Feminists call for solidarity against Turkish war crimes

The following statement was issued by Women's Freedom Assembly (KÖM) in Turkey/North Kurdistan on January 18. Translation abridged from Jadaliyya.com.

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The Women's Freedom Assembly is calling for your solidarity against the war and massacres that we have been living through for the past eight months.

The following statement was issued by Women's Freedom Assembly (KÖM) in Turkey/North Kurdistan on January 18. Translation abridged from Jadaliyya.com.

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The Women's Freedom Assembly is calling for your solidarity against the war and massacres that we have been living through for the past eight months.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are repressing through violence all opposition forces who have been resisting the authoritarian regime they have been trying to establish in Turkey. They have made the Parliament dysfunctional and suspended the rule of law by taking the judiciary under their control.

The massacres started with the detonation of a bomb at the Peoples' Democratic Party's Diyarbakır rally in June 2015 and continued with the Suruç massacre on July 20 and the Ankara Peace Rally massacre on October 10. ISIS, which AKP's assistance to in the ongoing Syrian civil war has been widely reported in the international press, was declared responsible.

As Erdoğan confessed in his declaration, which was also picked up by the international press, the goal was an authoritarian regime similar to the one in Hitler's Germany.

It seems that this is the reason why a massacre policy targeting the Kurdish people, traditionally the most organised and resisting section of society, has been put into effect.

The democratic negotiation process which was started in 2013 for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem was ended by Erdoğan's own directive.

Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdish people and accepted chief negotiator during the talks between 2013 and 2015, has been in isolation since April 2015, not allowed to meet with his lawyer or family.

Self-governance has been declared in various districts of Kurdistan following the decision of the AKP government to wage war. The people in these districts and neighbourhoods, fearful of the massacres that did and could still take place, have been forced to migrate en masse.

Women who resist this massacre by not deserting their homes, neighbourhoods and districts, thus claiming their place in the struggle for freedom, have become primary targets. The incident where Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) guerilla Ekin Wan's naked corpse was dragged through the streets was followed by the arrests of Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and Democratic Regions Party (DBP) administrators, with many subjected to sexual violence. Most recently, three Kurdish female politicians — Seve Demir, Pakize Nayır and Fatma Uyar — were executed by state forces.

The military operations against the PKK started in July 2015 and were followed by curfews, district blockades and bombardments aimed at forcing the Kurdish people to surrender. According to the data gathered by human rights organisations, bar associations and medical boards, at least 180 people, 32 of whom were women, lost their lives in this process. All of those who died were local people living in the districts and neighbourhoods where a curfew was in effect.

Humanity's cultural heritage of thousands of years, faith centres, all living things, nature and Earth are all taking their share of damage from the war crimes of the state.

Through curfews and blockades lasting for days, Kurdish people are being forced to choose between hunger, thirst, death and surrender. The women, children and elderly, who go out on the streets holding white flags to find food and milk for babies, are being targeted by police snipers.

People are being killed in houses under heavy bombardment and babies have become targets for bullets. In this war started by the religious conservative AKP government, an old woman performing ablution in her garden so that she can fulfil her religious obligations and an old man praying in a mosque can be targets for the same snipers.

The bodies of dozens of people — such as the body of Taybet İnan, a 57-year old mother of eleven children — remained on the streets for days due to the indiscriminate firing at everyone on the streets. A recent directive now makes it possible for government representatives to bury the bodies without handing them over to the families.

Sur, Silopi and Cizre have been subject to renewed curfews since July. The most recent curfew was declared on December 14 and is ongoing. Those who try to aid the wounded, including health care personnel, are being killed. People are fighting hunger, dehydration, disease and death.

We are calling on women's organisations from a place where people are struggling to survive with no food, water, electricity, schools or hospitals and are trying to protect themselves and their children from the heavy bombardment of their homes.

In the western part of the country, every voice that is raised in protest against the war in Kurdistan is suppressed through violence. Journalists, academics and all forms of public opposition are silenced through open threats and by a judiciary that lost its independence.

Last week, “Academics for Peace” published a declaration called “We will not be a party to this crime” signed by more than 2000 academics condemning the curfews, military operations and violation of human rights in the region. Signatories of the declaration have been described by Erdoğan as “traitors and dark forces”, identified as targets to be punished and the next day dozens of academics were arrested. Freedom of expression and the press, freedom of assembly and independence of the judiciary are now almost non-existent.

The AKP government and Erdoğan, who have repeatedly stated that they did not recognise gender equality, are trying to suppress the women's struggle against war and male dominance. The atrocity of war is turning all women involved in opposition politics into direct targets of the state, while weakening the women's struggle — our struggle — against male dominance.

As a result of appeals to the European Court of Human Rights, the Republic of Turkey has been asked to submit its defence by January 8, 2016 on the issue of proportionality of force and whether necessary measures for the protection of basic human rights and civil life have been taken.

We are hoping that women's organisations in other countries undertake the effort to put pressure on the Republic of Turkey to end the curfews and blockades, cease the bombardments and armed operations in the districts under blockade and restart the democratic negotiation process.

We think that there is something that each one of us can do in our homes, work places and in the institutions and associations we volunteer for. There are serious human rights violations, as well as a war in Turkey and crimes against humanity are being committed.

Civil disobedience and social media actions in your country, targeting Turkish embassies and consulates will empower us in our struggle against the ongoing war.

You can call on your own elected members of parliament to end this atrocity, and to stop arms sales to and condemn the war crimes of the Republic of Turkey.

Dear health care providers, lawyers, human rights volunteers and politicians; with international delegations, you can visit the cities under blockade to provide your contribution to justice by preventing, documenting and witnessing profound human rights violations.

Please join us in following up the calls on and appeals to the European Court of Human Rights and other international courts and support us in our search for justice. Let us build an international bridge to peace with your solidarity and support. It is our heartfelt conviction that we will dispel this darkness and construct peace through solidarity and struggle.

We know that women's solidarity transcends borders and deeply believe in the importance of international solidarity in the struggle against war and male dominance.

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