Full YPG Military Guard of Honour For Ryan Lock
UK YPG Volunteer Ryan Lock, known by his fellow fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces, SDF by his Kurdish nomme de guerre as Berxwedan Givara, fell in battle in the most extraordinary circumstances in Rojava after having spent such a short but battle intensive tour in Rojava.
His motivations are unknown but Ryan Lock, a 20-year-old young man, who friends describe as a caring soul who always looked out for the underdog set off to Rojava in August 2016, joining YPG on the 4th of September.
After some military training and settling in to his new life, Ryan was allocated to a SDF unit that was liberating villages around the western side of Manbij. In November Ryan Lock's unit was bombed by Turkish jets in a village newly liberated from ISIS.
In this strike by Turkish military jets, YPG International fighters, Michael Israel (Robin Agiri) from California and Anton Leschek (Zana Ciwan) from Bielefeld were killed with at least nine other Kurdish fighters on November 24 2016.
Ryan Lock himself suffered serious facial injuries from shrapnel in this bombing and was clearly deeply affected, evidenced by his posting on Facebook on 30th November 2016, in response to the Turkish attack on his unit he wrote:
"We were taking a small village when we got hit by Turkish jets in the night. Two of my friends, Anton and Michael were killed among many others. I'm staying to finish out my six months. Fuck Erdogan and Fuck Turkey."
From that moment, it seems that Ryan Lock was even more motivated to the fight against ISIS and their Turkish supporters and requested to be transferred to the operation to liberate the ISIS headquarters in Raqqa, Operation Euphrates Wrath.
It was in this operation, while engaged in intense fighting with ISIS fighters that Ryan Lock, a Canadian, an Arab fighter and 2 Kurds from SDF forces got somehow separated and besieged in a village called Jaeber, in the countryside near Raqqa.
There are no witnesses to what actually happened next in detail but all 5 of the men died after an intense military engagement with ISIS fighters who had surrounded them and were closing in.
It seems that from the autopsy report, sighted by myself that indeed, one would be hard-pressed not to conclude that Ryan rather than be taken prisoner by ISIS and used in some ghastly macabre propaganda video had placed the barrel of his gun under his chin pointing upwards and had pulled the trigger.
A heroic act of more unfathomable bravery is hard to imagine, especially for such a young 20-year-old man, with little previous experience of military combat. Many people boast of 'saving the last bullet' but very few, if any, have actually carried this threat out as far as I know.
It is so, so hard for the family of Ryan to comprehend why their loving son would have traveled to Syria and they continue to struggle with their loss. All of our hearts from the bottom of our souls go out to them during this difficult time when Ryan Lock is traveling back from Rojava to be buried by his family and friends.
But as much as Ryan's family struggle to come to terms with Ryan's death, it is clear that Ryan Lock is a heroic figure and especially so to the Kurdish people and I hope that, with time, the family will take some comfort that the Kurdish people will forever hold him in their hearts. As the YPG general command wrote:
"We have been honored of Ryan's participation with our forces, which built on our own intrinsic desire for freedom. Despite the geographical distance between us, we found common values in the interest of the humanity.
It has very clear that any mistreatment of a human in whatever comer of the world may very well turn into a threat against any of us. For this reason, a great responsibility lies ahead of us against the threat on the free future of our children. The growth of solidarity between us, and the coming together around common feeling and thoughts is the most important prove of this responsibility.
Of course, Ryan was not only a fighter providing additional force to our struggle. In fact, with his experience and knowledge, he has been an example for younger fighters. While he has reached a vast amount of achievement up in our front lines, Ryan has served the purpose of a very important bridge between us, the Kurds of Rojava. He crossed continents for the destiny of our people and humanity.
There being such brave hearts as that of Ryan strengthens our belief in a future, we all can live together across our differences."
As Ryan Lock's body travels home, the British media have reported his incredible story widely and with sympathy and the British people clearly recognise and acknowledge his bravery and sacrifice.
My only hope is that somewhere in the grey corridors of diplomatic and political power in Whitehall, someones, nay everyones conscience has been sharply pricked and shamed and that the UK govt now will do more to openly support and aid the Kurdish forces that Ryan served with to more effectively fight ISIS and to do less to acquiesce with the Turkish govt who bombed that village killing Ryan's friends and motivating Ryan and others like him to see it as their responsibility to fill in the vacum where the UK govt has shamefully been absent.
And it is the responsibility of those outside of govt who recognise this reality to increase their support for the Kurds and expose the UK's policy of putting arms sales to Turkey before Kurdish and human rights, both in Turkey and Syria!
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