#stuc2018 Congress backed UNISON’s emergency motion and condemned the invasion of Afrin in Syria by Turkey and assorted militias, including former Al-Qaida and ISIS fighters.
It will press the UK Government to cease arms sales to Turkey whilst they continue to attack Kurdish communities in Syria, and to raise with Turkey the need to withdraw from Syria.
Moving the motion, UNISON Scotland depute convener Stephen Smellie told delegates that Erdogan’s “Operation Olive Branch” launched in January is not a peace initiative. “It is a full-scale invasion of the Region of Afrin,” said Stephen.
He told delegates that Afrin is part of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, created by the Kurdish forces who defended their people against ISIS – allied with the other peoples of the region. It is an autonomous, democratic, secular and gender equal administrations in the towns, villages and across the Region.
“And not just gender equal councils but women leading the movement,” added Stephen.
“But the new Afrin administrative council are 100% men.”
The militia forces that entered Afrin destroyed statues of Kurdish origins and Ezidi religious symbols.
“This is reminiscent of ISIS destroying non-Islamic and pre-Islamic statuary,” condemned Stephen, adding that reports of Edizi women being told to cover their heads and convert to Islam is also reminiscent of ISIS conduct in Sinjar in 2014.
Stephen warned Congress that Turkey intends to resettle refugees into Afrin and that Erdogan has stated his intention to extend his invasion eastward to the Iraqi border. “In other words, to take over all of the Kurdish Regions in Northern Syria.”
“Turkey’s ambitions are two-fold,” said Stephen.
“They are extending their war against their own Kurdish population – jailing politicians and journalists, closing down NGOs, human rights organisations and opposition media and sacking hundreds of thousands of public servants.
“And they are intervening in Syria to extend Erdogan’s ambitions of a new Ottoman Empire to carve up Syria.”
Stephen slammed this illegal invasion by a NATO ally, “which our UK government has been silent on – In fact worse than silent – they have given positive statements about Turkey’s right to deal with terrorism.
“Turkey are the terrorists,” said Stephen.
“Instead of selling more arms to Turkey for them to us against their own citizens and invade the Kurdish Regions of Syria, our Government should condemn this increasingly racist Turkish regime.”