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SWP, Isis and the Kurdish Struggle: Two Weights, Two Measures.

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Demonstrators outside Holloway prison condemn charges against Ozcelik. Photo: ANF.

Demonstrators outside Holloway prison condemn charges against Shilan Ozcelik: No Backing from SWP.

Right whip up Islamophobia over Isis  reports the latest Socialist Worker (17th March).

by Annette Mackin

Detainee rights campaign group Cage and its director Moazzam Begg have been the target of more Islamophobic smears.

The Mail on Sunday newspaper claimed it had evidence that Moazzam visited the camp where Londoner Mohammed Emwazi allegedly trained as an Isis fighter.

It quotes unnamed “official sources” speculating over the identities of men wearing balaclavas in a photo from around 2012.

The paper had already attacked Cage and Moazzam for saying that it was Western imperialism and state terror that helped make Emwazi, known as “Jihadi John”, into an Isis fighter.

Mohammed Tasnime Akunjee, the solicitor for the students from east London who have allegedly travelled to Syria to join Isis, has also come under attack.

Andrew Gilligan in The Telegraph newspaper said that he is an “extremist” with links to “terror apologists” Cage. This was after the solicitor criticised police handling of the case.

The sisters of the students also now face “radicalisation” tests as the tide of Islamophobia grows higher around such cases.

This week three teenagers from Britain were arrested in Turkey on “suspicion of preparing terrorist attacks”. They were bailed pending further inquiries.

Is the SWP complaining that those who go to support Isis, a murderous reactionary group, are arrested?

That nobody should do anything to stop people – enthused at the idea of participating in their ethnic cleansing, and genocides – joining them?

This contrasts with the complete absence of any Socialist Worker coverage of the plight of Shilan Ozcelik (from the Kurdish news site Rudaw).

LONDON – Demonstrators converged outside London’s Holloway prison in support of Shilan Ozcelik, a British girl of Kurdish descent who is believed to be the first UK citizen to be arrested for trying to fight against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).

Saturday’s demonstration followed a statement signed by various Kurdish organizations, among them the Roj Women’s Association, the Kurdish Youth Assembly and the Kurdish People’s Assembly.

”The Kurdish community and supporters of the Kurdish struggle are incensed at the arrest and imprisonment of 18 year old Shilan (Silhan) Ozcelik, who is accused of wanting to join the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS),” the statement said.

”The UK government has been criminalising the Kurds for at least 13 years, yet not one Kurdish individual has been charged and convicted of being a PKK member, despite many raids, arrests and intimidations,” it added.

”The case of Shilan Ozcelik is the most recent chapter of this story and the Kurdish community are now concerned that the UK government will once again criminalise the community who have been the biggest supporters of the international fight against ISIS terror and fascism,” Friday’s statement declared.

The PKK, which is in peace negotiations with the Turkish government after a three-decade guerrilla war for greater rights for the country’s large Kurdish population, remains banned in Turkey and is regarded as a terrorist group by the European Union and United States.

However, calls have been growing for months for a reappraisal of the group, since its YPG affiliate in Syria has had a frontline role in fighting ISIS and has been backed with limited arms supplies and airstrikes by the US-led coalition.

Firat News, which is close to the PKK, has called the charge against Ozcelik a “scandalous decision.”

Ozcelik has been charged with a terrorist offence under the UK’s 2006 Terrorism Act.

The teenager from London was arrested earlier this year at Stansted airport. Her supporters say she travelled to Brussels in an attempt to try to join the YPG or its women’s YPJ wing. She was arrested on January 16 as she returned from Brussels.

Neither the YPJ or YPG are themselves banned in the UK.

Campaigners have condemned the charge against Ozcelik and launched a petition, writing to British Prime Minster David Cameron and Home Office Minister Theresa May to call for the immediate release of Ozcelik.

Several foreign fighters have traveled to Syria and neighboring Iraq to fight with Kurdish forces battling ISIS.

Last week, Ivana Hoffman, a native of South Africa with German citizenship, was killed fighting alongside Kurdish forces in Syria in the war against ISIS, according to agency reports.

