Tag: rojava

Kurds in Northern Syria See National Conference as Priority for 2017

A national conference to establish a federal state in Syria has to be held soon, as the crisis in the country is entering a new phase, the Consecutive Board of the Movement for a Democratic Society said in a statement obtained by Sputnik on Saturday.

The statement went further that federalism was considered the best democratic model for the Syrians, as it represented variety within unity.

“Achieving national unity and holding a national conference are a priority at this phase because we are passing through a critical stage that needs dialogue,” the statement said.

When Liberated Manbij Will Join Autonomous Federation of Northern Syria

Amid the intensive fighting for the liberation of the northern Syrian city of Manbij from Daesh jihadists, Rojava-Northern Syria Democratic Federal System Constituent Assembly Co-President Hediye Yusuf tells Sputnik Turkiye that when fully liberated, the city will join the autonomous Rojava – Northern Syria Democratic Federal System.

“Manbij will be liberated in a short while. After the liberation it will be integrated into the Rojava — Northern Syria Democratic Federal System,” Hediye Yusuf told Sputnik Turkiye.

“Several members of the city Mejlis (city council) have already joined the Constituent Assembly of the Federation. Many Arabs, Turkmens and Kurds from Manbij are already members of our Mejlis. It is for the people of Manbij to decide when to join the Federation. The city Mejlis will apply to join the Federal System based on the decision of the people of Manbij,” she added.Hediye Yusuf also noted that the fighting is getting more and more intense as troops advance to the center of the city. She added that with this operation, 90% of the Daesh presence in Rojava-Northern Syria will end and peoples of different faiths and ethnicities will find comfort in the Rojava-Northern Syria Federation.

Who are they, these revolutionary Rojava women?

Meredith Tax just had to find out who they were – the revolutionary women of Rojava, bearing arms against ISIS, building a new world…she had to find their story, for herself, and in her new book, for us.

Imagine a life amidst war, another war, and recovery from decades of war, where humans decide that all public positions are shared between women and men, and where, in fact, everything is shared.

It’s not a bleak but beautiful fantasy dreamed up by Ursula le Guin, it is here and now on the border between Syria and Turkey. It is Rojava.

Rojava Revolution: How Deep is the Change?

Is optimism in the future of revolutionary change misplaced in a region torn apart by war and a society where patriarchy has been so entrenched? Part 6 of Witnessing the Rojava revolution.

This is the obvious question to ask – but an extremely difficult one to answer, especially when the situation is as fluid as it is in Rojava. All the women I interviewed while I was there talked about how deeply embedded patriarchy was in their social fabric, how the revolution had made a start in all the ways that I have described in this six-part series on Witnessing the Revolution in Rojava, and yet gave no concrete examples of the ways in which it continued to plague their lives. From the homes I stayed in, it appeared that domestic work was still primarily the responsibility of the women. Oddly this seems to be the last frontier of patriarchy, the double burden that women carried even in the heady days of the revolution in places like the Soviet Union when they were taking on all the jobs conventionally done by men. I say ‘oddly’ because domestic chores seem like a small loss of privilege in comparison to the loss of status and income from jobs traditionally reserved for men. Having said that, the younger men appeared to be more self-servicing; Khaleel, who drove the official car of Kongra Star, the women’s umbrella organisation, said he shared the domestic duties of cooking, cleaning and shopping.

Rojava revolution: On the Hoof

There is a real sense of a people responding to the facts on the ground with the few resources they have to hand. Rojava’s frontline of the war against ISIS is constantly shifting – at the moment in a positive direction, outwards, encroaching into ISIS held territory such as Shaddadi in Hasakah province and Tal Abyad on the Turkish border – which means becoming responsible for new populations and the work of drawing them in to the radical representative democratic structure described in this series earlier. In order to accommodate these newly liberated areas where the Kurds are not a majority and where the population of Syriacs, Assyrians, Arabs and Turkmen may not fully sign up to the revolutionary ideals of Rojava, this region declared itself the Federal Democratic System of Rojava and Northern Syria in March shortly after I returned. Similarly, the women’s umbrella organisation which was known as Yekitiya Star (Kurdish for Star Union of Women) when I was planning my trip to Rojava, changed its name to Kongra Star (Star Congress) by the time I got there because they had decided at their last conference to open out its membership to women of all ethnicities, not just Kurdish women. Signs outside government offices are often computer generated notices on A4 sheets of paper, suggesting both lack of resources and the rapidly changing situation.

Homemade barricades, often oil drums filled with concrete or pipes welded together in spiky star shapes, are placed outside official buildings to prevent suicide bombings. Apartment blocks have been requisitioned for the administration’s offices. The media centre, for example, is housed in a block of flats in a residential area at a crossroads where three roads have been blocked off to cars by oil drums about a hundred yards from the office building. On the fourth road, there is a wide low iron gate which slides across to let official cars through.

The official TV station of the administration called QAM, which seems to be on everywhere, is simply a series of moving stills and texts. Although another channel, Ronahi, does broadcast film, it tends to favour endless static discussions with women in military fatigues.

Rojava revolution: reshaping masculinity

While I am in Rojava in northern Syria, the very first women’s art and culture festival takes place over four days. In a rundown theatre, a large number of women of all ages and ethnicities read/perform poetry which is impossible to translate simultaneously except in broad brush strokes. So I learn that the poems are mostly political – pondering on the war, the Kurdish question, women’s subordination and the tragedy of fellow Syrians abandoning the country and becoming refugees. Unfortunately, the poems are delivered either in plangent tones or at ear-piercing volume, defeating all my attempts to be a sympathetic listener. The paintings, by contrast, speak in a universal language.I wonder if the political nature of the poems is an attempt to bolster the revolution comparable to the partisan nature of Soviet art from the 1930s onwards. The organiser, Berivan Khalid, Head of Culture in Cizire Canton, tells me that while ‘they hope to represent their revolution to the world through art’, no selection process took place. She assures me that there was some love poetry but the overwhelmingly political focus reflects the concerns of the artist in revolutionary times. All women over the age of sixteen were invited to participate in the festival and all were showcased. The festival had put out a call for entries across all the cities of Cizire canton. If quality was not a determining criterion for entry to the festival, the egalitarian nature of the entry process did not extend to the awards ceremony where three of the best in each category would receive prizes.

The significance of the event though is not lost on me. Under Assad, any public expression of Kurdish identity or celebration of Kurdish arts and literature was criminalised. Khalid says they have experienced a 180° turnaround in their freedom. Speaking Kurdish in the workplace and other public places as well as teaching and learning the language was illegal. In her book, The Kurds of Syria, Harriet Allsopp says that organisers of Kurdish weddings had to sign agreements with the state that there will be no singing in Kurdish! Traces of the Arabisation policy of Assad are everywhere to be seen: from my media pass written in Arabic to help me through checkpoints to interpreters who are more comfortable in Arabic than Kurdish although they identify as Kurdish. Now, Kurdish language courses are flourishing; I also come across a number of adults who are more fluent in Arabic but are learning to read and write Kurdish to counter that.