In Memory of Anna Campbell

Our search for what could be possible means accepting a rich heritage. The women of the Paris Commune of 1871, and the worker’s militias of the Hamburg uprising of 1923 - that’s us. The workers on strike in India, and the guerillas in the mountains of Kurdistan - that’s us. When we take up our weapons we are not only fighting alongside the people of Afrîn but also with all the women of the world.
— Hêlîn Qereçox/Anna Campbell - 1991 - 2018

On March 19th 2018, the International Commune of Rojava confirmed the death of heval Hêlîn Qereçox, known as Anna Campbell. Her death marks the passing of the first British woman in the war against not only Daesh but now the Turkish state. For weeks, Afrin has been bombarded by the Turkish military. The People’s Protection Units (YPG/YPJ) stayed to attempt to defend the otherwise stable and peaceful town, but the day before had announced their withdrawal from the town, where Turkish atrocities are being committed, and a coming genocide seems highly likely.


An eye-wtiness, Camila Heme of Red Crescent, an aid worker, tells of the bombardment:


“The situation in Afrin has been catastrophic. Hundreds of thousands of people are on the run. They are stopped at all borders. One fears a genocide. A massacre of several hundred thousand people”


She goes on to detail how Syrian borders are totally closed, and of course fleeing to Turkey would mean certain death. She cries openly, mourning the fact that she could not save everyone, that there were toddlers trapped in the rubble and many who survived the air strikes injured are likely to die from their injuries. It is an interview that hurts ones soul to read. The same source later confirms a few thousand have successfully managed to shelter in Manbij, which offers some consolation, however news pours in every day of Turkish jihadis torturing civilians, looting goods, and signs that Daesh will return are everywhere.


It hurts more to read that the People’s Protection Units took a gamble, staying to fight, on the international community standing between them and Erdogan and refusing genocide.


There was no such response to cries for help from Kurds around the world. Everywhere is silence.


From this backdrop we learn how Hêlîn died, fleeing Turkish air strikes. Surely Britain would not allow a fellow NATO member killing a British citizen? Only time will tell, but the funding continues to pour in for Erdogan, as he now expresses he intends to invade further areas of Kurdistan under the claim he’s looking to destroy the PKK.


There is an old Socialist saying, “with the blood of the martyrs, our flag is red”. It sounds violent at first, but to think so would be to misunderstand its meaning.


There have been billions around the world inspired by Socialism’s hope for mankind. Many have been so inspired, they lived for it. And they have died for it. And Socialism wasn’t what killed them, it was its enemies. Our flag is red with the blood of those who believed so strongly they were willing to lay down their lives for it, and it is red with the blood of those Capitalism slaughtered for daring to do so. This message should not mean to us ‘give up, you will die trying to achieve this’, it should say that our enemy is cold, heartless and barbaric, and cannot be allowed to murder with impunity. These are the people we would allow to control every aspect of our lives? People like Erdogan, who would commit ethnic cleansing against a peaceful peoples? People like Theresa May would turn a cold shoulder as a genocide commences?


Hêlîn was a martyr. She believed in a better world. And that world failed her. How many more do we allow to dare to dream that this isn’t all there is, and be shot down where they stand or blown to pieces for doing so?


Today, The Lever mourns the passing of Anna Campbell. Her death was not pretty, but it was noble. It means something. There is another phrase about martyrs, this one held by the Kurdish fighters; sehid namirin. The martyrs are immortal. A martyr is not simply another death, that name is not awarded for dying of old age. A martyr inspires generations. A martyr is a symbolic death. A martyr lives on, because their death inspires hope and rage for years after. The Kurdish people mourn every death in the YPG/J intensely. Anna cannot come home to silence in comparison. Her death is not meaningless. Find that meaning, let it feed a fire in your belly, and let’s get back to building socialism knowing we are not alone. We have comrades around the world. We become comrades around the world.


Red salute, heval Hêlîn. Sehid namirin, because with the blood of the martyrs, our flag is red.

- Artemis Craigen