Before that, a British man, Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, and an Australian Ase Johnson, were reported killed while battling ISIS.

Foreign fighters also have joined the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq, which remains a staunch US and Western ally in the war against ISIS.

All the SWP has to say about ISIS (Ignoring completely the heroic struggle of those fighting them, above all the Kurds), is this: Isis – the real problem is Western imperialism.

There is no need to read any more.

Tunisia: Islamists Attack Parliament, Museum and Hold Tourist Hostages.

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‘Hostage situation’ in Tunis as parliament, museum come under attack

Published time: March 18, 2015 11:46

The Tunisian Parliament has come under attack, with lawmakers saying gunfire can be heard at the scene. Local reporters tweet militants entered the Bardo Museum through the parliament, taking several tourists hostage.

Militants dressed as soldiers are attacking the Tunisia Assembly, local journalists say. The parliament is located in Bardo Palace, which is also home to a national museum.

Several tourists have been taken hostage, according to Radio Mosaique FM.

Tunisian security forces have surrounded at least two militants believed to be holding hostages at a museum in the country’s parliament grounds.

Private radio station Radio Mosaique said that three men dressed in military-style clothing may have taken hostages inside the museum.

Latest news directly from Tunisia talks of around 20 Tourist hostages.

Un grand nombre de touristes ont été pris en otages par 3 ou 4 individus armés qui se sont présentés au musée en tenue militaire. 

D’après les premiers faits rapportés il y aurait un certain nombre de blessés, voir même de morts, enregistrés suite au coups de feu tirés sur les tourristes qui venaient de descendre du bus qui les transportait au musée.

D’après les déclarations faites par un guide touristiques au correspondant de mosaïque fm sur place une vingtaine de touristes dont retenus en otages , vu qu’une centaine d’entre eux ont pu être évacués d’urgence par la porte arrière du musée dès que les premiers coups de feu ont été tirés.

Direct Info (Tunsia).

Libération reports.

EN DIRECT

Des tirs ont été entendus au musée national, situé dans le même bâtiment que le Parlement ce mercredi.

More:

There were unverified reports that a foreign tourist or tourists may have been taken hostage at the Bardo museum.

Shortly before, exchanges of gunfire were heard at Tunisia‘s parliament building, the country’s state news agency reported.

Parliamentary committees suspended their meetings as MPs were ordered to assemble in the main chamber, Islamist MP Monia Brahim told AFP.

A witness near the parliament told Reuters a large police presence was moving to evacuate the building.

The Bardo museum chronicles Tunisia’s history and includes one of the world’s largest collections of Roman mosaics.

Tunisia has struggled with violence by Islamic extremists since overthrowing a dictator in 2011.

Telegraph.

This does not come out of the blue,

The Ministry of Interior announced on Monday the arrest of 22 militants working in four alleged terrorist cells recruiting young Tunisians to fight in Libya. The ministry also announced an additional 10 other militants were also arrested while attempting to cross into Libya to join militant groups.

The two successful operations were led by the National Unity of Investigation for Terrorist Crimes.

According to the Ministry of Interior, the four cells discovered operating in Kairouan were responsible for recruiting young Tunisians, with a focus on targeting students to join militants in Libya. “This terrorist network is collaborating with dangerous Tunisian terrorists active in Libya, and working to supervise training camps with their counterparts from different countries,” a statement by the Ministry of Interior said.

The Ministry of Interior also stated it seized around ten thousand dinars and 200 Euros in cash, iPads, memory cards as well as mobile phones.

Tunisia Live.

And,

Al Qaeda admit Tunisian terror attack

A known al Qaeda spokesman said in a voice recording broadcast today that the militant group was behind a deadly suicide attack at a Tunisian synagogue in April which killed 21 people, including 14 Germans.

It was the first direct claim of al Qaeda involvement in the blast near El Ghriba synagogue on the resort island of Djerba. German government ministers had earlier said there was evidence linking the blast to the militant network.

“This operation was carried out by al Qaeda network. A youth could not see his brothers in Palestine butchered and murdered…(while) he saw Jews cavorting in Djerba,” Sulaiman bu Ghaith said in the undated recording broadcast by Qatar-based al-Jazeera channel.

