David Miliband
President of International Rescue Committee
122 East 42nd Street
New York, New York 10168-1289

29 November 2017

Dear David Miliband

We are writing to urge you as head of the IRC to use your influence to persuade the UNHCR, the Red Cross, and other internationally recognised humanitarian organisations including your own, to deliver aid and humanitarian assistance to Rojava in Northern Syria.

Rojava as you know is an area of relative peace and stability in the North of Syria. It is an autonomous self- governing region under the rule of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria. Its political model is based on direct democracy with gender equality at its heart. All political positions in the administration are held jointly by a man and a woman. It is also inclusive in terms of ethnicity and religion with Kurds, Arabs and all other groups being represented in the administration and the military protection units. These democratic, inclusive principles make this area unique in a region that is better known for gender inequality and sectarianism.

As a region of relative peace and stability Rojava is receiving and looking after thousands of refugees and internally displaced people. The exact figures are hard to come by but the number is somewhere in the region of 2 million. As the host community was 3-5 million, this represents almost a doubling of the population.  This number includes many Yezidi women and girls who have escaped or been rescued from ISIS both before and after the liberation of Raqqa by the forces of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria. The therapeutic and other needs of these people are specific and urgent.

It is a very significant challenge for the administration in Rojava to continue to absorb and provide for this number of people in desperate need. They need immediate humanitarian assistance. This is particularly so as the borders between Rojava and Turkey and between Rojava and the Kurdish Region of Iraq remain closed, blocking the import of vital goods, including food and medical supplies from the few willing, at present, to provide them. This is a shocking state of affairs and it seems a clear and deliberate attempt to deepen the crisis for civilians inside Rojava and there is a strong argument that this amounts to a war crime.

We are concerned that the international community does not betray Rojava and the civilians relying on it for survival. The Democratic Federation of Northern Syria has been at the forefront of the battle against ISIS. It has been the “boots on the ground” for the US led coalition and has fought bravely and paid a high price in the form of personal sacrifice of the highest order in this battle. The repayment has been to be excluded from the Geneva peace talks and to be isolated in terms of humanitarian assistance. It is hard to see this situation as anything other than a political betrayal and as an affront to supporters of democracy and human rights in Syria.

The Rojava administration as we mentioned at the first is based on direct democracy and principles of equality. It is a model that could serve the whole region well. There is no challenge to existing state borders, there is a proven commitment to cooperate transparently with western allies and further this is one of the most stable and secure areas of Syria in which humanitarian organisations could work. There is also much to learn from the civil society organisations in the region whose initiatives for peace, justice and Democracy are unique.

We are appealing to you, as an influential non-state actor, and as someone who maybe able to rise above the complications which seem to be resulting in this isolation, to act. Please will you use your best endeavours to ensure that there is some progress in getting humanitarian aid into Rojava, where it will be used for the purpose for which it is intended?

Yours sincerely,

Peace in Kurdistan
Margaret Owen OBE
Rahila Gupta, journalist, writer
Carne Ross
Baroness Helena Kennedy
Lord Judd
Julie Ward MEP
Rosie Duffield MP
Keith Best, former MP, barrister, author, Chair of World Federalist Movement and of Wyndham Place Charlemagne Trust
Vivienne Hayes MBE, CEO, Women’s Resource Centre
UNITE, the union
Simon Dubbins, International Director, UNITE
Annette Lawson, chair of the National Alliance of Women’s Organisations (NAWO <http://www.nawo.org.uk/index.html> )
Nadje Al-Ali, Professor of Gender Studies, SOAS University of London
Lindsey German, Convenor Stop the War Coalition
Liz Davies, Honorary Vice-President Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, personal capacity
Mark Jones, Barrister, St Ives Chambers
Jessica Northey, International Co-ordinator of the Green Party of English and Wales
Christine Blower, National Union of Teachers (NUT), International Secretary
Bert Schouwenburg, International Officer, GMB
Margaret Gallacher, Chairperson, South Lanarkshire Unison Branch
Janet Biehl, writer, researcher, US
Frances Webber, former barrister, lecturer and author
Dr Derek Wall, author, lecturer
Dr Michael Gunter, author
Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Cambridge University
Professor Mehmet Ugur BSc, MSc, PhD, Professor of Economics and Institutions, Greenwich University
Maureen Meatcher, National Board of Catholic Women (NBCW)
Jill Evans MEP
Lord Hylton
Lord Rea
Lord Dholakia
Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru
Penny Papadopoulou, journalist
Sarah Parker, Haringey Unity
Chris den Hond, film-maker
Isabel Kaeser, PhD student, SOAS
Cynthia Cockburn, feminist researcher and writer
Prof Mary Davis
Jonathan Bloch, writer
Dr Les Levidow, Open University
Saleh Mamon, CAMPACC
Kariane Westrheim, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Bergen
Martha Jean Baker, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Stephen Smellie, Deputy Convenor UNISON Lanarkshire
Melanie Gingell, barrister
David Morgan, journalist
Dr. Goran Zangana, doctor and activist
Anne Gray
Ruth Webster
Rachel Palmer
David and Elizabeth Nussbaum
Ann Dawson, Domestic Violence Charity Trustee
Jill and Lionel Gordon
Sally Spear, retired scientist and teacher
Caroline Downey, Executive Director, Women Working Worldwide
Dr Sarah Glynn
Mayor Abdullah Demirbas
Dimitri Roussopoulos, Chair of the Transnational Institute for Social Ecology (TRISE), Canada
Dr. Amy Bartholomew, Associate Professor, Department of Law and Legal Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
Meredith Tax, writer New York, US
Fatih Seyhanoglu, journalist, US
Anna Rebrii, CUNY student, NYC, US
Sarah M’Bodji, US
Jackie Jones, US
Tanya Fuad, US
Bianca Bagatourian, Playwright, Activist, US
Eleanor Finley, PhD Student, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, US
Cora Roelofs, Friends of Rojava in North America, US
Rachel Chapman, PhD Student, The Graduate Center, CUNY, US
Estella Schmid, political activist

Peace in Kurdistan

Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
44 Ainger Road, London NW3 3AT
Email: estella24@tiscali.co.uk
Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie Gingell – Tel: 020 7272 7890

Patrons: John Austin, Christine Blower, NUT International Secretary, Prof Bill Bowring, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Prof Mary Davis, Lord Dholakia, Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director,  Jill Evans MEP, Lindsey German, Convenor STWC, Melanie Gingell, Rahila Gupta, Nick Hildyard, Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru, James Kelman, Bruce Kent, Jean Lambert MEP, Elfyn Llwyd, Mike Mansfield QC, Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, GFTU, Dr. Jessica Ayesha Northey, International Coordinator, Green Party of England and Wales;; Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy, Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Kate Osamor MP, Margaret Owen OBE, Gareth Peirce, Maxine Peake, Lord Rea, Joe Ryan, Stephen Smellie, Dr Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Dr Tom Wakeford, Dr Derek Wall, Julie Ward MEP, Hywel Williams MP.