24/08/2016 – 19:25 4
We Will Not Retreat to East of Euphrates: YPG Spokesman Redur Xelil
People’s Protection Units (YPG) spokesperson Redur Xelil has said the Kurdish force will not retreat from the west of the Euphrates to the east.
Speaking to journalist Mutlu Civiroglu, Xelil said his words had been misconstrued and that they wouldn’t withdraw at anyone’s request.
“We are in our own country and not withdrawing on the request of Turkey or someone else,” Xelil told Civiroglu.
Reuters had said that Xelil had told them they would withdraw if the SDF instructed them to.
Turkish officials have threatened YPG with military action if the Kurdish force, which took part in the liberation of Manbij on the west of the Euphrates under the umbrella of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), did not retreat back across the river.
A top US official and Vice President Joe Biden also said they had told YPG forces to retreat to the east of the Euphrates or they would cease support for the group.
Turkish troops and FSA militants began a cross-border incursion into Jarablus today and have taken control of the ghost city within 12 hours. Reports suggest there were no clashes between them and Islamic State militants, who have withdrawn to Al-Bab. Some commentators have called attention to the fact that IS had allegedly conducted artillery attacks on Turkish soil in the past two days but there was no IS presence in Jarablus when Turkish-FSA forces arrived.
The Kurdish Trap and Division Among Kurds
The Qamishli massacre perpetrated by the Islamic State today, in which at least 44 people have been killed and more than 150 injured, has once again brought to light the division among Kurds.
Some quarters have immediately claimed that if the KDP-S (Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria), which is the Rojava/Syria branch of the KDP in KRG (N.Iraq), had been allowed to operate in Rojava, this attack wouldn’t have happened.
Others have reacted by insinuating or outright saying that Turkey and by extension the KDP could be behind this terrible attack to further push the PYD into a corner. I myself have been targeted by an overzealous tweeter for being critical of any possible use of the attack to make political or military gains. The arguments ensue and the blame game that is limited to 140 characters makes no headway for rapprochement between Kurds supporting different political parties, especially the KDP and PKK.
What I find devastating about all this is that Kurds are still willing to fight among themselves when even the blood of the people killed is yet to dry. I have to constantly remind myself that it is inevitable that Kurds who do not comprehend the ‘Kurdish trap’ do this.
It is not easy to identify and define the ‘Kurdish trap’, because it is a historical concept that has embedded in it, a complex web of relations between the different parts of Kurdistan and the regional and international system that has colonised it.
Essentially the ‘Kurdish trap’ was created with the division of the Middle East to snag the Kurds and prevent their freedom by playing them off against the states they live under and also against one another. So in extension as well as being an intra-Kurdish trap the ‘Kurdish trap’ is also a Turkish, Arab, Persian and even Armenian ‘trap’ too. However, because these nations have recognised states, they are unaware they are victims of the trap and as dominant-nations, do not feel the oppression of the trap as Kurds do.
What most don’t realise though, is that without the Kurds’ freedom, there will be perpetual war, which weakens both the state in question and also Kurdish society. Being at war constantly leaves the majority of citizens in the country poor but serves the ruling elites of these states, who are always in cahoots with their counterparts in the international arena and use the Kurds as scapegoats to justify their corruption and despotism against their own people. Nationalist rhetoric is always at hand to make Kurds targets for Turks, Arabs and Persians. The only complaints then are that Kurds are dividing or destabilising their countries, that Kurds are the tools of Imperialist powers or that Kurds are inferior and don’t deserve to be free.
Giving an example from Northern Kurdistan (SE Turkey) will make the point above clearer. The Kurdish Freedom Movement (KFM), which includes the PKK, is struggling for autonomy within Turkey and what it calls a Confederal Kurdistan that joins the four parts but does not erect new borders. It is seen by Turkish nationalists as a terrorist, separatist organisation in the service of imperialist powers; the religious see the KFM as a godless, heathen movement which is a secular danger to their Sunni Kurdish ‘brothers’ and the tool of Christians (US) and Jews (Israel); some socialists and communists have declared it nationalist and therefore primitive and not revolutionary along class lines; some Alawites see it as a Sunni movement that is a danger to their already threatened existence; liberals see it as a radical group that is a threat to neoliberal capitalism; and some Kurdish nationalists see it as a non-Kurdistani movement that has sold out the dream of an independent Kurdish state. Meanwhile the Turkish state, employing many guises, uses all these groups against the KFM when it sees fit.
Add to this the fact that Turkey is a NATO state and a geostrategic ally of even Russia and Israel, and that this leaves no room for the KFM to develop strategic relations with any other state entity -because the PKK is on the ominous terror list- and you have a tight spot that is called the ‘Kurdish trap’. The KFM tries to elide this trap by developing strategic ties and solidarity with progressive non-state actors and entities, including revolutionary and democratic groups around the world, but it does not suffice in a world system that is based on states.
The above example plays out similarly in the other parts of Kurdistan and in relation to other parties. Kurds’ demands for autonomy, federation or statehood are labeled as being either treacherous, not feasible or dangerous to the status quo. Even the KRG, which is supposedly a strategic ally of the US and Israel and enjoys good ties with Turkey, cannot get support for independence. Because independence in one part they fear, will bring about independence in another, upsetting the balance of power and allies in the region. This is why Turkey, which has tried to confine Kurdish aspirations to within the borders of the KRG, has such strong enmity towards Rojava. It is also why the KRG -specifically the KDP- which is demanding independence, is treading a fine line between being successful and burying the aspirations of Kurds in other parts, primarily Northern Kurdistan (SE Turkey).
This is also where the contradictions and conflicts between the KFM and the KDP are rooted. While the KFM’s political alliance axis in relation to states is tactical (short-term), the KDP’s is strategic and it politicks on this axis. Furthermore and due in some part to this, they are diametrically opposed in ideological and organisational terms. Although the KDP’s alliances mean that they can secure certain international support for the KRG or for the Kurdish cause, it also means a weakness and limitation to act in other cases. Conversely, whereas the KFM is freer in its actions, it is less well connected and can be isolated by international powers. This of course is another element of the ‘Kurdish trap.’
And so let’s return to the beginning, to Rojava, where Kurds are trying not to fall into this trap, but also struggling because of all the historical and current forces stacked up against them. They are attempting to build a system that doesn’t fall into the multiple traps that make up the ‘Kurdish trap’: nationalism, religionism, statism, imperialism, capitalism and sexism. Despite this they are not receiving the support they deserve, not just from international organisations and public opinion but also from Kurds, their own brethren. Many people don’t realise it but Rojava’s success is not just a victory for Kurds and Kurdistan but all of the Middle East: its peoples, cultures, religions and civilisations.
It is imperative that Kurds comprehend the trap that has been set for them and their neighbours, and tread carefully in the Middle East. We don’t have to agree on every point, policy or action by political parties and organisations. We all have limitations and so do the parties and organisations we are engaged with or support. But we do have to respect each other, discuss with nuance and develop solidarity with the people fighting for justice and equality. The alternative is to continue fighting with each other and those we deem our enemies, but who are our neighbours and the people we will continue living side-by-side with whether we like it or not, (not including IS and proxy jihadists). In a sense we all have one foot in the ‘Kurdish trap’ and unless we are very careful it will continue snagging us and we will continue reproducing it until our country, resources and people are depleted.
