Category: Syria (page 1 of 2)

Lies, lies and more lies…

Recently the Henry Jackson Society has seen fit to publish a report claiming that foreign fighters joining the YPG/J have actually joined the PKK.  My blood has been boiling ever since. because of the amount of inaccuracies it contained. 

I wrote to the society pointing out the errors they had made with regards to my son Kosta. They never had the decency to respond. The sad thing is that they are supposedly a think tank that influences government policy If they have made so many errors with regards to my son what other ones are there and how far can they actually be trusted? I’d like to think that the government has more sense than to believe anything that comes out of this society however my confidence is zero. Wasn’t the pretext for the war with Iraq based on a dissertation? Just goes to show, huh? It appears that this society is currently under investigation by the charity commission and has no transparency as to funding. Makes you think…

This is exactly how fake news is propagated.

Here is what they said about Kosta. (The full report is available here: http://henryjacksonsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/3053-PYD-Foreign-Fighter-Project-1.pdf)

KONSTANDINOS ERIK SCURFIELD
Codename: Heval Kemal
Date of birth: 22 September 1989
Date joined YPG: December 2014
Date of death: 2 March 2015
Age: 25
Sex: Male
Place of origin: Barnsley, Britain
Occupation: Military
Kurdish descent: No
Military background: Yes
Prior militant ties: None known
Konstandinos Scurfield, often known as “Kosta”, had been artistically inclined in high school, and expressed a desire to be an actor.  At 20 years old, he changed direction and volunteered for national service in Greece – something made  possible by his Greek background.  Scurfield served six months, mostly consisting of sentry duty. After returning to the UK, he joined the Royal Marines and excelled as a battlefield medic. Scurfield’s mother says her son told her on Christmas Day 2013 that he was going to “go to Syria and help” because “the Kurds are dying and our government’s doing nothing”.  Scurfield resigned from the British military in September 2014, got in contact with a YPG  recruiter through the Facebook page for the Lions of Rojava unit, flew to northern Iraq, where the PKK retains its  headquarters in the Qandil Mountains, and was soon in battle in Sinjar. According to a man known as Macer Gifford, a British YPG operative (profiled in Section 3.3), Scurfield “had no time for people who didn’t believe in the cause”, and became agitated about foreign fighters who came to Syria and did not heed the instructions of the YPG. Scurfield was killed in an IS ambush near Tel Hamis, a key town from which the YPG had expelled IS on 27 February 2015. Pro-PYD/YPG activists in Britain relayed confirmation from Jordan Matson (profiled in THE FORGOTTEN FOREIGN FIGHTERS: THE PKK IN SYRIA

Here is my response. 

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to you with grave concerns about a recent report posted on your website titled: ‘The Forgotten Foreign Fighters: The PKK in Syria’, published on your website on the 18th of August.

In this report there is a profile of my deceased son Erik K Scurfield. I am sorry to have to inform you there appears to be an absence of academic rigor in the research done by the author, leading to errors that can only highlight a lack of professionalism in your Society.

  1. The author states that Kosta left the British military September. This is an error. He actually left the British military quite a bit after that. A bit of real research will soon establish exactly when.
  2. The author states that Kosta landed in Sulaymaniya airport and uses this to make a massive, unevidenced inference that he must therefore have joined the proscribed terrorist organisation PKK. The author seems to have based this on the fact that Sulaymaniya airport is in ‘close’ proximity to the Qandil mountains which is where the PKK is based. If one is to accept this argument (that proximity to a place means he must have therefore joined the faction that is based there), then it stands to reason that he joined the Kurdish PUK based in Sulaymaniya, or the KRG Peshmerga based in Erbil which is closer to Sulaymaniya than the Qandil mountains. Since this is very weak argument based on the sort of illogical leap that one wouldn’t even expect to find in GCSE essay, I am surprised to find that a so-called reputable think tank could countenance it. It is quite clear to even the meanest intelligence that the Qandil mountains are over 100kms away from Sulaymaniya and as this map  of ISIS positions shows, in 2014 when Kosta joined the YPG, travelling through Northern Kurdistan was likely the only safe, and prudent, way into Northern Syria. It is not evidence of an ideological and military link to the PKK.
  3. The author of this report then also infers that the use of the word ‘cause’ that Kosta allegedly used, indicates a link to the PKK. I’d like to point out that 1) there is no evidence that my son used this word at all, 2) that it is actually third hand information – (someone said that someone said that someone said) and that a sound academic researcher should, at the very least, have tried to contact the original speaker (Macer Gifford) in order to ascertain the truth behind the statement. Reading the report as written by Mr Matt Blake, (cited by the author in the bibliography), will soon show that the ‘cause’ referred to by Macer Gifford is the fight against ISIS terrorism. Even without that, how can any report purport to be serious when it relies on hearsay? Finally, there is clear evidence, spoken by my son, recorded in his own voice and available widely in the public domain that his sole motivation for going out to Syria was to fight ISIS. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAKP2EAMA-g where it is clear he was joining to fight ISIS. It would take some extreme mental gymnastics to allege otherwise.

