The Kurdish Human Rights Action Group (KHRAG) has called upon the South African government to intervene in the unlawful arrest and detention of Selahattin Demirtas, his co-leader Figen Yuksekdag of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and all other progressive political activists. Demirtas and Yuksekdag are accused of spreading propaganda for Kurdish groups fighting the Turkish state. Both leaders visited South Africa a few months ago, to draw attention to the political situation in their homeland.
The organisation also called for assistance for the ANC to pressure the Turkish government into resuming peace talks with the Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, to resolve the Kurdish-Turkish conflict without violence or bloodshed.
The KHRAG held their AGM at Barans Kurdish Restaurant, Green Market Square this week where the organisation and guests engaged in discussion and formed ties that might contribute to social justice for the Kurdish people.
The acting chairperson of the ANC Western Cape Khaya Magaxa emphasized the necessity for the South African government to partner with the Kurds, stating that a relationship of this nature is crucial.
“As a government, we can threaten in terms of sanctions or alternative punishments on other governments that are undermining human rights. Therefore, we aim to sensitise the Turkish government with the attitude of South Africa towards the atrocities that they are committing against the Kurdish people,” he said.
According to the KHRAG, Demitras and his delegation informed SA leaders that their indemnity has been lifted. This could expose them to unlawful arrests and detention for calling the peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue in Turkey.
The organisation also says that Turkish authorities have blocked all forms of media and communication, contrary to – and against the principles of democracy and freedom of speech.
Kurdish activists have been fighting for years to achieve independence for the Kurds, Turkey’s biggest ethnic minority. Turkey remains under a state of emergency that was imposed after a failed military coup in July.
With regards to the arrest of the aforementioned political leaders who represent millions of Turkish voters, particularly the minority groups in Turkey, KHRAG says, it constitutes a serious assault on democracy, basic human rights such as freedom of association, freedom of movement and human dignity.
The peace process between the Turkish government and the Kurdish leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), founded by Öcalan and affiliates, has been unilaterally terminated by the Turkish government. VOC (Ra-ees Moerat)