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(en) Russia, avtonom.org: "Step by step, the system changes": the story of the participants in the revolution in the Rust [machine translation]

Date Tue, 10 Apr 2018 10:41:14 +0300


"Autonomous" publishes the text of the speech of the German Mike Nak, who became an active participant in the Kurdish revolution and one of the faces of her female wing. In Moscow, Mike acted in 2016 as the speaker of the "Foundation for Free Women of Rozhava." Due to involvement, her opinion about what is happening in Roast can not be called impartial. ---- Today in West Kurdistan (Rozhava), local residents are trying to build a system of people's assemblies, achieve social justice and gender equality, establish accountability and election of military commanders. This resembles the best impulses of anarchists of the Civil War in Spain or co-operators after the Russian Revolution, when people tried to build their lives in a new way. "Hevale: The Revolution in Kurdistan" is a research media project on the Middle East. He tells readers about direct democracy, gender issues and the cooperative economy in the region. "Avtonom" and Hevale represent the story of Mike Nak from the "Free Women's Foundation of Rozhava," which spoke to Muscovites about the situation in the Middle East.

Mentality protection

The revolution in Rozh began on the general wave of the Arab Spring, during which the Kurds decided to implement their social model, inspired by the ideology of democratic confederalism. This idea was developed by Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). From the very beginning, Rozhava was subjected to a large number of attacks by Islamist groups, such as the Front Al Nusra and the Islamic State (IG).

There are three types of armed forces: YPG \ YPJ - for all Rozhava, Asayis - the forces of maintaining security inside cities. HPC - the vigilantes guarding their districts. For each of the three forces there is an exclusively female unit, which, of course, overturns the Middle Eastern consciousness. People who join the ranks of self-defense do this not just to go into the army - they form a new way of life. During the service they undergo a weekly education: people discuss the role of women, discuss all social and political issues.

After the beginning of the Arab Spring from the north of Iraq and Syria, at several locations the IG struck at the Kurdish people. In the north of Syria, in response to these attacks, groups of people's self-defense YPG \ YPJ were created. But in the north of Iraq, the situation is different in its specifics. In the Shengala mountains, there are many representatives of the ethnoconfessional group of Yezidi Kurds, who did not have at that time self-defense units. That is why YPG \ YPJ created a security corridor, according to which people from Shengala could leave for Rozhava. Iraqi supporters of the PKK also came to the aid of the Yezidi people, who occupy part of the mountain areas in the north of Iraq. YPG \ YPJ, if necessary, always help people to leave their places of residence before the attack from the side of the IG. In Shengal, many houses were mined or burnt.

In 2012, almost without bloodshed, self-defense units took Kurdish cities and villages in the north of Syria. The idea of these people's detachments is not in the militaristic mentality, but in the mentality of defense. Rozhava is based on the blood of the liberation of the people, and the culture of memories rests on the fighters who died in this struggle. This serves as a kind of example for what to do next. By mid-2016, at least 3,000 people from the Kurdish side were killed in this war.

Of these, at least 500 women gave their lives to protect their lands.

Many Arabs join the ranks of YPG, for which the Kurdish culture of memory is very important and shows its true humanism and respect for those who died in the battles. Yes, in some Arab villages, people to Rust are not loyal. Accordingly, there are fears of voluntary or violent recruitment in the IG. In such cases YPG \ YPJ insists that people from the village are moved to another place. YPG shows the way of a new relationship with people, and this changes their attitude to the Kurdish movement for the better. If you have nothing to eat or there is a constant threat to your life, then you may not have time for radical thinking over the basic instincts of survival.

Space for democracy

Syrian Kurdistan is very rich in a variety of cultures, peoples and religious identities - there are Yezidis, Sunni Muslims, Alawites, Arabs, Assyrians, Kurds, Armenians. Islamists are attacking rather old cultures and religious communities with a special fury, having a long history in the region. For example, they attacked the Assyrian community with great hatred, destroying its churches.

