Kurdish autonomous region of Rojava and peace-building efforts in Syria: A panel discussion held at the House of Commons

by YASEMIN KAZAN/LONDON

On 30 June, a round table discussion was held at the House of Commons focused on prospects for Kurdish autonomous region of Rojava and peace-building efforts in Syria.

The event was jointly organised by Peace in Kurdistan Campaign and Kurdistan National Congress and hosted by Lord Hylton. The debate was held to highlight what was happening in Kurdish autonomous region of Rojava and Syria and to present recent developments in the region and some of the key issues involved.

Dr Alan Semo, Lord Hylton and Margaret Owen

Dr Alan Semo, Lord Hylton and Margaret Owen

With ISIS capturing strategic towns in Iraq and the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) winning 80 seats in the Turkish National Assembly for the first time, the discussion held at a particularly prescient time included; Lord Hylton, the first member of UK Parliament, Margaret Owen, patron of Peace in Kurdistan Campaign, Human Rights Barrister and Director of the International NGO, Dr. Alan Semo PYD UK, John Hunt, journalist, writer and editor, Michelle Allison, Kurdistan National Congress and some other attendees of journalists, independent diplomats, and human rights campaigners.

Lord Hylton, welcomed everybody in attendance before he shared his experiences and analysis of his recent trip to Cizire Canton where he met administration officials, local assembly members, refugees and aid workers.

Lord Hylton’s first-hand experience of the Kurdish-administrated Canton of Cizire presented at the debate:

“Cizire Canton seems to be working efficiently and the atmosphere in the canton seemed calm and harvesting is well underway. I was impressed by the fact that Cizire have managed to hold its own elections and will self-administrate itself. It is pledge to have equality for women was being put in to practice and one could see this because all the major appointments was man and woman acting jointly.

Since I got back I have spoken twice in the House of Lords about my visit. I urged our government also to visit to see for themselves what is happening. Cizire has drawn out a brilliant constitution and social charter for common citizenships between Kurds, Assyrians, Arabs and other small groups who live in the area. If this can be fully implemented throughout the Rojava it would provide a model for Syria and could be an example for many parts of the Middle East.”

Margaret Owen’s insights and experiences on why we should support the autonomous cantons of Rojava to build resistance:

“I have to say that I am actually falling in love again with everything that Rojava stands for. Because everything that they are trying to do is a model, not just for Syria but for all of the countries in the Middle East and in fact all countries coming out of conflict. And it is terribly fragile. And it is terribly important that we support everything that they are doing.

This political project we have actually seen it on the ground but you can read their social charter it is anti-state, anti-centralism. It wants people that people to have real role about decision making. So it really goes down to communes. They do all sorts of extraordinary things we could learn from. Let’s learn from Rojava, not tell them what to do. But also Syrian Kurds is not about changing borders this about everybody in Syria and it is about freedom of belief and pluralism.

One little reminder, this is something extraordinary about Rojava and it is the most wonderful, exciting new project and it is for everybody. Let the UK government take the lead and support it.”

The roundtable was held in the House of Commons

The roundtable was held in the House of Commons

Dr. Alan Semo drew attention to latest developments in the region; particularly ISIS that attack took place in Kobani where many civilians killed and he noted:

“The liberation of Tel Abyad which was the main facilitator for ISIS from Turkey to Rojava was a huge defeat for ISIS and Turkey. They both couldn’t accept the defeat and start slaughtering civilians in Kobani. Turkey made it clear where it stands. And President Erdogan recently stated that they would not allow any Kurdish establishment in northern Syria and whatever the cost they would prevent it. This is the evidence itself. Turkey is now threatening Rojava for the military intervention. International community can help us to stop this threat of military intervention. This is a breach of international laws.”

John Hunt who also recently visited Kobani said that despite all the horrors and distractions, Kobani will survive and he added:

“Kobani faces a virtual embargo by Turkey. Turkey will not allow any foreign visitors, journalist or doctors into Kobani. Turkey is only allowing very limited supplies to the city, coming mainly from Kurdish Municipalities in Eastern Turkey. It is not allowing the scale of aid that is required for Kobani to rebuild. That’s was a critical thing put to me by the local politicians. They say we need the Western countries; they stood by us when we were defending the city. But now we need them to support us to rebuild the city. Rebuilding the city is part of the resistants to terrorism too. And that support is very very vital.”

Speakers concluded that the Kurds in Syria who defend themselves against ISIS gangs and also work towards democracy in the middle of a mess don’t get the help they need. It has yet not been acknowledged that in the middle of a barbaric conflict something new is emerging where they are trying to establish equality, multi-cultural democracy and ethnicity. It has been expressed the need of urgent support for Kurds, the autonomous Rojava and peace in Syria from the international community and by all advocates of peace.

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