The Afrin canton in Northern Syria is under sustained assault from invading Turkish forces and allied Islamist gangs.
The Turkish invasion, accompanied by reports of massacres and use of chemical weapons, aims to destroy the progressive, democratic Kurdish-led revolution in Syria’s north, which places women’s liberation at its centre.
Turkey’s assault is facing sustained armed resistance from groups from various ethnic backgrounds in support of the revolution. But with implicit or explicit support from Russia and the United States, Turkey is reportedly making strong gains, causing great concern for civilians in Afrin, which is home to hundreds of thousands of refugees from other parts of Syria.
The speech below was delivered by Mira Ibrahim, who is originally from Afrin, to an emergency meeting in Sydney hosted by Greens MP Jamie Parker at New South Wales parliament on March 15.
I’m here today to talk about the devastation that’s taking place in Afrin. I'm from Afrin and my family are from Afrin.
My father and my grandmother (who is 90 years old) are still in Afrin and are missing. We have no news about them. My uncle and his kids live in the street because their house and their community have been destroyed.
This has been very hard on the family. Children have been killed in front of their parents and also kids now have no parents because the situation.
This is the terrible situation in Afrin today:
- Right now hundreds of thousands of civilians in Afrin are coming under heavy bombardment by Turkish war planes;
- Afrin is being attacked by the Turkish army with the support of jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda, al-Nusra and the remnants of ISIS;
- Afrin city is now being destroyed by the second-largest army of NATO, which is equipped with the most sophisticated weapons produced by several countries, including the permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russia and the US;
- During the last 53 days the invading forces have killed at least 290 civilians;
- Schools and hospitals have been destroyed;
- Many homes have been destroyed;
- People are forced to hide in caves underground;
- The UN Security Council passed a resolution calling a 30-day ceasefire in all of Syria, but it was ignored by the [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan regime and nothing was done;
- Russia and the US have the power to stop this war immediately simply by imposing a No Fly Zone over Afrin. They can stop it right now if they choose.
This invasion and genocide has been carried out in front of the eyes of the world for nearly two months. All the powers who had the power to stop this terrible crime against humanity have become accomplices to this crime.
I have been living in Australia for the past 12 years and I have seen how good peace and freedom is, and how a democracy can work. This is what the Kurdish people of Afrin want: peace, freedom and democracy.
We had some peace and freedom in Afrin. But unfortunately since January — when the Turkish state and the ISIS killers that it supported started attacking Afrin — there has been no more peace and freedom. There is no more life in Afrin.
If you look at the distance between Istanbul to Afrin city it’s more than 1193 kilometres. What does Erdogan’s regime want from an isolated town so far away from them that it sends its army and their killer militia gangs across the border into Syria?
Why doesn’t the UN and other countries condemn this violation of international law? Where is the UN when our human rights are being denied? When our people are facing the serious threat of a terrible massacre any day now? Where is the assistance and help for innocent people who are dying and suffering in Afrin today?
I’m here speaking on behalf of my own family, but also on behalf of the people of Afrin.
Please listen to my voice as an Australian Kurdish person. Please listen to the desperate cries for help from the people of Afrin. In the name of humanity, please listen.
The Australian government should speak up strongly against this war and help free the people of Afrin from the terrible persecution and from the terrible unfairness that surrounds them.
Freedom and peace for Afrin! Stop the war in Afrin ASAP!