“Rojava” is Kurdish for “West”. It refers to the land in the western part of Kurdistan (the land where Kurds live), in the north of Syria.
The Assad family has ruled Syria under dictatorship for 40 years. The official name for the country is the ‘Syrian Arab Republic’, formally denouncing the existence of Kurds and other minorities, despite the rich tapestry of cultures and languages that inhabit these lands.
In 2012, in the midst of the Syrian Civil War, the rule of the Assad Regime weakened in the Kurdish majority northern regions. The Rojava Revolution was announced on 19 July 2012.
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 Economic Committee of Kongreya Star has opened a grocery shop for three women.
In March 2019 Debbie Bookchin visited us at the Academy of the Internationalist Commune. She gave a seminar on Social Ecology and left many books of Murray Bookchin with us for further studies.
Samir Sadeq, an administrator of The Federation of Co-operative Societies, said in an interview that the economy is one of the most important things for the society, and the main aim of forming co-operative societies is to protect society, and for its members to participate and respect each other and co-operate.
The democratic autonomous model implemented in Rojava and the North of Syria has been presented at Terra Madre. Terra Madre Salone del Gusto is an international gastronomy exhibition that takes places every two years in Turin. Organized by Slow Food, the Region of Piedmont and the City of Turin, the event brings together food producers
The Committee of the Union of Co-operatives in the region of Tell Hamis in Qamishlo held a special meeting for women in the village of Nayem to discuss women’s rights in the co-operatives societies and to encourage them.
Before the beginning of the 2011 protests against Bashar al-Assad, structures like the Kumin and Mala Gel already existed among the Kurds. Because of the harassment at the hands of the state forces, the Kurds created their own informal organs of self-administration, which were judged as illegal by the central state. The Mukhabarat (secret police) could arrest anyone participating in them. After the government forces departed from the territory of Jazira, the Kumin and the Mala Gel took government functions upon themselves. A little over a year ago, representatives of the Kurdish, Assyrian and Arabic communities decided to give the political system its current form. In January 2014, the forming of the cantons Jazira, Kobanê and Afrin and the unifying territorial entity of Rojava was announced.
The Syrian Democratic Council announced a new unified administration in the areas controlled by the SDF in North and East Syria, after a Thursday meeting that included officials from several local councils.
The House of Co-operatives has coordinated with the Economic Assembly has to hold a meeting with the share holders in the Manbij Consumer Co-operative.
The efforts to build up communes everywhere never ceased after the start of the military cooperation with the US; rather the number of communes doubled. Also the creation of co-operatives continued; today there are a few hundred co-operatives. The democratic-communal economy continues to be developed. The anti-capitalist mentality was stronger in 2017 than in 2014 when I traveled for the first time to Rojava.
The people of Fars al-Ghanam village in the countryside of eastern Manbij have formed a co-operative society to run an electric generator in co-ordination with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Economic Committee in Manbij.
In Rojava, the significance of the co-operative system lies in efforts to democratise all sectors of society, including the economy. For this reason, creating alternative means and avenues that allow traditionally marginalised groups such as women to actively participate and engage with the market is an essential aspect of the radical democratic model.
The ‘Make Rojava Green Again’ campaign of the Internationalist Commune of Rojava began in early 2018. I am pleased and impressed that they have now published this inspirational book. That such a text is being produced is in itself an expression of hope.
"We hope that the people outside of Kurdistan also open their eyes, and are not silent about the attacks by Turkey. Maybe we cannot give [displaced people] back their old life, but we can help them to create a better future. I know that many people do not think much about what happens to people from other countries, but we should not forget our humanity. Because as we know, it could one day be us. The people of Afrin are happy about the solidarity from outside and they know that they have not been forgotten. Let us work together to create a better world with the revolution in Rojava, because together we are strong."
HDP's Co-chair Sezai Temelli this week said that Turkey and its Islamist rebel allies in Afrin had confiscated 70 tons (140,000 pounds) of the olive harvest to sell in markets.
The figure the Turkish minister provided was much higher.
"That is why Agricultural Credit Cooperatives [of Turkey] was tasked with [procuring] five tons. On the eighth [of November], the border gates were opened. So far, 600 tons of products have entered the country," Pakdemirli detailed, in words that the opposition party said was a "confession of plunder."
Of Democratic Confederalism’s three pillars—radical democracy, gender liberation, and ecological sustainability—I would argue that the latter is the most crucial, and sets the foundation for a truly democratic, inclusive and egalitarian society. A society cannot be democratic towards ethno-religious minorities or be truly gender progressive if it cannot first and foremost demonstrate an integral and profound respect for our shared land.
This report by the Information Centre of Afrin Resistance was first published on 25 January, 2018. Sadly, Afrin is now completely under the control of Turkey and its Jihadist allies. We are publishing it now because we believe it is important to maintain an awareness of the situation of Afrin and its history.
