Dear High Commissioner,
I write as a dual Australian and British citizen to urge the British government to immediately cease arms sales to Turkey. Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a dangerous dictatorship and a rogue state. I also urge the UK to work with its allies to impose a no-fly zone over the northern area of Syria bordering Turkey.
Erdogan has trampled over democratic and human rights in Turkey, gaoling untold thousands of citizens, including opposition members of parliament (one of whom is in hunger strike and in danger of imminent death).
He has in particular treated Turkey’s Kurdish population with great brutality, reversing the peace process with the PKK.
He has also given assistance to extreme Islamists, including Al Qaeda, Al Nusra and ISIS in Syria. Last year he launched a brutal and illegal attack on the mainly Kurdish city of Afrin in Syria, using the Turkish military’s heavy weapons and Jihadist proxies. He did so with the explicit aim of “ethnically cleansing” the city of its Kurdish population and has replaced them with Islamist families from elsewhere in Syria.
He is now massing troops and weaponry on the rest of his border with the Kurdish districts in Syria. His aim again is ethnic cleansing, launched under the guise of combatting “terrorism” – that is the Kurdish YPG and YPJ.
In fact, the Kurdish fighters are the same people as those to whom the civilised world owes a huge debt of gratitude. It is they whom we must thank for routing ISIS.
Erdogan, on the other hand, has allied himself with the Islamists. Indeed one of his commanders in the so-called FSA was one of the architects of the terrorist attacks in Paris. Erdogan is also on record as threatening the lives of the citizens of western countries critical of his illegal activities in Syria.
Erdogan could not hope to beat the Kurds in a fair fight. However, his forces are equipped with high-tech weapons provided by European manufacturers. These include German tanks and British aviation. Indeed, in the same week as he attacked Afrin, the UK agreed to provide him with advanced military aviation technology.
This has to stop. It is morally unacceptable to provide such a government with weapons of mass destruction, particularly when they are used against the Kurds, to whom the world owes so much. It is also stupid because the UK is arming a volatile rogue state with close ties to the jihadis.
It is also imperative that the UK and its allies use their position on the UN Security Council to declare a no-fly zone over the entire northern Syrian-Turkish border area.
The results of the looming Turkish-jihadi invasion of Rojava will be catastrophic for the Kurds and other peoples. It will also allow ISIS to regroup and will further destabilise war-torn Syria. Who, too, could blame the Kurds if, when abandoned by the world yet again, they seek help from the unspeakable Assad?
Urgent action is needed in the name of humanity.
Prof John Tully
Honorary Professor, PhD
College of Arts and Education