As The Canary reported, a coup is currently underway in Turkey against democratically elected mayors in three predominately Kurdish cities. But while there’s been a deafening silence from the Conservative Party over the actions of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Jeremy Corbyn has spoken out:
The arrest of political leaders and activists from the People's Democratic Party HDP is unacceptable. Turkey should respect human rights, the rule of law and not undermine its democracy.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) August 21, 2019
And this tweet shows exactly why Corbyn is the type of leader the world needs; one that isn’t afraid to speak out against fascist leaders and isn’t in the pockets of the arms industry.
Mayors in Amed (Diyarbakir), Van, and Mardin were removed from office during raids in 29 places. The raids also resulted in the arrests of 418 people. They will be replaced by kayyums (‘trustees’), controlled by Erdoğan‘s AKP party.
As The Canary previously reported, local elections were held across Turkey on 31 March. Erdoğan suffered a massive defeat, losing the previous AKP strongholds of Istanbul and Ankara.
Following an attempted coup in 2016, Erdoğan seized control of municipalities. He then replaced 100 mayors with AKP kayyums. The Canary was told that 94 of these mayors were from the left-wing HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party). A large number of elected mayors, including all those from the big Kurdish cities, were imprisoned. But across the Kurdish regions, the HDP won back municipalities in the elections.
Now, Erdoğan has struck back at three of those Kurdish cities.
Those protesting the coup have been met with violence. These were the scenes outside the HDP’s offices in Amed:
CİNAYET GİRİŞİMİNİ DURDURUN!
Diyarbakır İl binamızın önünde milletvekillerimize yapılan saldırı alenen cinayet girişimidir. Bu saldırıyı yapanlar, emrini verenler suç işliyor. Bu barbarlığı, vandallığı, cinayet girişimini derhal durdurun. pic.twitter.com/odQ5Lm2S2U
— HDP (@HDPgenelmerkezi) August 20, 2019
MPs were amongst those injured and hospitalised. Journalists were among those detained.
Despite this repression, the silence from Conservative politicians in the UK is deafening. But it’s also perhaps unsurprising given the value of the arms trade.
Since 2016, the UK has sold Turkey over $1bn worth of weapons. In May 2017, Theresa May and BAE Systems sealed a £100m contract to help Turkey develop fighter jets and improve trade relations. And Rolls Royce partnered with Turkish firm Kale in 2017 to build the engines for its fighter jets.
In fact, the government lists Turkey as one of its “priority markets” for arms sales. The Turkish army is NATO’s second largest. And the government has also officially invited Turkey to attend Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) – one of the world’s largest arms fairs – which is taking place in London in September.
As HDP MP and deputy chair for foreign affairs Hişyar Özsoy told The Canary in 2018, the government:
don’t care whether Turkey is a democratic country or not. It’s totally business as usual.
A different type of politics
Corbyn’s tweet is exactly what’s needed. It’s a different type of politics. It’s having world leaders who aren’t afraid to stand up to the likes of Erdoğan or Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But while Corbyn’s tweet is refreshing and needed, that different type of politics also needs to come from the grassroots. Whether it’s shutting down the DSEI arms fair, boycotting Turkey, or learning about and taking inspiration from the Kurdish freedom movement, we can all take action and stand in solidarity with Kurdish people.
Featured image via Wikimedia/Rwendland
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