Rally demands Turkey stop its war on the Kurds

The Melbourne against Turkey's attacks. Photo: Ali Bakhtiarvandi

On September 12, hundreds of people marched in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth against the Turkish state under president Recep Tayyip Erdogan waging war on the Kurdish people.

In the last month, severe clashes have taken place in many Kurdish cities, including Silopi, Lice, Şemdinli, Silvan, Yuksekova and Cizre, where civilians have been targeted by state forces. Tens of civilians, guerrillas and members of state security forces have died in the ensuing clashes.

Socialist Alliance’s Dave Holmes gave this speech at the Melbourne rally.

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Turkey is creeping towards civil war. This is a deliberate decision of the Erdogan regime. It killed the peace process with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

At the start of this year agreements had been finalised to enable the guerillas to safely withdraw across the border to their camps in northern Iraq. Then Erdogan junked the whole thing. It wasn’t going to benefit him and his gang so he went instead towards war, conflict and hatred.

The consequences are ruinous — not only for the Kurds who are bearing the brunt of the violence but for the whole country. The economy is vulnerable. The Turkish lira is going down and people are switching to dollars and euros. A return to full-scale military conflict is the last thing Turkey needs. Business doesn’t want it and ordinary people certainly don’t.

The mainstream media here has not reported the real level of anti-Kurd violence in Turkey. The security forces have wrecked Kurdish towns, such as Silvan. It looks like a war zone —because it is. Precious forests have been set on fire by the military to deny them to the guerrillas. This is complete madness.

Washington signed an agreement with Turkey giving the US access to the Incirlik air base. Turkey was said to be joining the fight against the Islamic State gangs. Except this is a lie. The only war Turkey intends to fight is against the Kurds, both at home and in Rojava.

The West won’t confront Turkey over the Kurds. The US is silent on Erdogan’s war on the Kurds.

The PKK has retaliated but at a limited level. Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) leader Selahattin Demirtas has called on both sides to cease fire. It is important to remember that the PKK agreed with the peace process; it began to withdraw its forces. It endorsed the perspectives PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan put forward for laying down the gun and turning to the political struggle.

Moreover, the PKK is the most effective force fighting the IS killers. PKK fighters are on the frontlines in Iraq at Maxmur, Kirkuk and Sinjar; they are fighting with the YPG and YPJ in Rojava.

In the midst of this wave of violence, the [former] Abbott government did its bit for the war and conflict. On August 11 it relisted the PKK on the Australian list of terrorist organisations.

This is obviously a favour to the Turkish regime because the arguments on the national security website are pathetic. There is not one mention of the discrimination Kurds face in Turkey or the violence of the regime. The PKK is blamed for the failure of the peace process.

This ban should be overturned. Australia should call on Turkey to resume the settlement talks with the Kurds.

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