“So this spirit of jihad surged and he (the al Qaeda member) carried out this successful operation, may God accept it,” said bu Ghaith, who emerged as an al Qaeda spokesman after the September 11 attacks, which Washington blames on al Qaeda.

It was not clear when the tape was received or where bu Ghaith was speaking from. He has spoken about al Qaeda activities on Web sites and Middle Eastern news channels.

For many people in the world, including this Blog, Tunisia is a hero nation, and its people have shown their best side in recent years.

If we hear any Stop the War Coalition or SWP spokesperson opining on this unfolding tragedy – no doubt to say that Tunisia will be safe from Islamic killers if it stops invading the Middle East – we shall vomit.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 18, 2015 at 1:36 pm

Free Silhan Ozcelik! Stand with Kurdistan Fight for Freedom!

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Do Everything to Help this Comrade.

12th March 2015. Kurdish Question.

This afternoon I had a call from a PA journalist informing me of the imprisonment of a young Kurdish woman and asking me if this was the first case of a person being charged for wanting to go to Syria to fight ISIS.

I was confused, “Sorry, can you repeat that again, what has happened?” He then again, told me that a young Kurdish woman has been jailed in the UK for wanting to go to Syria to fight ISIS.

Sill I was confused and it took me minutes to come to the realisation of what seems to be unfolding.

I was literally speechless and fumbled for my words and am still in shock. It is seemingly becoming more clear that the UK Govt are attempting to criminalise anyone who wants to fight ISIS while doing nothing to support the Kurds fight against ISIS in Syria.

When you look more closely at the UK government’s track record on the fight against ISIS in Syria, it is shockingly shameful.

The UK Defence Committee recently produced a report on the ‘Fight Against ISIS in Syria and Iraq’, for example with not one mention of the YPG’s heroic battle against ISIS for the last three years culminating in the first defeat inflicted upon ISIS’s seemingly unstoppable advance over the Middle East. There was no mention despite top UK barrister Margaret Owen submitting a detailed report on the YPG/YPJ heroic resistance against ISIS.

Then there was the first UK international volunteer to die in battle against ISIS, Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, the UK Govt’s postiion on the repatriation of his body has been equally shameful, in my view.

And now this: The first jailing of a young Kurdish woman who wanted to help her people being massacred and beheaded by ISIS during the appalling mauradings of ISIS into Ezidi villages and attacks on Kobane.

I’m frankly still in shock. A report of the details of her jailing yesterday are to be found below, she is due to appear in the Old Bailey, no less on the 1st April. No joke. Kurds and people with the slightest shred of humanity and disgust at the spread of ISIS and frustration at the UK Govt lack of support for the Kurds successful fight against them should call for the immediate release of this young girl whose only crime was to act on what we all feel is needed, and stated policy of the US Government led coalition against ISIS.

Please read the report below:

An 18-year-old Kurdish woman has appeared in court charged with a terror offence after she allegedly tried to fight for a group which is engaged in a battle against Islamic State (IS).

Silhan Ozcelik, of Highbury Quadrant, Holloway, north London, was arrested at Stansted Airport after she arrived on a flight from Germany on January 16.

She is accused of travelling by Eurostar from St Pancras to Brussels on October 27 and then attempting to join the guerrilla army in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party – known as the PKK – which is fighting against IS in Syria.

The PKK is proscribed by UK authorities as a terrorist group.

Ozcelik faces one charge of engaging in conduct in preparation for giving effect to an intention to commit acts of terrorism, contrary to section 5 (1) (a) of the Terrorism Act 2006.

Wearing a black and cream coat, blue shirt and black trousers, she spoke only to confirm her name, age and address during the short hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

District Judge John Zani remanded her in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on April 1.

As she was led away from the dock she smiled and appeared to mouth “It’s okay” to her brother, who followed proceedings from the public gallery. 

 SIGN EMERGENCY PETITION TO THE UK HOME SECRETARY THERESA MAY TO FREE SHILAN OZCELIK IMMEDIATELY!

