Greens MP: Lift the ban on PKK

November 6, 2015
World Kobane Day rally Sydney November 1.

Greens MP Jamie Parker gave this speech at the Sydney rally for World Kobane Day on November 1.

* * *

I'm here in solidarity with the people of Kobane and with all Kurds.

I have spoken about the YPG and YPJ before, but now I also want to speak about the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

In this country there is only one party in the parliament, the Australian Greens, which fully supports the unbanning of the PKK. The PKK is not a terrorist organisation and we have stood against its banning since 2005, when the government first sought to list the PKK as a terrorist organisation.

In 2006, after it was listed, we moved in the Senate to disallow the law that would make it a terrorist organisation. We were defeated by the combined forces of Labor and the Coalition. They had many excuses. They said to us, well there's no ceasefire, it's very difficult and many other excuses.

Then, in 2013, the PKK took a very important and historic step. It declared a ceasefire, and despite that, and despite the work of the PKK in standing up for the people of Kobane and all Kurds, and also for Arabs, Asyrians, Yazidi, and so on, the government, Labor and Liberal, still refuse to lift the ban on the PKK.

I encourage you all to write to your local member of parliament and say that the PKK is part of the democratic solution for the Kurdish people and for the whole region.

Our government says it is fighting a war on terror but it is fighting the only organisations — the YPG, the YPJ, the PKK — who are the effective fighting force on the ground. They are the ones who are sacrificing their lives in defence of the people of that region.

We need to make sure the Australian government acknowledges this work and recognises that groups like the PKK are a critical part of the solution and we should drop the terrorism ban on that organisation.

It is critical that we ensure the Australian government pressures Turkey to introduce a humanitarian corridor. There needs to be support, aid and reconstruction materials taken into Kobane and all the other cities that have been devastated by war.

Australia is a middle power in the world but it is a power that can stand and speak clearly and openly in support of freedom. It can support the organisations that are fighting on the ground, both Arab and Kurdish, to make sure the region is liberated for the people, by the people.

Early this year the NSW Greens reaffirmed our position of lifting the ban on the PKK, and we took that motion to the Australian Greens National Council in July. Despite the criticism that we were weak on terrorism for supporting the lifting of the ban on the PKK, and despite other attacks from the Labor and Liberal parties and the Turkish government, we reaffirmed our position in July this year.

We will continue to fight for the lifting of the ban in the state parliament and the federal parliament and on the streets shoulder to shoulder with you.

I commit myself personally to work with you. I will work very hard to convince the other parties and importantly the Australian people that the fight the Kurdish people are undertaking is a fight for justice and it's a fight we must win.

Long live Kobane!

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