We Defend Peace against War!
21 November 2022
Persistence on Conflict in the Kurdish Issue before the Elections Deepens Humanitarian and Economic Crisis and Leads to Political Chaos
According to official statements, Turkey bombed northern and northeastern Syria and northern Iraq with warplanes from midnight on 19 November 2022 until the morning of 20 November 2022. The bombing of the city of Kobane, which defeated the ISIS/ISIL jihadist gang organization with its resistance, is particularly noteworthy. As a justification for the airstrike, the authorities claimed that the bombing attack on İstiklal Street in Taksim, İstanbul on 13 November 2022 had links with various organizations operating in Syria. In the İstiklal Street attack, which we all condemn, there has been considerable confusion, with officials frequently publicizing conflicting information, deliberately violating the confidentiality of the investigation and blaming Syrian organizations from day one. This has heightened the concerns of political observers and human rights defenders asking whether we are re-entering a “bloody interim period” like the one during the re-election period of 7 June-1 November 2015.
Media has also reported that many civilians were killed and injured in this airstrike. According to press reports, 11 civilians were killed and 6 others were wounded in the bombing of an electricity distribution facility in the village of Derik Tegil Begil in northeastern Syria. It is also shared with the press that civilians were killed and wounded particularly in Kobane, and other cities. On this occasion, we extend our condolences and wish a speedy recovery to the people of the region. We call on the government to end the strikes as soon as possible.
Turkey’s frequent cross-border airstrikes in Syria and Iraq on the basis of parliamentary resolutions it passed in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNAT) on Syria and Iraq, the presence of ground forces especially in Syria and Iraq, and its military interventions carried out with new titles every year are making the problem increasingly intractable.
In Turkey, starting with the 2007 Iraqi resolution, cross-border military operation resolutions have been repeatedly passed every year, and since 2014, Syria has been included in the scope and joint resolutions for Syria and Iraq have started to be passed. In this context, in the latest legislative term, a resolution of war for Syria and Iraq was again brought to the agenda of the on 20 October 2021 on 20 October 2021 and this time authorization was requested for 2 years. The opposition parties HDP, CHP, DBP, DBP and TİP did not support the presidential decree, which was approved by the majority and authorized the political power for cross-border operations. We have previously shared with the public our views that these authorizations were incompatible with Article 91 of the Constitution and that de facto attacks on the territory of other countries along with the presence of troops without a UN Security Council resolution would have serious legal consequences.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) announced on 18 April 2022 that it had launched a new military operation against the PKK in the Zap, Metina and Avashin regions of the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government and frequently makes statements about this operation.
Since 24 July 2015, the political power in Turkey has been claiming that it would solve the Kurdish issue through conflict and has been conducting repeated military operations every year, both exacerbating the problem (controlled territories in Syria and Iraq) and implementing authoritarian methods (authoritarian presidential model with the constitutional amendment) in order to prolong its political power. The impasse in the Kurdish issue has rapidly turned Turkey into an authoritarian and anti-democratic country.
Despite policies of war and insistence on conflict, millions of Kurds and their political representatives once again gave messages of peace at the Newroz celebrations in 2022, demonstrating that Turkey should choose the method of dialogue and negotiation to resolve the Kurdish issue democratically and peacefully, and end the policy of isolation. However, the fact that the political power does not receive this strong message and prefers to deepen the conflict with pro-security policies and attempting to solve the problem with violence leads to devastating conflict, and allegations of violations of human rights and humanitarian law are increasing.
When we look back over the last 38 years, we see various periods of armed conflict and periods of search for peace. Armed conflicts started in 1984, peace was sought for the first time in March 1991, and then there was a long period of non-conflict between March 2013 and July 2015. Within the last 38 years, this is the first time that we have been witnessing such a long period of uninterrupted conflict, in which the scale of the conflict has expanded geographically, and all social segments have been harmed. Therefore, we would like to point out that it is inevitable to turn to the quest for peace at the end of a period in which the human and economic cost of the conflict has been so great.
In a research report drafted for the Democratic Progress Institute, researcher İzzet Akyol revealed that between 1985 and 2021, 230 billion dollars were lost directly due to the conflict, and according to the dollar index updated for 2022, the Turkish economy lost 4.5 trillion dollars, and without this loss, Turkey’s national income would have grown 36% more. While the impasse in the Kurdish problem or the search for conflict-based solutions has had such a terrible economic cost, we would like to point out that insisting on this policy is futile and leads Turkey to bankruptcy. According to TurkStat figures, the annual CPI for October 2022 was 85.51%, and according to the calculation of the ENAG group comprised of independent academics, the annual CPI for April 2022 was 185.34%, which shows the necessity of opposing war policies in the face of inflation that will rise further according to PPI rates.
According to data collected by İHD’s Documentation Center, in the 7-year period between 2015 and 2021, 6,019 people lost their lives and 8,562 people were wounded (the vast majority of those who lost their lives in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq are not included) due to armed conflict.
In the face of Turkey’s mediation in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its declaration that it would support peace, we cannot comprehend Turkey’s insistence on conflict in a problem like the Kurdish issue, which has become an international problem and directly concerns the Kurds, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran and the international military and economic unions, the UN and the Council of Europe. The Kurdish issue cannot be solved through conflict and war policies.
On the occasion of the latest airstrike, we would like to remind once again:
Although no organization has claimed responsibility for the attack on İstiklal Street in Taksim, İstanbul, while the investigation is still ongoing with detentions, the political and social opposition in Turkey must oppose the political power’s decision to bring the current armed conflict to a point where it will almost start a war with Syria. Otherwise, it should be known that elections cannot be held under conditions of war, and it should not be forgotten that the situation, to put it mildly, will be even worse than the re-election period between June 7 and 1 November 2015.
Turkey’s military operations in the territory of the Federated Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq and the bombing of aircraft in northern and northeastern Syria, both in areas under its control and in military activities outside its control, It is necessary to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the civilian deaths as a result of drone strikes and artillery shelling, which can only be carried out by a Parliamentary Investigation Commission, and this commission should also investigate the gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law committed by paramilitary groups against civilians, especially in the areas under the control of the Turkish Armed Forces in the north and northeast of Syria.
There are serious allegations about the military operations carried out since April 2022 on the border with Turkey in the territory of the Federated Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq. One of the most serious allegations is that many settlements have been bombed, inhabitants were intimidated and evacuated the area, thus thousands of people were forcibly displaced. There are also serious allegations and images of the use of prohibited weapons and prohibited bombs. In addition, there are grave reports that the bodies of some of the TAF soldiers were left in the field and their fates are unknown. The GNAT Investigation Commission should also investigate these allegations.
In addition to the Commission, the competent Chief Public Prosecutors’ Offices in the border region and the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office should conduct effective investigations into attacks on civilians during military operations, identify gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law and initiate necessary prosecutions.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and international human rights organizations should carry out investigations and inquiries at the incident sites regarding the alleged gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law.
We would like to state that the Iraqi and Syrian military resolutions passed in October 2021 should be canceled, Turkey should withdraw its military forces in Iraq and Syria within Turkey’s borders, and a peace process should be rebuilt both with these countries and with the Kurdish political movement by finding solutions other than military options for the democratic and peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue.
İHD defends the right to peace against war. We remind all those concerned of the UN Declaration on the Right to Peace adopted and proclaimed by the UN General Assembly on 19 December 2016 and the UN Human Rights Council Resolution 35/4 of 22 June 2017 on the Promotion of the Right to Peace and we state that defending the right to peace is the top priority for us. We once again call on the government of Turkey to implement peace policies instead of those of war. We defend peace against war.
Human Rights Association