A Women's Revolution In Northern Syria Fights For Its Life

Guest post by previous FiLiA speaker, Rahila Gupta a freelance journalist and writer

Dear friends,

As you may be aware, a heavily under-reported Kurdish-led feminist revolution organised along the principles of  direct democracy, racial inclusivity, ecological sustainability and a co-op based economy is taking place in Rojava, also known as the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, in the middle of death and destruction. 

More background information is available here: The Rojava experiment

After having successfully reduced ISIS to a rump of their former selves, they are now under attack themselves. One of the cantons, Afrin, has been invaded by the Turkish army. Although Turkey is a NATO ally, very little pressure has been exerted by the West on Turkey to withdraw. The war on Afrin is a war on women. 

The women of Rojava are seeking to build links and solidarity with the British feminist movement to find ways in which to secure the future of this fragile revolution. I believe that your history of activism and interest in political struggles places you in an ideal situation to be part of this discussion.

You are invited to a meeting at the House of Commons, Committee Room 3, 6th March at 7pm to help build a Women's Initiative for peace in Afrin. 

Remember the moment of hope that was generated by Nicaragua. Rojava is the revolution for our times. All of our individual dreams and struggles for another world are coming to fruition here.  As a source of hope and inspiration, we should do whatever we can to prevent the bullyboy tactics of aggressor countries like Turkey from putting the boot in.

Hope to see all of you on the 6th. Please RSVP so we have an idea of numbers.

Further information is below.

In solidarity

Rahila Gupta

A women’s revolution in Northern Syria fights for its life

We call upon the women of Britain to join us in the Women’s Initiative for Peace in Afrin to be launched in Parliament on 6th March, Committee room 3, House of Commons at 7pm. Please leave 30 minutes to allow for security clearance.

Behind the frontlines in war-torn Syria, the region of Rojava has established, since July 2012, grassroots democratic structures based on the principles of radical democracy, ecology, and women’s liberation. Led by the political system of Democratic Confederalism, the people created communes, assemblies, academies, and cooperatives to organise their daily lives in a secular, multi-cultural, and gender egalitarian manner. An autonomous women’s movement has established women’s social, political, and economic structures to secure a radical transformation of a society shaped by male domination, patriarchy and violence against women. A wide-ranging legislative programme has banned harmful traditional practices such as polygamy, child marriage and forced marriage. The Social Contract of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS) makes the elimination of discrimination against women in all spheres of life a guiding principle. A women’s quota of 40% is enforced in all governance structures while the co-presidency principle ensures that every institution, from the federal administration to the small neighbourhood communes, is chaired equally by a woman and a man.

Despite its ground-breaking assault on patriarchal structures, Rojava gets very little coverage, perhaps because its commitment to true equality is threatening to Western capitalist powers. This is probably the best place in the Middle East to be a woman. Women’s struggles all over the world can take heart from this truly revolutionary society which has achieved so much so quickly.

This relatively peaceful and totally non-sectarian society is under threat from Turkey. On 20 January 2018, the Turkish army and affiliated jihadist gangs launched a war of aggression on Afrin, one of the cantons of DFNS. This cross-border invasion by the Turkish state, cynically labelled “Operation Olive Branch” is a violation of international law. Since the beginning of the operation, hundreds of civilians have been wounded and killed, dozens of homes, schools, and vital infrastructure have been destroyed in the airstrikes and ground invasion.

The War on Afrin is a War on Women. This revolution is your revolution.

We demand:

· immediate end to the attacks on Afrin

· end of arms trade with Turkey

· humanitarian support for Afrin

· independent investigation into war crimes in Afrin

· establishment of a No Fly Zone for the protection of civilians

· support for the democratic forces and peace efforts of the DFNS for a free, democratic Syria

· support for the inclusion of the DFNS in the Geneva peace talks on Syria