FREE SHILAN OZCELIK! STOP CRIMINALISING KURDS!

March 14, 2015 at 12:01 pm (anti-fascism, good people, Human rights, kurdistan, Middle East, posted by JD, solidarity, turkey)

Do Everything to Help this Comrade.

STATEMENT BY UK KURDISH ORGANISATIONS ABOUT SHILAN OZCELIK’S IMPRISONMENT.

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 UK government in its steadfastness to appease the Turkish state, who are continuing to support ISIS, and withhold support from the Kurdish armed movement, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) has made clear whose side the government are on. The recent killing of the heroic Konstandinos Erik Scurfield (Kemal) in the battle against ISIS in Rojava (Northern Syria), has garnered a very positive approach from the British media and public. The UK government has been afraid of this support for the Kurdish struggle because for a 100 years the UK state has been one of the initiators and supporters of Kurdish oppression in the Middle East. This is why they have delayed and not supported the repatriation of Konstandinos Erik Scurfield and criminalized the struggle he has sacrificed his life for.

The Kurdistan Worker’s Party, which is on the terror list in the UK, EU and USA was added to this list in 2002 during a 5 year unilateral ceasefire, at the behest of Turkey. The PKK have never posed a threat to the UK and threatened this country. This listing is evidently political and to do with the economic and political ties between the Turkish and British states. Using this listing 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.

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, in its attempt to seem impartial to ‘certain’ sections of British society, once again criminalise the community who have been the biggest supporters of the international fight against ISIS terror and fascism. Shilan has on many occasions stated that she wanted to travel to the region to assist with humanitarian work. It seems that the UK government are blocking and trying to prevent any support from going to Rojava and Sinjar, thus strengthening ISIS’ resolve and the unofficial embargo on Rojava and the resistance there.

To call for the immediate release of Shilan Ozcelik and to call for an end to the criminalisation of the Kurdish community [we held] a picket outside Holloway Prison [last night], where Shilan Ozcelik is being held.

Undersigned:

Roj Women’s Association, Kurdish Youth Assembly, Kurdish People’s Assembly, CAMPACC, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign, Kurdistan National Congress (KNK), MAFDAD (Kurdish Lawyers Association), Kurdish Community Centre, Roj Women’s Assembly, Highbury East Councillor Aysegul Erdogan

Contact: hevallo@gmail.com

http://kurdishquestion.com/index.php/kurdistan/statement-by-uk-kurdish-organisations-about-shilan-ozcelik-s-imprisonment.html

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

* More info over at Tendance Coatesy

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Solidarity with the Kurds – or NATO-bashing?

November 6, 2014 at 12:22 pm (anti-fascism, Eric Lee, internationalism, islamism, kurdistan, Middle East, posted by JD, reactionay "anti-imperialism", solidarity, Stop The War, Syria, turkey)

Solidarity With Kobane  London takes part in Global Rally

By Eric Lee (cross-posted from the Workers Liberty website)

At the 1 November demonstration in Trafalgar Square in support of besieged Kobane, it struck me that the speakers — and more broadly, the left — were not singing from the same page.

On the one side there were those who were demanding that Britain and NATO do more to help the Kurds fighting against the Islamic fascists of IS.  For example, Peter Tatchell led the crowd in chants demanding that David Cameron authorise the dropping of more aid to the Kurds, including weapons.

There were calls for Turkey to be suspended from NATO because it, unlike other NATO countries, was not prepared to help the Kurds.

And more generally most of the speakers especially the Kurdish ones, had not a critical word to say about the USA, the West, NATO or imperialism.  Everyone was focussed on the evil that is “Islamic State”.

On the other side, some of the far-left speakers went overboard in denouncing NATO, the USA and the West, going so far as claiming that IS was a creation of NATO and Washington.

This was particularly the case with a spokesman for the “Stop the War Coalition” — an organisation whose presence at the event surprised many of the participants.

 The Coalition’s website has almost nothing at all about the war taking place today in Syria and Iraq and indeed the only reference to it is video of George Galloway denouncing the support NATO is giving to the Kurds.  Galloway also voted against this support in the Commons.

It seems to me that elements of the British far left find themselves in a bit of a bind.

 On the one hand, there’s this extraordinary, inspiring resistance movement in Kobane, which has captured the imagination of many who would normally be the natural constituency for the left.  The people on the ground, fighting IS, belong to a movement which was seen, until recently, as part of the broad international left.

