Oct 15, 2019

Iranian Kurdistan: Kurdish Protesters Take to the Streets in Solidarity against Turkish Offensive

Over the last days, global protests took place against the Turkish military offensive in the Northeast of Syria. In Iranian Kurdistan, 400 protesters gathered at Iqbal Square in Sanandaj last Friday [11 October 2019] to express their opposition to the ethnic cleansing conducted by Turkey. Kurdish people have expressed their feeling of abandonment and betrayal by the United States and the EU, after fighting side by side in the struggle against ISIS which caused the loss of 11,000 Kurdish fighters.

The article below was published by Rudaw:

Iranian Kurds have added their voice to global protest of Turkey’s ongoing military offensive in northeast Syria, an area known to many Kurds as Rojava, by staging continuing protests across several cities to condemn what they call the ethnic cleansing of Kurds.

Since Turkey’s military offensive dubbed Operation Peace Spring began on Thursday, protests have taken place across Iranian Kurdistan, otherwise known as Rojhalat, in the major Kurdish cities of Sanandaj, Baneh, Piranshar and Marivan amid a heavy security force presence.

On Friday, more than 400 protesters gathered at Iqbal Square in Sanandaj, carrying banners that read "Rojava is not alone, Rojhalat is with you," "Kurdistan, the graveyard of the enemies" and "Rojava do not feel you are left in limbo, Sanandaj is standing by you."  Another banner read "Death to Turkey and Erdogan"; some protesters burned the Turkish flag.

"The people of Rojhalat are very closely watching the events taking place in other parts of Kurdistan. Everywhere, people are talking about this catastrophic Turkish offensive,"  a 43 year old in Kurdish clothing and identifying himself as Khabat told Rudaw English. "Turkey's aim is only to exterminate Kurds and end what they have achieved.”

"The whole word witnesses that the safest place during Syria's turmoil has been Western Kurdistan where the right of all components are provided," he said. "Turkey initially created Daesh [Islamic State] to cleanse Kurds, but the unprecedented resistance of Kurds foiled the Turkish plot. And now the fascist Erdogan, the second largest NATO power, has started to do it [ethnic cleansing] itself."

"In unity, I am sure Kurds will prevail," he added.

I saw a woman of average height leading in front of the protests chanting with a loud voice: "Kurdistan, Kurdistan, the graveyard of the enemies" while others behind her repeated the slogan.

Evoking an age-old Kurdish saying used in multiple occasions of betrayal furious at the Turkish incursion into Rojava, she told Rudaw: "History has proven that we Kurds do not have any friends, but the mountains."

She slammed Trump's decision to greenlight Turkey’s attack, expressing feelings of abandonment after the loss of 11,000 Kurdish fighters in the war against ISIS, fought with US assistance.

"America let thousands of Kurdish men and women be killed in the fight against Daesh. Once their mission was accomplished, they turned their back on us, leaving us in limbo to be killed by Turkey," she lamented.

Suhaila, who took part in the Sanandaj protests with her two children, voiced her exasperation at Kurdish confidence in Western powers to help them achieve their aims.

"I just do not know how long it will take for our nation to understand that we should not depend on the West and Americans? They do what matters for their interests. When they are done, they turn their back on us."

Twenty-five year old Layla, a Kurdish language teacher, was one of the protest organizers. She condemned the swift re-characterization of Kurds from heroes to villains.

"Daesh had intimidated the whole world, haunting the US and European countries and the biggest armies of world countries did not manage to destroy them, but Kurds did and the UN and EU started portraying Kurds as heroes.  With Daesh gone, is it now the time to call Kurds terrorists?”

Many young men protesting say they are ready to travel to Rojava to fight alongside what they call their Kurdish brothers.

"Kurds from across the four parts must stand side by side and foil Turkey's plot to exterminate Kurds in Rojava," 28-year-old Sirwan told Rudaw.

"If the conflict persists, I will definitely go and fight," he said.


Photo courtesy of Rudaw