While the world’s attention is understandably focused on the terror being wrought in Ukraine by Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s authoritarian president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dramatically increased his aggression toward the Kurdish people, most recently threatening yet another invasion of North and East Syria and trying to silence the voices of Kurdish journalists within Turkey.
Presiding over a tanking economy and worried about his political future, Erdogan has intensified his threats of once again invading North and East Syria as he attempts to exploit the Ukraine conflict and Turkey’s position in NATO to carry out his own war of aggression against the Kurdish people. Such an invasion would kill and displace thousands of civilians and further destabilize the region, as Turkey did in its previous two invasions.
The Turkish government has also recently imprisoned 16 Kurdish journalists on trumped up terrorism charges and remanded them to the notorious Diyarbakir prison. As a colleague of those arrested has observed: “Erdoğan says he will only allow the NATO membership of Sweden and Finland if they turn against the Kurds; he is trying to change the domestic law of these countries. A dictator that violates the right to life in Turkey, wants to export his anti-democratic and fascist laws to these countries (and uses) Kurdish refugees as a bargaining chip for his cause.”
This journalist asks that “in the name of the free world, in the name of universal rights, in the name of freedom of the press and freedom of expression” we stand in solidarity with the 16 Kurdish journalists who were arrested. And we must. Our elected representatives must stand for basic human rights.
The Kurdish people, who saved the world from ISIS, ask only that they be granted a measure of autonomy within the existing borders of Turkey and Syria. I urge you to take every measure possible to support the release of these Kurdish journalists, to prevent all U.S. arms sales to Turkey, and to stand up for the integrity of Syria’s borders and speak out against any further incursions by Erdogan’s army and his jihadi militias.
Member of the Emergency Committee for Rojava