Listen to the Episode — 88 min
Clara: The Ex-Worker;
Rebel Girl: An audio strike against a monotone world;
Clara: A podcast of anarchist ideas and action;
Rebel Girl: For everyone who dreams of a life off the clock.
Clara: Welcome back to another episode of the Ex-Worker. You’ve been hearing a lot from us lately, and you’ll hear a good bit more soon. Yes, this is another episode about Rojava and the Turkish invasion of Syria. BUT, my dear friends, BUT – let’s not forget about this broader world we’re folded in to, and all of the resistance and rebellions that are taking place, in places near and far. There has been a week of rioting in Catalunya after the Spanish state’s imposition of long prison sentences on pro-independence politicians. Ecuador has been experiencing a popular uprising all month against high costs of living and repression, with indigenous protestors occupying the Parliament building. Thousands have taken to the streets in Lebanon, in part responding to a plan to impose a tax on WhatsApp messages but then expanding in to a massive wave of general anti-government rage. In Port-au-Prince, Haiti, protestors outraged over government corruption and poverty are burning cars, looting, and clashing with police. In Chile, outrage has flared up over government attempts to raise the cost of transit – remember how a similar attempt in Brazil led to a nationwide rebellion in 2013 – and has led to attacks on metro stations, looting, and rioting, with the president declaring a state of emergency. And Hong Kong continues to inspire the world, as weeks have turned into months of rebellion against the government. We are truly living in a moment of dramatic upheaval, as capitalist crisis and government indifference forces millions into the streets. As more and more people realize that the state will not save them, that the police are not there to protect them, and that the capitalist economy not only can’t meet our basic needs but is driving the planet towards extinction, there’s never been a time when anarchism has been more relevant or more urgently needed.
Rebel Girl: We’ll have much more to say about all of this in the days and weeks to come. But for now, we return our focus to the crisis in Rojava, which has only deepened in the days since our last episode. Last week we released two episodes, outlining the context surrounding the Turkish invasion and the history of Kurdish resistance. Over the past week we’ve seen hundreds of demonstrations and solidarity actions take place across the planet demanding an end to the airstrikes and armed incursions into Rojava by the Turkish army and allied militias. Well, as of October 17th, the Turkish government has supposedly agreed to a ceasefire. Is that a victory? As we’ll soon see, the real story is much more complicated.
Clara: So we’ll begin this episode by unpacking this so-called ceasefire, drawing on an interview done with an anarchist fighting with the international solidarity forces on the front lines in Rojava. But beyond analyzing this particular moment, we also want to give all of you listeners a little bit more of a sense of just what’s at stake here. Way back in Episodes 36 and 39 some years ago, we talked about the revolution in Rojava and explored some aspects of democratic confederalism, the system of councils, and the feminist and pluralist principles at the heart of the social transformation in northeastern Syria over these past years. But today, as these new institutions are under serious threat, whether from being crushed militarily by Turkey or being absorbed and repressed from within via alliance with the Assad regime with Russia’s backing, we think it’s more important than ever to really try to understand the revolution that’s been going on there. In anarchist and anti-authoritarian media circles, the coverage we’ve seen in recent years has tended towards either uncritical cheerleading, as if Rojava is a utopia that can do no wrong, or unhelpful condemnation, writing off the revolution as either complicit with US imperialism or just reproducing a different kind of state. We don’t find either of these approaches helpful. We think it’s crucial to understand all that we can about the kind of society the Kurdish movement has created in Rojava, in order to learn the lessons that we can for our own theory and practice elsewhere in the world and also to develop modes of critical solidarity.
Rebel Girl: So to that end, we’re drawing on a range of interviews that provide firsthand insights into the day to day realities of the Rojava Revolution. We’ll share a long audio interview with an anarchist supporter from the US who took part in a solidarity delegation, who describes in detail what they learned about daily life amidst revolution and war, the council system and other social and political institutions, the role of military veterans and martyrs in public life, processes for absorbing criticisms and revising revolutionary praxis, and the lessons learned for organizing back in the US.
Clara: Our goal in presenting this material is to make what’s happening in Syria right now less abstract, and to allow anarchists who’ve participated in and been inspired by the revolutionary transformations there speak for themselves about why solidarity matters today. Let’s hear what they have to say.
The “Ceasefire” Is a Deadly Fraud: Interview with an Anarchist on the Front in Rojava
Rebel Girl: As we go to press, the news is full of US Vice President Pence’s visit to Turkey and his negotiation of a supposed ceasefire. Something smelled rotten about this from the beginning. First, and most obviously, the US supposedly negotiated a ceasefire between Turkey and… itself, on the condition that the YPG and YPJ forces withdraw from the areas Turkey wants as their security zone. But how do you make an offer that the Kurdish forces do something when you are not the Kurdish forces, and in fact have no leverage at all with the Kurdish forces, having just betrayed them and given a green light to an invasion that has resulted in the death of hundreds of them? It’s not just dishonest, it’s completely bizarre. Second, mainstream media is reporting that the ceasefire has not actually involved ceasing to fire shells at Kurdish areas in Syria; the SDF commander in Serê Kaniyê reported Friday that more than 40 of their positions had been attacked since the declaration of the so-called ceasefire. So not only can this supposed agreement not compel Kurdish forces to stop fighting and abandon the territory; it also apparently can’t even compel Turkish forces to abide by it. It would be a farce, if it wasn’t so tragic.
The supposed ceasefire announced by Pence is a deadly fraud. Its only purpose is to enable the Trump administration to wash its hands of the bloodshed that the Turkish military is perpetrating while shifting the discourse to blame the victims for continuing to resist. If anything, this fake ceasefire is a greater betrayal than Donald Trump’s original decision to give Turkish President Erdoğan the green light to invade Rojava and carry out ethnic cleansing against the Kurdish people there in the same way he has in Turkey.
By declaring surrender unilaterally on behalf of the people who have been defending themselves against Turkey’s invasion, Trump and Erdoğan are trying to force them to give up the territory that Turkey hasn’t yet been able to occupy by force. The Islamic State (ISIS) and the other jihadi groups that have taken advantage of the Turkish invasion to resume activity won’t respect the ceasefire in any case. The US has pulled its forces out of the area and has no intention of monitoring Turkish aggression, let alone discouraging it. The fact that Trump has used the supposed ceasefire as an excuse to suspend the economic sanctions that other members of the US government demanded he impose on Turkey confirms this clearly enough.
