Rojava: A Democratic System in Progress – A Short Film by System D Media

System D media has released a short video on Rojava and the Kurdish struggle for Democratic Confederalism in the region. Featuring interviews with Kurdish activists Memed Aksoy and Zeynep Kurban, the International Initiative’s Havin Gunesser, academics Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley and Dr David Graeber and more, the film offers a useful introduction into the revolution in Rojava and its origins, as well as the role of the PKK, and the theoretical influence of Ocalan.

Many of the interview were filmed during CAMPACCs recent workshop on National Self-Determination and the Global ‘Counter-Terror’ Regime, which took place in February.

Many thanks to Solene Cravic for her work!

Stop ISIS/Daesh – new petition

Vasiliki Scurfield, mother of Erik Konstandinos Scurfield who was martyred in battle while fighting alongside the YPG in Kobane, has launched a signature campaign and is pushing for 100,000 signatures so that a debate takes place in Parliament. You will find the petition at Change.org – please sign and share!

STOP ISIS/DAESH

They all have names. Every one of the people who ISIS has murdered has a name and every day more people die trying to protect their right to a life free from persecution and terror.

All decent human beings are disgusted and horrified by the atrocities perpetrated by ISIS, yet ISIS continues is evil work unhindered, growing in strength and even affiliating with other extremist organisations. In the meantime there are some half- hearted coalition air strikes which, at best, succeed only in temporarily containing ISIS. Yet all across Northern Syria Rojavan Kurds continue to fight, essentially unassisted, to protect people of all religions and ethnic backgrounds and support refugees. Continue reading

STUC conference passes motion supporting Rojava

The motion below was recently passed at the STUC conference in Ayr. Kurdish activists and Peace in Kurdistan Campaign’s Trade Union Liaison Officer Stephen Smellie (UNISON) were at the event for three days, where they met with union activists including Dave Parentis, general secretary of UNISON.

Kurdish activists with Stephen Smellie and UNISON general secretary Dave Parentis

Kurdish activists with Stephen Smellie and UNISON general secretary Dave Parentis

STUC April 2015

104. SUPPORT ROJAVA, DEFEND KOBANE, DEFEAT ISIS

“That this Congress expresses its concern at the events in Syria, resulting in thousands of deaths resulting in thousands of deaths and that conflict and the rise of ISIS has created a humanitarian crisis in the region and that millions of refugees have been displaced and some are now surviving with the assistance of local authorities, trade unions and volunteers, often without international aid.

Congress note:

  • the efforts in Rojava to establish an inclusive, non-sectarian and democratic self-rule, which has attracted considerable attention because of their experiment in democratic self-government, which is unique within the region;
  • the role that women are playing in the administration, and defence, of Rojava;
  • the role of the defence forces of Rojava, the YPG and the women’s YPJ, the Peshmerga of the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq and the PKK, in defending Kobane and the battle against ISIS in Iraq; and
  • That assemblies and popular militias have been formed, regime property turned over to worker co-operatives and all despite continual attacks by ISS forces.

Continue reading

Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Kurds: Geostrategic concerns for the U.S and Turkey – Gunter

Michael M. Gunter, professor of political science at Tennessee Technological University, has published a new article in the Middle East Policy Journal which analyses the geostrategic concerns of Turkey and the U.S in the Middle East. It is available via Middle East Policy Journal,

The rise of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq as well as the ongoing insurgency of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and now peace negotiations with the Turkish government have empowered the Kurds and challenged the existing political map of the Middle East. On July 19, 2012, the previously quiescent Syrian Kurds —largely under the leadership of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), closely associated with the PKK — also suddenly emerged as a potential game changer in the Syrian civil war and what its aftermath might hold for the future of the Middle East. In an attempt to consolidate an increasingly desperate position, government troops were abruptly pulled out of the major Kurdish areas. The Kurds in Syria had suddenly become autonomous, a situation that also affected neighboring Turkey and the virtually independent KRG in Iraq. Indeed, the precipitous rise of the Kurds in Syria could become a factor in changing the artificial borders of the Middle East established after World War I by the notorious Sykes-Picot Agreement.

Read the article in full.

PYD responds to government criticisms of the party in recent report

The Democratic Union Party (PYD), one of the leading parties in Rojava, has responded to criticisms about the party that were laid out in a recent Government report. The report was written as a response to a Foreign Affairs Select Committee document, entitled UK Government Policy on the Kurdistan Region of Iraqwhich was the result of an inquiry into theUK’s relationship with the KRG, including investment, foreign policy implications, and diplomatic relations.

