Friday, 20 May 2016

The “Sri Lanka Model” in Northern Kurdistan: Counterinsurgency As Genocide

Photo: A memorial for Mullivaikkal Remembrance Day at University of Jaffna in Tamil Eelam (Northeast Sri Lanka) on May 18, 2016 – Credit: Tamil Guardian

The “Sri Lanka Model” in Northern Kurdistan: Counterinsurgency As Genocide

Every year on May 18th since 2009, Tamils come together for “Mullivaikkal Remembrance Day” to remember all Tamils who died in the final stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War. During this period, the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) perpetrated unprecedented levels of violence on Tamils, both combatants and civilians alike, to push through a decisive military defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The fact that a recent investigative report by Vice magazine claimed that 146,000 Tamils disappeared is enough to show why Tamils consider the so called end of the Sri Lankan Civil War as a genocide that is still not recognized by many. What is distinctive about the conclusion of the military conflict between the SLA and the LTTE though is not only its brutal nature but also how it was the culmination of implicit and explicit support by regional and world powers, especially the U.S. and India. Such international backing enabled the Sri Lankan state to destroy Eelam Tamils’ counter-hegemonic force, the LTTE, and thus turn the balance of power in favor of the Sri Lankan state’s genocidal solution to the Tamil national question.

Since then many other governments racked with similar conflicts, especially Turkey, have expressed a desire to replicate Sri Lanka’s so-called success. Thus, it comes to no surprise that the AKP-led government is currently attempting to pursue a military solution to the Kurdish question. Similar to justifications put forth for the Sri Lankan state’s “last war”, the discourse constantly reiterated in rationalizing the Turkish state’s war policy is that the government wants to destroy terrorism in Turkey by annihilating the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and its affiliates. Since the U.S. and EU have refrained from taking the PKK off their list of proscribed terrorist organizations, Turkey’s “War on Terror” discourse still has some legitimacy. In contrast to Turkey’s position on the war in Northern Kurdistan, the Kurds and their supporters claim that Turkey is repeating its habits of conducting genocidal war against the Kurds to suppress them as a meaningful political force. In supporting this claim, evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and analyses of the Turkish State’s present behavior as a continuation of past atrocities against the Kurds have been put forth.

And so, the present conflict between the Turkish State and the Kurds is not only a war between NATO’s second largest army and Kurdish militants, but also a war of words. On the surface, the narratives of both sides are competing to be the view of what is really happening on the ground. When one considers the Counterinsurgency (COIN) dimensions of the conflict though, Turkey’s claims of fighting terrorism just ultimately lends more support to the Kurdish discourse.

What the Kurdish struggle in recent times has reminded the world of is how the so-called War on Terror is used as one of many other ideological and repressive state apparatuses to justify neo-imperialism at the expense of the rights of peoples struggling against oppressive states. While much of alternative media has played a large role in exposing this systemic trend, what is often missing in writers’ analyses is just how pervasive the theory and practice of COIN is in our international world order from the military practice of states to the ideological language used by so called independent observers and more. Therefore, discussing the COIN dimensions of the conflict between the Turkish State and the Kurds helps us understand the more hidden political machinations behind Turkey’s wish to do a “Sri Lanka” on the Kurds.

COIN As An Ideological and Repressive State Apparatus

It was the late Tamil journalist Dhameratnam ‘Taraki’ Sivaram who largely wrote about how COIN was a salient feature of the war between the Sri Lankan state and the LTTE. He was especially instrumental in demonstrating how the Sri Lankan state’s last war against the LTTE and the peace process prior to it was an internationally sanctioned and coordinated COIN campaign intended to obliterate the LTTE in the short term and set the stage to keep Tamil resistance permanently suppressed in the long term. In theorizing about COIN, he contended that modern nation-states are never interested in genuinely resolving a conflict with an insurgent group when engaged in a COIN campaign because doing so would require fundamentally restructuring the state in such a way that cedes power away from the state-controlling group, especially its monopoly on violence. The state’s monopoly on violence was especially important to Sivaram’s discourse on COIN since he argued that the persisting challenge to the state’s monopoly on violence by an insurgency with its ‘counter-violence’ was what made an insurgency a potent threat to the state. Thus, the monopoly on violence is the last aspect of its power that a state-controlling group will give up.

