News from the Revolution in Rojava and Wider Kurdistan
The following article – “Efrîn’i duymak“ – was written by M. Ali Çelebi and appeared in Özgür Gündem. It has been translated into English below.
Think about a time in your childhood when you once had a fever and how you would close your eyes trembling and groaning when the fever would not abate despite all those warm showers and cold towels. Or think about a time when you hit your head against something hard, or you swallowed a battery and an x-ray machine was quickly able to locate the battery and surgery was able to remove it before the alkaline or mercury put your life in danger. Now think about a situation in which everyone mobilizes and rushes the child to the nearest hospital only to hear that the x-ray or tomography machine is broken and there is nothing to be done. And then think about the hopelessness of this situation. Does this not tear at your heart and at your mind like a razor?
This is exactly what the Efrîn (Afrin) Canton is being made to experience, simply for having as its rallying cry a philosophy of democracy, freedom and the equality of all people. In Efrîn, where the Baath dictatorship provided no services and made no investment in an attempt to destroy its identity, there is just one hospital and a few insufficient health units. They say there are no dialysis machines, x-rays or tomographs in Efrîn. There is not even a delivery room. The doctors are working tirelessly and unselfishly. However you can imagine what happens to families and doctors the moment when someone dies of a basic illness owing to the limited means.
This is to say that Efrîn is being punished with an embargo implemented by Turkey because it took steps to determine its own fate in July 2012.
Where Efrîn has an estimated population of between 500-600 before the revolution it became the destination for migrants fleeing fighting in other areas. It is estimated that number of people now living in the Rojava canton has reached 1 million 200 thousand. Up to 90 percent of Efrîn’s population is Kurdish, around 10 percent in Arab. Within the city there is only one Alawite Arab village. All the peoples of the canton participate together in the canton administration and organizations. There is a weekly newspaper that serves as the voice of the city. However the surrounding powers, with their colonialist mentality, have implemented an embargo through their local proxies in order to crush the developments occurring here and now and then send their proxies to attack. While Turkey controls the border with Efrîn, the areas around Azaz and Aleppo are under the control of jihadist groups and Assad’s forces.
The border gate from İslahiye must be opened:
In order to get Turkey, which is implementing the embargo, to open the border-gate to Efrîn from Antep-İslahiye (the area around the unused railway) and to develop economic and political relations the Efrîn Canton Government (President Hevi Mistefa, Foreign Minister Sileman Cafer and Deputy Foreign Minister Cihan Mihemmed) came to Ankara. From there they went to Istanbul and met with civil society organizations in the Cezayir restaurant [in the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul]. They explained how the mentality of discrimination completely disregarded human life. Hevi Mistefa wanted support from the representatıves of the civil society organizations he addressed in order to open the border gate and lift the embargo.
Here are the bullet-points from Hevi Mistefa’s talk:
-With refugees the population has doubled. It is difficult for us to cope.
-We haven’t been able to make Efrîn’s voice heard. External support is lacking. There has been an embargo imposed against us. Our people are paying the price. They are living under very difficult conditions. There in an insufficient amount of necessary goods.
-The border gate must be opened. In particular there is a need for medical aid. Medical supplies are very limited. Medicine is not easily accessible. We are forced to procure it through smuggling. The price is double.
-Efrîn has very fertile land. There are olives and all kinds of fruit. We are attempting to develop cooperatives.
-In Rojava Kurds, Arabs, Syriacs, Yezidis, Alawites and Sunnis have founded a life together. All faiths and groups can express themselves as much as the Kurds.
-There is now a Syria in which brother is killing brother and there is destruction and pillage. We are not a party to this war but when we are attacked we are forced to defend ourselves.-We will defend ourselves and the gains we have made through our own labor and the blood of our martyrs.
Our faith in the YPG and YPJ is endless – is anything expected from Turkey? What is wanted is that the Baath regime behave differently and that they take the brotherhood of peoples as their principal. Or has any such reality now been ruined and such rhetoric bordering on the ridiculous. Or is that “We will be on the side of the oppressed…Neither we will forget Jerusalem nor will Jerusalem forget Istanbul” (as said by PM Ahmet Davutoğlu on November 9th on TRTHaber). And who do his words really value? It must not be forgotten that Turkey will be just as responsible as the Baath regime for every death that occurs in Efrîn owing to a lack of necessary medical supplies.