Ultimately, she was willing to give her own life so that others might be free. How many people can say that?
Today many in Bristol are grieving for Bristol resident, Anna Campbell, who was killed in a missile strike while fighting with Kurdish YPG/YPJ forces in Syria, resisting the Turkish invasion of their territory. Despite the danger of the war, her death has come as a shock to devastated family and friends. She was a friend of mine.
No doubt many people will question why anyone would take such a risk, or question whether youthful idealism and a desire for adventure meant she overlooked the real danger she was putting herself into. Commentators have rushed to call her actions misguided and her death ‘futile’.
This does Anna a massive disservice. Anna was a person of utter conviction who had devoted her entire adult life to fighting injustice – whether in her frequent visits to support refugees in camps in Calais, or in her own community. She was incredibly serious, worldly and wise. Ultimately, she was willing to give her own life so that others might be free. How many people can say that?
It’s a level of selflessness that’s hard to comprehend, a genuine solemnity in her politics that leaves people incredulous. But there it is: she was the real deal.
Her dedication stands in sharp contrast with Western governments who have stood idly by as Isis inflict abject terror on Syrian civilians, and Turkey invades and massacres Kurds; and the mainstream media that has grown complacent and bored with covering the conflicts.
So instead of dismissing her death, at just 26, as a tragic end for a radicalised young person, it should instead prompt us all to question: What do I believe in, and what am I willing to stand up for? If we want a better world, what are we willing to do to make it happen?
Rest in power, Anna.