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by Sylvie Jan

"Stop Erdogan!"

Translated Thursday 22 September 2016, by Isabelle Métral

Sylvie Jan is president of the France-Kurdistan Association.

During the latest edition of our Fête de l’Humanité the France-Kurdistan Association launched a national campaign entitled “Stop Erdogan!” Why must Erdogan be stopped? Because what is at stake in that region is no less than the future of the world, which concerns us directly. Erdogan is waging an all-out war on the Kurdish populations, especially those that elected democratic councils and whose mayors are thrown out of office, and into prison. Heinous assassinations have targeted the populations, while new arrests and purges take place every day all over the country. The dictatorship shows its true face and not only will it be there to stay but it will spread if nobody puts a stop to it.

In the heart of a region that has been devastated Erdogan is now violating all the international laws by occupying the north of Syria, Rojava, a zone held by Kurdish forces. What next? What more will he set his sights on? What self-interested alliances will he manage to strike? What possible accords between those two complicit predators, Erdogan and Israel, whose army Obama has just boosted like never before with billions of dollars? Boosting army budgets can never serve peace, it only brings war.

So this is a serious, indeed a most dangerous issue. The Daesh forces, which Erdogan did not scruple de facto to support, will also be boosted in a region where poverty and humiliation of every sort are exacerbated and tensions multiply. We have already had a first-hand testimony of the international backlash that this power contest entails. So Erdogan must definitely be stopped. But does it make sense to say “Stop Erdogan”? The difficulties are real enough but it is also clear that public opinion in this country is now changing. Both as regards the Kurdish people, for the courage and humanity it has shown, and about Erdogan himself. Not so long ago Erdogan was still respected as the leader of a stable, “safe” country, but he is now increasingly considered as the dangerous autocrat he has turned into.

The nearly hundred debates our association has organized over the last two years whether in popular neighborhoods or at universities have made this evolution clear to us. So much so that pro-Erdogan militants in France are on the defensive and have been trying to prevent those meetings from taking place. Who then could join this "Stop Erdogan" campaign? To begin with, those very categories that reacted to the crack-down in Turkey from their own perspectives: universities in support of universities, journalists in support of journalists, lawyers, trade-unionists etc.

If we all want to gather force in the diversity of our motivations we must now speak with one voice. This is a political urgency. Let’s bond together. We have an additional asset, namely our interlocutors in Turkey. The progressives in Turkey, whether Turks or Kurds, or those in Rojava, are brave and determined. Abdullah Ocalan has just launched a call to lay down arms and take up negotiations because there is no military solution.

In order to reach this end what we need is a public opinion that is confident in its own strength and makes itself forcibly heard in the public debate. International campaigns, the voices of the peoples are indispensable to bring about peace.

Our objective is that France’s position change and that it really support the forces of peace in that region. International policy should figure significantly in the debates before the presidential and the general elections [1]. Millions of us French people love Turkey. We will not allow it to end in a bloodbath. The forces of peace are within each of us. Let us all say “Stop Erdogan!”

[1Translator’s Note: in May and June 2017

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