“Bakur” is Kurdish for “North”. It refers to the land in the North of Kurdistan (the land where Kurds live), in the eastern part of Turkey, particularly the southeast.
The Turkish state was founded in 1923, at the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and a system of Turkish cultural and language assimilation was installed, known as ‘Turkification’. Kurdish and other languages were forbidden. Names of rivers, mountains, villages, cities and other places were changed to Turkish, and naming children anything other than Turkish names was also forbidden, as was education, books, etc in such languages.
The Kurdish freedom movement was founded in opposition to this forced assimilation, in favour of Kurdish and other minority cultural rights. As in Rojava, the pillars of the movement are radical democracy, women’s freedom and ecology, as well as a focus on pluralism and communal economy. Many co-operatives have been set up, though sadly many of these have been closed down or have been driven underground since 2015, when the peace process broke down and a mugh higher level of state repression resumed. This continues today.
The articles below are about co-operatives, communal and women’s economy, grassroots democracy, ecology and daily life in Bakur.
Environmental degradation continues to plague Turkey in 2023, as forests are sacrificed for mining ventures, water resources are exploited, and major destruction is wrought in Kurdish regions.
Women working at Turkey’s first all-women district market called, “Jiyan District Market” in Amed (Diyarbakır) do not want male stallholders to work in their market. “We will not allow men to take our places,” the women say.
As the first anniversary of Turkey's devastating February earthquakes approaches, women in the earthquake-stricken areas continue to face a spiral of violence and poverty, with calls for organisation to address these issues, report Mezopotamya Agency's Yüsra Batıhan and Şilan Çil.
In the highlands of Hakkari, women decide for themselves and their production. While the men mostly stay in the city, the women move to the high mountain pastures. Life there is characterised by hard work that starts early in the morning. Some of the women work in the household, others in handicrafts, some in animal husbandry and some in agriculture.
Thus, on the one hand, the women in Hakkari shape their lives and play a decisive role in production. With their work, they oppose the economic crisis and patriarchy. The women of Hakkari have never lost touch with nature and live in deep connection with the mountains. Even in the city surrounded by high mountains, women spread the bond with nature.
Zozana Merga Butan (Mergabütan Highland) is located about 12 kilometres from the centre of Hakkari. Year after year, people come here to spend the summer producing agricultural products. Merga Butan, with its natural beauty, clear water, thousands of different plants and wild animals, is a beautiful place where people live for about six months. People come here between May and October and earn their living by selling the natural products they produce and through subsistence farming. Life in the highlands is dominated by women. While the men usually work in the city, the women carry out all the work of livestock farming in the highlands.
"In the highlands we can breathe"
Gülbeyaz Keskin, mother of four children, talks about how life in the beautiful highlands gives her breathing space. She talks about her everyday life, which starts early in the morning by milking the animals. Yoghurt and cheese are made from milk. "Sometimes people come here and buy it from us. What we can't sell, we keep for ourselves. We preserve some of it for the winter months," she says.
"The crisis hits us too"
Zübeyde Yetiş, mother of seven children, states that life in the highlands is nice, but the economic crisis is also hitting them hard. "We sell five liters of milk for 150 TL, but people say it is too expensive," says Zübeyde Yetiş, adding, "But compared to the increased costs, it is very cheap. Nowadays, you can't buy anything for 150 TL. We should be selling these products, which we produce under difficult conditions day and night, at a higher price, but people don't have the purchasing power. These products are our only livelihood. I feed my family of eleven with these products. The money has no value anymore."
"Life in the highlands is hard, but beautiful"
Nazime Tunç has eleven children. She milks her cattle twice a day. "As beautiful as life is in the highlands, there are also very difficult aspects. The summer months are hot and dusty, there is little we can do. Life is hard, but this is our life and we have to endure it. Our grandfathers and grandmothers also lived this life, and we also live this life. This is our work."
"A beautiful life"
Asiye Özdemir is another woman who lives in the highlands. She talks about how the days in the highland are very similar: "Life in the highland is very nice. Because of the crisis, not as many people can come to the highlands as before, since everything is very expensive. Because the prices for fodder, hay, grass and the expenses for the shepherds are very high, people can no longer feed their animals. We send our animals to the mountains first. Then we make cheese from the milk from them. We also bake bread for ourselves and our children. That's how our life goes on and on. There are not so many guests either. The work is not difficult for us, it is a very nice life for us."
"I recommend life in the highlands to everyone"
Zeynep Özer describes her life in the highland as follows: "We get up early in the morning and first do our prayers. Then we take care of our animals and milk them. We boil the milk and make yoghurt and cheese. I recommend life in the highland to everyone. It is both beautiful and difficult and dusty. In other words, it has both beautiful and difficult sides. There is a lot of peace and quiet here. More precisely, we don't deal with people so much. There is no gossip here. You deal with your animals, with your children. I do what I love. People tell me, 'Come back, stop nomadic animal husbandry,' but I love this life. I have been doing this work for 24 years. I make yoghurt, cheese and oil here. Most people from Hakkari come and buy the products here. Because the products we make here are very natural. That's why people come here and buy everything they need from us."
