Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘Syria

Solidarity needed with the city of Salamieh under the threat of a massacre by the Islamic State

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The ‘Law’ of the Islamic State-Caliphate.

Urgent solidarity needed with the city of Salamieh under the threat of a massacre by the Islamic State

Saturday 4 April 2015

 

The city of Salamieh is surrounded and has been suffering a total blockade for several days by the ultra reactionary movement of the Islamic State threatens to commit a massacre against the local population.

On March 31, 2015, soldiers of the Islamic State committed a massacre killing 48 civilians, including women and children, in the village Maboujah, located at 25 kilometers north of Salamieh. The majority of the people had left the village before the arrival of the Islamic State.

The city of Salamieh was one of the first city in Syria to raise against the bloody Assad regime at the start of the revolution in 2011. The revolutionaries of the city suffered a fierce crackdown at the hands of the security services and militias of the regime in recent years. The revolutionary spirit and the original objectives of the revolution for democracy, social justice and equality nevertheless persisted and continued to be upheld by the numerous revolutionaries still in the city through popular demonstrations and other civil campaigns.

It is the duty of all revolutionary and internationalist to support the local population of Salamieh and revolutionaries of the city against the threat of a massacre by the Islamic State.

The revolutionaries of Salamieh launched a few days ago a campaign “Salamieh is beeing slaughtered” on social networks to alert the world of the danger they are facing.

It is absolutely necessary to bring our total and immediate solidarity with the people of Salamieh and our comrades of the Revolutionary Left Movement in Syria in the city under the threat of a new massacre by the Islamic State.

No passaran,

They have not passed

They shall not pass

No to the criminal Assad regime and no to the reactionary and fundamentalist forces

All power and wealth to the people

Revolutionary Left Movement in Syria

April 2, 2015

International Viewpoint. (the monthly English-language magazine of the Fourth International)

Some people have not abandoned their socialist internationalist principles.

All is not Lost!

It would be wrong to add any further comment.

More news on the ground situation: Islamic State releases photo report from Syria’s Hama province.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 5, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Kurdish Freedom Volunteer Silan Ozcelik Waits till September for ‘ Judgement’

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SHOCK RESULT AT OLD BAILEY.

Mark Campbell
London, United Kingdom

1 Apr 2015 — The family, friends and supporters of Silan Ozcelik were shocked today to learn of the judge’s decision to adjourn the case against Silan until September, when she will face a full jury trial on terrorism charges. She will in the meantime remain in custody in Holloway Women’s Prison. We are numb and shocked at this crazy decision, this cruel act against this young girl. WE WILL INCREASE OUR CAMPAIGN, PLEASE JOIN US! Sign the petition and get active. Please email us if you want to help. Hevallo@gmail.com

Petition: FREE SHILAN OZCELIK NOW!

Guardian.

A small but noisy group of Kurdish protesters gathered outside the Old Bailey in London on Wednesday to protest at terrorism charges brought against a British teenager.

Shilan Ozcelik , an 18-year-old of Kurdish descent, was arrested earlier this year at Stansted airport.

She is believed to be the first British citizen to be arrested for allegedly trying to join the campaign against Islamic State in eastern Syria and western Iraq.

Outside the pre-trial hearing on Wednesday, Ozcelik’s supporters held up banners and could be heard chanting outside the court. She was refused bail and will remain in Holloway prison until a full hearing on 7 September.

Ozcelik, from Holloway, north London, faces one charge of engaging in conduct in preparation for giving effect to an intention to commit acts of terrorism under the 2006 Terrorism Act.

It is understood that the charges against Ozcelik relate to the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), which is outlawed in Britain and has been locked in a separatist conflict with the Turkish army for decades.

Speaking outside the court, Mark Campbell, one of the organisers of the protest, said the teenager’s arrest had come at a time when Kurdish efforts to repel Isis were gaining widespread international support.

Neither the YPJ, the main women’s Kurdish militia in northern Syria, nor the YPG, the men’s militia, are listed as terrorist organisations. Supporters say the militias “have received praise from activists and senior politicians alike for their incredible efforts fighting back Isis from Kobane and parts of northern Syria and Iraq”.

Outside the court, around two dozen protesters held up placards calling for Ozcelik to be released, with slogans including: “We are all YPJ” and: “Shilan Ozcelik is not a threat to UK national security, Isis is”.

