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Ken Livingstone Remembers those who Gave their Lives to Protest against the Invasion of Iraq.

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Remembering those who gave their lives in Protest at the Invasion of Iraq.

There are two powerful voices pushing people to support bombing Syria.

A couple of days ago Giles Fraser wrote,

War in time for Christmas is David Cameron’s plan. Yes, exquisitely timed to coincide with the Christian message of peace and goodwill to all. Yes, a perfect accompaniment to all those half-forgotten carols: “And man, at war with man, hears not, / The love-song which they bring: O hush the noise, ye men of strife, / And hear the angels sing.” Translated into the prosaically secular: we have no vision of peace.

Now Ken Livingstone has intervened.

He said on Question Time this week,

Mr Livingstone argued that David Cameron’s proposed air strikes against Isis in Syria were “too indiscriminate” and that the only way to defeat Isis would be with tens of thousands of ground troops – a move repeatedly ruled out by the Prime Minister

Livingstone also said.

In a heated debate on BBC One’s Question Time, he recalled the start of the Iraq invasion, saying that Tony Blair was advised that joining the US would make the UK a terror target.

“He ignored that advice and it killed 52 Londoners,” Mr Livingstone continued…

Jeremy Corbyn’s Defence adviser said out loud what the SWP and others , er, say even louder: those killed by Islamist bombers are the victims of imperialism, in this case, its agent, Tony Blair.

The former London Mayor also had a theme of religious sacrifice:

“Go and look at what they (the terrorists) put on their website did those killings because of our invasion of Iraq…they gave their lives, they said what they believed,” the former mayor of London said.

“They took Londoners’ lives in protest against our invasion of Iraq.”


It’s hard to not feel that, yes, it was an act of generosity, of martyrdom, of truth speaking to power…

Perhaps Giles Fraser could continue the lines of his Christmas Carol,

Glory to God in the highest
Glory to God evermore
Good news, great joy for all
Melody breaks through the silence

Marina Hyde in today’s Guardian, with Christian Charity, dissects Ken’s finely honed remarks.

Like Austin Powers after the cryogenic unfreezing process, Ken Livingstone has no inner monologue. Or if he had one, it was extinguished some time around 2006. The absence of any kind of filter makes Powers say out loud: “My God, Vanessa’s got a fabulous body … I bet she shags like a minx.” With Ken, it’s contemporaneous stuff, like how the 7/7 London terrorists “gave their lives” in protest. Although he can do the sexytime too: he once leered at a female journalist: “You should come home with me – I’m like a broom handle in the morning”. And still people persist in the nonsense that politics is showbiz for ugly people. If you’re not turned on by that, you’re either dead or a Tory. Which is the same thing – amirite, comrades?

She concludes,

Ken’s political superpower is a total inability to feel even a scintilla of shame, which is why he was back on the horse for his Question Time outing so quickly after last week’s forced apology, and will doubtless have something else groan-inducing up his sleeve for the runup to Christmas. Maybe Labour’s merchandise unit could produce a Ken-themed advent calendar, with a piece of signature artless spite behind each door. On 24 December, you get to open his brain and reveal the festive message: “Jesus was a terrorist. Now either get undressed or piss off.”

As Ken Livingstone stonewalls calls for his good self to piss off perhaps he will seek advice from his one-time Policy Director of Economic and Business Policy, John Ross, of the International Marxist Group.

Ross is a dab hand at putting a spin on difficult issues.

Recently he wrote, How China made the world’s largest contribution to human rights

China should be supported precisely because of its contribution to human rights. China has done more to improve the overall situation not only of its own people but of humanity than any other country in the world – as the facts show.

Ross, like Livingstone, is also a great patriot,

I love my country deeply, and the enormous contributions it has made to world culture and science…

The former London Mayor loves himself deeply as well.

Let’s hope that his Yuletide carol singing with Gilles Fraser is a happy one.

 Despite Fraser and Livingstone’s efforts the Tendance remains opposed to Cameron’s plans to intervene in Syria.

Meanwhile a very different left approach (which we signaled when it appeared in French) has now been translated.

It is absolutely essential reading:

Friday 27 November 2015, by François Sabado, Pierre Rousset.

Whatever the role of imperialism, the Islamic State is responsible for its actions.


All fundamentalist movements do not have the same bases, the same strategy. Are some of them, such as the Islamic State, fascists? They do not maintain the same (complex) relations with sectors of the imperialist bourgeoisies as in Europe in the 1930s, but they reproduce them with sectors of the bourgeoisie of “regional powers”, such as, in the Middle East, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey … They attract the “human dust” of decaying societies as well as elements of the “middle classes”, of a “petty bourgeoisie”, of educated workers. They use terror “from below” to impose their order. They dehumanize those who are different and make scapegoats of them, as yesterday the Nazis did with Jews, Gypsies or homosexuals. They eradicate all forms of democracy and of progressive people’s organizations. Religious exaltation occupies the same function as national exaltation in the interwar period and enables them, in addition, to deploy internationally


Written by Andrew Coates

November 28, 2015 at 12:13 pm

Say No To Blackmail: Oppose Bombing Syria.

