Pictures: Scotland stands with Afrin

Caitlin Logan

Protests against Turkish aggression against Kurds in Syria bring hundreds to the streets

A PROTEST took place on Tuesday outside the Turkish and Russian consulates in Edinburgh, with organisers estimating that over 400 people from the Kurdish and Scottish community turned out to oppose Turkey’s assault against Kurdish-controlled Afrin in Syria.

Organised by Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan (SSK), the protest came just days after the Turkish state launched airstrikes and sent troops into Afrin with the aim of removing the Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units).

A smaller protest also took place in Dundee, and SSK will lead further protests outside the consulates in Edinburgh on Friday and in Buchanan Street in Glasgow on Saturday at 1pm. 

READ MORE: “UK and Scottish Governments must condemn Turkish assault on Afrin”

Roza Salih, co-chair of Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan told CommonSpace that Tuesday’s demonstration was very successful. “Kurdish people and Scottish people united against Turkish aggression against Afrin,” she said.

The YPG played a major role in pushing ISIS out of the area with US support and have since helped establish democracy and stability in the region.

The campaigners are calling on the UK and Scottish Governments to condemn Turkey’s actions, which they regard as a means of oppressing the Kurdish people and regaining control of Afrin for strategic purposes. They are also urging Russia to denounce the attacks, given that Russia has considerable influence in the region.

Within Turkey, the Kurdish community has faced oppression and numerous documented human rights abuses. The PKK (the Kurdish Workers’ Party) has engaged in armed conflict with Turkey, seeking equality for the Kurdish people. Although the Turkish state’s abuses have been recognised by the international community, the PKK is also broadly treated as a terrorist organisation.

Salih explained that, while Turkey claims that it suspects the YPG in Syria has terrorist connections, she considers this to be “propaganda they’re using against the Kurdish community” because of their success in establishing their own democracy in Northern Syria.

“The Turkish establishment are not very happy with this,” she said, explaining that Turkey “woke up” to this situation because of the US’s intentions to set up a border force in the region to keep out ISIS.

“Afrin is very important strategically for Turkey for trade and economic benefits,” she added. “They know what they’re doing.”

Salih said that Turkey’s actions were endangering the lives of the 100,000 people who live in Afrin, including civilians and children.

While Salih attempted to speak to someone at the consulates, she was denied, including by the UK Government which she described as “unsympathetic”.

“People are dying because of this and they’re turning their backs on us,” she said. “The Kurdish people want recognition of their language and culture, which have been oppressed for many years. This is a human rights issue.”

Ahead of the protest on Friday, Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan plans to produce a petition specifically stating the campaigners’ requests.

Sarah Glynn, committee member of SSK said that the emergency demonstration in Dundee found that passers-by were keen to “learn about the Kurdish perspective that is missing from almost all the mainstream media”.

The group passed out leaflets asking people to urge their MPs to put pressure on the UK Government to condemn Turkey’s actions, and concluding: “There is a Kurdish saying, born of bitter experience – ‘no friends but the mountains‘. We want to show the people of Afrin that they also have friends here in Scotland.”

Follow Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan on Facebook for further updates on upcoming actions. 

Pictures courtesy of Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan

Look at how important CommonSpace has become, and how vital it is for the future #SupportAReporter