News from the Revolution in Rojava and Wider Kurdistan
Bashira Darwis, a member of the PYD’s Central Executive Committee, sat down with Arzu Demir from ANF for an interview in which she discussed the situation in Rojava and the growing threat posed by the the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham in the region. Darwis has been in Turkey since June 7 as part of a delegation from Rojava sent to meet with various organizations and individuals within the Syrian National Council. At the same time Darwis will take part in the HDK/HDP congress in Ankara this weekend.
In the interview Darwis positions the system of democratic autonomy developing in Rojava as the model most capable of defeating ISIS, saying “the only thing that can stop the advance of ISIS in the Middle East is the system we have built in Rojava. We, all the peoples living in Rojava and Syria must struggle together to protect our borders, and after defeating ISIS within our borders we must work together so the might be more egalitarian, democratic and free.”
-We are meeting you in Turkey where you have come to meet with various organizations connected to the Syrian National Congress. What is the goal of these meetings? Are these meetings connected to developments around recent ISIS attacks?
Our goal is to bring the opposition in Syria under one roof. We are holding meetings toward this end. The ISIS attacks started around the time we came to Turkey for these meetings. Perhaps they attacked in particular because of these meetings. To prevent us from establishing such relationships. These meetings were not planned yesterday or last week. They were planned a while ago.
-Have the recent ISIS attacks made the task of bringing together the Syrian opposition easier?
Certainly they saw in these attacks that ISIS is not only targeting Kurds. ISIS, invoking customs from 1,400 years ago, considers it helal to murder uncovered women and men who smoke cigarettes, and have ideas that legitimate the rape of women and young girls. Certainly the experience of this oppression has given the feeling that these are not only attacks against Kurds or against Rojava. And they said they understood us on this subject.
-What is being done in Rojava in light of these latest developments?
We have been in Turkey since June 7. For this reason we do not really know what plan or project has been designed in Rojava. But I can say this. We, all the peoples living in Rojava, will again defend ourselves. The Syriac Military Council has also made a statement, that they are a target before us. We know that they too have developed mechanisms for defending themselves.
-Have you seen any change in the policy of the Turkish state regarding Rojava from the beginning of the popular administration on July 19th 2012 until today?
It cannot be said that we have established very warm relations with Turkey. Delegations have certainly met but it is not possible to say that they took place as part of a very serious or lasting relationship. We in the region of Rojava are an administration tied to Syria. Yet we have borders with Turkey and Iraq. Therefore we hold meetings with these states. When we look at the attacks carried out by ISIS we see that not only Rojava but Turkey and Iraq are also under threat. Our desire is that an environment of peace might develop which includes Rojava. As regards Turkey the most important task toward this end is for them to take concrete stops in response to the call for peace made by Leader Apo and to further the development of the peace process. Thus our relations with Turkey will improve together together with the development of the peace process.
-Have you had any contacts with the Turkish State while you have been in Turkey?
We have not had any meetings with Turkish state officials while we have been in Turkey. The people we have met have all been people from the Syrian opposition. We do not know what will happen from here. Tomorrow we will take part in the HDK/HDP congress in Ankara. If an invitation comes from the government, we will speak amongst ourselves and decide whether or not we will participate. However the principal reason we came here is to meet with the Syrian opposition.
-Did your delegation have any preconditions for meeting [with member of the Syrian opposition]?
No, we did not.
–Following upon the ISIS attacks there were statements from the YPG and HPG saying “let us defend the Kurdish regions together.” Has the KDP changed in Rojava policy following the latest developments?
The expectations of the Kurdish people are as follows: that Barzani and the KDP recognize and support the Rojava revolution. We expected a similar statement from Barzani in response to the YPG’s statement that “we are ready to defend the Kurdish people everywhere.” Before the ISIS attacks the Semelka border crossing was closed. Now it is officially open but it is not possible to say that is entirely functioning. A number of days ago a pregnant woman needed to cross to South Kurdistan for treatment. However she was made to wait for hours. It is very difficult to say that the embargo has been entirely lifted and the border crossings opened. But because we are here at the moment it is difficult for us to know what is happening there exactly.
-Were you able to come to Turkey with problems? How was the treatment at the border gate?
The first day we went we were turned back because the Turkish state had not been informed of our names. The second day they made us wait until evening and then we were able to cross. There was no verbal abuse directed against us but we waited on the border for more than a day and a half and for this reason experienced difficulties.
-What will happen in Syria when you look at the latest developments? What do you predict?
We know the reasoning of ISIS. It is an organization which pursuing a caliphate with swords in their hands and operates with a mentality from 1,400 years ago. They are attacking Yezidi Kurds in Sanjar. They are attacking Muslim Kurds in Rojava. In fact they will attack anyone who is not them. This is a very serious threat. They are capable of carrying out a great massacre against all peoples.
How will they be stopped? The Iraqi government and the American government have called for air-strikes. Is this the solution? How will ISIS be stopped?
The only thing that can stop the advance of ISIS in the Middle East is the system we have built in Rojava. We, all the peoples living in Rojava and Syria must struggle together to protect our borders, and after defeating ISIS within our borders we must work together so the might be more egalitarian, democratic and free. ISIS is an organization supported by a collection of powers who are forcing the capitalism of imperialist powers into the Middle East and are attempting to draw new borders in the Middle East, and who have their sights not on the interests of the people but their own interests. We know that some people have come here from Morocco, Algeria and Guantanamo and are attacking the peoples here. Therefore the most important response that can be made [toward ISIS] is for the people to organize and to permit neither imperial powers nor the forces of radical Islam to exist in Rojava or anywhere else.