Silhan Ozcelik: ‘Disgusting’ trial for young woman who tried to fight against Isis. (Independent).

A teenager has appeared in court after allegedly trying to join Kurdish fighters battling Isis in Syria, in the first prosecution of its kind in Britain.

Campaigners condemned the prosecution of Silhan Ozcelik, 18, from London, as “disgraceful and disgusting”, however. Ms Ozcelik’s appearance at Westminster Magistrates’ Court followed her arrested at Stansted Airport in January after returning to Britain on a flight from Germany.

The teenager is accused of travelling to Brussels in October last year in a bid to join the guerrilla army in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party – known as the PKK. The organisation is on the Government’s list of banned terror groups.

Ms Ozcelik is charged with: “Engaging in conduct in preparation for giving effect to an intention to commit acts of terrorism contrary to section 5 (1) (a) of the Terrorism Act 2006.”

EMERGENCY PICKET CALLED BY KURDISH COMMUNITY GROUPS IN LONDON. 6pm TONIGHT outside Holloway Women’s Prison.

BBC: North Londoner Silhan Ozcelik remanded over terror plan

 

An 18-year-old woman has appeared in court accused under terrorism law, after she allegedly tried to join Kurdish militants in the Middle East.

Silhan Ozcelik was arrested at Stansted Airport on 16 January, when she arrived on a flight from Germany and was released on police bail the next day.

Ms Ozcelik, from north London, was remanded in custody after appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

She is due to appear at the Old Bailey on 1 April.

Ms Ozcelik, of Highbury Quadrant, Holloway, has been charged with one count of engaging in conduct in preparation to commit acts of terrorism.

She is accused of travelling by Eurostar from St Pancras to Brussels on 27 October and then attempting to join the guerrilla army in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known as the PKK.

The party, which is proscribed as a terrorist group by UK authorities, is fighting against Islamic State in Syria.

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 13, 2015 at 1:52 pm

French Left: Parti de Gauche Refuses to Back Problematic Meeting against “Islamophobia”

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Rally against Islamophobia divides the left.

On Friday at the Bourse du Travail Saint-Denis a rally “against Islamophobia” was held with the backing of some left organisations, notably the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste and the French Communist Party.

Muslim and Islamist associations were prominent amongst its supporters. These included the Union des organisations islamiques de France (UOIF, close to the Muslim Brotherhood), le Parti des Indigènes de la République, (often described as the militant wing of post-colonial studies and associated with homophobia)  les Indivisibles, Présence musulmane (close to Islamist Tariq Ramadan) and  le Collectif enseignant pour l’abrogation de la loi de 2004 (CEAL) – that is the group which wants to abolish the secular rules on ostentatious religious signs in schools).

 Other groups, above all from the human rights and anti-racist movements, refused to take part.

 These were notably, the main French anti-racist body, the Mrap, la LDH (The League for the Rights of Man, France’s oldest anti-racist human rights group), SOS Racisme and  the Licra (The International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism).

The Left Party (Parti de Gauche) of Jean-Luc Mélenchon also  refused to join. Its general coordinator, Eric Coquerel said. “The term Islamophobia has posed a problem for us for several years. It makes it difficult to distinguish between  freedom to criticise religion and racism  The text also does not cite any other form of racism. In the present context – after the terrorist atrocities – it should have had a broader appeal”.  “At the same time”, he  continued “we have problems with those signing this document. They include communitarian groups and bodies that represent Political Islam. “

Inside the same bloc, the Front de Gauche, the grouping Ensemble backed the appeal and meeting, while the Parti Communist Français maintained its support for the declaration by sent nobody to the meeting.

At the rally itself Ismahane Chouder denounced the fact that people always ask Muslims to be irreproachable on ‘antisemitism’ ‘sexism’ and ‘homophobia”. She called this demand for anti-sexism, opposition to hatred of Jews and of gays,  “Islamophobic”.

Alexander Sulzer L’Express.

For a defence of this meeting see: Grand succès du meeting contre l’islamophobie et les dérives sécuritaires (Laurent Lévy.  Ensemble).

