A family pleads for Theresa May’s help to free an ex-soldier jailed in Turkey. But she’d rather sell Erdoğan weapons.

Theresa May WCA Three
Emily Apple

The family of an ex-soldier currently imprisoned in Turkey for fighting against Daesh is asking Theresa May to help. But it seems likely that their pleas will fall on deaf ears. Because May would apparently rather sell the Turkish government weapons than help UK citizens fighting terrorism.

Arrested on holiday

Joe Robinson was accused of “membership of a terrorist organisation” after he was arrested while on holiday in Turkey on 22 July. He is a former combat medic with Kurdish-led forces fighting Daesh (Isis/Isil). He faces up to 16 years in prison. His girlfriend was also arrested, but was released on bail. She was charged with propaganda for sharing pro-Kurdish material on Facebook.

In 2015, Robinson joined the ‘Lions of Rojava’, a Kurdish unit hosting a number of foreign militants based in Rojava (a region in northern Syria with a largely Kurdish population). He was with the Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) at the battle of Sarrin when the town was captured from Daesh. His unit helped liberate women who had been forcefully taken by Daesh as sex-slaves. And he also helped treat locals who had suffered horrific injuries.

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Letter to May

Robinson has been in prison ever since, and his lawyer said that:

He is not in a very good place, emotionally.

Continue reading below...

His family have now written to Theresa May demanding that action is taken:

To do anything other than provide effective and immediate support to a man who is a British citizen, a veteran and a national hero, is to show a deep disregard for your veteran forces, and to ally yourselves with an oppressive state.

The letter also makes it clear that:

A man like this should not go to prison, despite any geopolitical interests you might have.

Selling weapons

But May is more likely to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to sell him weapons than to negotiate for Robinson’s release. Because in January, the British PM visited Turkey. But it wasn’t to discuss human rights. It was to negotiate a £100m deal to help Erdoğan develop fighter jets and improve trade relations.

And that’s not all. Between July and September 2016, the UK sold Turkey £26m-worth of armoured plate, body armour and helmets; as well as £8.5m-worth of aircraft, helicopters and drones; and almost £4m-worth of licences for missiles, bombs and “counter-measures”.

Meanwhile, Erdoğan stands accused of being a war criminal and committing systematic human rights abuses, including arresting the head of Amnesty International Turkey.

Help for heroes

Robinson is regarded as a hero in his home town. He put his life on the line to save lives in the fight against Daesh that the UK government is supposedly supporting.

May should be going out of her way to make sure every diplomatic string is pulled to secure his release. She should also be going out of her way to speak up about all the other human rights abuses perpetrated by Erdoğan and the Turkish state. But making money for the arms industry is seemingly more important to Britain’s morally bankrupt Prime Minister.

Get Involved!

Sign the petition to support Joe Robinson.

– Turkey is one of the guests at the London arms fair in September. Support Stop the Arms Fair and shut it down.

Featured image via YouTube

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