The author states that the PKK and the YPG are the same organisation. He doesn’t pose this as a theory and provide arguments, which would be a sounder academic approach, instead he states it as if it is a fact.

I would like to point out that currently British law does not support this. Under the current status quo, the PKK is proscribed and the YPG is not. These two organisations have different names, exist in different countries and are fighting different battles. The YPG itself, and its political arm the PYD, clearly state that they are not part of the PKK and have distanced themselves from it in the past.

YPJ fighters. (Photo taken from http://kurdishquestion.com/article/3966-modern-feminism-why-we-should-learn-from-kurdish-women)

My son was very careful, researched the YPG thoroughly, and was actually thoroughly investigated, in turn, by the British military and the Scottish anti-terror police before he went to Syria. To claim that my son joined the PKK is to impugn not only his memory but also the investigative abilities of both these organisations. Stating that something is a fact does not make it so, as so many politicians have recently found to their dismay, however let’s imagine, for a moment, that this is correct and that the two organsiations are one and the same. Given the sacrifices, the lives lost, the ground support that the YPG have given to the coalition and the wonderful progress made by the YPG in the fight against the terrorist caliphate cult of ISIS, it would seem to indicate a pretty good case for the de-listing of the PKK. Instead the author suggests the criminalisation of the young people who have gone over there to support democratic values, gender equality and the right of human beings to live free of oppression.

It disturbs me that a reputable organisation should endorse a report that contains errors, misdirection, and badly evidenced and argued points, and as a result is contributing to the spread of fake news. I am further disappointed that the researcher seems to have forgotten a basic tenet of research and that is the importance of primary source material.  He has made no attempt to contact any of the relatives of the deceased men he mentions, or speak to the people he accuses to get a balanced, unbiased viewpoint, and seems to have indulged in a sort of spurious cut and paste academia that is shameful. What I also find nauseating and rather disgusting is the author has put these fighters and, more importantly, their families at risk from ISIS. It is true that ISIS could do its own internet research and find out the information, but the author has provided a handy directory of names and other information that makes it all just that bit easier for them.

I look forward to hearing from you soon about the action you’re proposing to take to amend the errors and misrepresentations in the section about my son. If you choose to leave this factually erroneous report on your website then please respect my right to reply and post this letter- in its entirety, with no amendments, where it can be seen in conjunction with the report.

An apology would also be nice.

Yours faithfully,

Vasiliki Scurfield.

Since they haven’t even had the decency to respond…

Learning about the Yezidi faith

 

Many thanks to A Burjus for answering my questions and being prepared to share his personal view of his religion with me.  In an effort to retain his voice I have largely posted his replies unadulterated.

Disclaimer: Please understand that this blog interview is a very subjective, personal view of the Ezidi faith and does not claim to be an exhaustive, academic account. Neither does it claim to represent the views of all Ezidi people.
Q: Welcome and many thanks for agreeing to share your religion with us. How do you like to be called? I’ve seen your religion written Yezidi, or Ezidi- what do you like it to be called? How did your religion come about?
 