After two months of hard work, Inanna Agricultural Co-operative, which is supervised by Kongreya Star in Afrin has started harvesting the crops of green onions and garlic, and selling them in the markets of the region.
Inanna Agricultural Co-operative began its first agricultural project in the area of Rajo in Afrin by planting wheat, onion and garlic.
“Because this model” Dr. Yusuf says, “is the model by which the history of humanity will be brought back to life our chances of winning are high.”
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.
Important decisions were made at the seventh congress of Kongreya Star. The congress was held under the banner, “We will make the women’s revolution a communal revolution!” The conference was held in Aram Tigran Cultural Centre in the city of Rmelan in the canton of Qamishlo, and it was attended by about 700 representatives.
After the announcement of the Democratic Self Administration in 2014, institutions were organised and local councils and committees were formed which concentrated their efforts on the economic situation in the region. One of the missions of the Economic Committee was to support the agricultural, industrial and commercial projects throughout Rojava, with the aim of reaching self-sufficiency, curbing monopoly and exploitation, reducing unemployment and activating the work force, both male and female.
The year 2016 was characterised by the advance of economic projects that aimed to improve the communal economy in Rojava, especially the projects that were connected to women.
In early December an international delegation visited Rojava’s Cezire [Jazira] canton where they learned about the ongoing revolution, cooperation and tolerance.
The House of Co-operatives that belongs to the Economic Committee in the Democratic Administration of Tabqa is working to improve the communal economy, which benefits all members of society, especially women. The communal economy solves social problems such as unemployment, and empowers women.
Administrators in the House of Co-operatives in Northern Syria organised a meeting for the people of Tabqa to explain what co-operative societies are and how they work.
Despite being surrounded on all sides by enemies, with Afrin taken and the ‘new’ regime there coming to world attention for its normalisation of brutality and human rights abuses, the ‘Rojavan Revolution’ continues to move forward in an uncertain environment…
The Women’s Council in Tabqa organised a meeting with the women who are registered to work in new projects. These projects will be supervised by the Women’s Council there, and will raise awareness about the role of women in society and the importance of these kinds of projects to create more jobs for women, and
"Everything was green before," sighs a young peasant from Sawidiyah, a small Syrian village at the banks of the Euphrates near Tabqa's massive dam. "Now it should be the season, but the crops are lost, because Turkey cuts the water, preventing the production of electricity. For us here everything is linked to the agricultural sector. If there is no agriculture, there is no more work."
For Raqqa, the ISIS occupation meant the dawn of a time of atrocities and oppression. With the liberation of the city last year under the leadership of the YPJ, a period of self-organization and emancipation began.
One year after the liberation of the city of Raqqa by the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces), the pumping station was rehabilitated after being repaired.
Under the auspices of al-Raqqa Civil Council, the Reconstruction Committee and the People's Municipality Council, the first project of its kind was launched to develop the service level in al-Raqqa city.
After the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) liberated the district of Ayn Îsa from DAESH (ISIS) , in the Northern Syrian province of Girê Spî, the province began to revive.
Re-establishing peace and security meant rebuilding a new life under the leadership of women who had played a leading role in regaining freedom.
The House of Co-operatives in Sheddadi has been working on many projects that aim to improve the economy in and around the city.
I take a minibus and go to Qamishlo, the biggest city of the canton. There are dozens of oil pumps along the road. Hilly fields covered with fresh, green grass with oil pumps sticking out like crooked nails. When you look a second time you realise very few of them are moving. Only a small number are functioning.
The House of Co-operatives in Girkê Legê district seeks to establish more co-operative societies in order to promote the principle of the participatory economy and to consolidate social ties among all groups of society.
The House of Co-operatives has initiated a project of building a bakery in Girkê Legê to satisfy people's need for bread.
The bakery project will be finished in a few months, and once it’s ready it will be supervised by a co-operative society that includes families of martyrs.
Eleven people participated in the co-operative. The price for a share is 60,000 SYP.
Al-Raed Co-operative in Tirbespiye is specialised in making guest lounges with harmonious designs and colours. It was formed a year ago, and it has five members, each of whom paid 700,000 SYP [around £1,080]. The Centre for Co-operative Societies has donated 1,5000,000 SYP for the project.
After the economic success of agricultural co-operatives in the last few years, 20 women from Tirbespiye formed a co-operative called Rojava Wheat Spikes Agricultural Co-operative. The Economic Committee was so impressed they decided to give full support to the emerging co-operative. The co-op will cultivate 1,330 dunam (decares) of agricultural land. The women have already started cultivating wheat on 800 dunams.
Co-operative societies in Tirbespiye have been giving economic support for many families, and contributing in developing the communal economy. Women have played the largest role in establishing and developing these co-operatives.
