House debates

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Statements by Members


1:31 pm

Photo of Julian LeeserJulian Leeser (Berowra, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs have rightly taken a strong stand against the unilateral actions of the Erdogan regime for its invasion of northern Syria. Australia has been part of the coalition which destroyed ISIS plans for a caliphate, but Turkey's actions could undermine this and cause untold suffering for innocent people—in particular, Kurdish people, who've done more than their fair share of fighting and dying to stop the advance of ISIS.

The Kurds represent many of the values we've been fighting for in the Middle East. They are a multifaith, pluralist, pro-Western people. There are Christian Kurds, Shiah Kurds, Sunni Kurds, Jewish Kurds and Kurds of no faith. So many Australian Kurds have stories of their families being tortured, raped and killed by ISIS. Kurdish people who've fought for the same values as Australia are in Turkey's direct firing line. I want to express my solidarity with the Kurdish people.

Australia has had a good and perhaps unique relationship with the Western, secular, Muslim, democratic Turkey formed on the principles of Kemal Ataturk, who so many Turks and Australians admire for his bravery at Gallipoli and his conception of modern Turkey. But at every turn President Erdogan wants to destroy the Ataturk legacy—whether it's through the crackdown on the rights of his own people, his disgraceful comments about Australia and New Zealand after the Christchurch attacks or his invasion of northern Syria. He is again choosing to put Turkey on the wrong side of history. I want to encourage the government to continue to work with our allies to keep pressure on the Erdogan regime to withdraw its forces from northern Syria.