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(en) Argentina, ICL-CIT, FORA: organizacion-obrera #93 - THE MAP IS NOT THE TERRITORY* - 10 years after the Rojava revolution (ca, de, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]
Wed, 16 Nov 2022 08:30:05 +0200
There is something romantic about revolutions seen from the outside... The
vertiginous nature of their beginning, the way in which events are catalyzed and
that moment in which everything seems to be possible. However, these symptoms
that we usually manifest linked to the heroin syndrome or the hero sometimes make
the compass lose its balance and our rudder does not stick in the direction of
war conflicts: the imperative, urgent need to survive. Milestone that unites us
with the rest of the creatures that cohabit with us. ---- The editorial of number
92 of the Workers' Organization mentioned an emergency of the digital and its
impact on the living conditions of the working class. He was referring to the
implosion of traditional work schemes in the face of the emergence of new modes
of productivity linked to the technological age. ---- How is the struggle of the
Kurds framed in a context where new and old modes of insurgency seem to coexist?
What does it mean to speak of revolution today? Can Rojava truly become an
alternative on an exhausted planet? Trying to answer these questions means, on
the one hand, leaving personalisms aside for a moment to explore a phenomenon
that, from a distance, seems to have some points in common with the debates that
take place in our context. Is that right?
Starting to count means going back to the year 1949 where Abdullah Öcalan was
born in the city of Ömerli (Turkish Kurdistan). Activist and writer, in 1978 he
founded the PKK (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan or Kurdistan Workers' Party) together
with Kesire Yildirim, Hakki Karer, Kemal Pir and Mazlun Dogan. The objective was
the liberation of the eleven Turkish provinces of southeastern Anatolia, and of
the Kurdish population distributed in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria and some Soviet
republics. The year 1984 found the PKK taking up arms to achieve independence for
the Kurdish population. Öcalan is currently deprived of his liberty in Imrali
prison and little is known about him .
It is difficult to summarize the thought of Abdullah Öcalan, among other issues
because, like any ideological model, it has been changing over time. However,
some of the most resonant ideas are:
- Autonomy. "From the base to the top", promoting the self-government of the
- Liberation of women. The concept of Jineolojî (Science of women) was proposed
by Öcalan in his book Sociology of Freedom (2008) where he states that women's
freedom is a fundamental requirement for collective freedom.
"The story of the loss of freedom is at the same time the story of how women lost
their position and disappeared from history. It is the story of how the dominant
male, with all his gods and servants, his rulers and subordinates, his economy,
science and art, got power. The fall and loss of women is the fall and loss of
the whole society and the resulting sexist society. The macho man is so
interested in establishing her social dominance over the woman that he turns any
contact with her into a show of domination. The extent of women's enslavement and
intentional concealment of women is therefore intimately related to the growth of
hierarchical and statist power within society. The more a woman gets used to
In 2014 , Rojava enacted a law that promotes equality between men and women: it
prohibits polygamy, violence and discrimination against women, condemns the
marriage of children under 18 years of age, gives women the right to vote, to be
candidates for public office and to form part of political, economic, social and
cultural organizations. It prohibits the dowry, establishes the distribution of
the inheritance and grants custody of the children to the woman.
- Cooperativism. "Democratic confederalism frequently faces opposition from other
groups and factions. It is flexible, multicultural, antitrust and consensus
oriented. The protection of the environment and feminism are its central pillars.
This kind of self-governance requires an alternative economic system, in which
the community's resources are enhanced rather than exploited, and serve the
diverse needs of society" ( Öcalan , 2012). The Kurdistan region has, by
geography, resources to consider self-sufficiency. The movement proposes
low-impact, self-sufficient and sustainable community agricultural cooperatives.
An example of this is Jinwar , a women's village founded 4 years ago in northern
Syria. There, women who have lost their husbands or escape violence find a
collective way of life. The town is made up of around thirty houses that have
been built with materials with low ecological impact (for example, mud and wood).
The economy of the town is based on its own production and the work of the
residents (cereals, fruits, animal husbandry). Although the town welcomes
families and men, only women can be permanent residents. Decisions are made in an
assembly manner and the territory is not fenced.
Jinwar can be considered an isolated case in relation to socio-environmental
matters, since sustained actions that seek sustainability are pending issues for
- Interreligious coexistence. The project of democratic confederalism as a
non-state social paradigm. "The propagation of a grassroots democracy is
elementary. It is the only approach that can be tolerated by various ethnic
groups, religions and class differences" ( Öcalan , 2012: 33-34).
- Anti-capitalism, rescue of the ancestral knowledge of the Kurdish people. "The
Nation-State in its original form aimed at the monopolization of all social
processes. Diversity and plurality had to be fought against, an approach that led
to assimilation and genocide. It not only exploits the ideas and labor potential
of society and colonizes people's heads in the name of capitalism, but also
assimilates all kinds of spiritual and intellectual cultures and ideas to
preserve its own existence. It aims at the creation of a single national culture,
a single national identity and a single unified religious community. In this way
it also reinforces a homogeneous citizenship" ( Öcalan , 2012: 13).
- Anti-nationalism. "Democratic Confederalism in Kurdistan is also an
anti-nationalist movement. It aims at the realization of the right to
self-defense of the people through the advancement of democracy throughout
Kurdistan without questioning the existing political borders. Their goal is not
the founding of a Kurdish nation state. The movement intends to establish federal
structures in Iran, Turkey, Syria and Iraq that are open to all Kurds and at the
same time form an umbrella confederation for the four parts of Kurdistan" (
Öcalan , 2012: 34) .
In 2012 there was a revolt organized by the Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat - PYD
(Party of the Democratic Union) and various grassroots groups who overthrew the
political and military structures of the Syrian government in the Rojava region.
From there, a self-government project based on Öcalan's democratic confederalism
was established. The preamble of the Constitution of the Kurdish autonomous
communities of Rojava refers to the new social organization in this way:
"We, the people of the Democratic Autonomous Communities of Afrin, Jazira and
Kobane, a confederation of Kurds, Arabs, Syrics, Arameans, Turkmens, Armenians
and Chechens, freely and solemnly declare and establish this Charter."
"In pursuit of freedom, justice, dignity and democracy and guided by the
principles of equality and environmental sustainability, the Charter proclaims a
new social contract, based on coexistence and mutual understanding and peace
among all threads of society. It protects human rights and fundamental freedoms,
and reaffirms the right of peoples to self-determination."
Prior to 2012, the riots and other international events had made it possible for
the Iraqi Constitution in 2005 to recognize Iraqi Kurdistan as an autonomous
territory. However, the international legitimacy of the so-called Kurdistan
Regional Government is conceived as an " Iraqi " and regional actor.
The harsh living conditions in Iraqi Kurdistan have forced families and young
people to travel to Europe. This is due to corruption, lack of employment and
Kurds became key allies for the US during the northern country's conflict with
Syria. Relations have lasted over time mainly due to the provision by the United
States of weapons (machinery, equipment, ammunition and training) essential
resources to guarantee survival in the face of harassment and bombing. The
Kurdish resistance takes place in territory with mountainous characteristics,
with a scheme that we could describe as cell action but that does not have air
defense, a fact that increases its vulnerability against Turkey.
It is difficult to put into practice a way of inhabiting the territory that
disrupts the corsets of neoliberalism: that is why the victims are daily, the
unforeseen alliances are real, and peace is a chimera.
A recent statement by Yekîneyên Parastina Gel - YPG (General Command of the
People's Defense Units) linked to the anniversary of the Rojava revolution raises
the problems of the Kurdish resistance as follows:
"Despite the developments in the last ten years, there are still many problems
that need to be solved in the future. Since the beginning of the revolution, our
achievements have been targeted by the Turkish occupation state and the forces
that do not want peace in the region. The people, consisting of Arabs, Kurds,
Armenians, Syriacs, Assyrians and Turkmens with many different worldviews, are
putting up a unique resistance for the liberation of the territories occupied by
the Turkish state and its mercenaries, and resolutely defending the achievements
and the democracy of the system built by the people. We promise that we will
definitely fulfill the promise of victory of freedom that we have given to the
people here and we will keep the Rojava revolution permanently."
The most uncomfortable questions that orbit when the Rojava Revolution is
analyzed are: How much would we be willing to give up to meet the revolutionary
objectives? Can Rojava become a beacon (postcard from the not so distant future)
or will it be an interzone ?
It seems that implementing another way of inhabiting the world would be
impossible without alliances with those powers that have a key agenda and a
central role in its depletion and destruction. These are times where revolutions
are living phenomena and a situated analysis seems not to be enough. The points
in common are visible: ways to put into action more habitable ways of life, the
power of grassroots and community organization, the impact of productive
activities on socio-environmental health, the mainstreaming of the deficiencies
that women and childhoods live on a daily basis around the globe.
Sustaining the armed struggle also becomes a long-term problem, not only because
of obtaining weapons and training combatants, but also because of the long-term
mark left by armed conflicts, as well as the difficulty of building ways of life
among the rubble .
These first ten years have left numerous baselines to put into practice and
reflect on what it means to organize, what the limits are and how to sustain that
organization in the long term in the face of an uncertain destiny.
Those possible futures that are beginning to be woven will go hand in hand with
decisions marked by the desire for freedom, the urgency to survive, the
difficulties in putting internationalism into practice, the blurring of borders
and the uncertainty linked to the way of living.
 Öcalan, A. (2013). Liberating Life: The Women's Revolution, Cologne,
International Initiative Edition.
 Öcalan, A. (2012). democratic confederalism. International Initiative
Edition. Available at:
 The Kurdish people are stateless. It currently consists of around 30 million
people spread across Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Many families are displaced in
refugee camps or have fled to European Union countries in search of greater
security and stability. However, Erdogan (President of Turkey) has been in charge
of persecuting, imprisoning and assassinating Kurdish leaders, as was the case of
Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Saylemez assassinated in Paris in 2013.
 The Kurds are victims of a silent genocide. An example of this is the 40,000
deaths of people (mostly civilians) during the Kurdish-Turkish conflict
(1984-1999). Today, Turkey's harassment continues with low-scale but routine
bombing of areas where resistance is located.
 Bey, H. (2014). Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ). Location: Madrid, Spain.
 In the year 2021 , 426 million children lived in conflict zones. 160 million
in high-intensity conflict zones who were 30% less likely to complete primary
education and 50% less likely to complete secondary education (UNESCO).
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