 Obviously they deserve our support — and yet that seems to mean supporting the US and British air strikes, supporting NATO.  

To get around this, the far leftists have decided on the “ISIS is NATO” line, which is an extraordinary position — one is almost at a loss for words to describe it. 

For those not understanding how IS could be both under NATO attack and simultaneously a creation of NATO, some of the speakers went so far as to say that IS was using American weapons 

The implication was that America gave them weapons.

This is, of course, utter nonsense.  The American weapons that have fallen into the hands of IS were taken from the retreating Iraqi army.  Taken — not handed over as a gift by the Americans. 

One of the anti-NATO, anti-American tirades came from an organisation I’d not previously heard of called the Revolutionary Communist Group.  (I’m sure that specialists will know the entire history of this micro-sect, but for me it was new.) And groups like this, which get invited to speak at mass rallies, give only a very small piece of their line because they’d be booed off the stage if people knew what they really believed. 

The RCG’s speaker shouted the usual stuff about solidarity with the Kurds, but a quick glance at their website shows that they are in fact enthusiastic supporters of the bloody Assad dictatorship and its army.  The same Syrian army that abandoned Kobane — an army that no Kurd wants to have back.  But there was no mention of that to the largely Kurdish crowd in Trafalgar Square. 

So what are people like this, who support Assad and Saddam, who demonize NATO and the USA, doing at these rallies? 

They’re there because they can’t afford not to be there.  To have nothing to say when the battle of Kobane rages would be unacceptable; they must somehow show solidarity with the embattled Kurds. 

But they oppose the very thing — NATO air support — that has made that battle possible.  The tide may be turning in Kobane because of US bombing and air drops.

On the ground, some Kurds have been heard chanting “Long live Obama!”  How embarrassing for the anti-Americans on the far left.

These people with their crazy views, denouncing the essential support given by the west to the Kurds, praising Assad and Saddam, have no place at Kurdish solidarity rallies. They are there purely to cover their tracks, to provide themselves with some kind of moral cover as IS continues with its murderous rampage across Syria and Iraq.

We should give them no platform.

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Critique of Patrick Cockburn’s ‘Whose Side is Turkey on?’

November 4, 2014 at 1:59 pm (conspiracy theories, Human rights, imperialism, internationalism, iraq, islamism, kurdistan, Middle East, posted by JD, reactionay "anti-imperialism", Syria, turkey)

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Another interesting, well-researched article by the Australian-Greek-Cypriot Castroite Mike Karadjis. This originally appeared at Syrian Revolutionary Comment And Analysis. As ever, when we republish such articles, Shiraz does not necessarily endorse everything the author says, nor his overall politics. But it’s an important piece because it takes on some myths about the origins and funding of ISIS that are increasingly widely believed on the left – sometimes in a spectacularly crude and conspiratorial form.
 
LRB Cover
  
By Michael Karadjis

Introduction

The November 6 London Review of Books has published Patrick Cockburn’s latest article, ‘Whose Side is Turkey On?’. Now, as I support the struggle of the Syrian Kurds, led by the PYD and its armed militia, the YPG, against ISIS’ genocidal siege, I have no interest in defending Turkey’s shabby role in this, even if I think both the US and Turkey, in their current difference on this issue are both being totally cynical in their different ways. So this critique will not deal with these issues.

Unfortunately, the angle from which Cockburn criticises Turkey is full of the same contradictions that significant parts of the left espouse, basked in an overall hostility to the Syrian revolution. Valid criticism of Turkey’s sabotage of the defence of Kobani – connected to Turkey’s own oppression of its Kurdish minority – is mixed in with criticism of Turkey for allegedly wanting to help overthrow the Syrian tyranny of Bashar Assad. As if there were something wrong with wanting the overthrow of a tyrant who has burnt his whole country, sending 1.5 million Syrian refugees into Turkey.

Indeed, the fact that Turkey plays an otherwise positive role (for its own reasons which I can’t go into here) in allowing Syrian resistance fighters to cross the border is labelled “facilitating ISIS”, as if the Syrian rebellion has anything to do with ISIS, its vicious enemy. Don’t get me wrong – Turkey may well be facilitating ISIS around the Kurdish regions of the north-east for specifically anti-Kurdish regions, but that simply has nothing to with its *rightful* facilitation of the anti-Assad rebellion elsewhere.

