Last weekend Turkish flags were raised above the ruined city of Nusaybin as a sign of victory over the Kurdish population that once lived there. The city was destroyed because President Erdogan – a dictator by deed – wanted to assert his authority over the Kurds and to punish them for the resistance to that authority by the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party). The obliteration of the city was not just an act of revenge but collective punishment, reminiscent of the practice of Nazis during World War II when in retaliation to local resistance whole villages were burnt to the ground and local people executed.
(UPDATE: right now Turkish forces are setting fire to thousands of houses in Sirnak (Cizre) as a punishment to Kurds for opposing the Erdogan regime and around 80% of the city has been destroyed – details here.)
Now we are seeing ethnic cleansing on a scale not witnesssed since the breakup of Yugoslavia. And just as UN peacekeepers were shown to be ineffective to stop massacres, such as Srebenica, so today the UN and other bodies turn a blind eye to the attrocities of Erdogan. Yet if anyone deserves to be dragged to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, it is he. And why is Europe silent on this too? Because they do not want to upset the Turkish president in case he sticks to his threat to bus in thousands more refugees to Europe. This is appeasement at its worst that sees German Chancellor Merkel grovelling before this creature.
And all this on the same weekend that Amnesty International published its damning report on Turkey, providing irrefutable evidence why Turkey cannot be considered safe for returning refugees.
And all this on the same weekend that the ever-volatile Erdogan issued a “call-my-bluff” edict to the EU, stating that the deal with Europe over refugees was suspended – until, that is, he gets his way on visa-free roaming for Turks: which is so important, because he knows if he screws this up his power will wane.
But Turkey is no newcomer to genocide, having been responsible for the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians. Nor is this assault on an entire Kurdish community new: over the decades the Kurds have been attacked time and time again – in particular the 1938 Dersim massacres and the Al-Anfal campaign of 1998. (Here is a full list of massacres carried out by the Turks over centuries.)
And let’s not forget that the cousins of these same Kurds are at the forefront of the fight to destroy ISIS. The PKK and the YPJ/G were the ones who rescued the Yazidis when they were stranded on the Sinjar Mountains. And it is the same Kurdish militias who are now receiving assistance – belatedly – from UK and US special forces.
What is happening now in south-east Turkey, amongst the Kurdish communities is genocide. We must not let this annhilation become another Armenia.