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Rojava: building a better world

Aquest article també està disponible en: Catalan, Spanish

We share a compilation of texts, reference pages and videos to make known the revolution that people in Rojava are doing, while defending themselves from the attacks by the ISIS troops.

They are building a new way of organizing based on the principles of political selfdetermination (direct, based on assemblies, confederal), cooperative economics, gender equality, non-discrimination based on ethnicity, language, religion and ecology. Principles that Cooperativa Integral Catalana shares (call to integral revolution).

Their struggle is an example and hope to build a better world.

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From Chiapas to Rojava – more than just coincidences
(Petar Stanchev, 06/02/2015, Kurdish Question) [Catalan] [Spanish]

«Los parecidos entre el sistema del confederalismo democrático que se está desarrollo al oeste del Kurdistán y la autonomía en Chiapas van más allá de los pocos puntos que he remarcado en este artículo. Desde los eslóganes como «¡Ya Basta!», adaptado al kurdo como «êdî bes e», hasta la democracia de base, las estructuras económicas comunales y la participación de las mujeres. El camino similar que han seguido el movimiento kurdo y los zapatistas ha puesto de manifiesto una rotura decisiva con la noción vanguardista del marxismo-leninismo y un nuevo enfoque de la revolución, que viene desde bajo y busca la creación de una sociedad libre y no jerárquica.»

Why Kobanî did not fall
(Dilar Dirik, 27/01/2015, Kurdish Question) [Spanish]

«Rojava is an alternative for the region, torn by ethnic and religious hatred, unjust wars, and economic exploitation. It does not aim to build a new state, but to create an alternative system to the global capitalist, male-dominated nation-state paradigm, by advocating regional autonomy through women’s liberation and in cooperation with all peoples of the region, termed as “Democratic Confederalism” by Öcalan. The refusal to accept the parameters of the global system is what has mobilised the population in such a devastated region, in between war and embargo, and this is precisely the reason why Kobanî will never fall. In the midst of war, Rojava’s cantons have managed to establish an incredibly empowering women’s movement, a self-governance system that operates through local councils in a bottom-up grassroots fashion, and a society in which all ethnic and religious components of the region work hand in hand to create a brighter future. This is in radical contrast to the monopolist “one religion, one language, one nation, one state, one flag”-policies, the dictatorships, monarchies, sectarian tyrannies, and patriarchal violence in the region. And the anticipation of such a free life is the main motor of the Kobanî resistance. The dominant system makes us believe that principles and ideals are dead, which is why a collective mobilisation and sacrificial resistance such as the one in Kobanî seems so unbelievable to most people.»

«This is a genuine revolution»
(interview to David Graeber, 23/12/2014, Evrensel) [Catalan] [Spanish]

«One of the first places we visited was a police academy (Asayiş). Everyone had to take courses in non-violent conflict resolution and feminist theory before they were allowed to touch a gun. The co-directors explained to us their ultimate aim was to give everyone in the country six weeks of police training, so that ultimately, they could eliminate police.»

«Poor in means but rich in spirit»
(interview to Janet Biehl, 23/12/2014, Civaka-Azad) [Catalan]

«Rojava’s system is similar to Bookchin’s ideas in the most crucial way: power flows from the bottom up. The base of Bookchin’s system is the citizens’ assembly. The base of Rojava’s is the commune. One of my questions before arriving was whether Rojava’s communes were assemblies of all citizens or rather meetings of their delegates or representatives in a council. But I found out that the communes are made of up a neighborhood’s households, and that anyone from those households may attend and participate in a meeting. That’s an assembly.»

Impressions of Rojava: a report from the revolution
(Janet Biehl, 16/12/2014, ROAR Magazine) [Catalan] [Spanish]

«The education system in Rojava is non-traditional, rejecting ideas of hierarchy, power and hegemony. Instead of following a teacher-student hierarchy, students teach each other and learn from each other’s experience. Students learn what is useful, in practical matters; they “search for meaning,” as we were told, in intellectual matters. They do not memorize; they learn to think for themselves and make decisions, to become the subjects of their own lives. They learn to be empowered and to participate in Democratic Autonomy.»

Why is the world ignoring the revolutionary Kurds in Syria?
(David Graeber, 08/10/2014, The Guardian) [Catalan] [Spanish]

«If there is a parallel today to Franco’s superficially devout, murderous Falangists, who would it be but Isis? If there is a parallel to the Mujeres Libres of Spain, who could it be but the courageous women defending the barricades in Kobane? Is the world – and this time most scandalously of all, the international left – really going to be complicit in letting history repeat itself?»

Joint statement of the academic delegation to Rojava
(various authors, 15/01/2015, Civaka-Azad)

«As scholars and activists, we all left with a deep respect and admiration for the people of Rojava, for their progressive political program and actual social accomplishments. They have found in democratic self-government a practical way of solving their own problems. Still, Rojava suffers from pressing conditions that are outside of the control of its citizens.»

