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April 30

Interview on the Global #RiseUp4Rojava Solidarity Campaign

As we speak, thousands of Kurdish prisoners have gone on hunger strike, the Turkish State has outlawed May Day demonstrations, and Afrin continues to be occupied one year after the invasion of Turkish forces. In response, a new international solidarity campaign has been launched to support the ongoing revolution in Rojava.

From the #RiseUp4Rojava website:

We must expand our actions, connect them and internationalise them. We have to trespass from a politics of protest to permanent political resistance. The Turkish army is firing their weapons, and NATO is providing the ammunition. The people of Kurdistan and Northern Syria are already responding to these attacks. We, as anti-fascists and revolutionary forces, will take action – through occupation, blockade and disruption – against the places of military, diplomatic and economical cooperation for Turkish fascism in our countries.

In solidarity with the people of Rojava, we will show solidarity through the following goals and actions:

1. We defend the Revolution and its achievements. We align ourselves with the revolution in Kurdistan, the defining struggle against the biggest manifestation of fascism of our time, and for the liberation of women and society. We see this revolutionary process as being in line with the ongoing resistance in the history of humanity, following the October Revolution, the Spanish Civil War and the Cuban Revolution.

2. We will disrupt, block and occupy companies and financial institutions which support Turkish fascism militarily or financially. This includes exposing truths and spreading information, as well as mass actions and civil disobedience.

3. We denounce all associations, governments and alliances supporting the Turkish fascist state. We have to analyze their cooperation and disclose their self interested motives. The enemies of the revolution in Kurdistan and Syria are also our enemies. We oppose the intervention and occupation policies of the NATO-countries and the Russian Federation in the Middle East.

4. We will prevent the lies of the Turkish propaganda from spreading and in this way deny Turkish fascism any breathing room. Through lobbying and propaganda they try to spread their ideology and gain support for their criminal war. We will fight this ideology. Turkish fascism is our common enemy, our unity is internationalist anti-fascism!

We call on all activists and militants to join #riseup4rojava!

Building off of past days of actions and global solidarity campaigns, #RiseUp4Rojava seeks to become a global material force in support of the Rojavan Revolution. What follows is an interview with people involved in the Internationalist Commune of Rojava which was sent to us at It’s Going Down to reprint.

Hello, can you speak on the new campaign, #RiseUp4Rojava: Smash Turkish fascism.

To say it quite simply: with this campaign we oppose the Turkish regime of AKP-MHP under the dictatorship of Erdogan and we stand on the side of those who resist his regime. In particular, the opposition of HDP, the hunger strikers for the freedom of Öcalan and the armed resistance of the Kurdish liberation movement.

And secondly, we are part of the defense of the revolution in Rojava and its achievements. But the “RiseUp” expresses even more. It’s not just about being part of the defense, it’s also about being part of the revolutionary upheaval initiated by Rojava across the region, if not the world. And while the campaign pays close attention to the connection between the imperialist forces and Turkey, the campaign has to be part of the leftist and revolutionary upheavals in other countries as well.

What has pushed people to call for this campaign?

The last few months, indeed the last year since the attack on the canton of Afrin, were marked by Turkey’s constant threats to occupy more parts of Rojava and to expand the war against the Kurdish liberation movement and the Syrian Democratic Forces. Erdogan has repeatedly stated his goal very clearly: the total destruction of the revolution. And since it looked like this war was going to start at the end of last year, the Internationalist Commune of Rojava began to mobilize for global action days under # RiseUp4Rojava for the end of January. These days of action were following along the lines of “World Kobane Day” in 2014 and “Global Action Day for Afrin” in 2018. The aim was to send a clear signal of solidarity with global protests and actions and also to underline the policies of the Western states and their role in the war against the revolution.

You talked about the days of action in 2018 in solidarity with Afrin, looking back, what are your thoughts on these expressions of support?

The days of action gave a clear picture of the solidarity movement. It has become a global movement in which different people and groups find each other. In over 60 locations, in more than 20 countries, people have answered the call of the Internationalist Commune. And it has been shown that it is important and effective to set concrete dates for which groups and people can become active, so as to open a global framework that can integrate every single action, no matter how small. And framed days of action like these are important in order to open the space for exchange and discussion between groups and structures across borders. To deepen the contention and make new ones. But it has also become clear that if bombs don’t fall, it is hard to mobilize people and the level of action remains very modest, as the urgency is not seen. It also shows how much people depend on images and mass media coverage.

Why create a follow-up campaign to the Global Days of Action?

The preparations for such action days are usually very short-term, because they usually only start when the situation is already very acute. But once the bombs fall, it’s hard to do all the networking, public relations, actions, conferences, and everything else that has to be organized to give the right response. And that’s one of the reasons why a campaign has grown ever since these days. The contacts and connections that persist today enable us to coordinate better and thus increase our ability to react faster. The campaign is also a bit of a preparation to be able to give the right answers to what is coming. For the fascist regime in Turkey it is absolutely necessary to crush the revolution and the resistance in Northern Kurdistan, or it will perish itself. We have to be aware of that.

What are the specific goals of the campaign?

