PEACE in Kurdistan calls on the British government to use its influence to secure negotiations for a peaceful solution for Turkey’s so-called Kurdish question as part of any post-Brexit trade deal.

Any agreement must take into consideration the appalling human rights record of the Turkish state which is waging an ethnic cleansing operation against Kurds internally as well as in northern Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan.

PiK urges Trade Secretary Liz Truss to hold Ankara to account for its flagrant human rights violations and to stick to its obligations and commitments as a member of NATO and the Council of Europe.

This means it must abide by last week’s binding decision from the European Court of Human Rights which ruled that former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtas continued detention is unlawful and politically motivated.

Liz Truss must ensure that Turkey adheres to the courts judgement that Mr Demirtas must be immediately released from prison as a precondition for signing any trade deal.

A failure to do so gives authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the message that he can continue to trample on the basic norms of democracy with impunity and runs the risk of giving him the green light to escalate the oppression of a legal political party.

The British government should not prioritise trade and profit over human rights and democracy. Turkey is currently waging a genocide against Kurds allied with jihadists and has been accused of war crimes and the use of chemical weapons in Rojava, northern Syria.

PiK believes that the only solution to the problems facing the Middle East is the peaceful resolution of the Kurdish question.

Central to this is jailed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan whose freedom is an essential step in the process of peace-building between Turkey and the Kurds. He must be at the negotiating table in order to bring this historical conflict to a conclusion.

PiK urges Britain to use the current trade negotiations to pressure Turkey to take appropriate steps to bring an end to war and conflict and help build a future based on peace, unity and cooperation.