The Kurdish Freedom Struggle Today: Introduction

[From Dave Holmes & Tony Iltis, The Kurdish Freedom Struggle Today (Resistance Books: Sydney, 2015)]

The eruption of the brutal fundamentalist 'Islamic State' in the Middle East has placed the Kurdish people at the centre of the political stage. The Kurdish communities in Iraq and Syria have faced the full weight of the IS assault. The Kurdish people in Turkey have also been inescapably affected by the struggle over the border. It has even had an impact on the Kurdish population in Iran.

The most effective opposition to the Islamic State killers has come from the revolutionary democratic wing of the Kurdish freedom movement. That is, from the Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and the People's Protection Units (YPG) and Women's Protection Units (YPJ), the defence forces of Rojava, the Kurdish-majority liberated territory in northern Syria.

The Kurdish people have long been denied their own country. But in Turkey and Syria they are fighting, not for independence, but for real autonomy and democracy. This simple but profound aspiration places them at odds with all the various regimes in the region and, ultimately, with imperialism which wants domination, not people's power.

The Rojava Revolution has attracted increasing interest and admiration around the world because of its unyielding resistance to the Islamic State and the heavy and unprecedented participation of women in the fighting forces.

There is also a growing awareness that Rojava is trying to build a new society, one in which all ethnic and religious groups can live together amicably and cooperatively, in which women are empowered, and which is based on grassroots democracy and a communal economy.

The Middle East is a tremendously rich mosaic of different ethnic and religious communities. This diversity is anathema for the IS fanatics and Islamist fundamentalists of all stripes. They want to destroy it and impose their brand of uniformity and control on it — they seek to tear up the actual living fabric of society. As we have seen in recent years especially, such madness can only be a recipe for inhuman suffering.

Rojava, on the other hand, wants to make this diversity one of the foundation stones of its society. This is the only way forward for humanity.

With its embrace of diversity, nonsectarianism, grassroots democracy, feminism and ecology, Rojava is a model for the whole Middle East.

In Turkey the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the outlawed PKK are struggling, in different conditions, for the same thing. The great success of the HDP in the June 7, 2015 parliamentary elections was based on an appeal, not only to the downtrodden Kurdish population, but to all those across the country suffering oppression, discrimination and exploitation. Now the regime is mounting a fresh assault on the Kurds as it struggles to regain unfettered power.

This pamphlet concentrates on the Kurdish struggle in Rojava and Turkey. It aims to provide information and perspective on these tremendously important developments and, hopefully, furnish a basis for more active solidarity in Australia.