Filed under: Featured, International Coverage
The city of Afrin has fallen in recent days, as Turkish fighters, backed by former ISIS and Jihadi forces, have taken over and occupied the city. Thousands of refugees have fled, as Turkish troops began a wave of looting and pillaging. In response, YPG and YPJ units began to carry out guerilla strikes against the invaders, killing several. As the blog, Fight4Afrin wrote:
The revolution of Rojava is going through her darkest hours. Despite the worldwide and relentless actions of millions and countless acts of militant resistance in solidarity with the struggle of Afrin the rulers of this world decided to slaughter the people in Rojava. Today the fascist Turkish army and their Islamist mercenaries entered the city of Afrin.
We are not shocked. We are furious. We showed in the last weeks that we are ready to risk everything to save this revolution. Now it is the time to spread the heroic resistance of YPJ/YPG and the people of Afrin in the most radical way all over the world. Now is the time to light up the Newroz fires right in the heart of the beast. In these fires our furious, determination and hope will shine.
Now, we will take the war against Turkish fascism and its supporters to the streets of the metropoles. We will defend our hopes and attack everyone who is part of this plot against Afrin. Whatever might be necessary, we will stop this war right now!
According to the Kurdish news service ANF, the Erdogan government is planning to dig in for the long haul, as they plan to begin ‘re-Turkifying’ the region:
According to a report by Hurriyet newspaper, in a meeting with close associates and AKP MPs, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke about his plans to appoint a governor to Afrin. “Within a few days, the positions in local administration will be appointed including a governor” Erdogan reportedly said.
Erdogan also said that amendments are needed to help families of the gang members who were killed in Afrin but didn’t make a specific proposal. Sources report that Erdogan plans to settle 350-400 thousand Syrian Arabs who are currently living in Kilis, Hatay and Antep to Afrin.
At the center of Turkey’s drive to crush the autonomous Cantons of Rojava, is a fear of their liberatory potential outside of the State and against ethnic nationalism, as Saleh Moslem of TEV-DEM recently stated:
[The] peoples forming democratic cantons where they live together in fraternity in Rojava disturbs the Turkish state and added: “Turkey doesn’t want to recognize the same rights for its own Kurdish citizens, that is why they fear the system in Rojava and want to end it.”
The fall of Afrin and the forced exodus of refugees has made for a bitter-sweet Newroz celebration; a yearly festival that celebrates the coming of Spring and which in the past, has been repressed by the Turkish State for its connection to Kurdish liberation struggles. As Internationalist Commune wrote:
This Newroz we want to thank all the international solidarity with the revolution in Northern Syria and the Afrin resistance, especially all the people working for organize actions and mobilizations in solidarity with the #WorldAfrinDay. All the demonstrations and initiatives to defend Afrin are very important, not only for raising awareness all around the world, but also for giving moral and hope to the all the people resisting under the bombs and the oppression of Turkish fascism.
— RevAbolitionNYC (@RevAbolitionNYC) March 24, 2018
Also, several international anarchist and antifascist fighters have recently given their lives in the battle to liberate Afrin; their deaths bringing more attention to the cause as well as to the involvement of outside revolutionaries in the fight against ISIS and the Turkish State in Kurdistan.
Remembering Those Who Fought for Afrin
We want to use this space to honor those within our movement who have given their lives in the international struggle, and who have fought in solidarity with Afrin. Here is a collection of statements on international fighters who have passed away in the last several weeks.
Announcement from Revolutionary Union for Internationalist Solidarity (RUIS) about Haukur Hilmarsson
Our comrade Sahin H. (Haukur Hilmarsson) became immortal during Efrin’s resistance from the Turkish army’s invasion. Sehid Sahin was fighting with revolutionary morale, defending the village of Badina (in Efrin), having no fear for Turkey’s modern and advanced weapons (drones, airstrikes), that are systematically being used against Efrin’s people. He and other comrades were fighting for hours, keeping the village free from occupation by a huge number of Turkish state-backed gangs (FSA). After their successful defense, the Turkish jets hit the village and Heval Sahin fell sehid.
