An Interview With Osman Ocalan: The Guerrilla Movement Rejecting Discrimination Against Women in Kurdistan
My meeting with Osman Ocalan was for me, truly revolutionary. In the midst of this tremendous violence facing women not just in Iraqi Kurdistan but throughout the world, there are men who choose not to conform to the discriminatory attitudes that promote the rights of men and limit those of women.
The challenge of understanding "who's fighting who" in the conflict in Syria and Iraq has led to a simplified representation of the Kurds solely taking up arms against ISIS. Kurdish groups such as the People's Protection Units (YPG) have indeed proved worthy adversaries to this Islamist extremist group and as allies to the US. However, scores of Iraqi Kurds are also fighting alongside violent extremist groups.
If you cannot support the Kurds fighting to end the brutalities of racism, fundamentalism and genocide, fighting to create a system based on social and economic justice, do not bother to shed tears over Aylan Kurdi.
Citizens of Kobane in the refugee camps, Suruç "I am saying this to the whole world: We will never allow the establishment
The promise of the revolutionary women of Kobane is poignant. It is a promise that democracy, radical freedom and social justice are not meaningless terms, but are lived realities. It is a promise of a society where equality is a practice, and not a word on paper.
Contrary to the desires and interests of regional governments, arming and helping the Kurds to fight ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) in Kobane may be the trigger for the birth of a new nation - Kurdistan. No country in the region wants that but this will be one of the unintended consequences of the break up of Syria and the emergence of ISIL.
When I began visiting the Kurdistan Region in 2006, one big issue was how best to deal with its awkward neighbour, Turkey. We heard stories of people finding it difficult to cross the border. One trade union delegation, delivering a fire engine to Erbil, was delayed for a day at the border without food or water. It was all pretty petty stuff but more serious dangers simmered. Just five years ago, 100,000 Turkish troops were poised on the border with the Kurdistan Region.
It sometimes seems that Iraqi Kurds have no word with the urgency of manana but it hasn't stopped Iraqi Kurdistan making tremendous strides in a few short years. The best start date for their renaissance is 2006, the first full year of the new Iraqi constitution, agreed by the people and which recognised Kurdistan as a largely autonomous region.
A few weeks ago the hottest topic in Turkey was the peace process with the PKK, until a small scale demonstration to protect trees in an Istanbul public park erupted into mass anti-government protests.
Arriving at a peaceful settlement will take some time and will require a great deal of honesty as well as transparency. But the short answer is yes, this time it is different and there is reason to be hopeful for peace.