Open Letter to celebrate World Kobane Day on 1 November 2016 and demand that the British government takes all the appropriate political actions to bring about peace for the sake of Kobane and the people in the entire Middle East. For more information on global events, see the World Kobane Day website. 

Two years on the people of Kobane are still fighting and inspiring us all

In 2014, when they were successfully pushing back an assault by ISIS on their community and democratic institutions, the men and women of Kobane led by the Kurds demonstrated that ISIS was not invincible and that popular forces acting in unison can triumph over the bitterest and most vicious adversary.

Their struggle brought hope despite the dreadful circumstances and deadly threats from one of the most murderous organisations the world has ever encountered. It was a victory for the whole of humanity. Their fight was quite unlike the conflict waged by the global and regional powers who are seeking to outflank each other at the cost of the lives of millions of people. The victory in Kobane was emphatically not about winning strategic advantage or fighting a proxy war. It was not about people’s suffering being cynically manipulated and used to fulfil someone else’s ends. It was a classic, simpler, struggle in self-defence and for peace, democracy and equality between peoples of different religion, creed, ethnicity and gender.

In the struggle for Kobane in 2014 it was clear-cut which side was the aggressor and the defence of Kobane inspired volunteers from far and wide to come to their assistance. The leaders in Kobane said they were fighting for the whole of humanity and, in truth this is exactly what they were doing.

It was the complete opposite of ISIS’s merciless attempt to impose an autocratic tyranny which enforced a narrow doctrine and strict code of behaviour on every single aspect of daily life where women and people of other faiths were savagely repressed, degraded, murdered and abused. It was a remarkable struggle to create what’s never been seen before in this region: the building of an open, democratic society where men and women were equal, where all faiths and minorities were equally respected. It was an entirely new project inspired by ideas developed by Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. In their struggle, the people of Kobane would uphold the universal values of human equality and human rights.

They conveyed was a clear message to the world that inspired and still resonates because it still represents those shared values that form the basis of any decent society. Kobane stands for some fundamental principles that offer the best hope of achieving a lasting peace and a better future for all the peoples. It shows that the people of the Middle East can live together in equality and mutual respect rather than animosity and sectarian hatred.

The men and women of Kobane stood on the side of humanity, which is the only side worth taking. The politicians in Westminster, Washington, Brussels and all major capitals refuse to acknowledge this and continue to hedge their bets pursuing barely concealed sectarian agendas. With tragic consequences, the world has entered a new Cold War now being played out in Syria, Iraq and the wider region.

All the while, Turkey maintains its aggressive and ambiguous policy of apparently fighting ISIS with one hand while with its other hand it is fighting those forces that have taken the lead in the fight against ISIS on the ground, namely the Kurds. Turkey has threatened full-scale intervention in Iraq as the battle for Mosul closes in on ISIS. It has been bombing the Kurds who are the most valiant in the fight against ISIS. Ankara’s policy of duplicity is impeding the struggle to defeat ISIS and it should be the duty of Turkey’s fellow NATO members to rein it in right now.

Our British Government is also pursuing a far from glorious role and has now announced that it will restart military training of Syrian rebels, who are variously described as “moderate” or “militants”, depending on which news source you read. This is ultimately a recipe for more conflict and yet more bloodshed. It is a sectarian dead end that will mean permanent warfare. They are simply backing the wrong forces.

It was the men and women of Kobane who stood up for humanity and inspired people around the world by their courage and determination. They are still fighting for the same cause two years on. We stand with people of Kobane and the cause they espouse is our cause too.

We demand that our government takes all the appropriate political actions to bring about peace for the sake of Kobane and the people in the entire Middle East.

It will take years, possibly decades, to reconstruct the region’s infrastructure that has been destroyed in the years of the protracted conflicts. It will take even longer to heal the wounds and lacerations inflicted by hatred and all the sectarian bitterness unleashed by the fighting of neighbour against neighbour.

In Kobane people of all different creeds and ethnic groups have come together to defend their community and homeland from the immediate danger of an aggressor that threatens them all. They fought in a common cause and it is one that still deserves our support and solidarity‎.

Two years on from their historic victory against ISIS the men and women of Kobane are still fighting and inspiring us. We salute them.

Supported by

Derek Wall, International Coordinator of the Green Party of England and Wales

Dafydd Iwan, former President, Plaid Cyrmu

Lord Rea, House of Lords

Lord Dholakia, Deputy Leader Liberal Democrats, House of Lords

Julie Ward MEP

Tommy Sheppard MP

James Dornan MSP

Ross Greer MSP

James Kelman, writer

John Berger, writer

Nick Hildyard, policy advisor

David Morgan, journalist

Janet Biehl, writer, editor, translator

Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, lecturer of political sociology, Cambridge University

Mohammad Elnaiem, Cambridge University

John Harley Breen, Political and Conflict Analyst

Margaret Owen, international human rights lawyer

Mehmet Ugur, Professor of Economics and Institutions, University of Greenwich

Dr Frederico Venturini, Leeds University

Prof Bill Bowring, Birkbeck College, University of London

Gareth Peirce, human rights lawyer

Bruce Kent, Vice-President Pax Christi

Mary Davis, Professor of Labour History at Royal Holloway, University of London

Amber Huff, social anthropologist

Pat Huff, social anthropologist

Zaher Baher, writer and activist

Simon Dubbins, Director International UNITE

Steve Sweeney, Branch Secretary, UNITE National Publishing and Media Branch

Stephen Smellie, UNISON South Lanarkshire, Branch Secretary

Margaret Gallacher, Chairperson UNISON South Lanarkshire

Joe Ryan, Chair of Westminster Justice and Peace Commission

Roza Salih, Vice-chair of Unite Scotland Young Members Committee, Scotland

Dr Sarah Glynn

Jo Nean, journalist, writer

John Hunt, journalist

Ara Sarafian, Gomidas Institute, London

Isabel Kaeser, PhD candidate, SOAS

Les Levidow, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)

Trevor Rawnsley, Lecturer, City and Islington College

Sarah Parker, Haringey Left Unity

Sacha Marten

Dr Vicki Sentas, Senior Lecturer, University of New South Wales

Akif Wan, Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) UK

Michelle Allison, Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) women representative

Dr Alan Shemo, PYD UK

Turkan Budak and Devrim Has, representatives of Roj Women’s Assembly

Evrim Yilmaz and Ali Boyraz, Co-chairs of Kurdish People’s Assembly UK

Kongra Star-Rojava

Kurdish communities in London, Nottingham, Brighton and Scotland

Rojava Solidarity Committees UK

Kat Wright, Youth worker and activist
Anthony Killick,Edge Hill University
Toby Hall- University of Manchester
Ahmad Mohammed, Activist and PYD
Darren Guy, Entrepreneur and Activist
Ozgur Soylu, Business owner, Activist
Jwan Butimar

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, Margaret Owen OBE, Prof Mary Davis, Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Mark Thomas, Nick Hildyard, Stephen Smellie, Derek Wall, Melanie Gingell, Steve Sweeney