#DontGoTurkey‬: Young Kurds and Turks urge Europeans to stop funding Ankara

A group consisting of Turks and Kurds has launched a campaign in Britain to boycott one of Turkey’s main sources of income – tourism. They claim that money spent on holiday is then turned into “missiles, tear gas and sniper [ammo]” used against the Kurds.

The newly-launched campaign dubbed “Don’t Go Turkey” is aimed at fighting “against Turkey for its atrocities committed towards humanity,” as the campaign’s Twitter account puts it. Its organizers call on Europeans, and Brits in particular, “not to spend any of [their] hard earned decent money on Turkish products, Tourism, Airlines or any other investment, as it all goes directly into financing war against the Kurds and supporting ISIS terrorism.”

All of the members of the campaign are Turkish nationals living in London, primarily young men and women. The campaign has already gathered hundreds of followers on social media, but its members and organizers do not confine themselves to the web, and also take their cause to the actual public, spreading the word “citizen to citizen” with leaflets and banners. Representatives of the group spoke to RT’s Anastasia Churkina to shed light on what exactly they do, and what they want to achieve.

“We’ve been waking up to distressing news from our country every morning. Suicide bombings in Ankara and Diyarbakir, other atrocities… So we’ve decided to take some action to stop what is going on there,” Yucel Seran, one of the campaigners, explained.

He says their main goal is to stop European people from going to Turkey and spending money there as tourists.

“Their ‘tourist’ money is turning into F16 missiles, tear gas and sniper [ammunition], for the Turkish army and for ISIS [Islamic State, also IS/ISIL]. There are actual pictures of Turkish soldiers opening the gates for ISIS that were leaked on social media.”

“We try to make European people realize where their money goes; what their money is causing to people in Turkey,” Yucel explains.

Tourism provides one of the biggest sources of income for Turkey’s budget. Travel and tourism generated some $96 billion of the country’s GDP in 2014, making its direct contribution to the budget greater than that of any other sector, with the exception of retail and agriculture, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) report.

Around 40 to 50 million people visit Turkey every year, including some 3 million UK citizens.

“And that money [is spent] on the war, the war launched on Kurds in southeastern Turkey, and supplying ISIS with guns and bullets and any other thing that makes [terror] ideology rise up,” Yucel stresses.

“We have a president who is quoting Adolf Hitler, the person that killed millions of people around the world, and looks up to his ideology. So we started this campaign to stop [him],” another campaigner, Ruhi Altun, points out.

Kurds in Turkey’s southeast have been seeking more autonomy from the Turkish government, while Ankara has launched a bloody crackdown against Kurdish militants in which hundreds have lost their lives, including civilians. Journalists and international observers have been virtually banned from the afflicted region, while the international community pays little attention to the full-scale war raging there.

“Europe is turning a blind eye on all [Erdogan’s crimes], especially against the Kurdish people, because they’re [Europeans] afraid,” Ruhi says, suggesting that the European community has remained silent on the matter because they fear Turkey will “open the door and let the migrants flow into Europe” if they call Turkey to account for its crackdown on Kurds.

“The fact that no international organization or government is acting against it shows that Turkey can do whatever it likes. While to an extent [Ankara’s] actions in southeast Turkey are genocide,” another activist, Elif Sarican, stresses.

As for the future of their country, the campaigners say that the foundations on which Turkey is built must be changed in order to bring peace to the region.

“The constitution that governs the country is very exclusive, it sets foundations for oppression and assimilation which [impacted gravely] on many ethnic minorities and especially the Kurds,” Sarican states.

READ MORE: ‘Turkey in organic relationship with ISIS’ – pro-Kurdish HDP party