On World Kobane Day, 1st November, the British government has the opportunity to demonstrate support for rebuilding peace and strengthening popular democracy for the men and women of the Middle East who have fought bravely to successfully resist the encroachment of ISIS, whose aggression and politics has been viewed as a threat to all humanity.
The vision of a future society propounded by the Kurds stands at total opposition to the nightmare of ISIS’ autocratic tyranny that had been enforced against the wishes of the people. The repressive Islamist doctrine imposed a strict code of behaviour on every single aspect of life where women and people of other faiths were compelled to conform and dissenters were eradicated by systematic slaughter.
Now we can celebrate as the blight of ISIS is almost entirely removed from the region and we should give thanks to the endurance and determination of the Kurds whose remarkable struggle sparked the first resistance which has at last turned the tide.
With the military defeat of ISIS nearing completion, the time has come to secure the peace and the best way to prevent any future resurgence of Islamist fundamentalism is to build an open, democratic society in the region where men and women have equal status, and where all faiths and all minority communities are participants and treated as equally respected citizens.
The basis for this democratic vision was laid in Kobane three years ago and its spirit and example continues to inspire and spread.
Due credit, we believe, should go to the role of the Kurds and to the jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan whose ideas directly inspired the Kobane project which in turn continues to influence popular politics in the aftermath of the defeat of ISIS.
We are disheartened to read that Ocalan’s influence has caused some controversy recently with Turkey accusing the Syrian Kurds of backing terrorism when images of Abdullah Ocalan were unfurled in territory regained from ISIS. It is this popular victory exemplified by Kobane that Turkey now seeks to define as “terrorism” and unfortunately others have begun to echo Ankara’s ill-conceived position, such as, the US Embassy in Ankara which a few days ago issued a public statement that argued Ocalan “did not merit respect”. If this misguided intervention is to be understood as reflecting the current policy of the US Administration it is a deeply deplorable and retrograde development.
In their struggle, the people of Kobane continue to uphold the universal values of human equality and human rights.
The Kobane model has come to stand for fundamental principles of rights and humanity that offer hope of lasting peace and a better future for all the peoples. Kobane demonstrated that the people of the Middle East can live together in mutual respect rather than perpetuated animosities and sectarian hatreds.
In Kobane all people from the various creeds, faiths and ethnic groups joined together to defend their homeland from an immediate danger. They fought in a united struggle that deserves continued support and solidarity.
Three years on from the historic victory against ISIS in Kobane, the victory against the jihadis across the region is well within our sights. The people of the region are looking to the future with great hope. It is surely not the time to impede their progress.
As we move to reconstruct and consolidate the peace post-ISIS the model of democracy developed by the Kurds and implemented in Kobane and elsewhere deserves strong support.
We call on the British government to extend urgently needed material, political and logistical support to the people of Kobane and to all the people of Syria and Iraq who are seeking to rebuild their communities and return to a peaceful way of life under a new system of democratic autonomy involving all peoples, men and women.
The future of peace and democracy in Kobane and across the whole Middle East region is a cause for all humanity just as their resistance to ISIS inspired actions of solidarity around the world.
On World Kobane Day we have an opportunity to pledge and renew our international solidarity. We urge the British government to seize the moment and reflect the support shown by members of the British public for the people of Kobane, the Kurds and all those resisting oppression and dictatorship.
We look forward to the British government making a constructive contribution to the development of peace and democracy in this part of the world as the best guarantees of our own security and that of the people’s of Syria, Iraq and the wider region. To that end, we call on the UK government to ensure participation of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria at the table in the next round of the Geneva peace talks on Syria.
Christine Blower, NUT International Secretary
Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Cambridge University
Maxine Peake, actress
Mark Thomas, journalist, writer
Dr Derek Wall, Goldsmiths College, University of London
Julie Ward MEP
Margaret Owen OBE
Annette Lawson OBE
Baroness Helena Kennedy
Baroness Jenny Tongue
Michelle Allison, Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) Women representative
Akif Wan, Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) UK Representative
Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation
Mary Davis, Professor of Labour History
Dr Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, researcher
Nick Hildyard, policy advisor
David Morgan, journalist
Melanie Gingell, barrister
Father Joe Ryan, Chair Westminster Justice and Peace Commission
Ercan Aybogam, Co-Author of the Book “”Revolution in Rojava”
Dirk Cambell, composer and musician
Rahila Gupta, writer, journalist
Mike Mansfield QC
Alastair Lyon, BirnbergPeirce Solicitors
Dr Radha D’Souza, Reader in Law, Westminster University
Dr Les Levidow, Researcher Open University
Bert Schouwenburg, International Officer, GMB
Doug Nicholls, GFTU General Secretary
Trevor Rayne, Fellow of City University London
Stephen Smellie, Deputy Convenor UNISON Lanarkshire
Chris den Hond, video journalist
Cemalettin Cinkilic, artist, painter
Matt Lepley, activist
Tony Shephard, Leeds Friends of Rojava
Sarah Parker, Haringey UNITY
Saleh Mamon, CAMPACC
Patrick Twomey, teacher
Constantine and Eleni Luis, Specialist Mentor at Middlesex University
Ruth Webster, Head of Organisational Development, health and research charity
Dr Aubry Nunes
Benjamin Mulick, musician/composer
Dr. Alan Osman, writer
Jo Magpie, journalist
Colm Massey, Director of Solidarity Economy Association
Dr Stephen Hunt, Bristol Kurdish Solidarity Network
Phil Neale, Member of South Thanet Labour Party
Bertan Gunes, Kurdistan Students Union
Gul Ozmus, Kurdistan Students Union
Evrim Yilmaz, Kurdistan People’s Assembly UK
Turkan Budak, Kurdish Women’s Assembly UK
Taybet Ana, Kurdish Women’s Assembly Croyden
Kurdish Women Initiative Brighton
Kurdish Women Initiative Wales
Ayse Akdogan, teacher
Lieven De Cauter, Philosopher, Leuven University
James Kelman, novelist
Chris Williamson MP
Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru,
Maggie Bowden, General Secretary “Liberation”
Estella Schmid, Peace in Kurdistan
For information contact
Peace in Kurdistan Campaign