Mobilization in Rojava – Experiences of an internationalist

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I am an internationalist from Germany, I am in Rojava. I have been here for a long time to get actively involved in the revolution. I have worked in the different social areas here. Last year in December we had the situation that there were very strong threats against the revolution in Rojava. The situation where Erdogan, the fascist AKP-MHP regime, made threats against the Democratic Federation of North-East Syria. Threats to completely annihilate the revolution and, after Afrin, to take also the areas around Minbic, Kobanê and the canton Cizîre.

Where were you at that time and what did you experience?

At the time of the threats I was in Qamislo. We were there in revolutionary youth works. Among other things, we built a sports centre for martial arts, Taek-Wando and Kickboxing. The neighborhood I was in is a big neighborhood, about 20,000 inhabitants. There are 27 communes, there are over 170 families with YPG and YPJ martyrs. We can say that it is a district where a large part of the population stands behind the revolution and is also organized in the communes and various institutions, such as the women and youth movement.

In the beginning, when the threats came up, there was a big movement in society. I remember, for example, that we called a big meeting. A meeting in which all the co-chairs of the communes took part. At this meeting we discussed with the population, we discussed what has to be done and what we can do to support the military forces. To put into practice the concept which we call Revolutionary People’s War. This meeting impressed me personally at the time. This big room, the co-chairs of the communes had come together, 27 women and 27 men and some members of the revolutionary youth. Above all, the women have radiated a very great power in this assembly. Thus it was emphasized right at the beginning in speeches that they are ready to defend the revolution, to take the weapon in their hands and not to allow Rojava to be occupied by the fascist Turkish state and its jihadist gangs. At this meeting it was decided that different commissions would be set up. Commissions to defend the revolution, commissions that directly support the military forces and contribute their parts to the defence. Merge the military and the people into a united force

What did these commissions look like? These commissions consisted on the one hand of logistics and medicine, of practical work to build military positions. Also a commission to let the enemy’s reconnaissance work, such as drones and air raids, run into nothing. After this meeting, these commissions were implemented in all communes.
We as revolutionary youth have tried to support the communes in this work. How should we imagine this in practice? In practice we went daily to the communes, went to the families, drank tea with them and discussed with them and tried to support them very practically in this work. When building a defensive position, for example, we took spades and picks and started digging in the gardens, building small bunkers that protect against artillery shells. We built defences right on the border. One has to imagine the district as being very close to the Turkish border, within sight of the wall, within sight of the city of Nisêbîn in Northern Kurdistan. There we filled sandbags, we shoveled, we built small positions behind garden walls.
The Health Commission has tried to organise education in the communes. In a commune called S. Xebat, which is very well organized, education started after a short time. There, more than 70 women and young people received medical training in order to be able to provide first aid in case the district is cut off during the war and to treat injured people who have been hit by the war and to provide for the most necessary needs. Of course one must also imagine that in such a time also supplies are put on. That they are really preparing for the worst, the war.

Another part was of course the mobilization to prepare the people for the war situation, to discuss with them. What does this mean in everyday life and practice? We, as revolutionary militants, must unite with the people to win this war. The military forces alone could not win this war. It is very important that they become one with the people who know the district, who must therefore stay. If the population leaves the district, it would be very difficult to win this war together. This means that we have had many discussions with people and families. Of course there were a lot of different difficulties, but also a lot of nice moments.

Especially the propaganda that is made in the media, by Erdogan, but also the propaganda of the USA that they will withdraw, of course also had an influence on our work. We can call this propaganda a special war. Time and again, when the USA made statements about whether they would leave, whether they would stay, it had an influence on the talks we had with the people. Some families could not believe that the war could come, others relied very much on the USA and of course there were also many who said that no matter what the USA said, no matter what the imperialist forces said, we can only defend ourselves. Exactly according to this motto we also worked, that was also our line in the organization of the people of Rojava and Qamislo.

Our task as revolutionary youth was, as I said, to support the communes in the different commissions. But of course we also had to organise the youth. At that time we were some internationalists, divided among the works and tried to strengthen the defensive works of the youth, to win new young people and also to train them. These are then very simple training units, this is not a larger military training but basics. We didn’t know when the war would start. Does it start tomorrow, does it start in an hour, do we have two weeks left? Not an easy situation, of course. Accordingly, we tried to organize ourselves and to act.

One must say that the youth is very strongly organized in Rojava. Not only in the revolutionary youth, the youth plays above all a big role in YPG/YPG in the security forces of Asayis. This means that in our district there were several hundred young people who were already organized in the different units. We had to convince the young people who were not yet organized and convince them to stand up for the revolution and defend it.

What about the work you did before the mobilization? In this situation was there only the focus on war?

No, but it’s not that only the works for mobilization and for the defense of Rojava were in the foreground. Of course, we continued to try to continue the everyday small-scale work. They complement, holistically conceived, also the defense works and are inseparably connected with each other in the Revolutionary People’s War. We have tried to work in our sports centre, we have tried to offer cultural programme in our youth centre. Yes, in order to be able to continue to live in normality in society. We did not know when the war would come and we did not know how difficult it would be. Therefore it would not be good to focus only on military work. It is also important to expand the social organization in all areas. Be it the organization of young people, be it the organization of revolutionary sports programs or cultural programs. It is still important to remain active in all areas and to develop the revolution step by step. Also in the area of education and health, in all areas we can imagine, where revolutionary change is possible.

What are you, as an internationalist in Rojava, taking with you from this time?

Finally, I would like to say that this experience was really a very valuable revolutionary experience for me, which was also very intense and deep. An experience that I have not yet had in Rojava. I think it was the same for all of us who were in these works. Unfortunately, the others don’t have so much time to report personally. It would certainly also be very exciting what the female friends have to report, from the work with the young women. I think these moments are the beautiful and valuable moments for internationalists. To really feel the power that exists here. To see the unity among the population, no matter whether they are Arabic, Kurdish, Armenian or Assyrian people.

To see a unity with the military forces, to really see that YPG/YPJ are a force out of the people, out of the families to defend the people. The families themselves are the revolution. These are really important experiences, also to deal with contradictions. It was not always easy to have the conversations. It is also not so that really 100% of all people stand behind this revolution. The daily convincing, the daily not getting tired. To keep motivating people despite the war. To say together, there is no other solution, the resistance must be continued to smash imperialism, capitalism and patriarchy.

That is why I would like to take this opportunity to invite everyone once again. Come to Rojava, join this revolution. It is the revolution of this time, it is the revolution of the 21st century. It is a great antifascist struggle. A great struggle for the liberation of women and society. In this sense I wish you all a successful 1st of May.

Bijî Sosyalizmê!
Long live socialism!