Wednesday 19 October 2016

Competition winner: Hope Renewed

The pilot short story writing competition is now closed and the winner is Sasha Greene. Congratulations Sasha! You can read her winning entry below:

 Hope Renewed

Kawan said goodbye to his friends at the school gates as usual. He hadn’t told them yet about his special olive tree. Only his grandfather. His grandfather always liked to hear stories of the world outside. Blind as he was, the two of them managed very well together. In the mornings, the old man would tend the tiny garden at the back of the house, and in the evening he would sit and mend the fishermen’s nets, while Kawan read his homework aloud.
‘It’s a special tree, Grandfather,’ Kawan told him, the day that he found it.
‘Special how, my heart?’ The rough fingers grazed the back of his hair gently and settled on his shoulder.
‘I don’t know,’ Kawan replied. ‘Do you think that trees can talk?’
‘Not to us humans,’ his grandfather said. ‘But they are very old and very wise. Maybe you can talk to it. It could be lonely.’
‘She, it’s a she,’ Kawan insisted.
‘And how do you know?’ He could see the curve of the old man’s lips in the dim light of the single lamp.
Kawan just shrugged. ‘She just is.’ And his grandfather nodded, as if he understood.
Kawan often went to sit under the olive tree, and tell her about his day at school, and his grandfather, and his friends. When the summer got hot and everything dried then he brought water to keep her leaves green and lush.
The day that he finally decided to show his friends Kawan was so excited. He proudly led them along the track. But when they got to the top of the hill they were greeted by just bare earth. A wasteland, where yesterday a full grove of trees had stood, rustling gently in the wind. Kawan just froze in shock, unable to comprehend what had happened. ‘It will be the new road,’ one of the boys said proudly. ‘My father is working on it.’
‘I hate your father!’ Kawan screamed. He turned and ran, and didn’t stop until he reached his house, where he flung himself on his bed, gasping for breath, the tears streaming down his face. His grandfather gathered him close, holding the boy and rocking him until he cried himself to sleep.
The next morning Kawan couldn’t help himself. He went back to the site of his olive tree, just to say goodbye. He found the spot where she had been, and crouched down, putting his hands on the earth. It was then that he noticed something. A tiny seedling, missed by the bulldozers, still clinging on to life. He dug it carefully out of the ground and carried it home, where his grandfather helped him plant it carefully in a pot.
‘If you look after it, the olive tree will give you more than just shade and olives,’ his grandfather said. But when Kawan pressed him to explain what he meant, the old man would just shake his head and tell him he would understand when he was older.
‘I’m going to build roads when I grow up, then all the olive trees will be safe,’ was all that Kawan would say. And he never spoke about the other tree again.
Time went by, and the while the seedling grew up into a healthy tree, the young boy grew up into a man. He studied hard, and when he finally brought home his engineering diploma his grandfather was so proud that both of them shed a few tears. But not long after that the old man finally passed away.
Kawan was sad, but he didn’t cry. The gravestone was up on the hill, looking out to sea, and he thought that it was a beautiful place to rest. He took one olive seedling which he had grown from the tree in their garden, and planted it, so his grandfather would always have shade. He would come and sit by him after work, and talk to him just like he had done to the olive tree all those years ago. He kept the little garden lush and verdant, with shady nooks and abundant green plants. His oranges and tomatoes were the envy of the village. And the olive tree, sat in its huge pot in the centre of the garden, spread its shade for him to enjoy.
Life went on. Kawan built a successful career as a road engineer, just like he had determined to do. The old lady who lived next door died, and a woman with two young children moved in. She was polite to him but distant, and Kawan sensed that she wanted to avoid the village gossip. He learned from his other neighbour that she was a widow, and her husband had died in the war. Now he understood why the children never laughed when they played.
The summer was particularly hot that year. Kawan’s plants survived, thanks to the shade of his many trees, but he watched as the garden next door shrivelled and baked and the woman’s seedlings died. She was too proud to accept the food that he offered, and he felt guilty that he had so much, while she was struggling to feed herself and her children. If he could somehow move some of his shade to her garden, surely it would solve her problems. And then he suddenly thought of the olive tree in its pot. It would take some clever engineering, but if he could put it in just the right place…
It took him a whole evening, with two of his colleagues, to move the heavy pot and raise it on a platform. But when the sun came up the next day it gave him great satisfaction to see that the shadow covered almost a quarter of the garden next door. He went to bed that night content.
He was sitting in his garden one afternoon when there was a knock at his door. He went to open it, and found his neighbour standing there with her children.
‘We came to thank you for the gift of your shade,’ she said. The children clustered behind her skirt, too shy to look at him, but their mother looked directly at him for the first time, and he noticed her eyes were a stunning, surprising blue. ‘I know you did it on purpose.’ She folded her arms, as if to defy him to deny it.
‘It was my pleasure,’ Kawan replied, with a slight dip of his head. ‘Will you come in and sit in my garden for a while? I can offer you some fresh watermelon.’
She considered for a few seconds, then slowly nodded her head. He squatted down to the height of the children, who couldn’t have been more than three and five, and spoke directly to them. ‘Do you want to help me cut it?’ They both nodded, their eyes wide, and when he turned and went back into the house, they followed him like two baby chickens.
 He took a knife from the kitchen as he went, and showed the children how to knock the watermelons to tell if they were ripe. They squealed with excitement, and ran all over the garden, loudly arguing about which one was the best.
Kawan turned to the woman next to him. She was smiling as she watched the children, and he thought that he had never seen anyone so beautiful. ‘My name is Kawan,’ he said, holding out his hand in greeting.
‘I am Nara,’ she replied. Her hand felt capable and firm, and Kawan couldn’t help the corners of his mouth turning upwards, unbidden, as he looked down at her face.
‘It’s a good name for you,’ he couldn’t help saying. ‘You deserve happiness in your life.’
A shadow crossed her face, but it was soon gone. ‘My children give me all the joy I could wish for,’ she said, smiling again as she looked at them. The children came running up to him, tugging at his hands as they pulled him towards the fruit they had chosen.