A statement issued by Peace in Kurdistan said: “The YPG and YPJ, who had been in a tacit alliance with US and British forces in the struggle for Kobane, are not listed on any terrorist list.”

Ozcelik was arrested on 16 January as she returned to the UK from Brussels.

 

SWP, Isis and the Kurdish Struggle: Two Weights, Two Measures.

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Demonstrators outside Holloway prison condemn charges against Ozcelik. Photo: ANF.

Demonstrators outside Holloway prison condemn charges against Shilan Ozcelik: No Backing from SWP.

Right whip up Islamophobia over Isis  reports the latest Socialist Worker (17th March).

by Annette Mackin

Detainee rights campaign group Cage and its director Moazzam Begg have been the target of more Islamophobic smears.

The Mail on Sunday newspaper claimed it had evidence that Moazzam visited the camp where Londoner Mohammed Emwazi allegedly trained as an Isis fighter.

It quotes unnamed “official sources” speculating over the identities of men wearing balaclavas in a photo from around 2012.

The paper had already attacked Cage and Moazzam for saying that it was Western imperialism and state terror that helped make Emwazi, known as “Jihadi John”, into an Isis fighter.

Mohammed Tasnime Akunjee, the solicitor for the students from east London who have allegedly travelled to Syria to join Isis, has also come under attack.

Andrew Gilligan in The Telegraph newspaper said that he is an “extremist” with links to “terror apologists” Cage. This was after the solicitor criticised police handling of the case.

The sisters of the students also now face “radicalisation” tests as the tide of Islamophobia grows higher around such cases.

This week three teenagers from Britain were arrested in Turkey on “suspicion of preparing terrorist attacks”. They were bailed pending further inquiries.

Is the SWP complaining that those who go to support Isis, a murderous reactionary group, are arrested?

That nobody should do anything to stop people – enthused at the idea of participating in their ethnic cleansing, and genocides – joining them?

This contrasts with the complete absence of any Socialist Worker coverage of the plight of Shilan Ozcelik (from the Kurdish news site Rudaw).

LONDON – Demonstrators converged outside London’s Holloway prison in support of Shilan Ozcelik, a British girl of Kurdish descent who is believed to be the first UK citizen to be arrested for trying to fight against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).

Saturday’s demonstration followed a statement signed by various Kurdish organizations, among them the Roj Women’s Association, the Kurdish Youth Assembly and the Kurdish People’s Assembly.

”The Kurdish community and supporters of the Kurdish struggle are incensed at the arrest and imprisonment of 18 year old Shilan (Silhan) Ozcelik, who is accused of wanting to join the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS),” the statement said.

”The UK government has been criminalising the Kurds for at least 13 years, yet not one Kurdish individual has been charged and convicted of being a PKK member, despite many raids, arrests and intimidations,” it added.

”The case of Shilan Ozcelik is the most recent chapter of this story and the Kurdish community are now concerned that the UK government will once again criminalise the community who have been the biggest supporters of the international fight against ISIS terror and fascism,” Friday’s statement declared.

The PKK, which is in peace negotiations with the Turkish government after a three-decade guerrilla war for greater rights for the country’s large Kurdish population, remains banned in Turkey and is regarded as a terrorist group by the European Union and United States.

However, calls have been growing for months for a reappraisal of the group, since its YPG affiliate in Syria has had a frontline role in fighting ISIS and has been backed with limited arms supplies and airstrikes by the US-led coalition.

Firat News, which is close to the PKK, has called the charge against Ozcelik a “scandalous decision.”

Ozcelik has been charged with a terrorist offence under the UK’s 2006 Terrorism Act.

The teenager from London was arrested earlier this year at Stansted airport. Her supporters say she travelled to Brussels in an attempt to try to join the YPG or its women’s YPJ wing. She was arrested on January 16 as she returned from Brussels.

Neither the YPJ or YPG are themselves banned in the UK.

Campaigners have condemned the charge against Ozcelik and launched a petition, writing to British Prime Minster David Cameron and Home Office Minister Theresa May to call for the immediate release of Ozcelik.

Several foreign fighters have traveled to Syria and neighboring Iraq to fight with Kurdish forces battling ISIS.

