Organised by Peace in Kurdistan in association with Centre for Kurdish Progress
Monday, 23 October, 7-9pm in Committee Room 11, Houses of Parliament, Westminster
The meeting is hosted by Kate Osamor MP and chaired by the journalist Steve Sweeney
Speakers include Dr Radha D’Souza Reader in Law, Westminster University ; Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley lecturer in Political Sociology, the University of Cambridge; Dimitri Roussopoulos publisher, author and community organiser; De Zeynap Kurban, Kurdish Women’s Movement.
Join us for a discussion of the “democratic confederal” model in construction in the Democratic Federation of North Syria (Rojava), protagonised by the Kurdish Freedom Movement, and inspired by the ideas of imprisoned Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan.
The heroic defence of Kobane caught the world’s attention, the movement’s will to struggle, its ability to mobilize the people for collective self-defence, to sacrifice and to die for a cause, and not just for any cause, for a good cause: the project of “democratic confederalism,” a project which represents the only alternative to the negative dialectic of tyranny and chaos currently tearing the Middle East apart, or, in Ocalan’s terms, the only alternative to “hierarchical and dominated civilization.”
The project of “democratic confederalism” in construction in Rojava is an experiment in radical, direct democracy, based on citizens’ assemblies, defended by citizens’ militias.
It is a radical democratic project which emphasises gender emancipation, by implementing a model of co-presidency and a quota system that enforces gender equality in all forms of political representation, by organizing women’s assemblies and women’s academies, and by mobilizing women in their own militia for self-defence.
It is a radical democratic project that redefines “self-determination” as direct democracy against the state, that renounces as divisive and utopian the equation of the struggle for national freedom with the goal of an independent nation-state, and that seeks to overcome the danger of majority tyranny by institutionalizing a “revolutionary-consociational” regime. A consociational regime whose “social contract” guarantees multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic, and multi-religious accommodation, again, as with women, by implementing quotas for political representation (concretely, for Arabs and for Assyrian Christians), by direct assemblies of different constituent groups, and by mobilizing these groups in their own militias of self-defence.
And it is a radical democratic project which stresses the importance of “social ecology” and environmental sustainability, in a place where the soil bleeds oil.
In sum, an alternative to the dialectic of tyranny and chaos, a project that combines radical democracy, self-defence, gender emancipation, multi-cultural and multi-religious accommodation, as well as social ecology. A real road map for peace.
Dr Radha D’Souza is a Reader in Law specializing in International Law & Development, Law in Third World societies and Resource Conflicts in the Third World. She is a social justice and civil liberties activist working in India, UK and internationally. She is the author of the preface to the book: Abdullah Ocalan: Manifesto for a Democratic Civilization, Volume II Capitalism – The Age of Unmasked Gods and Naked Kings.
Dr Zeynep Kurban is a physicist working on renewable energy technology development at Imperial College London. As a member of the Kurdish community in the UK, she has been an activist within the Kurdish freedom movement from a young age. Since the siege of Sinjar and Kobane in 2014, she has focussed on aid activities in the region through the charity re-build ( http://re-build.help/about-us/), which she is a co-founding member of, and the Heyva Sor a Kurdistane (Kurdish Red Crescent). She has travelled to Rojava in 2015, soon after the liberation of Kobane.
Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, is a Lecturer in Political Sociology, Department of Sociology, at the University of Cambridge. He received his B.A. from U.C.L.A. (1995) and his PhD. from Yale University (2004). He has lectured at Yale University, Wesleyan University, and Saint Louis University (Madrid); and he has been a Garcia-Pelayo Research Fellow at the Center for Political and Constitutional Studies in Madrid. His research interests include comparative nationalisms and empirical democratic theory. His current project is on comparative struggles for self-determination in the 21st century. He has published widely on dynamics of nationalist conflict and accommodation in Spain and, increasingly, in Turkey.
Dimitri Roussopoulos is the chair of the Transnational Institute of Social Ecology, and the president of the urban think tank, Institute of Policy Alternatives Montreal. He has authored over a dozen books on subjects ranging from participatory democracy, social ecology and international politics and, as a publisher with Black Rose Books he has published almost 500 books. He is a political and community organiser in fields like housing rights, the cooperative economy, and ecological issues. He was a collaborator and friend with Murray Bookchin, the pioneer of social ecology which has so inspired Abdullah Oçalan and the Kurdish movement. In February 2016 and February 2017 he participated in the international Imrali peace delegations organised by the EU Turkey Civic Commission.
Steve Sweeney is a journalist and campaigner with an interest in Turkish and Kurdish politics and culture. He has travelled extensively in Kurdistan observing trials and covering Turkey’s recent constitutional referendum. He was arrested while travelling through Cizre where he met with families who had lost relelatives in the basement fires, where 189 men, women and children were burnt alive by Turkish security forces.
Steve has spoken in the European Parliament on Press Freedom and Democracy in Turkey. He is a patron of Peace in Kurdistan and a committee member of the Freedom for Öcalan campaign.
For information contact:
Peace in Kurdistan: firstname.lastname@example.org 07846 666804