October 25, 2019

Nearly Three-Hundred Artists and Academics Call for Boycott of Turkish Cultural Institutions

ISTANBUL, TURKEY—Following Turkey’s offensive military operation in Syria earlier this month, two-hundred and ninety-nine artists, educators, and writers have endorsed a statement calling for a boycott of academic and cultural institutions, projects, and other events sponsored by the Turkish government. Among those who have signed the document are artists Sherko Abbas, Alice Creischer, Simon Denny, Hiwa K, David Schein, Jonas Staal, and Forensic Architecture founder Eyal Weizman.

“The Turkish state’s invasion of northeastern Syria has brought a dangerous state of war to the only relatively stable region in the country, threatening the lives of thousands with indiscriminate shelling, mass displacement, and continuous bombardment,” the statement reads. “The Turkish attack threatens to do enormous, perhaps irreversible, damage to international standards of law, human rights, and human freedom. It also threatens to destroy a unique experiment in feminist social transformation.”

Days before Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took military action, he informed President Donald Trump of the invasion during a phone call that took place on October 6. Trump responded by announcing that the United States would withdraw its troops from the territory, leaving Kurdish fighters, who are allies to the US, without support. The controversial move has been fiercely criticized by Democrats and some Republicans and has been called a reversal of US foreign policy in the region. Erdoğan claimed that the push into Syria was part of an effort to establish a 20-mile deep “safe zone” where he would relocate millions of Syrian refugees who have been living in Turkey.

The boycott also calls for people to “actively promote the ideas embodied by Rojava,” which is how the Kurds refer to the autonomous area of northeast Syria that embraced the democratic principles of imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan and the Rojava Revolution. While its not recognized by the United Nations or NATO, the region, which separated from the rest of the country in 2012, has roughly four million in habitants.

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