Note: Other groups, such as the Assyrians and Turkmen are also victims of the ‘Kurdish trap’.
Note: the map used above is not important in determining the future of Kurdistan and doesn’t reflect the ‘borders’ of Kurdistan. If possible Kurdistan should have no borders. The map represents the division of Kurdistan.
Freedom of A. Öcalan Will Guarantee
Success of the Peace Process in Turkey
The Committee for Freedom of Öcalan c/o KNK Rue Jean Stas 41, 1060 Bruxelles
The Committee for Freedom of Öcalan
In 1998, Turkey threatened Syria with war if Syria did not expel the Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan from the country. As a result of this threat, Abdullah Öcalan left Syria and travelled to Europe in order to promote a political solution. However, due to continued pressure from Turkey, Öcalan could not find amnesty in Europe and eventually found himself in Kenya.
On 15 February 1999, Öcalan was captured in Kenya by Turkish special agents in a clandestine operation backed by an alliance of secret services, CIA and Mossad (which was officially accepted by the US State Department at the time). He was abducted and handed over to the Turkish state. The capture of Turkey’s “enemy number one” was claimed by the authorities in Ankara as their victory against the Kurds, who had been waging a mass uprising against the policies of denial and discrimination; a struggle Öcalan had led since the 1980s. The capture of the Kurdish leader was regarded by the Kurds as the outcome of an “international conspiracy”, the denial of the legitimacy of the Kurdish struggle, and involving the security services of several nations. His abduction sparked outrage and major protests from Kurds all over the world.
Öcalan’s capture was followed by a show trial during which Turkish prosecutors sought to portray the Kurdish leader as a “terrorist”. In reality, this was not a fight against terrorism, rather, it was a war in accordance with international law. It is an armed conflict for the purpose of international humanitarian law in accordance with the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the additional protocols of 1977. The PKK became a signatory to the Geneva Conventions in 1995.
Since this date, this war was subject to the Geneva Conventions, but this was completely ignored by Turkey and its allies. Despite these limitations, Öcalan was deeply committed to a peace process, and with this in mind he began a new quest for a peaceful solution.
Within this framework, Öcalan used his defence to articulate the case for peace and reconciliation between Turks and Kurds based on the recognition of the Kurds’ cultural and national differences within a unitary state. The defence by Öcalan was very significant, as at the time Turkey was on the brink of a full scale civil war. This stand prevented Turkey from deteriorating into a Turkish-Kurdish civil war.
Öcalan’s lawyers took the case to the European Court of Human Rights to overturn the unfair trial that took place in Turkey. The court ruled in 2003 that Öcalan’s trial was not fair, that his right to fair legal representation had been restricted and that he had faced inhumane conditions in Imrali prison. Unfortunately, the ECHR did not fulfil its role completely and did not attempt to adequately investigate the truths behind Öcalan’s illegal abduction through the international conspiracy and the breaking of the rules of war. This inadequate stand is still encouraging the Turkish state to continue with its policies of isolation, and preventing any pressure on Turkey to engage in a legitimate peace process. During the 16 year imprisonment of Mr Öcalan, the CPT prepared several reports – after strong mass actions (hunger strikes, rallies and signature campaigns) by the Kurdish people – in which they accepted that Turkey was infringing the human rights of Öcalan and keeping him in solitary confinement. This, however, never led to any practical sanctions. CURRENT SITUATION
Turkey’s Failed Coup and Erdogan’s Anti-Kurdish Agenda
On 15thJuly 2016 an unsuccessful attempt at a coup happened in Turkey. Even at this early stage, the post-coup process obviously will have important consequences. It is important to understand that this process was started on the 7th June 2015, when Erdogan lost the elections and conducted an anti-democratic intervention into the results. It is important to make a comprehensive analysis of the coup in order to understand the potential outcomes.
Before everything, it is important to specify that this coup was not undertaken by Gulenists. Due to the conflict between the AKP and the Gulenists, sympathisers of Gulen may have taken part in the coup attempt. But by saying “the Gulenists attempted the coup” they are trying to make a platform in which they can suppress Gulen’s supporters even more. By labelling the coup as Gulenist, they are hoping to rally support in order to take revenge on the coup plotters. In other words, they are trying to kill two birds with one stone.
It is evident that this attempt was backed by a large part of the army. If they had planned and executed it more professionally, it may have had a chance to succeed. In this regard, it cannot be said that it was undertaken by Gulenists or a minority; there isn’t enough of a Gulenist presence in the army to pull off a coup.
Maybe many of the coup plotters who are waging the war against the Kurds in Kurdistan were not practically involved, but it has been understood that many of the Generals in the region supported the coup. They were careful because their participation would have hampered their war effort against the Kurds. However, many of the Generals in the war against the Kurds have been detained as supporters of the coup.
An insistence on war strengthened the hands of the coup-plotters
When the AKP couldn’t solve the Kurdish question, it veered towards a war of destruction against the Kurdish Freedom Movement in the past year. Especially towards the end of 2014 and the 7th June 2015 election, the coup mechanism was in place and resulted in the attempt at a fascist coalition. When Erdogan veered off towards war, the army became the main player. Tayyip Erdogan and the AKP were dependent on the army in their war against the Kurdish Freedom Movement.
When Erdogan decided to intensify the war and sent the army to destroy Kurdish towns, the coup mechanism was set in place. During the war, the army strengthened its own hand against Erdogan. This is because the army can only become a central player in Turkish politics while it is in a war against the Kurdish Freedom Movement. So after a period in which the army had lost its centrality in Turkish politics, through Erdogan’s notion that “we won the war in the cities, we destroyed the PKK”, the army once again gained the confidence to attempt a coup. This coup wanted to redesign Turkish politics. The statement by the coup-plotters clearly points towards this.
“We fought the war, we should do the politics”
The coup-plotters are a new nationalist wing, separate from the Ergenekonists [traditional nationalist statists]. This new trend has been shaped by an opposition to the policies of the AKP. We might even say that the changes made in the AKP’s foreign policy (renewing relations with Israel and Russia, and a change of policy towards Egypt, Iraq and Syria) may have stimulated this new formation. This coup-plotters, who can also be called ‘neo-nationalists’, have closely witnessed the cooperative relationship between the AKP and ISIS. Due to the fact that they are on the frontlines where this relationship is being implemented, they have learnt how the relationship between the AKP and ISIS is handled. If the coup had been successful, they would have prosecuted the AKP for supporting ISIS with backing from the West.
It seems as though the coup-plotters’ approach was: “Turkey’s main political problem is the Kurdish question, and we are the ones on the front line, so we should shape the politics of Turkey.” When civilian governments do not have any policies in solving the Kurdish question, the coup mechanism is always functioning. The fact that they named themselves “The Council of Peace in the Country” is a reflection of their thinking that “we will conduct the politics when it comes to the Kurdish question”. In short, their approach was “whoever is fighting the PKK should dominate politics and own Turkey”.
After the coup attempt: Sectarian nationalism will create a Turkish ISIS
After the coup was defeated, the AKP and its allies declared themselves as the “will of the people” and “democratic forces”. The AKP now hopes to strengthen its grasp on power and their anti-Kurdish, anti-democratic system. In this regard the representation of the AKP, its supporters and its allies as the defenders of democracy is a dangerous development; the AKP can more easily implement its anti-Kurdish, anti-democratic policies.
