'Don't let Afrin become another Kobane', say human rights activists, academics in open letter

Solidarity protest with Afrin against Turkey's attacks in Melbourne on January 20. Photo by Tony Iltis.

Academics and international human rights activists launched a petition calling upon world powers to act against Turkish aggression against Afrin, ANF News reported.

On January 21, ANF News said: "The Turkish army has launched an operation to invade Afrin with approval from Russia, and has started bombing dozens of areas including Afrin city center with fighter jets. Kurdish institutions are calling for mobilization in four parts of Kurdistan."

The petition, signed by academics and activists like Noam Chomsky, Michael Hardt and Debbi Bookchin, called for prevention of further Turkish attacks on Afrin.

The full text of the petition, followed by signatories, is below.

***

We, the undersigned academics and human rights activists, insist that the leaders of Russia, Iran, and the U.S. ensure that the sovereignty of Syrian borders is not breached by Turkey and that the people of Afrin in Syria, be allowed to live in peace.

Afrin, whose population is predominantly Kurdish, is one of the most stable and secure regions in Syria. With very little international aid, Afrin has taken in so many Syrian refugees in the last five years that its population has doubled to 400,000. Afrin is now surrounded by enemies: Turkish-supported jihadi groups, al Qaeda, and Turkey.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to attack the U.S. military’s Kurdish partners – the Kurdish YPG or People’s Protection Units – with which the US has been allied against ISIS. Turkey accuses the YPG of being “terrorists” despite the YPG’s long track record of setting up local democratic governing councils in each of the towns it has liberated from ISIS and its repeated statements that it has no interest in Turkey and wishes to function only as a defense force for Syrian Kurds and other ethnicities living in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), also known as “Rojava”, which includes Afrin. 

Turkey has massed an enormous military force on the Afrin border and President Erdogan has promised to attack the Kurdish-controlled canton with full force, annihilating a peaceful enclave, and putting thousands of civilians and refugees at risk, all in pursuit of its vendetta against the Kurds.

An attack of this kind against the peaceful citizens of Afrin is a blatant act of aggression against a peaceful and democratically-governed region and population. Turkey cannot carry out such an attack without the approval of Russia, Iran and Syria – and inaction by the U.S. to stop it. The Kurdish people have endured the loss of thousands of young men and women who joined the YPG, and YPJ women’s force, to rid the world of ISIS. The U.S and the international community have a moral obligation to stand behind the Kurdish people now. We call on U.S. officials and the international community to guarantee Afrin’s stability and security and prevent further Turkish aggression from within Syria and across the Syrian border.

Signed,

Noam Chomsky, MIT Professor Emeritus

Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, Professor Emeritus

Charlotte Bunch, Distinguished Professor of Women's and Gender Studies, Rutgers University

Todd Gitlin, sociologist and Chair, PhD Program in Communications, Columbia University

David Graeber, Professor of Anthropology, London School of Economics

Nadje Al-Ali, Professor of Gender Studies, SOAS University of London

David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography, CUNY Graduate Center

Michael Hardt, political philosopher and Professor of Literature, Duke University

Marina Sitrin, Assistant Professor of Sociology, SUNY Binghamton

Ann Snitow, activist and Associate Professor, New School

Bill Fletcher, Jr., former President of TransAfrica Forum

David L. Phillips, Director, Program on Peace-building and Rights, Columbia University

Joey Lawrence, photographer and filmmaker

Meredith Tax, writer and organizer, North America Rojava Alliance (NARA)

Debbie Bookchin, journalist and author, NARA”

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