On the morning of 9 October, Turkish state military forces began to bombard cities of North and East Syria – the region commonly known as Rojava – and also began incursions across the border, particularly in the region around Girê Spî (Tel Abyad) and Serê Kaniyê, which is now under full occupation by Turkish forces.
Turkey has faced accusations of ethnic cleansing and war crimes, including the use of banned chemical weapons. On top of this, and emboldened by it, ISIS regaining strength in the region and sleeper cell attacks have increased by 48% since the start of the invasion.
The Turkish military and their allied Jihadist militias are attacking civilians, as well as military positions, with aerial bombardment and tanks on the ground; destroying hospitals, houses, electricity and water supplies. The illegal invasion has so far killed over 300 civilians, and around 300,000 people have been displaced.
Rojava Information Centre reports that co-operatives, as well as supermarkets, food stores and workshops are being looted in Turkish-occupied Serekaniye. There have been wide-scale crimes reported against civilians. 500 schools have stopped training and education, and not only in the areas under occupation. There are numerous reports of attacks on ambulances in particular. Heyva Sor (the Kurdish Red Crescent – the only emergency aid charity on the ground) have been removing their logos from ambulances to avoid being targeted.
Massive demonstrations have taken place all over the world. In the UK they have been happening in London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Oxford, Bristol, Brighton, Reading and more. The first huge mobilisation in London on Sunday 13 October saw an estimated 22,000 people take to the streets.
— Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign (@KurdsCampaign) October 13, 2019
Following these massive protests, on Tuesday 15 October, the British government suspended new arms sales to Turkey. This also followed a halt on arms export licences by governments of several European countries, including Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, France, and even Turkey’s historical ally Germany. This is a good start and shows the strength of the protests, but suspending new arms export licences is not enough, we must demand that the British and all other governments stop arming Turkey entirely.
Following calls from friends on the ground in Rojava to continue and expand actions and protests, the Solidarity Economy Association released a statement calling for co-operatives to #RiseUp4Rojava.
The following day, CECOP/CICOPA Europe, the European confederation of industrial and service co-operatives, published a statement of solidarity with the co-op movement in Northern Syria. The statement was retweeted by Co-operatives UK, the biggest umbrella organisation of UK co-operatives, and Footprint Workers’ Coop in Leeds.
Here in the UK we stand behind the co-operative movement in Syria. We're backing the call for peace and solidarity led by @CICOPA our global worker coop network agreed at #CoopConference19 in Kigali, Rwanda #coops4rojava https://t.co/YwKAknQ4tu
— Co-operatives UK (@CooperativesUK) October 16, 2019
Footprint has absolute solidarity with our comrades in #rojava suffering under bombardment by the Turkish state. We support the @cicopa (global #workercoops movement) statement https://t.co/GtUL9ONLJD
How can you help? 1/2 pic.twitter.com/eN4NMumFxz
— Footprint (@FootprintLeeds) October 17, 2019
On 17 October at the ICA conference in Kigali, Rwanda, a statement was read out from an internationalist from the UK who is working in Rojava as part of the Make Rojava Green Again campaign. The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) is one of the oldest non-governmental organisations and one of the largest, representing 1.2 billion co-operative members on the planet.
On 22 October the Co-operative News ran a feature about the call made by CICOPA in Rwanda.
A ceasefire was declared on 17 October, but Turkey has continued to fire on Rojava and carry out drone strikes regardless and there has been no ceasefire, despite many different political moves and deals between different states. Trump is now sending more troops to Northeast Syria – to guard the oil. Despite all of this, fighting continues ferociously and it is vital that we maintain political pressure, continue to mobilise and take actions to show all those responsible that Rojava is not alone.
What can we do?
Get in touch – if you are a co-operative wanting to support Rojava, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fundraise – there are current crowdfunders for Heyva Sor, such as this one for £20,000. Heyva Sor are the only charity on the ground dealing with all of the civilian casualties. Please support them in any way you can.
Mobilise – Demonstrations are still taking place every week in many cities around the UK, as well as all over the world. Connect with your local Kurdish community or solidarity group. The resistance must continue, the current situation must not become normalised in any way.
Send messages of support / display them in your physical space – co-operatives and other supportive businesses, unions and community groups can display information about what is happening in Rojava in your physical spaces to draw attention to what is happening. These could include specific calls to action, for example, donate to Heyva Sor, write to your MP (we have a template letter for this), sign the petition, connect with your local Kurdish community or solidarity group. Contact us at email@example.com. Use the tag #CoopsRiseUp4Rojava on social media.