Stop Erdogan’s war on the Kurds

[Text of a speech given for Socialist Alliance to protest rally organised by Kurdish Association of Victoria at Melbourne's State Library, December 21, 2015.]

Turkish dictator Erdogan has now taken his war on the Kurds to a new level of barbarity. Cities and towns across the southeast are today under curfew and are being attacked by police and army units. Tanks have fired into populated areas; many people have been killed by the security forces. Many areas have been wrecked by the attacks.

Youth & people are resisting

We salute the resistance of the Kurdish people. In many areas youth actvists have dug ditches and errected barricades to protect their neighborhoods. This is simply self-defence. In some towns the people have courageously come onto the streets to protest despite all the dangers.

War will wreck country

This seemingly arbitrary turn towards war by Turkey’s rulers will be a total disaster. The Kurdish people are obviously suffering. But the war will close off any prospect of a prosperous Turkey. A government study estimated the 1986-2012 war against the Kurds cost $1.2 trillion! If funds such as these had been used for the welfare of the people Turkey might be a paradise today rather than a country so marked by poverty and injustice.

A new war will simply mean more suffering and more privation — and for what?

Are the Kurds a threat to Turkey?

Ever since 1923 Turkish political leaders have seen the struggle for Kurdish rights as a threat — as a danger to the unity of the state. This is ridiculous. Giving the Kurds their basic human rights would strengthen the unity of the state and actually reduce the appeal of separatist ideas.

Kurdish youth are still denied public education in their mother tongue. The racist constitution says Turkey belongs to the Turks. But a country should belong to all the people who actually live and toil in it — not only Sunni Turks but Kurds, Alevis, Armenians, Arabs and so on.

Denying the Kurdish people their basic rights for so long can only make them think that they will never get a fair deal and that they must have their own country. What actually threatens the unity of the Turkish state is the racist policies of Erdogan and the Turkish rulers.

Erdogan also sees the consolidation of a Kurdish-majority liberated zone in northern Syria — Rojava — as a threat to Turkey. This is also ridiculous. The only challenge from Rojava is the 'threat' of a good example — of a democratic, self-administered multi-ethnic and multi-faith community. No wonder Erdogan is worried!

Only way out is negotiations

The only realistic way forward on the 'Kurdish question' is good-faith negotiations between the state and the Kurds. A start was made in 2013 and 2014 but Erdogan killed the process. He was never serious.

You can't have a free Kurdistan when you are sucking the blood of the workers and the poor to enrich a handful of cronies, mafia gangsters and oligarchs. Division, disunity, racism and hatred — these are what Erdogan needs to remain in power.

The Kurdish people who are resisting on the streets in their towns and cities are fighting for justice and humanity. We salute them.

Long live the Kurdish freedom struggle!