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Dec 08 2018

Turkish prosecutors launch investigation into petition criticising operation in Syria’s Afrin

Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into a joint letter signed by 170 intellectuals, artists, and civil society activists to criticise Turkey’s military operation in the northwestern Syrian province of Afrin, Diken news site reported

Turkish military started Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 with the support of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters to clear Afrin from majority-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG). 

Turkish government sees as the PYD and the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has been fighting inside Turkey since 1984 and is designated as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union. 

Turkish forces seized the control of Afrin in March after a two-month operation. 

A group of Turkish intellectuals penned a letter in January criticising the Operation Olive Branch. The letter, signed by 170 well-known names, was sent to lawmakers in the Turkish parliament. 

“We know that the operation in Afrin, which poses no threat to Turkey and is a part of Syria, will bring further problems, destruction, and suffering to our region and country instead of peace and security, and will hurt the hearts of our Kurdish citizens,” the letter said. 

Academics Ahmet İnsel, Baskın Oran, and Murat Belge, Turkey’s famous pollster Tarhan Erdem, Kurdish activist Nurcan Baysal, artists Genco Erkal, Gülriz Sururi, Halil Ergün, authors Burhan Sönmez and Oya Baydar, journalists Hasan Cemal and Zeynep Oral were among the 170 signatories that included people coming from different ideological backgrounds. 

Turkey’s pro-government television channel A Haber reported the letter in January and the prosecutors launched an investigation 11 months later, Diken said. 

Some of the signatories were invited by the police to testify and were asked their aim in signing the letter, Diken said.