Resilience: Nurturer and Warrior. 


Happy International Women’s Day! I’m thinking of the brave women fighting Isis on the front line, the women whose work is never done, the ones who never sleep or get a day off, to those fighting oppression and lack of equality, the women who struggle to be heard, those who are silenced, the mothers, the sisters, the daughters, the wives, the ones who make sacrifices every day, the ones who got a say in life and the ones the ones who didn’t.

Photograph by Veronique de Viguerie, September 6, 2014: A Kurdish combatant breast feeds her child. For me its one of the most memorable and striking images from the fight against daesh which had circulated on social media, highlighting the resilience of women and their innate ability to be both nurturer and warrior.

Stand Up For Kobane.

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In the sweltering summer of 2014, I and tens of thousands of others from all backgrounds took to the streets of London to march in solidarity with the Palestinians. As innocents lost their lives, a feeling of utter helplessness led me to stand up and be part of a collective voice which called for an end to the bloodshed.

Now as Autumn befalls London, I feel a familiar sense of horror stirring in my gut. As the so called ‘Islamic State’ leaves a trail of death and destruction across Iraq and Syria, their advance has showed an utter disregard for humanity. Their brutal ‘convert or die’ method has been absolute; there has been no mercy.

During the infamous London Riots, London’s Turkish / Kurdish community were almost alone in seeing off troublemakers from their doorsteps. This, I have come to know, is the Kurdish mentality – you stand together honourably in the face of trouble.
As Isis besieges Kobanê and other parts of Rojava, it seems the YPG and YPJ are not fighting alone; queues of Kurdish civilians have joined the resistance in a bid to defend their land and people. But their tired weapons and sense of honour may not be enough. Angry citizens just over the border in Turkey who want to help are held back, pitilessly dispersed by water canon spray from the Turkish authorities. A slaughter looms on the horizon and the people desperate to prevent it watch helplessly from a no-mans-land as the Turkish military idly get into position. Coalition strikes may not be enough to save Kobanê as Isis fighters engage in street battle.

With anger amongst Kurds at boiling point, explosive protests have spread across Turkey where more than 20 protestors have lost their lives at the hands of the Police. Simply dismissed as ‘supporters of the PKK’ by the government, the protestors message is lost. A right to defend is their main objective. Shouldn’t a right to survive should be everyones objective? As other protests take place by Kurdish diaspora in Europe, I don’t see diversity in the crowds. I can’t see the ‘Not In My Name’ placards, or people of all faiths with a common love of humanity. I want to scream and shout because I feel cheated at the lack of awareness, support and because Isis has been allowed to arrive on Europe’s threshold. Moreover I cannot sit back and watch another slaughter. I am angry at the apparent lack of empathy by the Turkish government, a NATO member, and the hushed British MPs, media and other influential people who had so much to say about other conflicts. I am not Kurdish but as a compassionate human being it is my duty to stand up in solidarity with the brave resistance in Kobanê, and inthe name of humanity.

Today thousands of protestors gathered in Westminster in solidarity with Kobanê and as I suspected non Kurdish protestors were but a handful. I did however speak to one, Aubrey, who said he was absolutely horrified at the lack of support from outside the Kurdish community. For me its not about supporting what the YPG / YPJ / PKK stand for, its about inaction when innocent people are faced with a massacre. Without urgent action, Kobane and other towns and villages in the region are destined to become the modern era Srebrenicas; we can only pray history does not repeat itself.