Unless one held the view that only the Syrian Kurds had the right to resist massacre, torture, ethnic cleansing and so on. After all, the Syrian rebellion, based largely among the vast impoverished Sunni Arab majority, has faced a regime that makes ISIS’ tyranny appear amateurish in comparison, and considering how barbaric ISIS is, this is a big claim, yet one that is simply empirically true.

Indeed, and I digress a little here – not understanding that it is the Syrian and Iraqi Sunni Arab populations that have been bombed to pieces, ethnically cleansed, dispossessed physically, politically and in every other way, by both the American invasion of Iraq and the Assad regime’s burning of its whole country to keep a narrow mega-plutocracy in power, is one of the keys to the left’s misunderstanding of many of these issues. It is the Sunni Arab populations of both countries that have suffered a decade-long apocalypse, not, overall, the Shia, Alawites or Kurds.

Who arms “jihadis”?

Referring to the “coalition” that the US has built to confront ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Cockburn writes:

“When the bombing of Syria began in September, Obama announced with pride that Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Turkey were all joining the US as military partners against Isis. But, as the Americans knew, these were all Sunni states which had played a central role in fostering the jihadis in Syria and Iraq.”

Ah, no, they didn’t actually. And just because Cockburn continues to make that assertion, always evidence-free, doesn’t make a non-fact a fact. Actually, only less than 5 percent of ISIS funds came from outside donations at all, and of that, what came from the Gulf certainly didn’t come from the regimes (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/06/23/231223/records-show-how-iraqi-extremists.html?sp=/99/117/). Read the rest of this entry »

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1 November: World Kobanê Day

October 29, 2014 at 1:37 am (anti-fascism, genocide, Human rights, internationalism, islamism, kurdistan, Middle East, posted by JD, Syria, turkey)

This Saturday, please do anything you can to support the Rojava Kurds and their allies fighting for Kobanê. Biji Kurdistan!

This Saturday, please do anything you can to support the Rojava Kurds and their allies fighting for Kobanê. Biji Kurdistan!
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Press statement here
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Coatesy on “the new International Brigade,” here

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Attila The Stockbroker asks “where is the left” in support of the Kurds?

October 22, 2014 at 5:50 pm (anti-fascism, internationalism, islamism, kurdistan, Middle East, posted by JD, reactionay "anti-imperialism", secularism, solidarity, Stop The War, turkey)

Letter published in todays’s Morning Star:

Secular, progressive Kurds in need of left

I salute the heroic struggle of the secular, progressive Kurds of the YPG (People’s Protection Groups) as they battle to defend Kobane from fascist murderers equipped with much heavier and more modern weapons.

The Turks and the Western leaders appear prepared to let the fascists wipe out the Kurdish fighters — people like me and you, people of the left — including the women who save the last bullet for themselves rather than fall into the hands of the fascists.

It seems to me that there is a cynical plan in place. If Kobane falls, there will be crocodile tears about massacres and the drums will start beating for a ground war and the gruesome cycle starting all over again.

There is, of course, an alternative.

The Kurds are once again victims of the same kind of geopolitics which denied them a homeland when the Sykes-Picot agreement was drawn up at the end of the Ottoman empire.

With modern weaponry they could defend their own communities successfully — they certainly have the fighting ability to do so.

But the Turks and the Western powers are scared of their left-wing radicalism and their desire for an independent homeland.

And, sadly, many on the left turn their backs. They can’t bring themselves to support fellow progressives desperate for military aid in fighting fascism, because they see that in some way as “supporting imperialism.”

The Kurds are crying out for support, for Western governments to help them.

They demonstrate with banners saying “Your silence is killing us.” They are right.

This is Guernica, this is Madrid. These are our comrades. But where is the left? Where are the thousands who rightly throng the streets in support of another stateless, oppressed people in Palestine? Where is the Stop The War Coalition? Why the silence? Why, why, WHY?

ATTILA THE STOCKBROKER
http://www.attilathestockbroker.com

************************************************************************************************************

JD adds: Very interesting article on the Kurds, intervention and the European left, by Yasin Suma, here

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From the front line at Kobane: the bombing is helping push back IS fascists

October 16, 2014 at 11:44 pm (anti-fascism, Human rights, iraq, kurdistan, Middle East, posted by JD, Syria, turkey)

From the Personal Website of Mutlu Civiroglu:
YPG Spokesman Can: We are Working with the Coalition against ISIS

Polat Can

In an exclusive interview with the daily Radikal, Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) Spokesperson Polat Can says they are officially working with the International Coalition against ISIS, and their representative is in the Joint Operation Command Center.