Women of the Lice Women’s Cooperative have rolled up their sleeves to make homemade tomato paste this month. The women work in solidarity with each other against the economic crisis.
In the context of Kurdistan, ecocide is launched not only for looting resources, but also for the sake of destruction of any kind of resistance, in ignorance of the complexity of relations of different life forms that make life itself possible.
In the summer of 2023, Mount Cudi is once again the site of significant wildfires, marking a recurring environmental challenge that has profound implications for the region which is an important part of the Kurdish geography. This event brings to the forefront an interview with Zozan Pehlivan, an environmental historian of the modern Middle East, the Ottoman Empire, and Ottoman Kurdistan, conducted in 2020, now translated into English by MedyaNews, that explores the intricate connections between ecology, economy, and history in Turkey, Kurdistan and beyond.
Bedia Şimay and Bedriye Tırak are the owners of a handicraft shop located in the Sur district of Amed. Two sisters sell the crafts made by women living in provinces such as Batman, Mardin, and Siirt in their shop to earn a livelihood. “We have provided employment opportunities for hundreds of women until now,” Bedia Şimay said.
Pointing out that the war policies of the ruling powers cause ecological destruction, Rîhan Temo, Spokesperson of the Ecology Committee of Kongra Star, said that despite warnings for earthquakes, the Turkish state did not ensure the safety of the people
The Maras-centered earthquakes destroyed more than a hundred buildings in Syria and Rojava. 3,581 people lost their lives and 5,348 were injured. Thousands are still under the rubble in the Turkish-occupied areas as the death toll is not disclosed.
The HDP’s strength lies in its ability to mobilise and organise its large network of supporters and sympathisers and like-minded community organisations. As soon as they heard about the earthquake, the party dropped all other plans, set up a central coordination centre, and dispatched leading members to the affected area. Local election centres were transformed into coordination centres, while the youth organisation concentrated on rescue work. They put out calls for solidarity and for people with shelter and food to share with those without, and they helped create a framework to allow people’s natural solidarity to find direction.
The number of women’s cooperatives empowering women living in the southeastern part of Turkey to make money by selling what they produce is increasing every day. However, they do not have any space to sell their products.
The "Cizre Dam" project to be built on the Tigris River in Cizre was approved. Many settlements will be flooded by the new dam.
Women occupy a central role in the political project of « democratic autonomy » defended by the Kurdish liberation movement for the past fifteen years. We often hear talk of the parity practiced in all its institutions and of the male-female co-presidencies. But the accomplishments and the strength of the women’s movement go well beyond that and manage to unite a great number of women.
The Mesopotamian Ecology Movement launched a campaign to plant saplings throughout April against the destruction of nature.
Three women bake local bread in their “Tandoor House they opened in Çêwlig to have economic freedom. The Tandoor House become the hope for women living in the city and the people of the city prefer to buy bread made by these three women. Zehra Ataoğlu is one of three women and she tells us how they decided to open their bakery.
This article aims to analyse the economic dimension of Democratic Autonomy, whose creation is projected to take place alongside politics, self-defence, diplomacy, culture, ecology and collective emancipation, and relates to the reader the arguments and experiences within the economic field.
Shoemaking was a traditional craft of Armenian masters in Amed. In the capitalist throwaway society, the profession is dying out. Kasım Oğuç is one of the last shoemakers in the Kurdish metropolis.
Opposed to the economy controlled by the state and corporations, the number of cooperatives where relations of production and consumption are formed without intermediaries is on the rise. Recently, these cooperatives have begun to emerge in Kurdistan, as a reflection of the operation of an economy independent from the state and corporations. Below we share the interview we carried out with one of these co-operatives, the Medya Consumers’ Cooperative (Medya Tüketim Kooperatifi), at their market in Wan.
Kurdish Farmers in Şırnak follow tradition and sing 'stran' in chorus and harvest in harmony.
In 2021, too, the war in Kurdistan has a great impact on the struggle for an ecological society there. So we need to take a closer look at how these two issues relate to each other and what an ecological stance can look like in times of war. To that end, Make Rojava Green Again conducted an interview with Kamuran Akın from Humboldt University in Berlin.
This article analyzes women’s political representation in Kurdish-majority regions of Turkey before and after the 2019 crackdown on elected mayors from the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), as well as women’s political representation in the Syrian region of Serekaniye (Ras al-Ain) before and after Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring.