Last week, Ivana Hoffman, a native of South Africa with German citizenship, was killed fighting alongside Kurdish forces in Syria in the war against ISIS, according to agency reports.

Before that, a British man, Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, and an Australian Ase Johnson, were reported killed while battling ISIS.

Foreign fighters also have joined the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq, which remains a staunch US and Western ally in the war against ISIS.

All the SWP has to say about ISIS (Ignoring completely the heroic struggle of those fighting them, above all the Kurds), is this: Isis – the real problem is Western imperialism.

There is no need to read any more.

Free Silhan Ozcelik! Stand with Kurdistan Fight for Freedom!

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Do Everything to Help this Comrade.

12th March 2015. Kurdish Question.

This afternoon I had a call from a PA journalist informing me of the imprisonment of a young Kurdish woman and asking me if this was the first case of a person being charged for wanting to go to Syria to fight ISIS.

I was confused, “Sorry, can you repeat that again, what has happened?” He then again, told me that a young Kurdish woman has been jailed in the UK for wanting to go to Syria to fight ISIS.

Sill I was confused and it took me minutes to come to the realisation of what seems to be unfolding.

I was literally speechless and fumbled for my words and am still in shock. It is seemingly becoming more clear that the UK Govt are attempting to criminalise anyone who wants to fight ISIS while doing nothing to support the Kurds fight against ISIS in Syria.

When you look more closely at the UK government’s track record on the fight against ISIS in Syria, it is shockingly shameful.

The UK Defence Committee recently produced a report on the ‘Fight Against ISIS in Syria and Iraq’, for example with not one mention of the YPG’s heroic battle against ISIS for the last three years culminating in the first defeat inflicted upon ISIS’s seemingly unstoppable advance over the Middle East. There was no mention despite top UK barrister Margaret Owen submitting a detailed report on the YPG/YPJ heroic resistance against ISIS.

Then there was the first UK international volunteer to die in battle against ISIS, Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, the UK Govt’s postiion on the repatriation of his body has been equally shameful, in my view.

And now this: The first jailing of a young Kurdish woman who wanted to help her people being massacred and beheaded by ISIS during the appalling mauradings of ISIS into Ezidi villages and attacks on Kobane.

I’m frankly still in shock. A report of the details of her jailing yesterday are to be found below, she is due to appear in the Old Bailey, no less on the 1st April. No joke. Kurds and people with the slightest shred of humanity and disgust at the spread of ISIS and frustration at the UK Govt lack of support for the Kurds successful fight against them should call for the immediate release of this young girl whose only crime was to act on what we all feel is needed, and stated policy of the US Government led coalition against ISIS.

Please read the report below:

An 18-year-old Kurdish woman has appeared in court charged with a terror offence after she allegedly tried to fight for a group which is engaged in a battle against Islamic State (IS).

Silhan Ozcelik, of Highbury Quadrant, Holloway, north London, was arrested at Stansted Airport after she arrived on a flight from Germany on January 16.

She is accused of travelling by Eurostar from St Pancras to Brussels on October 27 and then attempting to join the guerrilla army in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party – known as the PKK – which is fighting against IS in Syria.

The PKK is proscribed by UK authorities as a terrorist group.

Ozcelik faces one charge of engaging in conduct in preparation for giving effect to an intention to commit acts of terrorism, contrary to section 5 (1) (a) of the Terrorism Act 2006.

Wearing a black and cream coat, blue shirt and black trousers, she spoke only to confirm her name, age and address during the short hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

District Judge John Zani remanded her in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on April 1.

As she was led away from the dock she smiled and appeared to mouth “It’s okay” to her brother, who followed proceedings from the public gallery. 

 SIGN EMERGENCY PETITION TO THE UK HOME SECRETARY THERESA MAY TO FREE SHILAN OZCELIK IMMEDIATELY!

Silhan Ozcelik: ‘Disgusting’ trial for young woman who tried to fight against Isis. (Independent).

A teenager has appeared in court after allegedly trying to join Kurdish fighters battling Isis in Syria, in the first prosecution of its kind in Britain.

Campaigners condemned the prosecution of Silhan Ozcelik, 18, from London, as “disgraceful and disgusting”, however. Ms Ozcelik’s appearance at Westminster Magistrates’ Court followed her arrested at Stansted Airport in January after returning to Britain on a flight from Germany.