Laurent Lévy ignores the main point of the Parti de Gauche: the questionable term “Islamophobia”. Indeed he continues with the dangerous reactionary confusion between racism and dislike/criticism of a religion.

In Libération today the radical left atheist Michel Onfray comments favourably on the Parti de Gauche’s decision and clarifies this point,

What a joy it is, finally, on the left, and in particular on the anti-liberal (economics) left, my own political side, we have begun to fight this ‘amalgam”. That is, is to lump together criticism of religion with Islamophobia” when it’s a matter of Islam, Christianophobia,  when it’s Christianity, anti-Semitism when it concerns Judaism, to the point where atheism itself becomes blasphemous. “

The writer wishes that this approach will continue, and that it will clarify the debate about religion.

“It  would distinguish those who oppose religion in the name of reason, not racism (in my case, and that of many people who do not even adopt the ‘catechism’ of the left), and those who hide their racism and xenophobia behind the rejection of religion.  One could imagine that once this distinction in the realm of ideas is made, those who do not want religion to govern our law, will be able to clearly distinguish those who dislike the Muslim religion and those who dislike those who practice it. “

Exactly.

Oppose racism against Muslims.

Criticise Islam as a religion.

Communist Party of Britain Backs Former Ukraine President’s “anti-Austerity” policies.

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Donestk Anti-Austerity Activists Says Communist Party of Britain.

The People’s Assembly has launched a Manifesto Against Austerity.

“The manifesto makes a compelling and powerful case for an alternative to austerity based on the needs of ordinary people — “A people’s Britain, not a bankers’ Britain.” It calls for a the building of a sustained mass movement to bring that alternative about, rather than simply calling for general election votes.”

The Communist Party of Britain has taken upon itself to add these comments to this – admirable –  document (Communist Party. For Peace and Socialism. Date: 2nd of March).

Bill Greenshields, CP representative on national committee of the People’s Assembly, says,

Challenging the pro-austerity and pro-privatisation media and political consensus is a dangerous thing to do. That’s the increasingly strident message from big business and the bankers through their representatives in national governments, the EU and Washington.

British special services “advisers” have arrived in Ukraine to strengthen the armed forces and fascist paramilitaries of the Poroshenko government.

This is part of a war against those who resisted the Western-backed coup against President Yanukovych.

He had committed the crime of rejecting austerity economics and politics, therefore saying “No” to closer ties with the EU.

As EU and US sanctions are ratcheted up against Russia for daring to give political support to the antifascists, Britain says it will “not yet provide lethal equipment” to the “Euromaiden” coup leaders now in control of the Ukrainian state. For how long? The threat of escalating war and foreign intervention to consolidate their pro-EU austerity “reforms” becomes greater.

Brother Bill recommends to the People’s Assembly this wisdom,

The movement needs to reflect the democratic structures that have grown among the anti-austerity antifascists in Ukraine…

We hesitate to make a comment.

Or perhaps one is not needed.

(Initially discovered here)

In the Memory of our Beloved Comrade Avijit Roy, Murdered by Islamists.

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Memorial Protest for a Beloved Fighter for Freedom.

Avijit Roy, who has been killed in an attack in Dhaka at the age of 42, was a Bangladeshi-American blogger, published author, and prominent defender of the free-thought movement in Bangladesh.

Mr Roy rose to prominence though his prolific writing on his self-founded site, Mukto-Mona – an internet gathering of mostly South Asia free-thinkers, ratio­nalists, sceptics and humanists founded in 2000.

He was a passionate atheist and an adherent of metaphys­ical naturalism – the school of thought that rejects the supernatural concepts and explanations that are part of many religions.

He was the author of numerous books, and had many articles published in magazines and journals.

In a conservative country like Bangladesh, his subject matter was often contentious, covering sensitive issues such as homosexuality – which he argued was inherent in nature – religious unbelief and cosmology.

Mr Roy’s followers argue that many of his secular ideas are in the tradition of the great Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore, who died in 1941 and is often referred to as “Bengal’s Shakespeare”.

Some of the last books Mr Roy wrote, Obisshahser Dorshon (The Philosophy of Disbelief) and Biswasher Virus (The Virus of Faith), were critically well received around the world.

