An August 11 meeting at the Melbourne Trades Hall heard an inspiring report on the rebuilding of Kobane and the progress and problems of the Rojava revolution.
Hawzhin Azeez, a former University of Newcastle academic and now a central figure on the Kobane Reconstruction Board, spoke for almost an hour outlining the significance of Kobane to the Kurdish freedom struggle and the importance of the rebuilding effort.
Kobane was besieged by Islamic State (IS) gangs between September 2014 and January 2015. Against all odds the epic resistance prevailed. But the human and material cost was enormous: thousands died and some 80% of the city was destroyed (mostly by US airstrikes).
It would have been simpler to build a new city some kilometres away. But Azeez explained that given the great sacrifices made, it was felt that Kobane had to be rebuilt where it was.
Making the reconstruction immeasurably more difficult is the total Turkish blockade; in addition, access from Iraqi Kurdistan is intermittent at best. And south of Rojava lies the territory of IS.
The positive side of this confronting situation is that it has forced the people of Kobane to be extremely creative. For instance, US experts said it would take three years and a lot of money just to clear the rubble but an army of volunteers mostly did it in six months. And despite an absence of trained technicians, volunteers learned by trial and error to operate complex brick-making machinery.
Azeez explained that the military struggle was forced on them. But the Rojava Revolution is far more than that; it is an attempt to develop new, more social and cooperative ways of living.
In an extremely conservative and patriarchal society, the revolution is trying to empower women to step forward and play a more equal role in society.
For example, the traditional view is that it is shameful for women to step outside the family and the house and go to work. But progress is being made.
National Tertiary Education Union state secretary Colin Long chaired the meeting and John Tully from Australians for Kurdistan (AfK) outlining the work of the committee responsible for the forum.
A key project of AfK is to have the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) removed from Australia's list of terrorist organisations.
The meeting was an opportunity to raise funds for the construction of a school for Kobane's orphaned children (of which there are about 600). More than $300 was collected on the night.
[You can donate to this project visit mycause.com.au/page/131121. To add your name to an open letter to the Australian government calling for the PKK to be removed from the terrorist list, visit liftthebanonthepkk.org.
Get in touch with AfK in Melbourne at firstname.lastname@example.org.]