Rojava, Kurdish autonomy and peace-building efforts in Syria: Report from a roundtable discussion

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign and the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) organised a wide ranging discussion of Rojava, Kurdish autonomy and the attempts to build peace in Syria on 30 June 2015. Held in the Houses of Parliament, the event was hosted by the independent cross-bench peer Lord Hylton. Lord Hylton has recently returned from Rojava and is the first member of the UK parliament to visit the self-declared autonomous Kurdish region of northern Syria. The meeting was well attended and included people from the region and surrounding countries, along with British people and others with varying levels of familiarity with the Kurds and some who had little background knowledge but had been inspired by the resistance of Kobane.   Continue reading

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Joint statement of the international academic delegation to Rojava

 

 

This delegation was organised by Civaka Azad

The battle over Kobanê, which began in the summer of 2014, has brought to the world’s attention the Kurdish resistance to the brutal forces that call themselves Islamic State (IS or ISIS). Contrary to the expectations of many, the defense forces have succeeded in fending off the attacks not only of ISIS, but also the al-Nusra Front and the Assad regime over the last two and a half years. Less well known, however, is the fact that residents of the predominantly Kurdish areas of northern and northeastern Syria have established themselves as a new political entity that they call Rojava, comprising three autonomous cantons, one of which is Kobanê. There they have undertaken, to all appearances, a social and political revolution, characterized by remarkable efforts towards gender liberation and direct democratic self-government. Continue reading

“A revolution in daily life”

A delegation to Rojava formed of academics and activists recently returned from the region and the delegates have begun to put their thoughts about the new democratic autonomous administration to paper. Last week, Roarmag published Janet Biehl’s impressions of Rojava, and here, Becky discusses how power is being dispersed among the people in Cizire Canton:

Starting from the moment of coercion: Cizire Canton, Rojava

A revolution in daily life

Across the domains of government in the canton of Cizire, people are working, mostly on a voluntary basis, to make ambitious transformations to society. Doctors want to build a modern free healthcare system but also, they told us, to collect and disseminate suppressed local knowledge about healing and to change the conditions of life in general. They aim, they said, to build a way of life free of the separations – between people and between people and nature – that drive physical and mental illness. Academics want to orient education to ongoing social problems. Continue reading

Margaret Owen observes 6th hearing of the KCK trial of lawyers, 17 September 2013

This week a UK delegation of six barristers and solicitors travelled to Istanbul to observe the sixth hearing of the KCK trial of lawyers, a major anti-terror trial in which 46 lawyers representing Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan are being tried on mass for their association with him as their client.

In this hearing the final 16 defendants whose case had not yet been heard were able to present their defence. None were released on bail, and so must endure continued imprisonment on top of the 22 months they have already spent in pre-trial detention until the next hearing, scheduled for 19 December.

The delegates included international human rights barristers Margaret Owen OBE, Hugo Charlton, and Mark Jones of St Ives Chambers, as well as Tooks Chambers’ Bronwen Jones and Law Society Human Rights Committee member, Tony Fisher and Ali Has, solicitor and representative of the Law Society Human Rights Committee International Action Team.

We will bring you reports and statements by the delegates in the near future. In the meantime, Margaret Owen has written three blog posts giving her observations of the highly political hearing, which are below.

All of our delegates reports and statements on the trials, as well as our actions here in the UK to bring the issue to wider attention, can be found on the International Observation of the KCK trial of Kurdish Lawyers page.

Continue reading

Lawyers on trial: Report on the KCK hearings

On 16 – 19 July 2012, thirty-six Kurdish lawyers, representatives of imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, were tried at Istanbul High Criminal Court. They were arrested in November 2011 and charged under the Anti-Terror Act of ‘being a member of an illegal organisation’ and ‘passing orders of Abdullah Ocalan’.  Margaret Owen OBE, barrister, human rights lawyer and patron of Peace in Kurdistan campaign travelled to Istanbul with other international colleagues to observe the mass trial. She has written a report on her observations, which you will find below. The report is also available for you download (Word doc).

MASS TRIAL OF 36 KURDISH LAWYERS

Report on trial of the 36 lawyers at the Istanbul High Criminal Court, 16 – 19 July 2012

by Margaret Owen OBE, Barrister

Introduction

In June, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) appealed for international delegates to monitor the trial of 36 Kurdish lawyers, all members of the BDP, who were arrested in November 2011 in ongoing police operations against the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK). Ali Has, a Kurdish lawyer from the UK, and I joined other international delegates from across Europe in response to the appeal. We spent three days observing the mass trial in the Special Criminal Court in Istanbul, Turkey. [1] Continue reading

Ankara delegation report published

A recent parliamentary delegation to Ankara has published a report on their findings.

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Lord Hylton and Jill Evans MEP spent two days in Ankara on the invitation of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) meeting with Kurdish and Turkish representatives from the Grand National Assembly and a variety of NGO’s. Their report, which is available for you read and download, gives an account of a variety of concerns around the denial of Kurdish rights, the new Turkish constitution, state repression and the impact of recent arrests on the BDP and Kurdish democratic politics.

The report also pledges the delegation’s support Kurdish demands for full inclusion in the new constitution, and for the resumption of negotiations between the Turkish government and Abdullah Ocalan and the PKK.

Find further information on this delegation and others Peace in Kurdistan has been involved with in the past on our Delegations page.

Join a delegation to celebrate Newroz festival!

INVITATION: Celebrate Newroz festival on 21 March in Diyarbakir – join the Newroz delegations 19-25 March 2012

Solidarity with the opposition in Turkey, that is the real strength of democracy!

“EZ JÎ LI VIRIM!” (I AM HERE TOO!)

 23 February 2012

We invite you to join the 2012 Newroz celebrations between 19 – 25 March, and to participate in the main Newroz event on 21 March in Amed (Diyarbakir), organised by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). An invitation from BDP Vice Co-Chairperson and Foreign Relations Commission Chair Nazmi Gur is attached, along with a registration form for seats at the covered grandstand on 21 March. Continue reading