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Anderson urges EU to act before Turkey becomes a 'second Syria'

7 October, 2015 - by Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called on the European Union to act to pressure the Turkish government to stop its onslaught against the Kurdish people. Ms Anderson was speaking as Kurdish MP in the Turkish Parliament, Leyla Zana, addressed meetings in the European Parliament in Strasbourg this week. 

 Ms Anderson said:

“It was a privilege to hear from Leyla Zana in the European Parliament today, and she impressed upon MEPs the urgency of finding a peaceful resolution between Turkey and the Kurds before the conflict ignites into a ‘second Syria’.

“Leyla became the first Kurdish woman to be elected to the Turkish parliament back in 1991, and since then she has spent 10 years in jail for her political activism. She is also the recipient of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize. Leyla was banned from participating in politics for several years before her election in the June elections this year for the pro-Kurdish party, the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which won an historic result of more than 10 per cent of the vote. 

“Following these elections, in which President Erdoğan’s ruling AKP party lost its majority, the Turkish government launched an onslaught against the Kurds in Turkey in August, resulting in hundreds of people – possibly thousands – being killed. Leyla outlined to us that the dark days of the 1980s in Turkey appear to have returned to Kurdish streets, with aerial bombardment of Kurdish villages, military occupation and occupation. 

MEP for the six counties, Ms Anderson continues,

“Turkey, a NATO member, is also carrying out illegal airstrikes against Kurdish bases in Iraq and Syria. Despite the fact that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) are the most effective force fighting the Islamic State in Syria, Turkey is trying to use the cover of ‘fighting terrorism’ to attack these same forces in order to prevent the emergence of a Kurdish autonomous region on its border. The international community must  condemn these attacks on Kurds.

“Erdoğan appears to be trying to whip up Turkish national chauvinism in the lead-up to the snap elections scheduled for November 1 in a desperate attempt to regain his lost majority. His endgame is to win a two-thirds majority in the Turkish parliament in order to introduce an ‘executive presidency’ that would dramatically increase his personal power.

“Leyla explained that the Turkish government’s actions risk turning Turkey into a ‘second Syria’ – igniting a full-scale civil war. She expressed the HDP’s hope that the November 1 elections will be free and fair, and that negotiations for a peaceful resolution can begin once more.

“Two years ago, the 10-point Dolmabahçe Agreement between Turkey and Kurds dealt with conflict resolution issues including disarmament, human rights and constitutional reform, which resulted in a two-year period pf peace. The roadmap for a peaceful resolution is there, and the EU must bring the maximum pressure to bear on Turkey to return to the negotiating table and bring an end to decades of conflict.”

Ms Anderson concluded: “To support the efforts for peace in Turkey and Kurdistan, a delegation from the group Sinn Féin is part of in the European Parliament, GUE/NGL (European United Left/Nordic Green Left) will be sending a delegation to the Kurdish regions this month and again on November 1 to monitor the elections.”

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