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Politics Young Labour activists condemn Blairite MP as an ‘apologist’ for Turkish war crimes

YOUNG Labour activists have condemned Blairite Labour MP John Woodcock as an “apologist” for Turkish war crimes.

The organisation, which represents approximately 110,000 Labour Party members under the age of 27, voted last night to back a national demonstration in London this Saturday calling for a ceasefire in Afrin and for the body of Anna Campbell to be repatriated.

Ms Campbell, 26, from Lewes, East Sussex, was a volunteer in the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), an all-female militia that is currently fighting Turkish forces and jihadi gangs in Afrin, a Kurdish region of northern Syria.

The statement noted the deliberate targeting of civilians and refugees by Turkish forces, and decried the political imprisonment of thousands of members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a Turkish sister party of Labour’s.

It went on to accuse Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson of excusing Turkey’s invasion of Syria in the name of procuring profitable arms deals, but also condemned Mr Woodcock.

The Barrow and Furness MP has long been accused by Kurdish campaigners of being a Turkish propagandist.

Young Labour's statement highlighted remarks he made in December 2017, in which he praised Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “tolerant” and “plural” rule, as well as his fight against “extremism” – presumably meaning socialists, trade unionists and Kurdish activists, labelling them as “hurtful and damaging”.

It also saluted the forces of the YPG/J currently defeating Isis, called upon “all democratic and progressive forces to declare solidarity with the people of Afrin,” and encouraged YL members to attend the demonstration at Marble Arch this Saturday afternoon.

Though she was not a Labour member, Ms Campbell was friendly with many Labour activists involved in the anti-austerity, anti-fascist and tenants’ rights movements.

In a comment to the Star the youth representative on Labour’s national executive committee Lara McNeill said: “Anna was a committed comrade who died fighting against fascism, the enemy of all progressive humanity," she said.

"It is the duty of socialists everywhere to honour her memory by demanding her body be brought home, and we must fight to support the people of Afrin against the murderous provocations of Isis and Erdogan.”

Mr Woodcock told the Star: "I have decided not to give comment to media organisations which represent the Communist Party of Great Britain [sic]," though the Morning Star is a reader-owned co-op in which Mr Woodcock’s trade union the GMB is among nine that hold a maximum shareholding.

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