Turkey: Left-wing HDP opposition calls for support for Rojava

Issue 
A banner at a protest to defend Afrin, in Cologne, Germany, on January 27.

The left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has condemned Turkey’s invasion of the Afrin region in northern Syria (known as Rojava in Kurdish) in collaboration with mostly jihadi Syrian militias.

The HDP, with strong roots in Turkey’s Kurdish minority, has itself faced worsening repression from the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The HDP won 13% in the 2015 elections, yet in a regime crackdown, nine HDP parliamentarians, 85 mayors and more than 8000 of its activists have been jailed, a November article in Jacobin Magazine said.

With Erdogan now attacking the Kurdish-led Rojava Revolution with its invasion of Afrin, the HDP has called for the international community to take immediate action to stop it.

ANF News reported on January 29 that a statement from the HDP Central Executive Board said: “This invasion is spreading destruction of the war in Syria into Afrin, which has remained as a relatively safe area until recently. Despite severe Turkish-Syrian- jihadist blockade, Afrin has been a safe sanctuary for hundreds of thousands of Syrian [internally displaced peoples] from other war-torn parts of the country.

“This military intervention, particularly the airstrikes targeting residential areas, has brought havoc and misery to this region of relative peace. At least 86 civilians, including children and women, have been killed due to airstrikes and shelling of villages and towns...

“This attack targets the Kurds as a people and their political gains in Syria. The alleged ‘security threat’ is a pretext to destroy the pluralistic, gender egalitarian and autonomous self-government that is being implemented in Afrin and Northern Syria.

“Another openly expressed aim of this invasion is to change the demographic composition of Afrin by displacing the Kurds and settling in the FSA militia and hundreds of thousands of Syrian citizens currently living in Turkey. This is a clear breach of the Geneva Convention.”

The HDP statement pointed to domestic aims for Erdogan as well, noting: “President Erdogan has launched his presidential election campaign by invading Afrin. Attacking the Kurds, he believes, would consolidate the support he has been receiving from his nationalist allies. Simultaneously, he is using the climate of war to further the repression on the Kurdish and democratic opposition, who have already been under incessant attacks under emergency rule since July 2016.

“The government is encouraging war propaganda and punishing pro-peace people. So far, over 200 people have been taken into custody, mostly HDP executives and members, and many of them were jailed simply because they defended peace and criticized militarism.”

The HDP called on the international community “to take a principled stance and not remain silent in the face of such an attack on the Kurds in Syria, who have sacrificed many lives in the fight against the ISIS”.

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