Representatives of all nations can gather in the People's House - this is the basis of the social organization of Rozhava. There was a space for meetings and discussions of all their problems, solving issues on the basis of the assembly, constructive statements and finding a way out of the situation.

People in Syria live very poorly, especially in the villages. The regime of the Syrian nationalist party BAAS created a strong hierarchical system. In this system, only a few people were allowed to have wealth and only a few could participate in the decision-making process. This is one of the reasons for the spread of radicalism in the region. Especially in the thinking of Arabs who live in hopeless poverty and do not know the way to get out of this poverty. But at the same time today, the Arabs understand that they can express their will and express their thinking through the system of democratic confederalism created in Rozh. There are also councils organized on the basis of ethnicity: for example, Arab and Assyrian councils. And also separately advice for Arab and Assyrian women.

Revolutionary jurisprudence

We are building a new democratic confederalism, so the very principle of punishment or fine in Roast differs from the generally accepted one. Step by step this system is changing: if in 2011 we had usual old-fashioned courts, now the main attention is paid to grass-roots commissions in communes. They are engaged in moderation and resolution of emerging conflicts. The system is aimed at giving people an opportunity to understand what is happening and to understand that what they have done is unethical. This applies to all types of crimes, including military and social crimes. However, war crimes have not yet been considered and, accordingly, have not developed a single legal position.

I will give an example. Traditionally, if a woman falls in love and wants to get married, the man asks her to ask his father about money for the wedding. This money is her property - it's like a dowry in Russia, going with a woman to her new family, and in this sense protecting life. Then a man often takes this money and takes it easy. In the past, a woman was punished for this, because it was believed that she began the relationship before marriage and, therefore, stole money from her family. Under the new rules, it is necessary to find and punish a man, because he has committed an act of double exploitation. On the one hand, he subjected the exploitation of the emotion and feelings of this woman, and on the other hand - stole money from her family.

After the capture, he is sent to educational courses, where he can think about his unethical behavior. Everything can depend on what he has done. He may even be imprisoned, but this is not the most appropriate term. It is rather an isolated place for getting an education, where you will be forced to learn to behave ethically. Further decisions occur depending on the desire of the girl.

Another example. In the structures of the IG there are women on high positions who even recruit other women to the organization. If such a woman manages to be captured by the detachments of people's self-defense, then they isolate her in this prison and follow her. She is discussing what she thinks of herself. It is necessary to give the chance to change the views and views that led her to such a fascist organization as the IG. We understand this, so we focus on gender issues.

Female redistribution

So many women took up arms to fight against the IG. Of course, there was a lot of fear associated with this war, but we managed to motivate women to take the revolutionary process into their own hands. The purpose of our women's movement is overcoming the patriarchal way of thinking. The movement understands patriarchy as a system of legitimizing exploitation, subordination, enslavement and violence, including war. The decision of the Kurds is to build a society based on non-patriarchal values. We are doing a different foundation - community, environment, grassroots democracy and equal rights for all sexes, religious and ethnic groups.

We have a system of co-chairmanship in any organized form of social activity. Each organization has a female parallel, and from this parallel a common organization grows. Therefore, no decision is taken without the consent of the women's movement. For greater efficiency, special women's centers have been built.

September 1, 2014, the organization of the "Feminist Foundation in the Middle East" was established. In the constituent group were Kurdish and Arab women. Our work began with the fact that we went from threshold to threshold with questions about what women need. The first small donation we received only after six months of our work, but due to our energy we managed to open four kindergartens and a women's center. Our main capital is not money, but the participation of women in social activities.

And today, women lead a very traditional way of life, one of the main needs expressed by them during interviews was that women need education. I will cite the figures: 92% of respondents indicated this their main topic, 71% stated the need to find work and desire to take part in the revolutionary movement, 60% said the need to improve the organization of childcare. They say that mostly children are now on the streets, and therefore families need kindergartens. More than 50% said that a new health care system is needed.

We organized the work of our foundation in six areas: health, education, research, economics, project initiatives and cooperation. The first thing we did was open pre-school training centers. Previously existing centers we transformed into kindergartens and for the first time children had the opportunity to go to kindergarten, where communication and education is conducted in their native language. Previously, in such institutions, educators spoke only Arabic.

