January 31-February 1, 2015, in Diyarbakir

Your Women’s Congress in Kurdistan to be held in Diyarbakir in the coming days promises to be an important event where some key issues facing women everywhere will be addressed.

In today’s difficult times, women around the world are facing serious challenges to their basic civil rights and fundamental freedoms as well as to their very existence as independent human beings and to their lives.

Women in the Middle East and Kurdistan in particular are confronting the newly resurgent threat from jihadist groups such as ISIS who are seeking to reverse the small gains that women have made in achieving liberation. ISIS reduces women to mere chattels, the property of men and compels them at risk of death into acceptance of forced marriage, prostitution and sex slavery. Girls as young as four years old are sold for less than the cost of a donkey in those areas where ISIS has wrested control from the traditional state power structures in countries such as Syria and Iraq.

Fortunately we learn that the assault by ISIS on the Kurdish town of Kobane, which had been under siege for many months, has now been successfully resisted and ISIS has been driven out by Kurdish forces, many of whom are women.  This news is of momentous significance for women everywhere.

Kurdish women have inspired people all over the world by their fortitude, courage and resilience in their fight against the forces of ISIS.

Kurdish women have tenaciously defended the equal rights with their male counterparts that they enjoy in Rojava, the self-governed Kurdish region of Syria, and throughout the Kurdish movement directly inspired by the pro-feminist vision espoused by Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Kurdish women in their many thousands have grasped with enthusiasm the opportunities for achieving freedom and the advancement of gender equality that have been opened up by the Kurdish political movement.

They have shown tremendous courage and determination in their struggle for the liberation of their people and for their own liberation over recent years. Their remarkable achievements stand in stark contrast to the cruel oppression suffered by women under the dictatorial regimes of the regional powers and the fundamentalist nightmare offered by ISIS.

We are proud to stand firm in solidarity with all Kurdish women and we honour their struggle which is our common struggle for a better future where all women can hold their heads up high and breathe the sweet air of freedom.

Signed by

Baroness Helena Kenney QC

Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party England and Wales

Baroness Jenny Jones, Green Party

Katy Clark MP

Jill Evans MEP, Plaid Cymru

Linda Fabiani MSP,  Scottish Parliament

Christina McKelvie MSP, Scottish Parliament

Anni Pues, Lawyer, International Committee Scottish Green Party

Margaret Owen OBE, WPD Widows for Peace through Democracy (WPD)

Annette Lawson, NAWO, the National Alliance of Women’s Organisations (UK)

Margaret Tait MBE, IFUW delegate to CSW59

Victoria Brittain, writer and journalist

Romayne Phoenix, Deputy Chair, Green Party National Executive

Melanie Gingell, barrister, Doughty Street Chambers

Radha D’Souza, Academic, University of Westminster

Kariane Westrheim, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Bergen, Norway

Melanie  Sirinathsingh, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

Professor Mary Davis

Natasha Walter, writer and campaigner

Ruth Walter, trade unionist and Older Feminists Network

Lindsey German, Stop the War Coalition

Sally Jackson, Standing Together Against Domestic Violence

Amrit Wilson, Freedom Without Fear Platform

Isabel Kaeser, PhD student, SOAS London

Ancil Adrian-Paul, Trustee of WPDT

Sarah Parker, activist

Michelle Allison, KNK  women representative UK

Eylem Guler, Roj Women Assembly

Evrim Yilmaz, Roj Women Assembly

Arzu Pesmen, Kurdish People’s Assembly

Aysegul Erdogan, London Borough of Islington Councillor

Cynthia Cockburn, feminist researcher and writer

Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML)

Charlotte George, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate, Hackney South & Shoreditch

Aurora New Dawn

Oonagh Cousins, Film Producer

Camilla Power, Lecturer, Radical Anthropology Group

Trisha Hall, Country Manager for SASW (Scottish Association of Social Work)

Bridget Robb, CEO of BASW, the British Association of Social Work and General Secretary of SWU, the Social Workers’ Union

Maggie Mellon, Vice Chair, British Association of Social Workers and member of Women for Independence

Dr G.E. Banner, President, British Federation of Women Graduates (BFWG)

Margaret Gallacher,  Chair South Lanarkshire UNISON

Miranda Stern, Academic Researcher

Catriona Grant, Scottish Socialist and Feminist

Lesley Riddoch, Writer, broadcaster, Women for Independence

Kezia Kinder, National Co-coordinator, Women for Independence

Councillor Frances McGlinchey, North Lanarkshire Council

Stefanie Keir, Scottish Green Party

Ewa Jasiewicz, Journalist and Human Rights Activist

Bronwen Jones, barrister, Mansfield Chambers

Dr. Philippa Whitford MD FRCS, Consultant Breast Surgeon

Zennure Duru, activist, Women for Peace

Lucy Allwright, Violence Against Women Trainer

Ellie Mae O’Hagan, Journalist

Caroleen Bray, Support Worker

Bertie Grunberg, Teacher

Jane Stephenson, Writer

Roxanne Halsey, Campaigner

Kim Bannar, Charity Worker

Kirsty Norris, Nurse

Lauren White, Charity Worker

Jessica Costar, Charity Worker

Suzanne Feltham, Young Women’s Advocate

Johanna Riha, Ph.D. student, University of Cambridge

Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO)

Roza Salih, Kurdish Human Rights and Cultural Group in Scotland

Maggie Cook, NEC Member, UNISON

Ruth Young, Student & UNISON Activist

Maggie Chapman, Co-Convener of the Scottish Green Party

Estella Schmid, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

London 30 January 2015

For information contact

Peace in Kurdistan
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
Email: estella24@tiscali.co.uk
Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie  Sirinathsingh – Tel: 020 7272 7890