As a practice, COIN originates in colonial wars of the 19th century. It began to take shape as a body of knowledge during this period as a way of colonial powers figuring out how to suppress rebellions that frequently took place in colonies and fighting forces of Communism. It is only during Britain’s successful war in Malaysia and other colonial wars after World War II that COIN started to assume the more modern form as we know it today. The writings of British army commander Frank Kitson gives a disturbing but reliable history of what went on in COIN campaigns including counter-terror by the army, recruiting informants, and torture. Furthermore, COIN has continued to be refined in the post-Cold War era with studies on terrorism, with the very idea of terrorism becoming part of the conceptual tool box of COIN theory and practice.

It must emphasized though that COIN is not a purely military phenomenon, but a politico-military phenomenon. It is about “forcing the target population to lose its collective will to achieve the objective you are trying to destroy or head off…the state is always focused on destroying the political will of the target population, and…the art and science of doing that is counter-insurgency, including its political components”. [1] The political components of COIN goes beyond the parties to the conflict within a given country since there are always geopolitical conditions. Other states may either support the main state fighting against an insurgency or support the insurgents in order to destabilize the state they are fighting against depending on their interests.  Furthermore, while each COIN campaign has its own circumstances and particularities, in each case the State is ultimately looking to maintain the status quo for the most part. Usually this means only reduce the insurgency to a more tolerable level rather than substantially incapacitate their organization as Sri Lanka did in its last war against the LTTE while at the same time keeping obscured the real key issues that caused the insurgency in the first place. [2]

A Summary of the Sri Lanka Model as a COIN Strategy

In developing his discourse on COIN, it must be kept in mind that Sivaram articulated all this in the context of the conflict between the Sri Lankan state and the LTTE. In fact, by the mid-nineties Sivaram had come to view Sri Lanka’s civil war as “a kind of military-political laboratory in which the various repressive forces of late modernity (local and international) were testing their clever, often cruel, counter-insurgency tactics”. [2] The results of the last of these experiments, Sri Lanka’s final war against the LTTE, was militarily successful due to a confluence of international support for the Sri Lankan government while the LTTE was largely isolated in the international arena and the genocidal intentions of the Sri Lankan state serving as an ideological motivator.

Traditional COIN theory would not deem Sri Lanka’s military success over the LTTE a complete victory since Sri Lanka has failed to resolve the underlying political causes of the conflict to this day, the Tamil national question, in any decisive manner. However, many people from the COIN establishment have gone as far as hailing Sri Lanka’s military defeat of the LTTE as a complete success, saying that the traditional “winning-hearts-and-minds” precept may need to be reconsidered in light of the Sri Lankan experience. [3] It is these kind of arguments that are being used to justify a “Sri Lanka Model” of COIN, which can ultimately be reduced to the following axioms as articulated by Tamil academic R.M. Karthick:

- Military solution first. Display ruthlessness in securing your hegemony and the population will be willing to accept any political solution you throw at them later.

- Winning ‘hearts and minds’ is outdated. Break the spine of the population; throw fear in their hearts and numb their minds. They will be grateful to you for letting them to just live.

- The press does nothing to influence public opinion that you don’t want it to. If they are against you, they are with the ‘terrorists’ and are to be dealt accordingly. [4]

While genocidal violence against an opposing group it not anything new within human history, the COIN establishment’s embrace of Sri Lanka’s methods of war sets a dangerous precedent for all resistance movements that have been forced to take up arms. Furthermore, the above principles seem very much to be in play in the Turkish state’s COIN campaign against the PKK and its affiliates with tactics being used such as massacres of civilians and crackdowns on any press and civil society that would dissent from the Turkey’s official line on the war. But it must be emphasized that there is no pure model of COIN so it not should be assumed that Turkey is simply “applying” the Sri Lanka model to its conflict but is implementing it in its own way with a mind towards the specific context it is operating in as well as the specific tools it has at its disposal. Thus, in order to discern how Turkey is implementing the Sri Lanka model, we must analyze how its COIN campaign is operating.

Key Issues and Geopolitical Conditions of Turkey’s COIN Campaign

In discussing the macro trends of Turkey’s COIN campaign that help us to make sense of the State’s violence against the Kurds and their supporters, there are two sets of questions that need to be answered: 1. What are the real key issues from which the PKK and other Kurdish insurgent forces are given a reason to exist, and what are the ways in which the state tries to conceal these key issues?  2. What geopolitical conditions exist, who are the actors connected to these conditions, and where do their interests lie with respect to the conflict? The key issues of the conflict between the Turkish State and the PKK can be summed up in the following manner: a historical denial of the Kurds as a distinct people different from the Turks due to how the modern Turkish State was founded on a centralized state which included in its ideological foundation a concept of “Turkishness” as being the only nationality that really existed within the borders of the modern Turkey. Such a monocultural conception of the Turkish state can be gleaned from how Ataturk himself referred to the Kurds as “Mountain Turks”. In the past, the way the Turkish State attempted to make this national myth a reality with respect to Kurds includes policies of forced assimilation and even outright denying that the Kurds ever existed as a people ethnically distinct from the Turks. Such state practices not only constitute structural genocide of the Kurds but are also processes of obfuscation enacted by the state to hide how the state’s foundations on a conceptual level as well as the political tradition of the state generates the Kurdish national question in Turkey despite repeated attempts to suppress the Kurds as a political force.

