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By Nick Fredman
March 28, 2017 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – Sharply different opinions have developed among the radical left in recent years towards the Syrian radical democratic movement led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) — an initially Kurdish-based force which through a series of political and military struggles and alliances has recently formed the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, as a model for a multi-ethnic, non-sectarian, federal and socially just alternative for the nation and the region. Some on the international left have accused this movement of human rights abuses, political repression and collaboration with the Syrian dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad.
I was prompted to write the present notes in response to two articles by Roy Gutman in the US Nation magazine (here and here). But as these articles both sum up and are fairly extreme examples of the left criticisms of the PYD-led movement, it makes sense to discuss some background and previous articles before taking up Gutman.
Dilar Dirik interviewed by George Souvlis, first published at Salvage
George Souvlis: By way of introduction, could you explain what personal experiences strongly influenced you, politically and academically?
Dilar Dirik: As a Kurd, you can never run from your identity, because your identity is essentially political and the level of your political consciousness acts as a self-defense as the only way to secure your survival and existence. That is why insistence on the free expression of your self-determined identity is portrayed as political controversy, nationalism, or terrorism by the capitalist-statist system.
By Hawzhin Azeez
February 2, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Kurdish Question — Zahra Shexo bends over her sewing machine and meticulously, but expertly allows the course material to run through her fingers and under the pointed needle of the machine. The sound of over a dozen women’s laughter and conversation intermixes with the repetitive mechanical sounds of the sewing machines in the large room. The sewing room is a Kaleidoscope of different coloured materials, samples, threads and other necessary sewing items. Zahra is the current administrator of the textile cooperative Amargi in Kobane city.
By Anna Lau, Erdelan Baran, and Melanie Sirinathsingh
November 23, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Open Democracy — For 4000 years since the breakdown of the Akkadian Empire in Mesopotamia, almost every major societal collapse has featured five trends: spiralling migration, state collapse, food shortages, epidemic disease and climate change. What makes the present era distinct is that whilst previous collapses have been geographically contained, the globalisation of carbon-intensive industry since the 1800s and particularly over the last four decades means that the relationship between cause and effect has been obscured. Many of the people worst impacted by human-caused climate change today are also the least responsible for it. The Climate Stories project believes that averting further damage and building a different future means being led by those who are the first to hear the earth rise up in protest, have considered the causes and are innovating solutions. In this spirit, this article documents reflections from a series of conversations with members of the Kurdish movement on climate change.
Exploring the roots of a 21st century ‘climate crisis’
Kurds and Turks are at the edge of a cliff: An interview with arrested Kurdish women’s rights activist Ayla Akat
Nadje al-Ali and Latif Tas interview Ayla Akat
November 4, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Open Democracy — Ayla Akat, lawyer, former Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) MP for Batman, KJA Spokesperson and prominent Kurdish women’s rights activists based in Diyarbakir (Amed) was arrested a few days ago alongside other Kurdish women’s rights activists.
They were protesting against the illegal arrest of Gültan Kışanak, co-mayor of Diyarbakir, who has been detained together with the city’s male co-mayor, Fırat Anlı. In addition, 27 elected Kurdish co-mayors are in prison in Turkey, while 43 of them were dismissed. On 11 September 2016, the central government appointed deputy governors as trustees to replace the dismissed Kurdish mayors who were elected by more than 70% of the public vote.
October 19, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from ANF News — Rojava Cantons General Coordination issued a statement on the outcome of the coordination meeting where they assessed the recent political developments in Syria and the region.
The Coordination statement reads: “The Rojava Cantons General Coordination convened on October 10, 2016 to assess the political developments in Syria and the region. We would like to share our views and the political situation in the region in the face of the historic weight placed on our shoulders by the developments.
By Rojava Solidarity NYC
August 29, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Crisis and Revolt — Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria on 24 August was flagged up as a move to drive the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) out of the border town of Jarabulus. But that is just a cover: Turkey’s not very secret major objective is to crush the 50,000-strong Kurdish YPG (people’s Protection Unit) militia, and overrun the three autonomous Kurdish dominated areas, collectively called ‘Rojava’ by the Kurds.
By Ruken Isik
April 5, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from The Next System Project -- The struggles of Kurdish women in Rojava Kurdistan (Northern Syria) became known to many people in the world during the brutal attacks of ISIS against the city of Kobane in northern Syria on September 15th, 2014. While Kurdish men and women were trying to defend the city from ISIS militia men with limited ammunition and inadequate weapons, compared to sophisticated weapons in the hands of ISIS, Kurds worldwide took to the streets to be voice for Kurds in Rojava and Kobane. From the battle to defend Kobane onward, Western media and politicians have started to talk about the brave Kurdish women who are fighting against ISIS and its brutal treatment—including enslavement—of women.
But a question still resonates in many ears: how do Kurdish women join the fight against ISIS in such numbers, and why are women on the forefront of the struggle? What is the history behind this remarkable departure from the norm, and what can advocates for systemic change and feminism learn from Rojava?
March 15, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Rojava Report -- The following is a translation of an article written by Fehim Taştekin for Radikal. In the article Taştekin interviews Eldar Halill, a member of the executive committee of TEV-DEM, and Zuhat Kobani, a representative of the PYD in Europe, and reflects on the current calculations of the Kurds in Rojava in light of the complex geopolitics unfolding in the region.
Despite receiving warnings from the United States and artillery fire from Turkey, the Kurds are silently laying the foundation for democratic autonomy between Marea and Azaz.
Throughout the history of Syria the Kurds have moved back and forth in the gray zone between freedom the one day and oppression the next. Since 1957 the Kurds have passed through a political vice whereby they undertook party politics during during time when it was outlawed, and even when it was legal it was seen as illegal when it crossed beyond certain redlines. This also deepened their experience with conflict. It also taught them how to take their own case to an international platform. Everyone has a game plan in Syria, including the Kurds…
[English version available here]
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from International Viewpoint -- An international statement on the situation in Syria in Iraq “Let us mobilise against dictatorships, imperialist aggression and Daesh. We reject the politics ‘national security’, racism and austerity” published by International Viewpoint on 11 December, has now (as of 4 January 2016) been signed by over 40 revolutionary socialist organizations spanning five continents.
We very much welcome the emergence of such broad joint statements from the Left! As individuals who feel closely tied to the revolutionary Left and its fortunes, we hope to see more international initiatives of this type in the future, as they can contribute to an intensification of international coordination between the forces of the revolutionary Left, thereby helping to make us a more visible social and political force. We’d like to thank the comrades for taking the initiative for this international statement, and we share the analysis and the demands of the statement.
-Does any living-being have a chance to survive without defending oneself?
Today is a day for taking responsibility for the projects of self-government and for raising one’s voice.
-If there had been barricades in Wan (Van), Sêrt (Sirt) and Qoser (Kızıltepe) would there have been as many extrajudicial executions?
Now a weekend protest makes no contribution to the revolution. However there is no in front of or behind the barricade. There is Kurdistan. There is self-government. Either we will become a new Vietnam or we will experience what happened to the Tamils of Sri Lanka. I am speaking to the youth: There is leadership. There is a party. There is a movement. What are you waiting for?
Read more about the Kurdish struggle
18th Oct 2015
Amnesty International Report, published on 12 October 2015 and titled, "We Had Nowhere Else to Go – Forced Displacement and Demolitions in Northern Syria" is contradictory and puts the credibility of the organisation at stake.
1. The Basic Argument to Respond
1.1. The content of the report contradicts its title, and this is enough to prove its invalidity and to call for the prosecution of its authors.
1.2. The accusations in the report contradict Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
2. Supporting Arguments
2.1. Hurling unsubstantiated accusations without sufficient evidence.