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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]

Date 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 communities.

- 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 slavery, [1].

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 the movement.

- 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) [2].

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 [3]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 violence [4].

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 [5]?

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 [6].

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.

[1] Öcalan, A. (2013). Liberating Life: The Women's Revolution, Cologne, International Initiative Edition.
[2] Öcalan, A. (2012). democratic confederalism. International Initiative Edition. Available at: https://www.freeocalan.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Confederalismo-Democr%C3%A1tico.pdf
[3] 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.
[4] 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.
[5] Bey, H. (2014). Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ). Location: Madrid, Spain.
[6] 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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