Rojava’s Communes and Councils
(Janet Biehl, 31/01/2015, Ecology or Catastrophe) [Catalan] [Spanish]

«Our system rests on the communes, made up of neighborhoods of 300 people. The communes have co-presidents, and there are co-presidents at all levels, from commune to canton administration. In each commune there are five or six different committees. Communes work in two ways. First, they resolve problems quickly and early —for example, a technical problem or a social one. Some jobs can be done in five minutes, but it you send it to the state, it gets caught in a bureaucracy. So we can solve issues quickly.»

The experiment of West Kurdistan (Syrian Kurdistan) has proved that people can make changes
(Zaher Baher, 26/08/2014, Libcom) [Spanish]

«In the Social Contract, the first page states, “the areas of self-management democracy do not accept the concepts of state nationalism, military or religion or of centralized management and central rule but are open to forms compatible with the traditions of democracy and pluralism, to be open to all social groups and cultural identities and Athenian democracy and national expression through their organization …” There are many decrees in the Social Contract. A few are extremely important for society, including: A. Separation of state from religion. B. Banning marriages under the age of 18 years. C. Women’s and children’s rights must be recognized, protected and implemented. D. Banning female circumcision. E. Banning polygamy. F. The revolution must take place from the bottom of society and be sustainable. G. Freedom, equality, equal opportunity and non- discrimination. H. Equality between men and women. I. All languages people speak must be recognized and Arabic, Kurdish and Syrian are the official languages in Al Jazera. J. To provide a decent life for prisoners and to make prison a place for rehabilitation and reform. K. Every human being has the right to seek asylum and refugees may not be returned without his/her consent.»

Rojava: A revolution in daily life
(Rebecca C., 24/12/2014, Kurdish Question) [Spanish]

«In some ways, opposition to the state is opposition to capital, on the level of its global force. The new administration opposes, as they see it, NATO in two forms: in one as Turkey-supported ISIS in one and in the other US and international capital (a category into which the KRG – where two ruling families now construct refugee camps along one side of their motorways and shopping centers along the other – also falls). They have no illusions about the motivations of those who give them military support: “Everyone, including the US now, portrays it as it we are on their side!” TEVDEM laugh.»

Education in Rojava: Academy and Pluralistic versus University and Monism
(entrevista a Dorşin Akif, 12/01/2014, Kurdish Question) [Spanish]

«We have created a system different from the education developed by the nation-state, we think the production of knowledge should be given back to society. And that we will change everything, from the methods of education, using the buildings and to the construction of daily life in academy. The school directors and teachers in state schools rather than educating people, they have always been someone to be afraid of. We are different from them and we will establish a relationship based on equality and friendship.»

Rojava revolution: building autonomy in the Middle East
(Sardar Saadi, 25/07/2014, ROAR Magazine) [Spanish]

«Despite some political differences between the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) in Chiapas and the Kurdish movement led by the PYD in Syria, there are many similarities between these two in terms of their position in both regional and international affairs. The pursuit of creating an autonomous government, the rise of popular assemblies, the emphasis on gender equality and empowering women on every level of social and political life, the anti-imperialist and anti-authoritarian ideology, the stress on ecological preservation and respect for all living creatures, self-defense, and many other aspects indicate how the Rojava revolution resembles the resistance of the Zapatistas in Southern Mexico.»

The new PKK: unleashing a social revolution in Kurdistan
(Rafael Taylor, 17/08/2014, ROAR Magazine) [Spanish]

«Öcalan, an atheist, was finally writing as a free-thinker, unshackled from Marxist-Leninist mythology. He indicated that he was seeking an “alternative to capitalism” and a “replacement for the collapsed model of … ‘really existing socialism’,” when he came across Bookchin. His theory of democratic confederalism developed out of a combination of inspiration from communalist intellectuals, “movements like the Zapatistas”, and other historical factors from the struggle in northern Kurdistan (Turkey). Öcalan proclaimed himself a student of Bookchin, and after a failed email correspondence with the elderly theorist, who was to his regret too sick for an exchange on his deathbed in 2004, the PKK celebrated him as “one of the greatest social scientists of the 20th century” on the occasion of Bookchin’s death two years later.»

A letter from a young fighter in Kobane to her mother
(Narin, 17/10/2014, The Kurdistan Tribune) [Catalan] [Spanish]

«We are now stationed in the eastern part of Kobane, just a few hundred yards away from them and I can see their black hoods. We can pick up their conversations on the phone, but we do not know what they are saying as they speak a different language. We can see clearly that they are very scared of us.»

To the Kurdish People and the International Community (declaration of Democratic Confederalism in Kurdistan)
(Abdullah Öcalan, 20/03/2005) [Spanish]

«The right of self-determination of nations was interpreted as the right to establish a nation-state. The model of the United Nations based on nation states is not working. The nation state is an obstacle to its development. The Gulf War and the current situation in Iraq stand as proof of this. The only way out of this situation is to establish a democratic confederal system that will derive its strength directly from the people, and not from globalisation based on nation-states. Neither nation states nor globalisation which supersedes them are sustainable. Imperialism fails to develop a serious alternative model. Consequently the crisis of the system is deepening.»

