Posts Tagged ‘Kurds’

Rojava: The Revolution we do not hear about

February 9, 2015

During the Spanish Civil War, Anarchists took control of towns, organised, until they were crushed by the Fascists.

Syriza has brought hope to Greece, inspired the Spanish to elect Podemos, it may spread further.

Rojava is a Kurdish enclave in northern Syria. A revolution we hear little about. Self-organising autonomous networks.

They face attacks from ISIS, but also until recently, Turkey was preventing any support from across the border, except they allow jihadist to cross the border. Crossing the border is not permissible for journalists.

Across the border, supported by PKK in Turkish occupied Kurdistan. PKK for demanding autonomy for Kurds, are branded terrorists by Turkey.

The Kurds have carved out an autonomous region in northern Iraq. The same has happened in northern Syria, except it goes much further and deeper.

All are equal, Kurds, Arabs, Christians, Muslims. Women and men are equal. The women are fighters.

Contrast the Kurds with brutality of ISIS.

It was Kurdish YPG that rescued Yazidis when trapped on a mountainside, surrounded by ISIS.

Gareth Watkins:

The Middle East today is the last place anyone in mainstream western thought would think to look for progressive political thought, and even less to see those thoughts translated into action. Our image of the region is one of dictatorships, military juntas and theocracies built on the ruins of the former Ottoman Empire, or hollow states like Afghanistan, and increasingly Pakistan, where anything outside the capitol is like Mad Max. The idea of part of the region being not just free, but well on its way to utopian, isn’t one that you’re going to find on mainstream media.

But you’re not on the mainstream media right now, are you?

Along Syria’s borders with Turkey and Northern Iraq, lies a mainly Kurdish area with a population of 4.6 million where a huge social experiment is taking place at the centre of a crossfire between Syria’s dictatorship, ISIS’s collective insanity and Turkey’s ongoing hostility towards the idea of Kurdish autonomy, with the US and NATO looming large in the background. The Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Kurdish National Council (KNC) established in the region of Rojava a society that mixes fierce libertarianism (guns are everywhere and there are no taxes – none) and Occupy-friendly anarchist thought with a healthy dose of feminism. While most Kurdish groups, especially those the US is friendly with, would some day like to establish a Kurdish state, in Rojava they have leap-frogged over the idea of the nation state into a more advanced system that they call Democratic Confederalism.

In the cantons of Rojava, there is a small central government with an absolute minimum of 40% female delegates, but most of the day-to-day work of running society happens at a local level, street by street and village by village. Democratic Confederalism’s chief architect, Abdullah Ocalan, says that “Ecology and feminism are central pillars” of the system he has spearheaded, something that you would have to go very far to the margins to hear from Western politicians. In Rojava, men who beat their wives face total ostracism from the community, making their lives in a highly social, connected society virtually impossible. Instead of a police force and jails, ‘peace committees’ in each municipality work to defuse the cycles of inter-family revenge killings by consensual agreements between both sides – and it works.

The only part of Rojava’s experiment that has received any international attention has been the YPJ, the female-only paramilitary forces that have been fighting, and winning, against ISIS and the Syrian Army. NBC, the Guardian and even Marie Claire have all covered the YPJ’s bravery without even paying lip service to the ideology that makes it possible.

It was the YPJ, along with their male counterparts the YPG, that rescued the thousands of Yazidis stranded and encircled by ISIS on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq. The Yazidi community had the misfortune to be based almost entirely inside the area that ISIS has claimed – and they have been a hated minority in the Islamic world for a thousand years, accused of ‘devil worship’. While the US dropped supplies from above, the Syrian fighting groups broke ISIS’s lines and saved tens of thousands of lives. They also successfully defended the city of Kobani when ISIS launched an all-out assault on the city of forty-five thousand with tanks, missiles and even drones. Despite heavy losses, the city remains ISIS-free, though its surrounding villages are still contested.

Crisis forces innovation.

fighters

fighters

Anglican Vicar of Baghdad: “Child I baptised cut in half by ISIS”

August 10, 2014

Warning: This is pretty horrific to read.

Andrew White at St George's

Canon Andrew White at St George’s

The five-year-old son of a founding member of Baghdad’s Anglican church was cut in half during an attack by the Islamic State on the Christian town of Qaraqosh.

In an interview today, an emotional Canon Andrew White told ACNS that he christened the boy several years ago, and that the child’s parents had named the lad Andrew after him.

“I’m almost in tears because I’ve just had somebody in my room whose little child was cut in half,” he said. “I baptised his child in my church in Baghdad2. This little boy, they named him after me – he was called Andrew.”

The fact that Andrew’s brother was named George after St George’s Anglican Church in Iraq’s capital demonstrates the strong ties the family had to the church there. The boy’s father had been a founder member of the church back in 1998 when the Canon had first come to Baghdad. Canon White added, “This man, before he retired north to join his family was the caretaker of the Anglican church.”

