Kobanê: A great victory, the struggle continues

[Speech given to a celebration of the liberation of Kobanê, at the Kurdish House in Pascoe Vale in Melbourne, January 28, 2015.]

Socialist Alliance joins with you in saluting the heroic defenders of Kobanê. After four and a half months, the IS killers have at last been driven out of the city. Considering everything, that is a great victory.

Enormous cost

The cost has been enormous: Kobanê is rubble and wreckage, scores of thousands are refugees, hundreds of the city’s courageous defenders have been martyred.

Great gains

But, on the other side of the ledger, the epic resistance has registered great gains for the Kurdish freedom struggle. The whole world now knows about the YPG and the YPJ. Women’s liberation has been given dramatic new expression in the heroic frontline role of the YPJ fighters of Kobanê.

New society being built

Millions are now aware that in Rojava, despite all the violence and bloodshed that is being imposed on the people, an inspiring new radically democratic society is being constructed, in which all the various communities and faiths can live together peacefully and cooperatively, and in which women are being empowered. This is indeed a model for the whole Middle East.

Washington’s hand forced

Washington and its allies were forced to come to the assistance of Kobanê. They finally realised that if Kobanê fell at the hands of the IS gangs, their so-called ‘war on terror’ would also be fatally compromised. Washington’s change of course was wholly due to the indomitable resistance of Kobanê and for no other reason.

Of course, it remains true that if the West had allowed the YPG and YPJ to acquire heavy weapons, the defenders would have prevailed on their own and no bombing would have been necessary.

Turkey exposed

The Erdogan regime in Turkey has been exposed to millions of people in the West as the active accomplice of the ‘Islamic State’ killers. Without the support of NATO member Turkey, the IS would have folded long ago.

Turkey appears to have moved further towards the Islamists and the right in the recent period. This doesn’t bode well for the peace negotiations that the regime is supposed to be entering into with the PKK and the Kurdish leadership. Only tremendous mass pressure on the ground can force the regime to engage in any meaningful discussions.

The struggle continues

Kobanê has been liberated. That is a great step forward. But the struggle will continue. The surrounding territory with its hundreds of villages remains to be cleansed of the IS gangs. In the rest of Rojava also, the fight will go on against the various forces of the counter-revolution (the IS and the Assad regime).

International solidarity vital

Solidarity from progressive forces around the world will be vital for the future of Rojava and the Kurdish freedom struggle in Turkey. One important thing we can do is to campaign to have the PKK removed from the West’s lists of terrorist organisations. More and more voices are being raised against this travesty. We have to do what we can in Australia and in the process we will win more support for the Kurdish people’s long fight for freedom and justice.

Long live Kobanê!

Long live the YPG!

Long live the YPJ!