Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, met with Kurdish activists in Leinster House to discuss the Turkish Government attacks on the opposition, their denial of basic political freedoms, the struggle for women’s rights, the refugee crisis, and EU-Turkish relations.

Deputy Crowe said:

“The cross party meeting today with Ms Ayse Gokkan was very informative and compelling.

“Ms. Gokkan is an activist from Northern Kurdistan (Turkey) and a representative of KJA (Free Women Congress of Kurdistan). She was Mayor of the city of Nusaybin from 2009 and 2014 for the BDP-HDP party. In 2013 she was on hunger strike demanding that Turkey stopped building a divisive wall at the Syrian border in order to isolate the Kurdish Rojava region.

“It was important for TDs to personally hear from Ayse about the violent attacks on the opposition in Turkey, the brutal repression of minorities, and the continued oppression of female activists.

“In relation to the refugee crisis Ayse pointed out that hundreds of thousands of refugees in Turkey are internally displaced due to the violent actions of the Turkish Government and that this would stop if the Government seriously entered formal peace negotiations with the PKK, and she highlighted the importance of having international oversight in these talks.

“The EU has defined Turkey as a so-called ‘Safe Country of Origin’, which means that it can deport refugees and asylum seekers back to that country. It is clear that Turkey fulfils none of the categories that define it as a ‘Safe Country of Origin’ and to deport people fleeing persecution to Turkey is a blatant violation of international law.

“At the meeting I outlined Sinn Féin’s continued support for Kurdish political activists struggling for human and democratic rights in Turkey. I informed her that we will continue to raise Turkey’s human rights and international law violations in the Dáil and directly with the Irish Government.”