"Syria is in turmoil. Turkey's invasion of Syria is taking us further from a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Canada should be taking stronger action to demand Turkey withdraw and to firmly assert that we are on the side of peace, democracy, and respect for international law." — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (18 Aug. 2019) — In a letter to the Canadian government, sent to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has called for a stronger response from Canada against the recent Turkish invasion of Syria. Citing international law and Canada's role in NATO as justification, Larry Brown, NUPGE President, called out the government for a symbolic stance that was not strong enough given the stakes in the region. (The letter can be downloaded from here)
Turkey's actions are unjustifiable and dangerous
The Turkish invasion of Syria was initially justified as an action to protect refugees and create an opportunity for their safe return. Instead, the invasion is creating more refugees and casualties, proving that Turkey was using this as pretense. In defiance of NATO and in contravention of international law, Turkey has launched an invasion of Syria.
Withdraw troops, temporary ceasefire inadequate
Many countries have been calling for a ceasefire. The announced 5-day ceasefire is not enough. While a ceasefire is an opportunity to halt the violence, a ceasefire could also help Turkey entrench its position by removing Kurdish fighters from the area. Withdrawal and a return to negotiations is the only long-term solution to this crisis and the only way that the millions of refugees and displaced-peoples, who wish to, can hope to be able to safely return to Syria and rebuild their lives and country.
Turkish actions a direct assault on the Kurds
Over many decades, Turkey has been actively trying to undermine the aspirations for self-determination of the 35 million ethnic Kurds in the region. The Kurdish control of territory in northern Syria and Iraq is viewed as the beginnings of creating a Greater Kurdistan as a Kurdish state. Turkey seems to be going after Syrian Kurds to ensure there can be no provision of support for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) within Turkey from these semi-autonomous Kurds in Syria.
Remove the PKK from Canada's terror list
Turkey is clearly launching its military against Kurdish fighters and civilians in Syria as a way to weaken the PKK. The National Union believes that Canada must continue to support the principle of self-determination as enshrined in Article 1 of the Charter of the United Nations. Further, Canada should remove the PKK from the list of terrorist organizations as seeking self-determination and acting in self-defence in the face of hostility and attack do not constitute terrorism as such. Turkey is providing a strong argument to remove the PKK from terrorist lists as Turkey is clearly the aggressor against the Kurds in Syria.
Review Canada's membership in NATO; call for Turkey to be removed
It is long overdue that Canada review our NATO membership. This is an organization that was created in 1949 that seems to no longer be serving the interests for which it was created. The National Union is calling on the government to demand Turkey's withdrawal from NATO and to further review Canada's NATO membership to see if this alliance is still relevant to Canada's changing foreign policy needs. Turkey has taken unilateral action and has been defiant and threatening in the face of criticism. Turkey is not adhering to the stated NATO principles of peaceful resolution and conflict prevention. These types of actions by Turkey are clearly at odds with the purported defensive focus of NATO.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE