Comparing Emancipatory Struggles in North and West Kurdistan

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AntiNote: After yesterday’s inspiring election results in Turkey, it is more important than ever to recall the concrete hopes and demands that accompanied the People’s Democratic Party’s successful bid to enter parliament and stave off the looming fascist disaster of a further empowered and emboldened AKP government, and to consider how these political developments relate to developments over the border in Rojava.

The following reflections were written in advance of the elections, but remain urgent for precisely that reason. Let us continue to build solidarity internationally for the emancipatory struggles in Bakur and Rojava (and in Istanbul and Ankara for that matter), as the HDP endeavors to alter the Turkish government’s destructive orientation towards these struggles from within.

Antidote has lightly edited this text for clarity. The original can be found here.

Thoughts of a Kurdish Anarchist on the Turkish Election and the Reconstruction of Kobanê

By Zaher Baher
Haringey Solidarity Group and Kurdistan Anarchists Forum
3 June 2015

Over two weeks in May, I visited a number of big towns in Turkish Kurdistan (Bakur), including Amed (Diyarbakır), Van, Colemêrg (Hakkâri), and Gavar. Later I returned to Suruç and was hoping to cross the border to Kobanê.

My main reason for visiting there was to investigate three important points. First, the similarities and differences between Democratic Self Administration (DSA) in Bakur and Rojava; second, the reconstruction of Kobanê; and third, the type of economy that Rojava can have in the future. Friends in the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the Working Committees of Rojava in Amed and Suruç, and other organizations tried hard to arrange my trip to Kobanê, but it did not happen.

There are two important issues to talk about.
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CINEMA UTOPIA: Flame

Living Up to a Name: The Story of Plamen Goranov

Interview and film republished with permission

LeftEast recently sat down with Martin Marinos and Andre Andreev to discuss their film Flame: A Short Film About Plamen Goranov, which recently won the Thessaloniki Film Festival’s Audience Award for Best Short Film. The documentary explores the life of Plamen Goranov, whose self-immolation during the Bulgarian protests in 2013 spurred the resignation of Varna’s mayor and was also cited by the Prime Minister Boyko Borisov as one of the reasons for his resignation. Martin and Andre have generously made the entire film available to our readers. –LeftEast editors

 

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Still a Revolution: Solidarity Among Syrians

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AntiNote: The following is an extended excerpt of a radio interview, edited for readability. Transcribed and printed with permission. Listen to it in its entirety:

 

On 2 May 2015, host Chuck Mertz of This is Hell! Radio (Chicago) spoke with activist Salma Kahale about the Syrian revolution—using that very term, in fact, which has so shamefully disappeared from many of our vocabularies when we talk about Syria.

As the conflict entered its fifth year two months ago, we posted on our Facebook page a compendium of articles—including several from our own archives—by activists who persist in using the word. These were our thoughts at the time:

It isn’t the Syrian Revolution that failed, we have failed. Failed to inform ourselves, to share the importance of the continuing Syrian Revolution and to stand in solidarity with it. One day we will recognize the legacy of a struggle for justice, freedom and self-determination that has very few equals throughout history. The heroes of the Syrian Revolution are well and alive and remain forever an inspiration for courage and resistance and humanity.

Today we salute all of those who struggle for freedom and justice and remember the 15 arrested schoolboys of ‪Daraa who on March 6th 2011, inspired by the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, sprayed the following words on the walls of their town and brought Spring to Syria.

“As-Shaab / Yoreed / Eskaat el nizam!”
(“The people want to topple the regime”)

With this in mind, we have also interspersed in this interview a small selection of photographs by the Damascus-born journalist Rami Jarrah, whose Facebook and Instagram feeds are must-follows, as is the independent media organization he co-founded in Syria, ANA Press. He has recently been making stunning portraits of children in Aleppo, and even as his photographs have been attracting more and more attention, he has been unfailingly generous and kind in granting permission to use his work. Captions are also his.

Long Live the Syrian Revolution!

I have nothing to say except a question: is this a 3 year old child?

I have nothing to say except a question: is this a 3 year old child?


Chuck Mertz: There is a peace movement in Syria. A new coalition, involving tens of thousands of activists and dozens of organizations, has a plan to stop the bloodshed there.Continue Reading

Statement from a Comrade and Baltimore Native About the Uprising There

by Josh Baltimore for SIC
29 April 2015

Im heading home in two days.

There is something very important happening not only in Baltimore, but across black America. As of now there have been no reported deaths at the hands of protesters in a city where 250 people are killed a year, nearly all of those homicide victims being black. In spite of the fires and the looting, the young people of Baltimore are still showing a greater restraint in their conflicts with police and store-owners than they have shown in their conflicts amongst each other. I say this because for years it has been my family too that has done some of the killing and much of the dying.

Why is it that the current uprising has, in spite of its violence, not tilted toward a shooting war between whites and blacks, cops and kids, landlords and tenants, bosses and workers, given the fact that the shooting war between young black men across the region is invariant? Because young black people still value the lives of their structural enemies more than they value their own. The engineering of what is possibly the most efficient self-cannibalizing social organism in history – the nightly shootouts, the stabbings, the overdoses – is a project that has been centuries in the making.Continue Reading

It Might Be Spring in Macedonia

AntiNote: This article/interview collage appeared last week on LeftEast immediately following an escalation in the student protests that began late last year in Macedonia. Reprinted with permission.

We find these events in Macedonia of particular interest for their largely unsung parallels to the more widely reported student movements and occupations happening in places like Chile, Quebec, London, and Amsterdam as well as the conditions currently being created (and also protested, here and there) in the United States.

It is also encouraging to see this kind of organizing and resistance occurring in a country that appeared, until recently, to understand itself as not having built a culture of political opposition since its independence (there may be hope for Switzerland yet!). The AWC extends our support and solidarity.

23 April 2015, Skopje

23 April 2015, Skopje

Spring has arrived in Macedonia: thousands of pupils and students protest against education policies

by Adela Gjorgjioska for LeftEast
23 April 2015

Thousands of pupils, students  and teachers marched today across the country, in a renewed challenge to governmental education policies. Organized by the High School Plenum,  the protest comes two months after the [University] Student Plenum declared victory against “reforms” in higher education on the 24th of February, 3 months after the students’ first march on the 17th of November.

“For the first time in the history of Macedonia, but also the region, students and professors will participate directly in the process of devising a law which affects them,” the Student Plenum exclaimed then. Continue Reading

„Das ist eine echte Revolution“

AntiNote: Nachfolgend ein Interview mit David Graeber über seine Eindrücke aus Rojava. David Graeber schrieb als Professor für Anthropologie an der London School of Economics und Aktivist und Anarchist im Oktober 2014 einen Artikel in der Tageszeitung The Guardian, als der IS gerade begonnen hatte, Kobanê in Nordsyrien anzugreifen. Darin fragt er, warum die Welt die revolutionären syrischen Kurden ignoriere.

Er erwähnt seinen Vater, der 1937 als Freiwilliger in den Internationalen Brigaden zur Verteidigung der Spanischen Republik kämpfte und fragt: “Wenn heute eine Parallele zu Francos vordergründig frommen, mörderischen Falangisten gibt, wer könnte das sein außer der IS? Wenn es eine Parallele zu den Mujeres Libres Spaniens gäbe, wer könnte das sein, wenn nicht die mutigen Frauen, die die Barrikaden in Kobanê verteidigen? Ist die Welt, und diesmal am skandalösesten überhaupt die internationale Linke, wirklich dabei, mitschuldig zu werden und zuzulassen, dass sich die Geschichte wiederholt?“

Laut Graeber wurde die autonome Region von Rojava mit den drei antistaatlichen, antikapitalistischen Kantonen 2011 mit einem „Gesellschaftsvertrag“ ausgerufen und ist damit ein bemerkenswertes demokratisches Experiment dieser Epoche.

Rojava_february2014_2

“Rojava February” by PANONIAN – Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons

Anfang Dezember verbrachte er mit einer achtköpfigen Gruppe von Studenten, Aktivisten und Akademikern aus verschiedenen Teilen Europas und der USA zehn Tage in Cizîrê, einem der drei Kantone Rojavas. Er hatte vor Ort Gelegenheit, die Praxis der „Demokratische Autonomie“ zu beobachten und viele Fragen zu stellen.Continue Reading