As Protests to Back Kurds Grow National Union of Students Stands Aside.
Solidarity with the Kurds – Not in our Name Says NUS.
Saturday sees another day of demonstrations in support of Kurdish resistance forces in the Syrian town of Kobane.
The protest at 2pm on Parliament Square follow a week of demonstrations across London.
The campaigners have already visited the square this week with action on Wednesday shutting down Westminster Bridge as well as causing issues around Parliament Square and Downing Street.
Campaigners have been seen throughout the city this week, bringing Oxford Circus and Angel tube stations and the Eurostar terminal in St. Pancras to a standstill.
Alexia Akkaya, a mother and blogger from west London, said she wanted to “scream and shout” in frustration at the situation in Kobane. She explained her reasons for marching: “I cannot sit back and watch the slaughter of innocent people. I am angry at the apparent lack of empathy by the Turkish government and the hushed British MPs and other influential people who had so much to say about other conflicts. I am not Kurdish but as a compassionate and loving human being and it is my duty to stand up in solidarity with the brave resistance in Kobane.”
One group which has decided to “sit back and watch the slaughter” is the National Union of Students (NUS).
A move to get the students’ organisation (600 student unions) to back the brave Kurdish resistance against the Isis/Islamic State genociders was dismissed this week as “Islamophobic”.
This is the motion presented to the NUS National Executive Committee (NEC) which fell. (here.)
Proposed: Daniel Cooper
Seconded: Shreya Paudel, Clifford Fleming
NUS NEC notes
1. The ongoing humanitarian crisis and sectarian polarisation in Iraq
– which has resulted in thousands of Yazidi Kurds being massacred.
NUS NEC believes
1. That the people of Iraq have suffered for years under the sectarian
and brutally repressive dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, the US/UK
invasion and occupation, the current sectarian regime linked to both
the US and Iran, and now the barbaric repression of the “Islamic
2. That rape and other forms of sexual violence are being used as
weapons against women in IS-occupied areas, while minorities are being
NUS NEC resolves
1. To work with the International Students’ Campaign to support Iraqi,
Syrian and other international students in the UK affected by this
2. To campaign in solidarity with the Iraqi people and in particular
support the hard-pressed student, workers’ and women’s organisations
against all the competing nationalist and religious-right forces.
3. To support Iraqis trying to bridge the Sunni-Shia divide to fight
for equality and democracy, including defence of the rights of the
Christian and Yazidi-Kurd minorities.
4. To condemn the IS and support the Kurdish forces fighting against
it, while expressing no confidence or trust in the US military
5. Encourage students to boycott anyone found to be funding the IS or
supplying them with goods, training, travel or soldiers.
6. To make contact with Iraqi and Kurdish organisations, in Iraq and
in the UK, in order to build solidarity and to support refugees.
7. To issue a statement on the above basis.
A report on the meeting by Daniel Lemberger Cooper comments,
“The motion was opposed by Malia Bouattia, the NUS Black Students’ Officer, for astonishing and bewildering reasons. Bouattia argued that the motion was “Islamophobic” and “pro USA intervention” – (see Aaron Kiely, a fellow NUS NEC member’s, tweet during the meeting as reflective of the position). The motion then fell as large numbers of NEC members either abstained or voted against (including the bulk of the political Left on NEC). I think this says a lot about the current state of the student movement.”
Now observers may put part of this down to sectarian dislike of the movers of the motion, NUS internal politics, and simple snideness.
But this outweighs such a reaction:
It is hard to imagine, except with disgust, what “alternative narrative” to the “Western, racist” one that Aaron Kiely would spin about Isis.
We note, while passing on, that Kiely is “close” to the ex-Trotskyist sect, Socialist Action.
On the charge of ‘racism’ Cooper remarks,
“The “Iraqi solidarity” motion had been worked on with Roza Salih, a Strathclyde university student of Kurdish descent (she submitted an almost identical motion to the Scottish equivalent of the executive, the Scottish Executive Council, which I will post later, which, incidentally, did pass! One must ask Scottish executive members why vote for a motion in Scotland, but not in England?!).Pro-intervention?”
This is what Malia Bouattia (who seems to be involved with something called, perhaps misleadingly, the ‘broad left’) said after helping get the NUS to back the Palestinian cause,
‘So the struggle continues, but this victory alongside the global sea change of public opinion gives us new hope. The Black Students Campaign remains committed. We will continue to protest, march, boycott and campaign. And we will not stop until the rights of Palestinians are restored and Palestine is free.’ (from here)
Obviously freedom is not something the Kurds also deserve – unless it’s freedom from solidarity.
As the Kurds (increasingly joined by other supporters, including many of the left) gather, the NUS has decided to stand aside as Islamist genociders threaten the beloved people of Kobane.
In years to come the majority of the NUS executive, and particularly Malia Bouattia and Aaron Keily, will be able to say, “Solidarity with the Kurds? Not in our name!”