Haukur Hilmarsson was an anarchist revolutionary. He was involved in activist actions for solidarity for refugees, in movements involving squatting houses and in international solidarity. Seeing for himself how the system of authority and power is advancing, especially in the western world, made him realize that the uprising of fascism worldwide can be stopped by revolutionary movements through armed self-defence. He was involved in radical movement from an early age and he travelled to Rojava for revolutionary internationalist solidarity. For comrade Haukur, Rojava’s paradigm was the way how movements can succeed, building and protecting a society of freedom. It was enough reason for him to travel here and show international solidarity against the fascists of Daesh and more recently the Turkish fascist state that wills to finish what it’s child couldn’t fulfill.
Haukur was a volunteer fighter of ”Revolutionary Union for Internationalist Solidarity” (RUIS) and traveled with other comrades in Rojava to assist it’s defense units. He saw that, in Rojava, the heart of revolution beats strongly, as well as the perspective to expand and to enforce it. He saw that beyond the fighting, the communal confederation movement is building a society of freedom, equality and solidarity for all people in the region. He realized that armed self-defense plays a vital role for the survival of the revolution against Daesh fascists. He decided to come and join the people’s protection units (YPG) a long time before his arrival. He voluntarily joined the International Freedom Battalion (IFB) to become a freedom fighter and to fight Daesh fascists, with the goal to liberate the land from the tyranny which they enforced. ”It’s a shame of the western world that keeps it’s eyes closed to what is happening here. In the west we haven’t even thought of the possibility to come to Rojava!”- Haukur was saying.
Haukur immediately joined the operation to liberate Raqqa city center. He, among other international freedom fighters, joined operations, taking ground by ground in the city. He faced the fascists face to face in the front line, as they have been encircled by the liberation forces of YPG/YPJ/SDF. With the fall of Raqqa a serious victory against fascism has been achieved, but still the threat against the Rojava revolution hasn’t vanished. The Turkish fascist state, via it’s leader Erdogan, has immediately proclaimed a new attack for Rojava. This time the Turkish army is targeting Efrin’s canton.
Haukur decided to stay to defend Rojava from the ”new” expected threat. He understood that the revolution is under attack. The attack against Efrin was the start of a much larger attack against the rest of Rojava’s cantons. The victory of the revolution has scared the Turkish state so far, forcing it to launch an immediate attack and show its real face by starting a war after Daesh has been left so weak. By launching this attack, it attempts to kill the world of freedom that is emerging and at the same time to become the largest power in middle east, creating at the same time a nationalistic status inside Turkish ground. It attempts to kill the revolution here, by making Rojava’s liberated ground a colony of it’s interests.
Haukur moved with other internationals to Efrin’s canton to support the resistance. He immediately went to the front line where comrades where holding back the FSA gangs and trying to reoccupy some of the first villages that were taken. He moved to the borders of Efrin with Turkey to assist the resistance. He stood alongside YPG/YPJ/QSD freedom fighters. He further practiced his commanding responsibilities that he learnt in Raqqa. He played a key role in transferring a wounded comrade to hospital during a Turkish attack and he was co-leading the last successful defense against numerous gangs. He proved with actions that international solidarity does not take one step back in the face of fascists and enemies of freedom. He proved that when mercenaries and fascists are facing revolutionaries, they are weak and they flee from battle.
Haukur’s paradigm guides revolutionaries and scares the fascists. We, his comrades, continue marching his and our path, the one for revolutionary internationalist solidarity. We defend life, freedom and the land itself from mercenaries, fascists, and state oppression. Haukur’s revolutionary standing is motivating every freedom fighter to keep resisting and every proletarian in the world to enforce and defend this revolution. To us – his comrades – he is still alive! He lives in our resistance against fascism and tyranny, empowering us to continue the struggle for social liberation!
VICTORY TO EFRIN’S RESISTANCE – VICTORY TO ROJAVA REVOLUTION!
HONOR TO ANARCHIST INTERNATIONALIST SEHID HAUKUR HILMARSSON!
RESISTANCE IS LIFE – THE MARTYRS ARE IMMORTAL!
Our anarchist comrade and friend Şevger Ara Makhno arrived in Rojava on 20th January 2018 to take part in the revolution. Only the day before the army of the Turkish state and its jihadist proxies had begun the invasion of the autonomous region of Afrin, an area which had remained at peace throughout seven years of war and had become both a cradle for the Rojava revolution and a safe haven for hundred thousands of refugees from all over Syria. While the AKP and its allies ever more violently pushed Turkey towards fascism and the military brutally smashed the insurrection in North Kurdistan, Rojava and especially Afrin became a beacon of hope and resistance for all those who defied Erdogan’s regime.
