PRESS RELEASE FROM THE NORTH LONDON GREEN PARTIES:
North London Greens pledge support for Kurdish autonomy
Green Party General Election candidates from six North London constituencies have called for the British Government to lift the ban on the Kurdistan Workers Party (the PKK) and for the PKK to be removed from the list of banned ‘terrorist’ organisations. Speaking at a meeting of North London’s Kurdish community with London Green MEP Jean Lambert, candidates agreed that the PKK poses no threat to the people of Britain. The PKK has never been designated as a terrorist organisation by the United Nations and most European Union governments have not listed it as a terrorist group. The British government has taken a particularly harsh stance, which is closer to that of the US.
‘Kurdish peoples across four Middle Eastern countries have been striving for self-determination and democracy for many years,’ said Dee Searle (candidate for Tottenham), who came into direct contact with Kurdish human rights activists during her years working for Amnesty International. ‘Their bravery and determination left a lasting impression.’ David Flint (candidate for Enfield North), who visited Kurdish areas in Turkey last year, spoke of his positive experiences of Kurdish society.
The meeting, held at the Kurdish Community Centre in Portland Gardens in Harringay last Thursday (2 April), was arranged to discuss Green Party policies for the General Election. High on the agenda was the threat from Islamic State militants to the autonomous canton of Kobane in northern Syria, where around 100 Western volunteers - including some Britons - are fighting as part of the 30,000-strong Kurdish forces. Members of the audience asked for international military and humanitarian aid to help Kobane’s residents defend themselves from Islamic State and to rebuild areas that were destroyed by the US-led bombardment that helped to drive out the militants.
‘Kobane was a city of more than 200,000 people who had to flee for their lives,’ said Michelle Allison, of the Kurdish Community Centre, who chaired the meeting. ‘They are now living in very bad conditions in refugee camps in Turkey with inadequate food. They need to be able to return to rebuild Kobane and to be able to defend themselves. They need weapons to protect themselves.’
Gordon Peters (candidate for Hornsey and Wood Green) applauded the Kurds’ resistance against Islamic State, saying that he admired the people of Kobane for their participative democracy with a commitment to preserving the environment. Jean Lambert paid tribute to the society of Rojava, the Kurdish Syrian region, for its emphasis on women’s equality. Heather Finlay (candidate for Hackney North and Stoke Newington) recalled collaborating locally with members of the Kurdish community to protect health services. Caroline Russell (candidate for Islington North) described working with Kurdish people and other community members on local traffic issues.
Representatives of the Kurdish Community Centre said their existence was under threat because the UK Charities Commission frequently accused them – erroneously – of political activities which contravene charity laws. Charlotte George (candidate for Hackney South and Shoreditch) said this was unfair and that the Charities Commission needs to do more to address genuinely bogus charities.
Green Party policies to introduce a living wage of £10 an hour by 2020, create good jobs, ensure fair rents and secure tenancies in private rented accommodation, build council homes, preserve the NHS and other public services, and tackle climate change were warmly received by the meeting. ‘Many Kurdish people support Green policies’, said Michelle Allison.
Dee Searle, PPC for Tottenham, 07504 963053
Gordon Peters, PPC for Hornsey and Wood Green, 7866 770718
Charlotte George, PPC for Hackney South and Shoreditch; firstname.lastname@example.org
Heather Finlay, PPC for Hackney North and Stoke Newington; email@example.com
Caroline Russell, PPC for Highbury East and an Islington Councillor; firstname.lastname@example.org
David Flint, PPC for Enfield North; email@example.com
Jean Lambert, MEP; firstname.lastname@example.org
PS people in attached pic are, from left to right; Michelle, David, Jean of course, Charlotte, Gordon, Dee, Heather. Full names and constituencies on p. 2 of PR. Caroline Russell came later and sat on Michelle's right so not visible in photos of 'platform'. Photo Esra Turk