Kurdish protest in Sydney UN building

Issue 

By Michael Karadjis

SYDNEY — About 25 Australian Kurds barricaded themselves inside the United Nations building in Sydney on June 28, demanding that the Australian government pressure the Turkish regime on its brutal oppression of its Kurdish population.

Green Left spoke to Cemal Kora from the Australian Kurdish Association, who said the aim of the peaceful protest was "to bring to the attention of the Australian community the fact that a massacre is taking place in Turkish Kurdistan."

While the conflict between Iraq and the US has led western governments and media to feign some sympathy for the Iraqi Kurds, they totally ignore the plight of the Kurds in other countries, particularly in Turkey.

According to Kora, two months ago the largest Kurdish resistance organisation, the Kurdish Labor Party (PKK) called for a cease-fire with the government in order to discuss the Kurdish question in parliament. The regime rejected this on the grounds that it doesn't talk to "terrorists".

Since then, the PKK has stepped up its struggle for elementary human rights and self-determination. Attacks on the Turkish military and other targets have left scores of troops dead (in one town the PKK killed 30 occupation troops), and have wiped out 50% of tourist concerns in south-east Turkey.

Kora describes the situation in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan: "Daily 20-30 people are killed. Every kind of weapon of mass destruction is used; towns and villages are burned. They use phosphorus bombs which suffocate and burn people."

According to Kora, in the last seven years some 5000 Kurds have been killed, as well as some 6000 troops. Since 1991, 16 Kurdish journalists have been murdered by "unknown" assassins.

Two years ago, a number of Kurds were elected to the Turkish parliament as part of the Social Democratic

Party, one of the parties in the coalition government along with the dominant True Path Party. Since then, all have been driven out of the party. One Kurdish MP, who wore a scarf with Kurdish colours, was physically attacked by 450 members of parliament, who "wanted to kill her".

Until two years ago, it was illegal for Kurds even to call themselves Kurds (they were "mountain Turks" according to the official line). Then President Ozal made it legal for the first time for Kurds to speak their language in their homes.

However, Sellahatin Fil, a Turkish Australian supporter of Kurdish rights, claims this decree was "nonsense", because Kurds speak their language in their homes anyway, but the language is banned on radio, on TV, in newspapers and any institutions; there are not even interpreters in court.

According to Fil, the "Turkish regime is also an enemy of the Turkish people". He claims the regime was responsible for the recent massacre of 35 prominent Turkish writers, artists and musicians in a hotel in the city of Siva.

Among this gathering of democrats and leftists aimed at defending a writer who had translated some of Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses (banned in Turkey) were prominent supporters of Kurdish rights. The gathering was attacked by "Islamic fundamentalists" while the police and military stood by and watched, according to Fil.

Supposed Islamic fundamentalists known as "Hezbollah" play a prominent role in the regime's war against the Kurds, and are regarded as creatures of the security forces.

The Turkish regime receives about $1 billion annually in US foreign aid, third behind Israel and Egypt. When the regime massacred Kurdish civilians in their New Year celebrations last year, the Bush government gave complete support to the regime's struggle against "terrorism", and the Washington Post warned that "any international effort to comfort the Kurds must not swing away from Iraq".

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