Tag Archives: ISIS

Global Day for Kobane – pics and report from London 1st November

Several thousand London Kurds and their supporters gathered in Trafalgar Square as part of a worldwide protest against what is happening to Kobane, an amazing autonomous Kurdish community in Northern Syria, which is under siege and attack by Islamist fighters.

00 kobane

Kobane has become a rallying issue for many progressive groups, including anarchists, because of their model and refreshing system of democracy and decision-making, which strives for equality and defends women’s rights.

01 kobane

While Islamic State fighters commit massacres and rapes, the West, and particularly Turkey are giving little or no support to the besieged Kurdish people, who rely on their own ‘People’s Protection Units’, the YPG, and the women fighters of the YPJ, to keep the attack at bay. These soldiers are widely recognised in the region as a democratic people’s army, and they hold internal elections to appoint their leaders.

02 kobane

The three-hour rally attracted a wide range of support from dozens of speakers, and kicked off with performer/activist Mark Thomas who was unequivocal in his support of the Kurds and the need for action against ISIS.

06 kobane

He also called for an immediate lift on the ban on the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, (the PKK) who have been conveniently proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the West (including NATO), but whose Turkish-jailed leader has given up the original Marxist-Leninist armed struggle and has helped establish the almost utopian Democratic Confederalist system in place in Syrian Kurdistan while striving for a political solution.

Mark’s calls were echoed by human rights lawyer, Margaret Owen.

07 kobane

She also described Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) as a utopia of equality, providing support and sanctuary for internally displaced people including Christians, Armenians, Turkmen, Arabs, and others, and she spoke of the extraordinary tenacity and bravery of the women fighters of the YPJ.

03 kobane

Green MEP, Jean Lambert announced she would be visiting Istanbul next week and pushing hard for the PKK ban to be lifted. She also mentioned Qatar’s role in supporting ISIS and buying black market oil from them, something that Turkey is also accused of.

The huge crowd listened to speaker after speaker throughout the sunny afternoon.  Radha d’Souza from the Indian Association of Lawyers condemned Turkey’s aspirations to a new Ottoman empire, and spoke of solidarity from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

10 kobane

Roman Catholic Priest Father Joe Ryan, co-ordinator of the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission described Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the PKK, as the Nelson Mandela of the Kurdish people, and called for his release (for a decade from 1999, he was the sole prisoner on an island prison in Marmaris, echoing Mandela’s plight).

11 kobane

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell drew ‘just war’ comparisons with the struggle against Spanish fascism, and the war against Nazism. He called for the International Criminal Court to issue arrest warrants against ISIS leaders, and against Assad, and for Turkey to be suspended from NATO for its support of ISIS despite the massacre of Kurdish people. He also highlighted the immediate need for air dropped supplies of food, medicine and arms to the people of Kobane.

Tamil activist, Karthick, alluded to the French Revolution and other workers’ revolutions, and said that Kobane would go down in history as one of the most important revolutions in the 21st Century.

12 kobane

He said that the YPG and YPJ gave hope that peace, justice, and women’s rights were all possible, and he condemned Turkey for killing protesters and supporting ISIS.

A speaker from the Spanish Basque Society offered solidarity, as did Islington Labour leader, Richard Watts. Labour activist Norah Mulready spoke about the YPJ and said that an attack on one woman was an attack on all.

14 kobane

Speaker after speaker condemned Turkey and ISIS and honoured the Kurdish struggle and the democratic society of Rojava. Among them were Steve Hedley from the RMT, who said the PKK were a national liberation army, Trevor Rain (Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism) who said the Kurds and the Palestinians were the two great losers in the Middle Eastern imperialist carve-up, with the UK having a special responsibility, and political writer Sukant Chandan, who described ISIS as NATO death squads, or hitmen for international capital.

The crowd then listened to a live telephone call from Kobane, by Asya Abdullah, a co-chair of the People’s Democratic Union Party.

05 kobane

She thanked the rally for being part of a historic global day of resistance, and categorised ISIS as the enemies of women, humanity and culture. She described the horrors of 48 days of resistance in Kobane with the deaths of hundreds and thousands of men and women, but called it a global resistance, saluting the international grass roots solidarity.

