from Indybay by Friends of Station 40
Station 40 has provided a place to gather and affordable housing in the Mission for eighteen years, and supporters of this space are fighting to keep it from being evicted by predatory landlords.
tation 40 is a collective anarchist space that has housed countless individuals when they most needed it and hosted benefits, fundraisers, info sessions, workshops and community events throughout the last eighteen years. In March 2020, as the pandemic began to take hold, Station 40 joined thousands of other households in a rent strike. All over the world, people chose their own health and safety over paying their rent, prioritizing their needs over their landlords.
Now, even in the face of ongoing crisis, temporary local moratoriums have expired and evictions have resumed. The State is offering limited rent relief that does little more than bail out parasitic landlords and get people back to work and paying their full rent again. Station 40 will not take this path of bread crumbs, and is instead choosing the path of squatting, occupation, and everything for everyone.
On Sunday, January 23, over twenty supporters of Station 40 held a noise demo at the residence of the Jolish family, the landlords that are attempting to evict the space for the second time in the last several years. Places like Station 40 are always under threat of gentrification, and once they disappear they are gone forever. Landlords and developers need to know that this fight is not over!
Hands off Station 40! Resist Evictions! Abolish rent!Tags: San Franciscoevictionrent strikeeviction resistancevandalismGraffitisquat evictionsquatslandlords
Received via email from Lukáš Borl
A benefit for persecuted anarchists in Belarus
On Tuesday, January 11, 2022, a D.I.Y. book was published under the title “Words Against isolation or As Long As There Are Prisons, Let’s Write Letters”. There are two main reasons to create this publication. First is to motivate people to write to prisoners, while obtaining funds for anarchists imprisoned in so-called Belarus.
On 110 A4 pages I inform you why and how to write letters. I’m connecting reflections arising from my personal experience of imprisonment as well as collage including fragments of prison correspondence. I want to demonstrate on concrete examples of what can be encouraging for a person behind bars and exciting joy. Perhaps this will allow people who are going to write letters empathize with the situation of the prisoner and it will inspire them.
I dusted off the “cut and paste” method I loved to use in the creation of punk zine graphics. I’m not a graphic designer, nor am I trying make such an impression. Creating collages and editing was fun for me. I hope it will amuse someone else too. And even if not, I don’t see a problem with that.
The anarchists to whom the money will be collected have been imprisoned, because with their attitudes and actions they resisted the dictatorial regime. Their situation is challenging because they are imprisoned in a post-Soviet country has preserved the most repulsive totalitarian practices in its past, such as torture, state terror and violent repression of the opposition.
The publication contains a number of texts about these persecuted anarchists. Specifically, about Mikola Dziadok, whom the court sent on November 10, 2021 to penal colonies for 5 years. On Wednesday, December 22, 2021, they were sentenced to prison Sergey Romanov (sentence 20 years), Igor Olinevich (sentence 20 years), Dmitry Rezanovich (19 years), Dmitry Dubovsky (18 years). All the money raised will serve these people.
But persecution and prison reality also apply to people living in the so-called democratic countries. I try to remind you of that as well. There is no contradiction between dictatorships and democracies. They are just the various faces of global capitalist totalitarianism.
The recommended contribution for the publication is CZK 300, but it is possible to contribute even less or more. Everyone should evaluate their options. I accept orders at e-mail lukynda (@) riseup.net. I will publish a list of distribution points soon. A PDF version of the book is also published for download and free distribution for non-commercial purposes.
PDF version of the book is also published for download and free distribution for non-commercial purposes.
Tags: bookanarchist prisonersBelarusfundraising
From The Anews Podcast!
Welcome to this week’s podcast. This podcast is on anarchist activity, ideas, and comments from the previous week on anarchistnews.org.
What’s New This Week written by chisel, read by chisel and Bruno
Sound editing by Greg.
TotW conversation with octox and liminal D: Not Being Skint
theanarchist library reading with Max: excerpt from The Anarchist Banker
1. Mingus Big Band – Moanin’
2. Odd Taxi Soundtrack – Naiyou no Nai Kaiwa
3. Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities
4. Patrice – Ain’t Got No
Report on ongoing eviction defense of encampments in so-called Minneapolis as the city ramps up attempts to push out the unhoused.
Minneapolis encampment supporters are proving that decentralized, autonomous resistance to sweeps can and does work to delay and prevent camp evictions. Two successful defenses have been mounted in the past two weeks, as the city and Hennepin county undertakes a blitz campaign against camps for the unhoused, often in temperatures below zero degrees F.
Mpls PW and MPD dismantled the encampment of folks living at 26th & Bloomington. Propane was taken, people were once again displaced and their belongings trashed. This can’t be reformed. Everyone should be and CAN be housed. End of story. pic.twitter.com/H2NNmBnUKd
— Twin Cities Workers Defense Alliance (@TC_WDA) January 13, 2022
While two smaller camps have been recently been sweeped, and more attempted evictions are on the horizon, the militant defense activities are showing that camps and supporters of their self-determination will not roll over without a fight, and the city, county, and theiy myriad nonprofit and community collaborators will have to expend huge resources in order to conduct sweeps.
One of the camps currently targeted is the Near North camp, where in March 2021 defenders fought off police half a block away, to stop the planned eviction (five defenders were arrested). A daily copwatch/defense presence in the months thereafter made the city back off their plans entirely. Now, the city cites the smaller size of the camp when discussing the new planned sweep – ignoring that it is precisely the stability afforded by the militant defense that has allowed many now-former camp residents the resources and ability to obtain regular housing.Recent Events At Minneapolis Encampments
December 13: The long-standing “1913” camp in Northeast Minneapolis is violently evicted by Minneapolis Public Works and collaborators. Supporters draw many lessons from the events of the day, especially that eviction forces cannot be reasoned with and that workers supporting the eviction will lie about the availability of housing vouchers, hotels, shelter space, etc in order to enforce the city’s wishes of keeping vacant land vacant.
city employees are literally singing and laughing as they bulldoze people's homes. and minneapolis has always been so quick to say, "they're bobcats, not bulldozers!" well what the fuck do you call this? pic.twitter.com/2dEsnvqrIv
— dollar store groceries (@ProfessorPenis) December 14, 2021
The city/county seem to have changed tactics in anticipation of incoming lawsuits, rather than any desire for “humane” eviction practices. City workers played the facade of a consensual removal, waiting to annihilate dwellings until residents left under the promise of shelter that never materialized. People then returned to an empty lot where their community used to be – many back at square one with their belongings either destroyed outright or taken to an insecure storage facility.
December 30: The city of Minneapolis posts an eviction notice for Near North, giving the date of 1/11/22. Some camp supporters organize calls to elected officials and lesser known bureaucrats responsible for the sweep campaign, while others plan copwatch and militant defense tactics, recalling the events of last spring.
We will actively resist this wave of monstrously cruel evictions in subzero temps during an unprecedented covid surge. We call on all who are able to join us in standing alongside our unhoused neighbors and demanding an end to the subordination of people to property in Mpls. pic.twitter.com/c69fBIfNhE
— Twin Cities Encampment Responders (@TCparkresponder) January 6, 2022
January 11: Expecting a showdown, 75 defenders and community members gather at Near North before the crack of dawn. They find that city officials have added the small words “Week of” to “1/11/22” on the posted eviction notices, which are subsequently burned. No eviction forces show up. Five city council members (four newly elected), one day after being sworn in, show up to speak to media and deliver platitudes about the right to housing. Supporters of camp autonomy maintain that, in the absence of the political will for immediate dignified housing for all camp stability is a prerequisite for long-term housing.
This morning the city/police did not attempt an eviction of Near North as dozens of community members gathered to defend the encampment of the unhoused.
The vacate signs now have additional words, "week of," written before the January 11 eviction date. https://t.co/j0KJNBh69F
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) January 11, 2022
January 13: A small encampment on the sidewalk at 26th St and Bloomington Avenue in south Minneapolis is swept by the city, with collaboration from longtime eviction enablers like American Indian Community Development Corporation, whose executive director Michael Goze is on scene to taunt and threaten residents. Some of the displaced move to two camps on nearby 14th Avenue. None of the city councillors who showed up on 1/11, came to advocate for residents at the Bloomington Avenue sweep.
At the same time, the large North Loop encampment is told they should expect to be evicted 1/18. The North Loop camp was established in late summer on private land at the invitation of multimillionaire developer Hamoudi Sabri. The temperamental and volatile Sabri has a history of conflict with city government and also of harming unhoused people under the guise of short-term, well-gatekept humanitarian aid. After the continued evictions of so many other camps, dozens of displaced residents with no better options decided to settle there.
January 18: Aware of the ongoing threat to both Near North and North Loop, 30-40 encampment defendants gathered early in the morning at Near North for a breakfast and brief training session covering topics such as encampment-oriented copwatch, recent history of Minneapolis camp evictions and defense tactics, and best security practices for militant, abolitionist encampment defense.
Just as the training concluded, defenders already stationed at the North Loop camp raised the alarm of Public Works bulldozers beginning to gather, and the mobilization began. Landowner Sabri attempted to convince camp supporters to help him evict just select “troublemakers” from the camp, but after being told that only the wishes of residents would be acted upon, he spat on supporters, threw a tantrum and stormed away. Two MPD officers entered the camp under the ruse of a fire hazard call, but were soon chased back the street as well.
— Twin Cities Encampment Responders (@TCparkresponder) January 18, 2022
With the help of 10 feet tall snow piles, accesses to the camp area were easily blocked by defender vehicles. Traffic control officers arrived to ticket the (legally parked) vehicles and others nearby; however, the tow trucks they called to remove them quickly left due to various tactics from the black-clad crowd.
Meanwhile, more Public Works equipment and personnel began to arrive. As a bobcat began to move toward camp it was quickly surrounded. Two weary looking police officers moved in but backed off after being confronted by the crowd. A bulldozer was similarly blocked down the street, and a large fire was built at one of the entrances. Defenders made it clear to Public Works personnel they would not back down, and a stalemate ensued.
People successfully defended North Loop camp from several Public Works bulldozers on site this morning after a community breakfast and copwatch training at Near North camp, also under eviction threat.
