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.
Radha D’Souza of CAMPACC introduced the series by asking participants to consider that since our communities are targeted both here and in our home states, this raises both challenges and opportunities when pursuing a self-determination struggle in today’s context; a casino capitalist economy where financial flows can radically disrupt national economies and where resistance movements that present alternative economic models are heavily targeted.
In this context, there are a range of questions to consider. Today, must self-determination be considered a legal question or political question? The answer to this then impacts who we would consider our allies and opponents in the struggle. Is statehood a necessary condition for self-determination? Or should the focus of self-determination shift to being a cultural/political/geopolitical issue or a combination of of these things? Finally, what is our role as diaspora in this struggle? We can be a bridge, but we need to be self-aware of our role. Whilst our communities face anti-terrorism laws both here and there, in London and other ‘imperial centres’, these are spaces where we meet people from all across the world and different kinds of movements, which opens up possibilities to strategise and support our home communities in new ways.
Following this introduction, we heard presentations from 4 speakers on different aspects of the Kurdish liberation struggle.
Havin Guneser began with a presentation on the ideological and organisational transformation of the PKK over the years since 1978, ending with a consideration of the current practice of democratic confederalism addressed specifically through a focus on women’s freedom and its relationship to democracy. Sociologist Joost Jongerden from Wageningen University followed with a presentation on how the PKK has developed a new understanding of the right to self-determination on the basis of a critique of the state and nation-state form.
This was followed by a question and answer session with participants on how the problem of class has been addressed by the Kurdish liberation movement; it is considered in the context of a struggle against a 5000 year old patriarchal agenda as well as the 400 year development of capitalism (and the rise of the concept of class) and nation-state project as we understand it today.
After a short break, Thomas Miley, who is lecturer in political sociology at Cambridge University, began with a second round of presentations. He presented a paper considering the democratic confederal model in both theory and in its practice. Vicky Sentas, lecturer in law at the University of New South Wales, Australia, finished with an overview how listing of the PKK impedes political resolution of the conflict. She noted that whilst NGOs largely sustain the power of terrorist listing, there are resources within emancipatory peace building and anti-colonial traditions that can strengthen solidarity with Kurdish self-determination.
This was followed by further contributions from participants, including on how democratic confederalism is experienced by members of the movement as distinct from outside observers as well as on how the Kurdish movement has managed to transcend the particularisation that has befallen other movements as, whilst they still speak from their own experience, they do so through connecting to broader historical and current traditions of resistance.
Radha closed the session by recalling instances of previous anti-colonial traditions that also operated in the understanding that one’s own independence depended on other colonised peoples gaining their freedom. She invited participants to continue discussions based on considering how strategies must change as the imperial capitalist systems that impact increasingly unequal yet heterogenous nation-states do. She noted that the places where our communities are displaced from are being militarised and contested over. How do we defend our places without pushing to make them nation states, given that the nation state model and its citizenship does not entitle anyone to basic living space?
These are questions we will continue to consider in the next workshop on the Tamil liberation struggle on the 21st March.
Below are videos of the presentations given by speakers during this first workshop.
Havin Guneser: A new dawn in the Middle East (watch)
Joost Jongerden: Beyond the nation-state (watch)
Questions and contributions (watch)
Thomas Jeffrey Miley: The democratic confederal model i theory and practice (watch)
Dr Vicki Sentas: Peace-building as counter insurgency (watch)
Participants were asked to support three documents demanding the delisting of the PKK as a terrorist organisation.
1. An Open Letter to the Minister of State for Europe Rt Hon David Lidington, which has now been sent (see attached).
2. The final resolution of the expert seminar “The so-called anti-terror struggle using the example of the Kurds in the light of International Law” held in Bonn 6-8 FEBRUARY 2015
3. Please sign this appeal by the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights “Remove PKK from the EU Terror List – lift the activity ban – support the peace process – legal reassessment necessary” if you have not yet done so already. (You can also sign the international signature appeal to lift the ban on the PKK at the Delist the PKK website.)
Finally, a call was made by Havin Guneser for all to participate in the Hamburg Conference organised by Network for an Alternative Quest between 3-5 April 2015 on “Dissecting Capitalist Modernity – Building Democratic Confederalism”. See website for conference details and draft programme
For more information please contact:
Or Estella Schmid
Tel 020 7586 5892