Turkey using the coronavirus as a weapon of war against Kurds

Turkey is using the coronavirus pandemic as a tool to maintain its war against majority Kurdish communities at home and across the border in Syria, the Canary news site said.

Turkey has effectively cut off the water supplies to Syria’s Hasakah province, an area under the control of a Kurdish-led government in the northeast, after shelling by Turkish-backed armed groups damaged a water pipeline, the article said.

Turkey launched a military operation in northern Syria targeting Kurdish forces in October, securing control of a large swathe of territory in the region.

“The interruption of water supply during the current efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus disease puts children and families at unacceptable risk. Handwashing with soap is critical in the fight against COVID-19,” the British left-wing site quoted UNICEF’s representative in Syria, Fran Equiza, as saying.

In Turkey, an estimated 8,500 people, including lawmakers and journalists, remain behind bars over links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), where they are under threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, the article said.

It said there was a lack of proper cleanliness in prisons necessary to combat the pandemic and said prison officials refused to refer people with symptoms to medical units.

The Turkish government is preparing to grant amnesties to up to one-third of the country’s prison population of 300,000 in a bid to combat the pandemic, but political prisoners, including those serving time for links to the PKK, will not be among those considered for early release.

But the pandemic did not stop police from attacking the funeral of musician “Helin Bölek”, a member of the left-wing band “Grup Yorum” accused by the government of links to the DHKP-C, a militant Marxist group considered to be terrorist organisation by Ankara, the Canary said.

Riot police attacked the funeral of “Bölek”with water cannon and tear gas on Friday, while several people were violently arrested, pro-Kurdish “Fırat” news agency reported.

Turkey’s use of the coronavirus as a weapon and a threat, although unsurprising, calls for those with agency to raise their voices for those imprisoned, repressed, killed, and threatened by the Turkish state, the Canary said.


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