Whether it lasts a day, a month, or indefinitely, that's a big W. (thread) –> https://t.co/kmatgdJXM2
— Not An Activism Do-er 🏴🖤#LootBack (@muffinsurrecta) January 19, 2022
With the militancy of the crowd becoming obvious, Public Works and other bureaucrats retreated to a nearby building with Sabri to discuss the situation. Around 11:30 they emerged and directed their mercenaries to stand down. One by one each bulldozer and city truck left to jeers of “Don’t Come Back!,” and the landowner Sabri found that his black Porsche SUV had also received a traffic ticket. Lunch was delivered and defenders stayed to be sure the eviction forces wouldn’t return that day.
While already maintaining copwatch/defense at the two North camps, defenders respond to the two camps on 14th Avenue. At one, county officials had posted a large sign forbidding camping due to the parcel’s status as “slated for redevelopment” (it’s been unused for 15 years). Workers from TreeTrust – a nonprofit and landscape services group contracted by the county, better known for its youth job programs – arrive and help sweep this camp, with the assistance of Hennepin County Sheriffs. The other camp, on a city owned parcel, remains.
Today one half of the encampment at 25th st and 14th ave was evicted. The northern lot, owned by the county, was cleared by HC Resident and Real Estate Services, HC Security, HC Sheriff pigs, and contracted ‘clean up’ crews from @TreeTrust.
— Twin Cities Encampment Responders (@TCparkresponder) January 20, 2022
Meanwhile, camp defenders learn that the city has set an eviction date of 1/25 for another large, long-standing south Minneapolis camp, on 5th Ave near Lake Street. The forecast low that morning is thirteen degrees below zero F. A call to gather for defense that morning has been issued.
This is specific to 5th & Lake!
This eviction on stolen land is expected Tuesday – but we all know it could happen any time. Stay tuned for updates about this location as well as others!
(Near North, North Loop, 25th/14th)
*click image for full picture* pic.twitter.com/Xjg7yllPMm
— Twin Cities Workers Defense Alliance (@TC_WDA) January 23, 2022Analysis and Responsible Parties
Cities nationwide have taken increasingly violent and cruel actions towards unhoused people as increasing numbers of people cannot afford housing. Perhaps capitalism is too delicate to countenance even a small set of people visibly living “outside” of it. Regardless, the December and January focus on destroying encampments in Minneapolis may be due to displacing people just ahead of the annual “Point In Time” count of homeless people due to take place January 26.
The local surge of encampments in recent years in Minneapolis stretches back to the Wall of Forgotten Natives in 2018, a massive encampment eventually broken up by the city with the assistance of collaborator nonprofits such as AICDC (mentioned above) and others. An effort to retake the land in 2019 was met by the joint repression from Minneapolis police, Minnesota state police, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT).
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) June 18, 2020
In 2020 during the George Floyd uprising, a hotel was taken over for use by the unhoused for almost two weeks. Afterwards, the city’s Parks Board briefly allowed encampments in the vast park system, then quickly reversed their decision. As the surge of liberal and charitable interest in supporting unhoused neighbors soon waned, militant abolitionists and antifascist mutual aid groups became the main supporters of camps chased from vacant lot to vacant lot through violent and often brutal eviction tactics.
The City (particularly the Public Works Department and Department of Community Planning and Economic Development [CPED], and advisors to Mayor Jacob “The eviction guy” Frey), Hennepin County (responsible for many local homeless services), Parks Board, and myriad nonprofit, peace police and social worker groups have created a tangled web where none claim responsibility or ability to stop the sweeps, while all end up participating the continued displacement with little to no consequence.
We contend that whatever platitudes they offer, the point of these sweeps is simple: cruelty. The maintenance of capitalism requires that state authorities scare housed workers with the threat not only of losing their housing, but with the immense violence (both structural and immediate) shown toward the unhoused.
However, militant camp defenses, combined with intensive mutual aid survival programs that embrace conflict with the state and capital, over the past year and a half point to another way. In a court case stemming from a defense of the Peavey Park encampment in September 2020, police revealed that no fewer than five planned evictions of Peavey Park had to be called off because of defenders’ robust mobilization ability.
With more people willing to step between the bulldozers and our neighbors in tents, organize copwatches [which, in the context of camps, includes watching threats from cops to public works to bureaucrats and more], and plan defense activities from breakfasts to barricades, all unhoused residents could be offered the stability and autonomy of a safe place to pitch a tent.
With well organized autonomous defensive activities in place, camp supporters could then turn to offensive activities to help ensure the safety of the unhoused. Such actions can of course overlap: Media reports in summer 2020 quoted county officials who cited the injuries to police at the March defense of Near North camp, as a factor in delaying the eviction of another camp. Minneapolis police are at their lowest staffing levels in recent history, suffering from mass resignations and low morale. Meanwhile, Hennepin County social service employees could go on strike as soon as February 2, potentially throwing another wrench in eviction plans.
Join the fight to defend your unhoused neighbors!
The following is an incomplete list of some of the bureaucrats intimately involved in the sweeps in Minneapolis. We offer it to note that they have faced little if any consequences.
- Peter Ebnet, Senior Policy Advisor to Mayor Frey (and a driving force behind the recent eviction blitz)
- Andrea Brennan, Housing Policy & Development Director and Interim Director of CPED [Department of Community Planning and Economic Development]
- Maikao Vue, Homeless Response Coordinator
- Erik Hansen, Economic Policy & Development Director
- Katie Topinka, Housing Policy Coordinator
- Erin Wixsten, Planning Analyst, Hennepin County Office to End (sic) Homelessness
More complete list with contact information: https://solidaritynet.work/actions/call-call-tell-minneapolis-officials-cancel-their-plan-violently-destroy-near-north-camp
Anonymous report on recent noise demonstration in support of Station 40, an anarchist house and social center in the Mission District of so-called San Francisco, California, which is currently being threatened with eviction. Originally posted to Indybay.org.
Station 40 is an anarchist house and social center in San Francisco that has provided a space in the Mission District for eighteen years. In March 2020*, Station 40 went on rent strike, joining thousands of households all over the world that were unable or unwilling to pay rent due to the pandemic.
Now, even in the face of ongoing crisis, temporary local moratoriums have expired and evictions have resumed. The State has put forth a limited rent relief program in order to bail out the parasitic landlord class and get people to go back to work and paying rent. As was stated when the rent strike started two years ago, “we refuse to be exploited.” Station 40 will not take this path of bread crumbs, and is instead choosing the path of squatting, occupation, and everything for everyone. Friends of Station 40 are calling on all friends and comrades to help defend the space and join in the struggle.
On Sunday, January 23rd, over twenty supporters of Station 40 held a noise demo at the residence of the so-called landlords’ house in San Francisco to let Emanuel, Ahuva, and Barak Jolish know: if you come for our house, we will go to yours!
Hands off Station 40!
Down with landlords!
-Friends of Station 40
Community Stands in Solidarity with Encampment Demanding End to Police Harassment and Access to Housing
Report on ongoing protest encampment at the Idaho state capitol in Boise demanding an end to police harassment of the houseless and access to housing and beyond.
With housing costs skyrocketing, temperatures plummeting, and cops relentlessly harassing and ticketing people experiencing houselessness, folks sleeping on the streets in so-called Boise, Idaho have found themselves scrambling for survival. Within the last month, as temperatures dropped as low as 7 degrees overnight, Boise Mutual Aid (BMA) joined the effort to assist folks with finding a building for people to sleep in overnight. A business downtown offered their building for a week (the coldest week of the year, so far) and community came together to make the space an autonomous community overnight warming space. Decisions were made as a collective and folks forged community agreements to keep each other safe and taken care of. Boise Mutual Aid facilitated asking for, receiving, and distributing donations which poured in nonstop. It was, as one would imagine, not easy. But the first community agreements folks decided on was to utilize mediation and conflict resolution instead of relying on the cops during times of conflict. Many conflicts arose but the community stayed true to their commitment to keep each other safe from the police, the cops were never called, and conflicts were handled and resolved within the community. Then the week was up and folks were back where they started, scrambling for safety in the cold of the streets.
Today is day 8 of the community standing in solidarity against police harassment of unhoused neighbors and asking for more access to services for survival. This is happening across from Idaho's state capitol in Boise.
— Redoubt Antifascists (@RedoubtAFA) January 24, 2022
However, something shifted during that time, folks experienced the dignity of being able to decide collectively and independently their fate and step into the autonomy of taking care of themselves and their community, and hope was born. That hope and experienced dignity created a fire, folks knew they deserved better, and decided to start a protest. Folks set up a protest city, setting up tents in the lawn across from the capitol building in downtown Boise. They had everything they needed set up to host their 24/7 protest city. It wasn’t up for even 5 hours before police came and told folks they had to leave the area or risk arrest/ticketing/removal of belongings. Folks decided to take it down and were promised hotel vouchers from the city/local shelters if they left the space. Some folks were provided those vouchers, most weren’t.
Today is day 7 of the community standing in solidarity against police harassment of unhoused neighbors and asking for more access to services for survival. This is happening across from Idaho's state capitol in Boise.
— Redoubt Antifascists (@RedoubtAFA) January 23, 2022
Folks spent another week on the streets, organizing and preparing for attempt #2, but this time in a different space. Folks chose a lawn that is state, rather than city, property. This specific land was where Occupy Boise existed 10 years ago and an injunction ordered during Occupy states that tents are allowed there as 24/7 protest, but does not indicate that folks can sleep in the space. On January 16th, 2022 folks set up their new protest city in the space at Jefferson and 6th, in front of the old Ada County Courthouse, and that’s where it remains today. It didn’t take long before capitol mall security began doing rounds and giving out orders, but didn’t follow with any consequence. Boise Mutual Aid was asked to stand in as support and has been supporting within their capacity since folks first started protesting. During mutual aid Monday, which was moved from its regular spot to the protest city this week, 5 Idaho State Police showed up and brought a list of demands for the space (see photo here), snooped around taking photos and videos of the space and people’s belongings, and stomped off reporting that they would return in 3 hours and give out citations if demands weren’t met. Their primary focus was that folks aren’t allowed to have things that make for comfortable camping, as they’re not allowed to sleep in the space and that they are seeing how the grass is being trampled and the beauty of the lawn must be maintained. Folks had a community meeting and decided to do the best they could to clean up the area and make it look as good as possible to avoid further police harassment. The cops never returned that night.
