The following letter was sent to the CEO and councillors of Hume City Council in Victoria on Thursday.
Dear Mr Isola and Councillors,
Request that the Hume City Council withdraw sponsorship of the Republic Ball, commemorating the Proclamation of the 96th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey
We were disturbed to discover that the Hume City Council is a major sponsor of a function commemorating the 96th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey, at a time when this republic is engaged in ethnic cleansing and associated atrocities against the Kurdish people in Syria.
Shortly after the withdrawal of US troops from the majority Kurdish areas of northeast Syria, Turkey launched a brutal unprovoked invasion of that area, also known as Rojava, on October 9. Rojava has since 2012 been a beacon of democracy, feminism and ethnic and religious pluralism. Rojava is also home to Arabs, Turkmen, Assyrians and other ethnic communities. Turkey has now occupied important parts of Rojava.
Indiscriminate Turkish airstrikes and mortar attacks on residential areas and other non-military targets have killed at least 500 people, wounded thousands and forced approximately 300,000 people to flee, adding to the 150,000 people who were uprooted in early 2018 when Turkey invaded and subsequently occupied Afrin, another part of Rojava. Turkey intends to forcibly deport non-Kurdish Syrian refugees currently in Turkey to the homes it has ethnically cleansed of Kurds.
Amnesty International has compiled damning evidence of war crimes committed by Turkish forces and Turkish-backed Syrian armed groups, mainly of a jihadist nature, during the offensive. This evidence shows that Turkish forces are complicit in summary killings and unlawful attacks that have killed and injured civilians. It has also revealed details of the cold-blooded murder of a prominent Syrian-Kurdish politician, Hevrin Khalaf, by members of Ahrar Al-Sharqiya, part of the Syrian National Army, a coalition of Syrian armed groups equipped and supported by Turkey.
The City of Hume is home to many Kurds, Assyrians, Arabs and other Syrians, with family members who have been affected by these recent atrocities. It is very hurtful for them to see their Council sponsor the celebration of the proclamation anniversary of a country that is currently committing atrocities against their families in Syria.
We therefore call on the Hume City Council to withdraw its sponsorship of this event as a sign of solidarity with the victims and signal to Turkey that the Council does not want to be complicit in its brutal crimes against humanity.
We emphasise that we are not opposed to the Council sponsoring celebrations of Turkish culture, as long as such celebrations are not linked to the Turkish state and government.
Australians For Kurdistan
Beth-Nahrain Assyria Association
Melbourne Peace and Democracy Block
Melbourne Democratic Kurdish Community Center
Australian Turkish Cultural Association Inc.
Anatolian Cultural Center
Kurdistan Patriotic Association
Victoria Kurdish Women’s League
Panepirotic Federation of Australia