In sunny Dundee, this Saturday lunch time, campaigners demonstrated in solidarity with the people of Rojava and Kashmir:
two places where people have stood up for political and cultural freedom – and are being crushed by brute force.
We asked people to help spread the word about what is going on – and to call on our political representatives to speak out and not remain silent.
Last Sunday, President Erdogan announced to the world that Turkey was going to invade the, predominantly Kurdish, autonomous, Democratic Federation of North East Syria – Rojava.
Last Monday, the Indian government announced that they were ending constitutional autonomy for Kashmir, bringing this majority Muslim state under direct control from Delhi.
Both India and Turkey have been described as moving towards fascism. They have whipped up popular support for their aggression by appealing to exclusive ethnic nationalism and religious prejudices.
Their attacks on freedom and humanity are brutalising the world – and also making it a lot more dangerous.
European Kurdish movements have called for a day of solidarity actions for Rojava, and supporters of the Kashmiris, whose voices have been silenced by a communications blackout, have called for others to make the world aware of what is happening.
The only thing standing against the rule of bullies is the resistance of ordinary people.
In ROJAVA, the Kurds have created a haven of grassroots democracy, women’s liberation and multicultural living. They try and promote a community outlook in place of selfish individualism. They have defended themselves and the world against ISIS, but now that the battle against ISIS has been largely won, the world looks away.
Turkey has the second largest army in NATO, and it has massed its troops on the Syrian border ready to invade Rojava. They say they will attack unless they are handed control of miles-wide corridors of land that would include most of the Kurdish towns. We don’t have to imagine what Turkish control would mean, we just have to look at Afrin, the part of Kurdish Syria that Turkey invaded last year. Here Turkish-sponsored warring gangs, including former members of ISIS and Al Qaeda, rape and pillage and kidnap for ransom, and much of the Kurdish population has been replaced.
The US found it expedient to help the Kurds fight ISIS, and the one thing that might persuade them not to abandon them completely is a very real fear of an ISIS resurgence. There are ISIS sleeper cells, and the Kurds have also been left with thousands of ISIS prisoners, which would be hard to guard if they are also having to defend themselves against Turkish attack.
When, over 70 years ago, the Maharaja agreed that KASHMIR join with India, the state was guaranteed a measure of autonomy. This has long been undermined by the Indian Government’s response to Kashmiri movements for succession, which have seen the region become one of the most heavily militarized places in the world. Over 500,000 Indian troopspolice the area, 80,000 Kashmiris have been killed, and thousands more have been injured, tortured, raped, or disappeared. This week, Indian government control was formalized, and land ownership was opened up to non-Kashmiris – so we can expect to see a push for major demographic change.
Monday’s take over was like a coup in both effect and method. Before Prime Minister Modi made his announcement, a further 35,000 troops were sent to the area. All internet, phone and television communications have been cut off. A curfew has been imposed, preventing Kashmiris from leaving their homes. Businesses and schools remain closed. Local politicians, trade unionists and human rights campaigners have been arrested. Kashmir is in lockdown.
The Indian state has created a culture of fear, anxiety and uncertainty in Kashmir, and heightened tensions in an already volatile part of the world that is dominated by rival nuclear powers.