Remembering Lizzie

Lizzie Orchard was a comrade who lived out their politics in their daily life. They were one of the most kind, compassionate, and patient people that we were lucky to have organised alongside. They were someone who sensed vulnerability and despair in others and would sensitively extend warm and loving care to the other person, whether complete stranger or closest friend.

Lizzie arrived an hour late to meet friends after walking home a stranger who had been spiked after finding them on the London tube. They gave their living room to their NFA friend as if it was no hassle to them; they felt a house was a resource that should be shared.

They were the kind of person who moved the tiniest insects out of harm’s way so they could continue to live. They saw time, energy and love as something that was innately shared – it just was. It was never something to individually covet or defend.

When we lost Lizzie, we lost our 25 year old comrade who had just started their revolutionary journey, but who was uncompromising in their resolve. They had their own struggles, their own questions, and their own complexity – but their revolutionary love emanated from the essence of their being. Their intentions were always indisputable and clear – it was easy to trust them, or rather it was hard not to. They have become part of the inexplicability of the Earth and the universe that they had so much wonder and awe for.

Lizzie, we miss you!

The following memories were shared by an organiser with the Kurdistan Solidarity Network…

Lizzie, I remember when we first met, at an eco-anarchist camp in the summer of 2017. You were young and fresh faced, with two long dark plaits of hair and a thoroughly genuine smile. You weren’t outgoing or extrovert, but you had this way of just being yourself that is so rare in this world. We danced together at the back of the tent and everything felt like it would be ok. There was just this simple honesty, this bright truth shining through.

I remember there was a workshop at that camp about white privilege and racism. The man who led it began by explaining how it was almost cancelled, how the other two people of colour who were planning to lead the workshop with him had both pulled out because of the level of whiteness in the movement, how much unconscious racism was hanging in the air, and they just felt unable to put themselves on the line in such a way. At some point we were asked how we relate to our identity, and especially to our whiteness. When it came to your turn, you said simply that you had never really thought about it before. You were the only one who said that. You could have pretended, or made something up, but there was never any bullshit with you, just this simple honesty.

Fast forward only a few months, and conversations I am having with you show an incredible growth and development – not just theoretical, but a deeper understanding that feels really embodied. You talk about your growing understanding of your place in the world, as someone who is white, from a relatively wealthy family, and now you can see how this experience has given you opportunities that not everyone has access to, but has also limited your ability to see in other ways. You are so thirsty to learn, to understand more and more about the world, and how we can all work together to change it. I feel I have met a comrade for life.

There were more camps and festivals, a chance meeting on the street in Brighton. We went to an international meeting to begin the Make Rojava Green Again campaign in Europe. We stayed together with some Kurdish students and their housemates, visited people on hunger strike, and marched on the streets of Germany.

You came to the first ever Jineolojî Camp in the Isles. You were going to be part of Anna’s House too, and were there at the first meeting where we visited that land that was completely inappropriate but had a cool haunted house we could explore. At any of these gatherings, you were always one of the people who held us together, encouraging people who were shy, though you were shy yourself; never taking the lead, but always helping hold the space.

I stayed at your house in Bristol. I remember how three of us went to that Indian cafe and drank vegan lassi and planned the KSN Ecology Working Group.

At the next camp you were with us holding a workshop about ecological struggles in Kurdistan. You didn’t value yourself enough as a facilitator and you felt shy, but you stepped forward anyway. You said you wanted to learn and to build up your confidence, and I knew that you would come back the next year even stronger. I just had absolute faith in you as a revolutionary.

Lizzie, when I heard that you were missing, all these things flashed through my mind, these possible scenarios of what could have happened to you. Some of the stories my mind made up were nice stories where you found a tribe or a family and went to live with them. Perhaps you got amnesia, or perhaps you joined a guerilla unit in the jungle, but maybe you were kidnapped or would be ransomed. There were some very dark thoughts. I tried not to think about those ones too much, but it was hard.

When we heard that you had been found in a ravine, that it was likely a sudden, instant death, this seemed better than some of the things I’d imagined, but the absence of you was more present. We had been expecting you to come back. Friends here talked all the time about the things we would all do together when you came back. Lizzie, we needed you for the work we are doing.

At your funeral, I imagined you laughing all the way through and saying how weird it was that you were having a funeral. Stiff conversations and finger food, though delicious, did not honour your radical honesty.

We planted a tree for you in Brighton, and they planted a tree for you also in Rojava, where the new world we all dream of feels so much closer, despite the war and struggle and the loss of so many lives. You are a loss also for there, as we know you would have gone there one day, and brought your smile and your amazing capacity for care and love – and that insatiable desire to bring about a better, happier and more beautiful world for everyone. Never any bullshit, just that bright truth shining through.

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