Yesterday 10,000 Kurds demonstrated in Diyarbakir in support of Kobane, the Kurdish town on the Syrian/Turkey border besieged by ISIS.

Diyarbakir Kobane

This was international day for Kobane and whilst demonstrations across Europe were held, hundreds of Kurds also gathered at the Syrian border overlooking the town that has become a symbol for both the resistance to ISIS and the resurgence of the Kurdish question.

Visiting the region as part of a delegation to find out how the refugees from Kobane feel about the heroic defence of their home town and what assistance people from the UK can give, I am trying to put Kobane onto perspective.

The Turkish President, Erdoğan, has asked why Kobane and not another town was becoming the focus of attention. He pointed out that only about 4,000 people are left there whereas other towns have bigger population who are also being besieged.

Kobane is strategic to ISIS due to is location, to Turkey due to is closeness to the Turkish border and strategic for the Kurds as it stands in the middle of the region of Rojova where Kurdish forces influenced for many years by the ideas of the PKK have established a democratic autonomy where an alternative to Syrian, Turkish or ISIS rule has created peace for the people.

The question now is how to not only save Kobane but how the democratic alternative which Rojova represents can be preserved and become a model for other people in the Middle East.

Immediately a corridor through Turkey to allow supplies, arms and reinforcements to get through should be established. This should include PKK fighters, but Turkey will not allow that without huge pressure from within and from its allies.

However it also requires an effort on the part of those people in the Middle East who wish to see an end to violence and sectarian division and their allies in Europe to champion the right of people to defend themselves and to determine a democratic solution.

In the struggle for Kobane an opportunity has opened up to see a future that is worth fighting for.

– Stephen Smellie is Secretary of UNISON South Lanarkshire, Scotland. He is visiting the Kurdish region as part of a trade union delegation


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Stephen Smellie

Stephen Smellie is Secretary of UNISON South Lanarkshire

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