08 kobane

With police pressuring organisers to meet a 5pm deadline to finish the rally, there were short messages of support from a whole swathe more speakers, and there was a powerful air of global solidarity as we heard of similar huge rallies around the world, in Rome, Bremen, Paris, Madrid, Buenos Aires, Ankara, Istanbul, Bilbao, Orlando, Bombay, Vancouver, Stockholm, Dusseldorf, Honduras, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Rio, Washington, Liverpool, Houston, and dozens more cities.

15 kobane

16 kobane

Mark Thomas is organising a Kurdish Red Crescent benefit night at the Bloomsbury on 23rdNovember with a fantastic line-up of top comedians and special guests.

Kobane Kurdish solidarity protest at Savoy Hotel Turkish business dinner

Kurdish activists and solidarity friends staged a protest at short notice this evening at the Savoy hotel where a Turkish business dinner was taking place.

07 savoy

Around 50 people stood at the main entrance with a huge banner, chanting slogans highlighting Turkey’s support for ISIS and in solidarity with the people of Kobane who are under attack from the Islamic militants.

04 savoy

02 savoy

01 savoy

Savoy security men asked the crowd to move off the private road, but it took nearly an hour while police numbers built up and negotiations took place, before finally the group moved to the main road.

03 savoy

Then hotel security closed the road to its entrance with railings.

05 savoy

On hearing that Turkish delegates were entering via the ballroom entrance at the rear of the hotel, the protest moved there for a while.

Hotel staff first told police that the pavement belonged to the Savoy, but after being challenged on this, police allowed the protest to continue right next to the doorway.

06 savoy

It ended peacefully at around 7.30.

Kurds will be holding a huge rally in Trafalgar Square next Saturday 1st November at around 1pm. Among their demands, they are calling for the UK government to take the PKK off the proscribed list, and to consider sanctions against Turkey for its support of ISIS, and they ask the UN not to support Turkey’s plan for a ‘buffer zone’, and to consider her membership status.

More info at kurdishinfo.com, facebook: save rojava, and #twitterkurds @hevallo

Huge Kurdish protest in Westminster yesterday over Turkey and ISIS

Called at short notice and spread over social media, yesterday afternoon’s Westminster protest attracted thousands of Kurdish people from all over London, filling the square with home-made placards and a variety of flags.

01 kurds

Their largest banner simply stated ‘Turkey – Stop Supporting ISIS”, and speakers told of how Turkey is refusing to allow women and child refugees over its border, and is even preventing Kurdish volunteers from leaving the country to help defend Kobane, while doing little to stem the flow of fighters and arms to ISIS, and even buying black market oil from the Islamic State.

02 kurds

03 kurds

While the PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party) is effectively fighting on the same side as the West against the “terrorists” of ISIS, it is still officially a ‘proscribed’ organisation itself, and Kurds have plenty of evidence that Turkey is effectively supporting ISIS to carry out its genocidal mission in Kobane while giving lip service to the West’s apparent desire to confront the Jihadists.

04 kurds

05 kurds

Among their demands of the UK government is a call for Cameron to throw out the Turkish ambassador after Turkish PM Erdogan commented recently that PKK and ISIS were “the same”.

After about an hour in the square, the Kurds decided to go marching, and negotiated a route around the West End with police before setting off up Whitehall.

06 kurds

However, as the front of the march passed Downing Street, there was news of scuffles and arrests in the Square as police bungled a stop-and-search, tried to arrest a Kurd for resisting, and ended up in fist-fights with a small crowd of enraged supporters who had watched what was going on.

As a result, the march sat down, demanding the release of their comrades, and bringing the area to a complete halt.

07 kurds

08 kurds

A Police Liaison Officer (PLOs – now known to be intelligence gatherers), tried to negotiate with the men at the front of the crowd, before reporting back to the Chief Inspector and then working with police photographers trying to identify and document ‘ringleaders’.

