By Ed Emery, originally published in effimera.org. On 19 May 2019, Italian author and political...
Sunday 6th of March saw the first national demonstration in solidarity with the Kurdish struggle in the Middle East. The demo called for the Turkish state to stop its war on the Kurds in both Bakur (South-East Turkey) and over the border in Rojava (the autonomous northern region of Syria which has seen a Kurdish led social revolution). Between eight and ten thousand people gathered in London to support this demand, marching from BBC Broadcasting House to Trafalgar square. It was loud, vibrant, colourful and angry.
This demonstration was a good opportunity to see the current strength of the Kurdish solidarity movement in the UK, and to work on developing it. As well as the Kurdish and Turkish communities and organised structures, there were elements of the radical left (including a large Anti-Fascist Network bloc), large solidarity groups from across the country, and the beginnings of trade union support visible at the demonstration. The wider British left though was still noticeable by its absence, though we recognise the Kurdish question is a relatively new one for large parts of the British left and one of our political tasks has to be expanding this conversation across political scenes and traditions.
As part of our Rojava Solidarity Cluster, Plan C worked across the country to support the demo. Our members in London participated in the demo organising committee, we organised coaches from Manchester and Birmingham, and also transport from Leeds and Brighton. We were excited to be able to bring over a hundred people from around the country to London for this first national demonstration, and look forward to further developing this capacity to bring people onto the streets.
We used some of the money from the community fund of our 3k in 31 days fundraiser – which overshot and raised 5k – to help buy the front banner for the demo, at the request of the Kurdish Community Centre. We also contributed to the stewarding team on the day. On the demo itself, we marched with Leeds, Liverpool and Brighton Friends of Rojava. In our time on the platform during the rally we reiterated our support for the Kurdish struggles and ongoing participation in solidarity work. One of our members who couldn’t come to the demonstration did a teach in for children about the situation in Rojava.
The revolution in Rojava and the attempts at self-determination in Bakur are a flame of feminism, democracy and anti-fascism and we hope this demonstration is one of the first steps to large scale support for the struggle here in the U.K. Through organising for this event we have built stronger relationships with other Kurdish solidarity projects and hope to maintain these in the future. With ISIS on one side of the border and the increasingly authoritarian Turkish State on the other, the political stakes in Rojava and Bakur couldn’t be higher.
Long Live the Rojava Revolution!