In fact, Turkey has explicitly denied that this represents a truce and the Turkish military and its Syrian mercenary proxies are already violating the ceasefire with impunity. In addition to reports that have reached us direct from the YPJ (Women’s Protection Units), various corporate media sources have reported that the ceasefire has not stopped Turkish forces from continuing to fire on parts of Syria held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
So the ceasefire is a lie.
We fear that as soon as the designated time period expires, Turkey will escalate its attacks on civilians and resistance fighters in the so-called “safe zone.” To the dictionary of Orwellian doublespeak in Syria, alongside “Peace Spring” and “ceasefire,” we can add “safe zone” as a word for killing fields. It’s hard to imagine anything more brazen than killing thousands of people, displacing hundreds of thousands, and enabling jihadis to resume their activity throughout the region and justifying all this on the grounds that it is necessary to defend Turkey from “terrorism.”
As we emphasized last week,
A free Rojava doesn’t threaten the Turkish people; it threatens Erdoğan’s regime and the oppression that Kurdish people face in Turkey. This is an ethno-nationalist war, pure and simple.
Trump is determined to abet all this at any cost in corpses. A Turkish official told CNN, verbatim, the “military operation paid off.” A US government official, speaking more frankly than usual, admitted:
This is essentially the US validating what Turkey did and allowing them to annex a portion of Syria and displace the Kurdish population… This is what Turkey wanted and what the president green lighted. I do think one reason Turkey agreed to it is because the Kurds have put up more of a resistance and they could not advance south any further as a result. If we don’t impose sanctions then Turkey wins big time.
Russia and Assad also want the Syrian Democratic Forces of Rojava to withdraw from the area along the border in order to extend their control into the region. After bombing hospitals and gassing civilians, this imperialist international power and the local tyrant it props up are thrilled to pretend to be peacemakers and to defend “the territorial integrity of Syria.” From the perspective of Russian imperialism, this entire tragedy is simply an opportunity to put all of Syria back under the authority of Assad, a petty despot that tens of thousands have already given their lives in hopes of toppling.
We received the following message from an anarchist in the middle of the war zone in Rojava. It offers a piercing insight into the so-called ceasefire and the consequences this now double betrayal by the United States will have for the embattled fighters and civilians in Rojava. Here is the report from the front lines.
Anarchist in Rojava: 18th of October, 13:51 local time. Last night we heard the breaking news of the vice president of the US meeting with whoever from Turkey and deciding that over northeastern Syria there would be a so-called “ceasefire—an agreement that’s a “great day for civilization,” in Trump’s own words. To me, it reminds me much more of what happened in Czechoslovakia in 1938: the Munich Agreement, when Adolph Hitler from Nazi Germany, Benito Mussolini from Fascist Italy, Neville Chamberlain from Great Britain, and Éduoard Daladier from France met over the table in Munich and agreed to give Germany the Sudetenland, a 30 to 50 kilometer zone around the border of what used to be Czechoslovakia. According to the agreement, some small parts of territory went to Poland; Slovakia was cut off and became its own fascist republic run by Jozef Tiso; and the rest of what was left of Czechoslovakia, Bohemian Moravia, would be occupied by Germany as something like a protectorate, but not formally annexed as a part of Germany. So what I see happening here is: you have Erdogan as Hitler, you’ve got Trump as, say, Chamberlain – or perhaps more like Mussolini, actually, the high capitalist/clear fascist asshole running his country. The Bashar al-Assad regime is kind of like a stronger Slovakia, leading the fascist section that will form another part of the “secured” Syria; and the Sudetenland is like what Turkey is claiming for their “safe zone.” But instead of calling it the Munich Pact, they call it a ceasefire. It means the local people, unless they are jihadist Arabs or Turks, will be moved out or “cleansed”; or if not, they will live under extremely shitty conditions, and many of them will be killed. There will be atrocities, as happened in Afrin, and has happened in many places before.
That is what’s going to happen, what this glorious ceasefire supposedly “saving civilization” is about. It legitimizes the Turkish invasion from NATO. Basically, the proposal to give up this territory that we rejected a week ago—what we are fighting against and people are dying on a massive scale to prevent—is now being guaranteed to Turkey. That means that we can either give it to them and lose, or we can keep fighting, but now the fight will now be even harder. It was already nearly impossible in my eyes; but it was a fight for dignity, for the resistance, for the future generations, if not for winning. You know, as they are always saying here, “This is for the spirit of struggle, not for the spirit of victory.” And this might be an exact example of that sentence in practice on a big scale. So we, the people and the fighters here, can either give it to them, or we can fight—but this time not only against Turkey and the jihadists but also against the whole world, because they’ve made this agreement. The problem –and this is why I’m referring to Munich in 1938 – is that in that agreement, no one asked Czechoslovakia what they thought about it; no one brought them to the table. Not that I agree with representation in the first place, but even for the majority of people who recognize democracy as the legitimate representative order or system—even the democratic representatives of Czechoslovakia weren’t brought to the table in Munich, just as they weren’t brought to Ankara yesterday. No one from the Kurds or the Syrians, Armenians, Assyrians, or other people living here was consulted at all.
At this point, the interview was interrupted:
They brought another dead body from the front. [shouts heard in the background] This one has clearly been hit by an airstrike. Okay, this has been a comrade. Let me see what I can do. Smashed a lot. This wasn’t the first nor the second one today.
The interview continues:
So, coming back to an analysis of the situation: I see a very direct connection to these events in history, with the people who are the most affected and actually living in those areas having no voice and not even any means of resistance in their hands. None of the means until now were great, but to consider this so-called ceasefire as any kind of progress is really exaggerated and hypocritical.
So after this happened and it was all over the TV, ironically, a lot of locals started shooting into the air. I thought we were under attack, because all over the town, I just heard shooting of all different kinds of rounds and calibers. I started getting my gear on, thinking, oh shit, they’re here, shit’s going down; and then I realized it was our comrades, just wasting their ammunition celebrating. To me it just shows how hopeless people are in this situation, because there was clearly nothing to celebrate from the beginning. But I think people just don’t want to believe that it’s heading to such a bitter end, and they are willing to grasp at anything.
Rebel Girl: All this tragedy only confirms that no government—neither the US nor Russia, neither Syria nor Turkey nor any state government that might have come to power had the Syrian revolution been successful—can be trusted to look out for the human beings who always suffer most as a consequence of politics and militarism. Autonomous social movements grounded in principles of self-determination and solidarity are the only reliable way to oppose military aggression and support struggles for liberation worldwide. We need to make our movements powerful enough to be able to leverage a real threat to governments and corporations that are complicit in invasions like the one that Turkey is carrying out. Developing international connections with social movements on the other side of the battle lines in Turkey and Russia, and everywhere else around the world from Ecuador to South Africa, is an essential part of this. This is not just a question of long-term outreach, but also of doing everything we can to carry out disruptive solidarity actions right now.
