On 8 October, a member of Women Defend Rojava (WDF) spoke exclusively to The Canary from on the ground in Rojava. She gave further insight into the current situation, but her words also offer a vital reminder of why it’s so important for all progressives to oppose this invasion, and why solidarity for Kurdish people and women is so very important.
Rojava is a multi-ethnic but mostly Kurdish part of Syria. Since early on in Syria’s war, the region has led a green democratic revolution. Its system is feminist, socialist, and opposes all religious discrimination. And it’s played a key role in defeating Daesh in Syria, gaining limited support from the West in the process.
Women from Kongra Star started the WDF “to co-ordinate international resistance” in solidarity with women and “against the occupation war of the Turkish state”.
The revolution in Rojava is based on “the values of women’s freedom, direct democracy, and creating a collective ecological society. sees the revolution in Rojava as a threat to his own dictatorial [Turkish] nationalism and wants to destroy it”.
As WDF member Berivan explained:
we understand the threats on the revolution in North and East Syria to ultimately come from all nation-states and from the forces of fascism and capitalist modernity.
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
It can take the form of invasion, attacks by jihadist gangs, but also special warfare, assimilation, and neo-colonialism.
“When we defend Rojava, we are defending ourselves”
Berivan told The Canary that the WDF “isn’t just about solidarity”. “Because,” she said, “the values of the revolution here are crucial to the future of humanity and to defeating patriarchy.” She continued:
When we defend Rojava, we are defending ourselves. And self-defence can take many forms – from education and information-sharing to community building, to action in the streets or in a war.
As the attacks started, Kongra Star called on “all women worldwide” to oppose Turkish fascism:
— Kongra Star Diplomacy Rojava (@starrcongress) October 9, 2019
“A sense of joy in resistance even when combined with furious anger”
Berivan explained that, even before this latest attack, “women always take the front and have a strong presence” in daily marches and demonstrations. And the power of these actions can’t be underestimated. As she said:
Other things stand out as well: the presence of music, dancing, a sense of joy in resistance even when combined with furious anger. When the women of Kongra Star are not out in the streets they are raising awareness, organising education, discussing on doorsteps and in classrooms, and focusing on the needs of women in society.
Women’s self-defence doesn’t begin or end with a crisis situation.
“What Turkish fascism wants to destroy is still strong”
As The Canary reported, ahead of the invasion, many people started “maintaining permanent human shield protests along the border”. As Berivan explained, these human shields are mostly led by women and this has huge significance:
Day to day here, we are connected to the women’s movement so we are out in the streets seeing how women and people are organised against the current threats. You really see the strength in society as the basis of the movement here.
Because as she stated:
Without society, the movement has no meaning. So when there’s an action like the ‘Living shield’ at the border, it’s much more than just symbolic.
It’s demonstrating that exactly what Turkish fascism wants to destroy is still strong.
“Struggling for freedom wherever you are is defending Rojava”
What Berivan really emphasised, though, is that the wider fight everywhere for women and women’s rights is part of a far wider struggle:
Here and in Europe, we say ‘Women Defend Rojava’ because it’s only through gender liberation that a society can become free.
As she so vitally and importantly stressed:
Fighting for gender liberation at home is also defending Rojava.
It’s essential we follow the example of the revolution in North and East Syria and put anti-patriarchy at the centre of our struggles.
Struggling for freedom wherever you are is defending Rojava.
Featured image via Rojava Information Center (used with permission)
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?