The teenager is accused of travelling to Brussels in October last year in a bid to join the guerrilla army in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party – known as the PKK. The organisation is on the Government’s list of banned terror groups.

Ms Ozcelik is charged with: “Engaging in conduct in preparation for giving effect to an intention to commit acts of terrorism contrary to section 5 (1) (a) of the Terrorism Act 2006.”

EMERGENCY PICKET CALLED BY KURDISH COMMUNITY GROUPS IN LONDON. 6pm TONIGHT outside Holloway Women’s Prison.

BBC: North Londoner Silhan Ozcelik remanded over terror plan

 

An 18-year-old woman has appeared in court accused under terrorism law, after she allegedly tried to join Kurdish militants in the Middle East.

Silhan Ozcelik was arrested at Stansted Airport on 16 January, when she arrived on a flight from Germany and was released on police bail the next day.

Ms Ozcelik, from north London, was remanded in custody after appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

She is due to appear at the Old Bailey on 1 April.

Ms Ozcelik, of Highbury Quadrant, Holloway, has been charged with one count of engaging in conduct in preparation to commit acts of terrorism.

She is accused of travelling by Eurostar from St Pancras to Brussels on 27 October and then attempting to join the guerrilla army in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known as the PKK.

The party, which is proscribed as a terrorist group by UK authorities, is fighting against Islamic State in Syria.

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 13, 2015 at 1:52 pm

“Jihadism” is it a form of fascism? Debate on French Left.

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“These remarks follow the text of Laurent Lévy on this site entitled “Islamo-fascism” or “jihadism”. This is not an answer but a few notes which aim to stimulate debate.

1 The term “jihadism” is probably the most suitable, it is in any case much better that “Islamo-fascist”, which does not in itself  exclude discussion on these two terms.

2 Has Jihadism nothing to do with Islam? Lawrence said we do not have to take the self-definitions of those principally involved. Some caution is indeed required. Not so long ago there were countries that defined themselves  as People’s Democracies – a term which was very questionable  in the least. Which leave us with the question – one that I do not find it so easy to solve – who is the judge in these matters?

The attacks in Paris were condemned by currents unlikely to be held to represent a “moderate Islam” – the Palestinian Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah, which called the murderers the worst enemies of the Prophet. It is not up to non-Muslims to contradict them, says Lawrence. The end of the sentence seems common sense: non-Muslims are not the best position to judge what is  Islam or what is not. The beginning of the same sentence is rather more questionable. We are not obliged, or to take as given, what Hamas or Hezbollah say,  on the grounds that they are not representatives of “moderate Islam.” After all, there are within Sunni Islam many currents that deny that the  Alevis or the Shias even  belong to Islam. Why should we believe them? On the grounds that we are not Muslims (which is true) and that they are not moderate (also true)? In a climate of hysteria and a climate of heightened national security we clearly have an interest in avoiding putting all Muslims in the same category. But, to return to the “people’s democracies”, could it be said so easily that they  had nothing to do with the communist movement?

3- On the question of fascism, I am to be relatively cautious, without being satisfied with the approach developed by Lawrence. For words to make sense we should not use them indiscriminately.  A military dictatorship, for example, does not need to be a fascist to be abominable and to be fought (and calling the French riot police, the  CRS the SS is probably not the acme of political analysis). We must therefore be wary of using ready-made categories that can easily become stale and fixed.

There is no doubt that the emergence of fascism in the interwar period in Europe was a way to break the working class. That class, influenced by the creation and the breath of the October Revolution had become a legitimate player in the conquest of political power. But if we limited fascism to this, the issue would not be restricted to  a debate for historians about the 1920s and the 1930s. Today the impact of  October (or the Chinese Revolution in Asia) is minimal, and instead of a rising working class, the labour movement, which we witness, is  in a poor state. Can we say that the issue of fascism no longer exists. The counter-revolutionary AND totalitarian dimensions of the  “jihadist” groups  is such that we cannot dismiss the term ‘fascism’ so easily. When Pierre Rousset speaks of “religious fascism” because these organisations occupy the same niches as fascism, there is no lack of argument. An article by Farooq Tariq, leader of the LPP (Pakistan) states: “The fanatical religious groups are being constituted as forms of fascism. ” ( ttp://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article33933 ).

