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Supporting Rojava

The Labour Party Annual Conference 2021

Centre for Kurdish Progress’ & Kurdish People’s Assembly’s Fringe: Supporting Rojava

o Speaker: Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP

o Speaker: Massoud Kasso, UK Representative of – Syrian Democratic Council (SDC)

o Speaker: Rohash Shexo, Congra Star Representative in UK

o Speaker: Simon Dubbins, Unite the Union

o Speaker: Navendu Mishra MP

Event Summary:

o The Centre for Kurdish Progress hosted a panel on the situation in Rojava. The panel was chaired by Navendu Mishra the MP for Stockport, he was joined by: Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP, Simon Dubbins from UNITE, Rohash Shexo Congra Star Representative in UK and Massoud Kasso SDC Representative in UK

o Rohash discussed the role of women in Rojava. Rohash explained the vital and central role that women play in Rojava, both politics, civil society and the military. Rohash argued that the term “Arab Spring” should be rejected, because Kurds, Assyrians and other groups in the Middle East also rose up against the Assad government to stand up for Human Rights. Rohash continued that democratic values are deeply meaningful to the people of Rojava, because this protects the rights of women and minorities in Syria. Rohash felt that it was necessary and crucial for women to organise and protect themselves in Rojava, and that it was necessary for men to be educated and supportive on these issues. Rohash continued that issues such as ecology are also being prioritised in Rojava, perhaps for the first time in the Middle East. She concluded by forcefully condemning the Turkish assault on Afrin in 2018 and the resulting refugee crisis, which Rohash argued was an attack on democracy itself.

o Lloyd discussed visiting Rojava as an MP, and leading the APPG on the Kurdish people. Lloyd praised the efforts of the Rojavan Kurds for resisting and repelling both the Assad regime and ISIS. Lloyd also stated that there must be no revisionism about the Assad regimes treatment of Kurds Pre-2011. Assad was as repressive against the Kurds as Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Lloyd further praised the concept of Democratic Confederalism that had taken hold in Syria, noting that it had enabled Rojava to be a bastion of progress and freedom whilst much of Syria collapsed in to civil war or religious extremism between 2011-2017. Lloyd argued that Britain should do more to support Rojava against Turkey and Turkish expansionism. He continued that if Rojava falls then the thousands of ISIS Prisoners of war will likely escape and be free to continue their campaign of terror in Syria and worldwide.

o Massoud spoke of his desire to represent not just Kurds, but all people of North East Syria on behalf of the SDC. Massoud noted that the Syrian Civil War had raged for over a decade, with no sustainable peace in sight. Massoud asked for the Labour Party and the UK in general to stand beside the Rojavan people against the combined forces of Russia, Assad and Turkey. Massoud spoke of his desire to allow the millions of displaced Syrian refugees to return home, and for support to be given to those refugees in the meantime. Massoud lamented that the Rojavans only wish to live in peace, but have been forced to take up arms to defend themselves and Democratic speakers.

o Simon discussed the work of UNITE the union to support the Kurds. Simon argued that the DNA of the Trade Union movement is routed in supporting the oppressed wherever they are. Simon cited the Siege of Kobane as a turning point, where the Erdogan government refused to allow Peshmerga forces to cross Turkey to fight ISIS. Simon argued that the Turkish government is at war with the Kurdish people in general, be they in Turkey, Syria or Iraq.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle FRSA  is a Labour and Co-operative Party politician who was elected as the Member of Parliament for Brighton Kemptown in the 2017 general election.

Massoud Kasso, UK Representative of – Syrian Democratic Council (SDC)

Rohash Shexo, Congra Star Representative in UK

Navendu Mishra is a Labour Party politician who has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Stockport since 2019

Simon Dubbins – director of international & research at Unite the Union.