Comrade Şevger was from Turkey himself, he passionately wanted to join this resistance at the frontlines. He received basic military training in the canton of Cizîre and on 19th February arrived in Afrin, where he immediately took part in the ongoing defence. As part of the Anti-Fascist Forces in Afrin (AFFA), a unit of internationalist revolutionaries within the YPG, he faced the invaders in the vicinity of Raco in the northwest of Afrin.
On the 4th March comrade Şevger had taken position on a hill outside the village of Berbêne ready to defend it against the advancing fascists. It was there that around 8AM he and two other YPG comrades were hit by an air-strike. All three of them lost their lives. In accordance with the wishes of his family his picture and legal identity will not be published, in order to protect the people close to him from repression.
We mourn the loss of our comrade and extend our condolences to all his friends, family and everyone who had the fortune to share their lives with this great and inspiring person. The people of Rojava and northern Syria and all those who are fighting for freedom and an end to oppression in the Middle East and beyond will never forget him. We know that he will live on that as long as his love and passion continue to thrive in our hearts.
— Insurrection News (@InsurrectNews) March 23, 2018
Poem for Şehîd Şevger Ara Makhno
The light disappeared and I see nothing but darkness the winter is over but I feel cold I could almost hear the steps as you go miss your words, your smile full of brightness still cannot believe you left this world
On the rooftop – the same one where you sat endless sky, wanning Luna, ocean of stars deep, shiny, magial – I see your eyes see you smiling, relaxed, coffee and a cigarette it hurts, on this roof nor in Rojava – we never met
Şevger, the Nightwalker – it suits you indeed running quietly through the night hidden yet illuminating our path with you light the sparks of friendship, solidarity, care and hevalty for collective liberation always determined to fight your heart has been free and the ground you stand on liberated territory we won’t forget but defend it
bBrother, beautiful child of mother Earth you flew like water with fire in your heart your flesh turned into soil again feeling your spirit when wind strokes my hair your soul became an element
Ara, one of many goddess names for freedom, anarchy fighting with rage and love we are all night walkers rest in power dear Şhevger
How many tears one can cry?
Those tears alone could move back the waters
of Tigris and Euphrate way back to its springs
and then up again to the foothills of Ararat
into how many bits a heart can be broken?
with shaking hands we will collect them
those shattered bits will become our teeth,
so we can still bite
if we have nothing else.
this warrior’s heart was burning with passion
its glow joined with the nevroz fires
for ever will lit the nights
so we can see the path to
freedom and walk it with our heads up.
that fire is heating up our hearts
with rage so hot that it could melt out of ones chest
Nightwalker, you’ll walk with us.
They can never kill you.
and while passion will melt their tanks
the tears – they will turn the desert green.
Our hearts are heavy with sadness today as this weekend we learned of the death of our friend and comrade, Anna Campbell.
Anna was killed in a missile strike in Afrin while fighting with the YPG.
Anna was a core member of the Empty Cages Collective and an active organiser in many anti-prison projects and campaigns, including Community Action on Prison Expansion, Smash IPP as well as Bristol Anarchist Black Cross. She made organising a joy.
She was a dedicated anarchist deeply committed to fighting for liberation. Her list of engagement in social struggles is long, from hunt sabotage to student occupations. She was a passionate feminist and proudly queer.
— Insurrection News (@InsurrectNews) March 23, 2018
Like, Louise Michel, her favourite historical anarchist, social revolution was the deepest of her desires and is what took her to Kurdistan.
Anna died on the frontlines where she wanted to be – defending a revolutionary movement. She will be deeply and desperately missed by friends and family. Her courage inspires us to keep fighting for liberation, and for the destruction of the state and its prisons.
“We revolutionaries aren’t just chasing a scarlet flag. What we pursue is an awakening of liberty, old or new. It is the ancient Communes of France, it is 1703; it is June 1848; it is 1871. Most especially it is the next revolution which is advancing under this dawn.”
– Louise Michel
For our friend Hêlîn Qereçox
Yesterday we received the message that our internationalist friend and comrade Hêlîn Qaraçox (Anna Campbell) has been killed in an attack of the Turkish army in Afrin. This message hits us in the heart, as we knew Hevala Hêlîn as a friend and sister.