A:
Before I answer your question, I would like to mention that there is very little true information about the religion because Ezidis have faced 74 genocides and hundreds of ethnic cleansings in their history. In addition, the Ezidi were not permitted to write about their religion in Iraq and Syria, where the majority of Ezidis are living, until 2003. In addition, Ezidi people were forced to live in villages and rural area where very little or no education was available. As a result, the Ezidi couldn’t write information about their religion, traditions and so on during the computer or electronic era. At the same time, many Muslim writers especially Iraqi-Arabs have written much incorrect information about Ezidis and their religion and until now there are hundreds of books and electronic pages filled with wrong information about Ezidis and their religion.
The correct name is Ezidi ( Ezi = God in our language) and the whole word means ‘God followers’, but, Yazidi or Yezidi is also true and is used more than Ezidi in the press and media. Quote: (Since their founding many thousands of years ago in India, these people have always been known as the Yezidis or Yazidis. According to Eszter Spat in The Yezidis, the name is derived from ez Xwede dam, meaning “I was created by God.” Some Yezidis maintain that it translates as “Followers of the true path.” The term Yezidi or Yazidi is also very close to the Persion/Zoroastrian word Yazdan, meaning “God“, and Yazata, meaning “divine” or “angelic being“.
For this reason some scholars have theorized a Persian origin for the Yezidis. Other scholars have associated the name Yazidi with Yazid bin Muawiyah, a Moslem Caliph of the early Umayyad Dynasty. According to the current Yezidi belief, however, the Yazidi religion has nothing at all to do with Yazidi bin Muawiyah, the Amoy leader and we believe that the Caliph Yazid was a Moslem ruler who eventually became disenchanted with his religion and converted to Yezidism). Source http://www.yeziditruth.org/the_yezidis
Q: I’ve heard that it is linked to Zoroastrianism. Is this true? Can you give me a brief history?
A: We believe and also many historic researchers believe that Yazidism is the first and very ancient religion on the earth. This means Yazidism is even older than Zoroastrianism. Yazidism and Zoroastrianism have many common links as both sanctify the four elements which are water, soil, wind and fire.
Q: What are the main ideas in your religion? Who do you worship?
A: We believe in One God and 7 angels. We call the head of the Angels Taws Malak or Peacock Angel.  Many people believe that the Yazidi worship the Peacock Angel without God!!! And they thought that Peacock Angel is the devil! That’s why they called us Devil Worshippers. Please read in this website more about peacock angel http://www.yeziditruth.org/the_peacock_angel
Q: What are the main festivals?
A: The Yezidi religious year includes four main holy festivals: The New Year, The Feast of Sacrifice, The Feast of Seven Days, Sept 23-30, The first Friday of December feast following three days of fasting.
Q: What is the role of women – are they considered equal? Do they have any religious roles?
A: Women and men are equal in Yezidism…They have the same religious role as men.
Q: What religious artifacts do you like to have in your homes?
A:  We have special shape of temple for all our religious places and I would like to have this artifact in my home…If you googled Lalish Yazidi temple you will see the shape
Q: Do you have any holy texts/ books and what are they called?

A: Our religious texts are memorised or save by heart by special religious groups and they transfer from one person to another(like school). This happens because in our history we believe that the enemy burned all our text and books and the only way to save the religious text was by memorizing by group of special people. We say that we have 2 books but we don’t have them in our hand and we don’t know what they contain!!! Here is some information about those books http://www.yeziditruth.org/yezidi_scriptures
Q: I’ve heard that your religion is very much supportive of wildlife and nature? Is this true and where does it come from? What is the relationship between Yezidism and nature?
A: Yezidism is very supportive to nature. We believe that the all universe and all organisms are made from nature and then we sanctify four natural elements, water, soil, wind and fire. In addition, we sanctify the sun and the moon too because we believe that they are the only source of the energy that the universe and organisms rely on. Also we see the greatness of God from the sun and the natural elements as we say if you think God is not found then think about the power of sun and the nature and you will see the God. I recommend you to read this http://www.yeziditruth.org/yezidi_religious_tradition  But even in this website there’s some incorrect information so please be aware…
Q: Thank you. That is a lot of very interesting information. I have learnt a lot more about the Ezidi faith. Just a few more queries. The special people who memorise the holy stories- can they be women too? I have seen pictures of Sheikhs on facebook, blessing people. Do these exist in your form of faith, who/ what are they and what is their role?
A: Yes they can be women and we have women who tell religious stories or text but the number of men are much more especially within Qawal categories…The Qawels
The Qawels are the bards and sacred singers. They bring forth religious knowledge, sacred hymns, songs and stories at special Yezidi gatherings and ceremonies, and they do so to the accompaniment of flutes, tambourines and other sacred instruments. Their roles are hereditary, and their wisdom is normally passed from parent to child. They reside principally in the Beshiqe-Behzani region of northen Iraq.
Sheikhs, who memorise religious texts, are mainly from the Qawal category as mentioned above however, other people can do that if they want and this is totally dependent on the person him/herself again…for example, my grandfather knows all most all religious text and role in Yazidism but he is not a formal religious leader.

We have also Kochek …The Kocheks, or “seers,” are servants of the Sanctuary of Lalish. Because they are blessed with spiritual gifts, such as clairvoyance, they can psychically diagnose illness and they even know the fate of a soul after leaving the body of the deceased. There are only a few Kocheks left, and they mostly reside in the Sinjar Mountains of northern Iraq. The female counterpart of Kocheks are known as Faqras. They are recognized as holy women with supernatural power. Kocheks and Faqras can come from any of the three main castes.

