[The following letter was submitted to The Age on March 29 but not printed.]
As concerned Australians, we condemn Turkey’s invasion of the mainly Kurdish canton of Afrin in northern Syria, and call on the Australian Government do all in its power to protest and stop Turkey’s aggression.
Turkey’s President Erdogan claims Kurdish forces in northern Syria are terrorists and pose a threat to his country. In fact the Syrian Kurds and their allies were instrumental in defeating ISIS and liberating Raqqa. Theirs was a victory for all humanity, and the world owes them a huge debt of gratitude.
Until the invasion Afrin was an oasis of peace in Syria, taking in large numbers of refugees. It had established a democratic and pluralist society with real freedoms for women. It posed no threat to Turkey, except as an example of how tolerance and women’s rights can be achieved.
To its shame, the international community has remained virtually silent on Turkey’s invasion, meekly calling for restraint on all sides. Such appeasement of a violent regime is morally repugnant and allows the contravention of international law. The world cannot turn away as Erdogan plunges Syria further into death and destruction.
We call on the Australian Government to recall its Ambassador from Ankara and summon the Turkish Ambassador in Canberra to express its deep concerns. We also call for a suspension of the 2006 Framework Agreement between Australia and Turkey on Military Cooperation. Australia must condemn Turkey’s invasion and take effective steps to help guarantee Afrin’s safety and security.
Dorothy Bruck, Emeritus Professor, Victoria University
Pamela Curr, Refugee Advocate
Basak Gel, Kurdish Women’s League of Victoria
Damien Kingsbury, Professor, Deakin University
Grahame McCulloch, General Secretary, National Tertiary Education Union
Rob Stary, Civil Liberties Lawyer
John Tully, Honorary Professor, Australians for Kurdistan
Jacinda Woodhead, Editor, Overland magazine
Arnold Zable, Writer