On Tuesday 27th March, Holyrood’s Cross Party Group on Kurdistan held an event to mark International Women’s Day.

The meeting was hosted by co-convenor of the group, Ruth Maguire MSP, and attended by MSPs John Finnie, Clare Haughey and Linda Fabiani, as well as members of the Kurdish community.

The group heard from three powerful female speakers: Dilber Yosef, a member of the legislative council of the Kobani canton and co-ordinator of the women’s council of Kobani in Rojava, Syria; Ezgi Denli, who arrived in Scotland at a young age from Northern Kurdistan, and is currently studying law at Edinburgh University; and Roza Salih, who arrived in Scotland as a refugee in 2002 from the Kurdistan region of Iraq and is one of the Glasgow Girls.

The talks covered diverse topics, from the ongoing Turkish invasion of Afrin, to the Turkish states’s history of brutal violence and violation of Kurdish human rights, and the fate of the imprisoned HDP MPs and Kurdish artists such as Zehra Dogan.

In an emotional and charged discussion session following the talks, members of the Kurdish community – many of them in Scotland as refugees – used the opportunity to share their thoughts and stories with MSPs and to ask for their help to raise awareness of the plight of the Kurds.

Co-convenor of the group and SNP MSP for Cunninghame South, Ruth Maguire, has been involved in raising funds for the ‘Scotland School’ in Kobane, in Western Kurdistan/Rojava, Syria. She has also written to the Turkish Prime Minister and Justice Minister regarding her concerns about Turkey’s abuse of human rights – and raised the case of imprisoned Kurdish artist, Zehra Dogan, in a debate in November of last year.

Ruth has also been twinned with HDP MP, Sibel Yiğitalp, since 2016.

Commenting after the meeting, Ruth said:

“I would like to express my sincere thanks to all of the speakers who contributed to this powerful event, especially Dilber Yosef, who skyped in to speak to us from Syria.

“I would also like to thank the members of the Kurdish community who came to the meeting and who shared the difficult and emotional stories of themselves and their families.

“The Turkish Government is routinely violating the fundamental human rights of the Kurds and I pledge to redouble my efforts to do all that I can to raise awareness and to offer practical solidarity where I can.

“I have been twinned with HDP MP, Sibel Yiğital, since 2016. Sibel does the same job as me, but in very different circumstances.  The twinning scheme is an excellent way to make clear the dangers and threats faced by HDP MPs on a daily basis, simply for their political beliefs, and I plan to expand this scheme amongst my MSP colleagues to raise more awareness.

“The Cross Party Group on Kurdistan stands with the people of Kurdistan against tyranny and sends its solidarity to the Kurds in their campaign for democracy.”