Q: Is anybody writing down any of the information they have memorised?
A: Recently, in 2005, the Ministry of higher Education in Kurdistan-Iraq finally agreed that Yazidi people can study and learn from a religious book called EZIDIATI…This book contains all prayers, traditional, many but not all religious texts and roles…This book is at many levels from primary school to middle school to secondary school…and now the Yazidi children are learning it.
Q: Why is there a preference for white clothing?
A: WHITE CLOTHES are a symbol of peace in our religion so almost all Yazidis
wear white clothes… We mean by that the human heart must be white, and we must act as a peaceful and truthful person.
Q: Does the faith have any formal organisation? Is there any idea yet of the amount of loss to the religion from the Daesh genocide in terms of the people holding the information in their memories?
A: Yazidi have a high spiritual religious committee that runs everything about the religion
Yes, Yazidis have lost some of the religious leaders during Daesh attacks.
Q: And finally what does your religion mean to you? How has it helped you in your life?
A: For me personally, I am not such a religious person but I believe in God and my religion but I am not doing all religious roles such as prayer and so on…My religion means for me a peace. I and all Yazidi people learn how to be a very peaceful people. For example, in one of our prayer we say ”’God please save all people on the earth and all organisms including Yazidis’. This means we are pray for everyone before praying for ourselves as Yazidis. My religion teaches me how to respect other people from different religions on the basis of humanity not religion…This point makes Yazidis  a target because we never ever had targeted any people even when we were powerful  historically and we always forgave those who were killing us.
In conclusion, Yezidism and its roles and traditions are not something obligational for the believer.  I mean our religious people do not force us to pray or carry out religious roles and so on and it totally depends on person and that is the best part about my religion.
Wow, what an interesting and inspiring religion. Thank you so much for sharing this with me and for answering all my questions.

Precious Peacock tiled relief at the City Palace in Udaipur, India

Why won’t the UK help the Kurdish fighters in Northern Syria against ISIS?

I was recently able to meet with some government officials and put my questions to them.

First of all I’d like to express my appreciation for living in a country where I can get involved in political protest, without being arrested and where the authorities are prepared to put time and effort into hearing me and my concerns. My sincere thanks go to the British government for giving me the meeting, for not being patronising and for treating me with respect. Also for answering my questions with due care and attention particularly those questions regarding the progress of ISIS, the role of the UK in Syria and, in particular, why the UK will not engage with the Rojavan Syrian Kurds and consistently denies them any support.The primary reasons for the UK’s reluctance to help the Rojavan Kurds in their struggle against ISIS, as expressed to me by government officials, seem to be these: 

  • There have been human rights abuses in Northern Syria- carried out by the Kurds
  • The YPG/J recruits 17 year olds
  • The YPG/J is linked to the listed terror organisation the PKK.
Let’s look at their first argument.
First of all let me make clear that my views are that any kind of abuse, torture or deaths in custody are inexcusable. So by all means let’s refuse to talk to any country that has such human rights abuses.
 
Going by what I was told therefore, the logical assumption is, (since we don’t talk to, or negotiate with, organisations and governments that commit human rights abuses) none of our allies will be guilty of this.
 
Check out Saudi Arabia:
 
Check out our NATO ally Turkey:

Check out China where many of our goods come from
Check out Israel

Check out the amount of people who have died at the hands of police in the USA- many unarmed 
 
For the sake of interest here is the official letter from the YPG refuting the claims (It’s slightly ungrammatical but you get the gist):
Sadly all these links are simply the tip of the iceberg. Go look for yourself. See what our UK ally Turkey is doing to its own citizens right now, at the time of writing, in Cizre, for example.

I feel quite confident at this point in time that any illegal actions carried out by Rojavan Kurds are not state sanctioned (unlike what appears to be happening in Turkey) and if people are accused of committing heinous acts then they will investigated by the Kurdish government, just as British citizens would, presumably, in similar situations.

I am not claiming that the links or my research are exhaustive and I’m not intending to point a finger at countries or to argue one way or another about whether or not the YPG/J are guilty of the allegations. 

All I’m saying is that there’s en element of hypocrisy in the excuses made by the UK government and it should not hide behind such a paltry excuse when we can see that it has long and, dare I say it, seemingly comfortable liaisons with many countries with deeply concerning human rights records.

This is not a reason not to talk to the YPG/J UK so please- pull the other one!

Regarding the second point: The YPG/J, as far as I am aware, does not have a conscious, active recruitment process focussed on youngsters. Where the authorities are made aware, youngsters are sent home. However, given the upheaval, does everyone have documentation that can clarify age? And what would you do if you were sixteen and nine months and your whole family had been beheaded while you were visiting a relative in a different village? Would you not be inclined to say, ‘I’m going to go after the people who did this so that I can stop it happening to someone else?’ Maybe you’d be inclined to say, ‘No-one is helping us defeat ISIS. No other countries are helping. I guess I just have to help myself!’ What else is left?

The bottom line is that if the UK had offered help earlier, maybe seventeen year old kids wouldn’t need to pick up weapons to defend themselves.