The following day more state police returned and took two tall patio heaters that the community donated, tarps and other small belongings. Since then the Idaho Liberty Dogs (a local fash group that has connections with local police) has been threatening to “bulldoze” the site themselves. Some fash have visited the site since their threats began (likely connected to ILD) and harassed folks sleeping outside. Local proud boys have also visited, though they have only filmed and left at the time of this writing.
Several of the recent calls for violence on protesters from commentators on the Idaho Liberty Dogs page pic.twitter.com/VRLy7z8gFd
— Redoubt Antifascists (@RedoubtAFA) January 20, 2022
State police returned and reported they would be coming to remove all belongings on the 23rd of January, so folks decided to have a party so that the greater community could be present to deter police presence; BMA was asked to assist and is doing so. As the night drew on, a heavy community support showed and law enforcement didn’t. The community is hoping they’ll stay away for good but will continue to organize to prevent interruption to their space.
Like any form of resistance to state harassment, oppression, and repression the whole ordeal has been relentlessly exhausting. However, ongoing community support is a refreshing reminder that just as easily as we’ve fallen into the trap of believing that we have to face this dystopian, capitalistic nightmare by ourselves – we can step out and away from that and into the loving and reliable warmth of community. Exploring, figuring out, and actualizing horizontal structures of resource sharing and care for each other is imminently important before things become further strained and resources more scarce. Living into that is as rewarding as it is trying.
If you have navigated similar waters and have skills to share, resources to share, or are able to spread the word and increase visibility to reduce police harassment and repression please reach out to Boise Mutual Aid (IG @Boisemutualaid or email email@example.com).
With love and solidarity!
Trump-endorsed candidate beats Cheney in Wyoming GOP straw poll | 23 Jan 2022 | A House candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump handily defeated Rep. Liz Cheney in a Republican Party straw poll in Wyoming, according to a report. Harriet Hageman, whom Trump endorsed in September to challenge Cheney in the Republican primary, won the straw poll conducted by the Wyoming Republican State Central Committee with 59 votes, the Casper Star-Tribune reported on Saturday. Cheney came in a distant second with six votes... Hageman's vote totals were announced first at Saturday's meeting and were greeted by applause, the Star-Tribune reported.
Elderly man's escape attempt from care home Covid lockdown using bedsheets ends in tragedy --Staff speculated that it was loneliness and a longing for home that prompted his attempted escape, reminiscent of prisoners using sheets to flee jail. --The escape attempt may have been prompted by a recent ban on visits by friends and relatives. | 21 Jan 2022 | A lonely Italian pensioner tried to escape the care home in which he was living by using bedsheets and blankets to lower himself from his window but died in the attempt. Mario Finotti, 91, is thought to have slipped, becoming caught up in the knotted-together sheets and suffocating to death. He had tied the sheets around his waist and the drop in height is thought to have collapsed his lungs. The tragic case underlined the loneliness experienced by many elderly people in care homes during the Covid-19 pandemic... "Mario was in good health, he was not suffering from any degenerative diseases. We don't know what went through his head because he seemed to be calm psychologically," said Luca Avanzi, the director of the care facility.
Washington, D.C., 'Defeat the Mandates' march calls for end to 'draconian' COVID-19 vaccine requirements
Washington, D.C., 'Defeat the Mandates' march calls for end to 'draconian' COVID-19 vaccine requirements --Between 30,000 and 35,000 people attended the protest | 23 Jan 2022 | The "Defeat the Mandates" march took to the streets and monuments of Washington, D.C., as protestors and speakers called for an end to COVID-19 vaccine mandates nationwide. A number of major U.S. cities including D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Boston have implemented citywide rules requiring residents to show proof of vaccination at certain establishments, such as restaurants and gyms. The peaceful protest started around noon at the Washington Monument and headed first to the Lincoln Memorial, where it remained while a series of speakers took to the steps to share their experiences of the past year and their reasons to call for an end to the vaccine mandates.
Russia Responds to UK's 'Very Dangerous' Coup Allegations | 23 Jan 2022 | Russia's Foreign Ministry on Sunday dismissed claims from the United Kingdom that Moscow wanted to install a pro-Russia leader in Kyiv while it considers whether to invade the beleaguered Eastern European nation. "We have information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine," the UK statement, published Saturday, began... The UK did not provide evidence for its claim. Over the weekend, Russian officials said the UK's Foreign Office should stop publishing "nonsense" and "disinformation." "We strongly urge London to stop foolish rhetorical provocations, which are very dangerous in the current overheated situation, and contribute to the real diplomatic efforts to ensure reliable guarantees for European security," the statement issued by the Russian Embassy in the UK said. Murayev, meanwhile, responded to the UK's statement by dismissing the claim. "This morning I already read in all the news publications this conspiracy theory: absolutely unproven, absolutely unfounded," Murayev told Reuters on Sunday, adding he was considering legal action.
German Navy chief resigns over Putin 'respect' comments | 22 Jan 2022 | The head of the German Navy, Vice-Admiral Kay-Achim Schoenbach, vacated his post on Saturday evening -- just a day after saying that Crimea "will never come back," and that Vladimir Putin and Russia "probably deserve respect." Schoenbach asked Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht to "relieve me of my duties with immediate effect," with the minister accepting his resignation, according to a statement cited by Reuters. Speaking at an event organized by an Indian think tank in New Delhi on Friday, the vice-admiral dismissed as "nonsense" the notion that Russia was "interested in having a small and tiny strip of Ukraine soil and integrating it into their country." Schoenbach went on to claim that what President Putin wanted was the West to "respect" Russia, adding "it is easy to give him the respect he really demands -- and probably also deserves." Addressing the issue of Crimea, the German Navy commander opined that the "peninsula is gone" and "will never come back -- this is a fact."
US orders families of embassy staff in Ukraine to leave country | 23 Jan 2022 | The State Department has ordered family members of government employees at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv to leave the country, while also allowing non-essential staffers to depart amid growing worries of a Russian invasion. In an advisory, the agency authorized the voluntary departure of direct hire employees and ordered the departure of eligible family members due to "continued threat of Russian military action." "U.S. citizens in Ukraine should consider departing now using commercial or other privately available transportation options," it adds.
Photographer Finds Polar Bears That Took Over Abandoned Buildings | 13 Jan 2022 | A Russian photographer has captured a fascinating series of photos showing polar bears that have taken over the abandoned buildings of a meteorological station on an island between Russia and Alaska. In September 2021, photographer Dmitry Kokh traveled through islands in the Chukchi Sea, a marginal sea off the Arctic Ocean that sits between Russia and Alaska. "Being the farthest and most Eastern part of Russian Arctic, this place is very hard to get but also difficult to forget," Kokh writes. "We traveled by the sailing yacht along the coast and covered more than 1,200 miles of untouched landscapes, villages lost in time, spots with various fauna and seas full of life." Kokh managed to capture close-up photographs of the polar bears roaming inside and outside the run-down structures. Some of the bears would casually look out the windows at the photographer when they noticed him around.
Biden Weighs Deploying Warships, Aircraft and Thousands of U.S. Troops to Eastern Europe and Baltics
Biden Weighs Deploying Warships, Aircraft and Thousands of U.S. Troops to Eastern Europe and Baltics | 23 Jan 2022 | Joe Biden is considering deploying several thousand U.S. troops, as well as warships and aircraft, to NATO allies in the Baltics and Eastern Europe, an expansion of American military involvement amid mounting fears of a Russian incursion into Ukraine, according to administration officials. The move would signal a major pivot for the Biden administration, which up until recently was taking a restrained stance on Ukraine, out of fear of provoking Russia into invading. In a meeting on Saturday at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, senior Pentagon officials presented Mr. Biden with several options that would shift American military assets much closer to Mr. Putin's doorstep, the administration officials said. The options include sending 1,000 to 5,000 troops to Eastern European countries, with the potential to increase that number tenfold if things deteriorate.
'The Final Variant Is Tyranny': Thousands of anti-vaccine mandate protesters flaunt mask rules to descend on D.C.
'The Final Variant Is Tyranny': Thousands of anti-vaccine mandate protesters flaunt mask rules to descend on D.C. --A crowd of up to 20,000 gathered in Washington DC Saturday to protest ongoing vaccine mandates, including those in the Capitol. "Americans want democracy back, and this rally is a demand to get their democracy back," keynote speaker Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., said. | 23 Jan 2022 | Thousands gathered in Washington D.C. - a city that mandates vaccines - for a "Defeat the Mandates" protest, with protesters blaring ballads by Meat Loaf... Robert F. Kennedy and Informed Consent Action Network founder Del Bigtree were among big names who addressed the rally Sunday morning. Around 20,000 people were expected to attend the demonstration. "Americans want democracy back, and this rally is a demand by Americans to get their democracy back," Kennedy said of the rally, according to WUSA9. Kennedy compared the plight of the vaccine-adverse to that of Anne Frank on Sunday, saying, "Even in Hitler's Germany, you could hide in the attic like Anne Frank did."
University finds novel 1984 'offensive and upsetting' --Students are being warned of 'explicit material' awaiting them in a novel that ironically describes the dangers of censorship. | 23 Jan 2022 | The University of Northampton has issued a harsh warning over potentially "offensive and upsetting" material contained in the famous dystopia by George Orwell, 1984. The novel, which describes the dangers of totalitarian rule and censorship, is now red-flagged, as it addresses "challenging issues related to violence, gender, sexuality, class, race, abuses, sexual abuse, political ideas and offensive language." The warning, issued to students taking a module called "Identity Under Construction," became public following a Freedom of Information request by The Mail on Sunday.
