Tag Archives: Kobani

IWD: Make Change Happen

Kurds celebrating Newroz, Diyarbakir, Turkey, March 2013. Image via Flickr.

Kurds celebrating Newroz, Diyarbakir, Turkey, March 2013. Image via Flickr.

Sunday, March 8, 2015 is International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is “Make Change Happen” and will be recognized around the world as women gather in discussion, workshops, rallies and through outreach programs to not only celebrate the achievements of women in the past, but to also encourage future endeavors and accomplishments.

Make Change Happen. We thought about that theme in the process of selecting our International Women’s Day choice for 2015. We thought about all the struggles women face, and recognized that the basic survival many women are challenged with is fundamental to all other rights. The right to exist, to breathe, to speak, to live, this is needed before all else. Continue reading

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Erdogan: Turkey’s Snake of the Year

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, image via internet blogspot

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, image via internet blogspot

On Sunday, December 14, Turkey arrested 27 journalists, media workers and police officers, accusing them of supporting an influential Muslim cleric whom President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused of attempting to overthrow his government.

“This is a reckless move toward dictatorship. It is nothing else than a rough attack against media freedoms with the pretext of a ‘community operation.” Cengiz Candar, via Twitter.

This is the latest in what has been a year-long tirade that amounts to foolish drivel and a desperate man attempting to hold power in a NATO country through intensified alignment with Islamism; denial of his population’s heritages; violations of human rights; breaking international laws and treaties; as well as further demonstrated support of certain terrorist organizations being opposed by his allies. Continue reading

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More Foul Turkey

Yesterday, the Daesh launched an assault on Kobani. Now, you might not think this is news; especially if you follow us, as we’ve written about Kobani on numerous occasions. However, this attack was different.

The assault began with a suicide attack by a bomber in an armored vehicle on the border crossing between Kobani and Turkey, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. In other words, the attack came from inside Turkey.

Nawaf Khalil, a spokesman for Syria’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party, stated that the Daesh “used to attack the town from three sides. Today, they are attacking from four sides.”

save-kobane Continue reading

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ISIS-Turkey Links

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK

INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Research Paper: ISIS-Turkey Links

By David L. Phillips

Introduction
Is Turkey collaborating with the Islamic State (ISIS)? Allegations range from military cooperation and weapons transfers to logistical support, financial assistance, and the provision of medical services. It is also alleged that Turkey turned a blind eye to ISIS attacks against Kobani.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu strongly deny complicity with ISIS. Erdogan visited the Council on Foreign Relations on September 22, 2014. He criticized “smear campaigns [and] attempts to distort perception about us.” Erdogan decried, “A systematic attack on Turkey’s international reputation, “complaining that “Turkey has been subject to very unjust and ill-intentioned news items from media organizations.” Erdogan posited: “My request from our friends in the United States is to make your assessment about Turkey by basing your information on objective sources.” Continue reading

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What’s In A Name?

On November 1, we posted a story that included mention of a man from Kobani on a hunger strike in Washington, DC.

When Moustafa Muhamed left Colorado to travel to Washington, DC, he did not realize the same man would never return. A native son of Kobani, he has also served as a Parliamentarian in Syria’s government in the past before moving to the United States. Starting with a mission to draw attention to the plight of his native city and the turmoil embroiling it, he began a hunger strike on October 20 in DuPont Circle and started a petition asking President Obama for 3 specific things.

During the 23 days of his hunger strike, he was joined by supporters, both Kurds and Americans, that believed in his cause and offered their solidarity in a variety of ways. Continue reading

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World Kobani Day vs. Turkey’s Foul Position

save-kobaneToday, November 1, is World Kobani Day. Also known as the International Day of Solidarity for Kobani, events are being held in major cities around the world.

From Kurdish Human Rights Watch: “If Islamist terrorists capture Kobane, they will massacre the remaining of its population—some 3,000 civilians are believed still to be in Kobane. An ethnic cleansing is already taking place. About 300 villages in the region have already been emptied. For the first time in more than three thousand years there will be no Kurds in the Kobane region.