The final point I want to make is about the allegation that the YPG/J is linked to the PKK. Maybe it is but that doesn’t change the fact that it isn’t the PKK. It isn’t a listed organisation.

It is a legal organisation. 

Either list it or get off your butts and help. Hey, who knows, if they had help from elsewhere perhaps they wouldn’t need to be ‘linked’ to the PKK!

My final point is that Britain is talking to countries like Iran, maybe in the future even to Assad and has helped facilitate dialogue with ‘terrorist’ organisations in Northern Ireland. Surely talking to the YPG/J and their political arm the PYD should be easy in comparison since they are NOT LISTED.
 
UK- please! Stop with the lame excuses and help Rojava, the YPG and YPJ. 

Why I want to record everyone abducted or killed by Daesh/ISIS

I am going to make a record of every person killed or abducted by ISIS. This will include combatants and civilians. I hope it will include everyone killed or missing, including the victims of ISIS attacks in Tunisia, Libya and anywhere else.

Why am I doing it?
  • There is no definitive record and there are no proper numbers of people killed or abducted.
  • These people should all be remembered
  •  It will help us in the fight against ISIS as we will have numbers and statistics
  • It will reduce apathy as people link the murders with real people and real faces
  •  It will provide a record for us to be able to hunt down and prosecute the perpetrators of the crimes when they try and return to their own countries and pick up their lives
  • It will help us find the missing 
  •  Finally so that when we hold a vigil for the dead we have names.
Some of the information you give me I will keep private, some I will put on a website. The website will look something like this: killedbypolice.net
I need your help for this. I need you to give me the information.
This list depends on you
Please help me do this.
Send me any of this information if you know it:
  • proper name 
  • nom de guerre
  •  date of birth
  • father’s name/mother’s name
  • place of birth
  • place of death/abduction
  •  religion and race
  • method of death 
  • the name of the person/ unit who killed them (even if those are not the murderers’proper names) and any other information about them that is known
  • gender
  • any other information
  •  a photo if you have one.
The photo and some basic information (name, age, religion, race, gender, method/place of death) will go onto the website; for the dead and for the missing/ abducted the name, age, gender, race/ religion and place they went missing will go on. The rest of the information I will keep private, just to have records.
If you want me to keep the person anonymous I will do that but if we do that it will be harder to get people to believe what we say and act on it.
Let’s make a record to shame the governments for not doing enough. Let’s remember the dead and the missing.
When the website is made I will post the link and people can hopefully upload their own information but for now send your information to me at kostasolivetree[at]gmail[dot]com or find me on facebook.

Response to Times article

The Tiimes published quite a negative article focussing on a young man fighting with the YPG, and alleging that he had autism and was ‘lured’ to Syria!

The article :http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/article4464198.ece

My response:

The olive tree planted on Kosta’s grave is growing.
This is an interesting article and it is really encouraging to see that the local MP cares enough to take a personal interest in constituents’ issues and that you care enough to report on them. However there are some assumptions that I feel should be challenged and some errors on the part of the MP that I also feel should be corrected.
First of all the implication in your headline, that because this lad is autistic he is automatically vulnerable and incapable of making up his own mind is rather troubling. It also seems as if you are defining him by his disability, (and there is some doubt about whether he has autism. It appears he was diagnosed when he was nine years old and then was told that he didn’t have autism when he was seventeen- personal communication with his mother). Did you actually try and contact the lad himself to ask him for his opinions? If you have to use this lad’s disability in an emotive headline why not: Autistic man joins fight against ISIS to protect humanity? Or better still go for Newark lad stands up for British values and resists ISIS alongside Rojavan Kurds.
Please don’t diminish his courage because of his disability.
Second, put simply, the Peshmerga are the fighting arm of the Kurds in Iraq mostly. The Kurds in Iraq are a patriarchal, tribal based society. The YPG is the male fighting arm of the Kurdish people in Northern Syria (Rojava). In contrast to the whole of the rest of the Middle East these Kurds are working towards a democratic society and have active gender equality, freedom of religious expression and active pro-gay rights policies among others.
There definitely seems to be some confusion in the mind of the MP and in many media reports between the two different countries. Perhaps it would help if everyone could get that straight for a start. If the MP is indeed asking the British government to ask the government of the Peshmerga to stop people joining the YPG then that’s a bit like Italy asking France to stop people joining the British military in Catterick.
The YPG (or Lions of Rojava) have a vetting system when they recruit and if they think that a recruit is in any way a liability or vulnerable they would either not allow them to join or would send them back. They are, indeed, trying to do this with the actor Michael Enright. If this lad’s mum feels that her son is at risk then she has a way of contacting the YPG and asking for him to be sent back. It is my experience that they would do this at once since they value every human being and try very hard not to have losses. A liability or a loose cannon on the battlefield would put their own people at risk. In addition this lad must have passed the one month training the YPG gives all its members or he wouldn’t still be there. This indicates a certain level of capability on his part.
Finally I note that the reader is told that Britain stands shoulder to shoulder with the ‘brave Peshmerga’. Indeed, are these the same brave Peshmerga who abandoned the Yezidis to ISIS so many months ago? The Yezidis who were rescued from Mt Sinjar by the YPG including the foreign lions like my son (Erik also saved someone’s life and carried him off the mountain to safety)? The Yezidis still remember the foreign lions who helped save them. As we’ve already established, the YPG are not the same as the Peshmerga and so far there is little to no evidence that Britain supports the YPG at all. Little to no aid is reaching the refugees from all minorities societies, who have found sanctuary in Rojava with the Syrian Kurds. There is no aid for the rebuilding of Kobane and other cities destroyed by ISIS. There are no weapons reaching the Rojavans, not even night vision goggles or defensive items. Yet these brave men and women still fight, in trainers and home-made armoured vehicles. They fight against an invading militia that is made up of British citizens, Iraqis equipped and trained by us who have defected, as well as other people from all over the world who share their terrible ideology. Then you ask why our lads feel they need to go out there and imply that they have been lured. Seriously?
No-one wants British boots on the ground but for as long as the British government ignores the YPG/J and its role in the battle against ISIS the more likely we will be to have a British civil war going on in someone elses’ back yard, in which the two ideologies- that of ISIS and that of a tolerant and democratic Britain, will be tested. All we ask is for the government to open a dialogue with the Kurds in Syria (we’re already helping the ones in Iraq) in order to see how they can be supported (night vision goggles for instance would make a big difference to their success against ISIS)
If your readers and any MPs want to find out more about the situation in Syrian Kurdistan and the fight against ISIS then they can visit www.kostasolivetree.blogspot.co.ukfor the links along the side of the page. They can also join my campaign called Kosta’s Olive Tree (look for the group on facebook), or sign the petition if they wish to make a difference. My campaign does NOT call for boots on the ground.
Yours respectfully
Vasiliki Scurfield (Mother of Erik Konstandinos Scurfield KIA Syria)

Tunisia, France, Kuwait and Kobane.

I’m terribly saddened this last week at the news of terrorist attacks in three separate countries all of them engineered by ISIS.There was an attempt at a chemical plant in France with the brutal beheading of the manager, the shooting of holiday makers on a beach in Tunisia that has resulted in over 30 deaths, and a suicide bombing of a Shia mosque in Kuwait with a loss of over 27 lives. 

The media has been filled with terrible pictures of pain and suffering and the stunned incomprehension of normal people who were doing nothing but go about their normal business when their world imploded. But while these images, of Tunisia in particular, have flooded the news reports, there have been ISIS attacks elsewhere, in which gunmen have shot and killed children, not just adult tourists and where the death toll has been over 150 adults and children. Here you see the same stunned incomprehension, the same dreadful grief on so many faces, but this time it’s Kobane, where there are so many ISIS terrorists that they qualify as an invading army, where the media coverage has been so scarce that it verges on shameful. The people in this town didn’t deserve to die any more than the people in the Mosque worshipping, or the people on the beach holidaying, or the man going to work. None of them deserved to die and I’m saddened that despite David Cameron’s rhetoric about stopping extremism, he still won’t enter dialogue with the Kurds in Rojava to see what Britain can do to help. 

My thoughts and prayers go out to all the people suffering at the hands of ISIS wherever they are. I will keep shouting for you in the hope that my voice will be heard at some point.

Be wise, be brave, be strong.

USA letter for adapting and sending.

Here is a letter that you might wish to adapt  and send to your Senator if you live in the USA.

Thanks to Don Weingarten for writing this.

I write to you to urge increased US military support for Kurdish forces in the face of the Islamist jihadi’s of ISIS.
Among the Kurds fighting ISIS are the Peshmerga, the security force of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), the People’s Protection Units, initials YPG and YPJ (a force solely of women) and military units of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
All of these, particularly the PKK, YPG and YPJ, are poorly equipped, and lack heavy weapons.
In addition, the PKK has been classified by the US as a terrorist group, in my opinion mistakenly. Thus US citizens, many of them military veterans, who have joined their fight, and anyone who contributes to their support, are at risk of legal sanctions by the US government.
In response to this I ask you to
1) Join Senators Ernst and Boxer as a sponsor of the Senate bill to provide US arms directly to the Peshmerga
2) Offer an amendment to the Ernst-Boxer bill providing arms also directly to the PKK, YPG and YPJ.
3) Offer an additional amendment to the Ernst-Boxer bill to insure that no legal action will be taken against US citizens who join or support the PKK, YPG, YPJ or any other Kurdish military unit in their fight against ISIS.
A few days ago, Ramadi the capital of Anbar Province, fell to ISIS in the face of failed resistance by Iraqi security forces.
Military success against ISIS has come only from the Kurds.
Indeed the Kurds have stood heroically almost alone against the ISIS onslaught.
We, the United States, despite our mistakes, overall have been the good guys. That’s our role. Time to act!

