Sarah Glynn from Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan looks at lessons from the democratic experiment in autonomous North East Syria as a new system that could confront the ecological crisis
A call for solidarity from co-operative and environmental activists in Northern Syria to the International Co-operative Alliance conference in Kigali, Rwanda and to all co-operators around the world.
Since the beginning of 2015, "Mesopotamia Ecology Movement", which was formed in 2011, has entered an important process of restructuring itself. Under a new structure and with profounder political claims, more and more people are getting involved for a more ecological society, producing a new dynamic which will have short- and long-term positive effects on Northern Kurdistan.
On September 7, The Self-Administration of North and East of Syria celebrated its first anniversary of its establishment in Ein Eisa, with participation of various components of Northern and Eastern Syria from clans and civil institutions, in addition to participation of the Syrian Democratic Council and a delegation from International Coalition to fight ISIS. During
The people of Raqqa have organized themselves through communes and assemblies and work in the spirit of unity to solve problems.
The People's Council continues to provide basic services to the people of the town and its villages. In a short period of time, the council was able to take a positive step towards the reconstruction of the town and to provide drinking water and irrigation to the town and its villages.
The economic sector has been reorganised anew in a more democratic way. For each canton an “assembly on economy” has been developed which consists of five sub-sectors: Industry, Trade, Agriculture, Co-operatives and Women's Economy.
The philosopher and thinker and the leader of the Kurdish people, Abdullah Öcalan explained in detail the philosophy of the democratic nation in his Sociology of Freedom. The democratic nation can be defined this way: "The democratic nation is established among the linguistic and cultural groups who live in the same way, or in a similar way, in an ethical and political society. The social transformation happens in the framework of the democratic politics. In the democratic nation, all the tribes, ethnic groups and even families take their place in the ethical and political society in a form of units. The diversity of the languages, dialects and cultures become a new nation.’’
The university has academic departments in petroleum, petrochemical and agricultural engineering, Kurdish literature, fine arts, education and women’s studies. Its main campus is in Qamishli, a city on the border with Turkey. Subjects related to petroleum are taught at a facility in Rumeilan, 40 miles farther east in the region’s oil-producing area.
Do I think this system in Rojava is purely as Bookchin envisioned it? Not purely, but perhaps that may lie beyond the abilities of real human beings. But the people are wrestling with problems of implementation that Bookchin, as a theorist, never foresaw, and I think that even the mistakes that people in Rojava might make are relevant to the future importance of these ideas.
The women of Jinwar wanted to run themselves based on democratic principles that respect everyone’s rights and assure everyone’s ability to participate in life as equals. Thus, the Jinwar debates about the women’s council of the village began. Every woman, who settles in the village can participate in the village council and help plan the village life. Jinwar women can collectively bake their bread in the bakery or cook and eat in the communal kitchen. At the school, the academy, or the health center, as well as in the realms of agriculture, media, and diplomacy, every woman can take up responsibilities based on her own wishes. She can shape social life, welcome visiting delegations, run the shop with her own products according to her own needs. She can get education and join discussions at the academy. She can discuss and share her views on woman and life, free co-life, women and ethics-aesthetics, women and ecology, women and economy, women and history, women and health/natural health. Women can of course arrange for their needs beyond the village as well, they go on family visits or invite and host their loved ones to the village. But men are not allowed to stay in the village overnight.
The Federation of Northern and Eastern Syrian Co-operative Societies held their annual meeting in Qamishlo to discuss the current situation of co-operatives in the region, and many suggestions were made to develop the work of the co-ops.