Mutlu Civiroglu @mutludc

***

Mr. Polat Can, you have been leading a fierce struggle against ISIS in Kobane for almost month. The world is watching Kobane. What is the situation there?

In the morning, the Kobane resistance will be on its 30th day and a new, long-winded process will start. Everyone knows that the resistance that YPG put up against ISIS is unprecedented by the forces in the region, especially in comparison to the Iraqi army.  Cities ten times the size of Kobane surrendered to ISIS in a few days and those cities were not even besieged with considerable force. However, when they started attacking Kobane, they gathered their forces from around the region, from places including Minbij, Raqqah, Jarabulus, and Tal Hamis. What I mean by considerable force is tanks, cannons, heavy artillery and thugs whose numbers were in the tens of thousands. They wanted to capture Kobane within a week, but they did not succeed. Then, they wanted to say their Eid prayers in Kobane, and they could not do that either.

Since last week, they seized some streets in East Kobane, and now they want to capture the whole city, but they can’t advance. As they try to make their way, they sustain considerable losses. Especially within the last few days, both YPG attacks and the air strikes against ISIS terror led by international coalition forces have increased. They sustained major losses, many of their bodies and weapons passed into the hands of the YPG.

HW_7_11_14
Mutlu Civiroglu and Polat Can

So, can we say that Kobane is relatively safe from danger?

No, saying this would be major heedlessness. Because ISIS still controls a large portion of Kobane. In addition, all of the villages in Kobane are occupied by ISIS.  The resistance we started both within and around Kobane is ongoing. ISIS continues to receive renewed assistance. This war is a matter of life and death for us in every way. Thus, it is not yet possible to say that there is no danger.

You are saying that ISIS consists of tens of thousands of people and constantly renewed support. Your numbers are very small in comparison. Do you receive any kind of support?

Kobane has been under an embargo for the last year and a half. None of the major forces from other cantons have been able to reach Kobane. Kobane is resisting with its own efforts. Some Kurdish youth have been able to reach Kobane from the north of Kurdistan, especially through Suruç. Some arrived Kobane in small groups from the cantons of Afrin and Jazira. In addition, some of the youth from Kobane who were living abroad came to Kobane to protect their city. Some of the small groups from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are here under the name of “The Volcano of Euphrates.” This is all of our power and support. Unfortunately, we did not receive any additional military support, neither from the South, nor from other places.

Mistenur

What can you tell us about the air strikes by the coalition led by the United States?

For the last few days, the air strikes have been numerous and effective. We can clearly state that, had these attacks started a couple weeks ago, ISIS would not have been able to enter Kobane at all. ISIS would have been defeated 10-15 kilometers away from the city, and the city would not have turned into a war zone.

Alright, why did effective air strikes start one week before, and not two? Or, to ask in another way; What happened over the course of the last week that the strikes intensified?

The YPG’s relationship with the coalition, then, had just started recently. I will be blunt; some regional powers, especially Turkey was a serious obstacle. They made every effort to prevent any help from reaching us and to prevent the air strikes. At first, coalition jets could get no closer than 10 kilometers to the Turkish border, because Turkey would not allow it. Of course, there were other problems as well such as logistics and distance. The coalition had not yet made a serious decision to help the YPG.

Moreover, everyone thought that Kobane would fall in a week or two and be forgotten easily, but that did not happen. Kurds all around the world and their friends have risen up, supported by calls by world-famous intellectuals, and the resultant public opinion. This situation has affected shift on some countries’ policies towards us and created pressure for more effective and intensified air strikes and assistance for the YPG.

What sort of help? There are calls to provide arms to the YPG, has any such assistance been provided?

10408858_575764652532762_7025596733894266275_n

Up until now, we really can’t speak of the provision of arms to Kobane. The YPG is trying to bring certain arms which we require to Kobane through certain means. Because we are in serious need of arms. Not only for Kobane, but also for Jazira and Afrin. It’s important that we have fighters that come and fight, but it’s equally important that there be arms for them to use. It’s very difficult to fight using light weaponry against ISIS, who possess heavy weaponry. In the current situation, under such circumstances, we are throwing ourselves heroically in a fight against a force utilizing the latest weapons technology.

You mentioned the coalition’s being late. What sort of relationship does the YPG have with the US and other countries in the coalition? Can you elaborate on this?

