Community comes together to show solidarity with Kurdish family and friends

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AROUND 100 members of the city’s Kurdish community rallied in solidarity of people affected by the rise of Islamic State (IS) this morning.

Omid Penjweny, chairman of the Kurdish Community Association in Portsmouth, said people had come out to show their disgust at what the IS, also known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) is doing in northern Iraq.

WORRIED members of Portsmouth's Kurdish community

WORRIED members of Portsmouth's Kurdish community

The region is referred to as southern Kurdistan by Kurdish people.

The 37-year-old said: ‘I organised the event today with the help of a friend. We have been organising this for the Kurdish people back home.

‘We are here to show our solidarity for the people at home who are surviving our genocide. We have been through it before with chemical attacks in Iraq in 1988.

‘Now we are facing a different sort of genocide this time.’

The group met at the Halabja memorial behind the D-Day Museum in Southsea.

Walid Salah, 31, who also lives in Southsea, was at the gathering.

‘We are here to support our family and friends back home who are living through a civil war,’ he said.

‘Isis are trying to target the Kurdish region which we are all fighting against.

‘We are calling for international aid and support for our family and friends.

‘I have spoken with friends at home. They are unsettled so we are really worried about them.

‘We really need to help of the international community. It is urgent.’

Southsea resident Ziryan Kamal, who has helped organise rallies in London, was also involved in today’s meet-up.

He said: ‘We have got a campaign going against Isis which we are hoping to have a discussion in Parliament about the situation. We have sent letters to MPs to get support and have a debate.

‘A large amount of our community are here supporting this. There are a few former Kurdish fighters here, too. One of them is my dad.

‘People in Portsmouth generally are not that knowing of what is going on or what is happening in Kurdistan so we hope this event will make them more aware. It is not just the fight in Israel and Palestine that is going on.’

The Conservative Party’s Portsmouth South candidate, Flick Drummond, helped with organising the event.

She has written to the prime minister, asking for more aid to be given to the Kurdish people in Iraq who are under attack.

She said: ‘We are extremely concerned about the situation and the march of Isis whose behaviour is extreme and worrying for the whole region.

‘We believe unless Isis is stopped quickly, it could spread further and threaten securing of Turkey and Europe as well as the Middle East.’