The World’s Silence on Turkish Atrocities

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By Arian Mufid:

In 1988 when the Halabja massacre and chemical attack took place during the Iraq-Iran war, almost 5000 people were gassed and killed, including many women and children. The reaction of the world was patchy and vague. The UK’s Foreign Minister at the time, Geoffrey Howe, stated that his government had grave concerns about the atrocities. The rest of the world, including France, Germany, Netherlands and Italy remained silent, due to the involvement of most of them in arming Saddam’s regime, as well as some of them having companies assisting Iraq in the building of chemical weapons. The world let Saddam off the hook and business resumed as usual. As a result, the aggressor Saddam Hussain did not stop; he went on to attack Kuwait in 1991 and later others. Today Iraq can be considered the most violent country in the world, due to Al Qaida and IS diffusing their forces across the country over the last decade or so.

The world we live in today is exceptionally brutal. For the last three months the cities and towns of the north of Kurdistan in Turkey have become in a sense similar to South Africa’s Soweto in the 1980s and no world leader has made any effort to stop this. The Turkish state has justified their war against the Kurds, but not against IS. The Turkish state’s priority is to fight the Kurds and not the forces of the Islamic State. The government and its bureaucratic prime minister Davutoğlu have driven the state into a state of emergency, following a contrived breakdown in the negotiations between the Turkish state and the PKK. The Turkish state is knocking on the abyss’ door and has ignited a civil war. Having previously declared a ceasefire, the PKK has acted in self-defence following the Turkish state’s deception of the forces of democracy that were seeking a peaceful solution in the north of Kurdistan. This is a reminder that the revolution is unfinished.

Reports coming from Ghafar near the city of Julamerg indicate that Turkish forces used chemical weapons against the citizens of that town on 7 March. After failing to break the resistance of the town’s citizens, Turkish special forces were rushed to Julamerg and they besieged Ghafar for seven days. One citizens of Gafar told Rojnews that, “the Turkish SAS rushed to the town with masks and bottles of oxygen, they entered different districts of Keghla, Auramaan, and Jimuriyat; as a result 40 people have died, with women and children among them.”

Firstly, the world must realise it cannot afford to remain silent about the unfolding civil war because already hundreds have died, including dozens burned alive by Turkish forces after they had sought refuge in basements, and there is a grave risk of Turkey soon becoming another Syria. People will wonder why the world did not intervene earlier and avoid leaving the situation to chance. The world should not stay silent or simply ignore the issues. The Russian leadership, for example, are penalising Turkey for shooting down their aeroplane and subsequently Turkey has suffered greatly economically due to Russia’s significant trade cuts with Turkey.

Secondly, the Turkish state is using violence to control the Kurds in the north of Kurdistan. The pro-Kurdish party HDP and their co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş made strides forward politically but this was toxic for the Turkish authorities. As the HDP grew the Turkish state found more excuses to use violence. Is it not astonishing the Turkish state has put itself in the worst possible position: the Turks have allied with IS; they are waging war on civilians in the cities and towns in the north of Kurdistan; and they are sending forces to help those fighting against the PYD in the west of Kurdistan .

Thirdly, the AKP needs to return to genuine and honest negotiations with the PKK, and begin to resolve the longstanding issues by releasing Abdulla Ocalan and withdrawing its forces of terror from the towns and cities of the north of Kurdistan.

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