These views can of course be criticised I do not think these can be dismissed out of hand.

In short this is an ongoing debate.”

A reply to  Islamo-fascism” or “jihadism” Laurent Lévy. 

Lévy  notes that the ‘syntagma’ (syntactic arrangement) Islamic-fascism has been used by the nominally ‘socialist’ Prime Minister, Manuel Valls (that is, be wary of the words!!!).

He asserts that is not up to the non-Muslims to decide on what is Islamic or not, and that most consider that the Islamic state is not Islamic.  Lévy  argues that in terms of class analysis one cannot talk of Islamic-Fascism. “..sectarian, violent and totalitarian movements claiming Islam does not fall within this analysis ” That they cannot be compared with movements helped by the “bourgeoisie to break the labour movement and to take over certain sectors of the capital to help solve its internal contradictions.” in the 1920s and 1930s.

But that, Jihadism, is the word that designates, “these currents that claim Islam in the attempt to impose by mass violence a totalitarian society.”

Comment.

It is interesting that the relation between Islamist ‘counter-revolution’ and classical European fascism is raised.

What would seem a better way to approach this is to look at one form of actually existing Islamism: the Islamic State, Daesh (1). Not just its international actions, but the structure of the state they have created in Syria and Iraq: a  racist, repressive, genocidal regime, based on slavery and the oppression of women, with a highly developed system of ‘law’ (the Sharia, as they see it).

Whether we call this Jihadism or fascism it is clear that it is a ‘totalitarian’ political entity.

A murderous one to boot.

(1) ‘Actually existing’ – an expression I take from the pro-Soviet left in the 1970s which talked of ‘actually existing socialism’.

As Unite Against Fascism Meets UN Makes War Crime Charges against Syrian Regime and *all* Islamist forces.

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CCTV of the three girls

London Girls Go to Join War Criminals.

“Three east London schoolgirls have flown to Turkey and there are fears they may cross the Syrian border and join the Islamic State terrorist group.”

BBC.

“In a report published on Friday, the Commission stressed that both the Syrian regime and the main Islamist militant groups active in Syria – Islamic State (IS) and al-Nusra Front – had committed atrocities, as well as other smaller factions.

The report warned that despite the Commission’s “long-standing position” not to name suspects, maintaining that policy would “reinforce the impunity” of alleged war criminals.

Speaking on Friday, investigators said that they had increasingly been sharing information with countries to enable them to prosecute their own citizens for crimes committed in Syria.

They revealed that four of the lists of names of alleged war criminals had been passed to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and a fifth would be handed over in March.

The five lists, compiled since the Commission began investigating in 2011, are understood to contain approximately 30 to 40 names each.”

BBC

The Guardian reports today,

A study released last month by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue found that women on the receiving end of that social media onslaught were captivated by the violence they saw. Examining the social media accounts of six European women who ultimately travelled to Syria and Iraq, they discovered that one described the brutal murder of the American aid worker Peter Kassig and 18 Syrian hostages as “gut-wrenchingly awesome”.

Another woman, who watched a different beheading video, wrote: “I was happy to see the beheading of that kaffir [non-believer], I just rewinded to the cutting part,” and called for “more beheadings please!”, according to the study.

“Umm Hussain”, alternately named in reports as mother-of-two Sally Jones from Kent, tweeted: “Know that we have armies in Iraq and an army in Sham [Syria] of angry lions whose drink is blood and play is carnage.”

The study concluded: “There is no doubt … that the women who migrate to the territory controlled by Isis revel in the gore and brutality of the organisation. They appear desensitised to the horrific nature of the violent acts being committed.”

Charlie Winter, of the Quilliam Foundation, said that although Isis propaganda sometimes suggested that women would have an active, and even armed role, the reality was that they were heavily controlled once they arrived.

Winter recently helped translate a long Isis communique that set out in great detail the designated role of women under the group’s version of sharia law. Circulated late last month and titled Women in the Islamic State: Manifesto and Case Study, the document railed against westernised notions of female liberation, damning fashion shops and beauty salons as the work of the devil.

