Urgent request for solidarity – repression of Kurdish people in Turkey

Please see below a statement on the repression of Kurdish people in Turkey. We are asking all Tamil Solidarity members and supporters to act on this: attend the protest in London on 20 December (details in the statement), and send a protest letter to the British government. We would suggest something along the lines of:
Dear Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs,

We note with alarm reports of a sharp increase in the repression of Kurdish people in Turkey. According to the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, 52 curfews have been imposed since mid-August. Schools have been closed down. Reports are widespread of the use of water cannon, tear gas and the fatal use of live ammunition by Turkish security forces. In the meantime, the Turkish government continues to be welcomed to top-level talks on EU membership and security issues, effectively endorsing its crackdown on the Kurdish people. What does the British government intend to do to put a stop to this brutal repression?

Dear friend,

I am writing to update you on the most recent developments in Turkey with the aim of seeking your solidarity for the Turkish and Kurdish Community livings and working here in UK.

In the past few days, seven people were killed in clashes with security forces in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, as authorities declared curfews across this region. The clashes are the latest in months of violence following the collapse of a ceasefire between the government and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in July. Since then, Ankara has imposed round-the-clock curfews in many domains.

Two people were killed as police clashed with crowds protesting against a security crackdown in the main southeastern city of Diyarbakir. Further south, five Kurdish militants were killed in Mardin province’s Dargeçit district, another area under curfew. Armoured police vehicles roamed Diyarbakir’s streets, firing water cannon and tear gas as hundreds gathered for a march called by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to protest a two-week-long curfew in the city’s district of Sur.

According to data compiled by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, 52 curfews have been imposed since mid-August across seven Turkish provinces in the region, affecting areas where some 1.3 million people live.

On Monday, December 14, 2015, the Turkish government ordered the closure of all schools as well as all dormitories, and teachers were asked to leave the towns of Cizre and Silopi. This order came at the time the Turkish military started amassing outside the towns and extra police force was ordered to move to these towns, already bustling with security forces from all over Turkey.

When the progressive HDP was able to pass the 10% threshold to gain votes away from the ruling AKP (JDP) in the June election, it became the target of conservative, fascist and Kemalist political parties and formations. Pro-AKP conservative forces oppose the HDP for its progressive ideology and for opposing their government. Nationalists, fascists and Kemalists consider the HDP a threat because it advances a pro-Kurdish stance instead that of the traditional Turkish nationalist perspective.

Since the HDP started governing towns and villages in Turkish Kurdistan, central Turkish government forces have attacked in full force. Many towns were shelled with heavy military artillery. Snipers on roof tops murdered people who stepped outside looking for food after being confined to their homes for more than 5-6 days. Currently, it is a common practice of the Turkish special forces to just start spraying entire neighbourhoods with automatic rifles, even though the streets are empty. Also, Turkish special forces used curfews to deface the store fronts and walls with racist threats, like, “If you are a Kurd, you must obey, if you are a Turk you must rule!”

Nearly all mayors and co-mayors of these towns have been arrested by the AKP government. All hospitals in the province of Sirnak have been put on notice to expect high military activity. Tanks, armoured vehicles, and heavy artillery are moving to the predomınantly Kurdish towns from all over Turkey. Hence, a full-scale bloody military offensive appears to be imminent in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast.

In order to achieve a peaceful settlement of Turkey’s long-running Kurdish question and to end the bloodshed in the predominantly Kurdish domains in Turkey, the peace process must be reinvigorated and a ceasefire needs to be established forthwith. For these urgent steps to materialise, it is absolutely vital that progressive forces outside of Turkey to stand in unison with the pro-peace, pro-democracy and pro-justice people of Turkey.

On this note we would like to invite you and members of your organisation to the mass rally/march on Sunday, 20th December 2015 @13:00. The assemble point will be Haringey Civic Centre. We are more than happy to offer a platform where you can express your solidarity with the Turkish/Kurdish Community members here in UK.

If possible, I will also urge you to email Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on hammondp@parliament.uk expressing your concerns about these recent developments.

Should you require further information on this matter, please do not hesitate in contacting me via this email or by calling me on 07961708014.

In solidarity,

Oktay Sahbaz