The system of communes and councils operates in the Roel - people come to us who want to open a kindergarten. We can not particularly help them with money, but we can tell you how to organize it so that they can start their work. We have already opened seven kindergartens. Today, there are 2,000 women's communes in Rozh, so there is a lot of work ahead to make a kindergarten in each of these communes.

Also we are engaged in cultural leisure. In addition to children, we work with parents at parents' meetings to help them organize the education of their children as the education of strong personalities. We are assisted by doctors from Germany, Holland and Turkey. But the most inspiring thing in this revolution is that no state at the moment has given a penny to support it. But people from all over the world collect money and take part themselves, coming here. The world is in crisis, so the world needs a revolutionary perspective. People come here because the states and the current world order does not give them life prospects and answers to their questions.

Health Care of the Rozhava

After the revolution, the public health system, formed by the state, ceased to exist. At the same time, the capitalist system of medical services is largely in operation. The principles on which we want to organize a new health care system: first, it should be free for everyone. Secondly, it must develop a system of practice and care.

At the end of 2014, we began work in Narush, a camp of Yezidi refugees from Southern Kurdistan. The peculiarity of this camp, unlike most others, is self-organization and the creation of a coordination council. We hold here seminars on psychological support and conversations with psychologists. Also in the camp had time to open a women's sewing cooperative. Another example: we repulsed a small town near Igilov, and in such an evil place we wanted to do something good, aimed at the good of the whole people. When we opened a health center there, we invited all mothers whose daughters died in the war with the IG. Women who do not know how to properly read and write, have learned health care and are giving seminars in their areas.

At the same time, there is no prostitution in Rust. However, external forces such as Iraqi Kurdistan and IG tried to introduce its appearance in society. Women of Rozhava have no special reason to engage in prostitution. If something like this happens, then the forces of law and order suppress such activities - first of all, women's detachments.

Of course, not everything is perfect. For example, the problem of an abortion is, of course, serious. Society for a very long time lived under feudal laws and Islamic laws. In the folk tradition, there were many sharia elements before the arrival of the IG. Even the majority of women raped by IG gave birth to their children.

The family system as such is very different, and marital cohabitation is perceived not so in a sexual aspect, as we are used to in the West. The idea of a large family comes from the feudal worldview of caring for the family in the future. A phenomenon called "family liberalism" is widespread in society. Within the same family, people from the PKK, feudal-minded people and people practicing Islam can get along. This is a big problem - to change the mentality of a society that lived in an authoritarian state with a rooted Islamic religion, the mentality of a lower-level democracy society.

Religious nuances

In Rust there is a mullah who is the speaker of the Ministry of religion. He has very democratic views on how society can be organized, but his main problem is to bring these views to the thinking of all people, it is very difficult. Mullah spent a month to consult with various women's organizations on how best to do so. And he acted very wisely, having prepared in advance for the exhausting work that is ahead of him. He studied the experience of the women's movement, the experience of countering honor killings, when a woman who violated patriarchal norms is killed by her own relatives. After studying these practices, the theologian created a knowledge base for further dialogues with other mullahs and their parishioners.

I think one of the reasons for such great success in Róva is the understanding of how women can benefit from the revolution. Resistance of society is not the most appropriate word, but, of course, it is very difficult for many people to change their way of thinking. It is very important for autonomous women's organizations to take liberation from gender, ethnic, religious and labor class exploitation into their own hands.

Economic realities

From the very beginning, electricity was a very big problem. People in many cities were virtually without it and without water. However, having managed independently to organize small power stations in Kamyshlo, they could share with other cities. At the same time, 60% of all oil reserves in Syria are in Rust. Oil production serves only its own needs - we do not let anything export. The big problem is that those people who knew how to clean up oil left the region. Before the revolution, there was no oil refining in Rzvia - all oil from here was exported to other regions, and oil refining was already carried out there. This was the colonial exploitation of the region, because the people living here had no profit from the oil they live on.