What stands at the forefront of Turkey’s current attempt to obscure the key issues that lie at the heart of its conflict with PKK is its narrative that its current military campaign against the Kurds is seeking to end terrorism in South East “Turkey” once and for all. The Turkish State is essentially saying the Kurdish national question will be resolved in due time once the PKK and its affiliates are eradicated. This War on Terror rhetoric is a common COIN tactic today since the concept of “terrorism” or “terrorists” allows a state to posit that the insurgent group fighting them are actually separate from the people they claim to be fighting for since they are merely “terrorists” that need to be either contained or destroyed entirely.

But Turkey’s efforts to make this conceptual dichotomy as representative of the reality of the situation are not holding water as the war progresses. Unlike the LTTE, which was isolated internationally in Sri Lanka’s last war, the PKK has some degree of international support even though it remains proscribed as a terrorist organization by significant regional and world powers.

Furthermore, the Kurdish people also have enough international awareness and sympathy for their plight that is growing by the day than Tamils did in 2009 that the assertion that the PKK is essentially a terrorist organization that has no legitimate cause to fight for can be constantly challenged. Concurrent with this process of growing sympathy with the struggle of the Kurds is the increasing international isolation of Turkey which further delegitimizes its criminalization of the PKK.

While discerning the key issues and how the Turkish state obfuscates them helps to lend support to that Turkey wants a genocidal solution to the Kurdish Question, it is important to also consider the geopolitical conditions. As a particularly important actor in the current geopolitical dynamics of the Middle East, the Kurds not only have to contend with the state and non-state actors they are fighting against on the ground but also the geopolitical battles played out between regional and world powers. Considering that the people-centered resistance and political paradigms of the PKK and Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria are anathema to maintaining Saudi Arabia and Turkey as regional hegemons that provide a counterbalance to the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance, the lack of significant action by the US and EU to force Turkey to halt its genocidal war on Kurds can be construed as nothing less as an implicit endorsement of Turkey’s wish to resolve the Kurdish question in a genocidal fashion. The support of programs of extermination enacted by states like Sri Lanka and Turkey is part and parcel of the current world order where the interests of regional and world powers are prioritized above all else. With respect to oppressed nations like Tamils and Kurds, neo-imperialism ultimately seeks to subjugate or keep subjugated any national liberation movements fighting for people-centered political paradigms that run counter to the status quo and interests of regional and world powers. Thus, not only is the destruction of Kurdish resistance and autonomy in Turkey in the cards, but also dismantling the PYD’s governance and its military arm, the YPG and YPJ, is also on the agenda of the West-Saudi-Turkish alliance in addition to continuing efforts to overthrow the Assad regime. [5]

Solidarity with the Kurdish Struggle as a Necessary Solidarity

Recently, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein urged Turkish authorities to allow independent observers unimpeded access into “South-East Turkey” to verify reports of severe human rights violations committed by Turkish military and security forces. While this is a welcome development from the UN since it means that all the evidence put forth by media, activists, and human rights organizations is forcing them to respond, one should still keep a critical eye at what is said by mouthpieces of establishments like the UN. What is interesting is how Zeid puts forth concerns over reports of human rights violations in Northern Kurdistan while at the same time adhering to Turkey’s line that they are fighting against terrorism and not the armed resistance of the Kurds in using terms like “terrorist acts” and “counter-terrorism operations”. What this choice of words reveals is the integral part COIN plays in our international world order today. This is why it is all the more important to be in full solidarity with the Kurdish struggle and revolution at this critical juncture. Given their place in the Middle East right now, the Kurdish people are not just fighting for their people’s freedom. They are fighting to preserve all peoples’ right to resist oppression, including armed resistance when need be, against an international world order that seeks at every interval to keep national liberation struggles and other people-centered movements subdued for the benefit of the oppressors over the oppressed even to the extent of supporting the genocidal programs of nation-states like Sri Lanka and Turkey.

