More than 200 Kurds and their supporters marched through Manchester in support of Kobane. Shamefully noticeable by their absence was the majority of the Manchester left. Workers' Liberty comrades distributed a leaflet and sold papers which were well received.
The Kurdish organisers of the demonstration hadn't bothered with the technicality of getting police permission for the march from All Saints to Piccadilly Gardens. The very well stewarded march stuck to the pavement with the stewards controlling the traffic at the various road crossings. At Piccadilly Gardens there was a lively rally with speeches, singing and dancing. The march and rally clearly grabbed the attention of all those who saw it on a busy Saturday afternoon.
While most of Teesside's Kurdish activists went to London or one of the other cities' big demos, a few came to the event called by Teesside Solidarity Movement (TSM) at a few day's notice. There were not many of us, but as a first step in making links, that wasn't too bad.
The TSM meeting on 23 October had discussed the Kurdish struggle and ISIS assaults on Kobane, and agreed to support the global rally for Kobane on 1 November.
At very short notice and with no links with the Kurdish community, activists visited every take-away, barber and shop where they thought Kurds might work, with a leaflet promoting a Middlesbrough event. They also contacted the local Palestine Solidarity Campaign and individuals from the Muslim community that TSM had met.
Though small, the event was useful in making first connections, and TSM hopes to develop those links. There are plans to call a meeting on the current situation, to discuss how to show solidarity.
1,500 people protested in Trafalgar Square, a large majority of those were Kurdish.
Unfortunately non-Kurdish left, labour movement and student activists were present only in small numbers — probably because the conflict in Kurdistan does not fit the “Western powers vs anti-imperialists” template tof the British left . There was only one trade union banner, Paddington RMT.
Kurds aside, there were few student activists there except a smattering of NCAFC supporters. Of the “left-wingers” on NUS executive who insist they support the Kurds despite voting down a motion to support them, only one was there.
Left-wing organisations which had made the effort included Workers' Liberty, the “autonomist” Plan C group and a variety of anarchists. The SWP and Socialist Party were there, but in small numbers,.
There was also a good turnout from the Worker-communist Parties of Kurdistan, Iraq and Iran (Hekmatists), who Workers' Liberty worked with to mobilise for the demonstration. The WCP comrades had a very lively and visible presence in the square, and Dashty Jamal's speech from the platform was well received.
Workers' Liberty members sold about a hundred copies of Solidarity, and collected two hundred signatures in support of Shahrokh Zamani and Reza Shahabi.
Most speakers were quite general in what they said. Iranian socialist and secularist Maryam Namazie caused a bit of a stir by (rightly) attacking the SWP for their softness on Islamism. Chris Nineham of Stop the War/Counterfire spent most of his speech denouncing the Western powers, which on one level is fair enough — but he didn't make the case for saying “Stop the bombing”, inserting “Oppose intervention” right at the end in the same breath as “Long live Kobane”.
There were no placards, from Kurdish activists or anyone else, opposing Western intervention or even criticising it.
Workers' Liberty members in Sheffield held a meeting on 30 October with local Kurdish activists.
A local Kurdish woman spoke from the platform, describing the background of the situation for Kurds in the region.
Half of those attending were local Kurds, and there was heated discussion on the nature of a demand for Kurdish self-determination. There was also discussion around the left's attitude to the current situation, and how to build genuine solidarity.
There are now plans to set up a Kurdish Solidarity group in the city and organise solidarity actions.