Silhan Ozcelik, an eighteen-year-old Kurdish woman from London, was sentenced to 21 months at the Old Bailey two days ago. Silhan’s conviction is the first in the UK against someone for attempting to fight alongside Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The verdict comes within the wave of patriotism engulfing Europe after the Paris attacks on 13th November. State criminalisation and street violence against Asian people and migrants has disturbingly and unsurprisingly increased in this context of fear. From raids of squats housing migrants in Lille on 17th, arrests and violation of migrants and No Borders activists in Calais to Silhan’s conviction, with this fear counter-insurgency has purposefully followed.
Silhan was found guilty of ‘engaging in conduct in preparation to for giving an effect to an intention to commit acts of terrorism’ under section 5 (10)(a) of the Terrorism Act 2006. It comes as no surprise that the British state regards armed anti-authoritarian Kurdish struggle as terrorism. While it should cause even less surprise that Britain has followed other states in criminalising Kurdish struggle, the move sets a dangerous precedent for radicals travelling to fight the forces of reaction overseas. As authorities in France attempt to prevent the COP21 marches in this continent, movement to struggles elsewhere is met with vicious repression.
In today’s state of violent disorder charges, undercover surveillance and anti-terrorism legislation, active solidarity with victims of repression is essential. This solidarity must be as preventative as it is remedial. The work of anti-repression groups, such as Green and Black Cross, Netpol and Undercover Research Group, provides a basis for sustained rebellion that enables the rebellious to protect themselves. Building frameworks of anti-repression encourages action as much as it prevents the damaging attempts to stifle it.
Silhan is currently being held at Holloway prison. You can send letters of solidarity to:
Prison No: A8733DK
London N7 0NU