The significance of the continuing Kurdish struggle for the future of Turkey and the Middle East as well as its implications for politics in Britain were issues on the agenda at the Marxism 2012 conference and festival which took place in central London on 5-9 July.
A seminar, organised by the Peace in Kurdistan Campaign as part of the Marxism 2012 programme on 7th July, brought into focus the plight of Kurdish activists within Turkey and drew attention to the key democratic demands of the Kurdish movement.
Turkey, recognised as a key ally of the West in the reshaping of the Middle East in the aftermath of the “Arab Spring”, was currently stepping up its repression of Kurdish organisations; arrests of political and civil society activists were increasing and draconian legal manoeuvres were being taken against the main pro-Kurdish political party, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in an orchestrated attempt to render it incapable of operating effectively. The resilience of the Kurdish people in the face of decades of savage repression was widely seen as inspirational by participants in the seminar.
Social anthropologist Dr Felix Padel explained how the struggle of the Kurdish people provides hope for the whole of humanity. Akif Wan, Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) representative, briefly explained the roots of the Kurdish struggle and the responsibilities of European states for the precarious conditions facing the Kurdish people today divided among hostile states of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Journalist David Morgan (Peace in Kurdistan campaign), who chaired the seminar, pointed to the contradictions in Turkey’s policy of support for insurgency in Syria while simultaneously stepping up repression against its own Kurdish opposition including guerrillas. See photo *)
The meeting attracted a broad range of political activists, trade unionists and socialists who expressed solidarity with the Kurds. The seminar provided an opportunity to discuss some of the key Kurdish concerns such as the historic significance of the leadership of Abdullah Ocalan and the relevance of his proposals embodied in the “road map” for the achievement of a new settlement leading to peace in Turkey and a new model of devolved democracy which had relevance for the wider Middle East.
The Socialist Workers’ Party, the organisers of Marxism 2012, was thanked for agreeing to hold this detailed discussion on the Kurds and Turkey, a subject too rarely debated among the left.
An appeal from the meeting went out to the labour movement to support Kurdish trade unionists and other political prisoners and to take a much closer interest in what is happening inside Turkey. Kurdish activists in the UK were also encouraged to get involved in the unions and to work closer with political parties to raise awareness of Kurdish concerns.
Report by Peace in Kurdistan Campaign, 11 July 2012
*) Social anthropologist Dr Felix Padel (right); Akif Wan, Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) representative (centre) and journalist David Morgan (Peace in Kurdistan campaign
For further information contact:
Peace in Kurdistan
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie Sirinathsingh – Tel: 020 7272 7890
Patrons: Lord Avebury, Lord Rea, Lord Dholakia, Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP, Jill Evans MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, Alyn Smith MEP, Bairbre de Brún MEP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Hywel Williams MP, Elfyn Llwyd MP, John Austin, Bruce Kent, Gareth Peirce, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, John Berger, Edward Albee, Margaret Owen OBE, Mark Thomas