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(en) du rerealite - Interview: A wobbly from Montreal to Rojava

Date Sun, 25 Dec 2016 11:06:52 +0200

While there has been much talk about the war in Syria and Iraq over the past few years in the media and especially in the last days of the resumption of the city of Aleppo by the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Thought it would be a good idea to set a record straight by interviewing a Montrealer who decided to put his shoulder to the wheel in Syrian Kurdistan. Revolutionary syndicalist, IWW-Montreal member, long-time anarchist and anti-fascist, G. decided to give concrete support to the Kurdish revolution in Rojava. ---- The Syrian government, rebel groups, the Islamic state, the Iraqi government, Turkey, Russia, Iran, Europe, the United States and even Canada are trying to shoot The cover of their edge. In this chaos, a group is playing well, it is the Rojava Kurds who decided to organize themselves differently and to make emerge a social revolution, based on communist and anarchist ideas, from the chaos surrounding. Background interview on the theme of the Kurdish revolution

Hello! What drove you to leave everything, employment, apartment, job to go to fight alongside the YPG (Units of protection of the people)?

I left everything mainly for the current revolution down. Fighting DAECH (Islamic State) is important, but it's not my main motivation. The revolution that the Kurds have begun is based mainly on three principles: feminism, direct democracy and ecology. It is indeed an anarchist revolution. This can be compared to the Spanish Revolution of 1936 , but in a more complex context, with different fronts and alliances which are constantly changing. I have been an anarchist for over 10 years and have always told myself that if I had lived in 1936 I would have been fighting in Spain, so it was natural for me to come to Rojava and join the YPG / J.

How did you organize your departure?

I began by asking myself as much as possible to be certain of my choice. Once decided, I worked without taking a vacation for about a year and a half to have peace of mind there. I had indeed debts of studies to settle and I obviously needed money to get here. It is at our expense and we are volunteers here. I also learned about the possible consequences. Finally, for a Canadian is entirely legal, as long as we respect the Geneva Convention (we could say that it is the wars Act for signatory countries). I also advised the RCMP to be certain that it was not mistaken for a DAECH fighter. The most difficult part was contacting an organization that could get me back to Rojava, which took several months. I finally contacted the YPG International which was new and from there, it was simple and very fast, less than 3 weeks. In addition to these steps, I studied a little Kurdish ( Kurmanji ), I trained physically and I prepared my legal papers. I had to make sure that someone could take care of the normal paperwork ... Taxes, correspondence, etc. I wanted to leave everything in order in Canada to have peace of mind here and not have a lot of stuff to settle on my return. If it were to be done again, I would add the purchase of various tricks and not bulky: sights, sewing kit to repair my equipment, gun cleaning kit, good knife, gloves, medical and survival medical kit, Etc.

What is Kurdistan exactly? What's that, YPG / YPJ?

Kurdistan is the region where historically there are many Kurds, but not that. It is divided into 4 sub-regions: Turkish Kurdistan, Iraq, Iran and Syria (respectively Bakur , Basur , Rojilat and Rojava to north, south, east and west). Only the Iraqi side has a recognition, therefore a political autonomy. I do not know much about the situation in Iran, but it is currently the war between the Kurds and the government. In Iraq, the peshmerga are allies, not by choice, against the government DAECH. In Turkey, the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) is at war against the government for thirty years. They are also opposed to DAECH while Turkey has greatly helped the Islamic state. And Rojava, Syrian Kurdistan. The relationship between YPG / J and the government of Bashar Assad are tense, but generally they are not fighting against one another. I say generally, it happens and it is not always sweet. For now, the government has suffered great defeats. I will not go into the history of Kurdistan any more because it is very complex.

The YPG / YPJ are the People's / Women's Protection Units. Kurdish: Yekîneyên Parastina Gel / Jin . They were created in 2004, underground, following a massacre by the al-Assad regime, which is also one of the different protagonists here. Their purpose was to ensure the defense of the Kurds in Syria when necessary, as has often been the case. Finally, when DAECH began to invade Kurdish territory and the regime escaped from these areas leaving them free, they went out of hiding and began to fight the jihadists of the Islamic state. The first real defeat of DAECH was imposed mainly by YPG / J Kobanî is what helped destroy the myth of invincibility that surrounded the jihadist group to halt its advance across by showing that it was Possible to defeat them, even with an irregular army. The siege of Kobane was a bitter fight of 3 months. In the end, there were only 150 meters of ground and about 150 combatants when DAECH began to retreat. This victory changed everything, today DAECH would certainly not be on the eve of the defeat if it was not YPG / J. At present, it is the main army of the Rojava, the revolutionary army. She is the instigator and main member of SDS (Syrian Democratic Forces) , a coalition of local forces to defend the Syrian revolution.