[1] Mark P. Whitaker, Learning politics from Sivaram: the life and death of a revolutionary Tamil journalist in Sri Lanka (London: Pluto Press, 2007), 135-150.
[2] Whitaker, 118.
[3] Ibid., 138-141.
[4] R.M. Karthick, “UK author eulogising  Sri Lanka COIN backfires exposing USA”,
[5] R.M. Karthick, “Genocide as Counterinsurgency – Brief Notes on the ‘Sri Lanka model’,”
[6] “West endorses regional allies as State violence against Kurds escalates”,

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rojava Solidarity Worldwide.

The author of this article Sitharthan Sriharan is an Eelam Tamil American activist, political writer, and graduate student at Columbia University.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Melbourne: Protest by Pink Bloc at the Turkish Consulate in Solidarity with LGBTI Peace Initiative

On Tuesday, May 10th a demonstration was held outside the Turkish Consulate in Melbourne by Pink Bloc Narrm / Melbourne calling for an end to the Turkish state's war against the Kurds. The protest was organized in response to an international call for action from LGBTİ Barış Girişimi (LGBTI Peace Initiative) in Turkey. Pink Bloc were also joined by members of Rojava Solidarity Worldwide and Australians For Kurdistan. Speaking at the event were Professor John Tully from Victoria University as well as Nae from Pink Bloc and Rojava Solidarity Worldwide.

Here is the brief speech that was given by Nae from Pink Bloc and Rojava Solidarity Worldwide:

We're here in response to a call that was issued recently by the LGBTI Peace Initiative in Turkey.

The LGBTI Peace Initiative are an activist group who are involved in various grassroots anti-sexist, anti-fascist, anti-homophobic, anti-transphobic and anti-capitalist initiatives. They have been especially active for the past 9 months raising their voices in opposition to the war in Turkey's south east - known to the Kurds as Bakur or Nth Kurdistan and the war in Northern Syria, known to the Kurds as Rojava.

They have lost many comrades to death, torture and imprisonment at the hands of the Turkish state due to the war mentality of President Erdogan's so-called 'Justice & Development Party' that has resulted in a full scale genocidal assault against the Kurdish Freedom Movement and a harsh crackdown on anybody who dares to oppose their brutal policies - including LGBTI activists in Turkey.

To quote the LGBTI Peace Initiative themselves:

"War means continuous discrimination, tyranny and violence against the Other, and a war is being waged on LGBTI people in Turkey. If there is no peace, there is no chance of a free and equal life. Today we believe that peace is an urgent neccessity for everyone in Turkey. The war and violence of the presidential palace feeds on militarism and a patriarchal mindset, it valorizes masculinity and preaches hate. We, as LGBTI people, are united against the war of patriarchy." 

Pink Bloc stand in solidarity with the LGBTI Peace Initiative, the Kurdish Freedom Movement and all progressive organizations in the region and join them in their call for the international community, including people here in Australia, to start putting some serious pressure on the Turkish government to fulfill the following demands:

- A ceasefire with the PKK and a return to peace negotiations

- An end to the isolation of imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan so he can resume his role in the peace process

- An immediate halt to all military operations and curfews in Kurdish cities and towns in south east Turkey

- An end to the Turkish state's military and economic blockade of Rojava so that essential humanitarian aid and reconstruction materials can be delivered

- An end to Turkey's covert support of the so-called Islamic State and other extremist groups active in Syria

- And an end to the crackdown on journalism and freedom of expression in Turkey including the right to express dissent


Monday, 2 May 2016

Call For International Solidarity To Stop The War In Kurdistan From The LGBTI Peace Initiative

LGBTI Peace Initiative is a group of activists who have been involved in various social and grassroots movements with anti-sexist, anti-fascist and anti-capitalist agendas. After the Suruç Bombing on July 20, 2015, the war between Turkish state and the Kurdish Freedom Movement escalated, the politics of the ruling party AKP (Justice and Development Party) lead to the death, injury, imprisonment and torture of our friends. 

With the elections in June 7, 2015, a pro-Kurdish party, HDP, gained 80 of 550 MPs, despite attacks against the party and its supporters during electoral campaign period, including multiple arson attacks to party buildings and a bombing in the rally in Diyarbakır, on June 5, killing 5 people. The visibility gained by the minority and progressive groups of Turkey with the success of HDP frightened AKP, which lost its absolute majority in the parliament for the first time since 2002, the year when they first came into power. Nonetheless, none of the parties in the parliament were able to come up with a coalition, hence the parliament not being able to function lead to another general election on November 1, 2015. 

Right after the deadly suicide bombing in Suruç district of Urfa, a town 10 km from Kobanî, Turkish government one sidedly ended the ceasefire with the outlawed Workers’ Party of Kurdistan (PKK). The bombing lead to the death of 33, the majority of whom were university students. On 10 October, in Ankara, another bombing lead to the death of 102. Those who were killed in this attack, were gathered for the “Labour, Peace and Democracy March” to protest against the growing conflict between the Turkish Armed Forces and PKK.

