“Leicester is Afrin!”

Earlier this afternoon around 100 people joined a protest in the centre of Leicester to condemn the Turkish government’s murderous rampage in Afrin that has already killed hundreds of people and forced tens of thousands to flee.

The brilliantly well-attended event, which was only organised at late notice, came in response to the Turkish government’s bloody takeover of the Kurdish town of Afrin in Syria last weekend, which came after weeks of attacks and the indiscriminate bombing of civilians.

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Speaking to the Leicester Mercury (March 24) Sheila Mosley, the local organiser for the Leicester Kurdish Solidarity Campaign explained:

“Our aim is to highlight exactly what’s going on there [in Afrin]. We want the UK Government to publicly condemn Turkey’s campaign against the Kurds and its invasion of Kurdish areas in Syria directly and through its allies.”

Although not reported in the local newspaper, the solidarity campaign also made the following clear demands which called for the:

  • UK Government to publicly condemn Turkey’s campaign against the Kurds and its invasion of Kurdish areas in Syria directly and through its allies
  •  UK Government to tell Turkey to leave the Kurdish area in Rojava, Syria taking its allies with them so the Kurds can rebuild their area
  • to support the Kurds in the rebuilding of Afrin
  • to encourage UK allies to take the same action
  • to publicly recognise PYD and YPG/YPJ as legitimate Kurdish bodies (Turkey calls them terrorists) and to engage appropriately and supportively with them regarding a political solution to the ongoing crisis in Syria.

As recently reported by Serge Jordan for the Committee for a Workers International (CWI), these brutal actions on the part of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — the authoritarian President of Turkey — are part of broader attempt to bolster dwindling political support for his government’s regressive policies.

“A central part of this strategy has been a scorched-earth policy against the Kurdish minority, conducted from 2015, when the first electoral breakthrough of the pro-Kurdish HDP came about. At the time, the timid but real promotion of class and social issues by this party articulated the left-leaning politicisation of a new generation, and showed the potential for building a bridge between polarised communities. Burning this bridge became the regime’s obsession, along with crushing the Kurdish movement in neighbouring Syria – which built its own institutions there since 2013, and stands as an encouraging example for Turkey’s own Kurdish community and its desire to break the shackles of oppression.

“All these considerations incited Erdoğan to launch “Operation Olive Branch”, the invasion of Afrin, one of the three predominantly Kurdish self-governed cantons in north-western Syria (or Rojava), on January 20. If successful, this military outing would also provide a territorial pad for leveraging Turkey’s weight on the Syrian power chessboard, and satisfy Erdoğan’s neo-Ottoman ambitions of expanding his country’s geo-political influence in the Middle East.” (“Turkey: AKP regime heading for stormy times,” Committee for a Workers International, March 21, 2018)

The world is in turmoil, and more and more people are fighting back, resisting repression in all its forms.

Earlier this month millions took to the streets in Madrid as a part a socialist one-day strike for feminism — in which CWI comrades proudly played a leading role; another hundred-strong protest took place in Leicester against the murderous actions of the Sri Lankan government; while our Turkish comrades in Sosyalist Alternatif continue to fight for a bold and inclusive socialist programme to take the working-class forward; “one aiming for the public ownership and democratic planning of Turkey and the region’s resources, and for the Kurdish people to determine freely their own future.”

Now what we need in the UK is for the end of the Tories capitalist misrule and the arrival of genuinely socialist government that is led by Jeremy Corbyn that is prepared to bring an end to all wars. But as a launching point for bringing about such a reordering of political affairs, first off Labour would do well to get rid of the many warmongering Blairite MPs who still call Labour their home.

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