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Say No to Resignation Blackmail: Labour Should Oppose Bombing Syria.

“L’objectif, c’est d’anéantir l’Etat islamique globalement”

The objective is to wipe out the Islamic State across the world.

John Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Defence. (Le Monde. 24.11.15)

The French government talks of a “hybrid world war” against Daesh. The first is on the battle-field in the Levant, against the Islamic “state being built”. The second is against terrorism, fought in the “shadows” world-wide, and by the state of emergency in France. The British government proposes to join the ‘coalition’ to play an aerial part in Syria. It will make Britain safer. Jeremy Corbyn refuses to take part in the conflict. It will male the UK less safe. Uniting with David Cameron leading figures in the Labour Shadow Cabinet, who back air strikes, threaten their Party and Leader. The Stop the War Coalition (StWC) brandishes the prospect of mass protests.

We have not been here before. Very few people are interested in demonstrating that the present US and French responses to the Syrian civil war are part of plans to extend the American Empire or the New Imperialism (Socialist Register. 2004 and 2005). Whether taking part in the conflict is integrated in a long-term strategy of “bomb and build”, covered by the rhetoric of humanitarian intervention, remains to be seen. For the moment minds are concentrated on the claims of the French government, made in response to the agony of the Paris murders, to take on Daesh.

Leading Labour politicians are, they say, standing on principle against Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to back the use of air power in Syria. The ability to find an incontestable line that will guide intervention amongst the multiple contenders, the external forces in play, is a rare talent. The belief that the way to resolve the conflict begins with wiping out the Islamic State (ISIS/Daesh) – is less common amongst specialists reporting and analysing the region.

The possibility of a democratic settlement sealed by the gathering coalition for military action has yet to be demonstrated. A list of those it would have to involve includes (to start with), the Baath Party and Assad, the Free Syrian Army, the non-Daesh Islamists, the Turkmen, Christians, the Kurds, free-lance militias, and all their contending backers, from the Gulf States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, the US, to France. The actions of Turkey alone, as shown in the last few days, with the shooting down of a Russian plane, indicate that the grounds for belief in an end to the fighting are not strong. That the players called to agree include tyrannies, religious or not, should encourage scepticism about their human rights intentions.

Anti-War Movement.

But if the Labour rebels are people of principle, then so are the StWC and its supporters.

The anti-war movement is still congratulating itself on condemning the Paris slaughter. These were ordinary people. They were not the wrong kind of leftists at Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish customers of the Hyper-Casher, murdered earlier this year in what many of them described as a response to French secularist Islamophobia. The StWC had, we have to say, tweeted about Paris reaping the “whirlwind” and the Socialist Workers Party had claimed that ultimately the dead were the victims of imperialist intervention in the Middle East. Some ventured that again it was AllAboutOil. But now they all condemn the attacks, if still trying to “understand” them. There even moral cretins around on the fringes who state, “The real terrorists are in power today across Europe and in the United States.” (Here) And many more are warning about more future murders at home if Britain joins in air strikes. Which concern them. Although the entirely justified US support for the Kurds, including air-strikes, which saved them in their hour of need,  does not get mentioned.

The anti-war movement is concerned about prejudice and attacks on Muslims in the wake of the Paris killings. Is it concerned about the deaths in Syria? Syrian democrats rightly point to the origins of the civil war in Assad’s refusal to contemplate democratic reform when the hopes of the Arab Spring reached their country. How will Jeremy Corbyn’s call for more negotiations produce a different result?

Violent Islamism is far from restricted to the Middle East. Its development there may well have been favoured by the failures of the Arab Spring, or, further back, of Arab left-wing nationalism. The West has its imprint. In the aftermath of Western intervention in Iraq, the sectarian conflicts (not least led by the Shiites), Daesh was born. But what of Tunisia, – latest bombing site – which now has a democratic state? Is this too experiencing ‘blow back’ for its imperialist involvement? Is Nigeria, scene of the largest number of Islamist terrorist killings, also caught up as a result of its place within the US Empire? Are Bangladeshi secularist bloggers paying the price for their country’s involvement in the Levant?


France’s ‘war of the shadows’ against Jihadist terrorism is equally unclear. Gilbert Achcar points to a domestic origin in France’s ‘banlieue’, the territorial, social and ethnic apartheid Prime Minister Valls has himself denounced. (Le Monde.26.11.15). The day before Olivier Roy talked of a restricted generational revolt, both by those of a Muslim background against traditional faith, and by converts who (unwilling to read left-wing literature) find it the only “radicalism” on offer. Their path is towards nihilism: fascination with death, pride in killing, and the accumulation of sexual slaves. In Daesh’s utopia, detached from Muslim society and religious tradition, is one long battle, in which they play the role of lowly troops. (Le Monde. 25.11.15) How any, by necessity, long-term plan to end the social exclusion that may have encouraged these willing recruits to the Islamic State’s Einsatzgruppen, could bear results is yet to be debated.