For the recently announced new invasion we have to expect chemical weapons attacks of Turkey! Already during the Turkish invasion of Serêkaniyê in 2019 the Turkish state used chemical weapons, including white phosphorus and napalm. 33 people were burned in this attack. Nature is being harmed and transformed in the long run. “Effects of chemical
Despite the widespread dismissal of HDP mayors and their replacement by government appointed trustees, Kars Municipality – still under the co-chairmanship of Ayhan Bilgen and Şevin Alaca – is carrying out important activities on such issues as nourishment, co-operatives, and women’s rights. Ayhan Bilgen, who has spent many years in politics and has been working
The earthquake survivors in Semsûr have established neighborhood commissions to support and be in solidarity with each other. The aim of the commissions is to build a communal life.
Women have founded Gölbaşı Women’s Cooperative in Sensur province. Emine Köseler, the chair of the cooperative, says they want to encourage women to take part in the production, “Such cooperatives should be founded everywhere in the region.”
The construction of two dams in Turkey’s south-eastern province of Adıyaman will lead to the forced migration of 5,000 members of the country’s Alevi community from lands where they have lived for thousands of years.
Last call to try and stop the destruction of the 12,000 years old site.
Ecology is one of the three pillars of the paradigm of Democratic Confederalism, the political-theoretical concept of the Kurdish Freedom Movement. Besides democracy and gender liberation, ecology has been mentioned explicitly as a dimension in this concept since 2005. However to date, ecology is less discussed and practiced than the two other pillars.
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.
Aygün Binici has a small shop at the “Women's Labor Market” opened by the HDP’s Silopi Municipality. Her shop has become a hope for dozens of women because Aygün sells their products at her shop.
The Mother Taybet Women’s Counseling Center in the Silopi district of Şırnak has become the shelter of women in the district. The center, which has received more than 50 applications from women victims of violence, aims to reach more women.
Immediately after the February 6 earthquake, one of the biggest in the history of Turkey, a broad meeting of Ecology Organizations in Turkey published this statement.
In light of the conditions that Syria is currently facing, water has been cut off from North-east Syria and Iraq, and a policy is being pursued to starve and dehydrate millions of innocent civilians. This is not only happening on top of the current political conflicts in the region and its associated inhospitable living conditions but amidst the corona pandemic – all of which is taking place in front of the international community.
The nation has been accused of breaking its agreement to ensure a flow of 500 cubic metres per second of the Euphrates flows through to Syria.
Beginning just three years ago with only two women, the Kibele Cooperative run by Kurdish women in Urfa has almost 50 members today and is run using a co-presidency system.
Below is the transcript of our interview with three members of the anarchist group Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet (DAF, or Revolutionary Anarchist Action) in Istanbul during May 2015. DAF are involved in solidarity with the Kurdish struggle, the Rojava revolution and against ISIS’ attack on Kobane, and have taken action against Turkish state repression and corporate
The Jaqhjagh River pollution has put the people living near it at risk from life-threatening diseases.
Regarding language, history and religion, we can divide the Christian community in North and East Syria into three groups: Syriac, Assyrian and Armenian. The first two are culturally close to one another and share a common heritage, but separated on points of language and by historic theological differences.
Kurdistan is not a poor country; it is a country that is being made poor. The lack of Coca Cola does not make us poor. Capitalist modernity, as Ocalan defines it, makes us poor. It wants to belittle people’s own production and to impose on the society capitalist mass production. That’s why the co-operatives and the communes that we have been establishing made the state feel uncomfortable. Because this represents a logic of rupture from mass production and a move towards the use of our own resources. The state was losing its market in Kurdistan.
Human rights defender, Hassan Mustafa asserted that friendly countries, the signatories of the Helsinki agreement, and the guarantors of the 1987 agreement, should force the Turkish state to change its policy towards the region. "we are going to resort to the international courts if Turkey continues to reduce the water level of the Euphrates River," he added.
In their search for an alternative, solidarity form of economy, the Kurdish freedom movement has organized a series of events, workshops, podium discussions and bigger conferences under the motto, "Let's communalize our land, our water and our energy, let's build a democratic, free life!"
Deposed co-mayor Songül Doğan of the municipality of Akpazar in the province of Dersim continues her works in an agricultural co-operative.
A court in Turkey’s southeastern Mardin province has pushed forward with terrorism charges against a dismissed mayor from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) over her municipality’s support for women’s cooperatives, which were planting green beans
TJA started preparations to create women's cooperatives in Van.
Raise in Special Consumption Tax (ÖTV) affects the secondhand car market negatively in Turkey. Van Car Dealers’ Cooperative chairperson İsmet İnan stated that the capital of car dealers shopkeepers reduced by half and added they did not predict a drop in prices.
Şimel Women's Cooperative founded in Amed (Diyarbakır) aims to make women’s labor visible. Providing employment to women working from home, the cooperative also aims to minimize the impact of the economic crisis on women.
Female sellers have been fined by the appointed mayor of Amed’s Bağlar Municipality for refusing male sellers to work in “Jiyan District Market”, all-women district market.
Four women will open a “Women’s Bazaar” in the Sur district of Diyarbakır. “Our aim is to create job opportunities for women,” the women say.