Crisis and suffering have always had the power to bring clarity. When lives are at stake, competing values are inevitably brought into the sharpest relief. Coronavirus has been no different in this basic sense, but even among crises it is remarkable for the sheer scope of its impact and its truly global reach.
The Syrian regime under the Ba’ath Party of Bashar al-Assad is not only infamous for its war crimes and human rights abuses during the war in Syria, but also held a thick record of systematic violence prior to the uprisings in 2011. Apart from its extensive intelligence apparatus, its law and justice system enshrined authoritarianism and state power in the legal realm. The population of Syria, and minorities in particular, were taught to fear the law as the representative will of the oppressive state. In northern Syria, since the beginning of the revolution in Rojava in 2012, manifold initiatives have been systematically launched to undo the state and its domination not only in the realm of politics and society, but also in the psychology of people, who experienced not only Assad’s regime, but more recently the fascist rule of ISIS. Efforts are led not only in the sphere of law and justice, but also in the realm of grassroots-organizing, education and political, economic and social action. There are many difficulties however. What could an alternative, non-statist justice system look like? Let us take a look at Anja Hoffmann’s observations from an Arabic language justice academy in Tel Marouf…
Firik is planted in the fall and grows over winter to be harvested in early summer. Some researchers say that Firik is a type of wheat and grows especially in the Euphrates basin. These days, Firik has been harvested and it will be one of the basic foods such as bulgur and rice. People serve Firik when they have special guests.
With the arrival of the harvest season, displaced women from Afrin and women from Shahba in North East Syria have begun working in the fields together in a communal spirit.
The women in Kobane are coming together to work on the fields and try to give life to the lands suffering from this Turkish-made drought.
As the Syrian lira continues to lose value, Syrians who have been badly affected by increasing prices of basic food products have faced food insecurity. People in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES, also known as Rojava) have increasingly been adopting alternative projects – home gardening – to support local agriculture.
The Democratic Society Movement (TEV-DEM) has continued its organizational activities with different professional associations in Aleppo's Sheikh Maqsoud and Ashrafiyah neighborhoods in 2020.
Lack of international recognition as a state has disastrous consequences on an area already suffering from war and displacement.
North and East Syria faces serious challenges in the fight against COVID-19. 600,000 IDPs and refugees live in camps across the region, their situation already precarious without a pandemic. Ongoing attacks by Turkish forces, Turkey-backed militias, and ISIS complicate the security situation and threaten essential civilian infrastructure like water lines. According to the Rojava Information Center,
Şîfa Jin is a health and healing center for women and children based on natural and modern medicine and has been a fundamental part of the village since the beginning of the construction of JINWAR.
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.