The Nottingham Kurdish Solidarity Campaign Society held an event on Saturday at Nottingham Trent University’s city campus to highlight the experiences of Kurdish peoples living in the various scattered Kurdish territories throughout the Middle East.
The event comes at the end of a week when Kurdish forces successfully repelled the assault from ISIS militants on the Syrian town of Kobani.
This battle, during which Kurdish forces were significantly outnumbered, was a major success and mirrors successes achieved by Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces’ operations against ISIS forces in Iraq.
Such events have brought the Kurdish struggle to international attention.
As well as explaining the methods Kurds are using to combat ISIS, the event aimed to promote learning and understanding about Kurdish culture.
It included workshops on Kurdish law and society and turned the spotlight onto the role of women in Kurdish society in particular focusing on how free and independent their lives are compared to other parts of the Muslim world.
Special guests and guest speakers included several women’s rights campaigners, Kurdish politicians and the Nottingham East MP, Chris Lesile who spoke about UK/EU relations with the Kurds.
Workshops began with a speech by one of the guest speakers and then dissolved into question and answer sessions and audience discussions.
The groups were divided according to language spoken with English, Turkish and Kurdish echoing around the rooms.
A key organiser of the event is Isil Altan, who is the head of Nottingham Trent University’s Kurdish Society and had to flee Turkey herself after being tortured by its security service.
This left her with a broken cheekbone, broken nose and extensive facial bruising. She was happy with how the event had gone and declared it a successful day; “People have found it interesting and have had an opportunity to get a lot of their questions answered by the guest speakers and others taking part”.
People in attendance were ethnic Kurds who have been forced to flee their native countries due to persecution by the authorities there.
Representatives were also present from the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), an armed guerrilla group which campaigns for an independent Kurdish state in Turkey.
One such member, Musa was a former guerrilla who has been living in Nottingham since 2006 when he was forced to flee Turkey after a dispute with other PKK members.
While he doesn’t openly admit killing Turkish soldiers, he declared his willingness to do “whatever is necessary to protect the life of myself and my community”.
The Nottingham Kurdish Solidarity Campaign is a group comprised of members of the Nottingham Kurdish community and local non Kurdish volunteers.
During the battle of Kobani, they held marches through Nottingham city centre to publicise the war between the Kurds and ISIS forces.
The marches were well attended and gained much publicity through local news outlets.