Statement by our Foreign Affairs Co-spokespersons Feleknas Uca and Hişyar Özsoy:
In the evening of 1 February 2022, the Turkish military struck targets in Iraq and northern Syria. Over twenty airstrikes hit the Shingal (Sinjar) region, the home of Yazidis who survived the ISIS genocide of 2014. Over ten airstrikes hit the Makhmour refugee camp, home to a community of Kurds – now numbering over 12,000 - who came to Iraq in the 1990s to escape the destruction of their home villages by Turkish security forces in Turkey. There is news that two camp residents were killed and some others were injured. Bombs hitting the Derik region of North and East Syria targeted a power station – part of the essential infrastructure of the region – and also injured at least two people. Shelling from territory occupied by Turkey hit villages in Shebha, where Kurdish IDPs from Afrîn have found temporary shelter.
These co-ordinated attacks on people struggling to build lives and communities after decades of war and persecution came on the evening of a day of mourning. The people of North and East Syria were burying the 121 soldiers, prison workers and civilians killed in the ISIS attack and attempted breakout at Hasaka Prison. Their deaths have been added to the tens of thousands of people from the region – Kurds, Arabs and others – who have been killed fighting ISIS. Regardless of whether intended or not, these attacks by Turkey are clearly making the fight against the ISIS even more difficult, providing the organization with the opportunity to regroup and continue fighting as a most dangerous force in the region.
These recent attacks – and also the smaller attacks that the Turkish military carries out every day – demonstrate, yet again, the failure of the Turkish government to treat the Kurdish issue at home or abroad as anything other than a military issue to be met with sheer force. The government has been using the discourse of “fight against terror” to attack the political opposition, and particularly the Kurds in Turkey, Iraq and Syria by criminalizing Kurdish claims and demands for rights, recognition or autonomy, and further militarizing the conflict that should be handled politically. Until the government has the courage to seek, instead, for a political solution that allows Turks, Kurds, and other communities to live in peace and dignity, we can only expect to see more destruction and bloodshed. This unfortunately means more political chaos and turmoil in Turkey and neighbouring countries.
Turkey is carrying out such attacks as a member of the NATO and the Council of Europe, using weapons often bought from the NATO countries. As we have stated in our previous statements on similar attacks, many civilians have been killed in such cross-border attacks on residential areas and with total impunity. The “international community” seems unable or unwilling to make a stand against such destruction and to pretend ignorance of their political and moral responsibilities towards the Kurds who still fight the ISIS under extremely dire circumstances. The Kurds are clearly disappointed and interpret such consistent ignorance as approval of and/or complicity with these attacks and destruction on their lives.
A return to peace negotiations in the context of the Kurdish issue is essential for Kurds, Turks, and other peoples of the Middle East and also beyond. It is also essential for the defeat of ISIS, which requires regional stability. Under these attacks, stability seems to be impossible.
Feleknas Uca & Hişyar Özsoy
HDP Co-spokespersons for Foreign Affairs
3 February 2022