By a near unanimous vote the Stop the War Coalition, the leading anti-war movement in the UK, has adopted a clear and unambiguous position in support of the right of the Kurdish people to self-determination.
At its annual general meeting held in central London on 3 March, delegates from STWC branches and affiliated groups from all over the country, including trade unions, overwhelmingly backed the detailed motion moved by Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC) and the Kurdish Federation UK, which contains all the main demands of the Kurds for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
The decision commits the STWC to supporting the release of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed political leader of the Kurds and for the delisting of the PKK as a proscribed organisation.
The STWC backed right of the Kurds to determine their own future and supported calls for an independent investigation into allegations of war crimes carried out by the Turkish Army in its war against the Kurds. The motion also demanded an end to arms sales to Turkey, at least while it is in pursuit of military solution to the Kurdish question.
The STWC also decided to hold a national day of protest on 21 March, which is the day that the Kurds celebrate Newroz, against the increasing build up to a new war of intervention in the Middle East.
In moving their motion, CAMPACC & Kurdish Federation stressed that the Kurds had nothing to gain from a renewed war in the region and that they were firmly in solidarity with all the forces struggling for peace.
Representatives of the Kurdish Federation were also welcomed onto the STWC steering committee.
The motion as adopted reads as follows:
International intervention in the Middle East is once again pushing the region to the brink of war and destruction. If this impending human tragedy unfolds all the peoples of the region will suffer huge incalculable losses.
The Kurdish people therefore stand in full solidarity with all the forces that are resisting this reckless march towards war and are struggling to achieve a lasting peace for the region.
We would like to stress that the Kurdish people, historically divided and denied their own nationhood, have most to lose and little to gain from the war and conflicts which have devastated the region for decades.
The United States-led NATO coalition that includes Turkey and the repressive Gulf Arab monarchies is currently attempting to hijack the popular uprising for freedom and democracy expressed during the Arab Spring and this new opportunistic alliance of military powers wants to reshape the region in their own narrow sectarian interests and, as such, is completely at odds with the genuine interests of the people, including the Kurdish people.
Turkey under the sectarian rule of the AKP is seeking to extend its regional influence by, for example, supporting the armed struggle in Syria against the Assad regime, but at the same time it demands that its allies turn a blind eye to its oppression of its own people, particularly the Kurdish people who are leading the struggle for justice and democracy inside Turkey.
As a result thousands of Kurds, including elected MPs, mayors, lawyers, trade unionists, journalists and feminist activists, are presently facing mass arrest, long-term detention, show trials and persecution, simply for voicing their support for the basic democratic rights of the Kurdish people in Turkey, such as the right to elect their own representatives and the right to be educated in their own mother tongue of Kurdish, which are denied them to this day.
Our leader, Mr Abdullah Ocalan, the victim of an international conspiracy in 1999, has been held as a political prisoner in appalling conditions of isolation on Imrali Island ever since his unlawful arrest.
While by right there should be an international outcry against the Turkish state’s brutal maltreatment of the leader of an oppressed people, there is still widespread ignorance about the plight of Abdullah Ocalan and lack of understanding of what he stands for, even after all these years and international solidarity needs to be urgently stepped up.
We urge the Stop the War Coalition therefore to take a firm stand in favour of the Kurds and support the freedom of Abdullah Ocalan, who remains unfairly imprisoned as a political prisoner on Europe’s doorstep.
Indeed, support for Mr Ocalan’s repeated and consistent calls for a just negotiated peace between Turkey and the Kurds should be supported in the interests of achieving a wider peace for the peoples of the region.
The widespread human rights abuses and oppression continuing inside Turkey today and, not least, the military campaign against the Kurds in its own country and across the border in Iraq should be strongly and emphatically condemned.
We urge the STWC to support the just demands of the Kurdish people for the same basic rights and freedoms that inspired the Arab Spring and what all citizens of a country that claims to be democratic expect to freely enjoy and have enshrined in a democratic constitution.
We call for an end to the cultural genocide of the Kurds and urge the STWC to support this;
We call for an investigation into allegations of war crimes committed by the Turkish military in its war against the Kurds;
We call for a halt to arms sales to the AKP government;
We call for support for and recognition of the right to democratic autonomy of the Kurds in Turkey, Iran and Syria and for their right to elect and choose their own leaders.
We call for freedom for Abdullah Ocalan and the removal of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from the US and EU’s list of proscribed organisations.