INTERVIEW WITH SHANNON, PART 1
Clara: The role that Kurdish forces played in extinguishing ISIS has drawn attention and sympathy from US observers across political lines. But as those of us who’ve been interested in Rojava these past years know well, the military campaign both extended and rested on the foundation of a much broader social revolution that has radically transformed political structures, ethnic relations, economic institutions, and gender roles in northeastern Syria. These experiments in autonomy have been much explored and debated in anarchist and radical circles around the world, and we’ve taken part in those conversations. But as we focus our attention now on the crisis engulfing the region, we think it’s important to revisit the content of the Rojava revolution so that we have a deeper sense of just what’s at stake, and just how urgent solidarity is at this moment.
To that end, we’ll now share an interview with Shannon, an anarchist organizer from California, who traveled to Rojava this summer as part of an educational delegation. We’ll hear a detailed account of a society in the midst of a profound transformation, in vivid anecdotes that help to bring to life the ideas and principles behind the revolution.
The Ex-Worker: Could you start off by introducing yourself and telling us a little about yourself, and about how you first learned about Rojava and got interested in the Kurdish struggle?
Shannon: Yeah, sure. My name is Shannon, I’ve lived in San Francisco California for fourteen years now. I’ve been an organizer more or less since I was a teenager and pretty consistently since Occupy, where I was kind of introduced to the radical community in the Bay Area.
I first found out about Rojava during the siege of Kobanê. I mean, I was aware of it as part of the Arab Spring more generally, but I became more interested in it during Kobanê. I think a lot of us were sort of glued to the updates, trying to keep track of what was going on there; understanding that there was a revolutionary movement going on, and that there was a really horrible war happening as well. Having been working in more locally-relevant struggles, it brought me back into this idea that there was a global revolutionary movement that could be happening now that I should be paying attention to and participating in, which the Arab Spring had definitely started to put back on my radar. But at the time, the problems that we were trying to deal with here seemed pretty all-encompassing.
I was very excited to find out that there was a new set of social models that were being experimented with that were in line with the politics that I was working for here, that I had never imagined I would be able to see manifested in their totality. So from then on I was very curious about it, and when I went back to school I started reading and writing about different social innovations that people were making in spaces of crisis in contemporary times. And one of the main things I was interested in, of course, is Rojava.
So I had wanted to go to Rojava for some years, and as a student I had applied for a fellowship to go to a part of the world where there was some sort of novel experiment in what they referred to as “poverty alleviation” happening. [laughs] And I was awarded the fellowship, and I said I wanted to go to Rojava—and of course the university said no. So I told them that I wanted to go to Athens, and I went to Rojava anyway.
The Ex-Worker: You participated in the perwerde delegation with the University of Rojava. Tell us a little about what that was, about what your hosts wanted to achieve with it and what your goals were for participating in it.
Shannon: So the perwerde delegation was organized through a group of academics and also people who are involved in the international initiative for freedom for Abdullah Ocalan and peace in Kurdistan. It was organized by the University of Rojava to bring up academics and students and organizers who were politically aligned with the main tenets of the revolution, who were interested in this kind of political projects. And the goal, as they stated it, was for us to come out and to learn about the revolutionary curriculum, and to build ties between our institutions and their institutions so we could work together to develop new forms of what they called universal curriculum. This would be a curriculum that would allow people to attain a free life, that would be developed with an understanding that the world of capitalist modernity gives a lot of importance to propaganda and education to reproduce itself, and that those systems that it has set up create and recreate the system that we live in. So that if we were to overthrow that system, if we were to make a new system, we would need a new kind of education.
So the revolution in Rojava puts a lot of emphasis on education and has done for a long time. This was sort of a natural step for us to start to connect things that we had been developing, thinking about these same sorts of ideas here in the west. There were members of the delegation from all over the U.S. and throughout Europe as well, but primarily from the U.S. for this trip. The idea was that we would work together to understand each other better, to learn from each other, and hopefully to continue our collaborations moving forward, building a better way of understanding how to create the kind of knowledge, the methodologies that we would need to develop, and the kinds of things we would need to deconstruct to learn a new way of building together. So perwerde was the name of the delegation, which means kind of co-learning and co-creation of knowledge, essentially. My personal goal was to see the revolutionary project, to learn as much as I could from the people who are there, and to contribute anything that my personal experiences or my studies would put me in a position to contribute.
The Ex-Worker: How long were you there, and in which places? What were some of your initial impressions?
Shannon: We ended up spending about twelve days in Rojava, not including travel to and from. We were in Amûdê first and we spent a good portion of that time in Kobanê and a good portion of the time in Qamishli. I mean, of course, as international guests of the university, they were careful about where we would and wouldn’t be allowed to go, in terms of which cities they felt were safe for us to be in. So none of the places that we were in were places that were anywhere near active fighting at that time. In the cities that we were in, there was a very strong sense of normalcy—which I actually felt that we contributed to, in a way that was really rewarding. When we would meet people, they would be so happy to see us and they would be so excited that we had come as delegates of our institutions, our universities, in a way that universities often do in parts of the world that are not war zones. So I think perhaps that contributed to my perception that people were really just going about a sort of normal life.
I will say that Rojava is a construction zone. People were building everywhere we went. Definitely there was a sense of rebuilding, there was a sense of building that normalcy in to the society as they built it. Of course, that’s not possible [everywhere] under the circumstances, that there weren’t these destructions to build out of. It was still there, it was foundational, I think. But especially in Qamishli they didn’t see any fighting before. It was more or less normal, normal business, as much as you could expect it to be. People on the streets, riding motor bikes around, having conversations, eating ice cream, just sort of living as people do.
The Ex-Worker: We’ve read and reported on the system of federated councils in place in Rojava and the model of democratic confederalism. But to me it still feels a little abstract, and I find myself wondering—how does this actually work in everyday life? Are these councils really participatory? How many people take part in them? I’d be interested to hear any experiences you had or things you observed about the council system.
Shannon: We weren’t able to spend enough time in any of the towns to actually participate in any of the council system, because we were traveling around to the different universities. You know, meeting different people who were working on different kinds of intellectual projects. So unfortunately I wasn’t able to see it first hand, but I did have a chance to speak at length with our guide in Kobanê about this, because I had similar questions and I wanted to know how it worked. One of the main things we were interested in as persons who are imagining this kind of post-state, post-capital way of relating and understanding that the education project that we were there to observe was really about figuring out how to create a society with those principles, that there was this sort of dialectical relationship between the form and the ideas that they were trying to organize around.
