Kurds are allies in fight against Isis: Holloway teen on terror charge deserves support

This article first appeared in Islington Now, March 19, 2015

The West’s moral compass is bust. This week a London teenager has been charged with trying to go to Syria in a bid to fight against Islamic State (Isis).

Shilan Ozcelik, 18, is on remand at Holloway Prison after being charged under the Terrorism Act 2006 for trying to join the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and is now due to appear at the Old Bailey on 1 April.

Ms Ozcelik is different to Isis fighters: she is not an illegal foreign fighter. She was going to protect the Kurdish people, her people, long oppressed and continuously occupied, from the barbaric terror inflicted upon them by Isis.

Ms Ozcelik is not the first Westerner to join resistance fighters against Isis.

Earlier this year, Matthew Gardiner, the former president of the Northern Territory branch of the Australian Labor Party, also went out to Syria, to much criticism in the Australian press.

Yet he and Ms Ozcelik have done what no risk-averse politician of today would do. They have gone out to a war-torn country to physically fight for what is right and, more importantly, for a good cause.

This is in stark contrast to Western politicians who lazily wax lyrical about the barbarians raping, torturing and slaughtering their way through Iraq and Syria.

In doing so, they obscure the fact that they have no desire for military intervention, and nor do they have any proper diplomatic solution to the problem that Isis poses, not only to the region but to Western security.

Ms Ozcelik should be held up and applauded for her bravery in fighting against these misogynistic militant thugs.

Instead, she has been criminalised.

That the British judicial system cannot see her motivations as different from those youngsters who have gone out to fight for Isis is truly worrying.

This shows a drastic lack of moral judgment from UK lawmakers.

There is a world of difference between the two, and to pretend otherwise is abhorrent.

This is a testament to how cowardly the West has become in drawing its boundaries. They are refusing to engage in an issue that they must confront head-on. And, in doing so, the West’s credibility lies in tatters.

London mayor Boris Johnson recently got a round of applause for posing with an AK-47 during a trip to Iraqi Kurdistan.

Yet when someone acts out his posturing they are treated as a criminal.

Where is the outrage at this appalling treatment for an actual freedom fighter?

If the same climate existed in the 1930s, George Orwell may well have been arrested and even jailed for heading out to fight in the Spanish Civil War.

It is likely Britain will be judged in years to come for punishing Kurdish fighters.

Their continuous battle for a homeland is deserving of Western support, particularly after the US-led coalition in Iraq that was, in part, orchestrated for the liberation of Kurdistan.

Britain should be applauding a young woman who was prepared to fight for what she believes in, and for the defending  the Kurdish people.


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