A journey into the heart of the revolution and the strategies of transition towards a social economy: the multiplication of communes and cooperatives, and experimentation with new models of social, political and economic organisation.
After dissolving the agricultural committees, the Centre for Co-operative Societies has started to cultivate barley in the agricultural lands in the Easter Dam. The co-operative has 340 participants, and the size of the land is 10,366 dunams [decares].
The Academy of Communal Economy in Hasakah trained 13 members of co-operative societies from both Jazeera and the Euphrates regions, in an intense fifteen day course.
The Women’s Committee under the Hesekê Economy Directorate has developed several projects to develop women’s economy in the region.
In northern Syria, Til Xelef, Girê Moza and Til Beyder are home to more than 2,000 Neolithic sites. The self-government in northern Syria restored the destroyed artefacts and put them under protection.
Dirbêsiyê ─ With the start of June, agricultural and livestock co-operative Kasrek [Qesrik], the largest co-operative society of Jazira Canton [Kantona Cizîrê / Cezîre], began harvesting their rain-fed and irrigated crops. They will distribute the profits among 5,300 members. Kasrek Co-operative, a project of The Centre for Economy in Derbesiye [Dirbêsiyê / Al-Darbasiyah], is considered the largest co-op in Jazira
Akri Ibrahim – Ahmad Darwish The Economic Council of Dirbêsiyê [Derbesiye / Al-Darbasiyah] succeeded in making several socio-economic achievements in less than one year. The Economic Council of Derbesiye that was formed more than a year ago has managed to develop community economics in the region, and has made six economic achievements to date. 5,161 citizens participate in co-operatives. The Economic
In Kasrek [Qesrik] village of Dirbêsiyê [Derbesiye / Al-Darbasiyah], a co-operative society with 4,000 members started working on its economic, agricultural and livestock projects that will boost the community economy in the region. After a series of meetings of the people in the region, organised by the Economic Council in the Dirbêsiyê area, a new co-operative was formed
Eleven women have successfully formed a co-operative society by buying a power generator. These women were previously stripped from their natural right to work and were distanced from contributing to the communal economy, but thanks to the Rojava Revolution they have reinforced the women's economy and reinstated a role for women in their society.
“The co-operative societies in Serekaniye are based on social, co-operative and communal principles. They are not established only to make profits, and for that reason the administrators of the co-operative societies form meetings and seminars with the participants in the villages and cities, in order to raise awareness and introduce the ideas of co-operatives to the people. It is important to rely on small businesses and encourage participation in co-ops. The organisers in those meetings and seminars also get a chance to listen to the complaints and the needs of the people.”
After the Democratic Autonomous Administration was able to establish a democratic way of life in Northern Syria, they introduced the socio-economic model of co-operative societies. As the revolution has developed, people have begun to form co-operatives. Hundreds of co-operatives are now operating in the area. One of the areas where many co-operatives have spread is in Serêkaniyê city, where residents began forming co-operatives in 2014.
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.
This post about the campaign Make Rojava Green Again and the tree nursery “Roj” in Dêrik was first published in German by ANF, 15 February, 2019 The Kanton Cizîre [Jazira Canton] was densely wooded until antiquity. No later than the Bagdad railway from Konya to Bagdad was built, more and more trees were burned. Nowadays
Over the last two weeks we finally planted the first badge of olive trees on the area of our academy. The trees are still small, but already change the appearance of the place a lot. We got the trees from a nearby tree nursery. When the war in Afrin was getting more intense many olive trees were cutted as saplings and brought to the other parts of Rojava, also to that tree nursery. In that way we see on the one side of Rojava the Turkish is brutally acting against people and nature – olive orchards have been burnt down – on the other side we try to contribute to the reforestation of the region.
This report and photo update from the Make Rojava Green Again campaign and their work at the Internationalist Commune in Rojava for November 2018 is reposted from Make Rojava Green Again, 5 November, 2018
A delegation from the Co-operative German Cities Organisation visited the People’s Municipality in Derik in order to establish relations in many fields and exchange expertise and opinions. The delegation included two members of The Co-operative Societies of German Cities, Edith Dunklitt and Dr Hans Walter Kleif. The delegation was welcomed by two co-chairs of the
Sarhad Farm is the second biggest livestock-breeding project in Derik. The project is expected to be launched within one month, and it will be owned by a co-operative society with 400 members.
The House of Co-operatives in Derik has started cultivating the 1,550 dunams (decares) of agricultural land that belongs to Axa Welat Co-operative in the village of Haji Matri, one of the villages around Derik in the Qamishlo canton.
Pêşketin Co-operative Society is one of the co-operatives that has taken an important position in the region of Derik. It is divided into two parts, livestock and agriculture. The co-operative has accomplished partial self-sufficiency since its inception, and it has a participatory nature.
