British firefighters back Kobane, slams Turkey

November 8, 2014

The statement below was released by the British Fire Brigades Union (FBU).


The FBU Executive Council is appalled by the ongoing siege of the predominantly Kurdish town of Kobane in northern Syria by Islamic State (IS) forces.

The executive council notes:

• The IS attack on Kobane and resistance of Kurdish and other local forces.
• The role of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE (all British/US allies) in building, assisting and encouraging the growth of IS.
• The particular role of the Turkish government in allowing money, arms and fighters across the border to build support for IS.
• The role of Turkey at various times in obstructing the flight of Kurdish and other refugees and in blocking any support for predominantly Kurdish defenders of Kobane, thereby increasing the power and influence of IS and likelihood of collapse of opposition to it.

As the union of firefighting humanitarian professionals, we believe it is right to warn of the prospects of a massacre and to demand that governments (including the British government) act to prevent atrocities.

As professionals who have to deal with international humanitarian disasters as well as the effects of terrorism on our own doorstep, we cannot passively fold our arms and do nothing in the face of a likely massacre.

We send our message of solidarity to the workers’ groups in Turkey, Iran and Iraq, including the Kurdish workers’ groups. We believe these are the progressive forces that can oppose oppressive governments and reactionary and sectarian forces of all types, and can best guarantee workers’ rights and ensure democratic relations between the peoples of the region.

We support the right of Kurdish people across the Middle East to self-determination, including their right to defend themselves against attack from IS.

We oppose the horrific brutality of IS and its sectarian and murderous behaviour towards peoples of the region. We condemn the Turkish government’s comments equating Kurdish fighters (including the defenders of Kobane) with IS.

We have no confidence in a US/British/French bombing campaign against IS, based on the bitter experience of such efforts in the past decade and on the appalling role played by the Turkish government and other key western allies in the region.

We demand that:

• The Turkish government lifts border obstructions to refugees.
• The Turkish government allows relief efforts, including by opening a relief corridor to the Kurds and other forces defending Kobane.

We call for the Trade Union Congress to raise these matters urgently, including with the Turkish embassy, the British government and with trade unions in Europe and elsewhere. We call for international trade union solidarity and support for the defenders of Kobane.

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