“It is always preferable for a woman to remain hidden and veiled, to maintain society from behind this veil,” it said. It added that girls could marry at the age of nine, and “pure girls” should ideally settle with a husband by 17 and should not be “corrupted” by careers. It was also clear that women would not take up arms unless the survival of Isis depended on it.

Meanwhile ‘Unite Against Fascism’  is holding its conference.

You can follow it at  Live Blog: Unite against racism and fascism – UAF national conference 2015

It will be interesting to see if anybody there cares to comment on the BBC and Guardian reports.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 21, 2015 at 12:45 pm

After Kobane, Where Now for the Kurdish Liberation Movement?

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  Three YPG fighters in Kobane shortly after they liberated the city from ISIS militants in January. Photo: AFP

Three YPG fighters in Kobane shortly after they liberated the city from ISIS militants in January. Photo: AFP

Kurdish forces advance miles outside Kobane, retake 100 villages

 By Omar Kalo (Rudaw)

KOBANE—Kurdish forces continue to push Islamic State (ISIS) militants out of the Kobane area and have retaken more than 100 villages from the extremist group in the past two weeks.

Fighters of the Peoples Protection Units (YPG) have now reached the village of Karamox, 20 kilometers east of Kobane.

In their advance against ISIS, the YPG fighters are supported by Peshmerga artillery and coalition airstrikes.

Since they drove out ISIS militants from the city last month after 133 days of fighting, the Kurdish forces have advanced against the Islamist group in all directions and reclaimed many of the villages that fell to the group in September.

Last week, the YPG fighters took back the village of Kofi, 25 kilometers south of Kobane as well as the village of Rovi on the main road between Kobane and Aleppo.

On the western front, the Kurdish forces are now positioned 20 kilometers away at Karako village.

YPG commanders inside the city told Rudaw that 15 ISIS militants fled the Kurdish advance west of Kobane on Friday and crossed the border into Turkey.

Autonomy in Kurdistan  Matt Petersen & Joen Vedel

From the Kurdish Question.

After driving ISIS from Kobane, the Kurdish liberation movement considers their successes and looks forward toward the continuing struggle for autonomy.

Last week, we met with Hilmi Aydoğdu, Presidency Council member of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK)* at DTK offices in Amed, Kurdistan.

This was just days after the YPG (People’s Defense Units) won a months long battle with ISIS, liberating the city of Kobane. Since our interview, the YPG and other Kurdish fighters have continued to retake surrounding villages in the Kobane Canton, which is one of three autonomous communes in Rojava, the majority Kurdish area of northern Syria.

Earlier this fall, as images of the women warriors of the YPJ (Women’s Protection Units) circulated widely in Western news and social media, radical movements worldwide began to take a renewed interest in the Kurdish freedom movement. This led many to closely study the DTK’s July 2011 declaration of “democratic autonomy” within Turkey. We visited Amed (Diyarbakir), in southeastern Anatolia, which is the political capital of the Kurdish movement, and the headquarters of many of its political organizations, to meet with participants in the movement and learn more about the current Kurdish struggle.

We asked Hilmi what the recent liberation of Kobane meant for the Kurdish movement; about the implementation of democratic autonomy and confederalism within both Rojava and Turkey; and the role of the Kurdish movement as a secular force in the Middle East.

• • •

The main purpose of the Kurdish struggle is the freedom of Kurdish people in all of Kurdistan. What we understand by freedom includes self-rule and independence in terms of using our own economic and natural resources. This is what we call democratic autonomy.

In the Middle East there are many different ethnic communities, many religions and belief systems. It is possible that these people can live together and share their riches with each other, by abolishing the oppression and exploitation in the Middle East. What we call confederalism is the system that includes all these communities and peoples. And to achieve this, we first have to struggle for the democratic autonomy of Kurdistan, and then to spread it to the rest of the region.

This democratic autonomy entails a restructuring of society. We have a struggle that took 40 years, and within this process all the social values and norms in Kurdistan have been drastically transformed. The clearest sign of this social transformation is the women’s struggle. In Kurdistan women were experiencing a double slavery; they were slaves of the system and the slaves of men as well. Our struggle has contributed to the participation of women in all of social life. What we see in Kobane represents this transformation. We believe that a free society is not possible without the freedom and participation of women, demonstrated by the presence of women in every field of life and work.