Given that the AKP’s allies are the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and chauvinist nationalists, a rise in anti-Kurdish sentiment and anti-democratic approaches can be expected. These forces have become even more tightknit after the coup attempt; this will lead to a deepening of genocidal policies against the Kurds. Just as this coup attempt has emboldened the AKP, its allies and the nationalists, it has also radicalised the sectarian nationalist circles close to the AKP. This will lead to a new breed of Turkish ISIS-like formations, such as Osmanli Ocaklari, a paramilitary group organised by Erdogan himself. They are already organising in European countries; links between them and ISIS are already being discussed. These sectarian nationalist trends will further radicalise and become repressive forces against any opposition to the AKP. Many of the people who took to the streets during this period were from these organisations. It can be expected that these groups will step up their attacks against the Kurdish people. The freedom forces of the Kurdish people and the democratic forces of the country should prepare themselves against these attacks.
What the AKP will do — and the responsibilities of democratic forces
There are statements that say “this coup attempt should be turned into an opportunity and platform for democratization”. These calls are made with good intentions but need to be followed up. All attempts at a coup can be blocked by democratisation. However, the anti-coup rhetoric of some is not grounded in a democratic mentality; rather it is more to do with the ongoing power struggle. These people aren’t democrats or anti-coup! These people had already taken power through a coup against democracy. For this reason, democratisation cannot be expected of these people in order to hinder possible coup attempts. These people will use this coup attempt in order cover their real faces and intentions. They have already started doing this.
In this regard, to expect that the AKP will take steps to democratise the country in response to this coup attempt is nothing but self-deception. One needs to take a closer look at Erdogan and the alliances of his Gladio. Nothing other than anti-Kurdish sentiment and anti-democratic development can be expected from this coalition. And when the AKP eventually discards these allied groups, the sectarian nationalist groups will radicalise and become Turkey’s version of ISIS. Under the ideological and political umbrella of the AKP, a more radical version of the Muslim Brotherhood will be formed in the region. Tayyip Erdogan will see this coup attempt as an opportunity to make preparations and take steps towards this end. There already are sectarian nationalist factions within the police force. Erdogan saw the actions of these groups during this coup attempt. Turkey will become a police state. The police will become an alternative armed force to the army.
The forces of democracy must reanalyse the situation after this coup attempt. The fascism of the AKP will seek to suppress all democratic forces. They will try to get all factions of society to obey its rule. Any opposition will be labelled as ‘coup-supporters’ and will be brutally suppressed. If the forces of democracy do not act to change this situation, Erdogan will force everyone into submission. In this regard, the forces of democracy must understand the reality of the AKP and its allies and must form a new front for resistance.
IMRALI PEACE DELEGATION IN ISTANBUL
This was not only worrying for the Kurdish people, but also for many internationally renowned individuals, academics, human rights activists and politicians. Those people that did not accept the continuous massacring of people formed an initiative named the Imrali Peace Delegation. This initiative was popularly supported by many people around the world. Supported by people like Noam Chomsky Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author, US; Mauro Palma President of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture of the Council of Europe, Italy; Tariq Ali Writer, journalist and filmmaker, UK; Dr Felix Padel Professor at JNU, Delhi and author, India; Prof David Graeber anthropologist, London School of Economics; author and social activist, UK; Baroness Helena Kennedy QC House of Lords, UK; Baroness Jenny Jones House of Lords, UK; Mark Thomas political satirist, author and journalist, UK; Jeremy Hardy, stand-up comedian, actor, writer and activist, UK; John Holloway Professor of Sociology and author, Mexico; Dr Norman Paech, Professor of international and national constitutional law, Hamburg University, retired and politician, Germany; Dr Dafydd Iwan, former President of Plaid Cymru Party, Wales; Dr Bill Bowring Professor of Law in the School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London and author, UK; Mike Mansfield QC President of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, UK; James Kelman Writer and Booker Prize winner, Scotland; Bruce Kent Vice-President Pax Christi, UK; Dr Derek Wall Writer and International Coordinator of the Green Party, UK; Bert Schouwenburg, International Officer, GMB, UK; Stephen Smellie, Deputy Convenor UNISON, Scotland; Grahame Smith, General Secretary, Scottish Trades Union Congress, Scotland; Nick Hildyard Policy adviser, UK ; Louise Christian Vice-President of Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, UK; Tony Simpson Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, UK; Ara Sarafian Director, Gomidas Institute, UK; Alastair Lyon lawyer, Birnberg Peirce Solicitors, UK; Matt Foot lawyer, Birnberg Peirce Solicitors, UK; Bronwen Jones barrister, Goldsmith Chambers, UK; Johannes de Jong, Manager of Christian Political Foundation for Europe (CPFE), The Netherlands ; Feroze Mithiborwala, well known international activist and the General Secretary of India Palestine Solidarity Forum who recently visited Syria, India, and led by Nelson Mandela’s lawyer, Judge Essa Moosa, a group (Dimitri Roussopoulos, Co-founder of the Transnational Institute of Social Ecology, Quebec, Canada; Janet Biehl, writer, translator, artist, US; Federico Venturini, School of Geography, University of Leeds; Member of Advisory Board of the Transnational Institute of Social Ecology, UK; Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Lecturer of Political Sociology, Cambridge University, UK; Dr Radha D’Souza, Reader in Law and social justice activist, UK; Andrej Hunko, German MP of The Left party for Aachen, Germany; Eirik Eiglad, writer, translator and New Compass Press, Norway; Edgar de Jesús Lucena González, Member of the National Assembly of Venezuela; Joe Ryan Chair of the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission, UK) consisting of people from Canada to Venezuela to India and various European countries applied to the Turkish Justice Ministry to visit Imrali Prison. The delegation conducted several meetings in Istanbul while waiting for a response from the Justice Ministry. However, the isolation of Ocalan meant that this application fell on deaf ears. Below is a summary of the report from this delegation:
ISOLATION OF ABDULLAH ÖCALAN
The escalation of conflict has coincided with the total isolation of the leader of the Kurdish freedom movement, Abdullah Öcalan, who from his lonely prison cell on the island of Imrali has been a crucial role-player and a consistent voice calling for peace.
Yet the very fact that Öcalan is in prison was a problem even during the talks that occurred for two years starting in March 2013. His condition of imprisonment forces him to negotiate with his captors – an inherent disadvantage. Moreover, in prison he cannot consult with his constituency. Before substantive negotiations can start, the state must first release him, as Nelson Mandela was released before – not after or during – the South African negotiations. Until Öcalan is freed, only talks about talks, and not actual negotiations, can take place. Mandela emphasized that only free persons and not prisoners can negotiate, on behalf his people, for a political solution.
THE ONLY VIABLE SOLUTION
Neither the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) nor the Turkish military could ever decisively prevail in a war that would only exacerbate the severe humanitarian crises in the country, the peace process offers the only solution and Öcalan, as the chief spokesperson for the Kurdish movement, is essential to that process. No progress toward a solution can be achieved without Öcalan’s participation.