In Jafar Panahi’s Taxi Tehran (2015) the laws of an actually existing Islamic State, Iran, are discussed inside a cab. Film censorship, correct dress, hanging for theft, the film opens a window into life in a country ruled by religious law. The Sunnite version of this oppression, in Saudi Arabia, is even better covered in the media. The bigotry of political Islam, that is faith made into law and enforced on people’s daily life, is all too known across the world today. Countries like Iran, which still tries to export its ‘Revolution’, and Saudi Arabia, whose financial weight extends into Europe’s mosques and other Islamic institutions, have spread the belief that the Sharia and an ‘Islamic society’, are utopias. Their community has little place for non-Muslims, who have little place in these worlds. They are based on punishment. They united against unbelief. Whether there is an existential gulf between the ideology of the rulers of Tehran or Riyadh and that of Daesh and the world’s Jihadists, is hard for most people to tell.

Oppose Bombing.

What is certain is that David Cameron’s plans for Syria are as clear as mud. France has switched from Laurent Fabius’ (French Foreign Secretary) strategy of toppling Assad to allying de facto with him in weeks. President Hollande’s Defence Minister is open in advocating putting troops on the ground – how and which troops is not announced. (Le Monde. 22.11. 15) Yet moral outrage at those who urge caution is building. Moral indignation at bombing – when war is already raging, and when the indignant have less than straightforward alternatives – may not have a great echo. Nobody has any solid plans, for all the welcome US air support for the Democratic Forces of Syria, to help one of the few forces in the maelstrom the left can support, the Kurds of Northern Syria in the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), above all faced with Turkey. But let’s put it simply: the Coalition against Terror has no effective and sustainable solution that it can enforce militarily without massive loss of life and unsure future prospects.  We hope that Parliament refuses to go along with them.


Note: This is the Crucial Point in Jeremy Corbyn’s letter to Labour MP’s:

…the Prime Minister did not set out a coherent strategy, coordinated through the United Nations, for the defeat of ISIS. Nor has he been able to explain what credible and acceptable ground forces could retake and hold territory freed from ISIS control by an intensified air campaign.

In my view, the Prime Minister has been unable to explain the contribution of additional UK bombing to a comprehensive negotiated political settlement of the Syrian civil war, or its likely impact on the threat of terrorist attacks in the UK.

For these and other reasons, I do not believe the Prime Minister’s current proposal for air strikes in Syria will protect our security and therefore cannot support it.

Labour List.

ISIS (Daesh) Must be Eliminated: Kurdish Worker-Communists’ Declaration.

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ISIS: The British Women Supporters Unveiled

ISIS (Daesh) must be eliminated. This is our task. This is the task of the working class and its socialist movement

Address by Dashty Jamal, of the Worker Communist Party of Kurdistan to the AGM of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. November the 22nd.

Published by the, highly recommended,  libertarian Marxist site La Battaile Socialiste.

Dear Comrades,

I am glad to be here with you on behalf of Worker-communist Party of Kurdistan and Worker-communist Party of Iraq- Abroad Organisation I express our gratitude at being invited to your conference. We hope that this conference steps forward towards radical changes for workers. The AWL and our party have always had joint points in our struggle for gaining a better life for working people regardless of where they come from. The cooperation between us has ever helped us be keen to fight for our goals. At the same time we adopted necessary constructive criticism about any political stance we thought we needed to change for the benefit of our class struggle.

Today you are holding your conference at a chaotic time when working people are put under the military boots of the world bourgeoisie. Just look at what happens from the very heart of Europe to the Middle East and North Africa. There are many who think that we are experiencing a third world war. The warmongering policies of the American, European and Russian bourgeois governments directly led to military and political intervention in counties in the Middle East and North Africa. This policy has caused carnage; death of hundreds of thousands; havoc; displacement and devastating any trace of modern and urban society in those countries.

The world bourgeoisie supported the reactionary states of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and Qatar, it has helped many Islamic groups under the name of “moderate Islamists” rise in America and Europe. These groups get massive financial supports either from the reactionary Islamic countries or American and European countries. These governments build mosques and other religious foundations under the name of multiculturalism and “respecting tolerance”? The paradox is clearly visible when we see that some of these foundations recruit for IS and other terrorist groups or nurture many suicide bombers in Europe itself. As we see this also revives racism in European countries in a very extreme level.

All this is the outcome of the aims of the world bourgeoisie and the imperialistic blocs, the USA and its allies in Europe and Russia and its allies. Their race is all about having control over the world, and divides the world between themselves. They compete on having their hegemony over other countries and expand their capital markets. They don’t care about the death of hundreds of thousands and destroying many parts of the world. It is not important for them to plunge the whole world in blood. As Marx put it this system is a like a vampire which sucks the life out of the working class.. But we have to do something. They must be stopped. They don’t fight IS; this vicious Islamic force is a project and they use it as a justification to achieve their goal. IS must be eliminated. This is our task. This is the task of the working class and its socialist movement.

