Message to the International Co-operative Alliance conference in Rwanda and all co-operators around the world

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, 17 October, 2019

Greetings from Make Rojava Green Again. We are a campaign that support the ecological revolution in North and East Syria, also known as Rojava. Over the past 7 years, as the people of North and East Syria have been fighting back against ISIS and defending themselves from Turkish fascism, they have also been building up a social and political system based on radical democracy, women’s liberation and environmental sustainability. The Make Rojava Green Again campaign was started by internationalists from around the world who came to North East Syria to support the revolution here, finding hope and inspiration in the alternative that the movement here has built to capitalism and exploitation. The 5 million people who live here – which includes Kurdish people, but also Arabs, Syriacs, Turkmen, Circassians and Armenians – have built a system which celebrates diversity, decentralises power, and empowers women. The movement has rejected the state, capitalism, and the exploitation of nature, and have built an alternative way of living as a society. This includes an economy based on socialist principles which sees co-operatives as a key to developing an economy that serves the people, and not profit. This region is currently being invaded by Turkey, which seeks to destroy everything that has been built here.

The movement has supported the development of many co-operatives, with a particular focus on women’s co-operatives. These include farming co-operatives, food industry co-operatives, manufacturing and packaging co-operatives, tree nurseries and many more. Make Rojava Green again seeks to support these co-operatives through amplifying the work of the ecological movement in Rojava. We have raised money for farmers who have lost their crops in fires set by ISIS, helped establish partnerships between North and East Syrian towns and towns in Europe, and we have also created gardens, tree nurseries, compost bins and orchards here. We are establishing partnerships with ecological co-operatives here, and are excited about the blooming co-operative movement in this region, where a clear link is made between a co-operative economy and a sustainable future.

However, this future is threatened by the ongoing Turkish invasion and attempted occupation of North East Syria. Since the 9th October, Turkey has been attacking North East Syria with air strikes and artillery fire, and sending in proxy forces – many of whom have links to ISIS and other jihadist groups. A quarter of a million people have already been displaced from their homes, hundreds of civilians wounded and killed, and vital infrastructure destroyed. The new shoots of a co-operative economy, rooted in a culture of solidarity, mutual aid and collective action, are at risk of being completely destroyed by the fascism of the Turkish government. As we write this statement, Turkish backed Islamist forces are executing civilians at the side of the road, the Turkish army is bombing convoys of civilians and journalists, bread factories, and neighbourhoods where children are living.

We are calling on the international co-operative movement for solidarity and support – to stand side by side with the co-operatives of North East Syria and speak out against the Turkish invasion. Already many governments are refusing to send arms to Turkey – we need people to campaign so that genuine rejection of any current or future arms deals with Turkey is adopted across the board in each country, that people join the call for a No Fly Zone over North East Syria, and that groups everywhere express solidarity with the people here, and the alternative future that they are building.

Please support Heyva Sor (Kurdish Red Crescent) in treating causalities inflicted by Turkish military bombardment.