Britain: Corbyn says defending Kurds a 'humanitarian requirement' as thousands rally against Erdogan's crackdown

November 7, 2016

Thousands of people demonstrated in London on November 6 in the latest protest against the mass arrests of pro-Kurdish politicians in Turkey. On November 4, the regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued arrest warrants for all 59 MPs from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), a left-wing largely Kurdish-led party.

At an emergency rally at the BBC headquarters, speakers accused the government of collusion with the Turkish state, with one saying: “The British government has blood on its hands.” Supporters of the Kurds marched to Trafalgar Square as activist and writer Memed Aksoy led calls for “a secular, democratic Turkey,” saying that they were “protesting against dictatorship.”

The demonstration was organised by Democratic Unity of Forces, made up of 17 British-based Kurdish and Turkish community organisations.

Solidarity with the People of Turkey spokesperson Oktay Sahbaz condemned Ankara’s latest “attack on democracy,” highlighting the support from British trade unionists at the protest.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn appealed to the Turkish government to respect human life, the right of people to speak their own language and pursue their own culture, calling it a “humanitarian and human rights requirement.”

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said it was “incumbent on all European governments to stand against this latest attack on democracy, demand the immediate release of [Peoples’ Democratic Party co-leader] Selahattin Demirtas and his colleagues and urge the restoration of respect for democratic freedom and the rule of law in Turkey.”

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on November 4 that Britain was expressing “serious concerns” over “the handling of media and politicians” by the Turkish government. However, he stressed: “Turkey is critical for our security, for our struggle against terror and, of course, critical for managing the conflict in Syria.”

Reposted from Morning Star Online.

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