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Kobane: the struggle of Kurdish women against Islamic State

By Necla Acik

Necla Acik is visiting Research Fellow at the Regent’s Center for Transnational Studies in London and has co-authored with Umut Erel (Open University) the report “The Struggle for Freedom and Gender Equality: The Contemporary Kurdish Women’s Movement in North Kurdistan/Turkey and the Diaspora” for London based women rights and advocacy group Roj Women. Her expertise is in gender and nationalism in Kurdistan.

Flag of the YPG. By LibComInt (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Flag of the YPG. By LibComInt (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

For several days tens of thousands of Yezidis got trapped on Mount Sinjar in early August 2014 in an attempt to flee the attacks of the Islamic State (IS) on their towns and villages in Sinjar region in north-west Iraq, close to the Syrian border.

It soon turned out that these attacks were not just a strategic move by IS to provide them with a free gateway to northern Syria, but horrific tales of execution, abduction of women and children, forced conversions to Islam, and the mass exodus suggests a more sinister plan.

Amnesty International documented the atrocities of IS and accused them of carrying out ethnic cleansing on a historic scale, systematically targeting non-Arab and non-Sunni Muslim local communities, such as the Yezidi Kurds, Assyrian Christians, Turkmen Shi’a, Shabak Shi’a, Kakai and Sabean Mandaeans.

Several months before the IS attack, Yezidi leaders feared that they would be targeted by IS and tried to lobby for protection and intervention with trips to Baghdad and to the Kurdish capital Erbil. The Iraqi Army had already deserted the region, but they were reassured by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) that their Peshmerga Armed Forces were prepared for an onslaught by IS and were ready to defend their Kurdish co-patriots.

Yet, as IS started to advance and attack village by village, to the surprise of everyone, the Peshmergas quickly withdrew, leaving the civilian population widely unprotected. Left behind were poorly equipped local militia and a few Peshmerga fighters who, at their own risk, stayed behind. They managed to hold back IS for a few days, enabling civilians to flee to the Sinjar mountains, but they had little power to prevent what Yezidis call the 73rd massacre on their community. This included group executions, abduction of women as spoils of war, rape and the trafficking of women and girls as sex slaves.

Kurdish female fighters rescue the trapped Yezidis from IS

via Facebook

via Facebook

As news of this humanitarian disaster went around the world and the international community was debating about a possible intervention, help came from somewhere else. The Kurdish women fighters (Women’s Protection Unit, YPJ) of Rojava (the self-proclaimed Kurdish autonomy region in northern Syria) and the women’s guerrilla units (YJA-Star) of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) along with their male comrades were the first forces to respond to the calls of the trapped Yezidi refugees. Setting off from Rojava, these fighters cleared more than a 100km passage through northern Iraq to Mount Sinjar and broke the siege of IS. They provided the desperate refugees with a secure corridor, which enabled them to embark on a 24 hour march into the relatively safe northern part of Syria/Rojava, where they received immediate medical attention, food and shelter.

The PKK guerrillas and the fighters from Rojava were the only force on the ground to respond immediately to the crisis preventing further IS massacres in early August. It was also striking that whole women’s units were among them, not just individual female fighters. Especially, as female fighters arouse so much attention. IS fighters were said to be dreading that the door to paradise would be shut to them if they had been killed by a woman.

While such tales have certainly increased the popularity of Kurdish female fighters in the international media – this was even featured in the free paper Metro – the reality is that these women and men who dared to stand up against IS put themselves in a very vulnerable position; they became the primary target of IS. Although they have been the strongest to fight back against IS, only the Peshmergas have been supplied with weapons and included in the US coalition to combat IS.

The PKK and Rojava administration were neither consulted about co-ordinated actions against IS, nor were they supplied with weapons to defend themselves and the population against further IS attacks.  As the founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres Dr Jacques Bérès has stated, the Kurdish women fighting IS have nothing but their “courage and Kalashnikovs”.  Even two months after the IS massacre on Mount Sinjar, it is again the women’s defence force of the PKK who are protecting the civilian population from ongoing IS attacks. They have also vowed to find the thousands of abducted Yezidi girls and women. Swedish politicians joining this campaign have urged the United Nations to investigate and identify the young women who may have been trafficked to other countries.

