PEACE IN KURDISTAN CAMPAIGN
Statement 21 March 2018
Afrin may have fallen but the battle is far from over.
Almost the very first action taken by the Turkish troops and their jihadist allies as they entered the city of Afrin was to destroy the monument to Kawa, the mythical hero of the Kurdish people who embodies the heroic spirit of resistance. This destructive act was quickly followed by the scramble to loot properties carried out in full view of the world.
Against overwhelming military odds, the Kurdish defence units of the YPG and YPJ resisted valiantly the Turkish onslaught of Afrin for nearly two months. After their tactical withdrawal, the struggle will not cease for one moment. Kurdish forces will be regrouping ready to resist the continuing onslaught from the Turks and their jihadist allies.
As they mark Newroz, the Kurdish people can be proud of how their compatriots in the volunteer army of men and women’s units have conducted themselves; they fought bravely and demonstrated courage in battle and in defence of their community and the achievements made in Rojava. They were inspired by the knowledge that their cause is a just one and awareness of the brutality of their opponents.
Turkey seeks to portray the Kurds as terrorists. But no one really believes these lies. There are no limits to the lies that have been spun out of the Turkish propaganda machine against the Kurds who are even accused of compelling children to fight on their behalf.
The odds were stacked against Afrin from the start because Erdogan unleashed the full might of the Turkish army, one of the largest in NATO, against the Kurdish forces.
The only plausible argument that Erdogan could muster was that he was launching an operation against terrorists; this despite the fact that the Kurds have been at the forefront of the battle to defeat ISIS; the Kurds were praised by the world for their courage and armed by the US.
The Kurds remain allies in the fight against ISIS. But in Afrin they have been disgracefully betrayed as the world remained silent and averted its eyes as Turkey carried on multiple war crimes against civilians. That this combination of timidity and duplicity risks a revival of ISIS in Syria seemed not to matter one iota to the Pentagon, the EU and London.
ISIS and all the jihadist factions have been encouraged by Turkey’s intervention against the Kurds in Syria and they will likely seek to regain a foothold now that Turkey has removed the Kurds from Afrin.
After Afrin, Erdogan has issued threats to move his brutal campaign on to Manbij, Ayn al-Arab, Tel Abyad, Ras al-Ain and Qamishli until all the Kurdish held territory is removed. These areas cannot be allowed to fall to the jihadists.
No parts of Rojava are safe unless action urgent is taken to stop Turkey. Erdogan has indicated that he will not stop until he has eradicated the Kurds from all the territory in Syria they have liberated. His real motive is clearly not to rid Turkey of a terrorist threat, because he has aligned himself with Al Qaeda and former ISIS members in this current operation.
Newroz is the occasion for Kurds everywhere to come together and show their solidarity and unity as a people. This year it is inevitably Afrin and the entire people of Rojava who are in everyone’s thoughts. Rojava, after long leading the fight against ISIS, is now equally in the frontline against Turkish state oppression.
The blood that has been needlessly spilt in Afrin is a huge tragedy but the courage of the men and women who fought inspires others to continue the struggle in many different ways.
Turkey must not be allowed to sweep away all the gains made by the Kurds in terms of social progress, gender equality and democracy established over the past few years. It will not succeed despite Erdogan’s blood curdling rhetoric.
Their cause is one whose time has come.
United in defence of a just cause, the Kurds have the power to achieve the liberation of their people and the building of a free, democratic society of the future on foundations first laid in Rojava.
The people of Afrin experienced freedom and will not easily succumb to re-occupation and the imposition of a jihadist inspired ideology. They will continue to resist tyranny from all quarters.
Turkish-led forces may have destroyed the Kawa statue in Afrin. But this was simply a piece of stone; Turkey will not be able to destroy the true spirit of Kawa which is the power of the people’s unshakeable resistance. It is this spirit that lives on in the hearts of all Kurds and in their resistance to the oppressors who assail them today. This resistance is an essential attribute of every human being and it is their yearning for freedom that is celebrated in Newroz.
Peace in Kurdistan greets the Kurdish people on Newroz and is proud to join with them in this important day of celebration which is at the same time an opportunity to redouble the efforts and renew the pledge to work tirelessly to strengthen and develop the Kurdish movement until victory falls within the people’s grasp.
Peace in Kurdistan
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
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Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie Gingell – Tel: 020 7272 7890
Fax: 020 7263 0596
Patrons: John Austin, Christine Blower, NUT International Secretary, Prof Bill Bowring, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Prof Mary Davis, Lord Dholakia, Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director, Jill Evans MEP, Lindsey German, Convenor STWC, Melanie Gingell, Rahila Gupta, Nick Hildyard, Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru, James Kelman, Bruce Kent, Jean Lambert MEP, Elfyn Llwyd, Aonghas MacNeacail, Scottish Gaelic poet, Mike Mansfield QC, Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, GFTU, Dr. Jessica Ayesha Northey, International Coordinator, Green Party of England and Wales;; Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy, Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Kate Osamor MP, Margaret Owen OBE, Gareth Peirce, Maxine Peake, Lord Rea, Joe Ryan, Stephen Smellie, Steve Sweeney, Dr Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Dr Tom Wakeford, Dr Derek Wall, Julie Ward MEP, Hywel Williams MP.