Long before the Kobane resistance, we had relations with many countries including the USA. When Kobane was attacked, our relationship became more substantial and our exchange of ideas was realized in practice. In a way, urgent situation on the ground expedited some things. True partnership comes to realization when the situation is difficult and parties support each other.

Can we say there is an official relation between the YPG and the coalition?

Yes, we are acting in concert with international coalition forces. We are in direct contact with them, in terms of intelligence, on a military level, and in terms of air strikes.

I guess the coordinates for the airstrikes are coming from you then?

Yes. One of our special units in Kobane gives us coordinates, and the YPG transmits these coordinates to coalition forces, and then air strikes are directly realized. I would also like to mention that we also benefitted from the assistance of certain Kurdish factions, and this assistance is ongoing.

Some media outlets reported that these airstrikes are carried out through peshmergas?

No. We have a direct relation with the coalition without any intermediaries. YPG representative is physically ready in the joint operation command center and transmits the coordinates. Indeed, no airstrikes would be possible militarily without YPG taking part in the process because the clashes are ongoing  and the situation on the ground changes rapidly.

But, I would like to acknowledge efforts of some Kurdish parties and individuals in regard, and their assistance for the YPG is still onging.

For a while, news agencies from around the world have been discussing the fall of Kobane. In fact, last week, some of them announced that the city fell. However, now the American press has started to applaud the resistance by the YPG, comparing it to the famous Alamo resistance. What is your take on American and other peoples’ support for Kobane?

We have 5-6 American fighters in YPG. One of them was wounded during combat. The fact that they are fighting for us is making us proud. There are fighters from other peoples as well. We are thankful for all the people who have been appealing to their politicians on our behalf to get their attention, to help us.

Especially some European armies and their commanders are working vigorously towards providing help to the YPG. Yes, right now YPG is fighting against ISIS, but in reality this fight belongs to the whole world; the world should fight ISIS. The fighters of ISIS are from 81 different countries which will be responsible for the terror that ISIS will unleash on us. Therefore, everyone should take responsibility. If Kobane falls, a possibility we never consider, ISIS will attack many other territories motivated with the fervent of so-called conquest. Hence, the victory of Kobane resistance means a victory for Kurdistan, coalition forces, USA and for every human being with a conscience.

The global public was first introduced to the YPG during the Sinjar Massacres against Yezidi Kurds. Now, the whole world is talking about the outstanding resistance of the YPG in Kobane. Can we consider the YPG as one of the main actors in the war against ISIS?

Kurds are the strongest people fighting on earth today, be it YPG or the Peshmergas, it is the Kurds! There is of course a surprising element to this: a relatively small number of young people, equipped with light arms, stage an unprecedented resistance against heavy weaponry. I state this cut and dried; if there was any army of even 500 thousand soldiers in our place, they wouldn’t be able to resist, even for one week. We don’t possess one thousandth of the resources and arms that those who lost to ISIS in Mosul, Tikrit and Anbar had. But we have a will and we have faith, and we protect our lands. This is why the coalition forces must consider YPG as one of the main actors in this war. Many high ranking officials of the coalition forces have congratulated us and expressed their admiration for our struggle.

Finally, is there anything else you would like to say to the whole world which has been watching you with admiration?

We respectfully salute all the peoples of the world who support the YPG, Kobane and the Kurds. We promise to millions of Kurds and the friends of the Kurds who can’t sleep, whose hearts beat for us this: We will fight until the last person falls, until our last bullet, our last drop of blood, and we will win this fight. We will embellish this resistance worthy of the Kurdish people with victory and dedicate it to first to the proud Kurdish people and to all the peoples of the world. The resistance against Nazis in Stalingrd and in Alamo is what is repeating in Kobane. We invite everyone to support Kobane, the YPG and Kurdistan until the day of victory.

***

If you want my participation to a show, interview me or get a quote on Kobane and other Kurdish related issues, please contact me at mciviroglu@gmail.com

You can follow me on Twitter for latest updates from Kobane  https://twitter.com/mutludc

***

Special Thanks to Cagla O, Dilek U and Cihan T for translating this interview into English in such a short period of time.

