Foreign affairs may not be devolved, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t make our voices heard – especially when it comes to a call for peace, democracy and human rights.
The Scottish National Party, Scotland’s ruling party and the third largest party by membership in the UK, has released a statement that calls for an end to Turkey’s illegal isolation of imprisoned Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan, and for a reinstatement of peace talks with him as representative of the Kurds. It urges the UK government to protest the repression of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) by the Turkish Government, and emphasises the SNP’s long-standing advocacy for Kurdish rights.
Many people have compared the imprisonment of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan to the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela. As Mandela was key to negotiating the end of apartheid in South Africa, so engagement with Ocalan is key to negotiating a peaceful, fair, and dignified future for Kurds in Turkey and beyond, and for Turkey itself to step back from its decent into fascism. Ocalan has not only been held in isolation on an island prison for twenty-two years but is currently deprived of all communication with the outside world. In turn this deprives the world of hopes for peace, and also of the opportunity to discuss his ideas with him directly: ideas that are transforming society in autonomous North-East Syria and can help build strong empowered communities everywhere.
As the Turkish state clamps down ever harder on democracy, it is vital that external voices stand up for those being oppressed. In the last two weeks, over 700 people were detained under Turkey’s ever-elastic terrorism legislation, including HDP provincial and district chairs; Turkey’s highest court confirmed the two year prison sentence for an HDP member of parliament who was convicted of ‘making terrorist propaganda’ on the basis of a social media post; an HDP co-mayor was left unable to speak at her court case due to severe battering by prison guards after she resisted a strip-search; and the first steps were taken to lift parliamentary immunity from a further nine HDP MPS, including the party’s co-chair, so that they too can be tried and imprisoned. Already, thousands of party members have been jailed, and almost all the elected mayors have been replaced by government appointed trustees. If democratic parties in other countries remain silent while all this is happening, that is tantamount to condoning Turkey’s attack on democracy. We hope that the SNP’s statement can encourage others to speak out – and that words will be followed by action.
The SNP’s full statement is below.
- The SNP recognises the urgent necessity for a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish conflict in Turkey.
- The SNP has been a long-standing advocate for Kurdish rights in Turkey as well as in Iraq and Syria, and has commended the Kurdish people for their fight against extremism and their progressive leadership on social issues (such as women’s rights) in the Middle East.
- With regards to your statement that the Biden administration in the US is working to interfere and take sides in domestic Turkish politics, the SNP is not in the place to comment but we do acknowledge that Turkey may be a NATO ally and an important friend of the United Kingdom, but that does not prevent us from raising important human rights and security concerns.
- We call on the Government to make it absolutely clear to President Erdogan that the suppression of political parties and the jailing of elected leaders are totally unacceptable in any country that wants to be seen as an advanced modern democracy.
- We urge the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to call on the Turkish Government to immediately end the isolation enforced on Abdullah Ocalan (the Kurdish leader and philosopher currently imprisoned in isolation in appalling conditions and without legal representation by Turkey). Keeping Mr Ocalan in a state of aggravated solitary confinement for over 20 years is an inhuman punishment in breach of both domestic laws and international conventions to which Turkey is a signatory.
- We urge the FCDO reinstate the peace talks with Abdullah Ocalan as the representative of the Kurds
- In the past SNP MPs have signed letters to the FCDO, written by the “Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question”, in which we called for the UK to live up to its obligations and commitments to human rights throughout the world and stand up for decency in international relations.
Here is a link to the coverage of the SNP’s statement on ANF news. This can’t be shared on Facebook because anything with Ocalan gets you banned, and it can’t be shared on Twitter because Twitter wont allow you to post anything from ANF! I have had to be careful with both headline and picture so that this article is shareable.