US to close borders to unvaccinated Canadian, Mexican truckers on Saturday --Mandate moving ahead as planned despite pushback from industry | 20 Jan 2022 | The U.S. will close its borders to unvaccinated and partially vaccinated Canadian and Mexican truck drivers on Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security said on Thursday. "These updated travel requirements reflect the Biden-Harris Administration's commitment to protecting public health while safely facilitating the cross-border trade and travel that is critical to our economy," Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. The border COVID-19 vaccine mandates are coming into force despite pushback from the truck industry. The impact will be felt most acutely for the U.S.-Canada freight market, where around 160,000 truckers regularly cross the border -- 75% of whom are Canadian. Already capacity has tightened significantly, with huge price increases in the spot market. [Since millions of (untested, unvaccinated) immigrants are allowed to enter the US illegally every year, it's obvious that the DHS doesn't give a damn about public health. Not to mention the fact that Biden's TSA allows illegal immigrants to use their arrest warrants as an acceptable form of ID. True story.]
Deloitte funded group that wants to keep homeless on subways | 22 Jan 2022 | The corporate employer of tragic subway shoving victim Michelle Go, who was allegedly killed by an unhinged vagrant, helped fund a progressive non-profit that sued to keep the homeless from being ousted from the NYC transit system. Go, 40, a senior manager at consulting conglomerate Deloitte, was killed Jan. 15 when Simon Martial, 61, allegedly pushed her in front of an oncoming train at the Times Square station. He told reporters he did it "because of God." Deloitte Financial Advisory Services donated between $25,000 and $50,000 in 2021 to the Urban Justice Center, according to the group's annual report. [Deloitte is working toward the implementation of the Great Reset by destroying US cities from within, so BlackRock can then buy properties on the cheap.]
Calif. Bill Would Allow Children 12 and Older to Be Vaccinated Without Parental Consent or Knowledge
Calif. Bill Would Allow Children 12 and Older to Be Vaccinated Without Parental Consent or Knowledge | 20 Jan 2022 | California Senate Bill 866, introduced by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would permit children 12 and older to be vaccinated, including against COVID-19, without a parent's consent or knowledge. The bill is the first to be proposed this year by a group of Democratic lawmakers that has pledged to strengthen vaccination laws and target misinformation amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccine consent laws vary across the country, with Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia allowing children 11 and older to be inoculated without parental approval. If SB 866 is passed by the Legislature and signed by Newsom, the bill would go into effect Jan. 1, 2023.
Anarchist Struggle, or Tekoşîna Anarşist in Kurmanji, is an anarchist combat medic collective operating in Rojava since the time of the war against Daesh / Isis, though its roots go back further. For the hour, you’ll hear a voice actor sharing the words of a member of TA calling themselves Robin Goldman about the their experiences of Asymmetric Warfare waged by Turkey and its proxies in the TFSA, the culture of TA right now, the medical work they’re doing, queerness in Rojava and other topics.
You can find TA online on twitter at @TA_Anarsist as well as their website TekosinaAnarsist.NoBlogs.Org. Members of TA suggested that folks interested in queer and trans organizing in Rojava support the group Keskasor, Kurdish for rainbow and based in Diyarbakir, Turkey. It can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org, found on twitter via @Keskasor_lgbti or on instagram at @KeskesorLGBTI, though their social media presence was last updated in 2020.
- International Freedom Battalion (IFB) on FB: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Freedom_Battalion
- International Revolutionary People’s Guerrilla Forces (IRPGF) -demobilized: https://archive.org/details/@irpgf
- The Queer Insurrection and Liberation Army (TQILA) -demobilized
- Make Rojava Green Again: https://makerojavagreenagain.org/
- Internationalist Commune of Rojava: https://internationalistcommune.com/
- You can find an interview we did with ICR at our website
- Jineoloji International: https://jineoloji.org/en/
- Rojava Information Center: https://rojavainformationcenter.com/
- Heyva Sur A Kurd (Kurdish Red Crescent): https://hskurd.org/en/homeen/
Former Black Panther, political prisoner and BLA veteran Zolo Agana Azania is seeking help. Since being released from prison and returning to the streets of Indiana in 2017 after more than 35 years behind bars, he has poured himself into organizing solidarity and support for other former prisoners. He still has not received his 2020 covid relief funds, likely impacted by his housing precarity, and is trying to purchase an inexpensive house to offer him stability in his later years. If you’d like to help, you can cashapp Zolo at $ZoloAzania5 . You can hear an interview with Zolo from 2018 plus his participation in an IDOCWatch panel at our website, linked in the show notes.Eric King’s Mail Ban Temporarily Lifted
That’s right, you can send mail and books to anarchist and anti-fascist prisoner, Eric King! You can find his writings, art and updates on his case at SupportEricKing.Org, you can find his amazon wishlist there as well and you can send him letters via:
Eric King #27090-045
9595 West Quincy Avenue
Littleton, CO 80123
In a last minute addition to these announcements, according to a leaked email by a local, Asheville-based non-profit serving houseless folks, Asheville’s City Council may be considering passing an ordinance based on the failed Ft. Lauderdale, Florida ban on the sharing of food in public spaces, which in the Asheville case appears to be based on a suggestion by Asheville Police Captain Mike Lamb. An article just published on the Asheville Free Press explains the context, what the non-profit group Beloved is suggesting as next steps, which includes applying pressure at the upcoming January 25th City Council meeting. This comes on the heels of a wave of knocks, warrants and arrests of people engaged in protests against homeless sweeps here in freezing temperatures at the end of last year. Keep an ear out and toss support for legal fees to the Blue Ridge Anarchist Black Cross legal defense fund at or you can donate to the final straw’s payment methods with a note that it’s for legal defense and we’ll pass it off.Fire Ant Journal #11 is Out!
You can find the latest edition of Fire Ant Journal, featuring writings and art by Thomas Mayer-Falk, Eric King, Pepe and info on Sean Swain, Jennifer Rose and more via Bloomington ABCBAD News #52 is Available!
The monthly episode of the A-Radio Network’s English podcast includes Črna Luknja with a member of CrimethInc on the fire at their publishing house recently, A-Radio Berlin brings words on the attack by leftist bro’s on the queer anarcha-feminist Syrena squat in Warsaw, Elephant In The Room gives a brief round up of the uprising in Kazakhstan and comrades at Free Social Radio 1431 AM in Thessaloniki talk about the eviction of Biologia Squat.Support
Here are a few ways you can give back to The Final Straw
- You can subscribe to our podcast on various platforms, follow and share our materials online as well as give us feedback via links found at TFSR.WTF/Tree
- To support our transcription work and wider project, you can subscribe to us via Patreon.com/TFSR, buy some merch or find donation methods at TFSR.WTF/Support
- Find those transcriptions and zines for distro’ing, mailing into prisons, or translating at TFSR.WTF/Zines
- And you can get us onto radio stations in your area with info at TFSR.WTF/Radio
. … . ..Featured Tracks:
- Yasin is a remix by Rizan Said of this song (original version based on an Arab folk song from the Hesekê region featured in the film “Darên bi Tenê” or “The Only Trees”)
- Şervano by Mehmûd Berazî (an article about the song, often played at funerals)
. … . ..Transcription
TFSR: Would you please introduce yourself to the audience with whatever names, preferred gender pronouns, affiliations, or experience, as you would like (to help the audience orient itself)?
RG: Yeah, so you can call me Robin Goldman. I use they/them pronouns. I am in my 30’s. I’ve been in Rojava for a couple of years now. I have a background in a couple of things in computer work, and then also in healthcare work. And yeah, that’s me in a nutshell.
TFSR: Cool. Thank you, again, for having this conversation. Could you give listeners who may not be familiar with the Rojava revolution, like a brief synopsis of its kind of trajectory that you think people should know for this conversation?
RG: So I’m absolutely not qualified to give a full synopsis of the Rojava revolution or anything, but the very bare bones for somebody who’s not familiar at all, the reason that it’s known as RO-ja-va, or Ro-JA-va, it’s pronounced both ways, is because that’s the Kurdish word for “west”, and Kurdistan as an area the way that it’s historically understood was divided into four regions. So Bakur, meaning “north”, is the part that’s in Turkey; Rojhilat, meaning “east”, is the part that’s in Iran; Başûr, meaning “south”, is a part that’s in Iraq, and Rojava is the part that’s in Syria.
So when we talk about the Rojava revolution, we’re talking about the western Kurdistan portion of Syria. And in 2017, there was the final push to to defeat ISIS and it’s sort of self proclaimed capital of Raqqa, that kind of completed around 2018 and they’re still, like, sleeper cells and Daesh carriers out bombings and stuff but for the most part, they’re not holding any significant territory anymore.
In 2018, Turkey, and its proxy forces invaded Afrin, and in 2019, they invaded Serê Kaniyê. So over the last couple of years, before I came, there was a big shift from the way that the fighting happened and the type of combat and the type of diplomatic situation and everything, from kind of the images that Americans got used to seeing of a person on foot with an AK in their hand, like fighting Daesh, which was very much the image from kind of the Daesh war. Now, a lot of the fighting involves like drone strikes on the part of Turkey, and it’s become much more asymmetrical.
Now we’re in a situation for the last couple of years ever since the Serê Kaniyê invasion, which was a very quick invasion that Turkey did, that took a big swath of territory towards the end of 2019, that Serê Kaniyê a meta-stable situation where there’s ongoing aggression. There’s shelling pretty regularly along the front line, which is like the new border between the area that’s occupied by Turkish proxy forces and the area that is still held by the SDF, which a lot of people who are referred to as “the friends”, so if I refer to area held by the friend, see if that’s that’s usually what that’s what I mean, I might kind of forget and refer to them that way, cause that’s the vernacular. And now, the issue is there’s this constant brinkmanship from Turkey- well, I can get into later because I guess there’s more questions about this stuff. So that’s kind of where we’re at now.
Ideologically it’s based on a lot of ideology that comes from 40 years of armed struggle by the Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK, which originated in Bakur and the Turkish portion of Kurdistan and originally had the characteristic of like a national liberation struggle as a lot of sort of post-Soviet post-colonial struggles did. But over time, the main thinker of the party, Abdullah Öcalan, who was imprisoned in I believe, 1999, he did a big shift in ideological orientation from an authoritarian, communist, classic Marxist Leninist type of strategy to one that is much more democratic and much more compatible with anarchist ideals, in particular. And he exchanged letters with Murray Bookchin. And this got the name of the new paradigm and it’s based on three pillars, which is ecology, women’s liberation and democratic confederalism. So that’s the ideological basis of the society that’s being built in the autonomously administered area now.