THE TEN-MEMBER INTERNATIONAL PEACE DELEGATION
On February 14 a ten-member international delegation assembled in Istanbul to try to help restart the Kurdish-Turkish peace process, which has been suspended since the spring of 2015. The leader of the delegation, Judge Essa Moosa of the High Court of South Africa, on behalf of the delegation, wrote a letter to the Turkish Ministry of Justice on February 3 to request two meetings: one with the Ministry, to discuss ways and means to resume the peace process between the Turkish government and Ocalan; and one with Abdullah Öcalan on Imrali to discuss the same issue. We requested that the meetings take place on February 15, which coincided with the seventeenth anniversary of Öcalan’s capture and detention. Judge Moosa formerly acted for Nelson Mandela, while imprisoned on Robben Island and elsewhere and was involved in the negotiation process in South Africa.
REQUEST FOR AUDIENCE
Unfortunately the delegation was granted neither of the two meetings that was requested. On February 15 the ministry acknowledged receipt of the letter but did not bother to formally accept or reject the request. Beyond that mere acknowledgment, it gave no response at all by the time the delegation left Turkey. The delegation was not afforded an opportunity to engage the Minister of Justice and Öcalan on the question of the resumption of the peace process.
The delegation meanwhile met with representatives from a variety of political and social organizations who briefed us on the country’s most disturbing situation. They also met with lawyers and lawyer’s organizations, who have been deeply involved in the defense of members of the Kurdish freedom movement against criminal charges, and who have themselves been the subject of much intimidation and persecution by the state.
FROM PEACE TO WAR
During the current period of Öcalan’s isolation, from April 2015, the Erdoğan government has shifted from a peace footing to a war footing. The shift from peace-making to war-making has coincided with the total isolation of Öcalan. As he enters the eighteenth year of his detention, he leads a solitary life. Two
other prisoners who were formerly present on Imrali have now been transferred to other high-security prisons. Öcalan’s only human contact is with his guards. Not even his family can visit him. His lawyers, who have not been able to visit him since 2011, apply to visit at least once a week, but they have applied 600 times now and are repeatedly turned down, given absurd excuses that the boat is broken. No one at all has been permitted to visit since the last HDP delegates left on April 5, 2015. No communication from him has been received since then. He is suffering from poor health and his access to medical care is limited.
Meanwhile the situation in the country deteriorated rapidly after the elections and the peace process decisively came to an end. Cities have become war zones, pounded with heavy artillery and tank fire. Children are being killed. People’s parents and grandparents are shot dead in streets, but because of the curfew, their bodies cannot be retrieved for extended periods. Certain police forces are licensed to shoot anyone with full impunity, with no fear of consequences. These Special Forces are not commanded by local governors but are directly linked to the government.
In Cizre, people, many of them civilians who took refuge in three different basements were killed, even burned alive, and now the state is destroying the buildings to eliminate the evidence. Violence against women is on the rise. Women are killed, then stripped and humiliated. These constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. It violates the Third Geneva Convention, to which Turkey is committed and it meets United Nations criteria for genocide.
IMRALI PEACE DELEGATION IN STRASBOURG
The International Peace Delegation continued its work due to the urgency of the situation and decided to visit the most supreme institutions in the Ocalan case. Along with 50 academics that responded to positively to their call, the International Peace Delegation was in Strasbourg between the 18th-22nd of April to meet with the European Council and the CPT. The delegation while joining the continuous vigil that has been ongoing for four years (25 June, 2012) in front of the European Council also conducted meetings with the European Commission’s Cabinet of the General Secretary, political groups of the Parliamentary Assembly, delegations from member countries and the CPT. The delegation made this statement after the meetings:
In the light of circumstances, we, the members of the International Peace Delegation, unanimously resolve as follows:
We call upon the Turkish Government and the Abdullah Öcalan to resume the peace process as a matter of urgency. In December 2012, the Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu as the Chair of the Elders, which was founded by Nelson Mandela, in a personal note to the then Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that “Peace is better than War” and appealed to the Prime Minister to resume the peace process with Abdullah Öcalan.
In order for genuine Peace negotiations to take place to resolve the Kurdish issue in Turkey that Abdullah Öcalan, who is a crucial role-player, be released unconditionally from prison, to enable him to take his rightful place at the negotiating table for the lasting resolution of the Kurdish issue in Turkey and for the democratization of Turkey.
We call upon the Turkish Government to level the playing field by, amongst other, legitimizing PKK and other banned organizations, releasing of all political prisoners and permitting exiles to return to the Turkey to participate in the peace process.
We have to lobby our respective governments and non-governmental organizations to put pressure on the Turkish government to resume the peace process as a matter of urgency and in those countries where PKK is listed as a terrorist organization and Abdullah Öcalan is listed as a terrorist that pressure is put on such government to remove them from such list as they are a liberation movement and a freedom fighter in terms of the International Human Rights Instruments.
We call upon the international human rights organizations to investigate, as a matter of urgency, the human rights abuse perpetrated by the Turkish authorities against the civilian population in the areas of conflict and to assess and determine whether such abuses constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and/or contravention of the Geneva Convention.
We call upon the Committee for the Protection against Torture, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of the Council of Europe (CPT), as a matter of extreme urgency, to visit Abdullah Öcalan on Imrali Island Prison in order investigate the violation of his rights, in terms of the European Convention for the Protection Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as a political prisoner in that (i) his right to have access to his lawyers have been violated for the last 5 years; (ii) his right to have access to members of his family have been violated for the last 14 months; (iii) his right not to be completely isolated from social contact which has been violated for an unknown period; and (iv) his right to have access to medical doctors and/or treatment; and to report urgently on their findings to the Council of Europe, the Turkish government and to Abdullah Öcalan and his lawyers.
We call upon the international academic fraternity to come out in support of the dissident academics in Turkey in the interest of academic freedom and give them moral, material, physical and academic assistance.
We call upon members of our delegation to distribute this Report as widely as possible to head of state, foreign minister, ambassadors, officials, the media, both electronic and print, human rights organizations and non-governmental organizations in our respective countries.
Due to these policies, for many years Öcalan was held in solitary confinement in hazardous conditions on Imrali Island off the coast of Istanbul. His health condition has deteriorated because of the harsh environment of the prison. But despite all his personal difficulties, Öcalan has continued to play a central role in Turkey’s politics, and exerts influence among the Kurdish movement which cannot be ignored. From within his prison cell, through his writings and calls, Öcalan changed the paradigm of the PKK in which he called upon them to seek a democratic political solution to the Kurdish question within the borders of Turkey. He also called upon the PKK’s armed forces to withdraw to a position of self-defence.
Since then, Öcalan and the Kurdish national movement have maintained a consistent stand for a peaceful conclusion to the conflict based on the achievement of justice for the Kurdish people. Through continuous discussions their proposals have evolved into the current demand for “democratic autonomy” inside Turkey, a policy which envisages the granting of local decision-making powers in the regions through political, social and cultural rights, such as the use of the Kurdish language and mother tongue education, thus fulfilling longstanding key Kurdish demands.
As a result of the subsequent internalisation of these calls by the PKK, Öcalan advocated a negotiated settlement by putting forward detailed proposals calling on both sides to take steps to bring about a permanent end to the conflict. He has used his stature among the Kurds to urge repeated unilateral ceasefires on Kurdish guerrillas to give peace a chance which they have repeatedly adopted in the face of continued aggression by the Turkish military.
EFFORTS FOR PEACE AND RESPONSE
The first of these calls for peace was in 1999-2004 when the PKK replied to Öcalan’s call to cease fire, and retreated from Turkey in order to change its strategy. As a result, in 1999 the PKK withdrew all armed forces outside the borders of Turkey. This marked the beginning of a five-year cease-fire, the longest in the history of the conflict. In another surprising move in the same year Öcalan suggested that two “peace groups” consisting of PKK members should return to Turkey, as a sign of readiness for a peaceful solution. The two groups did indeed arrive in Turkey. But the members of the peace envoy were immediately arrested, and now serve long prison terms.
The Turkish state wasted this opportunity for peace talks, and did not respond positively by taking this gesture seriously. When the escalation of violence took over, in 2006-2007, Öcalan again intervened and called for another ceasefire from the PKK, which the PKK again duly obliged but was left unanswered by the Turkish state.
Öcalan’s third call for peace negotiations and a ceasefire came in 2009 when the publicly known ‘Oslo meetings’ was initiated. From 2009 until mid-2011, secret negotiations, later known as the Oslo Process, were held between Öcalan, a government-appointed delegation of the Turkish state and senior PKK members. The subject was a political solution to the Kurdish question. Based on the Road Map to Negotiations, which Öcalan authored in 2009, the parties agreed on three protocols. They contained a phased plan for an end of the conflict and a political solution to the Kurdish issue. Additionally, in 2010, Öcalan called for another peace envoy to enter Turkey. Subsequently, a group of unarmed guerrillas, and a group of refugees from the Mexmûr refugee camp crossed the border from South Kurdistan (Iraq) into Turkey as a symbolic representation of peace and negotiations. Unlike the earlier peace envoy this group was not arrested immediately, creating a false sense of hope and security. The delegation was welcomed ecstatically by Kurds who hoped that “the war had finally ended”.
The Turkish government, however, chose not to implement the plan or engage in discussions, and many members of the peace groups were soon arrested and imprisoned. Due to the escalation of violence after July 2011, Öcalan once again responded to calls by social movements to call for another ceasefire and started a new negotiation process, the so-called ‘Imrali Process’, in early 2013. Finally, this latest most significant attempt was once again halted by President Erdogan when he realised that the process was becoming successful in March, 2015, leading him to state that “there is no negotiating table, no Kurdish question and peace process”. With this statement all hope for a continued peace process were eradicated.
IMPACT ON THE MIDDLE EAST
Abdullah Öcalan is best known as the living symbol for the struggle of the Kurdish people for recognition and self-determination. The continued systematic denial of these rights has paved the way for numerous massacres and genocidal attacks on Kurdish populations in different countries. Resistances against these attacks have resulted in armed conflicts which have contributed to the overall instability in the Middle East. During more than four decades, Öcalan has made a tremendous effort to transform the conflict from an armed struggle into a political one. Through his continuous efforts, now for the first time in decades, a political solution seems to be within reach.
In a political atmosphere in the Middle East that increasingly dictates national or religious uniformity and oppression of women’s rights, over the last 20 years Öcalan has developed a political philosophy that stands for the implementation of an alternative vision of society. His ideology for peace advocates equal rights for people of all nationalities and beliefs and –especially – the practical recognition of woman’s rights and freedoms in all areas of society. This paradigm has proven to be influential and a source of hope for many groups. Policies that follow his approach have helped to keep the Rojava Kurdish region of Syria peaceful and stable, while most of Syria sank into chaos, which inspired several long-lasting ceasefires and a promising dialogue between two former staunch enemies: the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
In Rojava, the inclusion of all ethnic and religious groups like Assyrian, Syriac and Chaldean Christians into the canton administrations came about due to Öcalan’s advocacy and repeated calls for this model. In his writings and statements, Öcalan argues for an inclusive approach and has managed to influence political leaders, Kurdish and non-Kurdish, in the relevant region.
This made the rescue of the Yezidi-Kurds` possible, contributed immensely to the relatively peaceful development of the region amidst the turmoil of the Syrian civil war and serves as a model for the future of Syria and the Middle East in General. This paradigm of Mr. Öcalan has been adopted by the Kurdish movement in Syria who have been in a tense war against ISIL since 2013.
The Kurdish movement in Syria has applied this paradigm in the liberated areas and have proven to be the most effective force against ISIL barbarism. The success of the Kurdish movement in Syria, not only in the fight against ISIL terrorism, but also for an inclusive model of coexistence between long mistrustful ethnic and religious groups is reliant on the ideas and paradigm of Mr. Öcalan. The efforts of Abdullah Öcalan for peace and democracy has not only been welcomed by the Kurds in Turkey but especially the other ethnic-religious groups in Syria fighting ISIL. The model of inclusive coexistence has served and can serve, as a powerful tool for peace, stability and prosperity for the peoples of the region. ISOLATION Abdullah Öcalan last had access to his legal team on 27 July 2011. Since then, Öcalan has been cut off from the outside world. Neither family members nor lawyers are allowed to visit. Telephone calls or written communication are also not possible. Even in Turkish law – which is not at all flexible on political prisoners – there is no legal basis for this total and inhumane isolation. Weekly unconvincing excuses, such as a defective vessel or bad weather, are cited to prevent the due visits occurring. However, Prime Minister Erdogan, as well as Minister of Justice S. Ergin, have both stated publicly that it is the government who blocks every visit. Without a doubt, the prevention of Öcalan from having access to his legal
team or the peace delegation is a deliberate policy by the AKP government to silence the most powerful Kurdish voice for a peace process, democracy and human rights in Turkey and the region. This deliberate isolation also demonstrates the complete arbitrariness of the AKP government whose representatives publicly defend breaches of the law where Kurdish matters are concerned. Another scandalous and illegal development was the detention of Öcalan’s complete defence team of 36 lawyers who have been in jail for more than half a year now. The real scandal however is the silence of foreign countries. The European Convention on Human Rights is valid in 47 states. For over 40 million Kurds, it seems, it is not. At least not for Abdullah Öcalan. The Council of Europe delegates the responsibility for the appalling prison conditions on Imrali Island to the powerless anti-torture committee (CPT) and otherwise deliberately still ignores the matter. Even the much-appraised European Court for Human Rights has so far not been able to determine the facts and conditions of isolation. Turkey, it seems is not constrained by international human rights laws or conventions. The Kurds and their friends have repeatedly resorted to public and mass protests to show their support for Öcalan, and their rejection of the Turkish government’s anti-democratic and anti-human rights policies towards the Kurds. There have also been many campaigns launched for Öcalan’s freedom. In a signature campaign conducted in 2005-2006, around 3.5 million people from all parts of Kurdistan signed a statement affirming that they regard Öcalan as their political leader. On September 6, 2012, a second signature campaign began, demanding “Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan and other political prisoners in Turkey.” The signatories state that “Öcalan’s freedom will mark a breakthrough for the democratization of Turkey and peace in Kurdistan.” The campaign began in Brussels, and subsequently 10, 321 million signatures were gathered. The number of signatures was remarkable considering that the campaign was conducted under immense restrictions— Turkey, Syria, and Iran declared it illegal. Hundreds of people were convicted and sentenced to several years in prison.
ISOLATION: FACTS AND FIGURES
In the 16 years of Öcalan’s imprisonment his family and legal team have always been hindered from visiting him. Mr Öcalan was allowed to meet with his lawyers once a week for one hour, although even this right was never consistently implemented. However, since the 27th of July, 2011, Öcalan has been prevented from meeting with his lawyers.
Mr Öcalan was previously allowed to meet with his family once a week for one hour. In June 2005 this was reduced to one hour once in two weeks. However, this has come to a complete stop since October of 2014.
