Will the StWC Back Kurds Fighting Islamist Genociders?
(Photo NBC News, Meet the Kurdish Women Fighting ISIS in Syria)
In today’s Ipswich Star.
Ipswich: Meet the Kurdish refugees who call Suffolk home…but still live in fear of ISIS
An estimated 1,000 Kurds live in Ipswich and the surrounding area and they have been an established part of our community for a number of years.
They have jobs, they run businesses, they speak English, their children go to Suffolk’s schools – they lead successful lives.
But their fear of the Islamic State, also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), means they dare not be photographed or even named.
We have used aliases to project their identity.
Ian Stewart, chairman of Suffolk Refugee Support, said: “We know that in the UK as a whole an estimated 500 people have left the UK to go and fight with ISIS.
“Kurds in the UK are worried that if they are named or photographed or publicised there will be repercussions for their relatives in Iraq or Syria and that their loved ones will be under threat.”
Mr Stewart added: “Their families come from the towns and cities that ISIS have taken over and they are deeply concerned for the welfare of their families and friends.”
“At the moment they are trying to sell the women – they are selling them for like £1,000. I have heard that about 50 children at the moment about 12 years old have been taken by ISIS.
“My extended family are fighting with the pashmigra against ISIS. They are scared of them – everyone is scared at the moment. No one knows what is going on. It is all politics stuff, it’s not just in Sinjar. The problem is there is no border between Syria and Iraq.
“No one actually knows who ISIS is. They are coming from other areas.
“At the moment ISIS are trying to come forward and take more of our cities but because American airstrikes support the pashmirga, they can’t come forward – hopefully.
There follows two moving personal accounts of the background of Kurdish refugees, under the names of Mohammed and Ahmed.
Mr Stewart said: “Ethnic Kurds are fleeing for their lives. They have their own fighting force called the Peshmerga which is like a home guard. Many Suffolk Kurds have family and friends in the Peshmerga and some served in it themselves against Saddam Hussein.”
Mr Stewart said the charity would not comment on whether Britain should be involved in military action in the conflict.
He said: “This crisis is directly affecting people in Suffolk. Most people we talk to support the American airstrikes against ISIS. We have already dropped humanitarian supplies.
“ISIS now has anti-aircraft weaponry. The question is do we follow the Americans into combat?”
I know something about the Ipswich Kurds.
I have helped the Refugee Council English teaching service, and some Kurds (from Turkey as well as Iraq) are people I know well.
Well this is what the Stop the War Coalition wants us to tell them about American airstrikes and weapon supplies to the Kurds.
Eight facts everyone should know about the rise of ISIS and the new war in Iraq
Fact 1: Many experts argue Western airstrikes are counterproductive and will likely energise ISIS
Fact 2: The US and UK’s 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq played an important role in the rise of ISIS
Fact 3: The US and UK enabled the growth of ISIS by supporting the rebels in Syria
Fact 4: US-supplied arms to Syrian rebels have ended up in the hands of ISIS
Fact 5: Turkey, a NATO member, has supported ISIS
Fact 6: Western allies Qatar and Saudi Arabia have played an important role in the rise of ISIS
Fact 7: Supported and armed by the US, the Iraqi Government perpetrates serious human rights abuses – which likely increases support for ISIS
Fact 8: The US and UK are not interested in democracy and human rights in the Middle East
None of these answer the question: do we support giving military help to the Kurds in their life and death fight against Islamic State and ISIS genociders, themselves helped by murderous British, and other European jihadists?
It would be very generous of the StWC to speak on behalf of the Kurds, from the PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party) to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), to other political groups, and simply ordinary people, and refuse any Western arms and military support.
Very generous indeed.
Update (Channel Four)
How British Kurds are heading to fight IS
Growing UK movement
Up to a quarter of a million Kurds are recorded as living in Britain.
Turkan Budak of the Kurdish People’s Summit (pictured, below), who has been part of the Kurdish movement in the UK since the 1980s, said between 50 and 100 British Kurds have left to fight in the last 20 years, but as a result of the battle against Islamic State more now want to go.
Budak said: “Even now people are going to fight Isis. I know some of them [those out there]. They have gone to fight terrorism.
“They are family men with kids but at the end of the day they say our people are dying there. Innocent people. Civilians dying every day and a lot of Kurdish men cannot ignore it.”
Memed Aksoy is a Kurdish activist based in London, who told Channel 4 News he has raised funds for the PKK. He described the PKK as a movement growing in confidence and numbers.
“(The IS conflict] has raised the Kurdish consciousness,” he said.
“Now is a time when we are going to push ahead to make sure the Kurdish movement and the PKK, the armed forces of the Kurdish people, can engage in a strong war with the Islamic State and defeat the Islamic State.”
Members and supporters of the PKK know that the party is now aligned to western interests and a new generation of British and western European-born Kurds believe the Kurdish question can now be solved with diplomacy rather than arms.