Pictures: Scots Kurdish solidarity activists step up fight as Turkey continues clampdown

Turkish President continues suppression of Kurds following failed coup

SCOTTISH KURDISH solidarity campaigners are stepping up their activities in defence of the civil liberties of Kurds and everyone living in Turkey in the face of an accelerating crackdown in the country.

Dissidents of various creeds and ideological backgrounds are facing a worsening assault, with Kurds, a traditionally persecuted group in Turkish society and the wider region, facing the brunt.

Following a demonstration they organised in Edinburgh at the weekend (12 November), Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan (SSK) have spoken out against the closure of 370 civic and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Turkey, including many Kurdish organisations.

Roza Salih of SSK said: “We are shocked to hear of the closure of so many non-governmental organisations. When I visited Kurdistan a year ago I visited the Rojava Association a charitable organisation who were raising money to support refugees from Kobane and had helped the victims of flooding in Turkey. The KJA women’s organisation supported women’s groups who tackled domestic violence, provided education for women and helped them establish businesses as well as providing a strong voice for women across the region.

“The closure of these organisations and others is another sign that Turkey is heading for dictatorship and must be condemned by all people who believe in democracy.”

Activists are particularly concerned over the closure of women’s and feminist organisations, which are an iconic part of the Kurdish movement in Turkey as well as in Rojava, a liberated Kurdish area of Syria, where women play a leading role in attempts to create a new model of democratic autonomy and fight-off attacks from groups including Daesh (so called Islamic State).

Part of a Scottish trade union solidarity mission to Kurdish areas under the control of the Turkish state in 2015, here visiting the now suppressed KJA women’s organisation

Last year, Scottish trade unionist visited some of the groups which have subsequently been closed in the unprecedented political repression which has followed a failed coup attempt against the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016. Kurdish organisations were not involved in the coup attempt, which was organised around elements of the army.

Tens of thousands of political prisoners have been taken in the faltering state, which is an important Nato ally of the UK. In recent weeks, the Kurdish leftwing HDP party, the third largest political party in the Turkish Parliament, has seen 10 of its MPs elected including its co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş.

Many radio stations, newspapers and television channels have also been closed down in the country.

Interview: Scottish trade unionists and activists return from Kurdish solidarity trip in Turkey

The campaigners have pledged to keep up pressure against the Turkish consulate in Edinburgh as well as raise awareness of the links between Turkey and its Nato allies including the UK and the US.

Pictures: Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan, Sean Baillie 

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