After highly controversial elections, AKP once again gained the power in 1 November 2015, as the ruling party. 

As the legal political activity of HDP grew weaker under war conditions, PKK guerrillas took the initiative as Turkish Army continued bombing the rural areas and mountain bases. PKK started declaring autonomy in the cities of Turkish Kurdistan. Turkish army attacked civilians as well as the PKK members, with devastating and ruthless military operations in the cities. In 7 cities, more than 60 curfews have been declared since June 2015, lasting for more than 100 days in some areas. Humanitarian aid groups were prohibited to access the wounded civilians who get caught in the crossfire, the wounded were left to die. The official numbers do not reflect the correct number of casualties (both civilian and armed), as observers and journalists were denied access to the conflict areas, with threats of deportation or physical force. The locals who communicated with the press had to take the risk of brutal consequences. According to the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TIHV), at least 310 civilians were killed in the conflict during the various curfews imposed in parts of the region between August 2015 and March 2016. As of 16 August 2015, at least 1,642,000 people in the curfew areas are deprived of their fundamental rights, including right to life and health care. 355,000 people had to leave their homes as a result of the conflicts. At least 59 unidentified bodies were buried by the state in Cizre district of Şırnak.

Instead of employing peaceful means to respond to these conflicts, AKP used ISIS as a means to weaken the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Syria and let ISIS forces to have access to weapons and military equipment, health care in hospitals in Turkey, and allowed ISIS to recruit people to join their forces by opening the border between Syria and Turkey.

The free press is the biggest enemy of AKP in this war, so journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül are now facing terrorism charges for  publishing documents and footage proving the transportation of weapons to ISIS soldiers under the supervision of Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT). They were arrested and imprisoned for a while. They are released now, but there are still 29 journalists who are in prison in Turkey.

AKP also favoured the repression of free speech: In January 2016, a group of academics called for a petition to the campaign “We will not be a party to this crime,” claiming this war was a crime committed by the Turkish state. More than 2000 academics signed the petition, and Erdogan accused them for being terrorists. With Erdogan’s call, the academics were with terror charges and four of them were arrested and have been held in prison since then. Their case is still on trial.

Recently, with a “decree” of Erdogan, the definition of terror in Turkish penal system will be extended so as to include “terrorist activities without arms,” which clearly targets to silence those who speak up for peace in non-violent ways despite the oppression and the threats they face.


Creating international pressure on Turkish government is crucial for the peace talks to start again, a ceasefire between the Turkish State and PKK to be declared, and curfews in the Southeast of Turkey to end. 

Please share the information above, and organize your own solidarity actions.

The asylum seekers face threats of deportation as a consequence of the refugee agreement made between the EU and Turkey. We should break the silence of the EU-member states and their institutions, show them that they shouldn’t turn a blind eye to this violence and human rights violations with the aim of stopping the refugees coming to Europe. Refugees are a result of this war, in which Turkey plays an important part. 


What can you do?

2) Organize fundraiser events, and contribute to the campaign supporting the reconstruction of Sur and Cizre. (All activities under this campaign will be shared on the website:

3) Organize demonstrations and sit-ins in front of the Turkish Embassy buildings in your city/county. Join the LGBTI groups from all around the world who will protest this war in front of the Turkish Embassy buildings on 10 May 2016. You can choose the most suitable time for you. Please shoot the announcement and take beautiful pictures of your demonstration. And don’t forget to send us the text of your announcement, and any other news on the media. :)

Contact us via if you require further information. 

Friday, 4 December 2015

Message from a German member of the International Freedom Battalion in Rojava

The following is a translation of a message sent to Revolutionary Action Stuttgart from a German member of the International Freedom Battalion in Rojava. The message was sent on the eve of a Day of Action for Rojava that is taking place in Germany on December 5th. The original article can be viewed here

Greetings from Rojava

Dear comrades,

I greet you on the occasion of the Day of Action for Rojava and hope that it involves a broad spectrum of activists nationwide. I currently find myself in Rojava with the International Freedom Battalion to support the revolution and learn as much as I can about it while I am here.

In Rojava, under the severest conditions of a civil war, a comprehensive councils structure was built to govern all aspects of social life.  All ethnic minorities are an equal part of society and enjoy the same rights.

Also, the role of women has changed radically in a very short time. Women are now represented in all important decision-making structures by at least 40%. They have also organized themselves into their own structures for example the YPJ, affiliated with the People's Defense Forces (YPG) against attacks on Rojava.

