Activists in cities across the UK are planning to picket travel agencies on 4 May. They want to persuade people to boycott holidays in Turkey.
Kurdish activists have repeatedly called for holiday-makers to boycott Turkey in protest at the state’s crimes against Kurdish communities. It represses Kurdish people living within its borders, for example, and last year launched an invasion and occupation of Afrin in Rojava (northern Syria). In 2018, the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) found Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Turkish state guilty of war crimes, as well as crimes against humanity, against the Kurdish people.
Protests planned across the UK
People from 10 towns and cities across England and Wales are taking part in the day of action in solidarity with Kurdish hunger strikers. Campaigners have sent The Canary a press release arguing that holidaying in Turkey “indirectly supports human rights abuses in Turkey”.
The day of action will focus on TUI (formerly Thomson Holidays). TUI is one of the companies named in new research just released by the international RiseUp4Rojava initiative. The research highlights the links between international travel agencies, Turkish hotel chains and airlines, and the Turkish state.
The owners of Turkish hotel chains and airlines are often closely linked with the Turkish state. For example, RiseUp4Rojava uncovered that TUI advertises rooms in D-Resort in Marmaris. D-Resort is controlled by Doğuş Holding. Billionaire Ferit Şahenk is CEO of Doğuş Holding and also a board member of the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK) of Turkey. In 2013, Doğuş’s NTV network came under fire for failing to report on dissent against Erdoğan‘s government.
Protests are planned in Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Bangor, Swansea, Barry, Manchester, Liverpool, Penzance, and Hull. Five activists in Bristol have also pledged a five-day solidarity hunger strike.
Thousands on hunger strike worldwide
Over 7,000 Kurdish activists are currently on hunger strike around the world. Leyla Güven, a Kurdish member of the Turkish parliament, began the strike while she was in prison on 7 November 2018. She has continued her strike since her release in January.
The hunger strikers are calling for an end to the isolation of imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been held since 1999 and denied access to his lawyers since 2011. He has only been allowed very brief family visits to check he is alive in recent years. The hunger strikers are also demanding the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) re-open its investigation into Öcalan’s imprisonment.
Many of the hunger strikers are prisoners in Turkey. On 30 April, 15 prisoners announced that they planned to make their hunger strike a “death fast” if their demands are not met.
“Tourism directly funds the state’s war on the Kurdish people”
Memed Aksoy from the Kurdish community in Newport said:
Tourism directly funds the state’s war on the Kurdish people. In the name of humanity, we ask everyone to boycott holidaying in Turkey. Therefore we call upon every one who stands in solidarity with the Kurdish People to avoid visiting Turkish holiday resorts.
Kurdistan Solidarity Cymru, meanwhile, made the following statement:
Tourism accounts for 11.6% of Turkey’s economy, contributing $26 billion to their economy in 2017. This income helps fuel Turkey’s war on the Kurds… Over 2 million people from the UK visited Turkey in 2018, making the UK one of the top 5 countries supporting Turkey’s tourist income.
We cannot rely on governments alone to pressure Turkey, attacking their economy through boycotts is an important part of the campaign. TUI profits from facilitating holidays to Turkey. In addition to encouraging individuals to boycott Turkey we will put pressure on… TUI to drop Turkish holidays from it’s selection.”
The Canary contacted TUI for a comment on the planned protests. We had not received a reply at the time of writing.
The Kurdish hunger strikers are literally putting their lives on their line to make their demands heard. They deserve us to hear them. And one important way to show solidarity is to boycott holidays in Turkey.
Featured image via Eliza Egret
- Learn about the hunger strikes and the imprisonment of Abdullah Öcalan.
- Contact your MP and MEP to draw attention to the hunger strikers and the isolation of Öcalan. Ask them to persuade the British government to pressure the CPT to visit Öcalan. Send them this article by Kurdish hunger striker Imam Sis.
- Get involved with your local Kurdistan Solidarity group. If you are in Wales, get in touch with Kurdistan Solidarity Cymru.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?