Academics, journalists, writers and actors in Turkey urged the country’s opposition parties to stand against a possible incursion into Syria in a written statement on Tuesday, entitled, “Don’t be party to this crime”, Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) reported.
The 308 signatories of the statement criticised the “table of six” – referring to six of the most influential Turkish opposition parties – for failing to strongly resist Erdoğan’s calls for a new military operation in northern Syria.
“If you do not raise your voice against the warlike policy of the government, you will be a party to the spilt blood, to the crimes against our country and our people, indeed, against humanity.”
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) alliance have launched a series of military incursions against Kurdish-led administrations in North and East Syria since 2016. Turkish forces also occupy areas of Iraqi Kurdistan, where their bombardment of a village in Zakho killed nine civilians last month.
The written statement urged the opposition parties to distance themselves from what they called the crimes of the AKP-MHP government, “especially its war policies”.
It added that opposition politicians should stop “carrying water” for Erdoğan and MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli, and instead “show the courage to loudly, publicly and clearly say no to the war in Syria and Iraq”, which aims at territorial annexation abroad and manipulation of public perceptions at home.
Erdoğan has made frequent references during speeches to a new operation in Syria, also reportedly pushing the case for a new incursion into the country during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in July.
The Turkish government renewed its fight against Kurdish militant and political organisations after breaking off peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in 2015. It says the military operations in Iraq and Syria are necessary to defeat groups linked with the PKK that are trying to establish a Kurdish state on Turkey’s border.
But signatories of Tuesday’s statement called the government’s rationale for military operations a “fabrication”, describing them as a war against “a people who are struggling to defend their occupied lands.”
No one in Turkey besides the government and its partners stands to gain by the war, the statement said.
Public figures who resist the AKP’s military policies have been subjected to severe consequences. After conflict with the PKK resumed in 2015, more than 1,000 scholars condemned the violence in an open letter published by the Academics for Peace platform. More than 600 of the signatories have since faced legal charges.