So we had a long conversation over breakfast one day, and what our guide told me was essentially that how many of the people who are participating in the council project really depends on the demographics of the area, and the relationship to the regime before the revolution. In places where you had greater numbers of Arabs who had good relationships with the regime, you might have more resistance to participating in the self-administration. In places where you have greater numbers of people who for various reasons of identity or whatever else had poor relations with the regime, you had much higher levels of participation. For example, he told us that in Kobanê where we were in the time, out of 100 families maybe 5 to 6 households wouldn’t participate. So if your commune had 100 houses in your neighborhood, that it was this very, very high percentage. But there were other places where it was more like 50–50. But the trend was that more and more people were participating as time would go on. And someone else we were speaking to told us that what was happening is that in a lot of places you would get the sort of intellectuals of the society or the teachers, or the people who are sort of thinking more about the theory of the project a bit, starting to serve in the administration, and taking on these kind of leadership roles, and then more of the people who identified with them would start to join in on the councils. So there was this sort of general trend where more and more people were participating. In some places, people were protesting the system, the administration, and they had the position that this was okay. They wouldn’t stop them from protesting, and they would just make space for them to join as they wanted to join. It was clear that this was a voluntary project and that they wanted people to come around to it on their own. More and more people were coming around to it because they could offer security, and just a better quality of life for people who were participating.
The way it works is that every group in the commune is organized amongst themselves. So different faith groups, different ethnic groups, students, teachers, medical workers, women, youth, all the people who would have similar interests, and especially anybody who was historically oppressed, would be organized within their own space. And then all of those people are represented based on their neighborhoods. Each commune has a list of all the people who are in the commune, in the neighborhood area, and what they need. The groups organize monthly to provide for the things people need and to make decisions about what people need to do. Part of the project works to collect a portion of what’s produced in that space and they keep it in the centralized space, where they actually also have these meetings. So there’s a physical place, where the council is housed. The families actually take turns guarding the supplies so that this is kind of a participatory project of collectivist resource provision. This was, I thought, something that was really interesting, that they were actually physically aggregating supplies in one place, and that people were going day by day to keep track of it so that there was no sense that the administration was controlling the goods, because previously the regime would collect everything and then distribute it itself. And that was something that they wanted to not emulate. Which also, you know, creates this kind of really interesting thing. Something I didn’t know before I went there is that Rojava has actually taken in a lot of Arab refugees from the surrounding areas, and that the administration organized to support these refugees with no help from the U.N., on the power of these council systems. Anyway, they get representatives…
[sound of piano playing]
That’s my cat playing piano. I don’t know if you can hear that. Cat, stop—stop doing that, cat. That’s what she does when she thinks I’m not paying attention to her.
Anyway, so you get representatives from these different organizations [who] work with representatives from the other communes and from the administration at all different levels. Basically, if there’s a point where anybody needs more than they have, they coordinate with other communes. They coordinate with other organizations, different groups of people to get the things they need. For example, our guide was involved with an organization of educators. They might be responsible for determining and securing pens and papers for the school. There would be a certain amount of supplies available, and if they needed to move them around, they would be responsible for moving them around. So it’s this kind of distributed, decentralized resource distribution allocation model. So Kobanê had a lot of people participating, as I said, a very high rate of participation. That’s in part because it was organized by the movement since the 80s. But other areas had been organizing later, so there the people maybe weren’t as connected through these existing social infrastructures. In different places you see these different levels of progress in setting up these models. But they more or less are following the same trajectory. Afrin had traditionally been the best organized before the occupation. It had a very high percentage of Kurds who were already well-organized; as I was told there, almost 100% of people participating in the project.
The Ex-Worker: Beyond the councils, what other sorts of economic and social institutions make up the landscape there? We’ve heard different things about the economic models in place and the extent to which there does or doesn’t appear to be an anti-capitalist focus to the social revolution there.
Shannon: It’s interesting, because what we were told is there were sort of three sections of the economy that were functioning now. There’s this wartime economy which they have particular kinds of needs that have to be met under the circumstances that maybe don’t necessarily fit in completely with the kind of society that they’re trying to build. But these are just the realities of war, at this point, you know? For example, we saw they’re selling a lot of crude oil. They don’t have the refineries to treat it, but they have the infrastructure to take it out. They’ve tried to use it internally as much as possible. But it’s one of the things that they’re doing to make money, to house the Daesh [ISIS] they’re managing in the camps, to continue to rebuild and fight and all these things. There is still private business there. I was told that the private sector is quite productive there. For example, the place that we stayed in Kobanê was a hotel that was built by a private owner who hired a bunch of people from the city to build it. I think most of the large land owners fled during the war, and it was to the point that we were there, most of them had not returned. So a lot of that became part of the collective, part of the commune, the commons. As well as the sort of 40% of land and infrastructure that was owned by the regime before.
Then the third part of the economy is the cooperative economy, and that’s where all that space is being occupied. One of the things we know is that the cooperatives, they are establishing in Rojava are predominantly, almost exclusively at this point, promoting women’s financial independence in this way that they are having the cooperatives built and run by women. So they may be farming or producing textiles or whatever else they might be doing. They’ll take what they need, and donate a portion, and they’ll be able to sell off whatever is left over. This is kind of the way of transitioning as much as possible away from the private economy, by incentivizing through access to the commons these cooperative models. They’re focused for the most part at this point on women who have need of financial independence for whatever reason. Maybe they lost their fathers or their husbands, or they want to be independent for some other reason. They’re moving into that space and setting up these more formal cooperative structures.
There are also community projects. There are quite a lot of these projects from what I understand. They’re produced by volunteer coordination. For example, they were building a new library for the university in Kobanê, which was about to conclude its second year of instruction. When we were there, it was quite amazing to speak to the professors that had come to pull it together. It started with like two professors and they had been wanting to start back up a university after Kobanê was freed, and they brought I think what it was in the beginning was they had like 40 students, or something to that effect? By the time that we were visiting, they were finishing some 280 students, I think. And they were expecting over 600 students for the new term. But that’s in the course of two years, which is quite impressive. The community project they were working on was to build a library for the university. It was being constructed entirely by volunteer laborers with materials that were voluntarily brought into the space. It would be this kind of situation: if they needed a van, or concrete, whatever they needed, they would just ask those who could give, and people would offer what they could and they would come and they would build it together. We toured it and it was still under construction, it was gorgeous, it was a beautiful library. It was just a project of the collective desire to provide this for the students, who it’s understood there have been disproportionately in terms of that society, impacted by the war because they were previously going to state schools, and their education was very limited. But then during the war it was totally disrupted. And again, coming back to this idea of education, they’ve really been focusing on trying to create the conditions for the students to catch back up, to learn the things that they haven’t been able to learn, so they can kind of move on with their lives. Or at least, that’s what they had been doing at the time that we were there. Wanting to sort of provide for them the institutions that they would need to become parts of a functioning society again, as opposed to being just subjects of the crisis.