We need a socialist platform to end the chaotic humanity lives in. We have to have a clear stance against imperialistic policy of the bourgeoisie and their state allies in the world and in the area. It is our duty to defend freedom, safety and stability of these societies. The working class and deprived mass must restore the political will to decide about their future and the political system, which can guarantee a dignified life. The freedom-loving people and the civilised humanity have the intention to put an end to this savage stage we are in. But the communists and the socialists must be in fore front of this struggle.

As far as Britain is concerned, we are overtly witnessing two different poles in our society. The Conservatives, who merged themselves into the imperialist pole and are a part of what happens in the Middle East, want to drive the British society into more dismal conditions. See how they cut the budget; follow austerity policies; cut social and housing benefits; increase tuition fees and so on. They are definitely supporting political Islam in Britain. We should undoubtedly stand against the Conservatives’ policy.

This is a chance to turn to the other pole, the working class, the left, and the socialists in Britain. Let me honestly say something about Labour Party. The election of Jeremy Corbyn is a turning point for the party and the whole society. His policy, for instance against cutting budget, refusing nuclear weapons, suggesting national education service, better health service, and so on, is good for the society. We have to support these and any other suggestions, which can lead to the betterment of people’s life. But we still need to ask ourselves: is the Labour Party socialist? Does it work for abolishing wage labour and thus gaining full equality between all humans? We are now talking about reformism and socialism. Is what is going on inthe Labour Party enough? To have a better life conditions is good, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to essential changes if we don’t have a strategy to do that. Reform can pave the way to socialism, but itself is not socialism. This is the boundary between us, as socialists, and the reformists. We need a worker revolution to end all what we have seen and experienced, a revolution leading to socialism.

We need now, more than ever, to polarise British society into capitalism and socialism. We need more than what is suggested till now. A socialist platform needs to be put before society: higher wages; lower work hours; better housing, free education and health services; stopping imperialist agenda; stopping support to the reactionary governments in the Middle East…. can be among many other demands. If we don’t have such a party that carries out such a strategic agenda, we might try to make the Labour Party a tribune for an independent socialist platform and strengthening a political and theoretical struggle to prevent that Labour Party goes towards right wing moreover.

We hope that your conference would insist on such a socialist strategy and platform. Good luck!

Long live socialism.

Comrade Jamal has also written this in June 2015 (Workers’ Liberty)

Where did ISIS come from?

His conclusions are important.

Some points worth fighting for

1. Mass resistance against ISIS, follow the example of Kobani people.

2. Establishing a secular and progressive government to guarantee the influence of the mass of people.

3. Changing the laws, all over the world, in favour of freedom and prosperity for all the humanity (wherever they are)

4. The universal support for freedom, secularism and mass resistance in the Middle East.

5. Immediately help all who have been displaced disregard from their religion or race. Any country which supported ISIS and especially Turkey must not only be condemned; but also  be interrogated.

6. To ask the France and European countries to grant asylum to Yazidis, Christians and every one forced to flee from ISIS.

7. Any activities and demonstrations by ISIS supporters must be opposed by the trade unions, community groups and political organisations. What they do does not constitute freedom of political thought; they advocate hatred and killing.

Tolerating these groups may give justification to other racist groups to flourish and spread hostility towards people from Muslim backgrounds.

8. As a part of maximum combat against ISIS, and its ideology, any financial support to the Islamic organisations and centers who work under the name of Islamic community must be cut. Their activities must be put under control. The religious schools must be shut down and mosques must not be allowed to be used as centres for nurturing terrorists.

After last night’s Channel Four, ISIS: The British Women Supporters Unveiled  point 7 has particular resonance.

Tomorrow night, Channel 4 will broadcast an undercover investigation which has uncovered some of the key British women who are supporting Isis – right here in the UK. Led by young British Muslim reporters, the production team managed, over 12-months, to infiltrate an inner circle of British women glorifying jihadis and promoting extreme Isis ideology both online and directly to women and young impressionable girls – often in the presence of very young children.

Captured before the deadly attacks in Paris, the undercover footage shows female Islamic State sympathisers in Britain who, in weekly two-hour lectures in London, are: using racially abusive language to describe Jews and Israelis, telling young Muslim women Britain is waging a war against them and urging them to abandon democracy and travel to Syria to join ISIS.

One of the women the programme identifies is the former leader of the female wing of the banned terror group once known as al Muhajiroun whilst another is known to have resided with an extremist preacher, also a former member of Al Muhajiroun.

The three women, identify themselves as Umm Saalihah, Umm L and Umm Usmaan on Twitter. Two operate in positions of authority within their circles and lecture women in secretive study sessions.

They are first identified in the investigation after promoting pro-Isis ideology on social media platforms. After extensive direct messaging on Twitter and making key contacts at a demonstration outside Regents Park Mosque, the undercover reporter is able to meet them face-to-face at an Islamic roadshow on Lewisham High Street, London. Gaining their trust, she is able to join them at their closely-guarded women-only study sessions which are strictly by invitation only.

The investigation was brought to a close four weeks before the attacks on Paris when the women – who were all established close contacts – became suspicious of the undercover reporter. The leader of the study circles Umm L challenged the reporter, preventing her from leaving unless they can look through her possessions. Eventually the reporter was able to leave but was banned from future contact and attending future sessions.

