Do Not Let Afrin Become Another Kobane

Emergency Statement on Turkey and Afrin:

January 23, 2018

We, the undersigned academics and human rights activists, insist that the leaders of Russia, Iran, and the U.S. ensure that the sovereignty of Syrian borders is not breached by Turkey and that the people of Afrin in Syria, be allowed to live in peace.

 Afrin, whose population is predominantly Kurdish, is one of the most stable and secure regions in Syria. With very little international aid, Afrin has taken in so many Syrian refugees in the last five years that its city population has doubled to 400,000 and greater area to twice that number. Afrin is now surrounded by enemies: Turkish-supported jihadi groups, al Qaeda, and Turkey.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has begun to attack the U.S. military’s Kurdish partners – the Kurdish YPG or People’s Protection Units – with which the US has been allied against ISIS. Turkey accuses the YPG of being “terrorists” despite the YPG’s long track record of setting up local democratic governing councils in each of the towns it has liberated from ISIS and its repeated statements that it has no interest in Turkey and wishes to function only as a defense force for Syrian Kurds and other ethnicities living in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), also known as “Rojava,” which includes Afrin.

Turkey has massed an enormous military force on the Afrin border and President Erdogan has promised to attack the Kurdish-controlled canton with full force, annihilating a peaceful enclave, and putting thousands of civilians and refugees at risk, all in pursuit of its vendetta against the Kurds.

An attack of this kind against the peaceful citizens of Afrin is a blatant act of aggression against a peaceful and democratically-governed region and population. Turkey cannot carry out such an attack without the approval of Russia, Iran and Syria – and inaction by the U.S. to stop it. The Kurdish people have endured the loss of thousands of young men and women who joined the YPG, and YPJ women’s force, to rid the world of ISIS. The U.S and international community have a moral obligation to stand behind the Kurdish people now. We call on U.S. officials and the international community to guarantee Afrin’s stability and security and prevent further Turkish aggression from within Syria and across the Syrian border.

First signatories:

Noam Chomsky, MIT Professor Emeritus

Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, Professor Emeritus

Charlotte Bunch, Distinguished Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University

Todd Gitlin, sociologist and Chair, PhD Program in Communications, Columbia University

David Graeber, Professor of Anthropology, London School of Economics

Nadje Al-Ali, Professor of Gender Studies, SOAS University of London

David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography, CUNY Graduate Center

Michael Hardt, political philosopher and Professor of Literature, Duke University

Marina Sitrin, Assistant Professor of Sociology, SUNY Binghamton

Ann Snitow, activist and Associate Professor, New School

Bill Fletcher, Jr., former President of TransAfrica Forum

David L. Phillips, Director, Program on Peace-Building and Rights, Columbia University

Joey Lawrence, photographer and filmmaker

Meredith Tax, writer and organizer, North America Rojava Alliance

Debbie Bookchin, journalist and author, NARA

Supported by:

Dr. Thomas Siebert, Medico International Human Rights Coordinator

Adem Uzun, Executive Committee Member of the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK)

Lisa Mazzone, Member of Parliament, Green Party, Switzerland      

Hon. Silvia Giacoppo, National Senator, Argentina 

Abdullah Demirbas, former major Diyarbakir Sur district, founding member of Council of Forty

Fernanda Gil Lozano, Mercosur, Parliamentary Vice President of Budget Committee

Dr. Kamran Matin, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, Sussex University, UK

Dr. Daniel Bendix, University of Kassel, Germany

Prof. Jens Wissel, Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, Germany

Muriel Gonźalez, historian, assistant profesor, Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB)

Prof. Dr. Aram Ziai Heisenberg-Professorship, University of Kassel, Germany

Prof Dr. Reinhart Kössler, former director, Arnold Bergstraesser Institut, Freiburg, Germany

Benedikt Krüger, M.A. in Literature and Philosophy, Frankfurt (Oder) / Berlin, Germany

Margret Kiener Nellen, Swiss Parliament V.P. AP OSCE, Member of IPU Executive Committee

Maxine Peake, Actor, UK

Dr. Annette Lawson, Chair of the Judith Trust, UK

Dr. Radha D’Souza, author and Reader in Law, Westminster University and India Matters, UK

Jonathan Steele, International Affairs commentator, UK

Margaret Owen OBE, international human rights lawyer, UK

Richard Norton-Taylor, editor, journalist and playwright, UK

Tariq Ali, writer, journalist and political activist, UK

James Kelman, writer, Scotland

Rahila Gupta, writer and journalist, UK

Julie Ward, Member of the European Parliament, UK

Christine Blower, International Secretary, National Union of Teachers, UK

Dr. Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Lecturer, Fellow of Darwin College, The University of Cambridge, UK

Dr. Andy Higginbottom,  Associate Professor, Senior Fellow, Kingston University, UK

Trevor Rawnsley, Widening participation fellow City University London, UK

Stan Newens, President of “Liberation”

Aziz Choudry, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair, McGill University, Canada

Nick Hildyard, policy advisor, UK

Dr. Tom Wakeford, Coventry University, UK

Steve Sweeney, journalist, UK

Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, General Federation of Trade Unions, UK

Stephen Smellie, Deputy Convenor, UNISON Scotland

Bert Schouwenburg, International Officer, GMB

Kariane Westrheim, Professor, Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen, Norway

Les Levidow, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)

Michael Baron, writer, UK

Barry White, journalist, UK

John Hunt, journalist, UK

Jane Reid, trustee of various charities, UK

Lucy Carter, art historian, UK

Chris den Hond, film-maker, France

Prof Jacky Jones, UWU Bristol, European Women Lawyers Association, UK

Lindsey German, convenor, Stop the War Coalition, UK

Dr. John Rees, visiting research fellow, Goldsmiths University of London

Steve Cushion, secretary, University and College Union (UCU) London Retired Members Branch

David Morgan, journalist, UK

Melanie Gingell, barrister, UK

Charlotte Onslow, conflict conciliation and international relations advisor, UK

Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, UK

Colm Massey, Solidarity Economy Association Ltd., UK

Zaher Arif, writer, activist, UK

Jo Magpie, journalist, writer, UK

Dr. Amy Bartholomew, Assoc. Professor, Law and Legal Studies, Carleton University, Canada

Fatih Seyhanoglu, Kurdish Interfaith Council, US

Anna Rebrii, CUNY student, NYC, US

Bianca Bagatourian, Playwright, Activist, US

Eleanor Finley, PhD Student, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, US

Cora Roelofs, assistant professor, Tufts University, Friends of Rojava in North America, US

Rachel Chapman, PhD Student, The Graduate Center, CUNY, US

Elif Sarican, Kurdish Students Union, UK

Estella Schmid, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign, UK



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