 H/t: Lamia

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Kobane: echoes of Warsaw

October 8, 2014 at 1:20 pm (anti-fascism, genocide, history, islamism, kurdistan, Middle East, posted by JD, solidarity, Syria, turkey, war)

Above: dying YPG fighter

From today’s Times:

Sir,
The hearts of the Kurds are breaking and we must heed their pleas. In Kobane, lightly armed Kurdish fighters are defending people against a genocidal enemy with tanks and artillery. If the city falls, the Da’esh fanatics will butcher the men and sell the women into sexual slavery; not even children will be safe. Meanwhile, Turkish troops sit idle on the frontier and the authorities stop Turkish Kurds from crossing to assist their comrades. The scene is eerily reminiscent of the Warsaw uprising of 1944 in which Stalin held back the Red Army to allow the Nazis to wipe out Polish resistance fighters. The world must call upon Turkey to arm the Kurdish fighters. Governments must also drop the designation of the Kurdish YPG fighters as terrorists; they are secular nationalists who pose no danger to the world, and earlier saved the Yazidis from annihilation.
DR JOHN TULLY
Senior lecturer in politics and history, Victoria University, Melbourne

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IS genociders must be stopped! Arm and support the Kurds!

October 6, 2014 at 6:44 pm (anti-fascism, Feminism, genocide, hell, Human rights, iraq, islamism, Jim D, kurdistan, Middle East, misogyny, reactionay "anti-imperialism", Syria, turkey)

Photo: I am a woman. I am a Kurd. And since I entered this world, this is the second time that my family and my people are experiencing a genocide and massacre. And this is the story of our life.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>This is the second time in 23 years, because of the threat of a genocide, there has been a mass exodus of my people to the borders of a hostile state, only to be shot at and beaten as they sought refuge from a greater evil. </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>This is the second time, in 23 years, that our girls have been carried away, erased from history; left only in the memory of those who loved them, forever left wallowing in the pits of the darkness that the evil in the hearts of some men forced on them. Their lives, their hopes, the love that they carried in their young hearts blowing away in the wind like the barely written pages in the rarest books; and surely each and every one of them was as rare and as precious as the next.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>There is a certain beauty in the fleeting nature of life. The meaning of life is in the nature of our experiences and what these experiences teach us. Some of us go through life never knowing any better, never questioning life or our value or place in the scheme of things. We know with certainty that the wheel of time spins a life of joy and immense privilege. We know that only good things come to us tomorrow, and we lay ourselves to sleep each night knowing the certainty of a blessed life. </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>And then there are others who carry a load so heavy that the weight of their pain is enough to break a lessor person a million times over. And I think of the elderly Yazidi woman who had no one left but a son that she raised with the tears of her loneliness; only for him to be lost careless in the dozens of massacres by ISIL. As if his life was not worth every ache in the bones of this mother, whose hopeless weeping should have shamed a thousand men- if we lived in a better world. I think of the force of her despair as her tears burst from her broken heart, and I wonder, as my own heart bleeds in response, "how can she persevere?". And I think of the five year old boy who carried his 18 month old sister across miles, in extreme heat, with no water or food with his little feet, so that he could escape from grown men meaning him harm his innocent mind could not fathom; and I think a child should never have to live such a terror- but I am only reminded of my own childhood, and I realize my heart is twisting because he reminds me of my older brother and how we grew up in war, in refugee camps, escaping another genocide, another massacre, in hunger and poverty and I KNOW that reality is different. And still, I think of the Yazidi girls, renowned for their beauty, being carried away for the pleasure of men who, surely if hell existed, deserve no better place. And I think of the mother whose six daughters and new bride had been carried away by this same evil, and I struggle to understand; and surely, "how can we ask them to bear such pain?"</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>And YET, today is Eid- the Festival of Sacrifices. And TODAY my people were meant to be sacrificed by ISIL as a gift to their people. And today is day 19 of the siege of Kobane. 19 days in which no support, food, aid and supplies have entered Kobane to the YPG AND YPJ forces simply because they are Kurds, and they are homeless, and because they dare to ask for the same right that so many people enjoy each and every single day. And, YET, against all odds, they persevere; because their brave hearts hope that one day they will leave this world a little bit better than when they entered it. One in which the Yazidi girls are safe and the little children are safe and in which Kurdish mothers do not celebrate their Eid in the graveyards of their sons and daughters, lost for a homeless nation.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <p>And yet, we persevere. We persevere despite our tears. We persevere, because we must.
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Above: heroic Kurds stand against IS
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I am exceptionally grateful to Comrade Coatesy for drawing my attention to this excellent Facebook page by a Kurdish woman, ‘The Middle East Feminist’. She writes:
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I am a woman. I am a Kurd. And since I entered this world, this is the second time that my family and my people are experiencing a genocide and massacre. And this is the story of our life.