How did you arrive and how were you integrated into a unit?

On arrival there is a one-month training at the academy for international volunteers. We have courses of Kurdish, ideological (feminism especially), history and military. At the academy, we are also familiar with life in tabur (unit) operation for meals, care, time, training, etc. Subsequently, for integration into a unit, it is a bit according to our preferences and according to the kind of front on which we want to fight.

What can you tell us about the Kurdish revolution? What happens on the ground every day?

The revolution is based on three main values: direct democracy, ecology and equality for all.

For the civilian world, it is difficult to say in relation to my direct observations because I had very little contact with life outside the combat units. However, the little I could observe is impressive. For example, I went to the hospital and the care I received was superior to what I would have received in Quebec. All seemed to receive the same quality of care, without special treatment because I was from abroad. Very fast, in one hour it was over and I had x-rays in that time frame. The diagnosis was one of the most accurate I received and clearly the best on the treatment to follow. In a few days, already a lot of progress ... And all this in the middle of the war and under embargo.

Otherwise, what people outside the military have told me to observe, these are enormous advances in the organization of civilian life. There are two forms of "government" currently. One in the form of decentralized committees whose decisions come from the bottom, clearly anarchist, and the other in the form of an elected government. This government is dealing with the tricks that the committees have not been able to take care of right now, generally those who are asking for a big infrastructure. Gradually, sectors of civilian life are transferred from the government to the committees and it seems to be done quite quickly, considering the context. Justice, for example, is in the hands of the committees. From what I have heard, the government is seen as a temporary evil and committees are highly respected. Our international history professors came from the committees and said that it worked very well.

For the soldier, it really depends on the unity in which you are and / or the place where you are located. In my case, for my first two months, it was almost constantly waiting. In other units, there is often training when not deployed. Some units are in defense and others are attacking. On a daily basis, we do a lot of guarding, we prepare the food, we maintain the camp, this kind of stuff and the rest of the time is waiting and protecting the immediate surroundings. Behind the fronts, security is done mainly by asayis , is what comes closest to the police. Their main role, in fact, is almost just that, it's protection against DAECH (suicide bombings most of the time) and foreign powers by the time the YPG / J arrive there. The will is that eventually, all have received military training and there are more professionals in asayis . For DAECH, this protection is still necessary, it is 30 or 40 km from the front and in a few weeks, a guy DAECH tried to force a barrage of asayis (it was neutralized by a heavy weapons unit YPG / J who caught up) and two suicide bombings at the explosive car took place in one day in the city 1 km from our base. With asayis , there has been no death from what I know, except of course the two conductors. They have a clearly different role from our police. For example, to resolve conflicts, they often intervene with respected civilians to calm the situation.

The problems now ... It must be understood that before the revolution, Rojava was the most conservative Kurdistan region, especially outside the cities. Crimes of honor, polygamy for men, forced marriages were commonplace. It's now illegal, but it still happens. Women, for the most part, have the choice between getting married and staying at home or joining YPJs. Also, sexism is not seen publicly, but feminism is far from being acquired for individuals. Much progress remains to be made, but it is to change mentalities that is the longest. At least, women now have the means to defend themselves with the YPJ and parity at all levels. Publicly, it is a given. Also, a man can not give an order to a woman in the YPG / J.

Otherwise, for the ecology, I do not know how it happens in the civilian, but in the army, everything has to be done. It is however almost impossible given the current conditions due to the war and the embargo.

Many anti-fascist militants fight in Rojava. What are the links between the anti-fascist struggle in the West (or in Canada) and the revolutionary Kurdish struggle?

