Seven years ago, on July 19th 2012 in the city of Kobane in northern Syria, western Kurdistan (Rojava), the People’s and Women’s Protection Units (YPG/YPJ) took over the city from the regime, and Rojava’s revolution began. Since then the Women’s Revolution has defeated one of the most bloodthirsty forms of fascism to have ever existed, and liberated a third of Syria. This revolutionary movement has refused to wait for military victory to transform social relations, and while the Syrian Democratic Forces have defended the people, civil organisations, led by women and youth, have organised the basis for society’s self-governance: radical democracy based on autonomous and co-federated communes, people’s rather than “national” self-determination, founded on principles of gender liberation, social ecology and a cooperative economy. Opposing itself utterly to capitalism, the nation-state and patriarchy, the revolution in North-East Syria has begun building socialism for the 21st century.
Global imperial powers like Russia and the US have been happy to support the Syrian Democratic Forces against Daesh fascism (ISIS), letting revolutionaries give their lives in the struggle, but they remain implaccable enemies of the Women’s Revolution and will betray our martyrs at the first opportunity. North-East Syria shows the world that democratic alternatives to capitalist modernity are possible, that self-determination doesn’t mean new nation-states, but people controlling their everyday lives, and that a balanced, ecological life can only be achieved by abolishing capitalism – which in turn can only be abolished by dismantling patriarchy. So the interstate system, global empire, will never accept the revolution or its achievements, however many times its revolutionaries fight against fascism for all humanity.
Global imperial powers, across both Russian and American blocs, attempt to undermine and co-opt North-East Syria’s democratic, autonomous and confederal system in countless ways, not least by weaponising their clients the Syrian and, especially, Turkish states. Early last year the Russian state allowed the Turkish state’s invasion of Afrin after the Syrian Democratic Council refused to hand over the canton to the Assad regime, and in December Trump tried to do the same with the region east of the Euphrates, thinking he’d swap the lives of millions in return for the Turkish state cancelling a Russian missile contract. Over the last year and a half Afrin’s seen the kind of occupation and genocidal demographic change the Turkish state has specialised in over the past century, from Armenians, Assyrians and Pontic Greeks, to Kurds, Alevi and Cypriots – and, just like those earlier instances, the “international community” remains silent and complicit. If we cannot resist empire’s designs then the same fate awaits North-East Syria, with global powers bargaining away the revolution’s achievements for business and arms contracts, while plans to liquidate the revolution are hatched in Ankara and Damascus. There will be no imperial saviour for the Women’s Revolution, there is no hope in the interstate system.
But the Kurdish Freedom Movement and Rojava Revolution have more friends than the mountains alone. A growing global movement is getting organised, regenerating traditions of revolutionary internationalism, and standing ready to rise up for the revolution and its achievements. We know that the only way to ensure the revolution’s survival is to deepen the radical democratisation of Syria, Kurdistan, Turkey and the whole Middle East, and to build deep, practical solidarity between us and them, as we struggle for the same radical democratisation across the Global North. We must understand them as us, and us as them, not as a cheap slogan, but as a real and meaningful statement of fact. The system they fight there and we fight here is one and the same, we are not saviours giving charity, they are not angels from heaven who will build a new world for us. We are friends and comrades in the same struggle, against the same capitalist modernity, for the same free and equal life everyhere.
So Plan C, alongside our comrades in the Kurdistan Solidarity Network and the transnational #RiseUp4Rojava platform, are calling for international days of action on the 6th and 7th of September. We call for action against those elements of the system here that feed the reactionary violence there – the war there starts here. In London, Plan C and the Kurdistan Solidarity Network will be mobilising against the DSEI arms fair as part of the #stopDSEI platform. Every two years DSEI turns London into a one-stop bargain shop for all the mechanised violences of capital and the state worldwide, regularly facilitating the sale of arms illegal according to international treaties. In 2015 Anna Campbell (Ş. Hêlîn Qereçox) was part of the #stopDSEI mobilisation, meanwhile, inside the fair, Turkish state representatives negotiated contracts for the F-16s that would murder Anna and her comrades on March 15th 2018, in the last days of the genocidal fascist and imperialist invasion of Afrin. So when we mobilise against DSEI, Anna will be in our hearts, the embodiment of our shared struggle here and there – yes, in its most destructive form, with the British state and UK-based companies complicit in her murder, but in Anna our shared struggle appears at its most beautiful, powerful, and life-affirming, a glimpse of another possible world.
On Friday the 6th we’ll be present at #StopDSEI’s climate day, bringing workshops on social ecology and the Kurdish Freedom Movement’s eco-socialist paradigm, as well as Kurdish music and dancing. On Saturday 7th, the festival of resistance, it’s all out for a joyful, militant demonstration of our deep, practical solidarity with the Women’s Revolution. The theme of Saturday’s Festival of Resistance is ‘International Solidarity and local democracy’. As internationalists, we will be standing in solidarity with the many communities who will gather to resist against the DSEI arms fair. With Palestinians protesting the presence of the Israeli arms industry at the fair, and against the continued licensing of the export of weapons to Israel. And alongside Bahrainis and Yemenis struggling to end the UK’s arming of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi regime will also be sending a delegation to DSEI to shop for more weapons.
We will also stand with the people of Newham and London Renters’ Union, who are joining the resistance against the arms fair, calling for true local democracy. DSEI is being imposed on the people of East London by the state, against the will of the vast majority of people. The Kurdish freedom movement stands for direct democracy. For the replacement of the state by confederated people’s assemblies, created in the context of collectivism and gender liberation. We hope we can bring new depth and inspiration from the Rojava revolution to the calls for real and meaningful local democracy in London and across these islands.
If you can’t come to London for this mobilisation, then we encourage autonomous action in your own area and community, however large or small this might be – as Lorenzo Orsetti (Ş. Tekoşer ‘Orso’ Piling) said, a veteran of Afrin who fell in the last days of Daesh’s territorial caliphate, ‘Remember that every storm starts with a single drop – try to be that drop.’
So if you stand against all the horrors of capitalist modernity, with its endless exploitation and domination, and countless gendered, class-based, racial and national violences, and if you desire a free and equal life for everyone everywhere, where we collectively, directly and democratically control our everyday lives, and can develop freely in ecological balance with the world around us, then join us on the 6th and 7th of September, and #RiseUp4Rojava.
For more details on UK-based as well as global complicity in the Turkish military-industrial complex, and potential ideas for actions near you, see: www.boycott-turkey.net
For the international call from #RiseUp4Rojava see: https://riseup4rojava.org/international-day-of-action/
And for information about #stopDSEI see: https://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/stopdsei-2019/