Australian Greens pledge support for Kurdish freedom struggle

Greens leader Adam Bandt was part of a Greens delegation that addressed the Kurdish community in Sydney on February 26. Photo: Peter Boyle

Australian Greens leader Adam Bandt, Greens foreign affairs spokesperson Senator Janet Rice and New South Wales MLC David Shoebridge pledged support to the Kurdish struggle for freedom, justice and peace at a well-attended function in the Democratic Kurdish Community Centre in Western Sydney on February 26.

“Freedom and human rights are non-negotiable,” Bandt said, noting that the major parties have often traded off such principles even while paying lip service to such values.

“In this country, where we enjoy liberties and democracy that people in many other countries don’t have, we should enjoy them but also use them to ensure that other people have those same rights to self-determination, liberty and freedoms. You have our strong support and will always have it,” he added.

Rice said the Greens would call out the Turkish government for its human rights abuses and attacks on Kurdish people. “The Turkish government should cease its attacks on the Kurdistan People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and immediately comply with the European Court ruling and release all those who it has unjustly detained.”

She said the incarceration of Abdullah Öcalan in solitary confinement was “absolutely outrageous”. “His human rights have been trashed and it is all the more galling when he has denounced violence, advocated a peaceful resolution to the conflict and has advocated for participatory democracy processes, which respect the human rights of all.

“There is no doubt if there is going to be peace with the Kurdish people, Öcalan is going to be core to that,” she argued, adding “the Australian government should be loudly calling for this torture of Öcalan to cease”.

Shoebridge made reference to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying the violence was “inexcusable”. “We see a powerful nation aggressor against a smaller nation, with homes being destroyed, families being destroyed and I am glad it is being called out.

“But Kurdish people know this has been happening to your homeland for years. You know that the Turkish government has been sending drones to kill your people. You know that the Kurdish people have been standing in a war of self-determination and to protect their own families from the violence of Islamic State … And where is the news coverage of that? Have political leaders here been calling out that? Well they haven’t.”

There is a “collective blindness” and “collective silence” about the human rights of the Kurdish people that has to end, he said. “I give you this commitment that I won’t be silent about this if I am elected to the Senate. I will join my colleagues inside and outside Parliament, as I have done in the NSW Parliament, to call for the urgent release of Abdullah Öcalan as a core part of a peaceful and just settlement for the Kurdish people.”

The Greens said it would seek an urgent review of the terrorist listing of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) by the Australian Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. “There is a real distinction between a liberation movement and a terrorist organisation, and it is time our government understood that,” Shoebridge said.

The Greens MPs expressed their admiration for the achievements of the Rojava revolution in North and East Syria and said they would like to visit the territory liberated from the Islamic State.