Importance of Kurdish Struggle – a personal view

Received from a London comrade via Facebook:


I am trying to explain the importance of the Kurdish struggle to UK Left activists and one of the things that most interests people is Ocalans support of peoples assemblies etc. [See below].

But i am struggling to find examples of this ‘direct democracy’ to show to people. There appear to be many similarities with the Zapatista movement, where communities, not just engaging in the political fight, started to take power immediately. There was a massive global solidarity camapign with the Zapatistas which to an extent can be credited with e.g. the Occupy movement today

Ocalan wrote in 2004 ““Our first task,” he wrote, “is to push for democratization, for non-state structures, and communal organization.” Instead of focusing solely on changing the Turkish constitution, he advocated that Kurds create organizations at the local level:  local town councils, municipal administrations, down to urban districts, townships, and villages. They should form new local political parties and economic cooperatives, civil society organizations, and those that address human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, animal rights, and all other issues to be addressed.

“Regional associations of municipal administrations” are needed, so these local organizations and institutions would form a network. At the topmost level, they are to be represented in a “General Congress of the People,” which will address issues of “politics, self-defense, law, morality, economy, science, arts, and welfare by means of institutionalization, rules and control mechanisms.”

Gradually, as the democratic institutions spread, all of Turkey would undergo a democratization.  They would network across existing national borders, to accelerate the advent of democratic civilization in the whole region and produce not only freedom for the Kurds but a geopolitical and cultural renewal. Ultimately a democratic confederal union would embrace the whole of the Middle East. He named this Kurdish version of libertarian municipalism “democratic confederalism.”

In March 2005, Öcalan issued a Declaration of Democratic Confederalism in Kurdistan. It called for “a grass-roots democracy … based on the democratic communal structure of natural society.” It “will establish village, towns and city assemblies and their delegates will be entrusted with the real decision-making, which in effect means that the people and the community will decide.”  Öcalan’s democratic confederalism preserves his brilliant move of linking the liberation of Kurds to the liberation of humanity. It affirms individual rights and freedom of expression for everyone, regardless of religious, ethnic, and class differences.  It “promotes an ecological model of society” and supports women’s liberation. He urged this program upon his people:  “I am calling upon all sectors of society, in particular all women and the youth, to set up their own democratic organisations and to govern themselves.”

When I visited Diyarbakir in the fall of 2011, I discovered that Kurds in southeastern Anatolia were indeed putting this program into practice.[30]


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