Sunday, 18 March 2018

Protesters call on ministers to deal with north Syria situation

13 March 2018

Prague, March 12 (CTK) - Several dozens of people gathered outside the Foreign Ministry in Prague on Monday to call on Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky and Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (both ANO) to deal with the Turkish steps against Kurds in northern Syria.

The organisers staged the demonstration in reaction to the international call for protests, which Kurdish organisations issued in connection with the Turkish military offensive in the Afrin area.

Speakers at the rally read an open letter to the ministers that calls on them to stop keeping silent and reject the clear violation of international law and a UN resolution by Turkey.

The letter also calls for the governments' representatives to seek the quickest possible re-introduction of a no-fly zone over northern Syria and prevent the Czech arms import to Turkey.

The organisers also called for Prague to protect Kurdish politician Saleh Muslim, whom Czech police shortly detained in February and whose extradition Ankara seeks.

It must be clear to everybody that a fair trial of Saleh Muslim would not be guaranteed, if he were extradited to Turkey, they said.

In a press release sent to CTK, the organisers wrote that Turkey has been waging a long military and political campaign against the Kurds with a clear goal to suppress any efforts at the autonomy of Kurds both in Turkey and abroad.

The protesters consider this unacceptable and say that the Kurdish autonomous areas in Syria form a unique island of a democratic, secular and egalitarian society.

The town of Afrin is the centre of an eponymous region in norther Syria and the stronghold of the YPG Kurdish militia. The Turkish army, together with Syrian rebel groups, reached the outskirts of the town several days ago.

Ankara launched the offensive in January with the aim to oust the YPG, which it considers a terrorist group linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party operating in Turkey.

According to the Syrian human rights organisation, over 200 civilians have perished as a result of the offensive, which Turkey denies. Observers say thousands of civilians still remain in Afrin, for whom an attack on the town would have disastrous consequences.

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