On Tuesday 15 October, people gathered around the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh to show solidarity towards Kurdish people in North-East Syria, also known as Rojava.
The mainly-Kurdish group People’s Defence Units (YPG) had formed the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in 2015, in an effort to liberate North-East Syria, or Rojava, from the Islamic State (IS). In March 2019, the SDF announced IS’s total defeat in Syria.
This all changed on 7 October, when the Trump Administration announced withdrawal of US troops from Northern Syria aiding the SDF, leaving Syrian Kurdish people vulnerable to the Turkish regime’s attack.
Following this withdrawal, ‘Operation Peace Spring’ began on 9 October. This operation was the Turkish offensive into Rojava against the SDF, led by the Turkish Armed Forces and Turksh-led Syrian National Army.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that the operation’s aim is to expel the SDF from Northern Syria, to make way for resettlement of Syrian refugees in Turkey.
Proposed resettlement areas were heavily Kurdish, provoking criticisms that the Turkish regime planned to drive Kurdish people out of their homeland of Rojava.
According to the UN, at least 160,000 civilians have been displaced from the offensive. The Edinburgh protest on Tuesday was hosted by Kurdish Community Centre Edinburgh.
A Scottish-Kurdish solidarity banner and YPG flags were held by protesters, and speeches were held throughout.
Speeches addressed how the Turkish regime is working with mercenaries who have fought with Al-Qaida and IS, reminding the public about last year’s ‘Operation Olive Branch,’ a Turkish offensive against the majority-Kurdish region of Afrin in Northwest Syria, that “Our better world is under attack more than ever […] join the struggle and remember that resistance is life.”
There will be a bigger protest at the Scottish National Gallery on Sunday 20 October, which is supported by local wings of left-wing groups such as Mutual Aid, People & Planet, UCU, Extinction Rebellion, and Green Anti-Capitalist Front.
Rojava solidarity has been ongoing in the UK, and just last week, London has hosted a ‘Rise up for Rojava’ rally that attracted 20,000 people.
Image: Shinwoo Kim