Solidarity with Kobanê

[Speech to Kobanê solidarity rally, Melbourne, October 5, 2014.]

On behalf of Socialist Alliance, I want to express our solidarity with the people of Kobanê who are heroically resisting the forces of the genocidal Islamic State. Against overwhelming odds, despite being outnumbered and outgunned, the defenders of Kobanê have resisted the inhuman IS gangs. The IS thought Kobanê would fall in a week but it is now almost three weeks and they still have not taken the city.

US will not help Kobanê

The US-led anti-IS coalition has refused to give any meaningful assistance to the city’s defenders. It has bombed all over northern Syria but has refused to target the IS positions around Kobanê — except in the most token way. The West has refused to give the Kurds any heavy weapons to enable them to effectively counter the fundamentalists' big advantage.

Why the West won't help Kobanê

Why won’t the West help Kobanê? The truth is that they are more afraid of a real people's revolution than they are of the Islamic State.

Rojava’s system of 'democratic confederalism' is an inspiring attempt to build a society inclusive of all ethnicities and religious communities and to empower women. The massive frontline participation of women in the defence forces of Kobanê is striking and deeply progressive. They are writing an heroic chapter in the Kurdish people's struggle and also in women’s long struggle for equality.

The contrast between the humane, democratic Rojava project and the brutal, fundamentalist, women-hating Islamic State could not be greater.

That is why progressive forces everywhere should support Kobanê and Rojava.

But that is exactly why the imperialists hate it. They do not want the peoples to come together and take charge of their own future. They maintain their domination by sowing hatred and division.

Turkey is backing the IS killers

Ever since its inception Turkey has severely oppressed its large Kurdish minority. Turkey is implacably opposed to the Rojava Revolution. It is using the IS gangs to deal the revolution a massive blow by taking Kobanê.

Despite all the media lies, Turkey is giving direct support to the IS killers. It is letting the jihadis freely transit Turkey; it is giving them tanks and other weapons. Without this support the IS could never have prevailed over the YPG-YPJ.

And now the Turkish government is pushing the idea of a 'buffer zone'. However, this will not be aimed at the IS but at crushing the Rojava Revolution. Turkish troops may yet cross the border and deal Kobanê the final blow.

Turkish president Erdogan is supposedly engaged in 'peace' talks with the Kurds but his support to the IS killers against Rojava makes this farcical.

To crush the IS killers, arm Rojava

Despite the enormous courage and commitment of the people, Kobanê always faced a tremendous challenge fighting an opponent backed by state power and armed with vastly superior weaponry.

If Kobanê falls this will place the Rojava Revolution in great danger.

Tony Abbott used the beheading of two Westerners to whip up support for his new war in the Middle East. But in Rojava the IS has routinely beheaded Kurdish villagers and captured YPG-YPJ fighters. The West — including Australia — talks about waging war on the IS but the real fight against the fundamentalists is being waged on the ground by the YPG-YPJ, the PKK and their allies.

If Abbott and the US were serious about fighting the Islamic State they would give arms to the defence forces of Kobanê and Rojava. But they will not do it.

Resistance is not terrorism

The PKK, together with the YPG-YPJ, is the backbone of the people’s resistance to the IS gangs. Yet it remains on the US, European Union and Australian lists of ‘terrorist’ organisations. It is thus an offence for any Australian to raise funds for it.

This travesty should be rectified immediately: Resistance is not terrorism. Take the PKK off the terror list now!

Solidarity with Rojava

The US-Australian-EU war drive will not crush the Islamic State. Only the Kurdish, Syrian and Iraqi peoples can do that. Right now the people of Rojava — and especially those fighting so bravely at Kobanê — need our solidarity. Together with you, we will do all we can to inform the Australian people about what is really happening and mobilise support for Rojava.

Appendix: Socialist Alliance resolution on solidarity with Rojava

[Adopted by the National Council of Socialist Alliance, October 4, 2014.]

1. Socialists have always supported the legitimate national aspirations of the Kurdish people, left divided by the colonial powers at the end of World War I between four countries.

2. The struggle of the Kurdish and other communities in Rojava (the liberated zone in northern Syria) is of enormous importance for the future of the Middle East. Their attempt to establish a society where all ethnicities and religions can live amicably and cooperatively side by side is profoundly progressive. So too are their efforts to empower women.

3. The Kurdish people in Turkey, who have suffered severe discrimination since the inception of modern Turkey, are today also struggling vigorously for their rights.

4. Today the Kurdish people are on the frontlines of struggle against the inhuman ‘Islamic State’ gangs. The centre of this struggle is Rojava and right now the flashpoint there is the city of Kobanê which is heroically resisting an all-out assault by the IS, backed to the hilt by Turkey. The defence of Kobanê has become a national cause for the Kurdish people.

5. Even if the IS gangs are driven back at Kobanê and elsewhere there is the danger that Turkey will attempt to impose a ‘buffer zone’ which would be directly aimed at the Rojava revolution.

6. Socialists must actively solidarise with these struggles, especially the struggle in Rojava which is at such a critical point.

  1. Socialist Alliance branches should take all necessary steps to ensure that members are aware of the great importance of this issue. These could include reading circles around articles in Links and Green Left Weekly and educational reports to branch meetings.
  2. Socialist Alliance branches should make contact with any Kurdish group(s) in their city and discuss the possibility of solidarity activities (rallies, public meetings, Kurdish speakers at various events, etc.). Other Middle Eastern communities who are part of Rojava (Assyrian, Syriac Christian, etc.) could also be contacted.
  3. In order to alert progressive opinion to the reality and importance of this issue, Green Left Weekly should plan a reasonably regular and prominent coverage of Rojava as a living revolution (articles, editorials, interviews, etc.).