The Ex-Worker: Can you tell us about your interactions with the armed forces there, and about the role of military veterans and martyrs in public life?
Shannon: There are portraits of the martyrs all over, everywhere you go. You see people walking down the street with portraits of the martyrs pinned to their clothes and you see them posted up all over. It’s definitely a very present thing. We were lucky enough to visit one of the veterans’ houses, which was an incredibly impactful experience. We met a number, maybe 25 or 30 so people who were living in this house who had been injured in one way or another during the war. They had found, I guess, that when people were coming back it was helpful for them to be living together in these veteran’s houses, in these spaces. Basically, what they were doing there [was] they were offering them different kinds of skills training, and different kinds of ideological training. They would call it an academy of the veterans. And there are locations all over Rojava. What happened is people came back after being injured and many people felt that they weren’t useful to the revolution anymore. So they founded this academy where they teach people. I think there actually are six of them in the area around where we were. Some of them are just for cadre, some are for locals as well. They give them language training, vocational training. They teach them how to make films and how to write their stories. They teach them how to use computers. It’s a place for locals who were injured as well as cadre to come together, in a lot of those cases, so they can sort of work together to build up their own stories. And to start to see or understand themselves as important parts of the revolutionary movement even if they can’t fight anymore. They also go out and work with other veterans and their families. There’s physical therapy and other kinds of treatment that are available there. They might be assigned to different kinds of work. But a lot of it is also about learning to accept the limitations of their injuries and understanding the ways that they can be strong in mind, and important parts of the revolutionary work. So they do learn a lot of philosophy, they have their own assemblies, they read, they have discussions. There are many people who now, they can’t see, and they have to learn how to live in the world sightless. There’s a lot of different kind of things that are going on in those spaces, but it was clear when we were there that there were people who were at different places in coming to terms with the traumas that they had experienced.
That was definitely a very affecting experience, to be there and be able to witness what they had given up for this revolution, and to hear them say (as everyone said, everywhere we went) that they had fought for us, and that we fight for them. Which is just such an incredibly humbling and really intense experience, to hear somebody who you so admire for participating in this kind of revolutionary struggle against fascism, and a revolutionary struggle for a whole new way of living, to identify themselves and what they have done—which is so astounding and impressive to me—to identify that with the work that I do here… There were a lot of times where I didn’t feel I personally deserved the level of gracious thanks that I got from them for the work that we do here. I just feel that we could do so much more for them. But it’s really amazing to see the people in that space even processing through these things, supporting each other, in a way that you see people doing all over Rojava. They really want to make sure that everybody recognizes that they are an important component of society. And that society is best if everyone participates, and that it can’t be its best without them. They have planned there to start to open academies in new places. They understand themselves as this popular movement, and they are part of the movement in these veteran’s homes.
It’s not like here, in the U.S. where we see a lot of people who come back suffering from the impacts of war. I think a lot of veterans in the U.S. that I’ve known, they feel isolated here. It just wasn’t the case there. They’re writing books and making documentaries, and they understand what they can do based on the experiences that they’ve had. There’s still a lot of pain but there’s a lot of hope. It was really hard. There’s a shortage of medical supplies. They don’t have everything they need to treat all of the injuries that the hevals are dealing with. It can be difficult to get people abroad for treatment that they need. It’s difficult to see that. One of the most powerful things that any one said to us was the person who was sort of the head of the veteran’s house that we visited, said capitalism had frozen their minds, but the thoughts of Öcalan had helped them to melt again. Part of the project is this vision of sort of creating this fluidity within themselves where they could grow.
We were also really very honored to visit a YPJ training facility and to meet some of the women there who were training to fight and to defend the revolution. We heard their stories and they came for very different reasons. Some of them had come there to escape abusive family situations. Some had come because they wanted to honor people that they had lost. Some had come because they believed in the revolution and because they wanted to defend it. But I don’t think I ever will forget one of the women we met. She said, we follow the martyrs, we fight for the martyrs, we’re ready to martyr ourselves. We weren’t able to spend a ton of time with them but in the forty minutes maybe or so that we were there, it was just so clear… They spoke often, you hear this a lot in Rojava, they spoke often of the sort of joys of hevalship, the feelings of connectivity that you get, the joy of being close to your hevals, of being in physical contact with them, of working together with them on this project that everyone believes in, that makes them feel purposeful and part of this thing that they understand is so much bigger than them. You know, it’s so much bigger than any of us. They really see this as a global revolution. They really see their struggle as our struggle, all as one. When we came and when we left, they hugged us, they kissed us, they held our hands. They loved, they love us. And it’s so easy to love them, it would be impossible not to I think. But they love us because we struggle together, that’s how they see it. Even now to think about it, it’s kind of overwhelming.
When we were pulling up there, one of our comrades was like, “Okay Shannon, before we get off this bus, just so you know—you’re not allowed to stay with the YPJ.” When we were leaving, I was like, “But…but…”
I just worry so much about them, these people that we met there. I have no idea where they are, what happened to them.
SOLIDARITY SONG BY SABRINA MELENDEZ, PART 1
You are a freedom mountain You are a yellow star You are the voice of revolution I know who you are Heval, you are a never-ending Promise of the world to come This battle won’t be over, Not before freedom is won You are the image of the Person that I want to be You wake up in the morning You don’t stop till everyone is free You fight to show the world that There can be another way Gelek sipas, heval min Berxwedan jîyadê [Many thanks, my comrade Resistance is life]
INTERVIEW WITH SHANNON, PART 2
The Ex-Worker: So we know that the society in Rojava is not a flawless utopia, anarchist or otherwise. But I don’t want to get stuck in this binary of either just praising the social revolution there uncritically or criticizing it unhelpfully—in part because we know that the theory and the practice there are constantly evolving in response to criticism, new developments, and so on. Could you tell us a bit about the process by which critiques are offered, considered, struggled with, and integrated into the revolutionary project there?