TFSR: Cool, thank you very much. Yeah and I’d like to talk about some of those other specifics of what’s been going on a little bit later. So could you talk a little bit about – and please correct me if I’m wrong on this pronunciation – but Tekoşîna Anarşist, “Anarchist Struggle”. For folks who aren’t familiar with the project, like how long has it been around and what are its goals? How does it operate?
RG: So I haven’t been around since the beginning so I can’t get a super detailed description of the origins, but Tekoşîna Anarşist, which is just Kurdish language for “Anarchist Struggle”, has existed in its current form for I think, between three and four years at this point. And it started as a part of I know people have seen these logos and these groups with names like IRPGF, and IFB. The IFB, the International Freedom Battalion, was something that was, during the time of the Daesh war, a group of sort of various internationalist organizations that had militants – *cat meowing in the background* sorry, my cat is joining this. Our cat Shisha wants to join this interview.
TFSR: Hello Heval cat.
RG: *laughs* So those those were like a coalition of the different sort of internationalist groups that had militants here at that time. And they were like cooperating together – because some of them were kind of smaller groups – and there were multiple groups that have English as the common language, or were otherwise kind of not using mainly Kurdish or mainly Arabic, like a lot of the groups *more cat meowing*. who were from here were doing. And so there’s still a lot of people from that struggle in that time around, but I wasn’t around yet then, I was still in the states then. So I can’t give like a real detailed history. But yeah, we started kind of under this umbrella and eventually kind of became more autonomous. And we’re now an autonomous collective that is doing work with different partners, like we’re involved with both the military work under the SDF, and also like the health committee kind of work. So we kind of have two bosses now at this point *chuckles*.
TFSR: And you described as a collective right? Is it it’s made up of people that are over in Rojava under the autonomous administration? Or is it like international? Or is that a thing that you can talk about? And like how do decisions get made, just collectively among the body of membership?
RG: Yeah, we’re really decentralized in the way that we make decisions, we try to embody our anarchist principles, which means different things to different people too so it’s something that we’re constantly working on within our organization. We’re constantly evaluating our organizational structure and frame and debating about whether we want to change our decision making protocol, or how much protocol we want to have at all. You know, the same sort of things that any anarchist organization is going to be familiar with *laughs*. It’s uh, always a bit of a struggle, but we’re committed to putting our ideals into practice in terms of radical democracy and trying to root out the patriarchy and other oppressive dynamics, not just in society, but within ourselves and within our organization, as a continual process.
TFSR: So would you say that as to the goals of TA that TA is about like supporting the Rojava revolution and challenging it to be more radical and some of its conceptions?
RG: Yeah, I mean, we’re a really small group – the number of us here at any given time is typically less than 10 – and so our purpose and our mission kind of evolves also, as the conditions change, but it offers a place for people that might not fit into another structure really well, like in particular, in terms of queer identity issues. Of course, ideologically, I think we’re definitely not the only anarchists involved in this revolution, there’s people in pretty much every international structure, you know, there’s people of different anarchist ideals that have been or are currently in different groups and different types of work. So we’re not claiming to represent all anarchists, by any means, but um, you know, to people who ideologically want to participate in the work in this particular frame, and to have these types of organizational discussions as they’re, you know, participating in the work.
And also, yeah, to try to find ways to respectfully challenge the revolution, like you said, to push it to remain as what we understand is more radical and more revolutionary, as well as learning from them. I mean, Öcalan also has published critiques, specifically of anarchists, and you know, not saying that anarchism is wrong or bad, but his critiques I think, are actually quite the same as ones published by Malatesta many, many decades ago. So, engaging with these critiques we’re in a unique position because we are not just reading anarchist theory or trying to embody anarchist theory in small collective in the midst of a capitalist economy like collectives in the US, for example, we’d be doing, but we’re in the midst of a messy revolution, full of contradictions and really understanding what that means and seeing how the rubber hits the road, so to speak.
TFSR: Cool and if you feel comfortable, if you don’t, but if you feel comfortable, I’d love to hear a little bit about what inspired you to go over and to join and to, like, participate in this struggle that is, like difficult to get to and also dangerous.
RG: Yeah, for sure. So I’ve been interested in, ever since 2016, when I met with somebody who had been here with YPG and he was just giving a question and answer to some anarchist groups about his experience and he was being really candid about it. And to me when I read about it, and then also, when I heard about it from him, it’s that it really reminded me and a lot of ways of, I was also reading a lot at the time about the Spanish revolution of 1936. It’s something that a lot of anarchists, I think, will be really familiar with, really inspired by. And seeing kind of the similarities there and, you know, when I was reading about 1936 Spain, and thinking like, “oh, you know, if there was something like this in my lifetime,” you know, and then realizing there is! And not only Rojava, Rojava is not the only revolutionary project in the world right now, but it’s one that I was lucky enough to have some contact with. And I was able to join a Kurdish language class, which I didn’t learn very much from at that time, but I, it got me started.
And then so over time, as I was also doing work before I came here with organizations that were inspired by a lot of the same ideas of this movement. I was really getting into ideas inspired by Murray Bookchin’s ideas about municipalism, and social ecology, Democratic confederalism. These sort of ideas were interesting to me, not only at a theoretical level, but because I was working with groups that were trying to implement them, and that were already themselves inspired by hearing about the things that were happening here and other places, with setting up communes and decommoditizing the necessities, communization theory, dual power.
So I was working with groups that were republishing stuff that was being published by the movement here and stuff from Make Rojava Green Again and other groups that were here, and we were, you know, trying to put tekmîl, this critique and self-critique that’s inspired by sort of a Maoist practice originally, you know, we were using some of these tools that came to us through this movement and things that they published.
So we really were curious about, if we could learn more from this revolution, and if we had anything to contribute to it. So yeah, for all those reasons, I came here to see what I could see, see what I could bring back to my organizing back home, and to see what I could possibly contribute, also, to moving the revolution here forward.
TFSR: Can you talk a little bit about how TA, or Anarchist Struggle fits in and relates to the broader constellation of groups in the Syrian Defense Forces – the SDF – and with the Autonomous Administration of Northeast Syria, the long name for AANES, I guess, another name for Rojava? Is that a good way of putting it?
RG: So like I mentioned, TA is one of many groups that are existing for internationalists, some of which are kind of involved with SDF military works, and others are more purely civilian. A lot of people who want to come here they go directly to talking to YPG, YPJ, because they don’t know that non-military works exist. Or then a lot of times people contact us because we’re the only group besides YPG that they’ve heard of that internationals can join.
So I just wanted to like put out there that there’s also quite a few others. For civilian groups there’s the Internationalist Commune, and there’s Jineoloji International, which is studying the women’s movement and I think that one’s only open to women and nonbinary folks. So on the military side, there’s YPG and YPJ. Various communist parties have a presence here that are sometimes bringing internationals from certain places, and sometimes not, I don’t know so much about their…and they range from classic Marxist-Leninist/Stalinist organizations to other ones that are more Maoist inspired. So they have like, even within, you know, having in common that they’re authoritarian communist, they have quite an ideological diversity, as well as tactical diversity among them.
And then there’s also media groups, there’s the Rojava Information Center, which is a great source of information, and also people are coming and working with them in a journalistic capacity. There’s Heyva Sor [A Kurd], which is the Kurdish Red Crescent, which is the civilian medical work that has a huge project of like trying to set up basically a functioning health system in what is now kind of a chaotic systemless soup of various health services.
So those are the words that are available to internationals. And then as well as our relationship to the SDF, we are responsible to the SDF- the way that the SDF works is it’s sort of administered by local military councils. So like, each area has a military council that serves for the defense of the area. Mostly, this was kind of set up, I think, during the Daesh war and continues to function during this phase of the war, that like, for example: in a region where we’ve got a Kurdish community and a Syrian community, an Armenian community, a Syriac community, there will be both military and civilian sides to the defense so there’ll be like a local community defense which people are familiar with HPC, which got the nickname “grannies with guns”. So it’s like the sort of civilian side of the community neighborhood defense and then the military council is the other side of that. That’s the military side of the regional defense.
So there’s, for example, the Khabour Guards are the Assyrian community, and they speak an Assyrian language, it’s different, it’s not Kurdish, it’s not Arabic. There are quite a few Arabic speaking groups that are participating in the military council. So the military council of a city or of a region will have representatives of all these types of groups that are functioning for the defense of these communities in the area and they’ll coordinate together to coordinate the defense for the region. So we work with the one in the area where we’re operating.
So that’s how the SDF is structured. So when I say we have a relationship to the SDF, that’s how that works. And then in terms of the health structure, there’s a military hospital system that is free for members of the military. So that’s like, where we get our health care from directly, like if we need care. And there’s also civilian hospital systems, and there’s private clinics. Because it’s a time of relative peace a lot of our work is civilian health work. There’s a big epidemic of cutaneous leishmaniasis, which is a skin parasite that’s spread by these little biting insects which requires a lot of injections to get rid of it and there’s been a huge problem with overcrowding in the clinics. So we’ve been assisting with the effort to give injections to people, both civilian and military to get rid of this parasite. So that’s been taking up a lot of our time recently. That’s just an example of the type of work that we have.
TFSR: Awesome. Thank you for that there’s a lot in there, I’d like to also get back to the some of the medical issue and the work that you do a little bit later. In the meantime, in November of 2021, there was a major fear that Turkey would be escalating, like creating a new offensive across the Syrian border into Rojava. Could you explain kind of what happened there to your understanding, and is that still looming danger?
RG: It’s always a looming danger. It seems like Turkey was hoping to get the go ahead from the US and or Russia to launch a full scale invasion and they didn’t get it. They didn’t get the permission they wanted. The impact that this had on us here was that people were really convinced that there was like an imminent full scale war about to happen. We really ramped up preparation, getting extra hospital space ready. And the fact that it didn’t happen…these kinds of things – this was more pronounced example – but these kinds of like “an invasion is about to happen” feeling occurs pretty regularly, and so we’ll ramp up the activity for a little while, and then we don’t really ever, like let our guard down. I mean, I don’t think there’s a feeling that the danger is past, just postponed.
