Turks Refuse Letter from Desmond Tutu
Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 10th August, 2010
As a strong friend of Turkey, I was disappointed today when the Turkish Embassy in London refused to accept a letter from Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, which was scheduled to be hand-delivered — by prior arrangement — by the Archbishop’s former assistant, the South African Anglican priest and campaigner for Kurdish rights Matthew Esau, accompanied by Ken Livingstione, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Siobhain McDonagh MP and myself. This really was something of an own-goal on Turkley’s part. The letter (of which I have a copy) congratulated Turkey for the principles stand that it has taken in defending the rights of the Palestinian people and then went on to argue that peaceful negotiations are the only way to resolve the ongoing and bloody conflict involving the Turkish state and sections of the country’s Kurdish minority. Indeed, as a conference in the eastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir which I attended earlier this year, it was agreed that much could be learned by Turkey from the experiences of both South Africa and Northern Ireland. As Archbishop Tutu writes in his letter (addressed to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan), ‘We want to appeal to you as the political head of Turkey, to use your office and your influence to bring a lasting end to the conflict in your Country. This could serve as a springboard to seek a similar resolution of the problems in the other parts of the Middle East. History will remember you for such a contribution — like history so eloquently acknowledges Mr. Nelson Mandela for the peace he brought in South Africa through peaceful means.’ Yesterday, the Embassy said they would welcome the delegation. But today, alas, the door remained firmly closed.