You can Watch the Documentary Here.

This is also extremely important: Les attentats du 13 novembre à Paris : la terreur de l’Etat islamique, l’état d’urgence en France, nos responsabilités 22 novembre 2015, par ROUSSET Pierre, SABADO François – the authors of some of the best writing and thinking in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper-Cacher massacres.  The present analysis is simply brilliant., working with the premises of solidarity with the victims and “ Quel que soit le rôle de l’impérialisme, l’Etat islamique est responsable de ses actes”.

Left Unity Conference: Leading Figures Leave, LU to Remain a Party, but not Stand Parliamentary Candidates.

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Influential Republican Socialists Predicted Split.

At its Conference Left Unity had decided to remain a party but for time being will not stand in any parliamentary elections, in order to support Jeremy Corbyn.

In the lead-up to the debates Steve Freeman, the leader of the important Republican Socialist tendency, argued, in his hebdomadal column in the Weekly Worker, that,

Left unionists and anti-unionists cannot be in the same party – that much is obvious. It is also clear that Labourites and republicans should not be in the same party. We have mixed and matched these politics in one organisation for a while. That time has now come to an end. Objectively it is time for a split. I do not see this happening at Left Unity conference. The most likely outcome is that the hard right will defeat the soft left and LU will agree to try to affiliate to the Labour Party. This will prove one more step on the road to dissolution. Better to have a clean break.

Steve Freeman
Left Unity, Rise and Old Southwark Against the Corn Laws.

On Friday the Morning Star reported.

A LEADING member of Left Unity has called for the party to be dissolved in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader.

Salman Shaheen, one of four principal speakers, has tabled a motion ahead of tomorrow’s party conference that would pull the plug just two years after it was founded with the support of director Ken Loach.

The motion calls for Left Unity to “dissolve itself as a political party which contests elections at any level” and form a network of activists that could include Labour members.

Mr Shaheen said: “We are committed to doing what we can to support the politics Jeremy Corbyn stands for, and that we have in common with him.

“The question is how best to do it and that is what we will be discussing.”

It is more likely though that Left Unity and CND general secretary Kate Hudson’s motion will be passed.

She suggests the national executive should “reassess” the party’s electoral strategy but continue as a party.

Morning Star.

On Slugger O’Toole, Barton Creeth comments on the Conference itself,

Despite an acknowledgement of common cause, Left Unity, the party that last year tabled a motion to recognise the “progressive potential” of ISIS, decides not to formally dissolve and join Labour.

Left Unity, a far-left political party set up with the help of filmmaker Ken Loach, debated today whether to dissolve and join Labour. The party, set up in 2013, stood candidates against Labour in May, but since Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership election victory, Left Unity has experienced mass resignations.

Noting similar aspirations and common cause, Motion 2A states that “We believe the movement that swept Jeremy Corbyn to victory has its manifestation both inside and outside the Labour Party and this will continue to be the case.” Some Labour Party activists on Twitter expressed support for Left Unity to join forces as part of Corbyn’s Labour. Despite this, only 10 Left Unity members voted today to dissolve the party, as reported by party secretary, Tom Armstrong on Twitter.

During the conference last year, members of Left Unity debated a motion recognising the “progressive potential” of Islamic State. The motion added that the Islamic State’s call for a pan-Islamic caliphate to replace other Muslim states was “an authentic expression of … anti-imperialist aspirations”. The motion, which noted that the Caliphate represented an alternative political vision to other “brutal regimes” in the region, argued “the European Left has to acknowledge and accept the widespread call for a Caliphate among Muslims as valid and an authentic expression of their emancipatory, anti-imperialist aspirations.” The motion was voted down.

The conference also saw a motion today calling for the dissolution of the army the the formation of popular militias. The motion reads, “Left Unity is against the standing army and for the armed people. This principle will never be realised voluntarily by the capitalist state. It has to be won, in the first place by the working class developing its own militia.”

As of writing, I’m not sure which direction the party has chosen take on this issue.



Left Unity has attracted many respected and dedicated activists. It has had many important policies – including an internationalist approach to backing a transformed European Union and broader opposition to nationalism.

Their decision to work closely with Momentum raises a number of interesting questions.

If LU is not standing Parliamentary candidates against Labour, will it continue to stand council candidates against the Labour Party on a pick and choose basis? How will this help Momentum  win support inside the Party?

Perhaps the public threat of rival candidates will both increase its audience amongst the mainstream of the Party and win over wavering councillors to adopt LU’s opinions……

We await for the full report from Labour Party Marxists – in the Esperanto original – explaining the way out of this conundrum.




Written by Andrew Coates

November 22, 2015 at 12:19 pm

Silhan Özçelik: Convicted of Wanting to Fight Islamist Murders and Insulted By Judge.

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Brave Silhan Özçelik: Convicted and Denigrated by Judge

The Guardian reports.

A British teenager who made a graveside pledge to devote herself to the PKK cause has been convicted of intending to join the proscribed Kurdish terrorist organisation to fight Islamic State.

