This is the revolutionary Anna Campbell. Monday 15 March marks three years since she was murdered by the Turkish state in Rojava, north-east Syria.
Anna was an anti-fascist, feminist and queer internationalist. She joined the women’s revolution in Rojava in May 2017 during the fight against Daesh (ISIS/Isil). Turkey invaded Rojava’s Afrin region in 2018, and Anna joined the YPJ’s armed resistance against the invasion. She was murdered by a Turkish missile strike in March 2018, along with her friends Sara Merdin and Serhildan, as they tried to help refugees flee Afrin.
Fighting for a “free and dignified life for everyone”
Rojava is a region of around 3 million people, organising themselves using a model of direct democracy, attempting to give power to the grassroots. It is a society that centres on women’s liberation, religious tolerance, and minority protection as key. According to Anna’s friends:
It was anti-fascism, peoples’ democracy and women’s liberation that first attracted Anna to Rojava.
But, like all of her comrades in Rojava, Anna wasn’t just fighting for direct democracy in that region. She was fighting for a free and dignified life for everyone, and she was fighting for women’s liberation everywhere. The people of Rojava don’t see their struggle as separate from here. They see it as a small part of a global struggle.
Organising in the UK
Anna was an anarchist and anti-capitalist organiser, working tirelessly before going to Rojava. Her friends say:
[Anna was] involved in every type of resistance in the UK and Europe, from distributing food, protecting the environment, resisting detention and deportation of refugees and immigrants, to prison abolition.
In the UK, Anna stood on the streets against fascists. The Canary’s Tom Anderson recalls:
We both stood our ground alongside fellow anti-fascists one day in Dover, as the National Front lobbed bricks at us. The Front was trying to hold a racist march through the city.
Her friends say that Anna:
knew how to fight fascism, but that fight was not limited to street punch ups or macho posturing. Anna was humble and she gave meaning to every action, serving the people.
“Her loss leaves a legacy”
If Anna were alive in the UK today, she would no doubt be outraged by the systematically misogynist UK state, which fails to protect women and, in many cases, doesn’t even bother to investigate their murders. She would be disgusted by the fact that a man murders a woman every three days in this country, and that 62% of these victims were murdered by a spouse or former-partner. She would be using her education in Rojava to build a different society in the UK: one that actually tackles patriarchy and misogyny head on, and one that ensures that women are actually safe in their own homes.
Her friends say:
Remembering those we have lost in the struggle against capitalism, fascism, and patriarchy reminds us of the need for revolutionary commitment, grief and love. The present is born in every moment from the past, and we walk in the paths trodden by those who came and left before us.
We miss Anna every day, not just at the time of this anniversary. Her loss leaves a legacy; we must keep revolutionary fires burning…
Let’s keep the momentum going in 2021, in the name of Anna Campbell, of Sara Merdin, of Serhildan, and of every person who has fallen in our struggle for freedom and dignity.
We have the power to create a society where gender liberation is at the forefront. But we can’t rely on our government to do it for us. The majority-Kurdish women’s struggle in Rojava and Bakur (within Turkey) is perhaps the strongest women’s movement in the world right now. Let’s learn from these revolutionary women so that Anna, Sara and Serhildan, and all of their comrades haven’t died in vain.
Featured image via Anna’s friends, with permission