Live stream recording – 2014-10-21 21.35 [part 2]
PART 1: http://vimeo.com/debalie/statelessdem…
(there’s more info linked below)
The fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has often been portrayed as a fight between the West and its Arab allies against Islamic ultra-fundamentalists. Over the last several years, however, a progressive Kurdish-led resistance has been forming in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) amidst the Syrian Civil War. The resistance has successfully implemented new models of grassroots democracy, gender equality, and sustainable ecology, its members practicing a political project they refer to as Democratic Confederalism. Women and men stand side-by-side in its armed forces in the face of both ISIS and the Bashar al-Assad regime. Despite the resistance’s efforts, Rojava is currently threatened by a massacre, and the international community continues to stand by silently as tragedy unfolds.
This conference discusses the current Kurdish resistance in Kobanê, Rojava against ISIS. With help of representatives from the Kurdish movement as well as specialists in the field, it explores the politics and culture of Rojava and the reasons behind the formation and growth of the self-proclaimed Islamic State. The question as to what and how the international community and civil society can help is also addressed—not only to stop ISIS, but more crucially, to support a movement from within the region that is offering a new democratic horizon from which the world can learn.
Keynote speeches by Dilşah Osman (co-president of the Kurdish Democratic Society Congress in Europe, KCD-E) and Dilar Dirik (PhD researcher and activist of the Kurdish Women’s Movement), contributions by Joost Jongerden (researcher and Kurdish specialist, Wageningen University), Jolle Demmers (co-founder of the Center for Conflict Studies, Utrecht), Jonas Staal (artist), Jasper Blom (Director Scientific Bureau Groenlinks / Green Party), Dilan Yezilgoz-Zegerius (Amsterdam council memberfor Liberal Party VVD, former Amnesty International specialist on Turkey) en Golrokh Nafisi (artist) and many others.
The conference is hosted by New World Academy; BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht; Center for Conflict Studies, Utrecht; and De Balie, Amsterdam.
Stateless Democracy: The Revolution in Rojava Kurdistan is the first of a series of events on stateless democracy organized by New World Academy in collaboration with the Kurdish Women’s Movement.
The Kurdish women’s movement, the Union of Free Women (YJA) has changed its name to the Kurdistan Communtiies of Women (Komalen Jinen Kurdistan, KJK) in order to reorganize itself under a confederal system. The Women’s Movement has issued a statement to announce its name change, stressing the importance of women’s organisation on the basis of the ideological and political requirements for a universal liberation of women.
Excerpt from “Between Nationalism and Women’s Rights: The Kurdish Women’s Movement in Iraq”
With the fall of the Baath regime in 2003, many Kurdish women activists initially joined with women activists in the rest of Iraq to promote women’s rights for all Iraqis. However, the violence that has engulfed central and southern Iraq as well as the Islamization of politics there, mean that a large number of women activists in Kurdistan have put their efforts into supporting autonomy for Iraqi Kurdistan as a means of defending women’s rights there. Moreover, many Kurdish activists tend to emphasize their difference from Arabs through reference to their desire for women’s rights (as opposed to what they perceive as a lack of desire for women’s rights in the rest of Iraq). Even those women in Kurdistan who believe that it is important to work with women in the rest of Iraq are largely prevented from doing so due to the practical difficulties of travelling to/within the rest of Iraq. However, some women’s rights activists from central and southern Iraq travel to Iraqi Kurdistan for meetings and workshops as it is much safer than other parts of the country.
The comparison with the rest of Iraq has made some Kurdish women more optimistic about the gains that they have made within the Iraqi Kurdistan region, whilst others remain critical of politicians within the KRG. Some women activists believe that Kurdistan politicians are marginalizing women’s rights to concentrate on the “bigger national questions” of Kirkuk, oil, and federalism. Other women activists believe that these questions of Kurdish rights are also inseparable from achieving women’s rights in Kurdistan. However, both the critics and the optimists believe that autonomy for Kurdistan must be respected by the government in Baghdad.
IRAQ: Interview: Between Nationalism and Women’s Rights – The Kurdish Women’s Movement
KURDISH WOMEN AND FEMINISM IN GUERILLA WARFARE
Within the movement, Kurdish women have their own party, and even community. In the heart of Qandil Mountains, you can find PKK women do everything by themselves, even building houses and military outposts.
If we compare the women members of Turkey’s parliament in the country’s 17th general election which was held on 12 June 2011 to elect 550 new members of Grand National Assembly, we see a huge difference between Kurdish women deputies in the only Kurdish party and the two other opposition parties. There are 20 female deputies out of 135 deputies from the opposition Republican People’s Party, three out of 53 from the Nationalist Movement Party and 11 out of 35 among the Kurdish Peace and Democracy party.
This is the innovation of Kurdish freedom struggle movement that you cannot find in the whole Middle East region. You can hardly find female political figures in Middle East. This is not to say that some female political figures don’t exist in Middle East, but of those that do they rarely get to the higher positions. But in Kurdish the freedom struggle and political ideology, it has become a system that will go forward in the future.
Bear in mind, the women that are guerrilla fighters are not married and if you ask them about marriage, they straightly tell you “If our land is not free, marriage is meaningless.” This is the same for the male guerrillas as well.
To fight side by side to men, Kurdish women fighters have become the soul of the revolution. Though they are martyred every now and then, but they are so proud that they have dedicated their life to the nation and the land.
PKK women say that they are one hundred percent equal to men, yet they want more! They will never see their families once they have joined the revolution. Once I asked a PKK female guerrilla in Qandil Mountains: “Do you miss your mother?”
“Your mother, is my mother, too. Daily, I see her several times here. My mother is here, she is there, she is everywhere in the country. My mother is my HOMELAND.” she replied
The latest achievement of PKK’s women is that they were able to become the top leaders of the KCK. Bese Hozat became the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council Co-President in KCK’s last congress which was held in the beginning of 2013. Despite KCK affiliated parties and organizations impleneting the Co-chair system, KCK had not done so. Consequently the last congress became a milestone for PKK’s female fighters because they were able to acheive equality to men within the political structure of KCK.
Gaining equality and high positions within the PKK revolutionary movement was not handed to women on a silver plate. Women struggled against the patriarchal mentality of men, and through constant struggles they acomplished what they set out to do.