About 80 people rallied outside the Turkish consulate in Melbourne on May 25 to condemn the massacre of Kurds and support the People's Democratic Party (HDP) MPs now facing prosecution by the Recep Tayyip Erdogan government.
Called at short notice during working hours, the rally was nevertheless a powerful statement of solidarity. Speakers from the Kurdish Democratic Community Association of Victoria, the Anatolian Cultural Centre, Australians for Kurdistan and the Socialist Alliance expressed the outrage of the demonstrators and vowed they will not rest while the atrocities continue.
The Turkish state is openly committing war crimes, destroying Kurdish towns and massacring civilians. The Turkish military is bombarding cities such as Cizre, Nusyabin and Sirnak. Indefinite 24-hour curfews are in place. Food and fresh water are running low and half a million people have been displaced from their homes.
Not content with supporting the Islamist fanatics of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Erdogan's security goons are now employing their methods against civilians in the Kurdish districts of Turkey.
Nor does Erdogan hesitate to arrest, jail and persecute Turkish people who call for peace and an end to his dictatorship. Thousands of civilians have been arrested and more than 50 Kurdish mayors have been removed from their posts. More than 1000 Turkish and Kurdish academics face arrest and attack by death squads for calling for peace.
Erdogan has now succeeded in removing the parliamentary immunity of pro-Kurdish HDP MPs. He accuses them of supporting terrorism — but he is the real terrorist.
Shamefully, governments around the world either turn a blind eye to Erdogan's crimes, or jump to carry out his wishes.
But Erdogan is a loose cannon on the world stage. A self-confessed admirer of the Nazi state, he collaborates with Islamist fanatics, destabilises Turkey, and thus contributes to an ever-greater humanitarian crisis in the Middle East.
The Australian government and opposition must end their complicity of silence. They must stand up to Erdogan and demand that he cease his massacres of Kurdish people, end the persecution of Turkish democrats and halt his collusion with ISIS.
At the very least, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten must defend the HDP MPs who have lost their immunity and face imminent arrest and imprisonment.
History shows that appeasement of dictators only encourages them to commit further abuses of human rights.
Photos by Zuni Zacutti