DAECH is surely the most extreme form of fascism in modern history, so it is not surprising that many antifascists join the struggle. And then, in the region, it is not the fachos that are missing, between DAECH, the al-Assad regime that made Syrian Kurds undocumented by removing their identity (no passport, etc.) For example, rebels who are mainly formed of Islamist fronts, just less brutal than DAECH and Turkey who wants the annihilation of the Kurds. And here I speak only of the Kurds, but the situation is very similar, now or historically, to the other minority peoples of Syria: Armenians, Assyrians, Turkmen, Yezidis, and so on. All countries, here, try more or less strongly to exterminate / assimilate them. Racism and religious hatred are more than inviting in the region. The open and brutal dictatorship is, not badly, the only kind of official government too. Rojava embodies opposition to all this and a possible solution for the region, but also an example for the whole world: if it works in the most chaotic region of the world, I do not see why it would not work elsewhere.

Besides a tabur (unit) clearly displayed antifascist is being created and should be up within 2 or 3 weeks.

You were (is) a member of the IWW-Montreal . What link (s) do you make between your commitment to Rojava and revolutionary trade union militancy?

To begin, I would like a member of the IWW recently died in Rojava , when an aircraft of the Turkish army bombed his position. I lost two friends during this bombing. Robin (Michael Israel) was a member of the IWW and was one of the founders of the Union's Sacramento branch.

Considering that the economic form put forward in Rojava is the establishment of cooperatives and the collectivization of the means of production, I see in it only a continuity. I chose to come here because I saw in it the greatest revolutionary hope and that it was necessary for me to come to defend Rojava to the extent of my means. The current revolution, here, is aimed at goals very similar to those of the IWW, if not the same. Rojava and the IWW are, in my view, natural allies and I hope that links will develop between the two. Currently, it is quite difficult given the immediate work to be done, but realistic in the short / medium term, depending on how the situation evolves.

Donald Trump has just been elected President of the United States. Is this likely to affect the revolution? How?

Yes, this may (affect?) Affect us. How? I do not know yet. This question is very much related to the following. Trump said he would now help al-Assad. Far from being our ally, we are not in open war with him. There, it can go in either direction:
1- The regime of Assad decides to try and regain his self Rojava Allied territory: war breaks out without US air cover.
2- The al-Assad regime declares war on Turkey for violating territory by attacking Rojava. The al-Assad regime has already declared that it was a violation of territory.

Two totally opposite extreme situations, one has no idea what it will give here, but it puts the United States in a position internationally to block Turkey which is allied only on paper.

Shaking with many in Turkey Erdogan who constantly attack the Kurdish community. What can you tell us about that?

As I mentioned earlier, the Turkish army bombarded a YPG / J position on November 24, killing several fighters, including Heval Zana Ciwan (Anton Leschek) and Heval Robin Agiri (Michael Israel), two people that I 've known to the academy, Heval Zana who trained at the same time as me. The first was German and the second, American. They were two great and highly motivated anarchists. They were assassinated by a fascist regime as they tried to keep closed the last supply corridor of DAECH to Turkey.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey

So the problem is obviously present here as well. The fascist regime of Erdogan is the greatest opposition to Rojava at present. The Rojava extends over the entire southern land border of Turkey. One of the first military goals of the YPG / J is to join the three cantons of Rojava, which Turkey seeks to avoid at all costs. She already sees the YPG / J as terrorists. There are a few weeks, a French of Kurdish origin, who fought for the YPJ, was arrested in Turkey on his way back to France and sentenced to 5 years in prison . All this, in the end, for fighting DAECH ... A few days ago, two Czechs were arrested in the same context and for the same reasons.

For the fascist Turkey dreaming of recreating the Ottoman Empire , Rojava embodies everything she hates. It has greatly helped DAECH in many ways: supplying weapons, buying resources that DAECH sold, mainly oil. It also served as an entry point for people who joined the Islamic state, as well as an exit point for wounded fighters from the "Caliphate" (doctors testified that they had to look after DAECH fighters who still had a belt Explosive). Turkey is therefore responsible for financing and, in part, for having armed DAECH, or at least for allowing it to acquire weapons. All this by blocking all resources for Rojava, knowing that this is the main opposition to the Islamic state. The YPG / J had closed the corridor connecting Turkey with DAECH, a few days later, Turkey invaded Syria and took over this land, it is no coincidence. The supposed war against DAECH of Turkey is, in fact, a war against the Rojava and the Kurds, it frequently bombards the cities on our side of the border.

