The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group calls on the Australian Government to drop the charges against Jamie Williams and release him unconditionally. He was arrested on 27 July and charged with “preparing for incursions into foreign countries for the purpose of engaging in hostile activities”. The substance of the charge is that he attempted to leave Australia to join the YPG forces in Syria fighting Daesh, which styles itself as the “Islamic State”.

We do not know whether Jamie Williams was actually trying to join the YPG, but we would have only admiration for him if he was. The YPG-YPJ (People’s Protection Units – Women’s Protection Units) of the PYD (Democratic Union Party) are defending the Kurdish communities of Rojova in Syria against the barbarous forces of Daesh and are doing so very effectively. Further, in the areas of Rojova the YPG-YPJ are protecting, there is a social transformation being conducted which has the potential to be greatly liberatory and to inspire revolutionary workers’ movements across the region.

We say only “potential” because the PYD are allying themselves with US imperialism in its military assault on West Asia, something that undermines the libertarian socialist goals for which the PYD claim to be struggling. While this alliance brings certain tactical benefits (having F-22s take out Daesh vehicles and field HQs definitely made defending Kobanê easier), they are greatly outweighed by the strategic disadvantage of the barriers it puts up between the Kurdish and Arab peoples of the region. The MACG therefore calls on the PYD to break with the United States and throw its lot in with the workers and oppressed masses of West Asia instead. US intervention in West Asia will kill far fewer jihadis than it will recruit for Daesh, something not unconnected to the fact that the US has killed far more people in the region than Daesh ever will.

Regardless of the PYD’s short-sighted choice of friends, however, its struggle against Daesh is greatly progressive and should be supported by workers in Australia and around the world. And if workers in Australia like Jamie Williams decide to join the YPG-YPJ or radical bands allied to them, the Australian Government shouldn’t stand in their way.