The main aim of the campaign, as we have already said, is to play our part in defending the revolution, not in Rojava, but as an internationalist movement worldwide. Because we see the revolution in Kurdistan as internationalist and anti-fascist. It is a revolution for the liberation of all societies in the Middle East and in particular women. But this revolution is being attacked by a fascist state, Turkey, with the support of Western arms companies, governments and banks. Only through diplomatic backing, partly with direct consent, could the Turkish military invade Afrin. There were weapons from around the world used in Afrin against the YPJ and YPG self-defense forces. Without them, Turkish fascism would have been broken by the indescribable resistance of Afrin society. Here lies the “answer” of which we speak: the answer to this international fascist war must be an internationalist movement that attacks and prevents the war in their respective countries. And with the campaign, we take a small step further in this direction.

Which actions are you already calling for?

Various actions have already disrupted companies and financial institutions that see the war in Kurdistan simply in terms of “business as usual.” We call for blocking the arms industry and financial institutions that militarily or financially support Turkish fascism. So basically direct actions of civil disobedience. However, this requires good and extensive research to uncover the entanglements in this political-military complex. And the AKP-MHP regime spreads its fascist ideology in many countries through a whole range of Islamist associations, think tanks and institutions. We must also be aware that the fight against fascism is ideological.

Which companies and institutions are you referring to exactly?

All over the western world we find companies that are involved. So for example the US company Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest weapon seller. In the UK we have to mention BAE Systems, currently Europe’s biggest weapons dealer. In many cases the states themselves are shareholders for these companies, such as Italy which holds more then 30% of Leonardo, a company that is partly involved in the production of F-16 fighter jets used by Turkey. And of course we have to point out the German companies Rheinmetall, Thyssen Krupp, MTU and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann.

The banks involved in arms production and arms deals with Turkey are international banks such as Credit Suisse, UniCredit Group, HSBC or the Allianz, just to name some from this long list. Especially in Europe, there are many fascist and Islamist associations, making open propaganda for the regime and the war and attacking Kurdish institutions and activists. One example is ATIB, the Union of Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations in Europe. We can also name other lobby organizations such as UETD, the Union of European Turkish Democrats.

Where can people find more information about these companies and institutions?

Well, we started to publish background information on the campaign’s blog under riseup4rojava. But this information is still insufficient, and in the next few weeks more will come.

On your website, you write that you are more than just a campaign, but a network. What do you mean by that?

With this campaign we want to bring together the various organizations, initiatives and campaigns that already exist – across all ideological differences. The differences in expressions, types of actions and emphasis should remain. The common denominator is Turkish fascism as our common enemy and anti-fascist internationalism. We want to build a “second front” against Turkish fascism and against all imperialist forces trying to destroy the revolution in one way or another.

A “second front” …?

For this war against the revolution in Rojava and against the Kurdish liberation movement there cannot be a quiet hinterland behind the front lines. Because the war starts here, in the heart of the beast and it is our responsibility as internationalists and antifascists to stop this war from here. This has been an important element in the anti-imperialist struggle, which has not been forgotten, but has taken a back seat in the current radical left. We want to build on those experiences and join arms with existing anti-war initiatives. Since the topic of weapon exports and war leads to contradictions between governments and companies, and people in the countries, these contradictions should be highlighted.

You have already mentioned the hunger strike. What is the relationship between the campaign and the strike?

There has not been such a hunger strike in history. The fact that so many people are participating in this radical way shows how difficult it is to counteract Turkish fascism in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan with civil society protests, because the regime uses all available methods to destroy the existing social opposition. In recent months, this hunger strike has become the most important weapon against fascism with its own particularly strong dynamics. But for many people it’s hard to be part of this dynamic, to support this fight if they do not go on hunger strike themselves. The campaign opens yet another field in this fight against Turkish fascism. And with that our goal is to try and expand the existing dynamics, to continue to address several circles at once.

Another question. #RiseUp4Rojava is a clearly anti-imperialist campaign. How does this fit with the presence of US troops in Rojava? How do you deal with this apparent contradiction?

We must distinguish between tactical alliances and strategic directions of the revolution in Rojava and the Kurdish movement in general. Those who pay more attention to what can be heard from Rojava, not only in the diplomatic voices, will understand that the connection to the US military is purely tactical. Rojava is aware that the US military will do anything but bring peace and security in the long run, whether in Rojava or the Middle East. But in the short term, the US presence leads to contradictions, e.g. with Russia, which the revolution should make the most out of. Our position within the campaign is clear: all imperialist powers have to get out of the Middle East and this is especially addressed to NATO and Russia. But we have to take into account the current political situation.

What are the next steps in the campaign and how can people get involved?

We want to go public with this campaign on May 1st. This day is a good occasion to emphasize internationalism between left-wing, revolutionary movements all around the world. And we invite everyone to do that. There will be posters on our website that can be distributed. And of course we call on all groups to actively participate in the campaign. That means taking actions and framing them in the context of the campaign in order to be visible against Turkish fascism in unity. And we want to draw attention to the Rheinmetall-Entwaffen Camp at this point. Like last year, the camp takes place in Unterlüß, one of Rheinmetall’s most important locations in Germany. It starts on the 1st and ends on the 9th of September. Like last year, we want to discuss ideologically together with many different circles and march to the factory gates of one of Turkey’s most important arms suppliers in order to block them together.

We all know that Turkish fascism can only stand on its feet thanks to the support of the imperialist states, especially the NATO states. Without this support, the regime would collapse tomorrow and the revolution, including in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan, would prevail.

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Written By:

Internationalist Commune of Rojava

We, as internationalists from the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europa, America and Oceania, have been working in different structures of the revolution in Rojava and Northern Syria for many years. Coming from different political backgrounds, the Kurdish Movement united and inspired us with a new revolutionary perspective going far beyond the Middle East.

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