Scottish trade unions condemn Turkish invasion of Northern Iraq
The Scottish Trade Union Congress passed an emergency motion calling for “immediate negotiations with the PKK on a ceasefire and progress towards a peaceful and democratic solution”.
An emergency motion passed yesterday at the Scottish Trade Union Congress draws attention to an invasion and war that has been largely ignored by Western media. In condemning Turkey’s attacks in Northern Iraq, which “constitute an invasion of a neighbouring state”, they noted that, “Turkey has increased its military presence in Northern Iraq over recent years and the scale of the current mobilisations reinforces fears of a Greater Turkey, to include territory in the Kurdish regions of Iraq and Syria.” Commenting on Turkey’s claims that their attacks are against the PKK, the motion notes that the PKK “have called repeatedly for a ceasefire and negotiations for a peaceful and democratic solution to the Kurdish Question in Turkey and… were in the forefront of the fight against ISIS (whilst the Turkish state was supporting them).”
The motion calls for “immediate negotiations with the PKK on a ceasefire and progress towards a peaceful and democratic solution”, and for the STUC to continue the support it already gives to the call to remove the PKK from terrorism lists.
The motion is a continuation of STUC support for a negotiated solution to the Kurdish Question and criticism of Turkish authoritarianism and military aggression. Last year’s congress passed motions condemning the continuing deterioration of democracy and human rights and condemning Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. Those motions were proposed by Dundee and Aberdeen Trades Councils, which have both been stalwart supporters of the movement for Kurdish freedom and for democracy in Turkey, and there are good connections between trade unionists in Scotland and in Turkey.
In proposing this year’s motion, Mike Arnott, Secretary of Dundee Trades Council and newly elected Vice President of the Scottish TUC, observed that 21 years ago at the same rostrum he had moved a motion calling for support of PKK peace initiatives. (Mike Arnott’s speech can be watched here from 1.10.00. https://www.facebook.com/scottishtuc/videos/5360048600686234/)
On the same day, the Edinburgh Kurdish Community and friends demonstrated against the Turkish invasion outside the Scottish Parliament, and many Scottish MPs signed the Early Day Motion condemning the Turkish attacks. https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/59679/turkish-military-action-in-northern-iraq
The full text of the STUC motion submitted by Dundee TUC includes the following:
Congress notes and condemns the attacks by Turkish forces on the Metina mountain area in the border area of Duhok in Northern Iraq, including jets bombing villages, helicopters dropping ground troops and the wounding of Kurdish civilians. These constitute an invasion of a neighbouring state.
Their pretext is to challenge the PKK, who have called repeatedly for a ceasefire and negotiations for a peaceful and democratic solution to the Kurdish Question in Turkey and who were in the forefront of the fight against ISIS (whilst the Turkish state was supporting them).
Congress notes that Turkey has increased its military presence in Northern Iraq over recent years and the scale of the current mobilisations reinforces fears of a Greater Turkey, to include territory in the Kurdish regions of Iraq and Syria.
Congress notes that Turkish forces are being aided by the armed forces of the KDP, the ruling party of the Kurdistan Regional Government, whose Prime Minister Masrour Barzani met with Turkey’s President Erdogan shortly before the invasion launch, then held trade talks with the UK Government.
Congress calls on the General Council to;
1. Write to the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs to urge the Government to call on the Turkish Government to end this invasion, to withdraw troops immediately and seek immediate negotiations with the PKK on a ceasefire and progress towards a peaceful and democratic solution.
2. Continue to support the de-listing of the PKK as a terrorist organisation, noting the decision of Belgian courts that they are not a terrorist organisation.
3. Call on affiliates to continue offering solidarity to sister unions in Turkey who continue to be attacked by the Turkish authorities and to raise with them concerns regarding the invasion of Iraq’s Kurdish region.