Hêlîn came to Rojava because she deeply believed in the struggle for a free, equal and ethical world, because she was dedicated with all her heart to the struggle for worldwide women liberation. Hêlîn was a very clear person in her heart and everybody who met her could feel this instantly. She was so clear in her convictions and attitude towards her surrounding, always caring about the people around her, always learning, always intervening when she was seeing injustice. She was struggling against hierarchies and domination for all the living beings. She struggled against all the prisons and borders that hold people kidnapped, and against the walls that are built in all of us by the capitalist, patriarchal and state mindset.
She always wanted to go to Afrin and when the attacks started, it was clear for her that she had to go and resist to the Turkish invasion next to her YPJ comrades. She was convinced that the defense of women and Rojava revolution is not limited to the fight against the Islamic State – that she had joined in Deir-Ezor before – but also and especially against the Turkish fascism in Afrin.
She lived the internationalist character of this revolution. She has been a revolutionary person in her home region and she has been struggling as a revolutionary person here. She called herself an anarchist on the path of Louise Michel and she had the will to fight for the liberation from all structures of power and oppression that hold people down. She always had a rebel spirit that let her stick to her convictions in the most difficult situations.
Her death makes us angry. Why do we lose such a beautiful and dedicated person? Somebody who was so much more consequent in the defense of ethical values than all the European States, that did not stop Turkey to launch the attacks. We consider as responsible for her death not only the Turkish state, but all the states that didn’t do anything to stop the invasion of Afrin. Even more selling weapons and joining Turkish propaganda, calling Hêlîn, her comrades and the people of Afrin terrorists. All of these states are accomplices of her murder.
To know Hêlîn gives us strenght. She is inspiring us and her struggle and commitment will live in us. We might be bombed and killed, but nobody can destroy our hope and will. To put the internationalist struggle and the internationalist solidarity to another level is the only answer we can give to the death of Hevala Hêlîn and all the friends and comrades that fell in this resistance. We will take revenge by building and defending a free life on the path of Hêlîn. With all our will, love, dedication and feminist power.
Currently, there is a campaign to get Anna’s body returned to the UK for burial.
Revolutionary Solidarity and March 24th
Across the world, people are taking action both in solidarity with Afrin and against Turkey. Both Insurrection News and Fight4Afrin have been chronicling actions in solidarity with the struggle, which have ranged from massive demonstrations, marches, occupations, to the targeting of weapons dealers.
Global Solidarity Actions
„Bekennerschreiben zum Brandanschlag
"Afrin-Aktivisten" bekennen sich zum gestrigen Brandanschlag an der Bahnstrecke Hamburg-Hannover zwischen Eschede und Garßen. Die… https://t.co/wtXUORFZsF
— Oliver Janich (@OliverJanich) March 22, 2018
— John Saleh (@JohnSaleh2002) March 23, 2018
Today students and associates from #Zürich University / ETH March for Solidarity with the people in #Afrin and against the Political Sideline Spectators. #AfrinNotAlone #BreaktheSilenceOnAfrin pic.twitter.com/zYMyYNw9Ze
— Sonya Mary Pose (@posy_merry) March 22, 2018
— Insurrection News (@InsurrectNews) March 23, 2018
— ★Ⓐntiespecista★ (@VAnarquia) March 21, 2018
#BreakSilenceOnAfrin: About 50 activists occupied the HQ of the #SPD (Social Democratic Party of #Germany) in #Frankfurt to protest against German arms sales to Turkey and in solidarity with #Afrin. #Fight4Afrin pic.twitter.com/MRt5H9TQXo
— th1an1 (@th1an1) March 21, 2018
#BreakSilenceOnAfrin: Anarchist intervention in front of the Turkish Airlines’ counter at the Macedonia International airport in #Thessaloniki, Greece, this morning, in solidarity with #Afrin. #Fight4Afrin pic.twitter.com/js9o8NIZYh
— th1an1 (@th1an1) March 19, 2018
March 24th Day of Action Across North America
Across Canada and the US, there are Afrin solidarity actions and rallies being organized. We encourage people to attend these actions and write report backs to IGD. We will also be rounding up these actions for readers.
- Vancouver (Canada)
- Portland / Portland
- San Francisco
- Oakland (Monday 19th)
- Los Angeles
- Miami (Sunday 25th)
- New York
- Peterborugh, ON