Rojava’s women’s revolution under threat in Afrin

The YPJ and civilian women’s groups have gathered about 10,000 volunteers for the defence of Afrin, in northern Syria.

Women from the Tirbesipiye-Cizire Canton in northern Syria (known as “Rojava” in Kurdish) held a women-only demonstration through the city centre on February 9.

The marchers expressed their support for the resistance by women and others in the Afrin canton in Rojava against the fascist invasion from Turkey and Islamic gangs, which began last month — and in support of the feminist, multi-ethnic Rojava Revolution.

A European march started the same day in Luxemburg, aiming to arrive at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, over the next few days. The demonstration expressed its support for the global feminist solidarity campaign with Afrin. More than 200 people from 17 countries have joined the march.

The demonstrations came a day after Kongreya Star — the Kurdish-led revolutionary women’s movement in Rojava — made a worldwide appeal to all women and feminist groups to show solidarity with Afrin’s resistance through actions and protests.

The statement said: “Along with racist, religious-fundamentalist and sexist oppression, Turkey strives to wipe out the traces of women's history, and the matricentric and egalitarian culture in our region.

As well as dozens of civilian deaths, Turkish bombing has also destroyed the Ain Dara temple, an historic site that housed remnants of the matricentric culture. The site symbolises the role women played during the Neolithic revolution of the first settlements in the area.

“By bombing and devastating this temple site the Turkish state strives to enforce its patriarchal and fascist order,” the statement said.

The Turkish army and its proxies from radical Islamist factions consider women as targets and spoils of war. The video released on the internet depicting the mutilation of a fighter from the Kurdish-led Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) shows the misogynistic mentality of these groups.

In the same way as ISIS forced women to cover themselves, always be accompanied by a male relative and promoted forced marriages of both adult women and girls, the patriarchal mentality of Turkey’s allied Islamist factions push the same policy in the territories they control.

According to sources from the Kongreya Star, the YPJ and civilian women’s groups have gathered about 10,000 volunteers for the defence of Afrin.

After six years of revolution in Rojava, democratic autonomous structures for women, cooperatives and academies have been created, helping to protect women against domestic violence and promote economic independence.

Women in the region know that under the dominion of Turkey, everything they have fought for and won would vanish.

Therefore, thousands of women have decided that they prefer to die fighting rather than lose everything they have built with so much effort and sacrifice.

As the Kongreya Star statement said: “While the international institutions and state governments keep silent about the abuses of international law and war crimes, we believe that women’s international solidarity will be our strongest weapon in defeating fascism and patriarchy.”

[Abridged from]