He cut the smooth green skin carefully. They took four spoons and scooped out the sweet pink flesh, laughing at each other as the juice dribbled down their chins. And it was then that Kawan truly understood the meaning of his grandfather’s words. The olive tree had given him so much more than shade and olives. It had given him laughter, and hope, and would bring him love.

Saturday 5 March 2016

The Problem of Syria

Thank you to my blog guest Jack Ar who provided this post. 

-Russia talks about elections in Syria while Russians themselves don't have fair elections.
- Saudi Arabia and Qatar are talking about democracy in Syria and they don't have basic elements of democracy in their own kingdoms.
- Turkey is talking about protecting Syrian civilians from Assad regime. simultaneously, Turkey is slaughtering and massacring Kurds in south east of Turkey.
- America is too busy with the next presidential elections and it can't deal with the mess it created in the middle east. They gave millions in cash and weapons to some factions in Syria and these weapons ended up in ISIS hands.
- Iran, Lebanese Hezbullah and Iraqi militants don't give a damn about all the above mentioned ones. They keep sending their fighters to Syria to support Assad regime.
- Kurds are very busy now consolidating the territory they control in Northern Syria and are heading towards self-rule. They are fighting on both the political and military fronts.
- Syrian Civilians are the only losers of this political bargain.

Monday 11 January 2016

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

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

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

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  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.

In the Kochek category we have woman....IN conclusion, any Yazidi woman or man can do religious services and it totally depends on person...for example, if my wife tried to save our religious text and teach people and serve people in religious matters I can’t tell her not to do that and no Yazidi can stop her being a religious totally depends on the person regardless of the gender.

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.

Monday 14 September 2015

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

The flag of the Men's Protection
 Units (YPG)

I was recently able to have a meeting with government officials and put some of 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.

The flag of the Women's Protection
 Units (YPJ)
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. 

Saturday 15 August 2015

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:

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.

Tuesday 7 July 2015

Remembering 7/7

Today we remember the victims of 7/7.

How do you find words to describe the atrocity? The indiscriminate killing? The inhumanity? The trauma and terror? How do you get through the loss without getting caught up in negativity and hatred?

You rise above the evil as much as possible. You focus on the moving stories of light and hope that come out of the darkness. Stories of survival and humanity, of bravery, compassion and of sheer heroism.

You don't let evil win.  You lose fear and you act. You stand up and shout out against extremism, against inaction.

The evil we face now may not be quite the same as it was then - it has mutated, becoming better organised, harder to pin down and more pervasive. It has become even more barbaric if that is possible and is responsible for the wholesale slaughter of civilians right across Syria and Iraq. Spare a thought for the brave men and women in Northern Syria and Iraq battling against this terrorism every day and for the many victims who are at the mercy of an invading militia made up of citizens from all over the world, including Britain.

For as long as this caliphate cult flourishes everything that underpins our society is at risk. Our lives are at risk.

It makes me feel even more driven to make a difference, and hopefully see the end of ISIS and other forms of harmful extremism. Join me in any way you can. Write to your MPS, sign the petition, ask your MPs to table a question in Parliament. Make sure you understand what's going on in Northern Syria and see if you can get your MPs to acknowledge the efforts of the YPG and YPJ. (Northern Syrian Kurds- they are already acknowledging the Iraqi Kurds and supporting them). Push our governments to provide the YPG and YPJ with the help they need.

For letter templates and the petition scroll down to previous posts, or look in the side bar.

Don't be cowed. Shout out so that the victims are not forgotten and evil is defeated- it's the very least we can do because if ISIS wins in Northern Syria the consequences do not bear thinking about..

Wednesday 1 July 2015

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 :

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 for 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)