Kurdistan // Lisbon City Council condemns Turkish invasion~ 6 min

By Bruno Garrido and Simone Vieira

On October 9, the Turkish state launched another genocidal offensive against the Administration of Northeastern Syria, also known as Rojava. Its aim is to destroy the revolutionary project that since 2012 seeks to implement a political project of peaceful coexistence and direct democracy among the peoples who inhabit the region – Arabs, Assyrians, Kurds, Yezidis, among many others.

The military occupation made alongside the Free Syrian Army, al-Qaeda, ISIS and many other jihadist gangs, intends to occupy an area of about 40km off the Syrian border, and to continue the ethnic cleansing project that began with the invasion of Afrin. Erdogan intends to displace more than 2 million Syrian refugees on Turkish soil while driving the Kurdish population out of its borders. Under the pretext of a “war on terrorism”, the sultan wants nothing more than to continue his personal war against the Kurdish people, which he intends to exterminate.

Since then, hundreds of solidarity actions with Rojava and against the war on the administration of north-eastern Syria have been taking place all over the world. With the #Riseup4Rojava campaign, it was possible to occupy the streets in dozens of countries, block factories producing war armaments sold to Turkey and boycott Turkish Airlines flights. Some countries or town councils have also passed motions of condemnation of Erdogan’s occupation of Kurdistan’s autonomous territory.

In Portugal

Over the past few weeks there have been actions in Porto, Coimbra and Lisbon. Demonstrations, film screenings, flyer distribution, talks and open assemblies were held to raise awareness and demand that the genocidal war against the Kurdish movement be ended immediately.

In Lisbon on October 24, the City Council approved a vote of repudiation of the Turkish invasion and attacks on the peoples of the Kurdish autonomous territories in Syria.

A vote that, although merely symbolic, became useless since it had no political visibility outside the walls of the municipal fortress. One more day and another item on the agenda, at a municipal meeting where the executive (those who decide) gathers to debate and vote on proposals about the fate of the city. Another get-together, drinks included.

This time around, and like other public executives across Europe, one of the agenda items was the attack on the Kurdish autonomous territory.

Councilor Manuel Grilo of the Education and Social Rights Council from the Left Bloc proposed a vote condemning the Turkish invasion and attacks on the populations of the Kurdish autonomous territory in Syria.

A vote that was eventually subscribed by Councilman and Vice-President João Paulo Saraiva, Councilor Paula Marques, of the Housing Department, and Councilman José Sá Fernandes, of the Environment Department. José Sá Fernandes arrived at the exact moment when Manuel Grilo read the vote of condemnation and, as any good get-together demands, occupied the space by making a round of greetings. The relaxed environment felt incongruous with the description being made of war atrocities.

PCP and PSD made suggestions to the proposed text. PCP proposed a point recognizing the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic. PSD proposed condemning the withdrawal of US troops in northeastern Syria. The suggestions were not accepted by the Left Block. The vote was approved by majority, with votes against by the CDS / PP and abstention from PCP.

A sketch of the council voting session.

Not that we are the biggest fans of state institutions, but we are aware that to stop this genocidal war, in addition to the street actions mobilized by the # Riseup4Rojava international campaign and a boycott movement against the Turkish state; it is necessary to demand from public institutions, whether town councils or governments, to take a political stand, to condemn the occupation and to cease any business with the Turkish state.

For now, in Lisbon, the Kurdistan Solidarity with the Peoples Platform scheduled a new demonstration for November 16 at 3 pm at Largo de Camões.

The approved motion in full:

Condemnation vote nº1/2019

For the repudiation of the Turkish invasion and attacks on the populations of the Kurdish autonomous territory in Syria

Considering that:
1. On October 9, 2019, after Donald Trump ordered the American withdrawal from Syria, Turkey, a NATO member country, began a new military operation in the northeast of the country;

2. Under the false pretense of wanting to create a militarily safe zone in northeastern Syria to “install” a portion of the refugees that Turkey welcomed due to the war, but also under the false pretext of fighting the Islamic State, Erdogan intends to do what appears to be an ethnic cleansing of the area, driving out Kurdish, Assyrian, Yezidi, Turkmen and Arab populations

3. This operation, called “Spring Peace”, has already caused the forced displacement of over 300 000 people and left a trail of destruction with hundreds of deaths and indiscriminate attacks on the civilian population, as well as humanitarian support structures in the region which are assisting local people. Over the last 16 days, attacks on schools, medical facilities, medical vehicles, as well as water, light and food stores have been reported. Even a water station that supplies some 400 000 people was attacked. UNICEF estimates that at least 170 000 children will require humanitarian assistance;

4. Hundreds of opponents, including mere social media users or journalists, have already been detained on Turkish soil after speaking out against this “Operation Spring Peace”. Erdogan maintains his genocidal rhetoric regarding the Kurdish people. One only has to look at the result of the military operation in Afrin, in the ruins of the city now ruled by jihadists

5. As such, this Municipality, as other municipalities have done throughout the European Union, cannot fail to comment on the struggle for the survival of the Kurds and the other people who live there, which resembles that of so many other peoples who in the past have faced cruelty and tyranny at the expense of their own survival. A survival which is now even more at risk given this week’s agreement between Turkey and Russia.

Thus, in light of the above, we have the honor to propose that the Lisbon City Council deliberate:

 1. To repudiate the recent Turkish invasion of the Rojava’s Kurdish autonomous territory;

 2. To repudiate the violations of international law and human rights of the Turkish government against the Arab, Kurds, Assyrians, Yezidis, Turkmen, among others, who live in the region.

Lisbon, October 23, 2019

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