The atrocities committed by Turkish state forces across several Kurdish districts since July 2015 are the tip of the iceberg compared to what could potentially happen in North Kurdistan, Turkey and the rest of the region if this war isn’t stopped. 178 people were burned alive, including women and children in the 3 ‘basements of death’ in Cizre in February; hundreds of others have been killed in Sur, Idil, Nusaybin, Dargeçit, Silopi and other places since the implementation of round-the-clock martial lockdown and sieges. Over a million people have been displaced and the districts mentioned above turned into dystopian landscapes by special forces police teams and soldiers using artillery, tanks and chemical substances.
Kurdish youth primarily, are trying to defend these areas by digging trenches and erecting barricades in what has turned into urban warfare for the first time in the history of the Turkish state-Kurdish conflict. Others like Abdulbaki Sömer, the perpetrator of the Ankara bombing, in a state of desperation felt by many Kurds, are attempting to exact revenge by attacking the Turkish state in its own backyard. We know that “war is a mere continuation of politics by other means,” but there must be another way to stop this conflict, which is looking increasingly like a civil war. And we all know what that means if we look just across the border into Syria; at least 11 million displaced, 470,000 killed or injured, a whole habitat razed to the ground and a whole country’s soul destroyed.
The current conflict in North Kurdistan is also an extension of the war in Rojava and Syria. Although it is a complicated affair with overlapping alliances, daily changes and realpolitik, the only constant of the war has been Turkey’s enmity against the Rojava Revolution and its support of Jihadist groups to fight against Rojava’s gains. The fear of Rojava gaining international recognition is so great that Erdogan has admitted they made the mistake of allowing Kurds in South Kurdistan (N.Iraq) to get autonomy but wouldn’t repeat this mistake in Syria even if it led to regional conflict. So Turkey continues stoking the war in Rojava and Syria by creating, branding and supporting an ever-growing band of mercenaries on its border, which is making it harder for a sustainable ceasefire or peace talks. The AKP government’s sectarian policy is also feeding the war and chaos in Iraq, which is keeping the Kurds there dependent on the Turkish state.
Turkey’s phobia of Kurds derives from the Turkish republic’s foundations being built on the denial and annihilation of Kurds specifically and anything non-Turkish generally. This is why equality, a status and recognition for Kurds anywhere is deemed as a threat to the Turkish nation state and sovereignty. And it is. Because equality and recognition for Kurds will mean a plural, inclusive and democratic constitution and society as well as grass roots radical democracy across Turkey, North Kurdistan (Bakur) and Western Kurdistan (Rojava). This is anathema for the AKP and large swathes of the Turkish ruling elite, both on the left and right. For this reason the AKP government and Erdogan are becoming increasingly authoritarian, nationalistic and for want of a better word fascistic. The banning of newspapers and TV channels, the imprisonment of journalists, academics, human rights activists and elected politicians and the militarisation and Islamisation of society are all dangerous indicators that Turkey is on a path to destruction.
There is a habit humans have of taking action once it’s too late, once the ground has been laid and the conditions ripened. The conditions are now ripe for either all out war or a lasting peace. The result can only go two ways between Kurds and Turks. Turkey’s war on Kurds is tipping the scales in favour of conflict, we must tip it in favour of peace. The silence of governments, of international media and organisations needs to be and is going to be broken by the people. We couldn’t prevent civil war in Syria; let’s prevent it in Turkey and North Kurdistan.
The most important feature of this demonstration is that it is being organised by people from all across the world, not just Kurds. I hope that the idea will spread across the globe and people in solidarity with Kurds and the peoples of the Middle East will come together to strike a blow against the imperial policies, meddling and impositions of the so called ‘superpowers’ as well as regional dictatorships and oppressive regimes.
Stopping Turkey’s war on Kurds means preventing civil war in Turkey and North Kurdistan, it means stopping death, destruction, displacement and migration, it means contributing to an end to the war in Syria, Iraq and the wider region, it means strengthening the ground for a political, peaceful solution to the Kurdish question in Turkey and it means strengthening democracy, human rights, fraternity and freedoms in the Middle East for all.