'This is a massacre': Protesters demand action to stop Turkish assault on Kurds
Published Sunday, October 20, 2019 5:34PM PDT
Last Updated Sunday, October 20, 2019 6:42PM PDT
VANCOUVER - More than 100 people took to the streets of downtown Vancouver on Sunday to demand that the next federal government do more than condemn the violence on Syria's northern border.
“It’s a demographic genocide and we need to stop that,” said Mariwan Jaaf, one of the event's organizers. “Stop betraying the Kurds.”
Syrian-Kurdish forces on the border with Turkey have faced violence and assaults ever since U.S. President Donald Trump ordered American troops leave. Despite a ceasefire agreement brokered by the U.S., both sides claim the other is failing to abide by the rules. There continues to be sporadic fighting and shelling.
“It really was terrible for me,” said Fatemeh Richarai. She came to Canada 13 years ago, after living as a refugee in Iran. Watching the violence has been devastating for her.
“I couldn’t sleep at night because I thought those innocent children [are] like my children," Richarai said.
Cavlan Erengezgin is Turkish and attended the protest to fight for Kurdish rights.
“Many progressives in turkey are actually pro-Kurdish,” she told CTV News Vancouver.
She said people are terrified to speak out in that country, though, because “the moment you talk about it, the moment you even post something on Facebook, you are getting arrested.”
Starting outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, protesters marched through the city’s downtown core to the Woodwards building, where Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was holding a campaign rally. They stood outside chanting and shouting “shame on NATO,” with a message that Canada should do more.
“We have to support these people,” said Khalial Ashkni, who is Kurdish. “We have to support those women and men that defeated the most dangerous enemy of humanity, ISIS, and now we’re seeing them in front of our eyes being be massacred and slaughtered and we don’t say nothing.”
Organizers would like to see the Canadian government join European countries in “putting an arms embargo against the Turksih regime,” said Jaaf. “What we want to see from the next government – whoever it is – starting on Tuesday morning to put practical solutions [in place]. Go beyond the symbolic condemnation.”
According to the Syrian Democratic Forces, the past 24 hours have been deadly. They report 16 of their soldiers and one Turkish soldier have been killed.