The ‘Rojava Revolution’ and the Kurds in North Syria

via Facebook

via Facebook

Amid the civil war in Syria and the withdrawal of the Syrian Army in the north of Syria in 2012, the population of Rojava took control of their region and declared a democratic multi-ethnic and multi-religious autonomy similar to the Swiss model with three separate and geographically detached administrative regions or cantons (Kobane, Afrin and Cizire).

Despite economic hardship and a de facto embargo from trade with other parts of Syria, Turkey and KRG, the people of Rojava have been using their newly acquired freedom to experiment with radical democracy. They are applying the Democratic Autonomy project propagated by the imprisoned leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, which is also being embarked upon by the Kurdish movement in North Kurdistan/ Turkey.

Within two years Rojava has witnessed substantial institutional and political changes and for the first time in Syrian history, the communities are governing themselves without the intervention of an authoritarian central government. Referring to these developments as the ‘Rojava Revolution’, the people of Rojava have eagerly been involved in organising their own affairs, from running schools and hospitals to generating electricity and even making their own tanks.

The most visible change has perhaps been the inclusion of women in the defence force and the police as separate units through the establishment of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) and the Women’s Security Forces (HAJ). According to various estimates, female fighters make up between 7,000 and 10,000 of the Kurdish forces fighting in Syria, representing roughly one third of the People’s Protection Unit (YPG) in Rojava, the military force that has been set up to defend Rojava.

The empowerment of women has been a key to the Rojava revolution, which explains its popularity particularly among women. A recent report on Rojava commissioned by the London based women’s rights and advocacy group Roj Women, shows that since the self-declared autonomy, Kurdish women have established a dozen women’s unions, associations and committees and have carried out gender awareness campaigns on a large scale in all three cantons.

Among the new regulations instigated to combat gender discrimination are a ban on polygamy for men and underage marriage. Also, unusual for the region, cases of domestic violence are being taken more seriously by being referred directly to the police and courts, while women and their children are provided with temporary safe accommodation. To ensure that women are represented in public offices and in civic life, positive discrimination measures, similar to those practiced within the Kurdish movement in Turkey, are introduced. These include the co-chair system where key decision-making positions are shared by men and women, and the establishment of various women-only bodies making sure that women’s voices and interests are no longer ignored.

Rojava’s model of gender equality borrowed from the Kurdish movement in Turkey and the PKK

Kurdish YPJ forces. Image via Twitter.

Kurdish YPJ forces. Image via Twitter.

Rojava’s model of empowering women is based upon the gender liberation perspective developed by the PKK and applied by the Kurdish movement and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in Turkey, which runs the local governments in a number of Kurdish provinces in the South-East of Turkey or Northern Kurdistan.

A strength of the PKK and the Kurdish movement in North Kurdistan has been their criticism of Kurdish society in terms of class and gender inequalities. Women’s participation in the armed struggle and their success as political activists has broken many taboos in Kurdistan as national movements very often do, but it has not stopped there.

While in the 1990s women were mobilised into the Kurdish national movement primarily to support and legitimise the national cause, with the new political shift towards Democratic Autonomy, stronger emphasis has been put on everyday politics and of provoking change from below and within the society rather than waiting for the ‘big revolution’ to happen. The Kurdish movement and the PKK put so much emphasis on women’s liberation, that women’s demands for more power and recognition within the movement could not easily be ignored.

In addition to this, very much to the dismay of many feminists however, the women trusted Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the PKK, in guiding them towards gender liberation. Despite his imprisonment since 1999, it was women who supported him most during the turbulent years following his arrest and the declaration of his new political, and at that time controversial, line. In return Öcalan became more radical in his promotion of gender liberation and urged women within the party to question male dominance within their own ranks.

Thus, the ideological support provided by the PKK and its leader Abdullah Öcalan has helped women within the Kurdish movement in North Kurdistan/Turkey to question and challenge women’s oppression and gender inequalities and many women began to develop a feminist consciousness. They strengthened their position within the legal Kurdish movement and built autonomous and semi-autonomous organisations including women’s assemblies within the pro-Kurdish political parties, women’s centres and associations, a press agency, women’s cooperatives, women’s academies and so on.