Democratic Confederalism
(Abdullah Öcalan, 2011, International Initiative Edition) [Spanish]

«This kind of rule or administration can be called a non-state political administration or a democracy without a state. Democratic decision-making processes must not be confused with the processes known from public administration. States only administrate while democracies govern. States are founded on power; democracies are based on collective consensus. Office in the state is determined by decree, even though it may be in part legitimized by elections. Democracies use direct elections. The state uses coercion as a legitimate means. Democracies rest on voluntary participation.»

Democratic Autonomy in Rojava
(TATORT Kurdistan, 10/10/14, New Compass)

«As we considered this phase and the politics of the Kurdish movement in Rojava, we also observed the implementation of another paradigm of Democratic Confederalism: self-defense and the primacy of nonviolent solutions. The Kurdish movement and especially the PYD were organized before the Syrian revolution began resisting the Assad regime.  At that time they saw it as a matter of democratic transformation; a militarization of the conflict was to be avoided. But with the outbreak of war, Islamization, and the heteronomy of the Syrian revolt, the Kurdish movement in Rojava decided to go a third way: it would side neither with the regime nor with the opposition.  It would defend itself, but it would not wage war.»

Consensus is Key: New Justice System in Rojava
(TATORT Kurdistan, 13/10/2014, New Compass)

«At the lowest level of the new justice system, created in the villages, districts, and even sometimes streets, are the Peace and Consensus Committees. They resolve cases on the basis of consensus. If it turns out that they can’t do so, the case is taken up to the next level. Difficult cases like murder, it must be said, aren’t handled by the Peace and Consensus Committees but are taken directly to the higher levels.»

Bookchin, Öcalan and the Dialectics of Democracy
(Janet Biehl, 03/05/2012, New Compass)

«To create such a rational, ecological society it, we would need viable institutions—what he called “forms of freedom”. Both the revolutionary organization and the institutions for the new society would have to be truly liberatory, so they would not lead to a new Stalin, to yet another tyranny in the name of socialism.  Yet they would have to be strong enough to suppress capitalism. Those institutions, he realized, could only be democratic assemblies.  The present nation-state would have to be eliminated and its powers devolve to citizens in assemblies. They, rather than the masters of industry could make decisions, for example about the environment.  And since assemblies only worked in a locality, in order to function at a broader geographical area, they would have to band together—to confederate.»

Happidrome
(Adam Curtis, 22/10/2014, BBC Blogs)

«In the battle for Kobane on the Syrian border everyone talks about the enemy – IS – and the frightening ideas that drive them. No-one talks about the Kurdish defenders and what inspires them. But the moment you look into what the Kurds are fighting for – what you discover is absolutely fascinating. They have a vision of creating a completely new kind of society that is based on the ideas of a forgotten American revolutionary thinker. He wanted to create a future world in which there would be no hierarchies, no systems that exercise power and control individuals. And the Kurds in Kobane are trying to build a model of that world. It means that the battle we are watching night after night is not just between good and evil. It is also a struggle of an optimistic vision of the future against a dark conservative idea drawn from the past.»

«A Revolution of Life»
(interview to Saleh Muslim, 10/11/2014, Tenk)

«Another way of referring to this concept of democratic confederalism or democratic autonomy is radical democracy: to mobilize people to organize themselves and to defend themselves by means of peoples armies like the Peoples Defense Unit (YPG) and Women’s Defense Unit (YPJ). We are practicing this model of self-rule and self-organization without the state as we speak. Other people will speak of self-rule in theory, but for us, this search for self-rule is our daily revolution. Women, man, all strands of our society are now organized. The reason why Kobanê still stands is because we have built these structures.»

An Interview with Revolutionary Anarchist Action on Kobanê
(interview to Abdülmelik Yalcin and Merve Dilber, 22/10/2014, Meydan)

«Due to the Rojava Revolution the borders between the parts of Kurdistan that fell within Syrian and Turkish territory started to melt away. The Turkish State even tried to build a wall to destroy this effect of the revolution. In the midst of the war in interest of global capitalism and states in the region, the Kurdish people in Syria took a step along the path that leads to social revolution. Thanks to this step a real front emerged that leads to the freedom of the people, and in Kobanê, a total attack against revolution was started by the hands of ISIS, the violent mob produced by global capitalism.»

WEBPAGES:

 

Stateless Democracy: The Revolution in Rojava Kurdistan [part 1]
(speeches by Dilşah Osman, Dilar Dirik, Joost Jongerden…, 21/10/2014, New World Academy)

Stateless Democracy: The Revolution in Rojava Kurdistan [part 2]
(speeches by Dilşah Osman, Dilar Dirik, Joost Jongerden…, 21/10/2014, New World Academy)

Inside Kobani
(Zanyar Omrani, 02/01/2015, BBC)

«People used to think girls were weak an couldn’t fight. Today our women are using heavy weapons against IS. They’re fighting on the frontline against IS. Now, who can say there’s any difference between men and women?»

bandera verda groga roja

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