Moreland City councillor Sue Bolton gave this speech to a rally in solidarity with Kobani in Melbourne on October 25.
There are two reasons to support the Kurds of Kobane. One reason is humanitarian: to prevent a massacre. The other reason is to protect and defend the building of an alternative society which should be a beacon for all left and progressive people in the world.
Some sections of the left in Australia and around the world have not come out in support of the Kurds of Kobane. My response is that it is necessary to defend the Kurds in Rojava and not just oppose US imperialism. It’s not enough to just campaign for the abstract idea of socialism. We have to defend attempts to build an alternative society.
The US was shamed into dropping some limited weapons to the Kurds. The initial US bombing was targeted so that it would not be helpful to the Kurdish defenders of Kobane.
As the struggle for Kobane has gone on, the world’s media have started to cover some of the struggle, so more and more people have learned what the Kurds in Rojava are building. People have been inspired by the heroism of the Kurdish defenders of Kobane. Solidarity protests have been getting bigger and bigger. The US came under huge pressure to act and was forced to provide limited weapons.
Many have noted the hypocrisy of Western imperialist governments talking tough about fighting Islamic State (IS), when the real fight against IS is being waged on the ground by the People’s Protection Units and Women’s Protection Units and the defenders of Kobane.
If the West were serious it would immediately supply artillery, anti-tank missiles and armoured vehicles to Kobane to offset the heavy weaponry used by IS.
The Kurds in Syria are building a society that should be a model for the Middle East — a society where the rights of minority religions and minority ethnic groups are protected, and where there is a revolution in women’s rights.
The US doesn’t want to support the Kurds in Rojava because it is using sectarianism to keep compliant governments in power in various countries in the Middle East.
In Australia, the Kurdish community has come under pressure as a result of the government keeping the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) [a militant group who fought an armed struggle against Turkey for self-determination until last year] on the terrorist list. In 2010, ASIO raided the Kurdish community in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth to try to prove links with the PKK.
The PKK are freedom fighters, no different to the French Resistance against the Nazis. The PKK and other national liberation movements, such as the Tamil Tigers, must be removed from the list of terrorist organisations.
While NATO has armed the IS, anyone collecting funds for the defenders of Kobane could be prosecuted under so-called anti-terror laws. Keeping these organisations on the terrorist list is very problematic for communities. For example, Tamils were targeted under the anti-terror laws for raising money for tsunami relief. The Kurdish Association building in Pascoe Vale was firebombed in 2011 and burnt down.
The Socialist Alliance calls for:
• Arms for the defenders of Kobane.
• Opening the border with Turkey and an aid corridor for Kurds.
• End Turkish support for IS.
• Remove the PKK from Australian terrorist list: they are freedom fighters not terrorists.