UN Warning of Kobani Massacre Must be Heeded

The ITUC is calling upon the international community to act on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s call to prevent a massacre in the town of Kobani, on the Syrian-Turkish border.

Kurdish fighters backed by US-led air strikes have so far prevented the so-called “Islamic State” from taking full control of the city. However, the Turkish government’s refusal to put the struggle against the Islamic jihadists ahead of its long-standing enmity with the Kurds risks leaving the remaining people in Kobani under the murderous control of IS.

Reports from the SES health workers’ union in Turkey, a member of the ITUC-affiliated KESK, show that many casualties being evacuated from Kobani into Turkey through Musitpinar, the last remaining open corridor, are dependent on volunteer medical staff for treatment. The SES and Turkish Medical Association have organised volunteers to bolster the hard-pressed local hospital, Suruc, which has had a critical shortage of key staff and equipment. SES also reports cases of Turkish security forces carrying out raids on injured evacuees in the hospital, as well as at the Diyarbakir Health Centre.

Local surgeons have also reported that delays imposed by Turkey in allowing severely injured people from Kobani across the border into Turkey in the past week cost several lives through blood loss and other preventable causes.

Turkey has taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria since 2011, including some 200,000 from around Kobani, in recent weeks. Dozens of people have died in riots inside Turkey in recent days as many from the large Kurdish minority in the country protested against the Turkish government, in particular over events around Kobani.