These are the figures for applications made by Abdullah Öcalan’s family and lawyers since the 27th of July, 2011:
From the 27th of July, 2011, to the end of that year, of the 43 applications by Mr Öcalan’s lawyers to meet him none were permitted (17 rejected due to bad weather conditions, 23 rejected due to broken down ferry and 2 rejected due to official holidays).
Throughout the year of 2012 of the 104 applications by Mr Öcalan’s lawyers to meet him none were permitted (14 rejected due to bad weather conditions, 73 rejected due to broken down ferry, 16 due to repair of ferry and 1 rejected due to official holidays).
Throughout the year of 2013 of the 102 applications by Mr Öcalan’s lawyers to meet him none were permitted (12 rejected due to bad weather conditions, 86 rejected due to broken down ferry and 4 rejected due to official holidays).
Throughout the year of 2014 of the 104 applications by Mr Öcalan’s lawyers to meet him none were permitted (9 rejected due to bad weather conditions, 86 rejected due to broken down ferry, 6 due to repair of ferry and 3 rejected due to official holidays).
Throughout the year of 2015 of the 56 applications by Mr Öcalan’s lawyers to meet him none were permitted (5 rejected due to bad weather conditions, 27 rejected due to broken down ferry and 24 due to repair of ferry).
Needless to say, all of the reasons given above are clear violations of Öcalan’s human rights as a political prisoner and in direct breach of international legal norms and values. Nothing has been done since by the Turkish government and the international community and major organizations to address this violation, which not only limits the human rights of Öcalan but also silences the needs of millions of Kurds who rely on Öcalan as the voice for their human rights, calls for peace and democracy. To silence Öcalan is to silence the Kurds and their basic and fundamental human rights.
THE REALITY IN TURKEY AND THE ONLY WAY FOR PEACE
Turkish context Öcalan’s total isolation is politically thoughtless. It was Öcalan who was able to urge the Kurdish guerilla to adhere to several cease-fires. No one else is capable of exerting such an influence on the Kurdish forces. His constructive proposals for a political solution, laid out in his Road Map, formed the basis of the 3-year negotiations between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for a peaceful settlement of the conflict. A solution to the conflict was within grasp; However, Recep Tayyip Erdogan stopped the negotiations abruptly and stepped up the attacks against Kurdish civil society.
This sudden change in policy by the AKP government solved none of the existing and ongoing problems, but instead created new ones. The clashes between Kurdish guerillas and the Turkish army have rekindled, the situation seems ever more complex and a solution for peace even more out of reach. But even Erdogan will have to realize that the Kurdish issue can only be solved through dialogue and through concrete steps to accept the human rights of ethnic and religious groups in Turkey. With the rise of popular political parties such as HDP, which recently gained a historical win in the Turkish parliament, the democratic call of the people of Turkey for peace, for democratization, for political reforms, gender equality and human rights is increasing. It is essential that the Turkish government resumes negotiations to prevent further bloodshed.
Öcalan’s actions throughout the last years have proven that the Kurdish leader is able to play a balancing role regarding Turkish and Kurdish interests. This balance is the precondition for a lasting and legitimate peace. The ball is now in the Turkish government’s court to put things on track.
Abdullah Öcalan’s release, as a vital contribution to the solution of the conflict, is therefore inevitable. To continue to silence and isolate Öcalan is to continue to ignore the Kurdish question in Turkey, and to fail to take concrete steps towards political reforms and democratization. To fail to address this issue humanly and according to international legal norms and values is to highlight that Turkey has no intention to uphold universal human rights.
“Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan” signature campaign
I support the demand “Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan and the political prisoners in Turkey”.
Öcalan’s freedom will mark a breakthrough for the democratisation of Turkey and peace in Kurdistan.
Name & surname (block letters)
Profession / organisation
Please return to: International Initiative, P.O. Box 100511, D-50445 Cologne | http://www.freeocalan.org
EXTRACTS FROM The Democratic Solution to the Syrian Conflict.
“Considering the huge number of complex problems that it faces, Syria requires a radical solution that addresses not only the symptoms but also the causes, lest reaction reemerge.
Foundations Of The Democratic Solution
“The Democratic Self-Administration is the tangible expression of the democratic solution in the context of solving all ethnic issues, including the Kurdish issue. The traditional approach was to try to get a share in the Syrian state, or form semi-independent ethnic states, or create a federal state or confederation. However, the first demand of a democratic Syria is that it recognize the rights of all ethnic and religious groups to manage themselves according to their own free will, and to put no obstacles on the path of becoming a national democratic society. It must affirm the democratic the right of peoples to self-determination. Democracy and the state can play their roles under the same political roof, and the democratic constitution sets the boundaries between their spheres of influence.”
“Building a democratic Syria requires ridding it of the concept of central state authority, which has led it to the brink of destruction, and democratizing the social structure.”
“Furthermore, in Syria’s democratic solution, the individual becomes a citizen within the framework of constitutional citizenship, while also being a free individual in his democratic society. So too the constituent peoples retain their democratic social identity in the framework of constitutional citizenship.
In the Democratic Nation, those rights will be guaranteed in a constitution, including a right to semi-democratic independence. Thus, all of Syria’s genuine social constituents can have the character of free individual in a democratic community along with the constitutional citizenship of the mother state, interactively and synchronously. In other words, citizenship will be bilateral and dual.”
“No social entity can exist without having its own administration. In Syria we must provide for the cultural diversity of the constituent peoples at all levels and in all directions, reserving the Syrian state as a “special” reality. We must emphasize a sort of independence and freedom for all the peoples, identities, and affiliations while retaining the democratic central entity. This is possible only through a combination of centralization and decentralization, because Syria is the country of constituent peoples, all of whom must be allowed to enjoy their rights fully.”
“The role of the center should be to the benefit the parties, and the powers of the central authorities should be reduced in favor of local self-administrations.”
“In other words, centralization will overlap with decentralization, allowing the constituent peoples to appear, develop their identities, and express themselves. Surely, the new administrative divisions must be commensurate with the distribution of constituent peoples and identities. In each one, each part will be represented in the self-administration. Decentralization will guarantee both centralization and common life, because the common citizenship will be a mental and practical expression of the free administration of all members of any group.”
“The economic system of the Democratic Nation and the Democratic Self- Administration stops this barbaric practice and works to restore community control over the economy, and at the lowest levels to reconcile the state and self-administrations. So the semi-independent economy basically works under the ecological industry and the commune economy as a reflection of democracy. The semi-independent economy accepts markets and trade but does not allow the economy to achieve profit for the accumulation of capital.”
“In the democratic solution, the Democratic Nation is based on social morality more than on law. It meets the need to develop lawful organizations and organizes the community according to ethical standards for the positive application of rights and constitutions.”
Foundations of Self-Defense
“In the democratic solution, the democratic constitution will organize the work of the defense establishment. Inside the country, the society should build community and civil society institutions in all areas, despite possible exposure to attacks on anything from language to economy, security, etc. An organizational structure on all these levels is needed to enable the society to defend its essential elements. In the Democratic Nation, all civil society organizations, as a means of protection and development, will organize defense institutions, including the military and security forces, in accordance with the established format for the democratic homeland, which we aim to build from self-willed institutions.”
