Cosatu members demonstrate outside the Turkish embassy in Pretoria on Thursday against Turkey's human rights violations against its critics and the Kurds.

Pretoria - Hundreds of trade union and political party members took to the streets of Pretoria on Thursday to protest against the Turkish military operation against Kurds in Syria, and America's blockade against Cuba. 

Protesters gathered at the US Embassy in Pretoria at noon and then moved to the Turkish embassy. 

The head of the Turkish Solidarity Network, Lucky Lukhele, said: “Today was a historic day in solidarity with Turkish people who have been subjected to inhumane and barbaric brutality by the government of President Erdogan.” 

Lukhele mentioned that members of Cosatu, the SACP, the ANC and the Swaziland Solidarity Network all joined in the solidarity protest outside the Turkish embassy. 

“The ANC must rescind its Memorandum of Understanding that was signed by its Secretary General Ace Magashule with Turkey’s ruling party the AKP,” Lukhele said. "The ANC has no historical ties with the AKP, and the ANC’s International Relations Subcommittee and National Executive Committee knew nothing about the MOU."

Nehawu's National Executive Committee released a statement last week saying: "We are deeply concerned by the ANC decision to conclude an MOU with Turkey's AKP, a political party completely the opposite of the ANC. It is our view that the solution to this blunder and to preserve Madiba's legacy who refused to accept any award from Turkey, the ANC should rescind the signed memorandum."

The ANC signed an MOU with Turkey’s ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) on August 1st this year in Ankara during an ANC delegation visit to Turkey. The MOU was signed by the AKP deputy Chairman responsible for foreign affairs Cevdet Yilmaz and ANC SG Ace Magashule. The MOU includes cooperation in the fields of education, the promotion of trade, and other areas.

ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe referred to the AKP as a “sister party” of the ANC, drawing widespread condemnation from a  number of South African trade unions, activists and journalists. Activists have pointed to the unprecedented rights violations that have been perpetrated against government critics and the Kurds by Erdogan’s administration.

Senior members of the ANC who sit on the International Relations Subcommittee of its National Executive Committee have said that signing an MOU with the AKP was not adequately discussed within the party, and goes against the efforts to place human rights at the core of South Africa's foreign policy.

The ANC continues to develop relations with the AKP, with a large delegation led by AKP Deputy Chairman for Foreign Affairs Cevdet Yilmaz having been received at ANC headquarters on November 4. The Turkish delegation was hosted by ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule.

Lukhele emphasized at Thursday's demonstrations that Erdogan has invaded Syria in an imperialistic way, which is why people have said that Turkey must get out of Syria. "Turkey must also release all those innocent people arrested following the attempted coup, and release all academics, civil servants, and teachers unconditionally, and stop arresting their family members," Lukhele said. 

“The picket at the Turkish embassy calls for the withdrawal of Turkey from the North Eastern region of Syria,” Cosatu announced at the protests on Thursday. 

“Cosatu has noted with grave disappointment that the plight of the Kurdish people in North Eastern Syria continues to worsen daily” @_cosatu tweeted.

“Activists are now protesting outside the Turkish Embassy in Pretoria, calling for recognition of the Kurds' right to self determination, unconditional release of Abdullah Ocalan who has been in prison for 20 years, and implementation of the United Nation's Mandela Rules,” the SACP said.