First hand account of a visit to a Yezidi refugee camp.

This is a guest post by Rachel Emec and is her account of her visit to a refugee camp in eastern Turkey. Her original post can be seen here: 

http://www.turkishliving.com/forums/news-views/79241-my-news-my-refugee-camp-visit.html

Rachel is raising money for this camp here: http://www.gofundme.com/t3pkgs 

My News & My Refugee Camp Visit

I haven’t really posted on the forum much over the past year … but there are a few things that I would like to share with you that may be of interest to some members. I also wanted to update members who were involved with my charity collections sending clothes, toys and teddies to refugees from Syria.

A few years ago I wrote a thread about my travels to Diyarbakir in The South East Of Turkey which I had a great response from.
http://www.turkishliving.com/forums/…st-turkey.html
I’d like to tell you about my most recent trip and the events leading up to it. (sorry if it’s long but I’ll try and be brief).
Many of you may know that for years I have been involved in Kurdish issues, I’ve signed hundreds of human rights petitions, set up charity collections, helped Kurdish children get an education, I’ve protested about inequality and inhumanity. I’ve been touched by many things for many years but never have I been touched by anything more than this.
In early March this year I read about the death of a young man, Konstandinos Erik Scurfield. A 25 year old former Royal Marine he left the UK to travel to Syria to fight alongside Kurdish forces. On the 2nd March 2015 he was sadly killed. What touched me so much was the fact that Kosta wasn’t Kurdish…in fact he had no links to the Kurdish cause or community. He wasn’t a mercenary, he’d had a promising career in The Marines. He took the medical training he had learnt and travelled to Syria not for money or to be a hero, he simply wanted to help.
I attended Kosta’s funeral here in Nottingham on 26th March. Like many of the hundreds of people there I had never met him…but on that day, in that church I looked at his coffin and his family and I decided that what I’ve done in my life for others just wasn’t enough!
On 3rd April this year….still reeling with the emotion of the previous week I travelled to Turkey with my husband and 2 sons. It was a trip for Kawa and Lesker to see Granny and granddad and for me to catch up with some things and with some friends. It wasn’t long before I was told in some detail about the Ezidi refugee camp on the outskirts of Diyarbakir. In desperate need of help I was asked if I’d visit. Then a former member of TLF messaged me suggesting a visit so I arranged to go and have a look around. So I did….
The camp holds 6000 Ezidi refugees, 3500 of those are children. Babies are being born and the camp has only 2 cots. The Turkish Government does not and has not donated one kurus YES not ONE PENNY to the camp’s running costs. Nor does the UN, nor any other charity or organisation. Turkey blocks any group from working in there. The camp has been set up and is run entirely by public donations and goodwill.
On entering the camp I was met by a middle aged man who had quite severe learning difficulties, he had escaped the Brutal massacre of Ezidi men…how I was soon to find out.
I had free access to the camp, my husband’s friend volunteers as a doctor and my sister in law has a friend who helped process the refugees. When they first came she worked for 40 days and nights with minimal sleep to help settle them. The people working there are living angels x
There are sooo many children, it hits you. There are elderly, not many men and fewer young women. I hope I can post photos at the end of the post but there is a beautiful young lady of about 18, I really connected with her. I thought that the young girl that she had was her daughter. Sadly not, mum had been murdered and this was the aunt. Surrounded by children many without parents she cared for so many.
The stories that they tell of what was behind them are horrific…utterly horrific and I feel unable to share most with you.
I was approached by an Ezidi elder who invited me to his home. Home for everyone is a tent, a foam mattress and a blanket. Tents have a small area for preparing food and some have a heater. Everything is communal there, showers, washing facilities, clothes stores. It costs 8000 lira a day to run the camp…not much per head.
Before I sat he held my hand and thanked me for visiting. He spoke English, Kurdish and Turkish among other languages. He told me very firmly that the only reason that the majority of those in the camp were alive was because of The PKK. It was a message that EVERY ONE of those refugees that came from Shingal in Iraq told me. The PKK fought ISIS to the death, they carried the disabled, the old and the children to safety….and that is the reason Turkey ignores this camp. The Turkish government will only allow aid to get to it if Ezidi refugees publicly deny The PKK’s help.
Turkey have also said that they want the small school closed inside the camp unless it teaches in Turkish (all the children speak Kurdish). Turkey in fact wants to ban any Kurdish being spoken at all in the camp (this even applies to the volunteer counsellors that help the rape victims!)
The next group of people I spoke to were refugees from Mount Sinja. They spoke of how they were saved by The YPG and (deep breath!) a group of foreign fighters fighting alongside them. I didn’t really speak until they told me that some spoke English.
I’d read that Kosta posted on his Facebook page that he had helped lift the siege of Sinja mountain… here I was sitting with women and children that he had directly help save. A week before I was weeping at his funeral, now I was weeping at what he’d done. I showed these few refugees the photos I had of his funeral….and we all wept together.
I spent quite a bit of time at the camp (and I think you’ve probably had enough of me already) but walking out I decided that if I am to do anything in my life it’s to help these people.
We have to stand up to ISIS, in doing so we are standing up for humanity. These people were good people, they just happened to be Ezidi and therefore a target for ISIS. The camp now holds families from Kobane, unable to go home due to the ongoing fighting and threat of ISIS.
Kosta’s mum has set up a petition that needs more people to sign
https://www.change.org/p/number-10-downing-street-barack-obama-jean-claude-juncker-stop-isis-act-decisively
There is also a group: 
Kosta’s Olive Tree
Thanks for reading so far. I also just wanted to thank everyone who donated to my clothing and teddy collections over the years. I’ve been in contact with some people who benefited from them when they needed help. Syria is in turmoil and at that time the West didn’t know just how much. We got clothing to people before aid agencies did…so Thankyou x