In the Virus of Faith he argues that “faith-based terrorism will wreak havoc on society in epidemic proportions”.

In one of his last published articles in the Free Inquiry magazine, Mr Roy wrote: “To me, religious extremism is like a highly contagious virus. My own recent experiences in this regard verify the horrific reality that such religious extremism is a virus of faith.”

He said in the article that a book he published last year “hit the cranial nerve of Islamic fundamentalists” and led to him being targeted by militant Islamists and terrorists.

It also led, he said, to a man openly issuing death threats against him on Facebook.

“Avijit Roy lives in America and so it is not possible to kill him right now,” Mr Roy quoted one threat against him as saying, “but he will be murdered when he gets back.”

BBC.

The Independent reports,

Avijit Roy and his wife were returning from a book fair at Dhaka University on Thursday evening when they were attacked.

Witnesses told local media their bicycle rickshaw was stopped by two men who dragged them on to the pavement but police chief Sirajul Islam said the couple were ambushed as they walked towards a roadside tea stall.

Both accounts said at least two men with machetes started hacking at the couple as they lay on the ground.

The attackers then ran away, disappearing into crowds.

Mr Roy, believed to be in his 40s, was pronounced dead during emergency surgery at the Dhaka Medical College hospital and his wife, Rafida Ahmed Banna, lost a finger and is being treated for serious injuries.

Police found her severed finger alongside two machetes and a bag possibly belonging to the attackers at the scene

In Commemoration: Avijit Roy.

News From Bangladesh:

BD News 24.

Avijit’s killing stirs world media Mohammad Abu Bakar Siddique

The brutal killing of writer, blogger Avijit Roy in hand of machete-wielding assailants has created a shockwave in the global media.

The leading news organisations from around the world including BBC, Reuters, the Guardian, The New York Times, NDTV etc condemned the barbarous killing, bringing out detail of the attack.

BBC placed the news on the attack that left the Bangladesh-born US citizen dead and his wife also a blogger Rafida Ahmed Bonna, critically injured, as its lead on the following day, with the headline suggesting “US-Bangladesh blogger Avijit Roy hacked to death.”

The contributions of Avijit, a naturalised US citizen, particularly his activism for scientific knowledge and secularism through online and publications, his receiving threats from militants groups, the attack by the widespread protest against the killing and for arrest of the attackers, and the country’s context were mentioned in the BBC’s report.

The killing of the son of the country’s one of the most prominent professors Ajay Roy was covered Reuters, as “American blogger killed in Bangladesh machete attack,” the New York Times reported “Avijit Roy, Bangladeshi-American Writer, Is Killed by Machete-Wielding Assailants,” besides several other versions with updates.

Roy came to Dhaka for publication of his new books in the book fair around mid-February with his wife, and on the evening they fell under the attack in the TSC area in Dhaka University on the way back from the fair.

Avijit wrote a number of books on mainly philosophy, rationalism and science, in line with his activism, also in online, for secularism and freedom of expression, for which he had been receiving death threats since long, including the recent one when social media fanatics openly declared to kill him on coming home, family told media.

The UK-based the Guardian reported “American atheist blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh” mentioning the previously happened similar attacks on the free thinkers.

“American-Bangladeshi atheist blogger Avijit Roy hacked to death by suspected Islamist extremists,” wrote the UK based the Independent.

The Telegraph wrote: “Atheist US blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh,” while The Times headlined “Atheist US blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh”

CNN titled “Prominent Bangladeshi-American blogger Avijit Roy killed” where it detailed with the facts related to the killing and the shocks emerged from it.

It reported on the very attack in two more stories with title “American writer hacked to death in Bangladesh spoke out against extremists”, and “Blogger’s brutal death for speaking his mind.”

From the murder to the UN condemnation, the media all around the world are coming up with the follow ups as well.

The attack was widely covered in the media of neighboring India and Pakistan.

India’s NDTV and Pakistan’s Dawn among the prominent news media covered the story, his contributions, threats were mentioned.