Now the most important thing is to establish sustainable production. There was not any heavy industry here, and no, since the region just recently left the feudal society. In addition, heavy industry is part of the exploitative system, so for the time being it is not planned to create it. It is planned to create an environmentally friendly economy, so it is important to consider all the circumstances in order not to harm the nature and the person.

In Roast, people believe that there is no need for a new capitalist system with traditional investments, through which investors would exploit nature and man. Instead, people are struggling to nurture the public economy. This is not a model of a planned economy, as in the USSR.

There are a lot of small cooperatives working here for up to 20 people. For example, sewing and agricultural cooperatives. Our women are in the vanguard of this economic experiment. They perform all the rough work and not only rough work. They do a lot of things that men do not do.

We are often asked: is wage labor permitted in Rust? And what is the explanation here from the standpoint of the socialist perspective and all this? Work is underway on this, there is a constant development. We have production facilities, shops, car workshops, pharmacies, markets. The idea is to change the approach to this work. For example - the market. There is a kind of logistic necessity for people to get food. The same goes for pharmacies. When I participated in the assembly of drug sellers, they said several important things. For example, they had great difficulties with deliveries because of the imposed embargo, and we decided how to bypass it and at the same time not to inflate prices for the population. This is all discussed throughout the Roast, because prices have increased by 200%.

Our committees have economic committees and their primary task for today is to control the acceptability of prices for the needs of the entire population. It is worth saying that teachers and educators do not receive a salary. They receive only what is necessary for existence. The system of economic support is common in every commune to monitor the adequacy of food. In communes there are also production capacities: for example, places where it is possible to thresh flour.

We can say that the new economic system in Rust is really unique. In comparison with Germany, everything is done for the benefit of the people, and not for selling abroad. And in society there is a big political discussion about whether it is possible to exploit nature and man. And if you are going to open an enterprise, then will not it be doing overproduction. All these are ethical issues, and they are being discussed all the time.

In communes, in addition to councils, there are committees that organize the organization of her life in various spheres. In addition, people's squads are formed in these same communes. Committees of health, education and committees to resolve conflicts between people.

Cooperative prospects

The problems in obtaining large profits from cooperatives do not. If business and sales go well, then the funds received are re-invested in their project, or are invested in other projects of this cooperative. The income is distributed according to the needs. Sometimes workers need to go by taxi, this is given money. Also money is given for food, everyday expenses, mobile communication. But now in Roast is still hired labor, people receive a salary in money terms. However, the very mentality itself changes, the very attitude to it.

The rich do not like Rozhava very much, because most of them left the country, and the rest do not hurry to share with the others. Now the attitude towards property is changing. Some would like to immediately take the property away from the rich and give it to the communes, but this would cause great instability in Rust. Rozhava really needs things from the outside. In particular, tents for refugees, medical equipment and in this sense it needs to trade in the classical sense of the word. However, the idea of Rozhava is that the entire economic system should be in collective public ownership to serve the interests of the whole society. This is the economic strategy of Rozhava.

International assistance

In Rozhava came a lot of soldiers, internationalists, but there is no statistics on this issue. A very large role is played by Kurds from other parts of Kurdistan (Eastern, Southern and Northern). The exact figure is unknown, but about 100 people came from Europe, Canada, the US and Australia.

People from Iraqi Kurdistan come to us, although there is an army there - Peshmerga, but everything is very difficult politically. For example, it would be logical to expect support in the situation of the Islamists' attack, but instead they left Shengala with the weapons and weapons seized earlier from the population. This was due to the fact that the leadership of the Iraqi Kurdistan pursues its goals, which do not coincide with the needs of the Kurds of Syria, Turkey and Iran. Today, many think that the Kurds want their own state - but this is not entirely true. Kurds only want to respect their rights and needs, and the already formed unrecognized by anybody semi-state in the north of Iraq does not protect the interests of the common people.

