In the days since Turkey launched an air offensive and ground invasion in northwestern Syria, few have stepped forward to condemn these actions, even as the number of casualties has been mounting and thousands have lost their homes.
This silence is deafening, particularly considering that the intended targets of the Turkish attacks – the mainly-Kurdish People’s Protection Units, also known as YPG – have led in the efforts to defeat ISIS, have served as a key US ally, and have established one of the few oases of secular, progressive and relatively stable governance amid the conflagration of the Syrian war.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been explicit that the aim in this long-threatened invasion is ethnic cleansing against Kurds. Meanwhile, Trump has expressed admiration for Erdogan, a leader who promotes this dangerous and violent nationalism.
In addition to playing a central role in liberating ISIS’s de facto capital, the city of Raqqa, the YPG and YPJ (the Women’s Protection Units) have worked to uphold democracy and women’s rights. In regions under their control, independent elections are regularly held, and women and diverse ethnic groups are represented in their leadership.
MADRE calls for an end to the Turkish invasion and for humanitarian aid to Kurdish communities that have come under fire. As human rights advocates, we condemn this military action and the destruction it has triggered. MADRE has partnered with grassroots Syrian women’s organizations since 2012 to meet the needs of civilians under attack and to push for peace. And, in Syria as elsewhere in our work, we call for support to local people building ways of living today – even amid war – that will sow the seeds of tomorrow’s peace.