A group of Kurdish activists, the Botan Peace Mothers, have called on Turkey to end its continued attacks against Kurdish-majority areas in Iraq and Syria in the wake of the twin earthquakes of 6 February.
“Instead of supporting its people, the state bombed Kurdistan’s mountains on the first day (after the earthquake),” Peace Mother Behiye Nayır said. “Those kids they call terrorists decided to suspend actions and not toattack unless they were themselves attacked, but Turkey did not. They bombed (Syria and Iraq) with fighter jets.”
Nayır called for unity among Turks, Kurds and Arabs to support the people of Kahramanmaraş (Mereş), the epicentre of one of the earthquakes, saying there were people “freezing and starving”.
The Turkish army “mobilised for war, not to show solidarity with its people”, another member of the group, Zeynep Beğenir, said. “There are Kurds, Arabs and Turks under the rubble. Members of all peoples. The state should have pulled its tanks and mortars back, the soldiers could have saved lives instead of attacking places.”
“If they had run to the aid of those people instead of to the war, maybe this many people would not have died underneath rubble,” Beğenir said. “They continued bombing even in a situation like this. We condemn those who support this war.”
If Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had declared a national mobilisation, “many could have been saved”, Peace Mother Nuriye Atmış said. “He did not play his role like he should have. If the money allocated to war had gone to the earthquake zone, it would have been different.”
Peace Mother Emine Ata said the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) had been right to declare a suspension of military actions. “The state did not do the work, and did not allow people to help. They used all their might to bomb Kurdish mountains. If they had diverted forces to the earthquake zone, this many would not have died.”
Emine Alkış, another member of the group, called for the military budget to be reallocated to earthquake relief.
The 7.8 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes on 6 February have killed more than 41,000 people in Turkey and 5,800 in Syria, affecting the majority-Kurdish southeastern and northern regions of the neighbouring countries respectively.