Precious Adesina reports on UCLU banning Macer Gifford from talking at a UCLU Kurdish Society event
UCL alumni Macer Gifford, who spend five months fighting with Kurdish forces against ISIS in Syria, was recently banned by UCL from giving a speech on the conflict. The talk, anticipated to be on Tuesday, was due to be a discussion of his experiences in Syria and shock at the rise of ISIS.
Gifford stated, “I was ready to die and kill. I knew what I was getting myself into.”
Asad Khan, UCL Union’s Activities and Events Officer, who blocked Gifford from speaking, defended his decision by explaining that he believes the Syrian Crisis is a “contentious topic”, and feared that the talk could motivate students to travel to the region.
According to the Tab, Khan had liaised with UCL, who decided “to stay on the side of caution” when they were not given a response by the police on the matter, before banning Gifford’s talk.
President of the Kurdish society, Kavar Kurda, who organised the speech, expressed his discontent by saying “I find it astounding such an institution like UCL are unwilling to take a side in this conflict”, and questioned UCL’s hesitation to voice an opinion on the matter: “If you don’t support Kurd’s and the YPG, only Isis are left.”
Khan responded by saying “Despite the fact YPG aren’t a terrorist organisation, I think there is enough evidence to show they have committed human rights abuses, for which reason it is not appropriate for UCLU to be associated with someone who chose to go and fight for them.”
UCLU has released a statement, defending its action, saying,
Although we consider freedom of speech on university campuses to be of vital importance, it was not deemed appropriate for UCLU to provide a platform for speakers from militia groups that have been accused of human rights abuses.
Featured image credit: The Tab London