TFSR: So the last time that The Final Straw spoke with members of TA it was before Turkey’s 2019 incursion into Rojava – which, again, correct me if I’m wrong on these points that I’m making – but which seem to end up in a large stretch of territory along the border within Syria’s borders, falling under the control of the Turkish state. I know that TA was heavily involved in the resistance to Serê Kaniyê, but can you tell us a little bit more about this? And have you heard about the Turkish state using the so called “buffer zone” that they put in to demographically shift the area, like pushing out Kurds and other residents from the region and resettling Syrian refugees that they had been taking from Europe within their borders?
RG: Anything that Turkey is doing in terms of resettling people, officially, any information we would have about that would be from the same sources that y’all would have. So I don’t really feel like I can comment on that. I do know there’s been a lot of human rights violations by the occupying forces – the mercenaries and the Turkish state – in particular in Afrin and Serê Kaniyê regions there have been a lot of kidnappings of civilians, there have been a lot of reported rapes and there’s been desecration of graves. There’s been a variety of human rights abuses, there was a year end report that was published by the SDF about this topic. So yeah, people can…I don’t have the exact numbers off the top of my head, but people can look into that.
Another way that they’re using the Serê Kaniyê region and the Afrin region in particular – the reason they chose that region in particular to take – is because it has resources, it’s very difficult to conduct life without. So in particular water the word Serê Kaniyê, I think – I could be wrong about this, my language skills aren’t great – but I think it means “the head of the spring.” It’s where water comes from, or water comes through, Serê Kaniyê, and Turkey has really been using water and dams and the ability to shut off access to water, as well as shutting off access to other resources to try to wage war of attrition and really damaged the civilian morale by making it difficult to come by the necessities of life, really tryna starve us out. They cut so much water the past summer, the Xabûr river, basically completely dried up. Crop harvests were just a tiny fraction of what they were the previous year, especially with the grain. So there’s going to be a huge problem with the grain shortages for the next year. We’re looking at, like, potentially, like massive food shortages because of this, and there were massive water shortages last year. It was pretty grim.
So Turkey’s strategy with this is not only to use the space to demographically create a buffer, which also was Syria’s official policy prior to the to the revolution to the war. [Bashar al-] Assad was also doing this, he was trying to create a green belt of Arab populations through sort of a combination of targeted gentrification and more direct repression of Kurdish inhabitants of the area, to try to cut the unity of the of the Kurdistan geographical region.
TFSR: That’s terrible, I’m sorry. I mean, is part of the goal – besides just starving out and pressuring people – also to make them sort of identify the difficulties that they’re facing with autonomous administration? Or is it a little less subtle than that?
RG: Yeah, no, I think it’s less subtle than that but I think also that’s happening. And I mean, there are people that stayed and fought through years of war that now we’re in relative peace, and they’re just, maybe they have children, they’re just experiencing so much poverty.
A lot of people have family members that have gone to Europe to work to send money back, and more and more family members are having to leave to go to make money to just survive, that like people who are really ideologically and personally connected to their land and to their cultural identity, they don’t want to leave, (but their) finally getting close to throwing in the towel because of the shortages and economic difficulties, even though they weathered the storm of close to a decade of war.
So that’s something that’s like really, also a huge part of the fight that like as we lose civilians, if we don’t have civilian populations, the population become sparsely it becomes much more difficult to defend the land.
TFSR: So you’ve already said before about stuff that goes on in Turkey, you may not have a more immediate connection to but I’m gonna ask the question anyway and you can give me that same answer if you want. But over the last number of years, Turkey’s economy has been sliding into a crisis that’s worsened dramatically – specifically, over the last few months – has this tension spilled over the border in any way that you’ve experienced? And, just speculating, do you think that this could mean the end of the 20 year AKP rule and its neo-Ottomanist push?
RG: I have no idea what this means for specific political parties in Turkey, but the way that this is affecting us is that like everything that goes wrong in Turkey, everyone wants to point the blame onto a different scapegoat. So he’ll blame the Kurdish movement in Turkey, you know, the guerrillas in the mountains there, or he’ll blame Rojava, and he’ll, you know, cut resources. He’s got different alliances with Iraqi Kurdistan, and political parties there. Like, right now, the borders closed between Iraq and Syria, the Semalka Crossing, that’s like the sort of unofficial crossing, that’s been the main one that we’re able to use for the last few years.
It’s estimated it’ll be close for two months, it’s, we don’t know when it will open again. There’s been shortages of sugar, which is a big deal, because people put like, they have half chai, half sugar in there, in their cup of chai. So like, not having sugar for their chai is like a really huge issue for people’s morale, culturally, it’s very important to have, you know, these resources. You know, they’re not letting cigarettes go across, just things that are designed to like, make people’s lives miserable here, they’re doing this to make up kind of political points that they’re losing in Iraqi Kurdistan or in Turkey respectively. So I think Rojava economically kind of becomes the scapegoat or the you know, the whipping post for failing economies in the neighboring countries.
TFSR: So to kind of keep on the Iraq question, like there’s been a lot of conflict in south Kurdistan and Iraqi Kurdistan between the Turkish state and PKK elements that are there with the Kurdish Democratic Party. The more conservative Barzani-led administration, they’re siding with Turkey. For instance, there are allegations also a Turkish use of chemical weapons, but this hasn’t been making news in the US so much. Are you aware of this? And has this affected things in in Rojava?
RG: I’ll be honest, I can’t I don’t really know of an answer to that question. I’m not knowledgeable about that.
TFSR: Cool, I appreciate that honesty. Back to TA a little bit: can you share a little more about the medical work that y’all do? And why this was chosen as a focus? As I understand in 2018 or 2019 y’all got an ambulance, for instance, that enabled y’all to do combat medic work during that time. How widespread was or is this among SDF, I guess the practice of ambulances and mobility, and what’s the general response to your work been in the area?
RG: In the time that I’ve been here, which again, I came after the Serê Kaniyê war, so there hasn’t been a full scale war in the time I’ve been here. We do have an ambulance, we had one already when I got here, I’m not sure when we got it. I know during the time of the war, they were using it to evacuate wounded, to evacuate people from the hospital in Serê Kaniyê out of the city, and that kind of thing, to protect civilians as well as wounded military members. I know that there were members of TA that were here at that time that did very heroic things and saved a lot of lives.
I think that the space for that kind of work opened up because a combination of the disinvestment over decades in this region, plus the brain drain of, you know, 10 years of war, resulted in a situation where there was just like, really a huge lack of people who were both trained and willing to go into dangerous areas to do kind of emergency medical work. And I know, like, for example, I heard from people who were in the time of the Serê Kaniyê war they were giving out tourniquets and, like, there were people who were arriving at the hospital with wounds that they would have been saved by a tourniquet, from people that were their people in their unit or wherever had been given tourniquets, and they weren’t using them. Where people would get these individual first aid kits and just empty it out and use the thing that they came in to carry stuff.
So there was a big gap in understanding or seeing the value in this kind of work. I think that coming from a Western perspective, and also with more of an understanding and experience of how state militaries work, there was more of a value placed on this type of preparation. So seeing how that went down, there’s been a big work not only in our group and other groups as well, to do like education, we’ve been teaching the different military groups about how to use tourniquets, how to improvise tourniquets because we don’t have a good supply of premade tourniquets but you can make a pretty great one from you know, a torn piece of T-shirt and the cleaning rod of your rifle, for example. Giving education on how to stop massive bleeding, how to do chest seals for something that’s punctured a lung, basic stuff for just keeping people alive long enough to get them to the hospital.
We’ve been really shifting our focus from providing the care directly to providing education to people on how to do this kind of care. And like I said, we’ve been doing work with the civilian medical system as well, to try to improve and develop our skills and stay ready when we’re not in a situation of having to provide emergency medical care. There were also reports – and I don’t know how official these are or whatever – but I heard more than one person talking about feeling at least like Turkey had been targeting ambulances, or that marked ambulances were a target. And a lot of times now, especially with the drone strikes and stuff, when people are injured they’re not waiting for an ambulance to show up, they’re being thrown in the back of a pickup truck or a logistics van or something that can go faster than an ambulance can over the shitty roads here and get to the hospital as fast as possible.
So having people that are able to stop massive bleeding or you know, keep their lung from collapsing or whatever, while they’re in the back of their of their Hilux, or whatever, I think we’re seeing that that’s going to make more of a difference than having an ambulance. I mean we do still have the ambulance and we make visits around places where maybe other other ambulances aren’t willing to go. But it’s become more of a mobile clinic for the time being. Like, not a real clinic, but like, you know, we go and we make checkups, we give the injections for leishmaniasis. If people look really sick, and their commanders aren’t letting them go to the hospital, we’ll write them a note and sometimes that carries an extra authority. We give them advice for like if they’ve got a cold or something you know how to take care about and not get sick or this sort of thing.
TFSR: That’s awesome. That’s super insightful. I really appreciate that answer. So how have you seen COVID-19 experienced in Rojava, as far as like how it’s spread, or access to tests, vaccines, and PPE, any of this sort of stuff?
RG: With PPE, it’s really not widespread. Some people are wearing masks now. It’s become not super strange to wear a mask. I would say it’s not normal, like most people aren’t wearing masks or practicing social distancing or anything but at the beginning, like if you didn’t shake people’s hands and give everyone a hug, it was super rude. Whereas now people have started a little bit, if you do like a little bow or a wave instead of shaking hands, or if you are wearing a mask, people don’t think that’s super weird. They started to understand what that is and what it’s about. They still don’t give a lot of attention to COVID, although they it’s been really inconsistent. Because they built a new hospital for COVID but it’s been pretty much empty because people aren’t going to the hospital when they have these symptoms. And people have definitely died of COVID here, a lot of people have gotten COVID, people in our group have gotten COVID and have mostly recovered thank God. So like people are seeing that it’s existing, but sometimes there are tests, we had PCR tests for a while, then we had the rapid antigen tests, and now I guess they don’t have any test? So they’re saying that there’s no COVID anymore like it’s done, just because, I think it’s because they ran out of tests.
So it’s a really inconsistent response, like and they got a vaccine, we got the first dose of the vaccine, but then we couldn’t go on time and get the second dose. And then by the time we went to get the second dose, they didn’t have it anymore. So now we’re trying to figure out if there’s some other city where we can go to get the second dose, it’s really, it’s really a mess. There have been some lockdowns, but they’ve been really inconsistent. It’s been different, like, from city to city and a lockdown pretty much means that you just can’t go in or out of the city for usually like a week or two. It’s been it’s been really inconsistent.