Within the guerrilla movement, women also organised as separate and independent units by setting up their own party, the Kurdistan Woman’s Liberation Party (PAJK) and their own guerrilla force (YJA-Star).

Today, women constitute a strong force within the pro-Kurdish parties in Turkey. They have been working initially on low level grass-roots mobilization but have also demanded more recognition for their political work. This has led to the introduction of positive discrimination policies and includes the implementation of a 40 per cent quota of women by the pro-Kurdish parties in Turkey. It ensured that women were elected into local and national governments as councillors, mayors and as members of parliament.

For example in the 2007 national election the pro-Kurdish parties won 21 seats, with a female representation of 38 per cent. This was a significant achievement as the overall female representation in the parliament of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the main opposition, the Republican’s Peoples Party (CHP) was only 9 per cent. In the latest local elections in March 2014 in Turkey, only 37 women were elected as mayors (out of a total 1,364), of which over half were women from the pro-Kurdish parties who have applied the women’s quota rigorously. Besides the quota, the pro-Kurdish parties have been applying a pioneering power sharing system since 2009 that allows key decision-making positions within the party to be shared by both men and women. This means that all elected mayors and councillors have a co-chair who share their salary as well as duties and have equal rights of representing their constituency.

This system has been expanded to other civil society organisations embedded within the Kurdish movement. These and other positive discrimination policies have been highly effective in bringing women’s issues to the agenda of Kurdish politics and raising the profile of women in politics more generally. Arguably, Kurdish women’s representation in political positions and parties has become a yardstick for democratization that has challenged other parties in Turkey to follow suit.

Rojava benefited from the political expertise of the PKK and the Kurdish movement in North Kurdistan/Turkey in setting up a self-governing system and in pursuing gender equality initiatives. The Rojava revolution might seem very ambitious, given that no regional or international power has any interest in supporting and maintaining them. Yet, it was their idealism and their belief that diversity in the Middle East is an asset rather than a problem that led them to take responsibility and to go to Mount Sinjar to rescue the besieged civilian population. Their vision of self-rule and their success in building political capacity has enabled Rojava to become a relatively stable and secure region, offering tens of thousands of refugees from Syria and Iraq, a shelter. This however changed with Rojava becoming the focus of intense IS attacks.

The siege of Kobane

Kurdish YPJ fighter overlooks battlefield. Image via Twitter.

Kurdish YPJ fighter overlooks battlefield. Image via Twitter.

Rojava is now paying the price for taking on IS and for exercising popular self-governance. Despite ongoing US air-strikes on IS strongholds for over three weeks, the Kobane canton of Rojava has been under heavy attack by IS since September 15. The geographical position of Kobane makes it difficult for any outside help from the other cantons and the PKK guerrillas to get through. Its border to the north with Turkey is heavily guarded. The rest of Kobane is encircled by IS. The surrendering of Kobane is most likely to set off another massacre similar to that on Mount Sinjar. Most of the estimated 160,000 inhabitants of Kobane have already fled the area, but for those thousands of residents who have remained in Kobane attempting to defend themselves against IS, the future looks very grim.

An unclassified US memo written by the former US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, suggests that Turkey is pushing for a Sunni-Islamic state in Syria, regardless of the demands of much of the opposition for a secular and multi-ethnic federation as suggested by many Syrians and particularly the minorities such as the Christians, Alawites, Druze and Kurds.

Moreover, in the same memo, Turkish officials are reported to have suggested that a future Syrian constitution should be “Without mention of the Kurds and that any Kurdish problems should be resolved through local municipalities”. It is exactly this mentality of denial and the subsequent assimilation policies of the Turkish state – and similarly that of Iraq, Syria and Iran – that led to the uprisings of the Kurds in the region, causing the loss of over 40,000 lives in the conflict in Turkey alone.

