By Alex Kempton – Communications and Media Lead for Hastings Community of Sanctuary
Despite the wind and rain, and only a few hours notice, around fifty locals came together on Thursday 10th October to show solidarity with our Kurdish friends in Hastings.
The sudden and devastating bombing campaign by President Erdogan of Turkey on the Northern Region of Syria, inhabited mainly by Kurds who had, until only a few days ago, been allies in the fight against ISIS, has shocked many across the world. Hashtags such as RiseUp4Rojava and KurdishBetrayal have been trending on Twitter worldwide for the past three days; the media has been full of pictures of truck loads of people fleeing their homes; the outcry has been international.
For us in Hastings, this renewed fighting was brought into sharp focus by a local woman we have been supporting through the Hastings & Rother Refugee Buddy Scheme. Having arrived through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Programme, Helen Dodaki is of Kurdish heritage and has family in Northern Syria who are at this moment running for their lives.
Having come to us on Thursday upset and scared, she asked if we could put the word out for a protest to take place that day on the beach, which we did along with The Hastings & Rother Buddy Project and Hastings Supports Refugees.
Helen gave an incredibly powerful speech, which she has kindly allowed us to publish here:
All Syrians Together
I was born in a town in Northern Syria. I came to the UK two years ago. In my town, all my life people are together. Different but together. Arabic Syrians, Christian Syrians, Kurdish Syrians. All Syrains together. School, eating, celebrations, festivals. Different cultures, religions and languages but all Syrians together.
Why must I speak out today? Because now, the Turkish President Erdogan is killing people, killing civilians in Northern Syria. He is making military air attacks, and innocent people are being killed.
These people are living ordinary lives, shopping, cooking, looking after their families and freinds. Innocent people are being killed.
What I ask for now is that Syria needs to be safe.
I’m not talking about who is friends with who. I’m talking about Trump or Bashar. I am saying a simple message:
STOP THE KILLING
I ask you to send the message
STOP THE KILLING
Finally, today I’ve seen a video today on Facebook from my home town Derek. It shows the view from my neighbours window and you can see the bombs exploding.
I ask you to send the message STOP THE KILLING
Thank you for listening.