, and some had even been captured and tortured to death. The Zilan massacre of 1930 was also another massacre of Kurdish residents of Turkey during the Ararat rebellion in which 47,000 were killed; the use of the Kurdish language, dress, folklore, and names were banned, and the Kurdish-inhabited areas remained under martial law until 1946. In an attempt to deny their existence, the Turkish government categorized Kurds as "Mountain Turks" and made the use of the words “Kurd” and “Kurdistan” illegal.

While Kurdish persecution became more selective during World War II, largely restricted to Kurdish intellectuals, the overall policy in Turkey has remained consistent. This stranglehold is reflected in Kurdish literature. In this century only about a dozen works have been produced in Kurdish. The authors have usually received prison sentences. The most frequent legal justification for these arrests are Articles 141 and 142 of the Turkish penal code that "protect the economic institutions and social foundations of the nation" and prescribe 5-15 years imprisonment for those "seeking to destroy the political and legal order of the state”; these are merely a fragment of the injustice that Kurds have to face on a daily.

Under Turkey's present military regime, Kurds are hard hit by the policies of fearful political opposition. Since 1980 the Eastern and Southeastern provinces have reportedly been subjected to at least five military maneuvers aimed at terrorizing Kurds. The New York Times has reported that in the nine months that followed the military takeover 122,609 people were allegedly taken into custody. Of 40,386 formally charged, the death penalty was sought for 900. Of 70,000 current political detainees, more than 20,000 are reportedly Kurdish, and 90 percent of these are reputed to have been peaceful protestors for Kurdish cultural rights. To date, arrests in Kurdish provinces have totalled 81,634. Of these, 378 have allegedly been tortured to death, and 374 have been killed in night-time attacks.

On Sunday the 14th of June 2020, the Turkish air force launched 81 separate air strikes across Southern Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) in an apparent escalation of military operations in the region. Several of the 81 locations hit by Turkish bombardments were civilian settlements such Maxmur, Shengal, Kandil, Zap and Xakurk, although they claim to have been targeting PKK fighters. The regional government in Northern Iraq, the national Iraqi government, NATO and Russia have remained silent about the air strikes. Despite this silence from the international community, there has been a great deal of outrage from activists across the globe. Multiple civilians have been murdered as a result of the air strikes, and a mother has been seen CRYING over the death of her two sons killed in this catastrophic incident. Kurdish communities across the world recognised these attacks as another escalation in Turkey’s racist war against Kurds.

Whilst few Western governments have spoken up about the attacks some politicians have condemened Turkish militarism. German left-wing MP Ulla Jelpke condemned Turkey’s attacks and called on the German government to stop all support for the AKP regime. She added that the attacks were reminiscent of ISIS activity in the region accusing Turkey of acting as if they were ISIS’ air force. The MEP further said: “The Maxmur refugee camp and the Yazidi settlement areas in Shengal were the main targets of the terrorist organization ISIS. The fact that Turkey now also bombs these targets makes the Turkish army the de facto air force of ISIS. Any support for such a regime must be withdrawn. But the renewed attacks on the Kurdish freedom fighters must also be condemned in the strongest terms. The Turkish state cannot defeat the Kurdish freedom fight militarily – the last 40 years have clearly shown this. Instead, peace negotiations must take place and a political solution must be found, otherwise this war will drag on for decades and cause further unspeakable suffering.”

In Qamishlo, thousands of Kurds, Arabs and Syriacs protested under the slogan “No to the occupation by Turkey and the ISIS” at a massive rally against the Turkish large-scale offensive in South Kurdistan. PYD co-chair Ayşe Hiso said during a speech that Turkey’s attacks on Kurdish settlement areas were carried out with “intent to exterminate” and were directed against all peoples of the region, reiterating that Turkey’s aim of wiping out Kurds on the face of this earth is EXTREMELY evident. “The Turkish state is taking revenge for the ISIS, which was defeated by the resistance of our peoples,” Hiso said, condemning the silence of the South Kurdistan autonomous government and the Iraqi central government, highlighting the lack of support Kurds have.

In addition to attacks occurring as we speak, the Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign received an answer to a Parliamentary question posed by Kate Osamor MP, from the U.K. government, which confirmed that Britain is exporting drone parts from the company, EDO MBM Technology Ltd, based in Brighton, for the use of the Turkish military. Current Prime Minster has continuously turned his back on Kurds, and we are asking, much like his great grandfather, Ali Kemal Bay, to support us in our quest for independence and freedom. Bay had been persecuted and ultimately hung on a tree by Turkish nationalists during the negotiations for the Lausanne Treaty in 1923. He was a man of tremendous dignity and honour and passionately opposed the genocidal operations against the Armenians that ultimately cost him is life. He opposed Mustafa Kemal Ataturk whom along with Ismet Inönü went on to devise and implement similar policies towards the Kurds, stripping them of their rights.

So the question is, having knowing the severity of the acts & procedures implemented by the Turkish government, why is Boris Johnson still aiding Turkey in accomplishing such inhumane acts? Why are Kurds being punished for protecting their land, their culture, their language and their history? Why are WE the ones being portrayed as criminals, when a huge fascist state mimicking the actions of ISIS is trying to exterminate the very existence of the fourth largest ethnicity in the Middle East?

KURDISTAN DESERVES BETTER. KURDS DESERVE BETTER. And it’s time our voices are heard.