ECR STATEMENT ON THE PENCE-ERDOGAN AGREEMENT
October 18, 2019
The Pence agreement is a travesty that gives Erdogan everything he wants and offers the Kurds nothing. We call on Congress to repudiate this agreement and impose heavy sanctions for Turkey's invasion of Rojava and egregious violations of human rights by its military and armed groups.
The Trump administration was in no position to make any agreement involving the Kurds, whom it had just betrayed, without asking their opinion, let alone seeking their collaboration. This is classic colonialist behavior. Rojava is not a US colony. Nor does the US have the right or the power to give Syrian territory to Turkey.
The five-day ceasefire supposed to result from this agreement has proven a cynical deception. According to the Syrian Democratic Council, on the morning of Oct. 18, one day after the agreement was announced, Turkish forces bombed the village of Bab al-Khair, southeast of Ras al-Ain. The bombing has already killed five members of the Syrian Democratic Forces and a number of civilians and still continues, as does the catastrophic displacement of hundreds of thousands of people caused by the Turkish invasion.
We support the SDF's call on the US, UN, and Arab League to send observers to make sure this ceasefire actually takes place and prevent further war crimes by Turkey and its armed groups.
President Donald Trump has equated the Rojava Kurds with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party, Turkey) and said they are worse terrorists than ISIS. This is an absurd falsehood that betrays Trump’s ignorance of even recent history in the Middle East. ISIS has committed every war crime in the book, including selling women into slavery, while the PKK signed the Geneva Convention in 1995 and has repeatedly tried to get Turkey to engage in peace negotiations. Since 2014, the US government has maintained that the Syrian Kurdish PYD (Democratic Union Party) are not terrorists. Why is Donald Trump using Erdogan's definition instead of that of his own government?
We support the SDC's call for UN sponsorship of genuine Syrian peace negotiations that will include all parties and find a political solution based on international law. We call on everyone to defend Rojava and oppose US complicity in Turkey's war on the Kurds.
Steering Committee of the Emergency Committee for Rojava
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DON’T LET ROJAVA BECOME ANOTHER YEMEN
URGENT STATEMENT FROM THE EMERGENCY COMMITTEE FOR ROJAVA
Dec. 19, 2018
With reports of the Trump administration planning to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, along with disturbing new documentation released today about Turkey’s war crimes in Afrin, we are writing to alert our elected representatives and the public to the dire consequences should Turkey attack Rojava (the Kurdish majority region in northeastern Syria) east of the Euphrates, as it has promised. Turkey appears poised to attack whether or not American troops are stationed there. On Dec. 12, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a speech saying a Turkish offensive is imminent. The Pentagon command responded that such a “unilateral action” would be “unacceptable,” but the US has warned Turkey similarly in the past with no real consequences. Turkey has already been signaling its intentions by sniping at civilians across the border and bombing Kurdish areas in Iraq including the Makhmour refugee camp and Mount Shingal, home to the Yazidis.
A year ago, without any provocation, Turkey crossed the border into Syria to invade and occupy Afrin, driving out its Kurdish citizens, looting and confiscating their property, taking hostages, and repopulating the area with jihadis and Arabs from other parts of Syria in a demographic change that amounts to ethnic cleansing. The U.S. ignored Kurdish appeals for help despite the coalition’s reliance on Rojava and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to defeat ISIS. Now the Trump Administration says it will withdraw troops from Syria.
We call on Congress and the American people to make sure this betrayal is not repeated and that Rojava’s extraordinary but fragile democracy is not endangered. It is critical that the U.S. take this stand because:
Rojava is the only democratically-run part of Syria based on secular, feminist, and ecological principles.
Its values oppose both fundamentalism and dictatorship.
Its pluralism and federalist vision of the future of Syria are a model for the entire region, as is the Kurds’ integration of other ethnicities and women into positions of power throughout society.
The SDF have consistently proven to be the only reliable US ally in the war against ISIS. Now that they have almost finished the job, and taken immense losses, it is essential that we honor our moral obligation to the people who fought ISIS by helping them realize a peaceful co-existence with all regional powers.
Rather than deserting Rojava, the U.S. must commit to giving the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (the official name of Rojava), economic and political as well as military assistance, and should put all possible pressure on Turkey to reopen peace negotiations with its own Kurds. As Aliza Marcus said recently in the New York Times, “The only way to build an alternative to the chaos and repressive dictatorship in the rest of Syria is through recognition of the Kurdish-led administration and active political engagement.”
The U.S. has faltered in Syria too many times in the past. It can prevent a bloodbath and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, if it demands Erdogan stand down. It can press Turkey to reopen peace negotiations with its own Kurdish population, stopping the endless cycle of violence. We urge the Trump Administration and Congress to act to defend Rojava before it is too late.
— Emergency Committee for Rojava Steering Committee
The U.S.-based Emergency Committee for Rojava was formed in March 2018 after the Turkish invasion of Afrin and is supported by prominent American academics and activists.
Contact: Debbie Bookchin or Matt Whitley at +1.914.222.1587 or at: email@example.com