We also invite delegations from different professions to come to Rozhava, see the ongoing processes and participate in them. In 2016, getting into Rozhava became the main problem. It was completely isolated, and even politicians could not leave or return. A year earlier, the border could have traveled from Turkey and Southern Kurdistan. Turkey opened it, if she wanted to launch Igilov in the territory of Rozhava. Then we issued a call to Southern Kurdistan - to open the border, because Rozhava really needed people from outside, including doctors and journalists who would cover the situation. We wanted to put pressure on the Kurdish government Masud Barzani, because people who tried to cross the border without permission were under arrest.

Contribution of Russia

Often asked about the military support of Russia, so in 2016 it is not. But Russia renders support, first of all, political - for gaining the political status of the region. And, of course, bombing Igilovsky strongholds - however, these blows also destroy civil structures. We had several meetings with Russian political representatives about what kind of first aid can be rendered by Rust. Especially for health, social construction and national self-defense.

However, there is no alliance between Russia and Rozhava - it exists between the Assad regime and Russia. The absence of an alliance means that Rozhava will not become dependent on Russia. But we must say that the dialogue that Russia is conducting with Rozhava is unique. I emphasize that Rozhava will never become a social system, which is organized according to the example of systems opposing it. It's in power in an independent organization, hence the ideological contradictions with Russia.

Ghost of the State

Some say that people lose enthusiasm for the whole project, because there are economic difficulties and the social structure becomes more like the state. Well, there is always a contradictory dynamics in the society. Of course, people from rich and well-known families see that they lose their rich and privileged position. They do not know how to give up their power.

Initially, these people may have supported the revolution, but after a while they realized how hard it really is. Not only be exempt from exploitation, but also stop exploiting others. Refusal of privileges for them is very painful, even if they believe that a revolution is something good.

People who lived for many years in Rust were formed and educated, which taught them to live in the old social structure. They are accustomed to these norms within the family and beyond - unfortunately, it is very difficult to change. In the end, there is always a rollback dynamics to return to the routine, familiar life that people have led before. If we look back four years or even 40 years ago, we will not see practically any Kurdish identity. Kurdish women did not have self-consciousness, and the people were oppressed in all four parts of Kurdistan. The policy of assimilation was conducted everywhere.

Now in two parts of Kurdistan we have co-chairs. In all four parts of Kurdistan, autonomous women's organizations operate from the commune level to the highest levels. Everywhere discussions are held about the emancipation of oneself and of one's thinking. Discussions about forced marriages and the money that is levied for weddings and honor killings. Everywhere there are ideological military and social forces that protect women from this violence.

The tendencies of the formation of elements of the state are also sometimes manifested in the society of Rozhava. But there is a large system of criticism and self-criticism in it. In society, there is a great will to transform oneself into free personalities on a free land. Of course, there is much work to be done to become a free man. At the very least, to conduct a lot of discussions, but nevertheless, I think that people will manage to reach this level. And the more complexities Rust has to experience on this path, the stronger it will become afterwards.

It is fortunate for us to observe the way of the development of Rozhava since at the beginning no one believed Abdullah Ocalan and his plan for transformation. In his life he encountered different life processes and situations. In particular, the protection of women's organizations - this put him under attack from patriarchal-minded people. However, his ideas spread throughout the Middle East like a fire, and this fire changed a lot of people. Everyone who accepts such ideas takes responsibility for supporting this revolutionary ideology. And how great that we have common ideas and common goals.

Perhaps tomorrow I will be there, where no one has ever heard of these liberation ideas. And I will tell you about my comrades from the PKK and its allied structures, who died fighting this war, thus I will continue their war. The words that I'm telling you, through me, are spoken by millions of people living in Rust. But not only the Rozhava, but also from diasporas and other parts of Kurdistan.

Since the work of the Hevale team, several dozens of articles about Rozhava have been translated into Russian in June 2015, the books "Life without a State" and "Kurdistan: Real Democracy in Conditions of War and Siege" have been published. More information about the revolution in Kurdistan:

https://hevale.nihilist.li

https://vk.com/hevale

https://t.me/hevale

The material was prepared for the magazine "Avtonom" . The Editorial Board of the journal will be grateful for your support:
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