With support from NATO, the regime of the dictatorial Turkish president Erdogan is not only continuing its war against the Kurdish people and their allies inside Turkey’s borders but is expanding it to Syria and Iraq, even to Sweden and Finland. We recognize in the Kurdish struggle for genuine democracy, gender liberation, and ecology is a struggle that concerns all of us in a time of rising authoritarianism across the globe. Today standing in solidarity with the Kurds means standing in defense of democratic futures for everyone.
The international state system’s support for the regime’s attacks on the Kurdish people is becoming permanent. Most recently, at NATO’s Madrid Summit, when Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO, Erdogan blocked those countries’ accession, demanding approval for his policies of massacre against the Kurds. To lift Turkey’s veto, NATO made a dirty deal revolving around the Kurds, in effect giving Erdogan permission to carry out ethnic cleansing. The autocrat thus succeeded in exploiting the situation, and the Kurdish people’s struggle for freedom and democracy was once again sacrificed for economic, military and diplomatic benefits.
Only a few years ago the situation was far different: in the war against ISIS, the Global Coalition was forced to recognize and support the Kurdish peoples and their allies as the most effective defense forces of their homeland. Tens of thousands of Kurdish women and men lost their lives in that fight, as well as many of their allies, but the whole world recognized their bravery and heroism. That Erdogan enabled and assisted ISIS during that war is no secret, and his regime continues to occupy parts of Rojava (Northern Syria) to this day, with terrible reports of forced deportation, torture and murder of its inhabitants as a result.
Yet now, as the Turkish president blackmails and criminalizes Kurdish efforts to achieve even the most basic human rights, the international system has left the Kurdish people to his mercy. The NATO summit in effect gave Turkey a green light to attack the Kurds, which amounts to nothing less than backstabbing, and to violate the human rights of Kurds in Turkey, throughout Kurdistan, and beyond.
The Turkish state today is ultra-nationalist, assimilationist, and authoritarian, imprisoning thousands of politicians, journalists, academics, and activists of both Turkish and Kurdish descent. The international order sanctions Turkey’s war against the Kurds within its borders, which only further radicalizes Erdogan’s annexation ambitions. Indeed, since the 1980s, international support for the Turkish state has emboldened it to seek violent solutions to the Kurdish question, violence that has recently spilled over into Syria and Iraq. Only both parties’ participation at a negotiating table can resolve this issue peacefully.
The Kurdish struggle, for its part, is a struggle for democracy, gender liberation, and ecology, all of which are significantly threatened around the world in the twenty-first century. In contrast to the rising tide of right-wing politics based on nationalism, misogyny and racism, the Kurds and their allies in Rojava (Northern Syria) and throughout Syria have established an inclusive model of governance known as “democratic confederalism” and so have become a beacon of hope for democratic struggles around the world.
We stand with the Kurds against NATO’s enabling of the Erdogan regime’s policy of occupation and annihilation. We oppose the murderous Turkish operations in Iraq that aim to kill those who defended the world against ISIS when no one else responded to calls for help.
We demand that Sweden and Finland decline to implement Erdogan’s antidemocratic and illegitimate demands for the extradition of their citizens of Kurdish descent—neither we nor the peoples of these countries will tolerate it. Those of us who struggle for freedom, democracy and the right to self-determination derive our righteousness from the conscience of the peoples of the world, and we are much stronger than dictatorships.
We will unite against Turkey’s duplicitous actions that terrorize the legitimate representatives of the Kurdish people and their allies.
We stand for democracy and human rights and against war, expansionism, genocide, femicide, and ecocide. We call all who share that view to support this International Kurdish Solidarity Collective. Together we can defeat policies of endless war and ensure that what is happening to the Kurds today does not continue and does not happen to any other vulnerable groups across the globe, now or in the future.
Just as we struggle against oppressive politics and structures in our home countries, we are joining together today to support the Kurdish people, who defeated ISIS but currently face renewed threats of ethnic cleansing from Erdogan. We now ask all to support the Kurdish movement at this critical time—to stand with us in support of freedom, democracy, and peace, for the Kurdish and for all peoples.