Shannon: Well, I would say it starts really at the basic level that people relate to each other in the society. It’s really difficult to describe the way in which it’s different. But something I was thinking a lot about while we were there was, at this very basic level of physical infrastructure, how people are together in actual space. Every building you go into, every house, every public building, one of the first rooms, if not the first room that you approach when you come through the door is a big room that is surrounded on at least three sides with couches, and that often has a table in the middle with little satellite tables that come out that’s a gathering room. This is where you receive people and have meetings and where you discuss things, and every time you come in they give you coffee and sweets. You talk together in big groups; everybody is doing everything together and conversation is constantly happening, and ideas are constantly evolving as a result of that.
So part of the way they have institutionalized this is that—many of us have heard of tekmil (a constructive criticism session), but this is something that’s really done mostly with the cadre; it’s not always a part of the civil society. But there are ways that that kind of idea is represented. So from my understanding, what’s really important about how that comes back into their civil organization is that, on a very regular basis, they check in with how they’re doing. They might not go every month; they might not say, “Okay, should we totally change course?” but every six months, every half year they will. They have their meetings regularly—they might meet twice monthly, they might meet monthly, depending on the different organizations, they might meet more often than that—but every six months or so you might have a big meeting where they really look at the projects they’ve been working on and decide if they’ve been working or not.
It’s clear: they know it’s not perfect. They know it’s not. I think this is represented in this idea that the society is only at its best if all the components are participating. They know that not all people are participating, and that there are various reasons why people would or wouldn’t be able to participate more, or would or wouldn’t choose to participate. But the attitude that people have towards each other and toward the work they do together; the attitude they have toward the project is that they’re building a new society, that they’re building a society that’s based on a completely different set of values and a completely different set of social norms. So they understand that is going to be a work in progress. They understand that the society that we have lived in has created particular kinds of conditions and particular kinds of relations that are going to have to be changed over time. So they’re not married to any of the particular bits of the project is supposed to work; it’s the principle of the project that’s important. They’re constantly trying to readjust, and as I said, it comes down to day-to-day human interactions. It’s much easier to imagine how that could happen at the end of a meeting, where you look back and say, okay, what did we do in this meeting and how could we do better next time? When you recognize that that happens in every single human relationship, with all the people who are committed to this project, there’s a sense of—the way that I like to think of it, at least in the rhetoric I like to use when I’m thinking about how to be a better me and better agent of change in our society, is this idea of the personal and collective liberation.
It’s a cooperative project, it really genuinely is. At all these different institutional spaces that we were in—and we were in a lot, because that was the nature of our trip, coming as guests of the university, that we met a lot of people in a lot of different institutions: people working in the universities, people in the administration, people working on the curriculum project, which is separate from the people who are doing the instruction to some extent, and we met people doing jineology in Jinwar, we met people who are producing these ideas for a global audience, and these different kind of things.
But in every place there, there was some kind of structure in place to stop periodically, to disrupt organizational momentum, to really look at what was happening and what was working and what wasn’t. And I think in order for that to happen, there has to be a sort of release of the individual ego in the project. Everybody who’s participating in this project knows that it’s bigger than them. I didn’t meet anybody while we were traveling there who steamrolled in a conversation.
I think there are a lot of really structural things that contribute to this. For example, most meetings are conducted in Arabic because everybody speaks Arabic, because under the regime you had to learn to speak Arabic. But many of the meeting we were in there was direct translation into at least one language during the meeting. So we might be sitting in a meeting where we were translating between English to Kurmanji to Arabic to Kurmanji to English, and then back and forth and back and forth. And there’s something about this that slows down the pace of discussion in a way that’s actually really productive.
Building on that, something that was really interesting to me that I saw there was that early on in the administration (thinking about this in the context of a society where they don’t have the best resources necessarily that they could get; they don’t have the kind of disposable resources that we have here), one of the first things that they bought was this set of radio receivers with headphones attached. They have 200 or something like that, and there’s one set in the whole territory. And people drive it around from important meeting to important meeting so that every meeting can have live translation into like seven languages, that they everyone can fully participate. We had the incredible pleasure of attending the first Kongra Star Conference, which was recently launched the time we were there. It was a congress of women’s organizations at the highest level of the administration, with hundreds coming in their traditional dress, or coming in their military uniforms, and participating in this two-day conference. It was the first time I had encountered the translation, and we were able to participate in full, as people who were just invited as guests a few days before, because we happened to be in the area. We were very lucky to be there for this. It was just really an unbelievably empowering experience in this room with these hundreds of strong women, coming from all these different perspectives and participating in this project, understanding that all of their participation was valuable. So the Kongra Star was really impactful. They understood that the counsel is not just for women, but it’s to understand the problems of society that women see themselves as responsible for solving because of this women’s revolution. And that they’re able to work together toward their collective freedom in these ways because they have these systems in place of slowing things down so that everyone can be part of decision-making.
This is just a small anecdote, but it really reflects a lot about the attitude that people have about putting together this really heterogeneous society, and understanding that its power is in its diversity. It was really a profound experience to be able to be there, and a highlight of my life, I think. In terms of this whole trip it was incredibly impactful, and this in particular I was really proud to have seen.
The Ex-Worker: Are there any other moments or stories that stuck out for you as either particularly moving or indicative of the dynamics of the revolution in Rojava?
Shannon: Oh, I had meant to tell you about our trip to the Yazidi House. We were invited one of the Yazidi houses [outside of Amûdê]; it’s established in land to which they are native to, but when the regime was there, they had no rights as Yazidis. They were forced to study Islam and they couldn’t practice their traditions; they couldn’t play their music, they couldn’t celebrate their holidays. Much like the Kurds, they couldn’t speak their language or name their children in their language: and these same kinds of things you come to understand as being the repressive conditions of the regime. At one point they founded a group of musicians to play music, and security forces of the regime had come and harassed and intimidated them and wouldn’t let them play. These are the circumstances under which they were living. Then, when ISIS came in, they were being sold as slaves. Their children were being taken away, they were being starved: they were being particularly viciously repressed under horrifying conditions under ISIS.
