Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Student Union bans Speech by Heroic Volunteer who Fought with Kurds Against ISIS Genociders.

with 8 comments


Macer Gifford: “wanted to shine a light and to show the Kurds aren’t alone.”

The Tab,

The Union banned a YPG fighter from talking at the University – in case he influences others to go and fight.

Ex-student Macer Gifford fought in Syria for five months earlier this year with the Kurdish Group YPG against Islamic State, and was due to give a speech at the University yesterday.

President of the Kurdish Society, Kavar Kurda, organised for him to come in, but was told Macer would not be given a platform to speak because “one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist”.

Activities and Events Officer, Asad Khan, said the decision was “because there were concerns an event with a person speaking about their experiences fighting in Syria could lead to others going and fighting in the conflict”.

He said in an email: “In every conflict there are two sides, and at UCLU we want to avoid taking sides in conflicts.”

“Kavar claims Asad went on to say how he “doesn’t agree with western definitions of groups.”

Kavar told The Tab: “Asad went down the same route as CAGE and other questionable organisations by appealing to white middle class stereotypes and told me the only reason Macer wasn’t arrested was because he is ‘white and middle class’.

“I find it astounding such an institution like UCL are unwilling to take a side in this conflict

“If you don’t support Kurds and the YPG, only ISIS are left. Where’s the freedom of speech? What about human rights?”

Asad had expressed concerns to Kavar about the human rights record of YPG, citing UN reports which detailed how YPG had “carried out recruitment of child soldiers”, but Kavar says the sources were “random” and Asad had “gone out to find anything remotely negative against the group, dismissing the huge applause for them around the world”.


Asad said the Syrian crisis is a “contentious topic” and defended his decision to block the speaker.

He told The Tab: “It is important to note the rooms these activities take place in belong to UCL rather than UCLU and we liaised with UCL, who in turn wanted to seek advice from the police.

“When they didn’t get a reply, to stay on the side of caution, UCL also leant towards not providing a platform.

“The Syrian crisis is a very contentious topic with many different groups, and although I understand YPG are fighting against ISIS the situation is far too complex to understand in black and white as expected by the student.

“I don’t think UCLU can disregard an Amnesty International report as well as one from the UN Independent International Commission. Despite signing a commitment in 2014 to demobilise all under-18 fighters, the Human Rights Watch have reported that YPG have recruited child soldiers, some of them below the age of 15.

“In this context, despite the fact YPG aren’t a terrorist organisation, I think there is enough evidence to show they have committed human rights abuses, for which reason it is not appropriate for UCLU to be associated with someone who chose to go and fight for them.

For the Kurdish reply to these allegations:

YPG General Command: Amnesty International Report is Contradictory

The General Command of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) has released a detailed statement responding to the Amnesty International Report, published on 12 October 2015 and titled, “We Had Nowhere Else to Go – Forced Displacement and Demolitions in Northern Syria”.

Underlining that the report is contradictory and puts the credibility of the organisation at stake, the YPG higlighted the following points in response to the report which drew worldwide reaction due to its attempt and effort to defame the People’s Protection Units by means of unfounded claims;

Not many people think that backing the YPG’s fight against the Islamist genociders of ISISis “contentious” and, not a “black and white issue” and  “far too complex” to take sides in.

It would be interesting to find out the stand of Kahn’s own organisations on this and related topics.

“…my main involvement in university has to be with Pakistan Society where I was the events organiser and in the Islamic Society where I led Charity Week in my final year. Profile.

And there is this:

Asad Khan had votes deducted but still won

• Allegations of mass electoral fraud sees last minute disciplinary meeting

• Asad Khan and Mohammad Ali named in complaints seen exclusively by The Tab

• Union panel docks Asad Khan one per cent of his votes

Fraud allegations have been levelled against victorious candidates of this week’s Union elections, Asad Khan and Mohammad Ali.

Asad, who will serve as the £25K-a-year Activities and Events Officer, had one per cent of his first preference votes docked after an official complaint was made to the Union.






Written by Andrew Coates

November 5, 2015 at 12:37 pm

8 Responses

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  1. It seems to me this students union rep is all but using the Tory gov Prevent agenda to stop Macer Gifford speaking, given what seems to be his own political position that does seem weird, fox in hen house perhaps.

    Mick Hall

    November 5, 2015 at 1:07 pm

  2. I would think it’s pretty obvious what he thinks of Kurds.

    I can’t see a direct reference to Prevent, though as you suggest Mick, it may have been used by him out of spite.

    Andrew Coates

    November 5, 2015 at 1:12 pm

  3. Shilan Ozcelik is still having to go to court this month for (to my mind) wanting to do the same as Macer Gifford. Now, I’m on their side and willing to acknowledge their bravery but, I’m curious why one is getting prosecuted and not the other.


    John R

    November 5, 2015 at 3:39 pm

  4. John, yes that is a serious point.

    Andrew Coates

    November 5, 2015 at 6:19 pm

  5. Andrew,

    I wasn’t comparing sex offenders with Kurdish liberation – quite the opposite. Kurdish liberation has my full support. I was simply pointing to institutional class-related double standards in the British courts, where the less privileged are often punished for things the more privileged would get away with.

    But I understand entirely how wrong it seemed, and would disassociate myself from any suggestions that Kurdish liberation is a bad thing at all, let alone on a par with that. A better comparison point would have been with something for which there can be a general consensus that people should *not* be punished overtly for, on which there is also historical evidence of such a double standard.

    Unfortunately I cannot delete my posts here. I would say that I said what I said, without fully understanding how it would come over and could easily be misunderstood, because I have a mental condition which means that I often don’t understand the full implication of saying things to those who don’t understand the full context.

    May I say at this point that I am a strong supporter of the Kurdish struggle and lend my strong support to most of those involved with it, and apologise to anyone who may – as a result of my own naivety in some social environments – have thought that I do not.


    November 5, 2015 at 9:06 pm

  6. Have done.

    For general information: this happened round here:

    ” Child porn councillor spared jail”

    00:00, 4 Aug 2008
    Updated 06:34, 3 Feb 2012
    By Mirror.co.uk

    A tory ex-deputy mayor who sexually assaulted a teenage girl and kept child porn while a member of police authority was spared jail.

    Ben Redsell, 29, admitted assaulting the 19-year-old at her home after a night out in Colchester, Essex, last August and also 10 child offences.

    Police had found indecent images of children, which dated from 2000, at his home in Melton, Suffolk.”


    Ben Redsell now contributes (or has contributed) to this on-Line site,

    Ipswich Spy,

    What is it with politicians becoming unlikely sex symbols?


    Andrew Coates

    November 6, 2015 at 2:00 pm

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