“The system will defend the nation as a whole, represented by the state and the relevant public institutions. Here, it is necessary to regulate the relationship between state institutions, insofar as they are national, and the local institutions of decentralized Syria. Syria should be divided administratively, and each province or administrative region can and should form its own forces. But it does so without compromising the unity of the homeland and its centrality; at one level, centralization and decentralization will merge harmoniously.”
“By constitutional guarantee, Syria will be common homeland of all religions, creeds, languages, beliefs, who will all coexist. In short, ours is a democratic cultural revolution of multilateralism against unilateralism, of expression rather than denial. The revolution will adopt all the authentic languages as official languages. It will enable citizens to learn and teach one another’s languages, opening linguistic and cultural academies and cultural centers.”
“The units of the Democratic Self-Administration can maintain diplomatic relations with other units provided they respect the laws and the constitution of the center.
The Syria of the Future
“Decentralizing Syria does not mean canceling the center entirely; rather, the functions of the center will shift from controlling to coordinating and unifying the parts that make up the whole, while retaining the essential functions of the overall strategy. In the Syrian Republic, the state must stand equidistant to cultures, religions, and languages. Separating religion and state will be one mission to secure the atmosphere of democracy, so that no religious constituents of the community control or marginalize any of the others. The new administrative divisions must accord with scientific criteria that take into account the fact of Syria’s cultural diversity, after getting rid of the mentality that dominated the country during the previous decades.”
“No democracy can exist in Syria unless self-administrations have been established to solve its problems democratically.”
“All the constituent peoples in the Syrian community— Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Armenians, and Turkmen, as well as Muslims, Christians, and Yazidis—cross boundaries: that is, the lands where they live do not begin or end at the state borders. This diversity will foster correct and healthy relations with neighboring countries, and it will also form a fertile ground for the construction of democratic confederal relationships that will spread in the Middle East, one that inherently rejects ethnic and religious nationalism as well as the nation-state.”
(This report is not specifically about Rojava, but concerns a directly related struggle)
|The Mesopotamian Ecology Movement recently issued a declaration of social-ecological aims.
Final Declaration of the First Conference of the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement, April 23-24, 2016, in Wan (Van), North Kurdistan
On April 23 and 24, 2016, the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement (MEM) held its first conference in the city of Wan (Van). One hundred delegates participated, coming from the provinces Amed (Diyarbakir), Dîlok (Gaziantep), Riha (Sanliurfa), Merdîn, Muş, Wan, Elih (Batman), Siirt, Dersîm, and Bedlîs (Bitlis) in Turkey.
Activists from the following movements and groups also participated: Gaya magazine, Anti Nuclear Platform, Green Resistance, Green Newspaper, Green and Left Party, Black Sea in Rebellion, Defense of North Forests, Water Rights Campaign, and Dersîm-Ovacik Municipality; and from the German group International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organizations (ICOR) and the East Kurdistan group Green Chiya.
In addition, representatives of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), Free Women of Kurdistan (KJA), Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK), and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were present. Taken together, a total of 170 people joined the first large gathering of the MEM assembled since its founding.
The conference was organized during a period of intensive political struggle on the part of people in Kurdistan for freedom and self-governance, a struggle that may significantly change the future of the region but that also demands many victims.
Based on the trinity of city, class, and state and using the method of domination–capital accumulation, capitalist modernity creates a suffocating and unproductive society even as it presents nature with every kind of destruction. On behalf of the existing hegemonic system, the nation-state und its governments disperse the solidaristic character of society and instead impose unemployment, poverty, unhealthy nourishment via industrial agriculture and GMOs, and the cultural-social devastation on the people. Huge destructive projects like the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), the Ilisu Dam, the Munzur dams, Green Way, and Cerattepe Mining and Kanal Istanbul have been developed with the aim of clearing forests for construction, commercializing the waters, commodifying the land, controlling nature and people, and promoting the consumption of fossil fuels, all of which alienates people from original nature and from social life.
Currently, the ruling regime in Turkey is carrying out a campaign of brutality in Kurdistan that is incomparable in the recent history of the Middle East. In a new, perfidious dimension, it has forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands of people from Sur, Nusaybin, Hezex, Kerboran, Farqin, Şırnak, Gever, Silopi, and Cizre, cities that are systematically being destroyed. Yet the international public remains silent on the destruction of nature and cities and on all the massacres of people.
The nation-state’s monist and denialist mentality and capitalist modernity’s unlimited profit-, competition-, and domination-seeking character have brought the world to its current grave state. Social disasters become ecological disasters, and vice versa. Society and humanity must put a stop to this development, for if it continues, we will reach the point where a turnaround is no longer possible. Therefore the mobilization of an ecological resistance is crucially important.
Despite the mentality and practices of destruction, a turnaround is possible. To achive it, we must mobilize the ecological struggle against wars and against the numerous dams, coal plants, and mines that are poised to eliminate our life-areas and our cultural and social values. We have to spread the ecological struggle using the maxim “Communalize our land, waters, and energy and set up a free, democratic life.” We must defend the democratic nation against the nation-state; the communal economy against capitalism, with its quick-profit-seeking logic and monopolism and large industries; organic agriculture, ecological villages and cities, ecological industry, and alternative energy and technology against the agricultural and energy policies imposed by capitalist modernity.
Since the ecological struggle is the touchstone for the liberation of all humanity, every action may bring us closer to a free individual and a free society. Our struggle to reach our natural and societal truth, the fundamental justification of our existence, is an important contribution to the liberation of people and nature on our planet. With great excitement, which we feel deeply, we assume our role in this struggle.
Our paradigm, which heralds a bright age in the twenty-first century and coming millennia, is a radical democratic, communal, ecological, women-liberated society. The ecological struggle goes beyond any single struggle to encompass the vital essence of the free life paradigm. Without ecology, society cannot exist, and without humanity and nature, ecology cannot exist. Ecology, as the essence and self of the millennia-old universal dialectic of formation, interweaves all interconnected natural processes as like the rings of a chain.
The struggle against capitalist modernity is the struggle to develop a democratic, social, and liberatory mindset, and the struggle against state-sovereignty is the struggle to become a social subject. This can develop only through a social movement, through a struggle for freedom that takes a stand against the system that jeopardizes nature, society, and the individual in the interests of capitalist profit and state hegemony.
In the Middle East, the history of ecology has not yet been written. To achieve the liberation of women, it has been necessary to learn the history of woman; just so, to achieve an ecological society, it is necessary to know the history of ecology. By opening up ecology academies, we can bring ecological consciousness as an essential component to programs of study in all social spheres and all academic curricula. Bringing ecological consciousness and sensibility to the organized social sphere and to educational institutions is as vital as organizing our own assemblies.
In relation to the construction of a democratic and ecological society, our conference passed several important resolutions that we hope will constitute an intellectual, organizational, and operational contribution for the global ecological movements. Some of the resolutions are:
– To establish a strategic intellectual, organizational, and operational coordination with national and international ecology movements in order to enhance common discussions and actions against ecological destruction and exploitation.
– To struggle against the mental, physical, and ideological destruction of energy, water, forests, soil, cities, agriculture seeds, and technology; and based on the approved policies of the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement, to mobilize a struggle for the construction of a new life.
– To fight the system that demolishes urban settlements and burns forests in Kurdistan; to publicize the ecological devastation experienced in Kurdistan and to map the devastations occurring within the war.
– To plan actions, in coordination with other ecology movements, against the destruction of cities in Kurdistan; to ensure our active participation in solidarity platforms that have been established in these cities.
