We, the undersigned call upon you to exercise your executive authority to permit the Kurdish Women’s Relation Office (REPAK) in Erbil to reopen in order to continue its legitimate activities which are entirely in accord with the law. On 5 May 2016 the REPAK premises in the city were raided and closed by the Asayish Security Forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Staff were detained, their identity papers and mobile telephones were taken from them. They were bundled into security vehicles to be driven and expelled outside the city and told that they would not be allowed to return. The REPAK offices remain closed. No explanation was offered for these alarming actions. This measure is totally undemocratic and without any legal basis whatever. It obstructs the vital work needed to support Kurdish women in the Middle East.

Kurdish women have been in the forefront of championing women’s rights throughout the Middle East. They have established political and cultural representative organisations in the different parts of Kurdistan and have confronted some of the worst vestiges of patriarchal repression that have blighted women’s lives across the region. In their endeavours Kurdish women have received valuable support from REPAK. The organisation has operated perfectly legally in Erbil as a NGO since March 2014 offering support for different Kurdish women’s organisations and raising awareness internationally of the inspiring efforts of Kurdish women to improve their lives and that of their communities. REPAK has served as a valuable point of contact for women’s delegations from around the world which have been visiting Kurdistan in attempts to find out more about Kurdish women and the progress they have been making.

REPAK regularly participates in international conferences and its staff members have served the World Women’s Conference. The office successfully publicised the brutal atrocities committed against Yezidi women at Sinjar/Shengal by Islamic State (IS), and reported on the heroic resistance against IS of the people of Kobane in Rojava, northern Syria. It is profoundly troubling that REPAK’s commitment to women across all the Kurdish areas should result in its criminalisation, censorship and closure. This action is totally deplorable and unjustified.

We strongly urge your government to immediately reconsider this action against REPAK and that you join with the people and organisations in Britain and around the world who desperately want to see an end to the repression and suffering of Kurdish women: the REPAK offices must be reopened.

Supported by

Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)

Estella Schmid, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

Melanie Gingell, barrister

Christine Blower, NUT International Secretary

Rahila Gupta, writer and journalist

Victoria Brittain, writer and journalist

Liz Saville-Roberts MP

Jill Evans MEP

Gareth Peirce, lawyer

Amata Morgan, journalist

Prof Mary Davis

Prof Penny Green

Margaret Owen, Director of Widows for Peace Through Democracy

Cynthia Cockburn, researcher and writer

Natalie Csengeri, Vice-Chair of Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Sarah Parker, Haringey UNITY

Lindsey German, Convenor Stop the War Coalition

Martha Jean Baker, Women International League for Peace and Freedom

Aysegul Erdogan, Islinton councillor

Elif Sarican, Kurdish Students Union UK

Suna Parlak, women’s rights activist and journalist

Jo Magpie, writer, journalist

Ala Hassan, BA International Relations

Ali Kanea, journalist and activist

Theresa Webb, UNISON

Jan Jananayagam, Tamils Against Genocide

Val Swain, PhD Candidate and Associate Tutor at University of East Anglia

Suna Alan, singer and journalist

Debbie Bookchin, writer and journalist

Bruce Kent

Lord Rea

Lord Dholakia

Nick HIldyard, policy adviser

Dr Derek Wall, International Coordinator of the Green Party

Mark Thomas, author and journalist

Joe Ryan, Chair of Westminster Diocese Justice and Peace Commission

David Morgan, journalist

Stephen Smellie Deputy Convenor UNISON, Scotland

Trevor Rawnsley, journalist

Ali Has, solicitor-advocate

Zaher Arif, activist and writer

Alastair Lyon, lawyer

Indian Workers Association UK

Raghu Jayantiya,, Social Scientist and Activist

John Hut, journalist

Arian Mufid, Editor, Kurdistan Tribune



Peace in Kurdistan
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie Gingell – Tel: 020 7272 7890
Patrons: Lord Rea, Lord Dholakia, Baroness Sarah Ludford, Jill Evans MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Hywel Williams MP, Kate Osamor MP, Elfyn Llwyd, Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy, John Austin, Christine Blower, NUT International Secretary,  Simon Dubbins. UNITE International Director Bruce Kent, Gareth Peirce, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, John Berger, Edward Albee, Margaret Owen OBE, Prof Mary Davis, Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Mark Thomas, Nick Hildyard, Stephen Smellie, Derek Wall, Melanie Gingell