By Jake Wilde
When is a motion condemning Daesh not a motion condemning Daesh? When it is dismantled and rendered free of the original meaning.
Back in September 2014 the following motion was proposed at an NEC meeting of the National Union of Students:
Proposed: Daniel Cooper
Seconded: Shreya Paudel, Clifford Fleming
NUS National Executive Committee notes:
- The ongoing humanitarian crisis and sectarian polarisation in Iraq – which has resulted in thousands of Yazidi Kurds being massacred.
NUS NEC believes
- That the people of Iraq have suffered for years under the sectarian and brutally repressive dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, the US/UK invasion and occupation, the current sectarian regime linked to both the US and Iran, and now the barbaric repression of the “Islamic State” organisation.
- That rape and other forms of sexual violence are being used as weapons against women in IS-occupied areas, while minorities are being ethnically cleansed.
NUS NEC resolves
- To work with the International Students’ Campaign to support Iraqi, Syrian and other international students in the UK affected by this situation.
- To campaign in solidarity with the Iraqi people and in particular support the hard-pressed student, workers’ and women’s organisations against all the competing nationalist and religious-right forces.
- To support Iraqis trying to bridge the Sunni-Shia divide to fight for equality and democracy, including defence of the rights of the Christian and Yazidi-Kurd minorities.
- To condemn the IS and support the Kurdish forces fighting against it, while expressing no confidence or trust in the US military intervention.
- Encourage students to boycott anyone found to be funding the IS or supplying them with goods, training, travel or soldiers.
- To make contact with Iraqi and Kurdish organisations, in Iraq and in the UK, in order to build solidarity and to support refugees.
- To issue a statement on the above basis.
Malia Bouattia, then Black Students’ officer, led the opposition to this motion, saying:
“We recognise that condemnation of ISIS appears to have become a justification for war and blatant Islamophobia.
“This rhetoric exacerbates the issue at hand and in essence is a further attack on those we aim to defend.”
The NEC agreed to defer the motion to the next meeting in December 2014. They were forced to issue a statement because of the negative publicity generated by the decision not to pass the motion.
Here’s the motion Malia Bouattia brought back:
Proposed by: Malia Bouattia
Seconded by: Zekarias Negussue, Toni Pearce, Abdi-Aziz Suleiman, Zarah Sultana, Piers Telemacque, Vonnie Sandlan, Gordon Maloney, Kirsty Haigh, Sai Englert, Colum McGuire, Megan Dunn, Raechel Mattey
- The Kurdish people have been fighting for freedom and democracy throughout the course of history and are amongst the largest stateless groups in the world.
- They have experienced mass genocides committed by surrounding states, followed by mass displacement and millions of refugees.
- There is a new democratic structure in the 3 cantons of Rojava which has been set up by the people of the region and enacts women’s rights as well as other forms of social justice for all those oppressed.
- Kurdish women have played a key role by co-leading the resistance in the region, with non patriarchal and anti-sexist methods which has also been the case throughout history.
- The Kurdish people in Kobane are restricted in healthcare, food and clothing.
- The Kurdish struggle aims to protect co-existence between the different ethnic and religious groups.
NEC Further Believes:
- That all peoples have the right to self-determination.
- Rojava is entitled to its independent political establishment which is inclusive of all the communities within the region.
- That the Kurdish struggle should be recognised and supported by the international community.
- That the Kurdish people should lead in defining their freedom and making demands of solidarity.
- That kidnapping sexual abuse and trafficking of Kurdish women and children are crimes against humanity.
- That ISIS should be condemned for its atrocities, against the Kurdish people and all others who have been affected.
- That aid should not be prevented from reaching the Kurdish people.
- Provisions should be put in place to cater for the people in the Kurdish region, namely Rojava, Shingal, Mosul and Sinjar.
- That Kurdish emancipation will neither be obtained through groups like ISIS nor imperialist endeavours.
- To meet with and support the UK Kurdish groups and community’s solidarity efforts and the international Kurdish diaspora’s.
- To call on the international community to recognise the Kurdish resistance.
- To support the international movement to find and bring back all the Kurdish people who have been captured by ISIS.
- To raise awareness about the situation and support Kurdish societies within Students’ Unions to show solidarity.
- To pressure the UK government to meet the needs of the Kurdish community in the UK and within the region.
- For relevant officers to campaign to support the Kurdish struggle.
- To condemn the atrocities committed by ISIS and any other complicit forces.
- To call on the UK government to meet the needs of refugees from the region.
- To support women’s organizations which help young girls and women who have been abducted and trafficked.
It is not difficult to spot the glaring difference. It is hard to imagine how it is possible to ignore the religious aspect of Daesh’s murderous campaign against the Yazidis but Bouattia decided to do so. Rather than condemn Daesh as, for example, nothing to do with Islam, she chose to ignore the religious basis entirely.
That is the reason why the movement to disaffiliate from the NUS is picking up pace.
That is the reason why, at last night’s debate in Cambridge University Student Union on disaffiliation from the NUS, Oriyan Prizant (@oprizant) condemned Bouattia for indicating that “Yazidis are not human enough to merit human rights.”
It is a strong accusation. And it is fully justifiable.