The co-operative started with the participation of 50 women who work the land, cultivating, planting and overseeing the growth of the crops.
Adar Bakery is the first bakery to be founded and run by women in Rojava. With the support of the TEV-DEM Women’s Economic Committee, six women were organised in a cooperative and began production in April 2016, communally making the bread and sharing the revenue.
The Women’s Agricultural Co-operative was established in 2015 by Kongreya Star and the Committee of Women’s Economy. It includes 135 members from Derik and the villages of Braaf and Kojerat, who each participated with 65,000 SYP, and planted on 380 dunams of land.
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.
It's been one year since the US bombing of Kobanê—then partly occupied by Daesh [ISIS/IS]—and most of the buildings are still in tatters. Kobanê is in Rojava (meaning 'West' in Kurdish), a Kurdish majority region in the north of Syria that declared autonomy from the Assad regime in 2012.
The spread of co-operative societies in the region has strengthened the communal spirit and increased participation, many people from villages and towns have approached the centres of co-operatives either to propose projects or to participate in them. In 2014, Nisrîn Co-operative was formed to manufacture cleaning products. There were discussions about it in the commune
Important decisions followed the annual meeting of The General Administration of Agriculture and Livestock in Qamishlo.
The meeting was held on 12 September 2018 in the village of Himo. A big banner was hung in the meeting which read, Agriculture is the reason for the existence of society. The meeting went on for two days, and was attended by many members of the General Administration.
One of the power generator co-operatives in Qamishlo is Jiyan Co-operative. The generator started work a year and two months ago [September 2017]. It has more than 150 members, and the price for a share is 25,000 SYP [around £40]. The project cost 7,400,000 SYP [around £11,500]. The House of Co-operatives donated a fair amount of the cost. The generator needed other equipment in order to operate, including a tablet which cost 400,000 SYP [£620], a battery that cost 100,000 SYP [£155], some cables and other items.
A food manufacturing co-operative society called Yekbûn has been opened by some women in the Hilaliyah neighbourhood in Qamishlo. Yekbûn means "to be one".
The two communes of Shehid Mohammed Amin and Shehid Bahuz, which include 150 families in the Sweis neighbourhood of Qamishlo, have formed an electric co-operative society called Ronak. Their objective is to solve their problems autonomously and serve their neighbourhood. The administration includes seven people, and the price is 1,000 SYP [Syrian Pounds] per amp. The electricity generator will work from 12:00 to 17:00, and from 20:00 to 00:00 on a daily basis.
There are 21 co-operative societies in Qamishlo that are embodying the ideas of communal and participatory life, creating a collective environment at work, and building solidarity among the members of society.
85 members of the Union of Pharmacists formed a medicine co-operative called Zanîn in order to prevent the selling of expired medicines.
Zanîn is a co-operative for medical, dental and pharmaceutical supplies and equipment for hospitals and clinics. The idea for this project came from a group of doctors who work in Jazira. Zanîn is a communal co-operative, and the price of a share is 100,000 SYP. There are a total of 5,000 shares which are collectively worth five hundred million Syrian pounds.
House of Co-operatives in Qamishlo has distributed flyers to introduce people to the concept of co-operative societies, explain how they work, and strengthen the relationship between people and co-operatives.
''Considering the economic situation, the deterioration of the living conditions and the lives of some of the people who live around the two communes, some steps have been taken to help them and support them financially. By letting people participate in the co-operative as members and workers who sell necessities at reduced prices, we help the people to endure the living conditions in the suburbs. There are some people who live in the neighbourhood working in the two projects, and that is reducing unemployment and creating a workforce. We are aiming to increase the economic projects around the commune in order to include more people, help them and cover their needs.''
A group of mostly women residents of Qamishlo set up Shîlan Co-operative for the sale of underwear on 7th January, 2017 in Hilaliya, a neighborhood in Qamishlo. They were able to establish the co-operative with the support of the local council of the city.
Nisrîn is a co-operative society for cleaning products that was formed in Qamishlo five years ago by seven members who collaborated to serve the area of Hilaliyeh, which is far away from the market. In these times there was a lot of monopoly. Each participant contributed with 75,000 SYP. They bought cleaning products from the market, put some shelves up, and started selling them for lower prices than in the market.
Avîn went to Turkey looking for work at the beginning of the Rojava Revolution, but she couldn’t endure the injustice in the treatment of the workers. She returned to Qamishlo and now works in Nisrîn Co-operative. Avîn saiys that in Turkey, they were treating the workers like slaves.
The Women’s Office in east Qamishlo [Qamişlo / Qamishli / Al-Qamishli] has opened a bakery called Lilit to make pastries and manakish. The opening was attended by many of Qamishlo’s residents, as well as members of Kongreya Star [the women’s movement umbrella structure], local councils and institutions of civil society. We headed to Qamishlo’s eastern municipality to get more information,