Thus, despite being besieged by IS in Kobane, the Kurds in Rojava deeply mistrust any Turkish military intervention, not least because they accuse Turkey of actively supporting IS by allowing them to cross the border back and forth. For Turkey, struggling with concessions for their own Kurdish population, an autonomous Rojava run by Kurds affiliated to the PKK is an absolute no. A Turkish intervention in Rojava would not only threaten the autonomy of Rojava, which represents a model for the PKK in Turkey, but would also threaten the peace process with its own Kurds in Turkey.

Democracy in action in the Middle East

via Facebook

via Facebook

The autonomous region of Rojava and its unique population is illustration enough of what we have long understood from Afghanistan, Iraq and other conflicts around the world; that democracy has to come from within. No military intervention from the west or from a third power can teach a country and its citizens how to reconcile differences and build a future together.

Yet, Rojava is being punished for trying to stand on its own feet and for their alliance with the PKK which has helped them ideologically and logistically to set up their own administration as well as with their fight against al-Qaida affiliated groups.

Although the PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation, and has indeed been engaged in violent conflict and has been ruthless at times towards internal opposition, their policies and strategies have changed over the years. Their popularity among the Kurds remains high as they have been leading the struggle for civil liberties, political representation and recognition of cultural rights for the last 30 years or more.

The Democratic Autonomy project has been one of the key political projects of the PKK devised as a long term solution for the Kurdish question in the Middle East. Proposed as an alternative to a separate Kurdish nation state, it focuses on widening democratic forms of participation and developing alternative forms of governance and economy. This moderate political line of the PKK, compared to the 1980s and 1990s, has allowed the Kurdish movement in Turkey to strengthen its legal political struggle and aims to open up negotiations for a peaceful political solution.

A secular, multi-religious and multi-ethnic Rojava with democratic ambitions constitutes a threat for IS and equally for the conservative Islamic government in Turkey. For the west however, which complains about the lack of democracy in the Middle East, what makes them hesitate to support such a progressive movement, one wonders?

This movement has not only been halting the advance of IS but has also providing security and stability in the areas run by them, it has empowered women and built an inclusive form of governance, involving many of the region’s diverse populations such as the Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, and Armenians.

This article appeared in OpenDemocracy.net on October 22, 2014, and is republished here under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 licence.

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Opposite & Equal Reaction

Borrowing from Newton’s 3rd Law of Physics;

“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. You receive from the world what you give to the world.”

Gary Zukav, Author

The world has held its breath for a month while Kurdish fighting forces within the city of Kobani on the Syria/Turkey border fight for their lives and their city. Turkish troops are massed at the border: not to prevent destruction of Kobani, but to prevent Kurdish people from entering Syria and help defend the city. They are there to cheerlead for Daesch, in so much as Turkey feels less intimidated by ISIL than they do by a continued Kurdish habitation on land inside and close to Turkey .

Today, October 20, the world continued its response. The day began with three C-130 cargo planes dropping 27 bundles of supplies directly into the hands of the Kobani fighters.

In Washington, DC, a native son of Kobani began a hunger strike in Dupont Circle to call attention to the Kobani issue. He was joined by Kurdish supporters and westerners that believe enough is enough. The group has also started a petition, which they invite the world to sign.

In New York City, a concert of solidarity took place at the Elebash Recital Hall at the City University of New York (CUNY). The featured band, DisOrient, has another concert scheduled for October 25 at the Riverside Church, 91 Claremont Avenue, at 6:30 pm.

Protests across Turkey, including Diyarbakir in eastern Turkey, have resulted in over 30 deaths since erupting on October 8. Turkish media is not accurately reporting the incidents, downplaying their scope and magnitude.

Protests across Europe continue as the millions of dispersed Kurds across the globe call attention to the plight of their people.

What is the meaning of Kobani? What is the meaning of surviving the odds, defying predictions and remaining resilient?

We have long believed that the decision to do nothing is, within itself, a decision. We also believe it would be in the best interests of history and humanity for the United States to remove the terrorist label placed on the PKK and open talks for diplomacy. We believe Turkey has misrepresented the intentions, scope, purpose and cause of the PKK to the world. This is the same PKK that has demonstrated in recent weeks its ability to work cohesively with respectful forces to save the lives of innocent people from a REAL terrorist organization.