Since the beginning of the revolutionary process, Rojava has been under attack from Islamist gangs. In November last year the IS launched a major offensive against the smallest of the three Rojava cantons. Equipped with superior weapons, IS fighters managed to occupy a large part of Kobani canton. The city of Kobani itself came under massive attack and it looked as if it would soon fall. However after more than 100 days of resistance, the People's Protection Units of YPG and YPJ along with other revolutionary fighting forces succeeded in liberating the city. Although the Islamist groups were pushed back and suffered heavy losses, they still represent a major threat to Rojava.

We have also learned of the recent attacks in the center of Paris. The Paris attacks show that it is not just Rojava who IS poses a threat for.  We fear however that now, as so often happens, the ruling classes will use the condemnation of these attacks to advance internal militarization. Right-wing forces will also use these attacks for their inhuman incitement.

In all of this of course it cannot be disregarded that the wars of the imperialists strengthen these Islamists by managing individual preachers of hate to use the discontent and despair of the population to build structures that equip them with the weapons of the West and send them to war. We, the revolutionary left have repeatedly pointed out that the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria ultimately strengthens these exact forces. Germany works closely with the countries that support the religious fundamentalists - whether it be NATO partner Turkey or the Gulf monarchies.

They look to justify their wars with human rights or the establishment of democracy yet exhibit only scorn towards the people who have been displaced and persecuted by these same wars.

This contrasts sharply with the social process that has taken place in Rojava since 2012. It is an important reference point that offers a new perspective for the entire Middle East and far beyond. For the first time in many years there is now a new attempt to establish a free and united society.

In this situation, it is the duty of the internationalist left in Germany to publicly demonstrate solidarity with the revolutionary developments in Rojava and to organize practical solidarity for the progressive forces on the ground.

This solidarity can be expressed in several ways - from organizing actions and demonstration to the direct material support of the population and the combatants in Rojava by collecting money and medicines.

The greatest support we can offer as communists in Germany is to continue the building of a revolutionary movement by further developing the struggle in different political situations and bringing this perspective together within a communist organization and building real counter-power bit by bit.

This will be a long process that will be accompanied by defeats as well as successes. But the more we try to learn from history and current struggles, the better equipped we will be for what lies ahead. So let's learn from the process which led to the struggle for a humane and caring society in Rojava. The struggle for freedom in Rojava is also our struggle.

Long live international solidarity!
For a revolutionary perspective!
For communism! 

Germany: Call for solidarity against the arrest of comrades in Turkey

Neither masscare nor police terror will silence SGDF!

18 arrested in police raids against SGDF (Federation of Socialist Youth Associations) and ESP (Socialist Party of the Oppressed) 

What the Turkish state has not been able to achieve with massacres will not succeed via arrests or police terror. The socialist youth of  SGDG will not be intimidated and make it clear that will not be silenced.

In the early morning of the 4th of December, 18 members of SGDF and ESP were arrested during police raids in 5 cities in Turkey and Kurdistan. Among those those arrested in the cities of Istanbul, Ankara, Antakya and Eskisehir are comrades who survived the July 20 massacre in Suruc that was jointly carried out by the AKP and ISIS. In addition the homes of staff from the BEKSAV cultural center (in Istanbul) were searched and the building was surrounded by police.

Gamze Yildiz, whose daughter Cemil Yildiz was killed in Suruc protested with the following words against the police operation: "Those who were not killed are now being arrested. Those who are responsible for the massacre are not in the dock, only the young people." The mother of Polen Ünlü who was also murdered in Suruc and Dogukan Ünlü who was arrested this morning said she was speechless. Along with Özgen Sadet, the co-chairman of SGDF she made her way to police headquarters after the raid on her home and was also arrested. Dilek Seker, the daughter of Ismet Seker who died in Suruc said: "We are woken up every morning with a new massacre and repression. Our young people were murdered in Suruc and Ankara and now they are trying to intimidate them with arrests. While we wait for the secrecy decision to be repealed in the Suruc process the murderers continue to deepen our pain. Release our friends and our young people!"

Young Struggle consider this attack as an attack against all of us. Because not only are our friends and comrades from Turkey in the sights of the Turkish state but also our common goals and our common struggle. Whether they are keeping us in Germany with bans against participating in the reconstruction of Kobane or trying to intimidate us with mass arrests in Turkey they still cannot stop us!

The arrested from the SGDF are not alone, let our solidarity be our praxis: protests in front of the Turkish embassies and consulates, send protest faxes and e-email! Spread the call for the release of the socialist youth, be creative!