Silhan Özçelik, 18, from north London, ran away from home, took a train to Brussels, and left behind letters and a video for her distraught family telling them she wanted to be a guerrilla fighter and was joining the Kurdistan Workers’ party’s women’s militia.

She is the first British citizen to be convicted for trying to join the campaign against Isis jihadis in Syria.

Özçelik, who was 17 when she went to Belgium in October 2014, had been “smitten” by the PKK since she was 13 after watching a film, Comrade Beritan, about a PKK female guerrilla who threw herself off a cliff rather than face capture and died in 1992.

She had also visited the Turkish grave of Leyla Saylemez, whose nom de guerre was Comrade Ronahi and one of three female PKK activists shot dead at a community centre in Paris in January 2013.

In the 25-minute video Özçelik left behind explaining her decision to her family, she said she had taken soil from Ronahi’s grave and made a promise, which she was now going to fulfil.

The jury at the Old Bailey dismissed Özçelik’s claim that she had invented the PKK story because she was running away to meet a 28-year-old man in Belgium with whom she hoped to kindle a romantic relationship, and wanted to spare her family shame in the strict, traditional Kurdish community.

Dan Pawson-Pounds, prosecuting, said the video and letters, in which she passionately described her love for the PKK, her wish to become a militant and “bride to the mountains”, and her desire for her family to be proud of her, “couldn’t be clearer or more consistent” with her long-held ambition to be a fighter and guerrilla.


Özçelik was “passionately engaged” with the PKK cause. She spoke of her anger that Islamic State at that time was crushing her people in Kobani, the largely Kurdish city in Syria, and that no men were going out there to fight against Isis. She was attracted by the active role women were allowed to play in the PKK, the jury was told.

She wrote: “Maybe I will go to Kobani, or I will not go. That is a different matter. It is up to the PKK to decide. But I see myself as a fighter, I see myself as a militant, a guerrilla.”

Özçelik was the baby of her family. She was 10 years younger than the youngest of her three siblings and found life in the strictly traditional family home restrictive. Her father, a chef, and mother, a textile factory machinist, gained political asylum in 1993 and settled in Britain. Though born in London, Özçelik identified strongly with her Kurdish roots and told school friends she used the name Dersim, the Kurdish name for the city of Tunceli – where the family of Comrade Beritan, the nom de guerre of Gülnaz Karataş, was from.

Posters, collages and Photoshopped pictures of PKK slogans and armed female guerrilla fighters were found in her bedroom. She had “glorified” the fighting and use of guns, especially by women, the prosecution said.

At the time she ran away she was a student of media studies at Holloway College. She had gained nine GSCEs at secondary school but then dropped out of her previous sixth form, where staff described her as “insular”, with few friends and seemingly “a bit depressed”.

She had lied to friends about her reasons for going to Belgium, telling them variously that she was going to visit an uncle, to study in Germany, to go travelling, or to escape a jealous ex-boyfriend, the jury heard.

There was no evidence Özçelik had joined the PKK, made contact with PKK members or travelled to Turkey or Syria before she returned to Britain from Cologne in Germany in January 2015 and was arrested at Stansted airport.

The jurors were told they had to be sure of two things: that she had the intention to commit acts of terrorism by joining the PKK, and that she engaged in conduct in preparation for the act. That preparation, said the prosecution, involved buying a one-way ticket to Brussels, recording a 25-minute video to her family and writing two letters to them saying she was joining the PKK and giving her reasons why, and by getting on the train to Belgium.

Before leaving, Özçelik had wiped most of the data from her mobile phone, which she left behind. She told her family she would be in contact, but that when she did they could not mention her name on the phone. This, the prosecution said, was consistent with her intending to join a terrorist organisation and knowing the authorities might be monitoring her communications.

Özçelik told the court she thought making the video was “cool” and she made it so that if things did not work out with the man in Belgium – and they did not – she would still be accepted back by her family. If they thought she had been fighting for the PKK, that was more heroic than the shame of knowing she had gone to meet a man, she said.

The jury of nine women and three men took five hours to reach a unanimous verdict.

Sentencing her to 21 months in a young offender institution, the judge, John Bevan, described her as “a stupid, feckless and deeply dishonest young woman”. Although there was no evidence she did anything to “advance the aim expressed in the video”, he told her she was “immature” and the “author of your own misfortune”.

Dismissing her counsel’s appeal for a suspended sentence, the judge added “any conviction for an offence of terrorism is serious”. He was not satisfied that the PKK was her only motive for travelling, and her emotions for Mehmet, the man in Belgium she said she hoped to have a relationship with, may have been a part, but the jury had decided “for a time at least”, joining the PKK was her intention.

He said her sentence was much reduced “because of the highly unusual factors of this case”. She would have to live with the “long lasting consequences of a conviction for terrorism”, he added .

As he passed sentence, sobs could be heard from the public gallery where members of her family had sat throughout the trial.


Özçelik is very young, she was very brave, full of emotion, and she wanted to fight an enemy that is unimaginably evil.