We also believe Turkey’s call for a buffer zone across the Rojava region is an attempt to use the crisis in Kobani to further their agenda of ridding Kurds from their and neighboring countries. This area has been governed with the Constitution of the Rojava Cantons, a document that is a testament to a social contract, and does not need a buffer zone instituted by Turkey, or any other country.

Occupy World Writes calls on support from the world over to continue for Kobani. We stand in solidarity with those who have taken action in whatever way they can to help.

Image via Twitter.

Image via Twitter.

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How Solid Is Your Resolve?

We live in a time of globalization. With access to internet and social media, anyone in the world can become a citizen journalist. Today is day 293 for the Aljazeera journalists serving time in Egyptian prison. Journalists die in the course of doing their jobs, most recently the slayings by Daesch of international journalists and their support staff has not escaped our attention.

Telling the story is just half the goal. When individuals are willing to risk life and/or freedom to reveal the truth about what is happening, they do so with the goal in mind that only by telling people, will there be any hope for the situation to change.

One person standing on a street corner and shouting will not bring results. If that person can rally at least 50 people, the group might get noticed. With enough momentum, the group can grow to a few thousand. Then the news media is forced to notice. But, when joined in solidarity, that group can grow to a massive crowd of millions, and when that happens, no one, including governments, can ignore it.

When Occupy Wall Street set up in September of 2011, thousands of people across the nation immediately identified with the concerns voiced by the movement. Encampments followed in other major cities, and soon the conversation became a national topic. As a result, some incremental changes took place in certain areas, and the national conversation still includes terms such as “income inequality,” “social justice,” and “plutocracy.”

Most of this transformation would not have happened the way it did had it not been for people being willing to “stand in solidarity.” We hear the term frequently, but now ask you to pause long enough to think about what it means.

It means not crossing a picket line. It means not purchasing products from companies who do not practice social responsibility. It means standing in freezing cold and wind to attempt the recall of a governor who is not serving the people of his state. It means going to rallies where you do not know anyone, but you still hold up a sign and join the crowd.

Most recently, I was reminded again of how important this is not only for personal interests, but also for those you are supporting. If you read our posts frequently, you are aware of our declaration of solidarity with the Kurdish fighters within the city of Kobani. Does it matter, if we can not go there? I read a Newsweek article that made me think about this differently, “Kobane Diary: 4 Days Inside the City Fighting an Unprecedented Resistance Against ISIS.”

Imagine you were there, wondering if anyone even cared that you and your entire community are literally fighting for their lives. Every person in the entire town is involved in the battle in one way or another. There is nothing that resembles a normal life – a normal life is something these people have not had in what seems like forever to them. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that someone, somewhere, cares what happens to you and your city, your family and your community?

Protesters in support of Kobani. Image via FaceBook.

Protesters in support of Kobani. Image via FaceBook.

Solidarity : a feeling of unity between people who have the same interests, goals, etc.

What does it mean to you? How and when will you use this empowerment?

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CALL FOR ACTION

Coalition forces bomb from above while Kurdish fighters defend the town of Kobane. Image via Facebook.

Coalition forces bomb from above while Kurdish fighters defend the town of Kobane. Image via Facebook.

While we continue to watch the most valiant warriors defend the town of Kobane on the Syrian border with Turkey while the rest of the world hears Erdogan proclaim that Kobane will fall. There are those who are doing all they can, such as a group of researchers, scholars and academia associates have taken action to call for immediate intervention.

The Kurdish Studies Network is a group of over 1,000 members who research and study the issues, ideas and history that surround the Kurdish people, their continued struggle for autonomy and nationalism and the impacts of the diaspora on the Kurds.