After more than 30 minutes, it appears that police released one man to appease the crowd, but two were later confirmed as detained on suspicion of assaulting police.

09 kurds

With a lot of stopping and starting, the huge march then continued up Whitehall, but abandoned plans for a long West End walkabout and instead doubled back along the Embankment to return to Parliament Square, where, as the sun began to set, they peacefully dispersed, and the 20 or so police riot vans drove off too.

10 kurds

Stop The War (again)

The ‘Stop The War’ Coalition called an emergency rally at short notice tonight outside Downing Street in response to the news that Parliament is recalled tomorrow to vote (or as the Guardian put it, “endorse”) air strikes on Iraq.

This time we have apparently been invited to bomb by Iraq itself, and the urgency is due to the uber-violence of ISIS/ISIL who are marauding across oil-rich areas and taking control by wiping out opposition.

The issue seems to have split some of the usual anti-war activists and the Left, who are joining in the mantra that “we must do something”, and with the only “something” on offer from our decrepit leadership being air strikes, then this is what we must do, in order to stop the bloodshed.

I have no doubt that the so-called Islamists (who seem to have left all spirituality behind), are committing terrible acts of genocide, but there are three issues I have a problem with. The first is that ISIS/L has come out of the same groups that “we” were arming, training, funding, and cheering on in their fight against the evil dictator Assad in Syria. Second, they are so successful at recruitment, because they can point to the Iraq war, and to the atrocities committed by Israel towards which the West not only turn a blind eye, but actively continue to support, with massive aid and military equipment. And third, the West often turns a blind eye to genocide (take the Congo for example), but for some reason (erm, let me think, could it be strategic and oil-related) this one demands immediate intervention.

Something must be done, yes, and if the real “we” who would like the right thing done, had control of the military might of the US, France and the UK, then just maybe, some strategic air-strikes might be a temporary and stop-gap answer of sorts. But to believe for one second that what “we” want done, in any way aligns with what the US military-industrial complex wants done, is naive and dangerous.

Their air strikes will be to protect their interests, not civilians, and even if for one second we believe they want to wipe out ISIS/L, they won’t be able to, because like Al-Qaeda, ISIS/L is an idea as much as it is a physical movement, and it is an idea that is ever more reinforced by Western military intervention. And let’s not forget, in the Orwellian dystopia being created, perpetual war IS the real aim, so it just won’t suit the US and its allies to actually wipe out their enemy, just be seen to carry on fighting them, while bringing in more and more control and surveillance on their populations at home in the name of security (see for instance today’s vote and likely passing into law next Tuesday in Australia of the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill).

So what CAN we do. Well, how about cutting off military and other funding and aid to Israel until it is brought to account for its broken UN resolutions and its war crimes. And how about cutting off aid and military equipment to Turkey until it sorts out its human rights abuses on the Kurds. And how about moving away from fossil fuel economy, and moving the massive subsidies currently given to oil over to renewables, creating jobs and clean energy and energising Western economies with sustainable growth in these areas.

If we started truly doing those things, ISIS/L would find it a lot lot harder to recruit, and we could start replacing the morally bankrupt UN and NATO with a proper International Court of Justice based on Universal Human Rights and strict adherence to the International laws of war.

It won’t save those currently facing aggression in the Middle East, but Obama’s bombing strategies can only lead to more bloodshed too.

So for me, the message, “Don’t Bomb Iraq’ is as right now as it was in 2003, and people should not be beguiled by the ‘we must do something’ rhetoric of the warmongers.

The Stop the War coalition (of which I am not a member) have called for a Central London protest on Saturday. As usual there is no suggestion of civil disobedience, so it will further sap the energies of the people who come along, and is extremely unlikely to stop any wars. History has shown over and over again, that only when the powerful are truly challenged through creative and disobedient mass movements, can change occur. So while I support their message, I can’t support their tactics. It didn’t stop the Iraq war last time, and there are even fewer of them this time. Time to step up. Yes, “we” must do something!

For what it’s worth, some pics from tonight’s protest opposite Downing Street – some good people there.

05 stw

01 stw

03 stw

04 stw

02 stw