Last Friday, on International Women’s Day, thousands of feminists of all genders took to the streets...
We formed our Rojava Solidarity Cluster at the end of October and our opening statement set out 4 main aims to achieve within the first 6 months of forming. We think it is useful to publicise how well we have achieved this goals as we enter a short period of reflection and planning. The cluster has grown in size and geographical scale (we are now also active in Brighton), including those already active in Kurdish solidarity work and those new to the topic.
1) “Build contacts and relationships with organisations and individuals active on this topic within the UK and beyond”.
We feel we have successfully started building relationships with British and Kurdish structures and individuals, many in cities where these relationships had previously not existed. We have active members and groups in Birmingham, Leeds, London, Manchester, and have just started working on the topic in Brighton as well. We are working on local initiatives in our cities: in Birmingham we have been working in conjunction with the IWW on a language school program for Kurds with the goal of improving their English for asylum cases and workplace organising.
Our members are also building links in cities we don’t organise in, with student organisations, as well as parts of the co-operative movement. At the national level we have played an important role in building the March 6th national demonstration calling for an end to Turkish state violence against the Kurdish movements. We have hopes we can use the work for this demonstration to build longer lasting national structures. Finally, we are also tentatively building links beyond the UK as well, sending money to the Kurdish Red Cross and the Dutch “Stiching Help Kobane” schoolbus campaign (more below).
2) “Begin producing and disseminating information materials on developments within Rojava and Turkey. We aim to begin this with a national speaker tour in late November”.
We published our initial statement when weformed the cluster and also published an article after the decision to expand Britain’s air strikes into Syria was taken. This article was well received and we hope to write more in the coming months. We organised a large discussion event in Manchester with Dr Jeff Miley who has visited Rojava and Erdelan Baran of the Kurdistan National Congress (recording here). Members of Birmingham Plan C delivered a talk at Warwick University, alongside a member of the PYD, on the topic as well as well as delivering a talk and producing an info-sheet for dissemination in the co-operative movement. Our members have written articles for various online magazines and we hope to continue this in the future. Ideally, we also want to be in a position to accept an invitation onto a delegation to the region in the near future.
3) “Organise our first fundraising campaign. We plan to begin small and then raise our goals as we develop. For our first campaign we plan to raise £3000 by January, with £2000 going to Rojava and £1000 to Kurdish structures here in the UK”.
Our first fundraising campaign was very successful. We raised just under £6000 primarily from our online fundraiser, but also through individual fundraising endeavours and a party in Manchester. This money has been roughly divided into several pots:
* £1000 for use by Kurdish structures and projects here in the UK. Some of this money will go towards the March 6th demonstration and we are looking into other initiatives which would benefit from the money.
* £1000 has been sent to a team of paramedics heading to the frontline in the region. This has been spent on medical supplies for the team. We hope to get a report from them at some point.
* We sent over £3000 to “Stichting Help Kobane’s” schoolbus campaign. We hope to hear more from their project next month.
* Smaller amounts of money were donated to Heyva Sor (Kurdish Red Cross), and other smaller projects in the region.
4) “Expand our capacity in order to be able to mobilise in the streets in solidarity with Rojava and progressive struggles against the Turkish state”.
The numbers of Plan C members in our cluster, our connections to other structures, and our ability to organise has developed over the past few months. We have helped mobilise for demonstrations in all our cities and are putting lots of work into the March 6th demonstration in London. We have noticed that these demonstrations are primarily comprised of members of the Turkish and Kurdish communities, and that more work and debate is obviously needed to encourage the British left to show more solidarity. We strongly encourage everyone to make it to the demonstration in London on the 6th of March. If you need help finding transport you can contact Stop War on Kurds or Plan C at (email@example.com).
After the national demonstration on the 6th March we hope to pick some new targets and goals and will publicise these. We want to keep developing our work without getting stuck into the usual traps of solidarity campaigning in the UK. If you are interested in getting involved with our work please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rojava Solidarity Cluster
* Opening Statement – http://www.weareplanc.org/blog/rojava-solidarity-cluster-opening-statement/
* Beyond #dontbombsyria – http://www.weareplanc.org/blog/beyond-dontbombsyria-some-thoughts-and-suggestions-with-solidarity-and-hope/
* Co-operation in Rojava Bulletin 1 – https://cooperationinrojava.wordpress.com/