As is often the case, scholarly people seldom speak out regarding current events and world affairs. When they choose to do so, one must recognize the importance of the message as well as the urgency which brought the action. Here is their statement on Kobane (Kobani in Kurdish):

Kurdish Studies Scholars’ Statement of Solidarity and Call for Action to Support Kobani

The humanitarian crisis caused by the Islamic State (IS) continues to terrorize and displace hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East. The autonomous canton of Kobani is now bearing the brunt of the IS’s attacks as the international community has mostly been passive. The city has been under siege for three weeks. Despite fierce resistance by the defenders of the town, the advance of the IS forces towards Kobani is threatening to set off another massacre similar to that of Shengal. As scholars working on issues related to the Kurds and other peoples of Kurdistan, we are profoundly concerned about yet another imminent humanitarian crisis and stand in solidarity with the people of Kobani. We urgently call on the coalition forces against the IS and the broader international community to take immediate action to prevent an impending disaster by supporting the Kurds in their fight for self-defense.

We view the situation in Kobani as one of self-defense against the military aggression of the IS, notorious for its macabre forms of violence against ethnic and religious minorities. The defenders of the city of Kobani have repeatedly and desperately tried to bring their predicament to the attention of the world community and called for more focused and effective air strikes against IS targets around Kobani in coordination with the political authorities and resistance fighters of Rojava (Western Kurdistan). They are once again asking for diplomatic and political recognition, weapons of self-defense, and humanitarian aid to protect themselves against the relentless onslaught of IS. They are too ill-equipped to be able to fend off the most advanced American and Russian arsenals used by the IS. If global support is not provided immediately, they may not be able to withstand the IS’s incessant bombardments; tomorrow may be too late.

We fully support Kobani’s demands and spirit of self-defense and call on the international coalition forces and the broader international community to support Kobani immediately. In expressing our solidarity, we need to stress the fact this statement is not a call for any military aggression or occupation, including that of the Turkish military. We encourage the Turkish government to negotiate with the Kurdish representatives in good faith to ensure the ongoing peace process, which holds much promise. As Kurdish political representatives of Rojava have repeatedly declared, if they are recognized as a legitimate authority and provided with the needed weaponry and other support, they are capable of driving away the threat of the IS.

Ultimately our appeal for extending the necessary support to Kobani has as much to do with the survival of a pluralistic city and its residents, as it has to do with the defense of freedom everywhere else.

* * *

Kurdish Studies Network began their statement with 299 signatories and they now invite all academia people throughout the world to endorse their statement by signing a petition on Change.org. You can add your name to the petition here:
https://www.change.org/p/international-community-scholars-statement-of-solidarity-and-call-for-action-to-support-kobani

This is not the first time this group has taken action. Most recently, they were instrumental in bringing international attention to the Kurdish prisoners held in Turkey’s prison system, who began a hunger strike as a last resort to call attention to their plight.

The hunger strike started on September 12, 2012 by 65 prisoners convicted of belonging to outlawed Kurdish parties. The hunger strikers demanded Kurdish language rights in education and in court, where language barriers prevented Kurdish speaking accused the ability to defend themselves. The petition played an important role in drawing international attention to the hunger strikes of the political prisoners in Turkey. The hunger strike ended on its 68th day. The petition read as follows:

Prisoners will begin to die soon. Every second is valuable.

We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned about the situation and condition of hunger strikers in Turkish prisons. We understand that over 700 Kurdish political prisoners have passed their 46th day on hunger strike, without their demands being addressed by the authorities. Medical experts confirm that in the course of a hunger strike the 40th day is a turning point where physical and mental dysfunctions commence, as well as cases of death begin to occur.

According to international conventions signed by the Republic of Turkey, the government is in charge of a prisoner’s health. As top-ranking members of the government, the President, Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice will personally be held responsible for any damage to the prisoners’ physical condition.

Furthermore, the prisoners’ demands consist primarily of the right to defense in mother tongue and freeing Abdullah Öcalan from solitary confinement. We would like to express our full support of these demands since they are based on fundamental human rights.

We therefore urge the Turkish government to enter in constructive dialogue with the prisoners to respond to their demands.

The international community’s opinion on Turkey and its reform process will be strongly shaped by the way the present hunger strikes are handled and the prisoners are treated. Turkey’s reputation might be seriously harmed should this incident turn into a human tragedy.

* * *

 Occupy World Writes stands in Solidarity with Kurdish Studies Network’s statement, all those who choose to sign it, and all those known and unknown people who are doing whatever they possibly can to help this crisis.

THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING.

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