After the revolution, they had the opportunity to organize themselves and founded this house that we were at. Each region has their own community house and organization for the Yazidis, and the representatives of the Yazidi community participate in a conference all together. Every two years they have a main conference with elections, and then once per month each group has sessions to determine what to do for the month. They engage in various kinds of religions activities: they make pilgrimages to their holy sites, they teach their language, and they teach courses in their religion to bring it back into the minds of their people. This house was part of the process of declaring autonomy in 2014; this was one of the core places where that was done in their region. They have their representatives in all the different councils and communes that you have all up and the administration. And they told us this story, the man that had welcomed us into the Yazidi house and made us tea, that during the revolution they worked with the administration to rescue Yazidis that were stranded in the Shengal region. As they would liberate towns, they would rescue the Yazidis living as slaves, they would bring them back, they would get them in touch with their families, and they would reunite them. Often times there were children who were taken young and may not have remembered their families. So it was a big task, but through this they had built these really close relationships and this deep bond of trust. The man said that the revolution had given them space to breathe.
He went on to tell us that they had, for the first time this past year, organized to celebrate their new year holiday, which is called Red Wednesday. They had it at this big conference center that, at the end of the regime, was a resort for rich people (which was actually the same place where we went for the Kongra Star Conference). So they got all their musicians together, they brought all their ceremonial outfits, they cooked a big feast, and they went down for the celebration—and only 25% of the people who had ended up coming up the celebration were Yazidi. Not because the Yazidis didn’t come, but because so many other people came to celebrate with them, that they should get to be able to celebrate the holiday and dance to their traditional music and to share this feast with them.
And this anecdote we got from this man at the Yazidi house was representative of other kinds of stories we heard from other people who really reflected, in their telling of their experiences, the cooperative, celebratory nature of the society of different components. That it was a joy for them to celebrate this together, to celebrate the liberation of the Yazidi people, their freedom to celebrate their holidays and to practice their culture. So for the people who wonder, how much is it true that all the different minority groups are actually participating? These are the kinds of stories that I would hear.
The Ex-Worker: After such an incredible trip, what was the transition like for you coming back to the US? How would you say that your experience there has reframed your notion of organizing in the US?
Shannon: It was a really difficult transition back here, actually. I felt very isolated returning. The warmth and the hospitality and the joy and the physical touch between all the people you would meet, and the closeness and this laughter, this collective sense of being together, just tangible on the street: we just don’t have it here.
One of the things that I was thinking about, which I mentioned before, was in terms of the ways that our physical spaces really impact how we relate to each other. And coming back into a place where we meet at a table instead of sitting next to each other, without barriers between us, I started really thinking more deeply about these really fundamental interpersonal relationships, which I had always understood to be part of our political transformation as an anarchist, and as a person who believed really strongly in prefigurative politics. I think working with various community organizations who are doing the kind of work on the front lines of fighting the abuses of capitalism and the abuses of the state, you see more of that as well. But really a reconnection; I think this really impacted my theory of change. Really understanding politics as something so much more intimate than it had come to be for me, after working as an organizer for ten years, you know, where you start to get into this groove where you see problems and you see solutions and you see ways of getting there. Especially because there are so many problems for us. We’re constantly chasing this and that, and we have so many amazing comrades this work, in different kinds of autonomous and cooperative spaces, and building new things. But I think that as an organizer in the city, it had kind of gotten away from me. And I came back really feeling motivated to try to change the way that I was interacting with people around me. And I think it wasn’t even something I had to try to do; that experience did change the way I felt about my myself and about other people. This sort of openness and courage in the face of just unbelievable odds…
We know as people who have studied and in our best imaginings participate in revolution that it’s hard to be a revolutionary project in a fucked up world. Before I went to Rojava, I kept it a bit intellectualized. Because after a lot of years doing this you see a lot of things fail, and it’s hard to love something to watch it suffer in this way. [But] it was impossible to keep that distance from the minute we got there. It’s just so human, it’s so humane. I can’t describe the way that people understand each other and they value each other and they treat each other, and they valued and treated us just for being there - there’s nothing comparable that I know of in our society. I just came back wanting to be the best representation of myself with those lessons, and to try to help to facilitate those kinds of relationships with other people as much as I could.
You know, one of the things that impacted me, something that will stick with me forever: we were having lunch one day, I think it was the day we had visited Jinwar, but I can’t remember exactly, we were running around a lot. But we were having lunch one day and we had been at the orphanage in Kobanê the day before and they had been talking with us a lot about how they were organizing at the orphanage to support the children. And they were saying that they find places for these children to live, that they stay with them and give them vocational training, they make sure they are doing alright and keep a community with them, they are teaching them languages and everything’s interrelated, and they get them involved in the council systems, they started the children’s council, - they had many children in the beginnings and they now have nine children living there (and this is the only orphanage they have there), because they found places for these people to go. This was the only time that we were talking with anybody who said they would offer psychological services for children and women who need that kind of support.
So we were having lunch and we had been really wondering about this because we have such profound trauma in our society, and we have barely begun to learn how to heal that, from all the various things that work on us that cause us to become traumatized. So I asked them, how they are were dealing with trauma in the society? And they said that they understood that trauma was in many cases a reflection of a sick society, that it had to do with not being connected with each other in the kinds of ways that we needed to be as human beings. That, when someone suffered a loss in the society, they all suffered it together, and that those people would never be alone. That the loss of one was the loss of the whole community, and that if people need individual support, they made sure he would get it; whether that be professional support or a community of people surrounding them all the time, and feeding them and making sure they knew that their loved ones were celebrated and valued. This actually made a profound impact on the amount of trauma that people were experiencing, and there was this really sense that they managed this trauma by building a better world together, and by being better to each other, by being better people together; that they did this for the loved ones, for the martyrs, the people they had lost.
We were all kind of holding hands and crying, and it was such a moment to sit there and have this shared feeling, understanding the immeasurable loss that everyone in Rojava has experienced—I didn’t meet anybody who hasn’t lost someone in their family or someone they love over the course of this war. And they said to me, holding my hands, tears streaming down all of our faces, “Why do you ask about trauma? Is it because you have been traumatized?” That they should care about me, and my experience in my life, [through] these circumstances… And they hugged me and held me, and said that they were sorry that we should have to go through these kinds of things alone—it was just so moving.
I think that’s one of the things, to come back to your question, I wanted to bring back here: this sense of collective growth, and really centering back in the space. I feel like in a lot of my organizing life, there was a sense that there’s something bad happening and that you need to fight it, but to come back to this healing together, and being together in this collective healing and collective building as a way of managing the things that we struggle with, of being better people together—at scale. Not just in our small communities of people that we have developed affinities with, but all these people that we meet throughout every day, all the time, and really recognizing them and being able to see them, and allowing them to see us, and re-establishing that shared humanity and thinking of that as the revolutionary project, or at least a really important part.
