A message for the annual International Brigade commemoration in Dundee

As today’s world draws ever closer to that of the 1930s, we look for the current forces of resistance – the Republican Spain of our times. One of the greatest sources of hope, and the most inspiring, must be the Kurdish movement in Northern Syria. Here the power vacuum created by the civil war has allowed the Kurds and their neighbours to establish an autonomous area based around grassroots democracy, women’s rights and a multicultural society. But this area of hope is under threat from Turkey, who have already invaded and taken over the canton of Afrin, and would like to clear the whole area of both Kurds and democracy.

We ask you to commemorate those who fought and died for Republican Spain by giving support to those fighting for a better world in today’s Syria.

The Kurds and their allies, who make up the Syrian Democratic Forces, are brave and effective fighters. They have proved themselves in leading the fight against ISIS, but they have no air power. Their urgent demand is for a no-fly zone over northern Syria, and we can put pressure on our elected representatives to make this a reality.

Many of the political ideas that have inspired the society that is being established in northern Syria, and that the Kurds also attempted to put into practice in eastern Turkey, were developed by the hugely respected Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan. On Friday it will be 20 years since Ocalan was abducted, in a plot involving the CIA, and sent back to Turkey, where he has been imprisoned ever since. Increasingly he has been kept in total isolation, denied visits from even his family and his lawyers. This is against the Turkish constitution as well as against international human rights law, which regards it as torture. It is also a major block to any future peace settlement for the Kurds in Turkey, as Ocalan has been a dedicated peace negotiator, with the popular support to make peace a reality

Over 300 Kurds have gone on indefinite hunger strike to demand an end to this illegal isolation. Most are political prisoners in Turkish jails. Others are in different places around the world, including 14 in Strasbourg, where they are trying to put pressure on the European Institutions to censure Turkey (which is a member of the council of Europe) and to visit Ocalan. A hunger strike is an action of last resort, only taken when the world refuses to listen. We can help make their voices heard. We have put together a list of actions that people can do to give support to the hunger strikers and their cause.


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