Get writing- be heard!

Get writing if you want to be heard.

Are you sick of the apathy of western governments towards ISIS and its brutality? Write to your MP. 
This letter is aimed at UK politicians. I will post another one for the USA later. Feel free to copy and paste and/or adapt. If you get a response post below and let me know what it is. 

 
Dear
I am writing because I am extremely worried about events taking place in the Middle East, particularly the murder of innocent civilians at the hands of ISIS. ISIS is an invading force that is brutally murdering ethnic and religious minorities while the countries of the west sit by and watch.
However the west has a collective responsibility, as many of the members of ISIS are recruits from western countries and it is these people who, against every value that is important to us, are killing the Yezidis and beheading people, setting fire to them while they are alive and selling girls into slavery. What logic are we using to allow this to continue? Why is the west and the EU not providing comprehensive support to the Kurdish people, particularly in Rojava, Syria? These people (YPG, YPJ) are actively resisting the invasion of their towns and cities whilst also trying to support the refugees displaced by ISIS activity. I am aware that there are some coalition airstrikes in Ithe area however these are limited in northern Syria. In addition to this there is no conversation with the people on the ground in Rojava, Syria. There is little help available for the support of refugees or the rebuilding of liberated towns.
At the very least there should a clear and open discussion of these issues. In the meantime perhaps you could answer the following questions for me:
Why is there no UN presence along the Turkish Syrian border to prevent ISIS from accessing supporters and supplies and also to investigate allegations of Turkish forces not only obstructing aid from getting to the Kurds but also actively supporting ISIS?
Why is there no protected aid corridor into Rojava to facilitate the access of the refugees to aid and also to help with the rebuilding of towns such as Kobane?
Why is there no dialogue with the YPG and YPJ to find out what they need to continue their resistance against ISIS? Why are we not in discussion with them and providing them directly with help?
Why has Silhan Ozcelik, a young girl of 17 been arrested and remanded in Holloway for trying to join the YPG/J, an unlisted organisation to which many westerns belong, some of whom have returned but have not been arrested.
Why is there no concerted effort being made to commit resources to tracing and returning the girls who have been sold into slavery to their communities? Among the men selling them into sexual slavery and raping them are British citizens yet little is being done to investigate the crimes that the returning men may have committed against civilians.
Why is there no effort to acknowledge the efforts of the PKK in freeing the persecuted minorities (such as the Yezidis from Mt Sinjar) and for working alongside all other Kurdish factions to liberate Kurdish cities from ISIS, particularly since its imprisoned leader has lately been active in promoting dialogue rather than terrorist activities.
Why is there no formal investigation into the allegations that Turkey is taking an unofficial yet active part in supporting the terrorist organisation ISIS?
How many more British people are to be shamed by the apathy of their government into going out there to act against ISIS and possibly dying?
Will you please take steps to raise these issues in Parliament and get them put on the agenda urgently?
I look forward with interest to your answers to my questions and a speedy reply.
Yours sincerely

The petition- please sign

Here is the link to the petition that I promised you. Can we make it reach 100.000? If we do, the British Government will have to discuss it in parliament. Please sign and share.

Stop ISIS, act decisively

Older posts

© 2017 Kosta's Olive Tree

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