This past week, the people of the United States have taken to the streets in the face of the racist murder of George Floyd by the police. Protests continue day after day with firmness as the state responds with the most brutal violence. Protesters and journalists are beaten, detained and humiliated, with no respect for the right to protest and for lives free of violence.
Just two days ago, the young Kurdish man Barış Çakan was killed by fascists in Turkey. Another Kurdish person who is killed by the fascism that the Turkish state promotes and protects, either through its own police, army and intelligence services or through fascists who act with impunity on its streets. Only a few weeks ago different women’s freedom activists and representatives of the Kurdish people in different institutions were beaten and arrested.
These are not isolated events, but both George’s and Barış’ murders are part of the ideology on which the state is based. A racist chauvinist ideology that is expressed in different places and in different ways, but which is part of the same system of capitalist nation-states based on the male mentality of power and domination.
With this mentality they try to divide society, making an enemy of everyone who is different, whether by skin colour, ethnicity or gender. They generate hate in order to maintain their power. And neither Barış nor George have unfortunately been the only ones to pay with their lives for the brutality of this system. The history of the Black community and the Kurdish people has been one of oppression and resistance.
From the Black slave trade to today’s racist policies and violence, from the Dersim massacre to the occupation of northern and eastern Syria by Turkey and its jihadist allies, we see the continuity of the system and the mentality that is leading to the collapse of the environment, which denies freedom to women and to society. We see how the war against society is expressed every day by the capitalist modernity and patriarchal mentality against the democratic will of the people.
A war that is particularly expressed in the bodies and lives of women, as we can see in the occupied region of Afrin. A few days ago, a video was released showing women who had been kidnapped and are being held in prisons under violent inhuman conditions by jihadist groups supported by Turkey, the United States and the rest of NATO. This states support groups that kidnap, torture and murder women in Afrin, as well as the police, who murder black people with impunity and attack and abuse women. Here and there, we fight the same war and as women, just as we are the first target, we have to be the first line of resistance.
The state defends the monopoly of violence for itself, while self-defence is labelled as terrorism, whether it is developing on the streets of the United States or in the mountains of Kurdistan. But, as Abdullah Öcalan rightly explains, “a peace without self-defence is an expression of resignation and slavery”.
In the liberated territories of the North and East Syria we have a clear commitment to peace. We know that without justice there is no peace. Without ethics there is no peace. Without democracy of the people, there is no peace. Without women’s freedom there is no peace. That is why we are building and defending a system that is based on the liberation of women and on a democratic and ecological system that protects the right to self-defence and the coexistence of peoples, religions and ethnic groups as inalienable values.
Because day after day we continue to be bombed, murdered and humiliated. They continue to pit us against each other, dividing society. And that is why our greatest weapon to defend ourselves as a society is to remain united, from the diversity that shapes us, seeing the difference as that which enriches us.
Our oppression has the same origin, and therefore we must fight together to end it, to defend a free life. To fight the murder of the Kurds in Turkey is to fight the murder of black people in the United States. To fight the invasion of northern and eastern Syria is to fight the racism of the police. To defend Rojava is to defend the Black community, and to defend the Black community is to defend the Kurdish people.
As women, we make a commitment to fight for a freedom that liberates all of society. Our commitment to rebuild a society that lives together as a community in its diversity in response to so much destruction, division and hatred. Our commitment to defend life in the face of death imposed on us.
Let us defend ourselves from racism, fascism and the patriarchal mentality of the capitalist nation-states. Let us build a free life together in memory of George, of Barış, of all the people who have died at the hands of fascism and racism, and all the resisting people who have gone before us. Let us rise up and organize because only together will we make racism the painful memory of a finished history.
For all the martyrs, from Rojava to the world, we say loudly that “Black lives matters”, “Kurdish lives matters”, and we are ready to defend them side by side.