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Statement on the trilateral memorandum between the states of Turkey, Sweden and Finland regarding the ascension of Sweden and Finland to NATO

Trade unions will re-double efforts to support the Kurdish political movement and all those in Turkey who are calling for peace, democracy, equality and human rights and are opposing the brutal and violent Turkish regime.

The trilateral memorandum between the states of Turkey, Sweden, and Finland, regarding the ascension of Sweden and Finland to NATO, shows a staggering level of hypocrisy and cowardice on the part of the Swedish and Finnish states. In their attempt to protect themselves from one authoritarian dictator in Russia, they have given in to the demands of another in Turkey, thereby effectively giving the green light for a new Turkish invasion of North and East Syria.

This memorandum is a nothing other than a sell-out of the Kurdish people in order to curry the favour of the Turkish state, in order that it withdraws its objections to them joining NATO. It will inevitably lead to more bloodshed, war and suffering.

While both Sweden and Finland, along with other NATO states, have rightly been extremely vocal in condemning and reacting to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, they appear to be quite happy to condemn the Kurdish people to the same fate at the hands of Turkey. It is outrageous that the Kurds are having to pay the price of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Once again they are reduced to pawns in the power games of Western governments with the lives of Kurdish people deemed of less importance than those of others.

The people identified in the memorandum are the very people that helped beat ISIS and protect Europe and the wider world from the horrors ISIS were perpetrating. Ironically the sacrifice of these courageous people was recognised by previous Swedish and Finnish governments who had been supporting the YPG along with the US. This memorandum has demolished the reputations of the Swedish and Finnish governments and their long traditions of fighting for the rights of the oppressed.

It is clear that Turkey does not adhere to the purported principles of NATO as the continuous aggression of the Turkish state on its own population demonstrates, as does the extensive bombing and killing of civilians in cities such as Diyarbakir, Cizre and Silopi in 2016; the threats that Turkey has made against NATO member Greece; and its invasion of Northern Iraq and the invasions and ethnic cleansing of parts of North and East Syria. There is also evidence that Turkey assists and employs former ISIS fighters in its forces.

The labelling of all those that stand against the Erdogan government as terrorists just because they aspire to a different society based on equality, democracy and women’s liberation, should be of deep concern to the international community and not pandered to. This is clearly recognised in some European countries as the ruling of the Belgium Supreme Court, which found that the PKK is not a terrorist organisation but a side in a civil war, demonstrates. Similarly, the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Kurdistan has called for review of the inclusion of the PKK on the list of prescribed organisations for the same reasons.

The memorandum signed yesterday will undoubtedly speed up the criminalisation of politicians, journalists, teachers, and trade unionists in Turkey and the Kurdish diaspora, and encourage the pending ban of the HDP – a sister party of the UK’s Labour Party.

The memorandum is also a huge step backwards in the international fight against ISIS and will very likely will lead to another invasion and further ethnic cleansing in North and East Syria, as well as the resurgence of ISIS – in which case the Swedish and Finnish states will be fully complicit.

By Freedom for Ocalan

The Freedom for Öcalan campaign is a UK trade union-backed initiative to secure the release of imprisoned Kurdish political prisoner Abdullah Öcalan.

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