What is happening in the city of Kobani, on the border of Syria and Turkey, is nothing short of horrific. Since ISIS has descended on the Kurdish town last week, it has been committing atrocities that we have seen splattered across the pages of newspapers day in and day out. Headless corpses litter the streets, reports The Independent. There are fears that ISIS will loot and burn homes, reports Sky. “If they cut off the border [to Turkey], then everyone inside is going to die,” said activist and journalist Mustafa Abdi in The Guardian. The United Nations envoy to Syria warned that at least 500 civilians trapped in the town were likely “be massacred” if the town falls to ISIS. The situation is grim indeed.
And now the Turkish government, whose efforts to help the Kurds have been pathetic to say the least—what with the long history of tension, denial, and a bullshit ‘peace agreement’—is claiming that the best way to fight ISIS is to establish a buffer zone between Turkey and Syria. The location of choice: Rojava, or Syrian Kurdistan, which Kobani is part of. Turkey aims to establish these “safe havens” on border areas where most refugees congregate, and in the areas held by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its Syrian branch, the Democratic Union Party (PYD). As the PYD took over Kurdish areas of northern Syria in July 2012 and declared them to be autonomous and because Turkey has the military to protect any small-scale, unilaterally declared havens, the Turkish government is arguing that the creation of these havens could in turn protect the Kurdish enclaves and help defend them against ISIS. In reality, what this zone would mean—and what the PKK/PYD fear—is that it will bring Turkish military control over PKK/PYD activities in Syria.
But a ray of hope comes in the Turkey-based Women’s Initiative for Peace, which is calling for people to take a stand against the creation of this buffer zone. I read an article about it this morning in Iranian.com (because of course Turkish media won’t touch it) and summarize the initiative’s urgent call below:
“We, women, want the Turkish state to honor its pledges. We do not want the peace process to end. As women, we know that war targets women and that women pay a very high price during war. Turning overnight into refugees, women have crossed the Rojava border and flocked into Turkey, a country that does not grant legal refugee status to persons arriving from its southern borders.
Refugee camps, forced resettlement, the declaration of their homes as empty land is the bleak future that Rojava women now face.
This future need not come to be. Lobby your government, lobby the Turkish government, and lobby the UN. We are sending attached template emails/fax that you can send to the UN and the Turkish government. Do not let them establish a buffer zone in Rojava. Tell them:
Rojava is not empty. Kurds have a government there. Not having a state should not mean not having a home. Stop the forced eviction of Kurds from yet another of their homelands.”
If you want to get involved, send a letter of support to the Turkish government and/or the United Nations. More information and relevant contact details here.
Title image source: www.breakingnewspak.com