Though the move north should have proved safer for the Iraqi Christian family, the Islamic State made sure that it became a place of terror. “This town of Qaraqosh is a Christian village so they knew everybody there was part of their target group,” said Canon White. “They [the Islamic State] attacked the whole of the town. They bombed it, they shot at people.”

The Islamic State group captured Qaraqosh overnight Wednesday/Thursday after the withdrawal of Kurdish forces.

The boy’s family, along with many other townspeople, have now fled to Irbil. However, news reports suggest this may be the Islamic State’s next destination.

Anglicans at the forefront of relief

The violent takeover of parts of Iraq by the Islamic State is threatening to bring about what the UN has said would be a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the beleaguered nation.

Canon Andrew White said that Anglicans there have been working hard to provide a lot of support for the Christians who have fled Mosul and Nineveh to the north, as well as the many other minority groups targeted by the Islamic State.

“Anglicans are literally at the forefront of bringing help in this situation and there’s no-one else,” he said adding that the church is supplying much-needed food, water, accommodation and other relief items thanks to financial contributions from supporters overseas. The church’s activities are led by a Muslim, Dr Sarah Ahmed.

“We need two things: prayer and money. With those two we can do something. Without those we can do nothing.”

Those wanting to donate can do so at http://frrme.org/. As regards prayer, Canon White said, “I have three ‘P’s that I always mention which is for Protection, Provision and Perseverance. We need protection, we need to provide for those people and we need to keep going.”

It’s clear from social media posts on Facebook and Twitter that members of the Anglican Communion right across the world are praying for this situation. Many have also indicated their support for persecuted Christians in Iraq by changing their social media avatars to the Arabic symbol for ‘N’ denoting Nazarene which ISIS has been using to identify Christian homes.

Leaders speak out

In recent days, Anglican leaders from countries including Egypt, Wales, Brazil and South Africa have all expressed their dismay at the situation unfolding in Iraq.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, issued the following statement today on the situation in Iraq, shortly before he travelled from the Philippines to Papua New Guinea.

“The horrific events in Iraq rightly call our attention and sorrow yet again. Christians and other religious minorities are being killed and face terrible suffering.

“What we are seeing in Iraq violates brutally people’s right to freedom of religion and belief, as set out under Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is extremely important that aid efforts are supported and that those who have been displaced are able to find safety. I believe that, like France, the United Kingdom’s doors should be open to refugees, as they have been throughout history.

“The international community must document human rights abuses being committed in northern Iraq so that future prosecutions can take place. It is important and necessary for the international community to challenge the culture of impunity which has allowed these atrocities to take place.

“With the world’s attention on the plight of those in Iraq, we must not forget that this is part of an evil pattern around the world where Christians and other minorities are being killed and persecuted for their faith. Only this week I received an email from a friend in Northern Nigeria about an appalling attack on a village, where Christians were killed because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Such horrific stories have become depressingly familiar in countries around the world, including Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

“We must continue to cry to God for peace and justice and security throughout the world. Those suffering such appalling treatment in Iraq are especially in my prayers at this time.”

Other Christian leaders have also spoken up about the situation in Iraq including Roman Catholics, who, in England and Wales, have designated Sunday, 9 August, as a Day of Prayer for Christians in Iraq. The Syrian Orthodox Patriarch yesterday wrote to the UN, following an emergency meeting of Patriarchs, calling on the UN Security Council to “fulfil their responsibilities in stopping this genocide”.

Notes

1. The brutal, extremist group, which claims to have fighters from across the world, announced the creation of a “caliphate” – an Islamic state – across its claimed territory in Iraq and Syria a month ago. Learn more at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28116033

2. Baghdad is part of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf http://www.cypgulf.org which is part of The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, a Member Church of the Anglican Communion.

Originally published by Anglican Communion News Service.

A common cry of Christians not only in Iraq, but across the Middle East, is why has the West forgotten us. That cry could be particularly aimed at churches.

The last few days, the atrocities committed by ISIS, appears to have woken the world up. That documented by Canon Andrew White merely the tip of a very horrific nightmare.

I was shocked when I saw the Kurds withdraw, as they are the only ways capable of taking on ISIS.

At least US, UK, and France had finally decided to act, with both military action against ISIS and humanitarian aid to those most in need.

The Kurds urgently need heavy weapons, ammunition.

The West should have intervened after the First Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was defeated, but the West allowed him to regain control.

With the second Gulf War, the West destabilised the country.

Al Maliki is a disaster as Prime Minister and must be removed.

The atrocities being committed by Israel in Gaza, has led directly to support for ISIS. ISIS has already mounted incursion into Lebanon.

If Israel defeats Hamas, into that void will step ISIS.

In London, Islamist supporters of ISIS, now control a London estate, with the ISIS flag flying over the entrance. Islamists from UK and France are fighting with ISIS. Now UK and France have mounted military attacks on ISIS, we can expect those Islamists if they return, to carry out terrorist attacks in UK and France.

It is wrong, as the media does, to refer to ISIS as a terrorist organisation. They are an insurgency that carries out terrorist atrocities.