13 March 2015

We are extremely concerned by the news that Shilan Ozcelik, an 18 year-old woman from the Kurdish community in north London has been remanded for allegedly trying to join the Kurdish resistance against ISIS in northern Syria.

Yesterday, Shilan was charged with ‘engaging in conduct in preparation to for giving an effect to an intention to commit acts of terrorism’ under section 5 (10) (a) of the Terrorism Act 2006 and remanded to Holloway prison to await trial on the 1st April.

We condemn the arrest as a blatant example of political and selective criminalisation of the Kurdish community at large, which has continued since the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has been listed on the UK’s list of ‘terrorist’ organisations.

We emphatically reject this labelling of the PKK, which we believe confuses the Kurdish people’s legitimate struggle for self-determination with terrorism and has the effect of criminalising anyone in our community who is part of peaceful political activity. We know that Shilan has never committed any act of violence and poses no threat to the people of this country.

The arrest comes at a time when the Kurdish struggle has been garnering unprecedented international support for their recent armed struggle against ISIS. There, the PKK’s affiliated forces, the YPG and YPJ, have received praise from activists and senior politicians alike for their incredible efforts fighting back ISIS from Kobane and parts of northern Syria and Iraq.

Given this context, the arrest of a young Kurdish woman for allegedly attempting to join the YPJ seems more than a little contradictory. The YPG and YPJ, who had been in a tacit alliance with US and British forces in the struggle for Kobane, are not listed on any terrorist list.

We call for Shilan’s immediate release, and for the PKK to be removed from the terrorism list once and for all.


CAMPACC Briefing: The UK Ban on the PKK – Persecuting the Kurds

Desmond Fernandes: Surveillance, Targeting And The Criminalisation Of Kurds In The UK

Campaign to Delist the PKK


There will be an emergency picket this evening outside Holloway Prison at 6pm organised by members of the Kurdish community.

There will also be a solidarity demo in Leeds on Sunday at 2pm

We also encourage everyone to write to Silan in Holloway Prison to show her she is not fighting alone. Please send you letter via her solicitor:
Av. Ali Has Morgan Has Solicitors
Bank Chambers, 1st & 2nd Floor,
133 Stoke Newington High Street,
Stoke Newington
London N16 0PH

We are planning actions with all community organisations for 1st April and encourage people to be at the Old Baily for Silan’s hearing. Please contact if you wish to be kept informed of upcoming actions.