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(en) alas barricadas: "If they tell you that I fell in Rojava": International volunteers against the Islamic State by Gavroche (ca, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Fri, 8 Jan 2021 11:46:46 +0200

We accompany this note with a link to the documentary, with the request that they disseminate it as they deem appropriate. ---- "IF THEY TELL YOU I FELL IN ROJAVA": ---- International volunteers against the Islamic State ---- Starting in 2015, thousands of Western volunteers traveled to Rojava and Sinyar (in Syria and Iraq) to fight the Islamic State on the side of the Kurdish YPG and YBS militias. And among them, a hundred long Spaniards. This scene often brought together anarchists, communists, crusaders and militants of the Alt-Right. What the Civil War and ideology separated, Daesh united. ---- Most of them returned to Europe after serving six months in the guerrillas. Others returned to the Syro-Iraqi battle board intermittently and some stayed and are still fighting. In Sinyar, the Yazidi area of Iraq, there has been a stable presence of Spaniards since the YBS international unit was created.

This work is a unique document that describes the difficulties these volunteers had to face both in Iraqi Kurdistan or Syria, as well as upon their return to Europe, where they suffered and still face judicial investigations and social discredit. It was an unusual situation because, on the one hand, the atrocities of Daesh were denounced and, on the other, those who decided to go to fight jihadism were persecuted. The National Court, for example, tried to impute more than sixty homicides to the Galician sniper Arges Artiaga. Two Communist Reconstruction volunteers were even prosecuted.

In reality, the Spanish authorities did not know very well how to deal with or what treatment to give to the volunteers of these militias. Not even public opinion was very clear about what kind of drives led them there, and even less so, the legitimacy of the reasons that pushed them to risk their lives. If something was evident, it was that they were not mercenaries because they did not sell their weapons. The solidarity movement that aroused the irruption of ISIS and the people who came to fight from all corners of the world was inevitably compared to that of the internationalists of the Civil War. Three Spanish militiamen died fighting and one took his own life on his return . Several more were injured. A long dozen more YPG and YBS fighters have been imprisoned upon their return to Spain in the Kurdish Asayish prison, in Erbil (Iraqi Kurdistan). During their stay in the penitentiary, the majority suffered torture. They were accused of having traveled to the Iraqi region of Sinyar or northern Syria (Rojava) to fight Daesh and Turkey in the Rojava militias. Ankara does not differentiate between the PKK and the rest of the units that fought under the wing of the US Army (YBS and YPG). In their eyes, volunteers are and should be treated like terrorists.

Among those deprived of liberty is the director of the documentary (journalist Ferran Barber), imprisoned by the Barzani peshmerga for more than a month, in the summer of 2019, after visiting an Iraqi Christian valley occupied by the PKK and known as Nahla , when he was working with a German television team from Tele Sieben in the production of a documentary for a German channel. The reporter starts from his own experience - narrated in various written media - to put together the events that affect all the Spanish displaced to that area.

From 2014 to 2019, Barber spent nearly three years on the ground exclusively covering singular events such as the Battle of Mosul or the fall of the Caliphate. The Aragonese was the last reporter to leave Raqqa and one of the first to make his surrender known. Much of the time he spent at the front, he did it together with the volunteers who star in the documentary. Ferran had already covered the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and spent about three months in Iraq during the North American invasion of the country.

For the first time, this work interviews some of the best-known militiamen, of all ideologies, from anarchists to communists and crusaders, who have taken part in the combat or the ins and outs surrounding their activity in Raqqa, Sinyar City or other iconic cities in the conflict. The team also talks with the families and friends of some of the fallen, and analyzes the deep psychological reasons that gave fuel to the Spaniards who have taken part in the conflict.

About the director

Ferran Barber is an Aragonese investigative journalist with more than 30 years of experience covering social issues and conflicts. He has collaborated or worked with practically all the Spanish reference media in the last decades. His work has been developed in more than sixty countries. Among them, he has covered conflicts and social issues in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Iran, Japan, Scandinavia, Lithuania, Latvia, Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Ukraine, Western Sahara, Equatorial Guinea, Turkey and Syria. In Iraq, he covered the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and returned in 2014 to echo events related to the rise of ISIS. Barber specializes in minorities and is the author of a novel and the first journalistic book in Spanish about the non-Muslim peoples of the Middle East, and more particularly, Assyrian and Yazidi. He has also directed several documentaries on Middle East issues.

About the documentary

This documentary is the first in a series produced by Freedom & Worms, in collaboration with CGT's Rojo y Negro. A new work on the heritage of the anarchist Nestor Makhno in modern Ukraine is scheduled to be released next spring. The Freedom & Worms team spent about two months touring Ukraine for this purpose, from the conflict areas and the Donbass fronts to the Azov Sea, Odessa and Chernobyl. The series financed by Rojo y Negro is called "audiovisual, direct."

If they tell you that I fell in Rojava

Persecuted for fighting the Islamic State

Series "audiovisual, direct"

Produced by Freedom & Worms and Rojo y Negro / CGT.

Written and directed by Ferran Barber.

Duration, 57 minutes.

For more information, you can contact the person in charge of the documentary, for any additional clarification through the email ferranbarber@yahoo.com or by phone 600 654280.

Documentary link:
Macarena Amores García

Press office of the Confederal Committee of the CGT
General Confederation of Labor - CGT
C / Sagunto 15, 1º
28010 Madrid
Tel. 91 447 57 69
Mobile 690 640 826

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