We demand the immediate release of:

1. Oguz Yüzgec (SGDF Co-Chair of the SGDF, survivor of the Suruc massacre)
2. Serif Erbay (MPs candidate of HDP Istanbul, survivor of the massacre Suruc)
3. Ilke Basak Baydar (SGDF, survivor of the Suruc massacre)
4. Cagdas Kücükbattal (ESP Party councilor, survivor from the Suruc massacre, lost an eye during the Gezi Uprising due to police terror)
5. Dogukan Ünlü (SGDF)
6. Taylan Cetina (SGDF)
7. Fethiye Ok (ESP assistant to the ESP chairman)
8. Soner Cicek (Chairman of Diyarbakir ESP)
9 Ece Simsek (press advisor to the Co-chairman of the HDP Figen Yuksekdag)
10. Burcu Demirbas (HDP MP candidate Istanbul)
11. Özgür Bedel (SGDF)
12. Ezgi Bedel (SGDF)
13. Günay Akar
14. Baris Erhan
15. Alper Kaba (former managing editor of the newspaper Atilim)
16. Uzgen Sadet (SGDF Co-Chair of the SGDF, survivor of the Suruc massacre)
17. Aykut Karnap (SGDF)
18. Hakan Öz (Survivor of the Suruc massacre, a member of the music group Vardiya)


Sunday, 15 November 2015

Press Release: Kurdish activist Mustafa C arrested in Bremen (Germany)

November 13, 2015

By order of the Higher Regional Court (OLG) in Celle, Kurdish activist Mustafa C. was arrested on November 11 and his apartment was searched. Since the opening of the arrest warrant the following day, the Kurdish man is being held at Sehnde prison under pre-trial detention.

Mustafa is accused of being a member of an overseas 'terrorist' organization and it is being claimed that he was the leader of the PKK in Oldenburg from June 2013-July 2015 and that since the beginning of August 2015 he was responsible for the areas of Hamburg, Stade and Lüneburg. As with all other accused PKK activists, Mustafa is being criminalized for allegedly organizing rallies, meetings, demonstrations and other events as well as renting buses, collecting donations and enlisting young recruits.

With the ban on the PKK now in it's 22nd year in Germany, including Mustafa there are now eight Kurdish political prisoners in criminal and pre-trial detention.

The consequences of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit two weeks before the elections in Turkey have become noticeable. Shortly after her  return Kurdish politician Kenan B. was arrested on October 21 in the Pegida stronghold of Dresden.

We protest in the strongest terms against Germany's policy of assisting and encouraging the Turkish authorities in it's war against the Kurdish movement and it's civilian population.

We demand the release of all political prisoners and the immediate cessation of all politically motivated processes against them.


Kurdish Legal Aid Fund for Kurds in Germany, Cologne.

(via nadir, translated by Rojava Solidarity Worldwide & slightly edited for clarity)

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Rojava Dispatch Final: Journey Home

Here is the final installment from the travel diary of "El Errante", an anarchist from the United States who recently visited the Rojava region. This article originally appeared on the Anarchist News website and was also featured on Reddit

“Mr. Errante…did you visit Syria?” The US Border Patrol officer stares at me through the bulletproof plastic that separates us. He shifts in his seat. The man wants an answer.

“ Me? Syria? No. No way… too dangerous,” I say. Praying the lie doesn’t show on my face. I’m in Dublin, at US Pre-clearance, almost back to the States and now, it seems, I may have some explaining to do. He scoops up my passport and customs declaration in his right hand and says,” Come this way Mr. Errante. We’re going to search your luggage.” For the first time, during the entire trip, that sickening feeling of real fear rises inside me.

Two days earlier--Paris. A singular morning, fresh sun and breeze, the kind of daybreak that only the Mother of the Revolutions can serve for breakfast. I walk through Père Lachaise Cemetery my head and shoulders hunched forward. I know this old boneyard like a good friend, and there’s one memorial that calls me now. The Mur des Fédérés (the Wall of the Federals). A place on the enclosing wall of the old cemetery where several hundred Communards were taken to be slaughtered by the forces of law and order. The memorial comes into view, a simple plaque on a wall of stone. Nothing more. I pull a YPG flag from my bag and drape it over the memorial. I take a photo. A German man and his daughter walk around the corner. I ask him to take a photo of me and the wall and the flag. As he preps, my hand once again rises, almost unconsciously in the V salute and he snaps a few photos. I am not done. There are two more photos to be taken. One photo with the flag draped over Oscar Wilde’s tomb, and one photo at the sculpted bronze cap that seals Nestor Makhno’s ashes into the Columbarium. Taking the final picture I notice an odd thing, did the likeness of Makhno smile a bit when I placed the YPG flag? Or is it me?