TFSR: Yeah, that doesn’t sound disimilar, actually, to a lot of other places, just maybe on a different scale. But yeah, a lot of the same problems are pretty, seem pretty ubiquitous, as far as accessing testing and the social spreading of like what knowledge there is to protect oneself from it.
This is off topic, but I just heard an interview the other, I think earlier this week on Democracy Now with folks at the Texas Children’s Hospital that had developed an open source and copyright free vaccine and were distributing it, like they were working with a manufacturing infrastructure in India and a few other parts of the world to just get it as widely distributed as possible. That’s pretty hopeful for me, as far as that one specific, like, you were mentioning those bite vectored infections that y’all are helping to inject folks against, but as far as the COVID thing, I don’t know.
RG: Yeah, I mean, part of the issue with the COVID thing here, too, is like, I think part of the reason that they didn’t keep the vaccines around, it’s not like there was so much demand that they were going like hotcakes, I think nobody wanted them.
TFSR: Because they didn’t see it as an actual threat or because they’re, they don’t like vaccines?
RG: I think it’s a combination of as much of health literacy is an issue everywhere, it’s like very, very much an issue here. People aren’t trusting the countries that are manufacturing these vaccines, they’re also occupying forces. Like it’s all coming from either the US or Russia. So there’s like political mistrust, as well as like, kind of the attitude towards you know, after 10 years of war, people are kind of, a lot of people have this sort of like, “you can’t scare me,” like “COVID, I don’t care” kind of attitude. So it’s a combination of things.
TFSR: Yeah, that’s that sounds kind of common also the people that I’ve talked to imprisoned in the so-called US, they’re like, “I don’t want to catch this, but they’re trying to kill me every day and have been over this whole sentence, so whatever. Something’s gonna get me or it’s not.”
RG: Yeah, it’s really, really difficult to fight against this kind of fatalism and this kind of mistrust, because it’s not wrong. Like, it makes sense.
TFSR: Yeah, yeah, for sure. You’ve mentioned with like, ambulances being targeted by drone strikes and I kind of wonder what it’s like being engaged, even though you’re not currently engaged in hot and regular and heavy war with Turkey – even though the threat is constantly looming, and there are things like drone strikes – what’s it like being engaged in such an asymmetrical warfare against the state power was such advantages in terms of resources, weaponry, like drones, and airstrikes and border fortifications, and the ability to organize assassination attempts, notably against leaders of the Turkish Left in Rojava. And I know it’s a big question, but also being party to a conflict that is facing off against in this complex mess between like, Turkey as a NATO force and the second biggest military in NATO, and the US at some points, acting as a support in some parts of the conflict also, as a NATO state, you know, this sort of thing.
RG: I mean, I can only speak for me in terms of like, what it feels like, to me. To be honest, it’s terrifying. It’s very scary. When I first got here, especially for the first few months, I was just conscious constantly of the fact that like, we could all die at any moment. I guess you kind of get used to it, you focus on what you can do. You get to be able to kind of recognize how far bombs are by what they sound like. I don’t know. I don’t have a good answer for that. You just, you try to focus on on what’s in front of you, and you try to have an eye on the long game, you know. To know that nobody knows what’s going to happen, that there are more important things, there are there other determiners of victory rather than who has the biggest guns.
TFSR: I think that I already kind of asked the thing about what is TA working on right now, or you answered it through a lot of the medical discussion. Do you do want to sort of wax philosophical about the future of TA and what directions that might go?
RG: Yeah, like I mentioned, we’re talking about our questions of organizational form. We’re having debates right now about some readings that we did about the Makhnovists platform and we’re talking about platformism, we’re talking about decision making strategies and consensus and you know, a lot of the same things that any kind of anarchist organization struggles with. Because as we grow, and as we develop over time and have different organizational needs, we have to sort of refine our approach to the concept of structuring ideologically and practically what that means for us.
So in ideological terms, we’re doing that. We’re working a little bit on our image, I think, especially early on with the nature of the Daesh war in particular, and the demographics of the group, that it got a bit of a bro-y image. We’ve gotten critique for that, we’ve taken this to heart. We’ve really tried to focus on not only questioning the patriarchal values that get embodied in military works, and the way that we do that, but also focusing more on the women’s liberation in the ecology, pillars of the revolution that we’re involved in.
We’ve gotten more involved in society works, like, we’ve gotten to know people, both civilian and military people kind of in other groups or who aren’t officially affiliated, but are just supportive, that we interact with in the villages around us. We visited some kind of cultural activities, in particular, like Armenian cultural revival. There’s a lot of Armenians in Syria, who ended up here as a result of the genocide. There was a huge forced march of Armenians to Deir ez-Zor. Also a lot of Armenian women and children were kidnapped and sold or adopted by Kurdish and or Arab families.
TFSR: At the beginning of the 20th century, the Armenian genocide by the Turkish state you’re referring to? Or is this something during Daesh war?
RG: No, no, this is the 1915 genocide. So there’s a big effort as part of this, I think that Öcalan calls it “xwe nas bikin”, and it means like, “know yourself”, meaning like, know your roots, know your heritage. There’s a big push for sort of cultural pride among Armenians, Assyrians, people who are kind of cultural and religious minority groups here. So there’s a council that’s doing Armenian language lessons. So we’re trying to get involved with learning about this kind of things, and learning more about the history and the cultures of the area. And try not to have like a white savior complex or anything like this, where we kind of just come in and like do our work, which was sort of, I think, earlier on, there was less opportunity to do anything that wasn’t immediately necessary because the situation was the way it was. But now we have a lot more opportunities.
So yeah, just being more connected and more involved in the many, many facets of this revolution that aren’t immediately obvious, or things that we’re necessarily already thinking about, from the way that – in particular from America – like what we, what we see. And a lot of the news and the image that we have this place, I think in America in particular, is like at least three years out of date at any given time, because we don’t have such strong ties to here the way that Europe has a much more lively exchange of people between this region. And in for example, Germany and England both have big Kurdish movements.
Sorry I’m getting a little bit off topic. So the question what is TA working on now and in the future…so yeah, we’re working on that, we’re trying to bring more people, especially we’re prioritizing bringing women comrades, gender nonconforming comrades, trans comrades. There’s a lot of contradictions on on queer issues in the movement generally, but in terms of our ability to exist an organized as queer internationals, we have been very lucky. We have the space to exist and challenge some of the beliefs and assumptions that people have. So that’s something that we really value as an opportunity we want to make the most of.
TFSR: Yeah that’s awesome. Yeah, in the past, the Kurdish movement in Rojava has been somewhat unwelcoming to gay, lesbian, queer and trans folks. It’s our understanding that the Kurdish movement in Bakur, in Turkish occupied northern Kurdistan, has historically been amazingly pro LGBTQ but because of some local attitudes in shorter time for building up support in the region, the movement has been really impacted by holders of conservative social mores. That said, over the past years, the women’s movement was starting to slowly try and shift that attitude. How do things stand now, if you all have insights on this?
RG: There’s a lot of really contradictory things going on. My experience has been that, especially as internationals, we can get away with a lot more than people from here can in terms of this kind of stuff. Especially because, I mean, they consider it as weird to be vegetarian as they do to be gay, for example. Like, *laughing* we’re just freaks in general like so they kind of just shake their heads and let us get away with being weird. Whereas for a person from here who’s queer, they, they face a lot, a lot of difficulties, a lot of danger that we as internationals are privileged to be largely exempt from.
That said, I think within the movement, there are people who see queer issues as part of the struggle against patriarchy, and there are people who don’t. You get a variety of attitudes, ranging from you know, “homosexuality is a social disease of capitalist modernity”, to you know that it’s just simply doesn’t exist, you know, to people who, like I said have a much more progressive attitude towards it. The comrades from Turkey or from Bakur do tend to have a much more informed and accepting attitude, I would say, in my experience.
We are not the only group by any means that has out vocal queer members. And I think that we’ve gotten more careful and respectful and strategic since the days of the, you know, TQILA banner, if anybody saw that photo, which was a great photo, but it caused huge, huge problems. Especially with like, for example, the more socially conservative tribes that the autonomous administration needs to try to bring into its project and win some goodwill with. There’s just a lot to balance. Because on the one hand, we’re pushing to try to, you know, advance social attitude towards the concept of gender, the concept of sexual orientation.
On the other hand, you know, we had friends that were working in a women’s health clinic, and one of the questions for women that were having various health problems was, “how often do you have sex with your husband? How often do you want to have sex with your husband?” And some of the women were like, “Want? What do you, what do you mean, want? Like, what does this want that you’re talking?” It just, depending, there’s just such a huge range of attitudes and experiences related to gender and sexuality here that it’s a complicated situation.
TFSR: Thank you for that. The broader Kurdish movement has a heavy focus on the ideological aspects of the struggle and the Rojava revolution being part of military training, with studies of Öcalan’s work and structured collective life considered as or more important than the combat related training. What sort of commonalities does life at TA have with the way life is structured in the broader movement? And are there ways in which an anarchist perspective causes it to diverge?
RG: Yeah, that’s a good question. And I think it’s been different at different times in TA’s history. I think for the time that I’ve been here, at least, the last year especially, we’ve had a lot of emphasis on the ideological development. Not only within our organization, like when we did military training, we allocated ample time for discussions of patriarchy, patriarchal dynamics, how we can engage with the realities of our situation without unnecessarily advancing sort of patriarchal values. And we talked a lot about the role of sport, our relationships to our bodies, competitiveness, you know, whether it’s good to be competitive, the destructive nature of competitiveness, toxic masculinity.
