In Northern Syria ISIS has been driven back by people fighting for a society based on principles of direct democracy, gender equality, and sustainability. From the their revolution in 2012 they have created a de facto autonomous region in which this ideas are being implemented.
At this opening session of the 2016 Dublin Anarchist Bookfair we heard from eyewitnesses to the revolution including those from the region.
The region is known to Kurds as Rojava and these events are commonly referred to as the Rojavan revolution, reflecting the fact that the revolution was initated and led by Kurdish forces, even though now they are building a much broader coalition known as the Syrian Democratic Force.
The political system of Rojava is inspired by democratic confederalism and communalism. It is influenced by anarchist and libertarian principles, and is considered by many a type of libertarian socialism. The basic unit at the local level is the community which pools resources for education, protection and governance. At a national level communities are unrestricted in deciding their own economic decisions on who they wish to sell to and how resources are allocated. There is a broad push for social reform, gender equality and ecological stabilization in the region.
The speakers in order of appearance
Janet Biehl who writes about libertarian municipalism and social ecology, the body of ideas developed and publicized by Murray Bookchin. Bookchin's writings have been credited with having a huge influence on Kurdish freedom movement in the region and thus on the revolution.
Ayse Gokkan is a woman activist from Northern Kurdistan (Turkey), representative of KJA (Free woman Congress of Kurdistan), an organisation formed early in 2015 to advance women's struggles in this part of the world, gathering different women in Kurdistan, not just Kurdish, also Syriac, Armenian, Allawis, Yezidis, etc.This is a community based association organising along communal lines through 501 delegates. She was mayor in Nusaybin for the BDP-HDP party (2009-2014). In 2013 she was on hunger strike demanding that Turkey stopped building a wall at the border in order to isolate Rojava.
Elife Berk is an activists and member of the KJA (the Free Women's Congress). She will discuss the current situation in Kurdistan, including the ongoing conflict, child deaths, and the imposition of curfews.
Erjan Ayboga is an active member of the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement and was involved in a campaign to oppose the damming of the Tigris river. His latest book, 'Revolution in Rojava', will be published in English in July.
This panel was recorded at the 2016 Dublin anarchist bookfair, see www.wsm.ie/anarchist-bookfair