Presentation at Concordia Uni: Is Turkey sliding into authoritarianism?

Report back from an International Peace Delegation on Turkey and the Kurds; Is Erdoğan's Turkey sliding into authoritarianism?

An international peace delegation organized by the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) and consisting of 11 members from Europe and North America, including Members of European Parliament and of the Council of Europe, academics, and journalists, visited Diyarbakir and Istanbul in mid February. The delegation met with representatives from the Kurdish Freedom Movement, political parties, trade unions, academics, journalists, and other civil society organizations.

The delegation applied to the Turkish Minister of Justice, requesting a meeting with the leader of the Kurdish Freedom Movement, Abdullah Öcalan, who has been imprisoned and isolated in inhumane conditions on Imrali Island for eighteen years now, and who is a crucial role player in the peace process. However, the Turkish Minister of Justice did not respond to their request.

The delegation also attempted to visit the co-chair from the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtas, currently imprisoned unconstitutionally in Edirne. This request was also rejected.

Over the course of the visit, the delegation witnessed and gathered information about the dire human rights’ situation in the country. It attended the unlawful, politicized trial of an HDP MP from Diyarbakir; and it toured Diyarbakir and met with many people who informed them about their experiences in the year and a half since the unraveling of the peace process - the spiraling of violence and repression, the military assaults, curfews, countless infringements of civil rights, and human rights atrocities.

On February 28, International İmralı Peace Delegation members Federico Venturini, School of Geography, University of Leeds; advisory board member of Transnational Institute for Social Ecology, UK, and European Parliament Honorary Member Francis Wurtz held a meeting with officials from the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) in Strasbourg. During the meeting, the delegation members called attention to the aggravated isolation imposed by the Turkish state against Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan, and the influence of his imprisonment on the region.

Author and publisher Dimitri Roussopoulos, the only North American member of this delegation, will make a presentation with a photographic slideshow about the situation and the delegation. He will also explain the crucial link between the Kurdish ambition for more autonomy and the parallel democratic revolution in north-eastern Syria (Rojava).

The presentation will be held at Samuel Bronfman Building Atrium, Concordia University, on Thursday, March 23 2017, 5pm, in collaboration with the Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy and the School of Community and Public Affairs.

The presentation will handle the following; “In Turkey, the government of President Erdoğan is in a frenzy of repression of civil society and the Kurdish movement. It is violating human rights, suspending civil liberties, overturning the basic norms of parliamentary democracy and effectively waging a war on the Kurds. It has detained over 43 000 people including journalists, academics, artists, teachers, unionists, activists and even politicians. What should be the response of Canada and Canadians?”