France - Turkey - Kurds

Kurds protest as Erdogan visits Paris while Kobane fights on

A Turkish tank meets refugees at the border with Syria
A Turkish tank meets refugees at the border with Syria Reuters/Murad Sezer

Several Kurdish groups are planning a protest in Paris this Friday as Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan visits the French capital. They are calling on French President François Hollande to press Erdogan to help Kurds fighting the Islamic State (IS) armed group.


Kurdish organisations have accused Ankara of failing to support for Kurdish fighters fighting IS, notably in the town of Kobane near the border between Turkey and Syria.

Until allowed some Iraqi-Kurd peshmerga fighters to cross its territory on the way to Kobane this week, Turkey prevented Kurds from going to fight there, fearing that it would strengthen the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with which it is engaged in flagging peace talks after decades of conflict.

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Kurdish and left-wing critics also accuse Erdogan’s Islamist government of surreptitiously helping IS at an earlier stage in the war.

Friday’s protesters say this is a question of human rights.

“I can tell you that we’ve heard of children being beheaded, pregnant women being disembowelled, young girls raped and men being emasculated,” Sylvie Jan of the France-Kurdistan Solidarity group, told RFI after visiting refugee camps near Kobane. “We’ve heard about all these horrors. We want France to show some dignity and play the role it should play in the region.”

France should meet the Kurds’ demands for arms to the Koban fighters and oppose Ankara’s call for a buffer zone between Syria and its territory, she said on Thursday.

“France must make the right choice, the choice of dignity, human rights and the fight for peace.”

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