LGBTI Peace Initiative is a group of activists who have been involved in various social and grassroots movements with anti-sexist, anti-fascist and anti-capitalist agendas. After the Suruç Bombing on July 20, 2015, the war between Turkish state and the Kurdish Freedom Movement escalated, the politics of the ruling party AKP (Justice and Development Party) lead to the death, injury, imprisonment and torture of our friends.
With the elections in June 7, 2015, a pro-Kurdish party, HDP, gained 80 of 550 MPs, despite attacks against the party and its supporters during electoral campaign period, including multiple arson attacks to party buildings and a bombing in the rally in Diyarbakır, on June 5, killing 5 people. The visibility gained by the minority and progressive groups of Turkey with the success of HDP frightened AKP, which lost its absolute majority in the parliament for the first time since 2002, the year when they first came into power. Nonetheless, none of the parties in the parliament were able to come up with a coalition, hence the parliament not being able to function lead to another general election on November 1, 2015.
Right after the deadly suicide bombing in Suruç district of Urfa, a town 10 km from Kobanî, Turkish government one sidedly ended the ceasefire with the outlawed Workers’ Party of Kurdistan (PKK). The bombing lead to the death of 33, the majority of whom were university students. On 10 October, in Ankara, another bombing lead to the death of 102. Those who were killed in this attack, were gathered for the “Labour, Peace and Democracy March” to protest against the growing conflict between the Turkish Armed Forces and PKK.
After highly controversial elections, AKP once again gained the power in 1 November 2015, as the ruling party.
As the legal political activity of HDP grew weaker under war conditions, PKK guerrillas took the initiative as Turkish Army continued bombing the rural areas and mountain bases. PKK started declaring autonomy in the cities of Turkish Kurdistan. Turkish army attacked civilians as well as the PKK members, with devastating and ruthless military operations in the cities. In 7 cities, more than 60 curfews have been declared since June 2015, lasting for more than 100 days in some areas. Humanitarian aid groups were prohibited to access the wounded civilians who get caught in the crossfire, the wounded were left to die. The official numbers do not reflect the correct number of casualties (both civilian and armed), as observers and journalists were denied access to the conflict areas, with threats of deportation or physical force. The locals who communicated with the press had to take the risk of brutal consequences. According to the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TIHV), at least 310 civilians were killed in the conflict during the various curfews imposed in parts of the region between August 2015 and March 2016. As of 16 August 2015, at least 1,642,000 people in the curfew areas are deprived of their fundamental rights, including right to life and health care. 355,000 people had to leave their homes as a result of the conflicts. At least 59 unidentified bodies were buried by the state in Cizre district of Şırnak.
Instead of employing peaceful means to respond to these conflicts, AKP used ISIS as a means to weaken the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Syria and let ISIS forces to have access to weapons and military equipment, health care in hospitals in Turkey, and allowed ISIS to recruit people to join their forces by opening the border between Syria and Turkey.
The free press is the biggest enemy of AKP in this war, so journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül are now facing terrorism charges for publishing documents and footage proving the transportation of weapons to ISIS soldiers under the supervision of Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT). They were arrested and imprisoned for a while. They are released now, but there are still 29 journalists who are in prison in Turkey.
AKP also favoured the repression of free speech: In January 2016, a group of academics called for a petition to the campaign “We will not be a party to this crime,” claiming this war was a crime committed by the Turkish state. More than 2000 academics signed the petition, and Erdogan accused them for being terrorists. With Erdogan’s call, the academics were with terror charges and four of them were arrested and have been held in prison since then. Their case is still on trial.
Recently, with a “decree” of Erdogan, the definition of terror in Turkish penal system will be extended so as to include “terrorist activities without arms,” which clearly targets to silence those who speak up for peace in non-violent ways despite the oppression and the threats they face.
CALL FOR ACTION AND SOLIDARITY
Creating international pressure on Turkish government is crucial for the peace talks to start again, a ceasefire between the Turkish State and PKK to be declared, and curfews in the Southeast of Turkey to end.
Please share the information above, and organize your own solidarity actions.
The asylum seekers face threats of deportation as a consequence of the refugee agreement made between the EU and Turkey. We should break the silence of the EU-member states and their institutions, show them that they shouldn’t turn a blind eye to this violence and human rights violations with the aim of stopping the refugees coming to Europe. Refugees are a result of this war, in which Turkey plays an important part.
SAY NO TO WAR IN TURKEY, SAY NO TO WAR IN SYRIA!
What can you do?
1) Support and spread our campaign on Indiegogo: https://www.generosity.com/emergencies-fundraising/room4life-in-turkey-support-rebuilding-sur-cizre/x/13564537
2) Organize fundraiser events, and contribute to the campaign supporting the reconstruction of Sur and Cizre. (All activities under this campaign will be shared on the website: http://en.kampanya.barisicinkadinlar.com)
3) Organize demonstrations and sit-ins in front of the Turkish Embassy buildings in your city/county. Join the LGBTI groups from all around the world who will protest this war in front of the Turkish Embassy buildings on 10 May 2016. You can choose the most suitable time for you. Please shoot the announcement and take beautiful pictures of your demonstration. And don’t forget to send us the text of your announcement, and any other news on the media. :)
Contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org if you require further information.