The Border Patrol officer walks me to a holding room in the Pre-Clearance area. I am told to sit on a row of benches. As I sit I see that I am facing a wall of waist high one-way mirrors. In the reflection I can see several officers directly behind me looking at my passport and paper work. They talk quietly and nod.

My mind begins to play smuggler’s games. I go through all the potential contraband in my bags, numerous YPG/J flags, buttons, and patches. A book called Stateless Democracy, TEV-DEM flags, HPC flags and an HPC emblazoned brown uniform vest including two Velcro pockets that exactly fit a Kalashnikov banana clip for 7.62mm X 39 mm bullets. Additionally, several pro-YPG/J, TEV-DEM magazines in scary Daesh-looking Arabic and latinized Kurmanji. Welp, enough there for a few hours of interrogation, maybe even a day or two of detention. One of the Border Patrol officers calls me to his window. I stand, turn, and walk with measured steps to where he motioned me.

After the stroll through Père Lachaise I hail a taxi and head to the hotel. The taxi driver swerves through the Place de la République on our way back to the Left Bank when it catches my eye. A flag; the yellow/red/green flag of the Kurdish Autonomous Region, then two, and then three of them. Finally I see a huge YPG pennant, yellow with red star, as it lazes and hops in the mid-afternoon swirl. I yell at the taxi driver to stop and pay the fare frantically. I hop into traffic on the Rue du Temple and quickly read the sign over the bandstand, “International March against Daesh, For Kobane, For Humanity.” Whooomp, there it is, it’s November 1st--International Kobane Day, and one more time, I am enmeshed in the Revolution.

I walk through the crowd, smelling the food, seeing the colors, transported back to Kobane and Cizere by the sound of spoken Kurmanji, and the feeling of rebirth, of making a new world. There is a tent where representatives of the Halkların Demokratik Partisi (Turkish, HDP) sit, drink tea, and converse. I walk over and introduce myself. I show them some of my photos and posts about Rojava. They speak together, then someone is sent to find a translator fluent in Turkish, French, Kurmanji, and English. After what might be my last glass of Kurdish style tea for a very long time, the translator arrives and we begin to talk about how HDP integrates activities with events in Rojava. As the conversation runs I once again feel it. The openness, the excitement, the lack of fear, the infectious hope in everything these folks do and believe. The. Damned. Hope.

The Border Patrol officer eyeballs me up and down and asks if I have any cigarettes in my bag. I grin and say,” Yup, 15 packs of Gitanes and Gauloises, can’t buy’em in the US anymore, y’know.”

A slight smile crosses his face and he asks about money, gold, anything else I might try to be getting across the border. I answer that I have a few Euros, a few dollars—maybe a total of $100 altogether. No gold, no cheese, nada. He tells me to have a seat while they x-ray my bag. I return to my seat. Only one thought crosses my mind now, did the YPG/J use any paint on those flags that might show up on an x-ray? Oh well, what the hell. I’ll find out soon enough.

As I leave the rally one last sign catches my eye, white on black, and bold, cutting statements in French—demanding victory for the YPG. Well, it’s the folks from the Fédération Anarchiste (FA), come to voice an opinion. I saunter over and introduce myself, they know me a bit, I know them a bit. I am invited back to their info-shop just off the Place de la République. I sit for a while, tell them what I’d seen in Rojava. They ask questions. I have some answers—not many. I walk around their space, buy a few posters, thank them and leave. Now, a short night’s sleep, a long day’s flight, and home.

The Border Patrol officer calls me to his window. I am now frustrated and angry and hope I can hold my tongue. He looks me up and down one last time and says,” Mr. Errante, you can proceed. Your bags will be put back on the plane. Sorry for any inconvenience.”
“No inconvenience at all, really,” I respond. And with that final lie I leave Pre-clearance, feeling very much, sodomized.

At the San Francisco airport I debark the plane and walk slowly toward the bag claim. It’s taken me 26 hours to travel what should have taken 13. My back and legs ache and my head feels like a tree is growing in it. As I round the final corner my compañera appears up ahead. She smiles and we walk quickly to each other. I touch her hand, it is cool and warm, it feels like love. We embrace, I smell her hair, and I whisper,” I made it.”

“Home,” is all she replies. The sound of her voice--dusky, low, familiar— tells me the rest.

(My name is El Errante. My name is Paul Z. Simons. Thanks for reading—hope you enjoyed the Dispatches.)