A FUNERAL service has been held in Syria for a much-loved and respected environmental activist who was killed in an ISIS rocket attack.

Şehîd Şahîn Qereçox, known as Waka, was a key part of the Campaign to Protect Pont Valley’s attempts to stop the creation of an opencast coalmine in County Durham.

The 26-year-old eco-warrior came from the Hambacher Forest, in Germany, to help set up a protest camp, near Dipton, last March as snowy blizzards swept across the country.

He spent many weeks at the side of the A692 at the Bradley site, cooking and building infrastructure, before he and fellow campaigners were removed by police.

Waka, who was from Marseilles, France, was detained by a security guard while trying to lock himself on to a lorry carrying machinery while dressed as a newt.

It was his idea to wear the green costume as part of public demonstrations in an attempt to stop workmen entering the site in May.

June Davison, who lives near the site, said: “He was lovely, calm and charming and interested in everything.

“He made a real impact on people who had just met him for short time.

“His death has had a profound affect on all of us.”

The Northern Echo:

Waka's funeral in Rojava

Haselin McCarthy, 23, from Birmingham, who knew Waka from living with him on the camp, said he left the Campaign to Protect Pont Valley directly to join the revolution in Rojava.

She said: “His vision and belief in freedom, in a world where gender equality, ecology, and human rights are put above capitalism, imperialism and hierarchy led him to join the struggles.

“He died fighting against the fascism of ISIS, defending the Democratic Confederalist society of Rojava and Kurdistan built on the principles of autonomy and freedom for women, nature and all people.

“Although not someone to engage in conflict, it made sense that Waka’s interest in the intersections of life’s struggles and liberation led him to learn about and defend Democratic Confederalism.”

Waka joined the YPG (People’s Protection Unit) and went to the Hajin front, in the Deir el Zour region, but was killed with two other volunteers during a rocket strike on October 6.

One comrade, 25, who also knew him from the camp, said Waka was in charge of the International unit of the YPG.

He said: “Waka joined the Kurdish militia because he recognised it as a force that is fighting for the principles he has always stood for; ecology, feminism and anti-capitalism.

“He was a respected and effective commander.

“When countries around the world once again turn their back on Kurdish people, Waka took responsibility and went there to fight against forces of oppression and imperialism.”

The Northern Echo:

Waka was a commander with the YPG

A funeral service was held in Rojava on Monday and his body is expected to be repatriated back to France.

His father, Salem Medjahed, said: “Waka was an ecologist, a defender of the planet and an animal advocate, a boy who didn’t like violence.

“He didn’t have the cult of the military, he was just a human with a universal awareness.

“I just hope that my son died on the spot without having seen his last hours coming, and that his sacrifice has helped others in their suffering against this war that escapes all logic.”

One of his friends described Waka as ‘a true revolutionary and martyr’ who was ‘never aggressive, nor was he keen on physical confrontation’.

He said: “Initially it was a surprise to hear he wanted to fight with the YPG, but actually, thinking about his many other brave exploits, it shouldn’t at all have been a surprise that he would fight for what he believed in this way.”

He said Waka was also a land defender, hunt saboteur, anarchist, expert hitchhiker and dumpster diver, revolutionary, friend, and a beautiful comrade, adding: “I only regret I didn’t tell him all this to his face, but the fight for freedom goes on and I will do so in his memory, inspired by everything he did and everything he taught me.”