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Etmu’s statement on violence in the North and East of Syria and Turkey-Finland relations

December 2022

On November 13th, a terrorist attack on Istanbul’s crowded ?stiklal Avenue left six people dead, eighty-one injured and many more deeply shaken and hurt. Although nobody has claimed the attack, the Turkish government has blamed the attack on the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party). Both the PKK and the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) denied any accusations or any targeting of civilians (SDF Press 2022); instead, they pointed towards the FSA, the Free Syrian Army, which is backed by the Turkish regime (Medyanews 2022). The Turkish State has been using the Istanbul attack to justify the recent bombings of North East Syria, which is the home of many Kurdish people/Kurdish majority. 

In addition to the persecution of Kurdish people, as well as Turkey’s attacks on North East Syria, several grave issues of human rights abuses have surfaced across Turkish society. For example, the Turkish state has been using its judicial system to silence critical voices, such as those of human rights activists and removing laws protecting the physical safety of girls, women, and LGBTQIA+ people. One consequence of this is several hundreds of people from Turkey seeking asylum in Finland and other places (Migri 2022). 

Finland needs the approval of Turkey to join NATO, which, in turn, cooperates with Finland’s main security threat Russia (Alaranta 2022, 5-6). The Turkish State refused to accept Finland and Sweden’s applications to join NATO until they hand over a number of people who oppose Erdo?an’s regime. In a trilateral memorandum signed in Madrid on June 28th this year, Finland and Sweden said they would “address Turkey’s pending deportation or extradition requests of terror suspects”, and possibly “establish bilateral legal frameworks to facilitate extradition” back to Turkey (NATO 2022). On December 2nd, Sweden deported the first Kurdish person to Turkey who was immediately imprisoned upon arrival (Dagens Nyheter 2022). 

ETMU demands that the Finnish government:

  1. Openly condemns the Turkish attacks against Kurdish people, against North and East Syria and Northern Iraq, as well as Turkey’s threat of a new invasion of North and East Syria;
  2. Resists Turkey’s extradition demands and takes concrete, immediate action to end Turkey’s espionage on opponents of Erdo?an’s regime residing in Finland;
  3. Does not keep silent while the Turkish regime executes its plans for further restriction of human rights in Turkey;
  4. Calls for and supports a thorough investigation of the terrorist attack of November 13 in Istanbul, to be carried out by an impartial body, in order to deliver transparency and justice to all those affected by the attack;
  5. Openly denounces conflations of the Turkish government with all of its people, which, paired with blatant othering and orientalism, undermines any call for justice.

Johanna Ennser-Kananen, chairperson of ETMU

Camilla Marucco, board member of ETMU, Univ. Turku doctoral researcher

Ilkhom Khalimzoda, board member of ETMU

Viivi Eskelinen, board member of ETMU

Maria Petäjäniemi, board member of ETMU

Freja Högback PhD student, Gender studies, Åbo Akademi University