Peaceful gathering planned to condemn Turkish invasion of northern Syria

The gathering will take place at 10am outside of the Turkish embassy in Floriana on Saturday

Turkey launched a military offensive in Syria, just days after Trump announced a pullback of US troops
Turkey launched a military offensive in Syria, just days after Trump announced a pullback of US troops

A peaceful gathering is planned for Saturday, outside of the Turkish embassy in Floriana, to condemn the Turkish invasion of northern Syria and the “brutal assault by the Turkish state on communities in this area.”

Planned by the Kurdish community in Malta, with the support of Moviment Graffitti, people are encouraged to join the global outrage at Turkey’s invasion that is “resulting in the massacre of Kurds and other communities in Rojava and their displacement on a mass scale.”

“On Saturday, we will gather outside the Turkish embassy in Floriana to call upon the world to take action and stop the invasion of Rojava, the ongoing massacre of communities in this area and the renewed ISIS threat brought about by the Turkish government’s actions. We also urge the Maltese Government to honour its Constitutional obligation to actively work for peace by informing the Turkish ambassador that Malta forcefully opposes the Turkish invasion of Rojava,” Moviment Graffitti said in a statement.

The NGO highlighted that Turkey was using Islamist militias to carry out its war in communities in Rojava, who engaged in the “cold-blooded assassination of Kurdish civilians such as woman's rights activist and political leader Hevrin Khalaf.” 

“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has also made it clear he aims to change the demographics of Northern Syria. This demographic re-engineering is already at an advanced stage in the Kurdish province of Afrin. After the Turkish invasion of this province last year, Turkish-backed Islamist militias have driven Kurdish people out of their homes and lands, to replace them with people coming from other parts of Syria. Kurdish and other communities are thus facing the imminent risk of being ethnically cleansed from large swathes of Syria,” they said. 

The group said it was saddened that Turkey’s “abhorrent actions were being enabled by the United States’ betrayal of the Kurds and the inaction of European countries.” It said that only four years ago, the world was celebrating the liberation of Kobane - one of the main cities in Northern Syria - by Kurdish fighters from the hands of ISIS.

“Now, those Kurdish forces and Rojava communities that had been used to effectively clear ISIS from the region and that were pivotal in the defeat of this terrorist group, have been completely and cruelly abandoned to Erdoğan’s ambition to destroy the Kurds and other communities in this region,” they said.

Moviment Graffitti said that the Turkish invasion threatened to revive the ISIS insurgency as thousands of ISIS members held in camps guarded by the Kurdish forces would take the opportunity provided by the fighting to flee and reconstitute terrorist cells.

It said that both ISIS and the Turkish invasion posed an existential threat, not only to Kurds, but also to all the ethnic minorities and religious groups indigenous to the region such as Arabs, Christians (Armenians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syriacs), Turkmens, Chechens, Alevites, and Yazidis.

Turkey wants to establish a 30km-deep buffer zone on the Syrian side of its border with the country, which it describes as a "safe zone". Turkey wants to drive out Kurdish militias from the area, which it considers as terrorist groups.

The Turkish invasion started at the same time that the US declared it was withdrawing its troops from the area. The Kurds were key allies over the past years in the fight against Islamic State militants, who threatened to establish a caliphate across north Syria and Iraq.

The US departure was interpreted as a stab in the back by the Kurds. The US position remains ambivalent as it wants out of the area but has imposed limited sanctions against Turkey as a result of the incursion into Syrian territory to displace the Kurds.

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