As Turkey continues its descent into dictatorship and keeps undermining Syria’s prospects for democracy, Britain’s silence is deafening. And its backing of Turkey is just as damning. But as Theresa May’s Conservative government cosies up to authoritarian figures around the world, one young British woman has risked everything to stand up for democracy.
Joining the fight for democracy (and against terror) in Syria
Kimberly Taylor – a 27-year-old from Lancashire – visited Syria in late 2015. She told The Guardian how she was “torn apart” by the conditions refugees fleeing the destruction of Daesh (Isis/Isil) were living in. And she said:
I made a promise to myself that I would commit my life to helping these people.
She soon found inspiration in the Kurdish-led forces of Rojava (northern Syria), which have been defending a secular, multi-ethnic, and feminist experiment in direct democracy since 2012. She quickly “fell in love” with how the Rojava Revolution had:
completely recreated society putting women at the front of everything.
She is currently supporting Rojavan forces as part of a combat media team. This means working on the front line in their ongoing assault on the self-proclaimed Daesh capital of Raqqa.
— KurdishQuestion.com (@KurdishQuestion) February 11, 2017
Britain’s NATO allies in Turkey, meanwhile, recently threatened to attack Raqqa itself unless the main Kurdish-led group in the multi-ethnic SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) stepped aside. It’s worth remembering here that high-level whistleblowers have accused Turkey of actually supporting Daesh and other jihadi forces in Syria in the past.
At the same time, the Turkish regime has just dismissed 227 judges and prosecutors, meaning it has now purged close to 4,000 members of the judiciary since the failed coup attempt of 2016. The regime also continues to target politicians from the left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) – whose successes in the June 2015 elections contributed to the ruling AKP party’s decision to launch a crackdown on dissent (which continues today). Courts sentenced HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, for example, to five months in prison on 21 February for “insulting the state and its institutions”. And at the same time, the regime removed the parliamentary status of HDP co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ.
In spite of this situation, the British government keeps cosying up to Turkey. The country – still “a major buyer of UK-made weapons” – has just signed a £100m fighter jet deal with the UK. And in a recent interview with the country’s state-run Anadolu Agency, Minister of State for Europe and the Americas Sir Alan Duncan said:
instead of sitting in a comfortable armchair, lecturing Turkey, it is better to understand what they are up against and work with the country to make sure that they could be [a] stable, democratic and very powerful and important force in the region
Who’s really fighting for democracy?
Theresa May’s government may indeed believe that it’s playing a moderating role by supporting Turkey regardless of massive human rights concerns. But it isn’t. It’s effectively giving the Turkish regime a green light to keep shutting down opposition protests; closing opposition media outlets; and arresting pro-peace MPs, journalists, and activists. And Ankara has long sought to mould Syria in its own anti-democratic image, too. So amid official British inaction regarding Turkey and its self-interested intervention in Syria, it looks increasingly like it’s up to ordinary citizens like Kimberly Taylor to stand up for democratic principles in the region.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?