Caracas, Venezuela (VA) – On Tuesday, two hundred people attended an event held by the Kurdish Solidarity Committee-Venezuela in Caracas on the Kurdish liberation struggle in northern Syria.
The event featured various speakers, including committee member and long time Venezuelan revolutionary Roland Denis as well as the anthropologist and documentalist Mehmet Ali Dogan, spokesperson for the Kurdistan-Latin America Committee.
The presentations centered on the project of “democratic confederalism” launched by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the Rojava or “Western Kurdistan” region of Syria, consisting of three “cantons”- Kobane, Amuda, and Afrin- along the northern border with Turkey.
Rojava secured its autonomy from the Syrian state in the course of a people’s war waged over the past several years by popular militias called People’s Defense Units (YPG) against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has seen Kurdish forces liberate village after village, laying the foundations for a new society based on participatory democracy, communal ownership and worker’s control, gender equality, and ecological sustainability.
“It’s a struggle that doesn’t just involve military victories, but cultural, social and political victories in the sense that they are building new villages, communities, and communes centered on the construction of an alternative social model in the face of a totally barbaric world, whether it’s ISIS or the fascist [President] Erdogan in Turkey,” Denis told Venezuelanalysis.
Women have played a particularly salient role in the Kurdish struggle, forming their own militias known as Women’s Defense Units (YPJ) which were indispensable protagonists during the battle of Kobane last year. Moreover, the Group of Kurdish Communities (KCK), a coordinating body composed of Kurdish political parties and social movements from Turkish, Syrian, Iraqi, and Irani Kurdistan, enforces gender parity among its delegates, mandating a minimum of 40% female representation.
Also featured in the expositions was an extensive discussion of the geopolitics of Turkey’s escalating assault on Kurdish movements, bombing both ISIS and YPG targets in Syria, which is widely viewed as a reaction to the stunning success of the leftwing Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkish elections last month that deprived the ruling AKP party of President Erdogan the majority necessary for passing authoritarian constitutional reforms.
Audience members were invited to sign a petition for the release of 12,000 political prisoners, including Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan, who currently languish in Turkish jails, a campaign which is at the center of the Kurdish Solidarity Committee-Venezuela’s work.
Despite being imprisoned since 1998, Ocalan has served as a critical ideological referent for the unfolding Kurdish revolution, transcending his party’s strict variation of Marxism-Leninism to embrace democratic confederalism as an alternative to capitalism, which he defines as an amalgam of class domination, racism, patriarchy, and ecological devastation.
Key to the revolution in Rojava, stressed Dogan, is a renunciation of the goal of a Kurdish nation-state in favor of a loose network of federated municipalities, encompassing Kurds, Turks, Arabs, Armenians, and other groups in a self-governing arrangement based on participatory political and economic democracy, independent of colonially-inscribed state borders.
This alternative structure of regional integration has been termed the “Great Middle Eastern motherland” following the processes of Latin American integration guided by Simon Bolivar and Hugo Chavez under the banner of the Patria Grande.
The Kurdish experience has, in turn, deeply influenced libertarian militants in Latin America such as Denis, who likewise seek new forms of integration, beyond capital and the state.
“For us Bolivarians who are also seeking the channels to build another America, another politics, [the Kurdish struggle] is fundamental [and] we feel completely identified,” Denis told Venezuelanalysis.com.
For more insight into the Kurdish struggle from a Venezuelan perspective, see Venezuelanalysis.com’s forthcoming interview with Mehmet Ali Dogan.