Rt. Hon. Dominic Raab MP
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AH
Rt Hon Lisa Nandy MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
27 May 2021
OPEN LETTER TO THE BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY ON TURKEY’S INVASION OF IRAQ AND ATTACK ON THE KURDS
Dear Foreign Secretary,
On 23 April 2021 the Turkish state launched Operation Claw Lightning. This is an intense military attack on predominantly Kurdish areas in northern Iraq. The date chosen for the attack coincides with the anniversary of the start of the Armenian genocide begun in 1915, in which 1.5 million men, women and children were killed by Ottoman Turkish forces. After a month of fighting by Turkey’s armed forces against Kurdish guerrillas, who are resisting the invasion, it is clear that the government of Turkey is intent on annihilating the Kurds, using ground troops, heavy bombing and chemical weapons. This military expedition is combined with an assault on the democratic representation of Kurds within Turkey itself: the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) faces an outright ban, despite being the country’s third largest party with parliamentary and municipal representation and its MPs, co-mayors and officials are tried and imprisoned under laws intended to provide a propaganda cover for the removal of unwanted critics and opponents. All of this is happening without censure and without comment from the United Kingdom or European governments.
It is a century since the Cairo Conference discussed the post-Ottoman Middle East. At that conference the then Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill foresaw that a tragic fate might befall the Kurds if their sentiments and interests were ingored. The 1923 Treaty of Lausanne ignored the wishes and rights of the Kurds and they were partitioned between Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria and have suffered ever since and in particular have been denied democratic representation and cultural rights. British governments have consistently upheld the post-1923 status quo and have given dilomatic and military support to successive Turkish governments as they suppress the Kurds.
Today, Turkey intends to establish permanent military bases in Iraq and to subjugate the Kurds and other peoples who live in the territory that has been occupied. People are being killed in the hundreds and this includes Turkey’s soldiers. Turkey could not act in this way without the agreement of the UK and other governments, including those of the USA and European Union. There is no justification for Her Majesty’s government remaining silent on what is happening in Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey to the Kurds and what is turning into a policy of extermination. Britain has a historical and moral responsibility for the fate being endured by the Kurdish people. Its representatives must speak up against the attempt to impose a military solution to the Kurdish question and for negotiations towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Failure to do so is tantamount to complicity in the atrocity unfolding.
Peace in Kurdistan
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
44 Ainger Road, London NW3 3AT
Contacts Estella Schmid: 07846 666 804 & Melanie Gingell: 07572 430903
Patrons: John Austin, Baroness Blower of Starch Green, former GS NUT, Prof Bill Bowring, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Prof Mary Davis, Lord Dholakia, Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director, Jill Evans, former MEP, Desmond Fernandes, Lindsey German, Convenor STWC, Melanie Gingell, Christopher Gingell, Prof Dr. Michael Gunter, Secretary-General, EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC), Rahila Gupta, journalist, Nick Hildyard, policy advisor, Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru, James Kelman, Bruce Kent, Jean Lambert, former MEP, Dr Les Levidow, Open University, Elfyn Llwyd, John McDonnell MP; Aonghas MacNeacail, Scottish Gaelic poet, Mike Mansfield QC, David Morgan, journalist, Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, GFTU, Dr. Jessica Ayesha Northey, Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy, Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Kate Osamor MP, Margaret Owen OBE, Ali Gul Ozbek, Former Councillor and Mayor of Haringey; Gareth Peirce, Dr Felix Padel, Maxine Peake, actor, Dr Thomas Phillips, Liverpool John Moores University, Trevor Rayne, writer, Joe Ryan, Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, Stephen Smellie, PIK Trade Union Liaison Officer, Jonathan Steele, journalist, Steve Sweeney, journalist, Gianni Tognoni, General Secretary Permanent People’s Tribunal, Dr Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Dr Federico Venturini, Associate Researcher, University of Udine, Italy; Dr Tom Wakeford, Dr Derek Wall, Julie Ward, former MEP, Kariane Westrheim, Chair, EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC); Hywel Williams MP.