News

Daily Mail: ‘Syrian Kurds Face Tough Talks To Preserve Autonomy’

Daily Mail reports on “tough talks” to preserve Democratic Autonomy in Rojava:

Syria’s Kurdish minority, hailed as an indispensable Western ally during the war against the Islamic State group, faces hard bargaining with Damascus to save its hard-won autonomy.

Early last year, President Bashar al-Assad’s government held just 17 percent of Syrian territory and was unable to do anything about the autonomous institutions the Kurds have set up in areas under their control.

But a succession of Russian-backed victories over the jihadists and a range of rebel factions has transformed the balance of power.

Assad’s government now controls nearly two-thirds of Syria and is determined to reassert its authority over Kurdish-held territory which forms the lion’s share of the rest.

Recognising their weakened position, Kurdish leaders and their supporters last month opened talks with Damascus, desperate to salvage what they can of the institutions they painstakingly built over the years.

“We are trying to preserve everything we built in terms of the autonomous system, the institutions, the democracy,” said leading Kurdish figure Saleh Muslim.

Read the full article on the Daily Mail here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-6043061/Syria-Kurds-face-tough-talks-preserve-autonomy.html

MERIP Interview with Kurdish Women’s Movement Activist Dilar Dirik

Dilar Dirik, an activist in the Kurdish women’s movement, discusses the Turkish attack on Afrin, the failure of the West to support the SDF despite their alliance against ISIS, and the continuing struggle. She calls for citizen action and a boycott of Turkey to halt Erdogan’s war on the Kurds.

Read the full article in the Middle Eastern Research and Information Project here: https://www.merip.org/mero/mero072418

OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) Releases Report on Turkey’s Human Rights Abuses in Afrin

The UN’s pre-eminent working body on Human Rights, the OHCHR, has released a report detailing the virtual annexation of the Afrin canton of Rojava (DFNS) by Turkey and systematic abuses under Turkey’s occupation.  Turkey has put in place a proxy government which is committing rampant human rights abuses against the local Kurdish population and is trying to change the ethnic composition of the area, actions which amount to major war crimes. The report also predicts further Turkish actions against Rojava if the US pulls out, unless some comprehensive peace agreement is reached first.

Read the full report, entitled “Between a Rock and Hard Place: Civilians in North-Western Syria” at the link below.

PDF Link: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/ohchr_-_syria_monthly_human_rights_digest_-_june_2018.pdf

Interview with Sinam Mohamad – Representative of Syrian Democratic Council in the U.S.

Sinam Mohamad (Representative of Syrian Democratic Council in U.S.) and Bassam Ishak (President of the Syriac National Council of Syria) gave an interview to the Washington Kurdish Institute Weekly Digest.

Democratic principles and equitable treatment of civilians are the principles on which the SDF was founded and are the values which give its fighters an advantage over their opponents. These principles are aligned with the societal values of most of the Western democracies which comprise the US-led coalition, and the failure to support them in Syria might be the greatest misstep the United States could take in its war against the Islamic State. In the words of SNC Chairman Ishak, “Our vision is for a pluralistic Syria, a decentralized Syria, sharing power, separating religion from state, with gender equality and religious freedom. If this had happened in Turkey or any other Muslim country, it would be illegal. This is a model that is the antithesis of every oppressive regime… This is the real revolution”.

Follow the link to read the entire interview: https://dckurd.org/2018/06/27/the-syrian-democratic-forces-multiethnic-military-alliance/

Sinem Mohamed is a long time Kurdish activist defending the Kurdish rights in Syria, and Bassam Ishak is a Syriac Christian who does not share a similar language, religion, or culture with Sinem. However, both figures seem to be in total agreement envisioning the future of Syria. That vision is a decentralized Syria where communities govern themselves and have the SDF as a guarantor of human rights.   

Komun Academy – Online Resource on Concepts of Democratic Modernity – Launches

A group of international researchers and activists have just announced the launch of the Komun Academy, an online space meant to gather knowledge and generate discussion about democratic modernity. Its website is an attempt to share the ideology, perspectives and debates of the Kurdish freedom movement with internationalists around the world and to form a platform for revolutionary debate among us. The academy invites everybody, especially people active in social and political movements and collectives, to participate and share their knowledge, experience and visions for a world in justice and freedom.

You can visit the website at https://komun-academy.com/

Information Center of the Afrin Resistance Ceases Newsletter Publication

The Afrin Resistance Information Newsletter has been forced to shut down its online news service because people in Afrin, are under threat of abduction, torture and murder, are afraid to talk; members of the team have difficulty communicating with each other, and, most important, they have been locked out of their Twitter account and have been unable to get technical help from Twitter. They are asking for help from outside to recover their account.

 

New York Review of Books: How My Father’s Ideas Helped the Kurds Create a New Democracy

Debbie Bookchin’s comprehensive overview of the ideas of her father, Murray Bookchin, the way these ideas were seized upon and extended by Abdullah Ocalan, and the resulting efforts to build a nonhierarchical ecological democracy in Rojava. In addition to political philosophy, this piece discusses the way ideas of municipal democracy have become integrated with feminism in the practice of the Kurdish liberation movement, and lays out the political conundrum inherent in the US and EU efforts to keep the radical Kurds as (subordinate) allies and at the same time allow Turkey to try to destroy them.

Read more at New York Review of Books.

The Guardian: ‘Nothing is ours anymore’: Kurds forced out of Afrin after Turkish assault

The canton of Afrin had always been majority-Kurdish, even as refugees from other parts of Syria found homes there during the war. However, one of the goals of the Turkish-backed occupation and invasion was demographic change— and Turkish forces and their predominantly-Arab Islamist militia allies are doing just that, preventing local Kurds from returning to their homes.

Rojava, a Socialist-Feminist Bastion in Syria, is Under Siege

Since the end of the Cold War, progressives have been searching for some alternative to both these neoliberal capitalist modernity and ethnic or religious-based extremism. The Kurds are working on their version of this in praxis; they call it democratic confederalism and see women as central to its development. Their experiment and the lessons we can learn from it are desperately important to all of us for the future. Defending Rojava is part of defending our own ability to imagine something new.

Read at The Indypendent.

International Tribunal: Turkey Guilty of War Crimes Against the Kurdish People

With less than a month remaining before the presidential election in Turkey, an international Tribunal has issued a stinging condemnation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, charging him with war crimes and saying he has caused “incalculable suffering” to the Kurdish people in Southeast Turkey. The Tribunal report calls for him to enter into immediate negotiations with the Kurds, restore the rule of law, and withdraw completely from the largely-Kurdish enclave of Afrin in Syria.

Importantly the Tribunal, declared that the Kurdish struggle is not a “terrorist” issue as Erdogan claims, but rather a “non-international armed conflict ruled by international humanitarian law” and thus should not be subject to anti-terrorism legislation which Erdogan has used as justification for his harsh repression of the Kurdish people in the southeast. The Tribunal noted that the Kurdish movement has repeatedly tried to negotiate a peaceful solution with Turkey and been rebuffed by Erdogan.

For a 6-minute video of the Tribunal President summarizing the verdict and recommendations during its release at the European Parliament in Brussels May 24, please click here.

To read a summary of the verdict, click here: