North Africa, West Asia

Scottish Green solidarity with the Kurdish people

We must support the people of Kobane in their fight against ISIS and Turkey's plans to install a buffer zone, both of which are plots to assassinate the democratic project in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan). 

Anni Pues
17 October 2014
Welcome to Kobane. All rights reserved.

Welcome to Kobane. All rights reserved.At their annual conference on October 12, 2014 the Scottish Green Party overwhelmingly supported an emergency motion in clear solidarity with the Kurdish people. The motion stated:

We call on Turkey to end the blockade of support and aid at its border for the Kurdish people fighting in self-defence in Kobane and Rojava.

 

We call on the UK to immediately lift the ban on the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) and urge the UK and our legal representatives to press for the removal of the PKK from the UK, EU and UN lists of proscribed terrorist organisations. 
 

We call on our representatives to press for the protection of the autonomous region Rojava, where people live together based on values such as equality, tolerance, pluralism and ecological balance.

The Scottish Green Party is a party founded on key humanitarian and democratic principles such as equality, peace, and human rights, to name just a few of them. Hence, the right to self-determination for all peoples is acknowledged and our policies have long been supportive of the Kurdish and Palestinian people. The party also clearly says NO to war and believes in peaceful resolutions to conflicts.

However, in some situations peaceful conflict resolution is not possible. The situation in Kobane – the same is true elsewhere, but Kobane serves as a very good example – is a violent one. Attacked by the murderous gangs of ISIS, there is no peaceful choice for the people. Either they fight in self-defence or they will be subject to torture, rape, abduction, enslavement, and murder. The genocidal attacks by ISIS on Yazidis earlier this year is stark evidence. In this situation, it is important not to shy away but to stand up and clearly show solidarity.

Kobane is situated right on the border with Turkey. The pre-dominantly Kurdish fighters in Kobane have to fight a very unequal battle. They lack the modern and heavy arms that ISIS is equipped with. But, they are not only besieged by ISIS, Turkey keeps its border closed to any support for the Kurds, meaning an effective blockade of people, weapons and other vital supplies. Thousands of people stand ready to help and fight with the people in the besieged city of Kobane. The Turkish position is unacceptable, which is why the Scottish Green Party is calling to lift the blockade and allow support to flow to the defenders of Kobane!

Terror lists are generally not a viable instrument to improve security in the world. But there is not time to wait for and attempt to bring about substantial change to the security discourse that has emerged in the aftermath of 9/11. Much has been written about the geopolitical function that the listing of the PKK has served. However, in the light of the current developments, it is more cynical than ever not to lift the ban on the PKK. Kurdish solidarity with the people in Kobane and Rojava is not determined by the system of nation states, which was imposed on the Middle East in the wake of World War I and the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The listing now serves to criminalize activities in support of the people under attack; it is like tying someone’s hand behind their back in what is already an unequal fight. Ultimately, it provides succor to the crimes being committed by ISIS. Instead of engaging in wars, that are deemed suitable for the geopolitical interests of the UK, our supposed representatives should start at home and lift the ban on the PKK.

The democratic revolution in Rojava embodies many of the values that the Greens stand for: equality, grassroots democracy, pluralism, ethnic and religious tolerance, the respect for human rights and last, but not least, ecological balance. Providing support for this democratic project is a direct extension of the existing policies of the Scottish Green Party, which have long advocated societal reform and participatory forms of democracy in the Middle East and have urged Western states to use their economic power to support such developments. It is urgent now to help the people in their fight against ISIS, and it is just as important to reject any plans to install a buffer zone in Northern Syria. This would only serve Turkey's interests rather than offering genuine help to refugees. It would be the end to the democratic project in Rojava.

A month ago, the people in Scotland had the chance to decide about independence for their country in a peaceful referendum. The Kurdish people, in their diversity and spread over many different countries, never had the chance to exercise this facet of their right to self-determination. However, the autonomous region of Rojava embodies an important step towards self-determination in a renewed, modern understanding. It is self-determination not in an exclusive but inclusive way, in ethnic and religious diversity and marked by gender equality; it is self-determination at the grassroots level, establishing local democracy and growing from there, rather then being focused on statehood. This is an inspirational approach that deserves attention from the international community.

The motion itself can only be one tiny and symbolic step but it is nevertheless an important one. To remain silent is not a choice. Peace will only be achieved if we stand by those defending genuine democratic human rights and values. It is important to build up momentum. The Scottish Green Party is not alone in showing solidarity. Within Unison Scotland, solidarity with the Kurdish people is forming as well, branches have started to declare solidarity. But none of this is enough. We need to form a broad coalition now - not a coalition of war but of resistance, peace and international solidarity!

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