The government’s response to that enquiry included a section on Syrian Kurdistan and the PYD, which it accused of maintaining links with the Assad government and refusing to work with the official Syrian opposition. It also suggested the party should make a greater commitment to pluralism and human rights, in total ignorance of the pluralism being engendered in Rojava’s political sphere which is no small part due to the PYD’s policies. It is worth giving the report a read.

The PYD’s co-chair Salih Muslim, recently submitted a response to the UK government’s accusations, which we reproduce below. Continue reading

Damages to Kobane and plans for its reconstruction

The Kobane Authorities have released two documents that detail the damages suffered by the city and the plans for its reconstruction. The first, by the Kobane Administration, provides a detailed list of infrastructure damage and the what is needed in terms of water, healthcare, energy services, agricultural production, transport and more. The second, by the Kobane Reconstruction Board, summarises ecological and social principles that will underlie the rebuilding of the city, and makes suggestions of the kind of architecture and spatial design that could be implemented in the city’s reconstruction.

Download the documents below.

Kobane Canton Damage Report- April 2015 –  Democratic Self-Management, Kobane Canton – Syria (pdf)

Report for the Ecological and Democratic Reconstruction of Kobanê– Kobane Reconstruction Platform (pdf)

Vasiliki Scurfield addresses Newroz reception in Parliament

The Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) held an event in parliament on 17 March, to celebrate Newroz, the Kurdish New Year. The event was hosted by MP Mike Gapes. The speakers were Vasiliki Scurfield, the mother of Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, Michelle Allison, KNK UK women’s representative, Dr Alan Semo, PYD UK representative, and Dr Mohamed Kanyany, former KRG MP.

by Sofia Beatty

newroz parliament_vsAddressing a packed meeting in the House of Commons, Aysegul Erdogan, chairing, welcomed the speakers, with a special thanks to Vasiliki Scurfield, the mother of Konstandinos Scurfield, the ex-Royal Marine who died fighting with the YPG for the liberation of the Kurdish people. This year, said Aysegul, Newroz “takes on added significance, as this is the first Newroz since the victory of the Kurdish forces, the YPG and YPJ in Kobani, Rojava. This year, the fire of Newroz burns brighter than before. Newroz, for us Kurdish people, has a different meaning. To us, it means light over darkness, freedom over oppression, peace over war.” She praised the Kurdish spirit of resistance in the face genocidal acts against the Kurdish people, such as at Halabja. Continue reading

PYD: We have a common responsibility to prevent another genocide

We received this appeal from the Democratic Union party (PYD) representation in Europe, which calls on the international community to support YPG, YPJ and other defence forces as they resist the latest ISIS onslaught in the Til Hemis and Til Birak regions of Syria. 

An appeal to the international community

We have a common responsibility to prevent another genocide

It started with Kobane and Sinjar, and now we are witnessing the same developments in Til Temir, Serê Kanî and Al Hasaka. Since February 22th, these areas have come under a brutal and barbaric assault by the Islamic State. Triggered by their setbacks in Kobane, Til Hemis and Til Birak, the terrorists have launched a major terrorist campaign. No one has been spared, including women, children and so-called ”apostates”. Once again we have witnessed the horrendous enslavement of women by the hands of the terrorists, beheadings of innocent civilians and the destruction of churches and mosques. The tragic fate of our 300 kidnapped Christian’s brothers and sisters is sadly still unknown. Continue reading

CAMPACC reports on the first of their innovative workshops series on self-determination

CAMPACC has initiated a research and outreach project which aims to critically examine the contradictions between national struggles for self-determination and the global ‘counter -terror’ regime, which has begun with a series of workshops focusing on key case studies – the Kurdish question; the Tamil struggle and the Somali struggle. Below is the report from their first workshop, which includes videos of each of the presentations.

On the 21st February 2015 CAMPACC, in association with SOAS Kurdish Society, hosted the first workshop in a series on Self-determination against the global ‘counter-terror’ regime. This was on the Kurdish liberation struggle. Continue reading

Victory in Kobane: What next for the Rojava Revolution?

“ ‘The victory of capitalism is in its ability to capture the mind.’ Whereas a hundred years ago, if you were poor you would rebel; now if you are poor, you dream of winning the lottery.”

Quoting PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan at the most recent Peace in Kurdistan Campaign/Roj Women event at SOAS University, Havin Guneser of the International Initiative – Freedom for Ocalan Campaign gave a rich exploration of how one of the world’s most vibrant contemporary anti-capitalist rebellions led not only to victory in Kobane following a devastating 6-month siege by ISIS, but the development of a genuine social revolution. As Guneser explained, it was that social revolution, now embedded in the personal lives and working institutions of the people living in Rojava, that ultimately ensured that Kobane had the strength to fight off ISIS attacks. Continue reading

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