This is the second time in 23 years, because of the threat of a genocide, there has been a mass exodus of my people to the borders of a hostile state, only to be shot at and beaten as they sought refuge from a greater evil.

This is the second time, in 23 years, that our girls have been carried away, erased from history; left only in the memory of those who loved them, forever left wallowing in the pits of the darkness that the evil in the hearts of some men forced on them. Their lives, their hopes, the love that they carried in their young hearts blowing away in the wind like the barely written pages in the rarest books; and surely each and every one of them was as rare and as precious as the next.

There is a certain beauty in the fleeting nature of life. The meaning of life is in the nature of our experiences and what these experiences teach us. Some of us go through life never knowing any better, never questioning life or our value or place in the scheme of things. We know with certainty that the wheel of time spins a life of joy and immense privilege. We know that only good things come to us tomorrow, and we lay ourselves to sleep each night knowing the certainty of a blessed life.

And then there are others who carry a load so heavy that the weight of their pain is enough to break a lessor person a million times over. And I think of the elderly Yazidi woman who had no one left but a son that she raised with the tears of her loneliness; only for him to be lost careless in the dozens of massacres by ISIL. As if his life was not worth every ache in the bones of this mother, whose hopeless weeping should have shamed a thousand men- if we lived in a better world. I think of the force of her despair as her tears burst from her broken heart, and I wonder, as my own heart bleeds in response, “how can she persevere?”. And I think of the five year old boy who carried his 18 month old sister across miles, in extreme heat, with no water or food with his little feet, so that he could escape from grown men meaning him harm his innocent mind could not fathom; and I think a child should never have to live such a terror- but I am only reminded of my own childhood, and I realize my heart is twisting because he reminds me of my older brother and how we grew up in war, in refugee camps, escaping another genocide, another massacre, in hunger and poverty and I KNOW that reality is different. And still, I think of the Yazidi girls, renowned for their beauty, being carried away for the pleasure of men who, surely if hell existed, deserve no better place. And I think of the mother whose six daughters and new bride had been carried away by this same evil, and I struggle to understand; and surely, “how can we ask them to bear such pain?”

And YET, today is Eid- the Festival of Sacrifices. And TODAY my people were meant to be sacrificed by ISIL as a gift to their people. And today is day 19 of the siege of Kobane. 19 days in which no support, food, aid and supplies have entered Kobane to the YPG AND YPJ forces simply because they are Kurds, and they are homeless, and because they dare to ask for the same right that so many people enjoy each and every single day. And, YET, against all odds, they persevere; because their brave hearts hope that one day they will leave this world a little bit better than when they entered it. One in which the Yazidi girls are safe and the little children are safe and in which Kurdish mothers do not celebrate their Eid in the graveyards of their sons and daughters, lost for a homeless nation.

And yet, we persevere. We persevere despite our tears. We persevere, because we must

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NB: Coatesy’s coverage of the fight against IS (ISIS/ISIL), the need to stand with the Kurds, and the bankruptcy of the wretched ‘Stop The War Coalition’ (and its supporters at the Guardian) has been outstanding. He excelled himself today.

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Murder – not an “accident” – in a Turkish mine

May 14, 2014 at 8:40 pm (LabourStart, posted by JD, solidarity, tragedy, turkey, unions, workers)

Via Labourstart:

by Kıvanç Eliaçık

Director of International Relations Department
Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey – DISK

On 13th of May 2014 Turkey [was] faced with the biggest coal mine explosion in the country’s history. It is reported that there are more than thousand mine workers trapped inside the privately owned mine and death toll rises every single second. More than 230 mine workers died, is the last information we have received. There is a 15 years old boy, Kemal Yıldız among the deceased and more than 80 injured mine workers and rescue team members are at the hospital. 

Unfortunately, there are no healthy official announcements about the death toll and the cause of the accident from the authorities. The families of the mine workers are waiting anxiously in front of the collapsed pit or in front of the hospital, hoping to hear that their loved ones are rescued.

The district of Soma is known for its coal mines, it won’t be wrong to say that Soma is the heart of coal mines. After privatization of the mines for many years, so many occupational accidents have been erupted. Coal mines are just an example to the rest of the occupational accidents that have been going on for a long time in other industrial sectors in Turkey. To give some numbers, the occupational accidents have increased by 40 per cent from 2002 to 2011 in Turkey. This number is too high to be disregarded. The main reasons for the increase of occupation accidents are the widely used system of subcontracting, lack of occupational health and safety measures and inadequate inspection of work places by the authorities.

