In December 2017 I had the chance to be one of the few internationalists to be sent to Afrin to works in society, a society that has been under embargo for more than 6 years, surrounded by the reactionary Syrian Arab Army, the fascist Turkish Armed Forces and a wide constellation of islamists factions. When I arrived to Afrin across the Sherawa mountains, I expected to meet a demoralized and afraid population that was living for half a decade under continuous threats of a invasion; but the reality was pretty different, I can say after a year spent in Rojava and Northern Syria that I never saw a society organized like our people in Afrin. Ezidis, Turkmens, Arabs, Kurmanc and even ENKS working in the communes, and in the different committees of the autonomous democratic structures. The people there had, despite their geographical critical position, a really positive approach, saying to me that the land of Afrin was fertile enough to resist against years of embargo, and in comparison to the rest of Syria and Rojava, Afrin was a safe haven thanks to our children who sacrifice their lives and their youth on the frontlines of Shehba, Idlib and Castel Gindo. I was also so surprised by the lack of information and knowledge that people in Rojava and across the world had about the situation in Afrin, and we decided as militants -but also as Internationalists- to reinforce the bridge between this victorious revolutionary achievement and our comrades and our people in Kurdistan, in Syria, in Europe and all over the world.
As part of the Youth Movment I was staying in a center were the youth of villages on the Bakur-Rojava border use to organize their activities. Of course my Kurmanci accent and my non existent knowledge of Afrin dialect was really funny to them, it took me sometime and funny situation to understand what the word “gendi” -typical afrin dialect word designing : him, her, he and she- did stand for. Those were beautiful times, the soft winter in Afrin mountains garnished by these countless lines of olive and pistachios trees gave me another reason to understand the fervor in the voice of Afrin’s people : “Em Afrin bernadin”. Plenty of houses in those villages didn’t had a under-earth water system, they were completely relaying on “Sarinc”, a deep well collecting rain water flowing from the roof through one or two pipes an in that way preserving the phreatic groundwater. At this moment I really understood better what some comrades of the cooperatives committees use to tell me in Cizire : “ecology is not something that we have to create but to rediscover in the places where capitalist modernity didn’t had the time to completely dismantle it.”Every village was organized in a commune, every Navceya (town) has it’s own communal bakery that was producing bread in accordance to the population living there, with a little add-on for unforeseen. We started to discuss in different assemblies what was the needs of the youth, they’re problems and of course they’re projects, after long debates on where to start all the youth accorded themselves to organize sports competition, and self-defense courses. Two education took place and the volley-ball tournament left it’s place to medical education the day where the Turkish Invasion started.
Really quickly the youth structure of every region was put in action, the turkish strikes were surprisingly intensive, but on the other side we were sure that war was coming but we couldn’t say when. All the society, teachers, medics, workers adapted really fast to the war situation, seminars of first medical aid that were already given were intensified, the communes organized food and water stocks, many people fleeing from the villages on the border were welcomed in the houses of families of other towns, villages and in Afrin city itself, many people stop their work and asking the comrades how they could help forming by all those small actions the historical popular resistance of Afrin . Some people would come with their bulldozers to help us to build a barricade, others would lean us their motorcycles, and so many would offer us tea and food while we were building fortifications in the valley of their villages. The Youth movement played a essential role in this resistance by it’s flexibility and it’s ability to diversify it works.
There are countless heroic behaviors that I witnessed, but just to mention one, Heval Kawa a young man of 18 years old in a laps of two weeks defended his village alongside the YPG and YPJ facing air-strikes, shelling, encirclement, worked at night in the bakery that was under pressure due to the continuous and increasing flow of displaced persons, and one night drove more than 4 kilometers through the fields on a tractor to reach the frontline and to evacuate two wounded civilians, under a heavy artillery shelling while most of the persons that night would have dared going out of their shelters. Or Heval Hevin following a YPJ team in really critical situation with her camera. How to forget our Internationalist Sehids who gave their lives in Raco, Jindrese and Afrin, we’ll need long articles to each of them to relate how each one of them made the difference in this heroic struggle. Sehid Heilin from United-Kingdom, Sehid Kendal from France, Sehid Baran from Galicia and Sehid Hakur from Iceland and many other freedom fighters who felt defending Rojava’s population against the fascist offensive.
We came as Internationalists to Afrin to send a clear message to all the enemies of that revolution, we wanted to make them understand that whatever they’ll try or do, they’ll not succeed to isolate the people of Rojava. We also believe that in front of all the support brought by NATO, Russia and so many others state to Turkey, it was our duty as Internationalists militants to join this fight to support Rojava’s people. To make it short the battle of Afrin wasn’t only opposing Rojava to Turkish fascism but in reality it was the struggle of the people against the very concept of state.
We always thought that the NATO accomplice silence in front of Turkish fascist policies wasn’t representative of the population of those countries, but in the case of Afrin, the truth had a bitter taste, till the last moment we expected much more indignation, much more refusal from our people in front of the criminal silence of their governments. Not taking side when Daesh and Turkish Army are slaughtering a encircled population is de facto taking the side of the oppressors.
Where is the anti-war movement of the 60’s in the USA, where are the french “passeurs de valises”, where is the student movement led by Rudi Dutschke. Comrades, what happens in Afrin, is not limited to Rojava, to Syria or Kurdistan. The nation-states are testing the resilience of the Internationalist Revolutionary Movement, the absence of reaction, or the softness of our opposition to Turkish Fascism is a invitation to the States of all over the world to crash all the movements who decided to stand up against capitalism and Imperialism. After Afrin and Gaza they know that they can slaughter hundreds of children, displace millions of people, hire para-military groups and reactionaries factions and only face some small demonstrations, or isolated actions in their metropoles.
Today this indifference to the chauvinism of state is devastating the Middle East (Yemen, Palestine. Kurdistan, Marroco) but if we don’t stop them here and now, tomorrow they’ll reproduce those methods all over the world. And no, the liberal concept of democracy and our constitutional rights in our good old Europe will not protect us from fascists policies when a serious opposition to oppression of state will take place. Comrades let’s as revolutionaries face our responsibilities and reconnect with our history. Let’s show to the states that we did not forget the Internationalist Brigades in Spain, that we identify ourselves with the 500 000 internationalists Cuban fighters fighting the south-African Apartheid regime, that we salute the common resistance of PKK and PFLP guerillas in Lebanon, that we will unite from all the regions to fight fascim wherever it will rise.
Biji Berxwedana Afrin,
Biji Berxwedana Kurdistan,
Biji Birati ya Gelan