I began this year by crossing into the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria, commonly referred to in the West as Rojava. Rojava is seeing the creation of a radical, autonomous democracy with feminist and ecological values at its foundation, all whilst embroiled in the ongoing civil war and facing open hostility from surrounding countries. As an antifascist and leftist witnessing the rise of ultra-nationalism and prejudice across the West, I believe that Rojava offers a viable alternative.
My work here will comprise of participating in Tev-Dem (Movement For a Democratic Society) by offering my skills as a teacher and in various aspects of civil society, including working on the expansion of the communes (which aim to build the grassroots democratic structures of the revolution). I am particularly inspired by the centrality of women’s rights and female empowerment to the revolution and I want to work alongside the women at the forefront of the struggle against fascism and patriarchy. I have only been here for a short time but the conversations with the women that I have met thus far- soldiers, mothers, medics and commune members- give me hope that what is being created here is something real and significant.
In my time here I hope to both take part in and report honestly on the realities of the women’s revolution. I want to contribute all that I can to the realisation of this revolution… more to come.
– Verity Perro, Rojava Solidarity Cluster
A Wider Cluster Report
Quite a bit in Rojava has changed since we last posted an update on our works as the Rojava Solidarity Cluster. Political events in Turkey and America have taken some dramatic turns, with the long-term consequences for the Kurdish struggle remaining unclear. Assad has retaken Aleppo and Turkish backed forces are currently in between Cizire and Effrin cantons, attacking the city of al-Bab. At the same time Kurdish forces are receiving greater international attention due to their pivotal role in liberating key areas of Syria, including their current campaign around Raqqa. Moreover, in the midst of this turmoil two Plan C comrades have travelled to Rojava. The latest statement from our most recently arrived comrade, Verity Perro, can be read above. You can also read an early Plan C report of the situation in Rojava here.
In response to these momentous political shifts the Cluster has reaffirmed its commitment to practical solidarity with both the revolutionary movement in the Rojava cantons, as well as the Kurdish struggle more generally. Since its inception this secular and multi-ethnic experiment in self-governance has always been Internationalist. Within Rojava strong calls for others to support the social revolutionary character of this project through raising funds, sharing expertise, building campaigns, movements and infrastructure, have been there from the beginning. This is why we’ve focussed on material solidarity – we’ve sent funds for a school bus, medical equipment, teachers and social projects.
Here’s a run-down of what we’ve been up to since the summer.
National Solidarity and Coordination
Following the arrest of prominent members of Turkey’s progressive parliamentary party, the HDP (People’s Democratic Party), including its co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, the cluster joined the call for local demonstrations (Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Brighton and Liverpool) against this violent repression from the Turkish state.
On a larger scale, we hosted the latest meeting of SWOK (“Stop War on Kurds”) in Birmingham. This is an organisation we are working with to develop an effective national solidarity network. Most recently SWOK organised a successful demo in London, also in solidarity with the HDP, on the 11th of December.
In the last few months the Rojava Cluster has been involved in hosting and coordinating several local events. In September, Manchester Plan C members and “Friends of Kurdistan – Manchester” hosted a very well attended seminar discussion on the idea of democratic confederalism, as discussed by Abdullah Ocalan. This is the ideological backdrop to many of the initiatives in Rojava. The event took place at the university and featured Ocalan’s translator, Havin Guneser, as well as representatives from Unite and the GMB’s “Freedom for Ocalan” campaign.
Groups in London, Leeds and Birmingham hosted an event titled ‘Eye-witness to War and Revolution”. This was a talk led by three individuals who had recently returned from Rojava. As such, discussion revolved around problems and practicalities in Rojava, as well as emphasising the call for international solidarity.
The Cluster is planning more events in the New Year, with the aims of continuing to raise funds, as well as sharing up-to-date information on the Kurdish struggle and the Rojava experiment in particular.
As well as donations to the Kurdish Red Crescent, the cluster has also thrown its support behind an important initiative by Radial Routes & Kongreya Star (the women’s confederation in Rojava). The partnership was made with the aim of raiding funds to set up a co-operative bakery for women workers in Kobane. Through fundraising at the events above the Plan C Rojava Cluster has managed to make a significant contribution to the cause. In total, the campaign managed to raise just under seven thousand euros.
In the New Year we are committed to launching further fundraisers to contribute to the various community and rebuilding projects in Rojava.
This Saturday some Plan C comrades have helped to organise an event in Liverpool, on Saturday 28th of Jan, to raise money for urgent medical equipment. See you there!