She does not deserve this sentence, nor does she merit the despicable comments of Judge John Bevan.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 21, 2015 at 5:06 pm

French Communist Party: Democracy is a Weapon in the Fight Against Islamic State.

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Press release from Pierre Laurent, national secretary of the French Communist Party after the Paris killings.

Our country has just experienced one of the worst events in its history. Last night’s simultaneous terrorist attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis, for which Daesh [short for Dawlat al-Islamiyah f’al-Iraq wa al-Sham] claims responsibility, and which, at this moment, have resulted in 127 deaths and 200 casualties, were horrifying. France is in mourning.

The day after the carnage, our first thoughts go out to the victims, their families, to those close to them, to the witnesses and to all those whose lives were threatened. For all, the pain is immense. Each and every one of us in France feels deeply wounded.

We salute the work of law enforcement, the emergency services, the Accident and Emergency doctors, healthcare workers and public service personnel, whose response to the situation has been exemplary, as has the people’s solidarity, which was felt straight away.

Less than a year after the attacks in January [on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7], the Republic has been struck at its heart.
Even as a state of emergency has now been declared by the government, reinforcement of the police and of the justice system’s resources is an imperative. The state must find suitable ways to guarantee the people’s safety in the long term.

I ask our people not to give in to fear, and to stand together for freedom, equality, fraternity, and for peace. We must make careful distinctions between issues, and avoid stigmatization. Together, we must firmly reject hatred and racism.

France is affected by the war and the destabilization that is plaguing the Middle-East. The fight against terrorism calls for increased engagement and international solutions.
It can only be won by coming together to create a united society that places, at the heart of all its decisions, human emancipation, the values of the Republic and peace.

The French Communist Party, its representatives and its elected officials, will support all initiatives that, in the days to come, will allow our fellow citizens to take on together this challenge and to open up a path of hope for our people.

In this tragic time, the French Communist Party has put all election-campaign activities on hold.

Translated Sunday 15 November 2015, by Ciaran Edwards

Reposted from l’Humanité in English

Friday 20th November: for the French Communists the fight against the Islamic State, Daesh, must take place within democratic framework.

In a special issue of l’Humanité today they make this clear, above all calling for Parliamentary control of the state of emergency.

No democracy is not an obstacle in the fight against Daesh. The state of emergency has been extended to three months: the need for Parliamentary surveillance and control is more than ever indispensable.

Nos libertés contre la terreur Patrick Le Hyaric.

This follows the important  interview with  leading Communist Pierre Dharréville “National unity around the values ​​of the Republic” on the PCF’s site:

The day after the speech of François Hollande before Congress,  he warned,

A response in the spirit of revenge will only lead to further disasters. The President has declared  war. But I have not heard any analysis on the results of the international policy of France and the effects of repeated interventions over the last fifteen years in the Middle East, and Africa, often outside the framework of international law. Since 2007, France has broken with the best traditions of  its foreign policy. We must redefine our objectives and those of the international community whose eagerness to intervene militarily for neocolonial objectives has only been equaled by the weakness of its diplomatic efforts to build peace in the world.

Pierre Dharréville also stated,

We must  find ways taking democratic control over tje  emergency measures. I can hear in them the influence of forces that were already  going in reactionary directions using this opportunity to drive home reactionary approaches  that will sweep away elementary principles of laws. law.

He listed the proposal to remove French nationality from people convicted of terrorist offences, the stigmatising of groups, notably refugees, and Muslims as of great concern.

Notably Dharréville stated that Deash is a political not a religious enemy,

The Islamic State – Daesh –  has a totalitarian project, grounded on the logic of purification, which has taken the flag of Islam like a Bullfighter takes his muleta.


Secularism is the guiding principle of our Republic, but I would warn against any attempt to divert into a way of stigmatising and dividing our people.

On National Unity he concluded,

For us, national unity can only take on the values ​​of the Republic and around building a society of peace. It can not be done on the basis of obedience to the leader. We will approve what we think is good for the security and defence of our freedoms.

More: Win the War? No, Put an End To It

Translated Tuesday 17 November 2015, by Isabelle Métral

Slavoj Žižek: No “deeper understanding of ISIS terrorists” as SWP says “Bound to be a Response” to Imperialist Wars.

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 Žižek: Defends “European emancipatory legacy .”

“There should be no “deeper understanding” of the ISIS terrorists (in the sense of “their deplorable acts are nonetheless reactions to European brutal interventions”); they should be characterized as what they are: the Islamo-Fascist counterpart of the European anti-immigrant racists—the two are the two sides of the same coin. Let’s bring class struggle back—and the only way to do it is to insist on global solidarity of the exploited.”

Slavoj Zizek: In the Wake of Paris Attacks the Left Must Embrace Its Radical Western Roots.

Bang in cue the Socialist Workers Party announces,

After Paris: no to racism and imperialist wars that breed horror

There is no excuse, but there is a context for what has happened. Two and a half centuries of colonialism and imperialism have left a bitter legacy of hatred across much of the world against the West. More than 15 years of the “war on terror” have killed over a million people and driven millions more from their homes. There is bound to be a response.

