Football legend Neville Southall just gave a truly revolutionary movement access to his Twitter account

Neville Southall and YPJ fighters
Emily Apple

A footballing legend turned his Twitter account over to what is arguably the most important current revolutionary movement in the world.

On 10 April, Neville Southall gave London Kurdish Solidarity (LKS) access to his 147k followers. LKS used the opportunity to set out why the movement is so important and to highlight the thousands of Kurdish activists currently on hunger strike.

A truly revolutionary movement

Several tweets set out the history of the Kurdish struggle and how its current politics were adopted:

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It then explored how imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan began developing these ideas:

And in addition to recognising the ‘problem of the state’, environmentalism and gender equality became priorities of the movement:

And this led to:

The account also gave links for more information about some of the key themes: Democratic Confederalism, Democratic Nation, and the Women’s Revolution.

As The Canary has previously reported, these are more than just ideas. In 2012, a revolution began in the majority-Kurdish region of Rojava in northern Syria. People organised themselves into communes, declared autonomy, and began practising stateless direct democracy. And they quickly became some of the most effective local forces in the fight against Daesh (Isis/Isil). This interview with an anti-fascist fighter shows how these principles are working on the ground. The video below also gives more information:

The hunger strikes

Thousands of prisoners across Turkey are currently on hunger strike. Kurdish MP Leyla Güven started the hunger strike while in prison. Now at home, Güven has not eaten for 155 days and is critically ill.

Since starting her hunger strike, Güven has inspired thousands to join her. In the UK, these include Iman Sis, a Kurdish activist in Wales who is on day 115 of his hunger strike.

Southall’s account set out why so many are on hunger strike:

And it set out why Öcalan is so important and why breaking his isolation is essential to peace in the region:

The hunger strikers are not asking for special treatment for Öcalan. They want to break his isolation. Öcalan is currently held in conditions where he has no access to lawyers, to his family, or to visits. The hunger strikers are demanding that Öcalan has the same rights as other prisoners in Turkey; rights that he should already be entitled to under existing Turkish law. They’re just asking for Turkey to respect its own legislation.

A lesson for us all

The principles and organising practices of the Kurdish movement are inspirational. And there is a lot we can learn not only from Rojava but from Bakur, the region of Kurdistan within Turkey’s borders.

But despite defeating Daesh in northern Syria, this revolution is under threat from Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Following local elections on 31 March, Erdoğan is refusing to let Kurdish mayors take control of their municipalities and criminal cases have been opened against others. And Erdoğan is threatening to continue his fight against Kurdish people in Syria. In 2018, the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal found Erdoğan and the Turkish state guilty of war crimes against the Kurdish people.

Meanwhile, the situation of the hunger strikers is critical. What the Kurdish movement has achieved is something we should all be defending. And we need to start this defence by taking action to support the hunger strikers before it’s too late.

Featured image via FixersUK/ Flickr and KurdishStruggle/Flickr

Get involved

  • Learn about the hunger strikes and the imprisonment of Abdullah Öcalan.
  • Contact your MP and MEP to draw attention to the hunger strikers and the isolation of Öcalan. Ask them to persuade the British government to pressure the CPT to visit Öcalan. Send them this article by Kurdish hunger striker Ilhan Sis.
  • Get involved with your local Kurdistan Solidarity group.
  • Join the upcoming demonstrations in support of the hunger strikers in London.

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