An international peace conference on the Syrian crisis, organized by the Peace Association of Turkey and the World Peace Council, with participants from 23 countries, took place in Istanbul and Antakya April 25-28.
Speakers attributed the ongoing crisis in Syria to U.S.-led imperialism and its regional allies in Europe, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. The conference rejected NATO or other foreign military intervention against Syria.
Attended by tens of thousands, the event showed that the people of Turkey have deep solidarity with the Syrian people and oppose the interventionist policies of Turkey’s ruling AKP [Justice and Development Party].
Tammam Azzam, representing the Syrian National Peace Council, said, “The reason for this international terrorism against my country is because Syria did not kneel down, and we will not kneel down.”
Explaining why the Peace Association of Turkey is now focusing on Syria, spokesperson Aydemir Güler said: “At the moment, Syria is a junction point for world politics. ... Nobody can claim that a so-called minority would have managed to stay in power for two years simply oppressing the masses struggling against it. On the contrary, if the majority of the Syrian people had not resisted the foreign intervention and the terrorist acts of the reactionary armed gangs, Damascus would have shared the fate of other regimes and collapsed.”
Güler continued: “It is difficult to define what is happening in Syria as civil war. On one side, there is the U.S., NATO, Qatar, Turkey, Israel and the like. What kind of a civil war is it when the opposition conducts terrorist attacks on rallies, on market places, university campuses and public buildings? We do not observe that the assailants are acting with a part of the public. Syria is under an international siege. The right to self-determination of the Syrian people is being hijacked. And our AKP government is responsible for a large part of this crime.”
One of the conference attendants was Ukrainian reporter Anhar Kochneva, who had been kidnapped by the armed opposition gangs in Syria. Kochneva managed to escape after being held hostage for 25 days.
The conference concluded with a rally and concert on April 28 in Antakya, a town bordering with Syria. Quickly filling the rallying area, local residents waved Syrian flags to display their solidarity.
Speaking to the large crowd, Aydemir Güler said: “The most beautiful thing in the world is peace. Unfortunately, today the people who rule this country cannot utter these words. Today, the rulers are telling the children of this country, ‘Go to war.’ We will not let this happen.”
Speaking on behalf of the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP), Central Committe member Erkan Baş said: “Thanks to the struggle of the people of Antakya who are on the side of peace, Turkey will not simply be remembered as a country that has collaborated with the imperialists to destroy its neighbors. We have a comprador [imperialist-aligned] government taking its dictates from the U.S. In total contrast to that, the peoples of Turkey are extremely dignified with a solid anti-imperialist stance that wants peace. We are cognizant of our power. We know we can change everything if we stand together.”
Referring to the AKP government, Baş added: “We know they have money, we know they are backed by the U.S. government, the bosses and the reactionary gangs, but we have our organized power. ... Today, it is them who should be trembling with fear. One way or the other, we will topple their rule. I salute the heroic people of Syria!”
Speaking for the Socialist Nusayris Group, Ali Alvanoğlu said: “Starting with the people of Syria, I am saluting all the peoples of the Middle East and the world who have resisted the occupation and oppression, who have for more than two years stood up against the imperialist and Zionist blockade, plunder, destruction and slaughter, and who have thrown a wrench into the dirty and bloody plans of imperialism.”
Nusayri is another term for Arab Alevi, a Shiite sect. Including other sects such as Turkish and Kurdish Alevis that are distinct from other Shiite sects in the regions, Alevis make up 25 percent of Turkey's population.
Alvanoğlu continued: “We have disrupted their plans in Cuba and in Vietnam before, and today we will do it again in Syria, in Turkey.”
The crowd responded by shouting, “AKP, get your hands off Syria!” and “Long live the brotherhood of the people!”
The conference and rally vowed to turn the mass anti-war and anti-imperialist sentiment into a powerful movement to oppose the AKP’s efforts to overthrow the sovereign Syrian government. It is widely understood that these belligerent policies could have profound and dangerous implications for the peoples of Turkey, Syria and the entire region.