These news media are also following the developments in Bangladesh and the world, in response to the attack, protest and condemnation that began in Dhaka.

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Andrew Coates

February 28, 2015 at 5:12 pm

After Kobane, Where Now for the Kurdish Liberation Movement?

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  Three YPG fighters in Kobane shortly after they liberated the city from ISIS militants in January. Photo: AFP

Three YPG fighters in Kobane shortly after they liberated the city from ISIS militants in January. Photo: AFP

Kurdish forces advance miles outside Kobane, retake 100 villages

 By Omar Kalo (Rudaw)

KOBANE—Kurdish forces continue to push Islamic State (ISIS) militants out of the Kobane area and have retaken more than 100 villages from the extremist group in the past two weeks.

Fighters of the Peoples Protection Units (YPG) have now reached the village of Karamox, 20 kilometers east of Kobane.

In their advance against ISIS, the YPG fighters are supported by Peshmerga artillery and coalition airstrikes.

Since they drove out ISIS militants from the city last month after 133 days of fighting, the Kurdish forces have advanced against the Islamist group in all directions and reclaimed many of the villages that fell to the group in September.

Last week, the YPG fighters took back the village of Kofi, 25 kilometers south of Kobane as well as the village of Rovi on the main road between Kobane and Aleppo.

On the western front, the Kurdish forces are now positioned 20 kilometers away at Karako village.

YPG commanders inside the city told Rudaw that 15 ISIS militants fled the Kurdish advance west of Kobane on Friday and crossed the border into Turkey.

Autonomy in Kurdistan  Matt Petersen & Joen Vedel

From the Kurdish Question.

After driving ISIS from Kobane, the Kurdish liberation movement considers their successes and looks forward toward the continuing struggle for autonomy.

Last week, we met with Hilmi Aydoğdu, Presidency Council member of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK)* at DTK offices in Amed, Kurdistan.

This was just days after the YPG (People’s Defense Units) won a months long battle with ISIS, liberating the city of Kobane. Since our interview, the YPG and other Kurdish fighters have continued to retake surrounding villages in the Kobane Canton, which is one of three autonomous communes in Rojava, the majority Kurdish area of northern Syria.

Earlier this fall, as images of the women warriors of the YPJ (Women’s Protection Units) circulated widely in Western news and social media, radical movements worldwide began to take a renewed interest in the Kurdish freedom movement. This led many to closely study the DTK’s July 2011 declaration of “democratic autonomy” within Turkey. We visited Amed (Diyarbakir), in southeastern Anatolia, which is the political capital of the Kurdish movement, and the headquarters of many of its political organizations, to meet with participants in the movement and learn more about the current Kurdish struggle.

We asked Hilmi what the recent liberation of Kobane meant for the Kurdish movement; about the implementation of democratic autonomy and confederalism within both Rojava and Turkey; and the role of the Kurdish movement as a secular force in the Middle East.

• • •

The main purpose of the Kurdish struggle is the freedom of Kurdish people in all of Kurdistan. What we understand by freedom includes self-rule and independence in terms of using our own economic and natural resources. This is what we call democratic autonomy.

In the Middle East there are many different ethnic communities, many religions and belief systems. It is possible that these people can live together and share their riches with each other, by abolishing the oppression and exploitation in the Middle East. What we call confederalism is the system that includes all these communities and peoples. And to achieve this, we first have to struggle for the democratic autonomy of Kurdistan, and then to spread it to the rest of the region.

This democratic autonomy entails a restructuring of society. We have a struggle that took 40 years, and within this process all the social values and norms in Kurdistan have been drastically transformed. The clearest sign of this social transformation is the women’s struggle. In Kurdistan women were experiencing a double slavery; they were slaves of the system and the slaves of men as well. Our struggle has contributed to the participation of women in all of social life. What we see in Kobane represents this transformation. We believe that a free society is not possible without the freedom and participation of women, demonstrated by the presence of women in every field of life and work.

Our 40 years of struggle revitalized an almost annihilated people. In this 40 year struggle the labor and creative power of women has played a key role. In Kobane, women were fighting shoulder to shoulder with men. The success of Kobane comes from this. The true power behind this success is the actualization of the highest level of creativity, power, and spirit of women. This is the only way for the liberation of our people. The role of women was decisive in Kobane.

