Ums Ganze Alliance has released a Solidarity Statement to the Kurdish freedom movement and called for solidarity with the progressive forces in Kurdistan: “Learning from the Kurds means winning. As the communist …ums Ganze! alliance we refer critically, but in solidarity, to the revolution in Rojava/North-Syria.”
You will find the German version of this article: here.
Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.
Germany: Ums Ganze Alliance in solidarity with Afrin
The current situation in the Kurdish areas of Syria and Turkey is escalating further. The Turkish military is attacking the canton of Afrin in Rojava in co-operation with Islamist militias under the flag of the FSA (“Free Syrian Army”). In fact, these militia are battle forces trained in Turkey with the support of former soldiers of Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar Al Sham and Daesh. Since 2016 the “FSA” has basically only existed as a broad label which is used to cover different militias and forces. What is to be expected from the Turkish army’s allies if they win in Afrin, has been shown by their terrible and misogynistic desecration of the fallen YPJ-fighter Barin Kobanî. In Turkey, the repressive apparatus is being extended to its limits. Every comment against Turkish nationalist unity is being shut down immediately. Every day journalists, scientists, political opponents or simply anyone who is against the war is being villainised and arrested. A “free” and “independent” news coverage in Turkey has not been possible for a long time. Those media channels not completely behind Erdogan are being banned and/or censored. After the failed coup d’etat of July 2016 over 100 journalists were arrested, about 150 media channels closed and more than 700 press cards annulled. Critical journalists are being put under general suspicion. While the German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel was released from prison quickly, Ahmet Altan, Mehmed Altan, Nazlı Ilıcak and three further persons were sentenced to lifelong imprisonment under harsh circumstances. They are being blamed for participating in the attempted coup d’etat of 2016 and having connections to the Gülen movement.
In general, the arrests against political opponents go on. Shortly, Amine Gündüz (DBP, Democratic Regions Party) and Aydın Üstün (HDP, Party of the People) and many other people from regime-critical circles are being arrested, thousands of others are already in prison.
Germany is playing an obliging role towards the Turkish state. Here, Kurdish activists are facing a new and increasingly harsh wave of repression. Several politically active Kurds are in German jails right now. Demonstrations, like the recent demonstration against the war in Afrin in Cologne with 30’000 participants, are being attacked or dispersed because symbols of the Kurdish movement are being shown. Symbols of the YPJ, the YPG and the PYD are practically banned by a new law. Even the symbols of the students’ union YXK are being criminalised in practice – all in all the law extends the ban to 30 symbols. This was held as a reason for several house searches in the last months, for example in Munich or Hamburg. The ban on the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which was applied in Germany in 1994, has established a permanent criminalisation of Kurdish activists in Germany. This criminalisation of Kurdish structures in Germany is an attack against all of the progressive forces within the German left. On top of that Germany exports armaments to Turkey. When you have the chance of scoring profits, human lives do not count. The movement in Rojava / the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria faces off against Turkish state aggression due to dirty deals over refugees and the interests of German and Turkish capital.
At the same time the YPJ, the YPG and the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) are defending Afrin canton against the invasion of the Turkish military and Islamists. In this conflict Turkey is not distinguishing between active fighters and civilians in Afrin during their air raids, which has lead to hundreds of civilian casualties and deaths so far. Turkey is deliberately destroying whole areas on purpose, for example by attacking the drinking water supplies. Thus, Turkey – despite all their propaganda about fighting “terrorism” – is leading a war against civil society because it knows that the resistance in Afrin is popular. Nonetheless, Turkey has still not made any significant progress in its offensive.
According to the SDF, the Turkish military could only gain five kilometres on five fronts since the beginning of “Operation Olive Branch”. Currently, there is heavy fighting in 37 villages. A quick victory, like Erdogan predicted, is far away. It seems that the attacks on Afrin take place in order to simulate an image of Turkish-nationalist unity and strength before the next elections in Turkey.
Meanwhile in Germany, the German “Leopard 2” battle tanks, which are being used by the Turkish military, are at the centre of German public debate.
We remember: in 2014 Daesh was in front of the gates of the North-Syrian town of Kobanê (Arabian Ain al-Arab). The forces of the YPJ and the YPG were the first in making the Islamists suffer a military defeat and therefore save the city. It was also them, who together with the PKK-guerilla forces of HPG were able to establish a refuge for thousands of Yazidis in the Shengal mountains. By that, the Yazidis were saved from being enslaved, raped and murdered by Daesh directly and from death through thirst and hunger. Barzani’s Peshmerga were not the heroes here, though they were thanked by the German government and received weapons for doing nothing. At that time already, the YPJ/YPG were celebrated as liberators from Daesh oppression by the whole world. Just a sidenote: the lifting of the PKK ban was discussed by many, even deep within liberal circles and civil society. Today, not even four years later, Daesh has been chased away militarily by the fighters of YPJ/YPG nearly completely. But it is not only the military struggle against Daesh which has made it worthwhile for communists to focus their attention on Rojava/Northern Syria. The çivil reconstruction process is aiming for a different model of society, one based on municipal councils and which does not want to repeat the mistakes of the Soviet Union. On the basis of social-ecological, self-organised, feminist and radical-democratic principals, life in Syria is being transformed into a new – yet contradictory, of course – practice beyond ethnic and religious conflicts. At the same time NATO member Turkey is purposely attacking exactly these progressive forces and even threatens it’s NATO partner USA with an “Ottoman slap in the face”, i.e. a military confrontation. This aggression is the biggest threat to the revolution in North-Syria since the siege on Kobanê. Whilst in 2014 everyone’s attention was caught by the events in North Syria, today there is no interest in making Turkey’s invasion an issue or to challenge the AKP regime.
Learning from the Kurds means winning. As the communist …ums Ganze! alliance we refer critically, but in solidarity, to the revolution in Rojava/North-Syria. In times of a wide reaching shift towards the right it is more necessary than ever to find alternatives to the ruling system, in order to uphold the perspective of a life beyond capital and patriarchy and a good life for everyone. By declaring solidarity with Kurdistan it is not about expressing sympathy with a struggle far away. The Kurdish freedom movement is an inspiration and model for a global Left. Why? This movement is a symbol for a path beyond choosing between pest and cholera: between a neoliberal “Keep going on” with austerity measurements or so called “adaption programmes” for capital and an authoritarian desire for a strong national state. Like the Zapatist@s in the 1990s, the Kurdish movement has a light house effect in times of spreading hopelessness. We embrace the fact that the German left refers to this movement – we can learn a lot from these discussions. Next to the collective learning process it is vital to stand side by side with our Kurdish comrades against attacks from the repressive apparatus as well as fascists and racists in Germany and everywhere. Our common goal is a society beyond class, “race” and gender, which we can only reach with an anti-national and anti-state- orientated internationalism. We have to engage more with the fundamentals, the roots and the current reality of the Kurdish freedom movement and thus (re-)find a left universalism, which was underlined by our Kurdish comrades many times. This solidarity statement is therefore also to be seen as an offer to the Kurdish movement for getting to know each other and to develop a common discussion – on an eye-to- eye level and through practical experiences.
Don’t leave Afrin alone! Don’t leave the progressive Kurdish forces in exile and in Kurdistan alone in their struggle! Don’t leave the people in Afrin high and dry!
We call for participation at our Kurdish friends’ protests in Germany and for organising own actions. Solidarity with the progressive forces in Kurdistan!
Stop the dirty deals with the AKP-regime!
Let’s smash the arms industry!
Lift the ban on the PKK!
Long live the revolution in Rojava!
Ums Ganze, February 18, 2018.