They further state,

Ultimately those who died in Paris are themselves further victims of Western-backed wars and the reaction against them.

It takes some couilles to say that there is “no excuse” for murder, and then….find an excuse.

It also takes a while to wash the bad taste of this abject statement out of the mouth.

Slavoj Žižek by contrast gives genuine humanist, warm and democratic Marxist response to the Paris atrocity

This stands out:

The greatest victims of the Paris terror attacks will be refugees themselves, and the true winners, behind the platitudes in the style of je suis Paris, will be simply the partisans of total war on both sides. This is how we should really condemn the Paris killings: not just to engage in shows of anti-terrorist solidarity but to insist on the simple cui bono (for whose benefit?) question.

  He asks some hard questions:

Taking control of the refugee crisis will mean breaking leftist taboos.

For instance, the right to “free movement” should be limited, if for no other reason than the fact that it doesn’t exist among the refugees, whose freedom of movement is already dependent on their class. Thus, the criteria of acceptance and settlement have to be formulated in a clear and explicit way—whom and how many to accept, where to relocate them, etc. The art here is to find the middle road between following the desires of the refugees (taking into account their wish to move to countries where they already have relatives, etc.) and the capacities of different countries.

Another taboo we must address concerns norms and rules. It is a fact that most of the refugees come from a culture that is incompatible with Western European notions of human rights. Tolerance as a solution (mutual respect of each other’s sensitivities) obviously doesn’t work: fundamentalist Muslims find it impossible to bear our blasphemous images and reckless humor, which we consider a part of our freedoms. Western liberals, likewise, find it impossible to bear many practices of Muslim culture.

In short, things explode when members of a religious community consider the very way of life of another community as blasphemous or injurious, whether or not it constitutes a direct attack on their religion. This is the case when Muslim extremists attack gays and lesbians in the Netherlands and Germany, and it is the case when traditional French citizens view a woman covered by a burka as an attack on their French identity, which is exactly why they find it impossible to remain silent when they encounter a covered woman in their midst.

 There can be no compromise on universal human rights: the very reason we support the refugees.

Žižek suggests, reasonably in our view, this:

To curb this propensity, one has to do two things. First, formulate a minimum set of norms obligatory for everyone that includes religious freedom, protection of individual freedom against group pressure, the rights of women, etc.—without fear that such norms will appear “Eurocentric.” Second, within these limits, unconditionally insist on the tolerance of different ways of life. And if norms and communication don’t work, then the force of law should be applied in all its forms.

This is better known as secularism, or Laïcité. That is a common public framework, for the shared areas of politics and the state, that is beyond the interference of religious and sectional ideologies.  With this structure, as we argued yesterday, we should have absolute tolerance of diversity.

I will not comment further but note that comrade Žižek has the same mass line as ourselves on the following issue,

Another taboo that must be overcome involves the equation of any reference to the European emancipatory legacy to cultural imperialism and racism. In spite of the (partial) responsibility of Europe for the situation from which refugees are fleeing, the time has come to drop leftist mantras critiquing Eurocentrism.

The old postmodernist views, associated with terms such as Orientalism, have been dying for some time. What sense could they possible have when its Bangladeshi, Iranian, Kurdish, Maghrebian, South and East Asian, Arab and Africans who are in the front line of new development in universal emancipatory thought? Who has not read the writings of our comrades from these countries and been struck by their advance. 

That is, despite all the defeats, the barbarisms, Imperialism, Fascism, Stalinism, and now this….

It is as Kant said of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution,

For a phenomenon of this kind which has taken place in human history can never be forgotten, since it has revealed in human nature an aptitude and power for improvement of a kind which no politician could have thought up by examining the course of events in the past…

Contest of the Faculties. 1798.

Žižek continues, 

The next taboo worth leaving behind is that any critique of the Islamic right is an example of “Islamophobia.” Enough of this pathological fear of many Western liberal leftists who worry about being deemed guilty of Islamophobia. For example, Salman Rushdie was denounced for unnecessarily provoking Muslims and thus (partially, at least) responsible for the fatwa condemning him to death. The result of such a stance is what one can expect in such cases: The more Western liberal leftists wallow in their guilt, the more they are accused by Muslim fundamentalists of being hypocrites who try to conceal their hatred of Islam.

Tendance Coatesy has never given a toss about this worthless accusation, hurled at critics of reactionary Islamism, whether they be European or from Muslim countries. It is the secular left in the latter countries which is fighting Islamism. The only guilt the left should feel is that it is not going enough to support these beloved comrades.

This is a long article and there is a lot more to say and, sometimes disagree with – about a global evolution and the EU, not to mention a great dollop of the idiosyncratic theory of the author in the article ,  to start with. (1)

But we say this for now: chapeau comrade Žižek !

(1) Which is to say that despite finding a new best friend we remain a rationalist, an  admirer of Louis Althusser, sans Jacques Lacan, and no mate of Hegel, and even less of Alain Badiou, somebody we consider, in contrast to Cde Žižek, a Sombre oryctérope. (as Capitaine Haddock would say).