In order to draw attention of the government on this issue, a Member of the Parliament from the main opposition party, CHP, Özgür Özel, presented a motion to research to the Parliament about the occupational accidents and security measures in the district of Soma recently. This motion was denied with the votes of the ruling party.

Soma Holding is the owner of the coal mine in the district of Soma in Manisa province. Reportedly, there has been an inspection recently in the mine where the accident has occurred. The inspectors, then, concluded that all the practices and the technology that was used in the mine were in line with the relevant legislations. However, still today, the company could not even announce the number of workers who were inside the mine at the time of the accident. This raises the question of the approved technology and its appropriateness, not even talking about the inspection itself.

Soma Holding is a ‘redevance’ company which means that the privately owned mine is run by “rental in return of coal” system. The cost per ton of coal was 130 -140 US dollars before Soma Holding acquired the mine but the company decreased the cost per ton of coal to 23.8 US dollars after the acquisition. It is clearly seen that the company transferred the profit it earned from the mines to the construction sector.  The company is also the owner of the famous skyscraper in Istanbul, named as Spine Tower. Most of the workers are either unregistered or they work for minimum wage.

The government officials, local authorities and mainstream media try to conceal the death tolls and even announce misleading and unrealistic numbers. Repeated information on the company’s undisputed record of security measures and occupational safety is being shared with public, reminding that coal mine accidents are unavoidable. It is unjust and unacceptable when the Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan makes a press conference after 24 hours of the accident and said that: “these accidents are usual.”

Just a week ago Ministry of Labor and Social Security organized an International Occupational Health and Safety Symposium. The Minister bragged about the improvements of occupational health and security measures in Turkey, and accused the trade unions for not contributing to the issue. It is important to remember that on May Day this year, he authorities have blocked all the streets and impeded the trade unionists to raise the issue of occupational health and safety publicly on May Day events.

Today trade unions are organizing actions in work places and city centers. ITUC and ETUC members DISK and KESK Confederations, together with TMMOB, The Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects and TTB, Turkish Medical Association announced a countrywide general strike for tomorrow. The unionists, activists, students and workers are gathering in Taksim and in front of the company’s headquarters in protests tomorrow, to remind the duties and responsibilities of government officials on occupational health and safety and to end subcontracting that leads to violating workers’ rights.

According to trade unions in Turkey, there is a system of subcontracting, there is a system of maximizing profit rather than humanity and also there is system of seeing workers’ health and occupational safety as cost items. The company is not the sole responsible of the murders but the authorities who have not conducted the necessary and appropriate inspections are also associates in crime.

We have hope, we wait for good news… But we also mourn… Merle Travis is singing his song ‘16 tons’ for Soma miners; St. Peter, don’t you call me, ’cause I can’t go /  I owe my soul to the company store

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An urgent May Day appeal from Istanbul

April 29, 2014 at 6:12 pm (Eric Lee, LabourStart, posted by JD, protest, solidarity, turkey, unions, workers)

An urgent message from Eric Lee of LabourStart :


Turkey’s first mass May Day demonstrations in Istanbul’s Taksim Square took place in 1976, with the participation of hundreds of thousands. A year later, half a million people took part — but 37 were killed by gunfire.

No one has ever been prosecuted for this crime, and for decades the government banned May Day celebrations in Taksim. Attempts to meet there have been met by tear gas, violence and arrests.

The violence peaked in last year when hundreds were injured.

This year, when unions including DISK, KESK and the Chambers of Medicine and Engineers announced that they would once again attempt to commemorate May Day in Taksim, the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responded by announcing a ban on the event.

When union leaders attempted to hold a small press conference in late April (pictured above), police responded with tear gas and more arrests.

Turkey’s trade unionists are demanding their right to celebrate May Day peacefully in Taksim Square, to commemorate the martyrs from 1977, and to call for trade union freedom, a more democratic society, an end to precarious work and better working conditions.

Please support them:
It will take you less than one minute to send off your message of protest to Prime Minister Erdoğan — click here to do this: http://www.labourstart.org/go/taksim
Spread the word about this campaign to your friends, family and fellow union members email this, and post the link to the campaign on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. If your union has a mailing list, please send on this message to as many members as you can. Time is short. May Day is only two days away. Our brothers and sisters in Istanbul need our help right now.

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