Below is a letter I recently sent to MPs in the UK... ------------------------------------
I am writing to you because I believe that the experiences of democratic autonomy in the Kurdish regions of northern Syria (known as Rojava) are an example of the real path forward in the Middle East. The Rojava Revolution has represented women’s liberation, secularism, humanism, and humanitarianism. Its defence forces, the YPG and YPJ, have managed to fight back Islamist extremists (including ISIS) for the last two years, but have not received any international support. The Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq, meanwhile, have received significant support from European governments, even though they have been less effective in the fight against ISIS.
I recognise that one of the main reasons for lack of support for Rojava’s Revolution is its ideological links to the post-2000 beliefs of the PKK (which fought against the oppressive Turkish State from the 1980s onwards and is considered a terrorist group as a result). The PKK has sought a more peaceful path since the imprisonment of its leader in 1999, and last year entered into peace negotiations with the Turkish government. The group’s increasingly peaceful position should be considered as a reason to take the PKK off Europe’s list of terrorist organisations, especially when we consider that the group and its allies have played a very important part in the fight against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria (saving numerous Yazidi civilians from a violent ISIS offensive in August 2014 in Shingal (western Iraq)) [See http://kurdishquestion.com/kurdistan/south-kurdistan/yazidi-girl-kidnapped-by-isis-speaks/245-yazidi-girl-kidnapped-by-isis-speaks.html%5D.
A second point I wish to make is that Turkey has been accused of complicity with ISIS, leaving ISIS-controlled border crossings between Syria and Turkey open whilst closing Kurdish-controlled crossings. In spite of the PKK’s attempts to bring peace to Turkey, and greater democratic control to its Kurdish citizens, Turkey is clearly worried about the influence that democratic autonomy in Kurdish Syria could have an influence on its own significant Kurdish population. There have been no military assaults on the Turkish State that would suggest such fears are legitimate. Nonetheless, Turkey’s hostility to Kurds in Rojava is contributing to an escalation in tensions between Kurds and the Turkish State. With the recent influx of refugees from Kobanê (under attack from all sides apart from the north by ISIS), Turkey’s aggressive attitude has been proven. Refugees have been left waiting at the border for days, and have often been treated like animals when they have finally arrived in Turkey [See https://news.vice.com/article/kobane-residents-remain-defiant-as-islamic-state-closes-in?utm_source=vicenewstwitter%5D.
Those refugees who have subsequently tried to head back to Kobanê to help the YPG and YPJ protect the city from ISIS have been stopped from crossing back into Syria by Turkish soldiers [See http://www.kurdishinfo.com/permission-return-kobane and http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/26/kurds-rush-across-turkey-defend-kobani-isis-syria?CMP=twt_gu%5D.
The same, unfortunately, cannot be said about ISIS fighters, who for months have been able to cross back and forth over the border without any opposition from Turkish forces.
To conclude, I believe that Turkey’s apparent opposition to the peace process with Kurds should be highlighted in the EU, exemplified by Turkish soldiers’ treatment of Kurdish Syrian refugees and of Turkish Kurds who wish to support the anti-ISIS resistance in Kobanê. I also believe that the PKK should be rewarded for its attempts to bring about peace in Turkey, and also for its fight against ISIS. I hope that you will look further into these issues (I don’t expect you to believe my comments blindly without undertaking your own research) and that you will highlight the issues I have mentioned where possible.
I thank you in advance for your attention.