The international coalition against DAECH formed a large part of NATO, including Turkey. As the second largest NATO army, it is DAECH's biggest ally. If this coalition was sincere, it would land in Turkey, arrest Erdogan and put him under trial for crimes against humanity even Hitler would be jealous and that is not a Goldwin point! The Third Reich can get dressed if compared with what Turkey and DAECH have done and this is unfortunately not finished. However, internationally, it is the PKK that is considered terrorist and Turkey is a member of NATO ... On almost every offensive against DAECH, organizations considered as terrorist by Turkey were there, without asking anything in return. Erdogan bluntly declared in the past that the main terrorist threat was not DAECH, but the Kurdish groups. Turkey does not just bombard its territory or in Syria, but also in Iraq. We begin the operation to take Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic state, and yet this city is not part of Rojava and we will not control it. For the purpose of this battle, the YPG / J will not receive weapons from the coalition because Erdogan opposes it. Who is a terrorist here?

Now that DAECH is being defeated, Turkey has turned its back on the so-called moderate rebels, but at ease with chemical weapons and the use of artillery on civilian targets, especially hospitals. When the rebels attack us, it is also Turkey that does it in an interposed way.

I want to point out that when I speak about Turkey, I am not targeting its citizens who are dealing with a military dictatorship.

There is much talk today about a major offensive on Mosul and Raqqa. What can you tell us about that?

We do not talk less, but there is also Al Bab. For Raqqa, capital of DAECH, it is the Syrian Democratic Forces (FDS) assisted by the coalition aviation who do it.

Al Bab: fronts of the Rojava and rebels rush towards this city to take it back to DAECH, it is a race between the two. For the Rojava, this would unite the cantons.

In Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, Iraqi Kurdish forces ( Peshmerga ) and the Iraqi army form the bulk of the offensive. A lot of other groups are also involved, as far as I know.

There is also the front of Sinjar. DAECH attacked on this front lately, we had to send reinforcements there, but I have no more information. Maybe we advance against DAECH there too.

In the end, by losing these three cities, the Islamic state is virtually annihilated. They will only have Deir ez-Zor as a big city, full of villages and a large desert territory, so not much opposition. However, it is a good three months of fighting planned for Raqqa, for example. That's where I might go.

Demonstration in support of Kobané, October 12, 2014, in Montreal.

What would you say to a Canadian who wants to be supportive of the Kurdish revolution?
If the person is motivated to come here, I would tell him to prepare properly. Primordial to discuss with someone on the spot or who was there recently, I think, and not expect a part of fun, quite the opposite. Our daily life varies between two situations: super charged, little sleep or just waiting and it is very, very long. However, after the current fronts, I have no idea whether we will need combatants and it is quite complicated to return to the area for civilian service.

Otherwise, from abroad, aid is also greatly needed. Propaganda - Issue: People have heard about Rojava for the fight against DAECH, but not for the current revolution. People need to know what revolution is here, and how Turkey works. Every effort must be made to prevent the international coalition from turning its back on us completely. Demonstrations in front of the Turkish consulates or embassies, it would be nice, too, to draw the attention of the media to the shits that Turkey is doing. There is also the PKK: it is considered a terrorist in Canada, but what I see here is that it is fighting against a fascist regime that helps DAECH and the rebels and has a passion for genocide and Crimes against humanity. I do not have any links with the PKK here, but the Kurds are obviously talking a lot about it, so it allows me to learn a little bit about the subject.

How do you see the future?

Difficult to say, considering the complexity of the situation here and the multitude of enemies, but when you see the YPG / J fighters, you really wonder what can get over such an army ... Then the situation on the civil side seems to progress fairly well. The biggest challenge in the medium term is Turkey, but in 30 years they have failed to eliminate the PKK. The problem is that here they can bomb the cities, it is not hidden in the mountains. I hope that will not happen, thanks to the international supporters who can force their government to prevent this type of air strikes.

A word of the end?

One last thought for my first two dead friends, Heval Zana and Heval Robin.

Here people have weapons in hand, but they rely on you for international support, this is more than necessary.

Serkerftin! (Victory)
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