I feel like that has profoundly changed by the experience of living. Since I came back it really took me some time to really readjust and start to see where the frictions were and what things had changed in me from this experience, because you see things and you learn things and it takes time to really identify what those things are. But I think having that kind of patient, loving openness with each other, for the suffering, for the joy that this is really what hevalship is all about. Just trying to help to work toward that in my life and all the areas that I can impact, as opposed to imagining the rest of the world as sort of adversarial to what we’re trying to do. It made me a more compassionate person. It makes it easier to see the pain in other people.
The Ex-Worker: To conclude, can you tell me what you’d like to see folks in North America and beyond learn from the struggle in Rojava, and how we can respond to the invasion?
Shannon: As I said before, the whole time we were there, it was so humbling to receive the gratitude and appreciation and excitement that we were met with everywhere we went. People were just so thankful that we had come. There were people who were saying, we don’t understand why you would come here from California. Or the people who were thanking us for the work that we do here. I left there feeling so strongly that we needed to do better for them because they were doing so much for us. What they’ve really done is they’ve created a space for incubating an actually better world, an actually better way of being together that can continue to evolve and grow.
I came back here thinking what we really need to be doing is understanding our role in politics as being on the international scale. To really re-engage with this idea of global revolution, which I think has been sort of beyond us for a while. To really think more carefully, more intentionally about ways of working in strategic solidarity instead of symbolic solidarity; and to really start to pay attention to the projects that are happening now, in a way where we can really learn from the experiments that our comrades all over the world are engaging in by necessity. To learn from their tactics and their ideological advancements, to learn from their rhetorical advancements, from their interpersonal shifts.
[cat plays piano]
I think something I would really like people who might never have the chance to go there to take away from this is to really understand how important it is to them that we do what we do, how much they really feel that we are all in this struggle together, how they see what we’re doing. They feel that the international community, on the level of states, has abandoned them; they feel that for good reason because it’s true. The coalitions that promised to build this or bring that or to do whatever, it’s well understood there that a lot of people made promises and most of those promises have not been kept. But they really see us struggling and they say it gives them power.
So I guess what I would say is that in the face of this really dark situation, that I think the best thing we can do is show up for them in all the ways that we know how, including the things that we can learn from the new revolutionary projects of today. To push ourselves to become better global revolutionaries, to learn from everybody else’s struggles, and to figure out how we fit into these world dynamics; and to sort of think on this larger scale, to think of ourselves as powerful actors in this story arc of human history that’s being written now, because this is a moment of profound change.
I study social innovations in crisis and climate crisis, and we can understand this as a moment where a relatively system is becoming destabilized, and what that creates is this space for experimentation. Change is happening, we know, and it’s not necessarily going to be good; the comrades in Rojava know that well. Somebody even said directly to us in a meeting that what’s right will not always win, but that we have to understand this as a moment where all the cards have not been played. That’s for Rojava, that’s for the climate apocalypse, that’s for the rise of global fascism: that’s for all these things that are happening right now that seem overwhelming a lot of the time. This is also a moment of opportunity. Leftists love crisis, right? But we also get overwhelmed.
So we can think of this as an opportunity to learn from their struggles and the lessons they are trying to put out in the world through the ideology, through the institutions models they’re building, through the people they have been able to impact who have been carrying the message forward. To really think of this as the time to step up and come together, and shift global revolutionary community, to try to weigh in on what the future is going to be. To not give into defeatism, to give into nihilism or cynicism; to find within yourself the strength to be hopeful and to be joyful and to love and to be collectivist, and to support people and not allow yourself to be supported, and to rally try to build something better than what you have experienced before. And to do that in yourself as well as in your relationships and communities. To really believe in growth and believe in the possibility of new ways of being, because they do, and by all accounts, they’ve had more to fight then we have.
I think that people all over the world think that Syria is a tough place to be; but I’ve never felt more connected, more loved, that I’ve never felt more hospitality, I’ve never felt more part of something, or felt more hope. And it’s not a blind hope; it’s realistic, they understand what the circumstances are. But they also understand that we only have so much more opportunity to find better ways of doing things before systems of reaction and global and corporate fascism, the surveillance state and all these kind of things that we are up against, cement them self into these new epoch. That in these periods of transition, we have to rise to the occasion. And if we don’t feel like we can do it for us, we can do it for them. Because they’re doing it for us, and they know that.
It was tempting for me think the whole time that it was more than we deserve. But I decided that instead of thinking that it’s more than we deserve, I’m just going to try to deserve it.
SOLIDARITY SONG BY SABRINA MELENDEZ, PART 2
You are a freedom mountain You are a yellow star You are the voice of revolution I know who you are Heval, you are a never-ending Promise of the world to come This battle won’t be over, Not before freedom is won You are the image of the Person that I want to be You wake up in the morning You don’t stop till everyone is free You fight to show the world that There can be another way Gelek sipas, heval min Berxwedan jîyadê [Many thanks, my comrade Resistance is life]
Jin, Jîyan, Azadî [Women, Life, Freedom]
LAST MESSAGE FROM AN INTERNATIONALIST VOLUNTEER
Clara: Now is the time to act. As the Turkish invasion began, we began to receive desperate messages from folks behind the lines in Rojava reflecting just how urgent the situation is. This is a message that appeared on Twitter on October 11th from a French volunteer:
French Volunteer in Rojava: We are currently a dozen internationalists fighting in Sêre Kaniyê alongside our Kurdish, Arab, Turkish, Armenian and Assyrian comrades. This will probably be my last message. Turkish aviation and artillery are bombarding us relentlessly. Islamist groups and Turkish agents have infiltrated our lines. I do not know how long we will be able to hold. We do not care about your support. We want actions! If the imperialist states can’t get beyond their cowardice to save us, we rely on our revolutionary friends to avenge us. THERE ARE LOGICAL TARGETS. DESTROY THEM.
Clara: We’ll leave you on that note for now. Tomorrow we’ll be back to continue this episode’s array of interviews exploring different aspects of daily life, armed struggle, and revolutionary institutions in Rojava. One recounts the women’s movement and the impact on gender roles of the autonomous social experiments in Rojava, while another provides an inside look at the armed forces and the struggle against ISIS. We hear from participants in the Internationalist Commune, and a letter from the PKK to the American people as well. In the meantime, check out our website for a full transcript of this episode and plenty of links to learn more, including lists of solidarity actions coming up; we’re at crimethinc.com/podcast. And we always like to hear from you—contact us by email at podcast at crimethinc dot com. There’s more on the way soon—stay tuned.