KurdishStruggle/Flickr

Why Is the Met Trying to Imprison an Ex-Squaddie Who Fought Isis?

by Benjamin Walters

43-year-old Jim Matthews, an ex-soldier who fought Isis in northern Syria, has been charged by the Metropolitan Police with attending a “place used for terrorist training”.

Matthews fought Isis alongside the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, the YPG. The YPG led the offensive against Isis from Kobane, a surrounded Kurdish city on the border with Turkey, to Raqqa, the Isis capital. Along the way the YPG saved the Yazidi people from ethnic cleansing and set up a democratic feminist system of government. Other Brits have died fighting against Isis with the YPG. Now, someone who risked his life fighting these terrorists is being prosecuted for terrorism. It’s a sick joke.

But the problem goes deeper than one man being arrested. The government are actually helping Turkey’s dictator, Erdogan, bomb the YPG in Afrin province. Until recently, Afrin was a safe haven for refugees of all religions and ethnicities. Now, it’s under attack from all sides by Turkey and its Islamist allies. The Turkish army is fighting alongside Jihadi mercenaries who commit war crimes and mutilate female fighters’ dead bodies. That sounds a lot like terrorism to me.

This murderous attack on a democratic society is being supported by our ministers. Boris Johnson tweeted that “Turkey is right to want to keep its borders secure”. It’s unclear what definition of ‘secure’ he’s using. Turkey is trying to destroy the one force that actually defeated Isis. Boris has gone bananas.

At home, the state is arresting people who have fought terrorists. Abroad, the state is supporting a dictator against people who have fought terrorists. Something is terribly wrong.

The timing is all a bit suspicious too. Theresa May has agreed to a total of £250m in arms sales to Turkey. She’s helping arms dealers make a mint out of the war in Syria by backing the Turkish dictator. At exactly the same time, the police have decided to start cracking down on anyone Turkey doesn’t like. That’s one hell of a coincidence. It seems as though Jim Matthews, a proper hero, is being prosecuted to keep a murderous dictator happy.

Why are the Tories doing this? The answer is always money. They care about business more than they care about justice. Lloyd Russell-Moyle, a Labour MP, recently wrote that UK companies arming Turkey are breaking arms export laws. The Tories are doing dodgy deals behind closed doors. Crimes committed by millionaires are being ignored, as usual. It doesn’t matter whether it’s tax evasion, banking or arms dealing – if you’ve got the money, you can get away with it.

So what should happen? The answer is common sense: don’t put heroes in prison. Anyone who has gone to join the YPG in their fight against Isis should be guaranteed a safe right of return to the UK. They’ve done more to keep us safe than any establishment bootlicker.

Instead of nicking ex-squaddies for doing the right thing, our police should be going after the real terrorists. Arrest the arms dealers, dictators and Isis fighters.

A vigil has been called outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court at 9am on 14 February in support of Jim Matthews.

Published 9th February 2018

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