The model of democratic autonomy has been realized in Rojava. The building of this model is experienced now in three cantons. Our people, together with other communities living in Rojava, have gained an initiative over their lives within the form of equal representation. Now these people together try to share social prosperity in an equal manner.

For the question of how Syria is going to be liberated, the replacement of Assad with another dictator is not a solution. Rojava proposes a solution to exploitative capitalist modernity in the Middle East. This proposition has disturbed both the reactionaries and imperial powers. They were afraid that Rojava could be an exemplary model, and so they organized ISIS and unleashed them to attack Rojava.

The cantons of Rojava are totally democratic. Whole religious sections are able to represent themselves thanks to the model of democratic autonomy in Rojava, and its spirit of social solidarity. The factor that expelled ISIS is this model of governance, because this model actualizes the dynamics, energy, and potential in people. When we totally expel ISIS, Rojava will achieve further political, economic, social and cultural improvements.

What we express as democratic autonomy/confederalism is a model against capitalist modernity. The primary dynamic of this model is the Kurdish freedom movement. The fascist military coup in 1980 totally crushed the revolutionary opposition in Turkey and it created an intimidated society. The Kurdish movement from the very beginning ceaselessly resisted this fascism. They organized vast resistance in the prisons and began armed struggle on August 15th, 1984. The ceaseless resistance of this movement relied on its power of organizing a philosophy of life, and acted solely by relying on its own power. This movement exposed a vital social power.

The paradigm of the Kurdish movement includes the transformation of not only the Kurds, but also all the oppressed sectors in Turkish society. Therefore the gains of the Kurdish movement have direct impact on the other social sectors in Turkey. However, the role that the Kurds play on the transformation of other oppressed sectors of Turkey could have been larger. The 1980 military coup waged a psychological war, especially through the media, which created a perception in the society that those in the Kurdish freedom movement were monsters. This is an ongoing process. Our struggle has damaged this perception to some extent, but it is still present in Turkish society. The damage of the military coup on the Turkish Left also restrains the impact of the Kurdish freedom movement on Turkish society. If the Turkish Left was not fragmented and dispersed as they are now, the opportunities that the Kurdish movement creates could have been better realized in Turkish society. This is an important disadvantage for the Kurdish struggle.

The Kurdish movement is the only movement that aims at creating a democratic social life in the Middle East. Moreover, the Kurdish movement is the only movement that sees the togetherness of different values of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and other belief systems as a strength and opportunity for developing a social system. There is no other movement in the Middle East that pursues such a democratic social model. I wish there was. If so, they could fight together in solidarity.

The Kurdish movement, especially following the path of leadership, changed the color of the whole Middle East. The reforms that took place in Europe in 14th and 15th centuries have been rapidly experienced in Kurdish society in the last 40 years, such as liberation in culture, art, gender relations, a new democratic perspective, organization of all sections of society on the basis of politics, civil society, and gender. We saw the invincibility of an organized society in Rojava and in Kobane particular. The Kurdish freedom movement is an alternative for both Turkey and the Middle East because it has organized itself in all fields–military, cultural, and beliefs–as an alternative system that is adaptive to contemporary needs.

* Hilmi Aydoğdu was formerly chair of the DTP (Democratic Society Party), a Kurdish political party that was banned by the Turkish government in 2009. The DTP was succeeded by the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party), which last year merged with the HDP (People’s Democratic Party). The HDP plans to run in the June 2015 general elections as a broad alliance party, including both the Kurdish movement and the Turkish Left opposition, where it hopes to reach the 10% threshold to join Turkey’s Grand National Assembly

* The DTK (Democratic Society Congress) is an umbrella organization for the Kurdish movement founded in 2005, as a confederation of civil society organizations, political parties, and individual members of diverse ethnic, political, and religious groups.

Originally published in The New Inquiry (http://thenewinquiry.com/features/autonomy-in-kurdistan/)

Written by Andrew Coates

February 7, 2015 at 11:12 am