The fight between the savagery of the self-styled ‘Islamic state’ and the Kurdish YPG defence militias represents a fight for survival between two fundamentally opposing views of civilisation, and those with even the most basic grasp of progressive ideas must decide today which side they are on and act.
So was told a gathering in Belfast’s Conway mill on Saturday 12th September 2015. The public meeting ‘Eyewitness from Syria ‘featured contributions from the mother of a fallen English YPG fighter who was killed in action in March this year and a 62 year old who himself had volunteered for action with the Kurdish Resistance.
Vicci Scurfield, mother of Konstandinos Erik Scurfield – the first English fighter to die fighting in defence of the Kurdish people – travelled to Belfast along with 62 year old former archaeologist Alan Brooke who himself volunteered for action with the YPG. Although being turned down for active service due to his age, Alan was taken on a tour of the Qandil mountain region considered a liberated zone of the Kurdish resistance. There he was introduced to the PKK leadership and shown around the guerrilla camps before being urged by the resistance fighters to return home and build support for their cause.
Both speakers gave acute in-depth and moving reasons for why international fighters are travelling to defend the Kurdish people from the brutal onslaught of ISIS and why it is vital that others with progressive mindsets here do all in their power to give practical support to the YPG.
Vicci Scurfield described her son in the most ordinary of terms stressing the humanity of the young man who spent his short life immersing himself in a myriad of lifestyle activities; an aspiring actor and literature enthusiast who spent his 21st birthday hiking across the Alps in order to complete National Service in Greece (her native country) before taking up boxing and becoming a Royal Marine Commando in England.
She described how ‘Kosta’ (as he was affectionately known) became increasingly sympathetic to radical ideas on reading reports of the gallant resistance put up by Kurdish resistance at Kobane, which she described as ‘turning the tide against ISIS’. Determined to ‘even up the odds against the savagery of the so called ‘Islamic State’, Kosta walked out on the Marines by stating to them plainly ‘let me go or I will desert’.
In December 2013 he made his mother aware that he intended to go fight for the YPG at which point she tried to prevent him from doing so, but to no avail. She described how after only 10 days he took part in the rescue of over 5000 encircled Yazidis on the Sinjar Mountain in north western Iraq, helping them escape an encirclement that promised certain death.
Describing Islamic State as no less than a Cult of death, a criminal empire engaged in wholesale slaughter, rape and oppression, Vikki described in vivid detail how its followers profited from industrial scale child sexual exploitation, slavery and theft.
Chillingly she spelt out the rights of non followers under the rule of Islamic State…. ‘If they want your house? Your dead, if they want your jewellery? Your dead, if they want your six year old daughter? Your dead’.
Worryingly, Vikki described how at least 30 foreign ISIS fighters came from Ireland and how in logistical terms Islamic State were in no way defeated and how Airstrikes by both the Turkish and Nato governments were aimed more so at tempering the growing power of the progressive liberated Kurdish areas than at I.S itself. She finished by stating her own belief that the only truly progressive force in the region was the Kurdish resistance and appealed on those present to do all in their power to provide practical support to the resistance fighters of the YPG.
Alan Brooke described with the aid of a slideshow, the logistical and political terrain within which the Kurdish resistance operate as well as explaining in great depth, the theoretical backbone of the Kurdish movement ‘democratic con-federalism’ applied in a Kurdish its unprecedented commitment to equality, democracy and women’s rights.
Alan described the conflict situation as representing a clash of views on the purpose of civilisation itself, stressing how ‘Islamic State’ followed a world-view in which a savage state ensured that women and minorities would be oppressed and where barbarity and intolerance were the order of the day, whereas on the other hand the Kurdish resistance were attempting to create communities based on compassion, tolerance and Socialism.
Echoing his comrade Vicci who finished by stating …’the best of Humanity have gone to join the YPG, while the worst have joined ISIS’ Alan finished by urging those in attendance to form active support groups on the ground which could provide practical assistance to the YPG.
The Belfast Kurdish community where in fine attendance on the day, and as a result valuable links were forged between Local Republican Socialists and our International comrades.
The Republican Socialist movement would like to thank all those who attended to make the day such a memorable success and take this opportunity to echo the calls of our visitors who rightly stressed the importance of giving active support for the Kurdish resistance, in defence of Socialism and in opposition to barbarism.