– To continue struggles to preserve cultural and natural sites in Kurdistan that face extinction—such as Hasankeyf, Diyarbakır-Sur, the Munzur Valley, and “Gele Goderne”—due to the energy and security policies.
– To develop an ecological model suitable for Kurdistan.
– To build a greater and more regular presence in print and digital media and to establish ecology academies.
– To carry out legal struggles parallel to ongoing actions and campaigns.
-To expand the own organizational structures throughout Kurdistan and Middle East.
Lightly edited by Janet Biehl. If your group would like to connect with the MEM, please write to email@example.com.
DECLARATION OF THE ROJAVA-NORTH SYRIA DEMOCRATIC FEDERAL SYSTEM
17 March 2016
The meeting of the Constituent Assembly for the establishment of the Rojava-Northern Syria Democratic Federal System has ended with the final declaration being read.
The two-day meeting held in the Rimelan town of Girkê Legê (Al-Muabbada) ended today, 17 March.
Attended by 31 parties and 200 delegates representing Rojava’s Kobane, Afrin and Cizire cantons and the Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian, Syriac, Armenian, Turkmen and Chechen peoples of Girê Spî (Tal Abyad), Shaddadi, Aleppo and Shehba regions, the meeting was followed by a press statement attended by all components.
The final declaration was read in Arabic by the Rojava-North Syria Democratic Federal System Constituent Assembly co-president Mensur El-Selum.
The declaration is as follows:
To the Syrian, regional, and global public.
In response to the appeal made by the General Coordination of Democratic Self-Administration Areas (Cizire, Kobane and Afrin), all components of the political forces, parties, and social actors in the cantons of Rojava and the areas liberated from terrorist forces held a meeting resulting in a comprehensive political vision for a Syrian resolution and an agreement on the management system for Rojava/Northern Syria. This can serve as a model for the rest of Syria, providing a solution for the Syrian crisis. We, the representatives of these areas, met on 16th and 17th March 2016.
We commemorate with respect the martyrs of our people, who wrote with their blood the heroic resistance that has brought our people to the milestone they are at today.
This aforementioned meeting resulted in the following decisions.
1. The democratic federal system encapsulates all social components and guarantees that a future Syria will be for all Syrians.
2. All work will be towards establishing a democratic federal system for Rojava/Northern Syria.
3. Co-presidents and a 31-person Organising Council were elected.
4. The Organising Council was assigned to prepare a social contract and a comprehensive political and legal vision for this system within a period not exceeding six months.
5. All assembly committees and documents will adhere to UN resolutions on human rights and societal democratic systems. Furthermore, all attendees of the meeting see themselves as part of the new system being constructed and are aware of the deep ties it has with the people of Syria; they predicate their participation on the fraternity of peoples and peace.
6. Women’s freedom is the essence of the federal democratic system. Women have the right to equal participation and in decision-related responsibilities in relation to female issues. Women will be represented as equals in all spheres of life, including all social and political spheres.
7. The peoples and communities living in the federal system in Rojava/Northern Syria can develop their political, economic, social, cultural, and democratic relations with whom they see fit, or share their beliefs and culture with the people and communities on a regional and international level, provided that this relationship does not interfere with the objectives and interests of the federal democratic system.
8. The peoples of regions liberated by the democratic forces from terrorist organisations will have the right to become a part of the federal democratic system of Rojava-Northern Syria, if they so choose.
9. The goal of the Rojava/Northern Syria democratic federal system on the regional level is to achieve democratic union between all the peoples of the Middle East in the political, economic, cultural and social spheres and transcend national state borders to create a secure, peaceful and fraternal life for all.
10. The creation of a federal and democratic system shall take place within a sovereign Syria.
To all people in Syria, Kurdistan and Rojava and all groups and social classes.
We are going through a historical phase and critical circumstances. Today, Syria is experiencing the worst tragedy in its history. Millions have been displaced and hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, not to mention the immense damage that the infrastructure of Syria has suffered.
In spite of this, a democratic experience has been created and defended in Rojava with the blood of martyrs. Great gains have been achieved in this period. This is a real opportunity to build a federal democratic system. We are sure and confident that this will be a model for a solution to the Syrian crisis.
In the framework of the decisions we have taken, we are calling foremostly on women who represent a new and free life, as well as young people, communities, workers and all other social sectors to join in the construction of a democratic federal system. We are also calling on all progressive humanity and democratic forces to support our efforts.
Long live our people’s determination, their coexistence, and their unity.
Constituent Assembly for the establishment of a Federal Democratic Rojava/Northern Syria.
The downing of a Russian plane by Turkey clearly shows the potential for a sudden and unpredictable escalation of the current conflict in Syria. In these circumstances Jeremy Corbyn is quite right not to give the UK government a blank cheque to bomb the country. Without a coherent policy clarifying who is the target of the bombing, on whose behalf it is to be carried out and what post-war political solution for Syria is envisaged, this can only lead to another disastrous debacle like we have seen in Iraq and Libya.
Mr Cameron has claimed that there are 75,000 moderate opposition fighters without identifying who they are, who they are opposed to, or what kind of Syria they want to create. Meanwhile the Kurdish led Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) , the only forces who have a clear political vision, based on a democratic, non-sectarian, multi-ethnic Syria , are treated with disdain by the UK government. The YPG’s links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) are used as an excuse to sideline the only effective forces in Syria because the PKK is categorised as a ‘terrorist organisation’. This classification is not because the PKK actually is a terrorist organisation, or poses any threat to civilians, but simply to appease the Turkish government which continues to deny rights to its Kurdish population. The consequences of this absurd policy were shown only last week when a young woman was gaoled in London because she wished to fight with Kurdish forces AGAINST the Daish (Islamic State).
Since the YPG and its allies constitute the only viable force in Syria able to counter the Daish, a coherent policy of intervention in the form of aerial bombing would have to focus on supporting these forces. This cannot be done by the strategic bombing of cities like Raqqa, where the Daish are embedded in the civilian population and which would result in high civilian casualties that would only feed the Daish propaganda machine.
Britain should not become involved in the Syrian conflict unless its role is restricted to providing tactical support on the battlefield for the Syrian Democratic Forces led by the YPG. Bombing front-line troop positions, command and control centres, or supply lines in liaison with the YPG could prove successful, as it did with US air support for the Kurds in the siege of Kobani. However, the question remains whether the UK could make a meaningful contribution. It also raises the spectre of ‘mission creep’ whereby tactical bombing would lead to a widening of targets which would kill civilians.
Since the French, Americans , Russians and some Arab states are already involved in Syria, Britain’s minor contribution to the war effort has little military significance. Rather Cameron , in a Blair moment, wants to appear that he is doing something, anything, so he can appear to be a world leader. He also believes that by taking part in the war the UK will have a say in the post war carve-up of Syria, because that is what it will become. There is also a large dose of hypocrisy in the UK and NATO supporting Turkey and Saudi Arabia in their efforts to overthrow Assad , when both countries have been implicated in support for the Daish.
The best thing the UK government can do is focus on giving vital equipment and expertise to the Kurds of Rojava (Northern Syria) so they can both more effectively fight the Daish and rebuild their devastated country. That is the only way the UK can support the real democratic forces in Syria without becoming embroiled in a quagmire beneficial neither to the people of Syria, or the UK.