Three hundred eight prominent figures in Turkey, including academics, journalists, authors and artists, have called on the opposition to raise its voice against a possible military offensive in northeast Syria that has been on the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) agenda for the past few months, since Ankara has “no justifiable reason” for it, local media reported on Tuesday.
Addressed to the “Table of Six,” the joint statement, titled “Don’t be a party to this crime!” was released after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday made more likely a possible cross-border operation to remove Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants from its border with Syria.
The Table of Six refers to the leaders of six opposition parties in Turkey: the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Felicity Party (SP), the İYİ (Good) Party, the Future Party (GP), the Democrat Party (DP) and the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA).
Erdoğan has for several months threatened to launch an operation against the YPG, which is considered by Ankara an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.
The 308 prominent people who called on the opposition to speak out against a possible new operation in northern Syria included authors Murathan Mungan and Aslı Erdoğan, journalists Can Dündar and Oya Baydar, singer Suavi, fashion designer Barbaros Şansal and Rakel Dink, wife of slain Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.
They argued that the possible offensive in northern Syria had no justifiable reason and would serve the interest of nobody but the partners of the ruling power.
“Aside from our youth, soldiers who are forced to fight, kill and die in foreign lands, all Turkish people, 84 million, would suffer a great loss from this war. In our country, where millions are … struggling … in every area, from [earning their] bread to shelter, to the education of their children [and] to health, the huge expenditures on war and weapons deepen the economic difficulties facing the 84 million people and the difficulties of their daily lives,” the statement said.
Addressing the Table of Six, they added: “We haven’t heard … a strong ‘no’ from you until today. If you don’t raise your voices against the government’s war policy, you will be a partner in the crimes against our country, our people, as well as humanity. … Don’t be a party to any of the crimes of this government, especially the war.”
Turkey has carried out three cross-border operations in Syria against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as well as US-backed Kurdish militias and has frequently used factions of armed Syrian fighters in addition to its own forces.