Our 40 years of struggle revitalized an almost annihilated people. In this 40 year struggle the labor and creative power of women has played a key role. In Kobane, women were fighting shoulder to shoulder with men. The success of Kobane comes from this. The true power behind this success is the actualization of the highest level of creativity, power, and spirit of women. This is the only way for the liberation of our people. The role of women was decisive in Kobane.

The model of democratic autonomy has been realized in Rojava. The building of this model is experienced now in three cantons. Our people, together with other communities living in Rojava, have gained an initiative over their lives within the form of equal representation. Now these people together try to share social prosperity in an equal manner.

For the question of how Syria is going to be liberated, the replacement of Assad with another dictator is not a solution. Rojava proposes a solution to exploitative capitalist modernity in the Middle East. This proposition has disturbed both the reactionaries and imperial powers. They were afraid that Rojava could be an exemplary model, and so they organized ISIS and unleashed them to attack Rojava.

The cantons of Rojava are totally democratic. Whole religious sections are able to represent themselves thanks to the model of democratic autonomy in Rojava, and its spirit of social solidarity. The factor that expelled ISIS is this model of governance, because this model actualizes the dynamics, energy, and potential in people. When we totally expel ISIS, Rojava will achieve further political, economic, social and cultural improvements.

What we express as democratic autonomy/confederalism is a model against capitalist modernity. The primary dynamic of this model is the Kurdish freedom movement. The fascist military coup in 1980 totally crushed the revolutionary opposition in Turkey and it created an intimidated society. The Kurdish movement from the very beginning ceaselessly resisted this fascism. They organized vast resistance in the prisons and began armed struggle on August 15th, 1984. The ceaseless resistance of this movement relied on its power of organizing a philosophy of life, and acted solely by relying on its own power. This movement exposed a vital social power.

The paradigm of the Kurdish movement includes the transformation of not only the Kurds, but also all the oppressed sectors in Turkish society. Therefore the gains of the Kurdish movement have direct impact on the other social sectors in Turkey. However, the role that the Kurds play on the transformation of other oppressed sectors of Turkey could have been larger. The 1980 military coup waged a psychological war, especially through the media, which created a perception in the society that those in the Kurdish freedom movement were monsters. This is an ongoing process. Our struggle has damaged this perception to some extent, but it is still present in Turkish society. The damage of the military coup on the Turkish Left also restrains the impact of the Kurdish freedom movement on Turkish society. If the Turkish Left was not fragmented and dispersed as they are now, the opportunities that the Kurdish movement creates could have been better realized in Turkish society. This is an important disadvantage for the Kurdish struggle.

The Kurdish movement is the only movement that aims at creating a democratic social life in the Middle East. Moreover, the Kurdish movement is the only movement that sees the togetherness of different values of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and other belief systems as a strength and opportunity for developing a social system. There is no other movement in the Middle East that pursues such a democratic social model. I wish there was. If so, they could fight together in solidarity.

The Kurdish movement, especially following the path of leadership, changed the color of the whole Middle East. The reforms that took place in Europe in 14th and 15th centuries have been rapidly experienced in Kurdish society in the last 40 years, such as liberation in culture, art, gender relations, a new democratic perspective, organization of all sections of society on the basis of politics, civil society, and gender. We saw the invincibility of an organized society in Rojava and in Kobane particular. The Kurdish freedom movement is an alternative for both Turkey and the Middle East because it has organized itself in all fields–military, cultural, and beliefs–as an alternative system that is adaptive to contemporary needs.

* Hilmi Aydoğdu was formerly chair of the DTP (Democratic Society Party), a Kurdish political party that was banned by the Turkish government in 2009. The DTP was succeeded by the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party), which last year merged with the HDP (People’s Democratic Party). The HDP plans to run in the June 2015 general elections as a broad alliance party, including both the Kurdish movement and the Turkish Left opposition, where it hopes to reach the 10% threshold to join Turkey’s Grand National Assembly

* The DTK (Democratic Society Congress) is an umbrella organization for the Kurdish movement founded in 2005, as a confederation of civil society organizations, political parties, and individual members of diverse ethnic, political, and religious groups.

Originally published in The New Inquiry (http://thenewinquiry.com/features/autonomy-in-kurdistan/)

Written by Andrew Coates

February 7, 2015 at 11:12 am