Socialist Worker

Tories cosy up to Erdogan during visit and promise weapons for his assaults

Issue No. 2604

Protesting against Erdogan at Downing Street on Tuesday

Protesting against Erdogan at Downing Street on Tuesday (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The Tories and the queen rolled out the red carpet for Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week just as he is intensifying his crackdown on democratic rights and the Kurdish people.

Protesters gathered at Downing Street on Tuesday to oppose this state visit. Theresa May has always shown support for Erdogan.

She flew to Turkey to secure a £100 million arms deal the day after she met US president Donald Trump in January.

The Solidarity with the People of Turkey group condemned May’s support for an “authoritarian anti-democratic” government and demanded Britain breaks links with the regime.

On Sunday police attacked Kurdish protesters in Reading, Berkshire, who attempted to block Erdogan’s convoy. He was on his way to wine and dine with May at a meeting sponsored by arms firm BAE Systems and oil giant BP.

British arms supplied to Nato member Turkey have been used in the recent invasion of Afrin in northern Syria and the massacres of Kurds in Cizre, Silopi and Nusaybin. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has promised a “jumbo trade deal” with Turkey.

Erdogan rules with the aid of a repressive state of emergency that has been in place for nearly two years.

Thousands of members and elected politicians of the opposition rot in jail.

Britain’s new ambassador to Turkey Sir Dominick Chilcott gave a grovelling interview last weekend praising Turkey as “an indispensable partner of the UK”.

He then threatened activists in Britain by saying, “We have proscribed the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] as a terrorist group for many years.

“We haven’t proscribed the YPG [Kurdish People’s Protection Units] at the moment but we are not naive, we understand there are very close links between the YPG and the PKK.”

If the YPG is banned, thousands of activists in Britain could be affected and supporters could be arrested.

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