‘Airbase, refugees are why West silent on Turkey’s crimes against Kurds’

Turkish riot police use a water cannon to disperse Kurdish demonstrators © Sertac Kayar
The West’s silence on Ankara’s activities is the price it’s paying to use the Incirlik air base and for hiring Turkey as the contractor to stop the influx of refugees into Europe said Kani Xulam from the American Kurdish Information Network.

Turkey has been using heavy weapons in fighting inside cities populated by Kurds. Ankara reportedly often violates the sovereignty of bordering states. The Turkish authorities claim their only target is terrorists. However, thousands of civilians have been injured, including people from the Syrian city of Qamishli and the Turkish city of Nusaybin.

Turkish President Recep Erdogan said borders are not an obstacle for his country when it comes to fighting terrorism. RT has started a petition calling for an investigation of the alleged mass killing of Kurds in Turkey.

RT: Is there any hope the international community will finally raise the issue of Turkey’s crimes?

Kani Xulam: There are still countries and there is something called sovereignty, and something called the UN. Turkey has been getting away with murder inside the country and crossing the border and doing the same in Qamishli. It’s against international law; it’s against the way the nations operate in the 21st century.

RT: Why is Turkey getting away with the violations of international law?

KX: Unfortunately it has gotten away with this, because it has in the past [had good a] relationship with the West, primarily through NATO. With the advent of the Arab Spring the West has felt the need to make use of the airbase in Turkey, and Turkey has asked a price for that, and the price is silence on the part of the Western media to let Turkey do whatever it wants. Inside Turkey it’s one story, but outside of Turkey it sets a dangerous precedent. Hopefully sooner or later the nations of the world, the UN will address this issue.

RT: What are the main reasons why Europe is being silent here do you think?

KX: It has to do with Incirlik airbase. If there was no Incirlik airbase inside Turkey the West would not have felt beholden to Turkey. On top of that there is a refugee crisis. Europe doesn’t want refugees inside Europe, and Turkey has been hired as a contractor to stop them. So the two add up and the result is that the Kurds don’t get the coverage they deserve, they need. And you have an ugly, dirty war that the government of Turkey is waging on the Kurds not just inside its borders, but when it can - outside of its borders too. 

RT: The Turkish President said borders are not an obstacle for his country when it comes to fighting terrorism. Despite Ankara's claims it's targeting only terrorists, civilians are often falling victim to the offensive.

KX: They are. The civilians are often the first causalities, because they are defenseless, because they expect governments to protect them, to maintain the semblance of order. There is no Syrian government in Qamishli per se, and the Kurds don’t have the equipment to serve notice to the Turks. As a result you have the heavy handed Turkish policies or Turkish attacks that are resulting these days to at least 10 to 15 casualties on the part of the Kurds, and also Turkish soldiers and Turkish police officers. This war is not cost-free on both sides. It cannot go on like this either – Turkey either has to give rights to the Kurds, or this war will get out of hand and Turkey will become like Syria. 

RT: What can you tell us about the attacks carried out by Turkish forces in the city of Nusaybin, which is largely populated by Kurds?

KX: Nusaybin has been under attack just like Cizre has been... The Turkish soldiers are paying a heavy price, as well. According to the Turkish President, for every Turkish soldier or police officer that it is killed 10 Kurdish fighters or civilians are killed. But the Kurds usually give a higher number…

RT: You said that Turkish soldiers die on the ground, as well. Taking this into account, why does the Turkish government keep carrying out military actions instead of trying to solve the issue peacefully? And what could be done here, do you think?

KX: There are a lot of elements in the Turkish government, who wouldn’t mind shelling Kurds on the other side. While some Turks paid lip service to international law, or to the sovereignty of the nations, and to the sanctity of the borders, the Turkish President himself just yesterday in Istanbul accused YPG [People's Protection Units] of being a terrorist organization and then accused Russia of helping it.

If he wants to solve this problem, name calling is not helpful. If he wants to solve this problem – coming to its senses is what’s needed. There is a reality on the ground – we are talking about 40 million Kurds: 20 [million] in Turkey; 2.5 million in Syria, five [million] in Iraq, and some 10 million in Iran. Unless this issue is addressed, this war will go on. There is absolutely no end in sight with the mindset that the government of Turkey is operating out there.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.