So we’ve made time in our training schedule to really intentionally sit down and discuss these aspects, discuss our relationship to the concept of hierarchy, being you know, in a military situation versus in other situations. As well as at various times we do reading groups, discussions on topics that are, as we get time – lately we’ve been really busy – but when we get time we do a rotating seminar where someone will kind of prepare an hour or two discussion about a topic related to women’s revolution, gender liberation, some aspect of anarchist history. We did one on understanding antisemitism, just a variety of topics. We’re a bunch of nerds at heart to like, we’re all always reading things. I’m in like a signal group of people who are reading the book, The Ghetto Fights right now, which is about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
I think one of the things we did for a while, it’s a kind of a common practice that we adopted from other groups is when we have our list of who has night watch duty and people take like an hour or two shift for security in the night, and there’s a list and it’s really common to put like an inspirational revolutionary quote on the list, so whoever’s making the list has to like constantly be reading more stuff and finding new sources of inspiration there.
And we don’t only do these kinds of education’s in our own group, we’ve also participated in more formal education with other internationals from other organizations that were coordinated to come together for like a month long, you know, learning about the history of this movement, the history of philosophy in the Middle East, readings and discussions like an intensive 10 hours a day of lectures and discussions and movies about relevant topics, so. As much as we get time for we really we really do take seriously the ideological development.
TFSR: Can you share with us a little about your understanding of the Kurdish movements approach to autonomy and statehood? Do y’all have any insights into the possibility of, I guess the TEV-DEM, or PYD, formalizing an autonomous region with Bashar al-Assad’s government?
RG: Um, as far as the relationship between the autonomous administration and the Assad regime I don’t understand it, and I can’t comment on it. As far as kind of summarizing my experiences or my discussions that illustrate some of the wide variety of opinions within the quote unquote “Kurdish movement”, I would say that – saying “the Kurdish movement” implying that there is just one, or even just several – like, I don’t know. The discussions I’ve had with people, just like random people on the streets sometimes even, like I talked to one guy, this one old guy I met in Qamişlo who was saying he was really supporting the PKK for a long time, and he’s a, he described himself as a Stalinist and he really was pro USSR and but then, when the new paradigm happened and the split in the party happened, he started to support the model of Başûr Iraqi Kurdistan, he became a Barzani supporter. Because to him, a state was just so important. Like even though he called himself a communist, communism was like nothing compared to having a state. So that was a wild ride of a conversation.
So I mean, there’s people you know, that range from, there was like a really, bit irreverent, but quite illustrative meme that was going around of like a political compass of people within the Rojava movement, too, and there was the PKK boomer who doesn’t know that there’s a new paradigm. Like a bit making light of the wide variety of ideological orientations you find towards the concept of statehood. But in terms of how it’s actually being implemented, it seems like there’s a big, almost US-style democracy, I say, “almost”, is something that a lot of just regular people are supporting, as far as I can tell. At least from what I hear from friends, for example, in Rojava Information Center who know a lot more about this than I do, so this is all like third hand information.
But that like, you know, in these council meetings are trying to, they’re working right now on writing a new social contract, so that they’ve, like, you know, decided to both enshrine property rights and also, for example, guarantee your right to housing as like a human right. So how these contradictions are going to play out, the details it’s not clear. I’m really interested to see how that goes.
But yeah, in terms of like the approach to statehood, there are some people that are like really still hardline, like we need our own state. There are some people that ride around with pictures of Saddam Hussein on the front of their motorbikes because they’re the same flavor of Islam that he was and they see this cultural identification is the most important thing to them. It’s a huge variety of opinions. And what is happening within the more ideological oriented discussions is maybe not completely reflective of what the general everyday man on the street kind of person’s gonna think as well.
And also to call it “the Kurdish movement”, like again, at least in the area where we are there’s a lot of Assyrians, there’s a lot of Armenians, there’s a lot of Arabs. There’s definitely a lot of Kurds as well, but to describe this movement at this point as “Kurdish” is a, it’s Kurdish inspired, it’s Kurdish led but it’s not a “Kurdish movement”.
TFSR: In a recent interview that Duran Kalkan of the Kurdistan Democratic Communities Union, which was conducted by the group peace in Kurdistan, Duran Kalkan spoke about his view that while Western governments like the US may strategically partner with the SDF under Rojavan command in the fight against Daesh or ISIS, they’re not committed to the project of democratic and federalism but only destabilizing Turkey and opposing Russian and Iranian influence in the region. It’s a proxy situation.
This specific radio show and podcast is based in the US, you’ve mentioned that a number of people involved as internationals are from the US, and a lot of our audience, most of our audience, is based in the US, so I think this, this is why I bring up this question: can you talk about the US relationship to Rojava, the illegalization of the PKK and the KCK, and what impact that has on the ground in areas controlled by the autonomous administration of north and east Syria? As I understand many internationals who come back from Rojava face difficulties from the various states that they live under because of some of these are similar illegalizations?
RG: Yeah, I think Americans have a bit easier time than some of the people from other places, I think Brits have quite a difficult situation now, the laws that have been passed in the last couple years are horrific. As far as the criminalization of the PKK, I know that increasingly different countries, including I think England recently, most of them haven’t changed their evaluation, but have at least reopen the debate into a classification of PKK and whether it’s the terrorist organization or not. I don’t know the history of how the illegalization happened, or, you know, I can’t really comment on that, as far as just anecdotally, like I know, I’ve had friends that have come back from Rojava to different places, and in the US, some friends have kind of gotten follow up from the feds, but I don’t know of anybody who’s really faced heavy repression because of it.
However, the issue is there have been some people who have been accused of unrelated things, but then had their prior involvement with this region used to kind of intensify the repression they face for other things. So the repression is there and it’s definitely important to be conscious of it, and for individuals who participate to be careful, but also for people who care about this revolution, or who just care about freedom generally, to fight against the criminalization of the PKK, the criminalization of participation in this revolution, the criminalization of you know, even travel to this region for some people. As far as the impact on the ground for people here who aren’t internationalist, I don’t know that there’s a quantifiable simple like impact, it just makes things generally harder. But I think the impact, as far as I’m at least able to comment on this, you know, is mostly to people going to other places, working in other places….
TFSR: And for listeners who are interested in more on the lasting effects of repression in the US, they can check a couple of episodes ago to our interview with some supporters of Dan Baker, who formerly had participated in the Rojava revolution, and is facing a few dozen months in prison, not for that directly but that was definitely brought up in his court proceedings.
RG: Yeah, he is the one that put something on Facebook, no? And, and it was sort of connected somehow, abstractly?
TFSR: Well he was, yeah. Definitely that has something to do with it, yeah. He basically had said, after the January 6 events in DC, he was in Florida, and he said, “Hey, Trumpists in Florida are threatening an arm siege on the Capitol, antifascist should come out with weapons and like keep them from attacking the general population”. And it had been brought up since he had come back from Rojava, like he had, he was doing some medical work at The CHOP Seattle, and after a shooting had happened had been approached by the FBI. But then also, yeah, his participation in Rojava had been brought up during his court proceedings for calling for people to show up at the Florida capitol to act as a community defense, not a defense of the Capitol, but act as a community defense against armed Trumpists who are trying to commit a putsch.
How can listeners learn more about TA and the social revolution occurring in Rojava, or the struggle going on in Rojava? And how can they get involved or support the communalist movement and aims from where they’re at?
RG: Well I’ve mentioned earlier on this list of different organizations that people can do work with here. So knowing that if people are interested to come here, it’s not only military connected work that’s available to them, their civilian work for internationalist as well.
There’s also, you know, the need for solidarity work in people’s home countries, in the US, in particular, like pressuring lawmakers to reduce the repression on on not just people who come here, but also to remove the PKK from this international terrorist list. There’s a push to have a no-fly zone for Turkey to limit Turkey’s ability to make incursions into the area. There were some boycott movements on companies such as Garmin that were manufacturing drone parts that Turkey was using, which Turkey is also now supplying drones to Ethiopia to suppress the resistance to the genocide in Tigray as well, so that’s worth noting the connection there.
As far as learning more about TA in particular, we have Twitter, we don’t update it super often, our internet’s not super reliable all the time and media isn’t our top priority. And we do answer our email when we can. So if people have questions for us, we can be contacted that way. And as far as supporting Rojava generally: inform yourself, follow the news and the history. There’s a really great book that I read called A Road Unforeseen by Meredith Tax. I know she, Meredith Tax, has done speaking tours with Debbie Bookchin, I believe, who runs the Emergency Committee for Rojava. They have events that you can get involved with, you can educate yourself, you can connect other people. So yeah, Emergency Committee for Rojava is usually a good place to find stuff.
TFSR: I can put links in the show notes to some of the texts that you’ve brought up. There’s, for instance, the one about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising., there’s like a free PDF on the publishers website, which is really helpful. If you have any other links that you want to share, too, we can happily put those in there. Is there anything that I failed to ask you about that you’d like to share?
RG: I think one of the most valuable things that I’ve quote unquote, “learned” from the revolution here in my time here, and just from the society and seeing the effort, and the slow and steady pace of building the communes and the cooperatives and all of the issues that they’ve run into, and starting over that they’ve had to do, and the perseverance that they’ve had to have, is that the work that that I see a lot of my friends, in particular anarchist, but not only anarchists, doing in the US, and in Canada and other places like it – and I’m talking about like housing cooperatives, land trusts, tenants unions, connecting the tenants unions to labor unions – any kind of organizing like this with the people, that is with the eye to, not just to win a concession from the boss or the landlord, but to further connect the people to their community and to each other and going to city council meetings, doing things that that may seem pretty unrevolutionary and unglamorous at the local level…that’s the quote unquote, “real work”.
Like I think American anarchists suffer the most from a belief that the real revolution is always somewhere else, that the real revolutionary possibilities and activities are always somewhere more exciting. That anything we do is, you know, we like to call each other “cosplayers” or kind of put down each other’s work or our own work, and I think that the most valuable thing that I’ve learned from being here is, is this is the real work, the work that we’re doing here is not significantly different than the work that revolutionaries, I’ll use that word, are doing in the US, are doing in Canada, and that especially those connected to land struggles for Indigenous people, I think that is absolutely the right track. And we should have more faith in ourselves, we should take ourselves more seriously and we should have more of an appreciation for the ways in which the conditions are good for us to do this work, the material resources, the access to knowledge that we do have, and to, to support each other in this and to really see the potential.
TFSR: Yeah, I appreciate that. Thank you. And thank you, Robin, thank you so much, after long days and in the middle of your busy schedule to take the time to, to communicate your views and your experiences. I really appreciate hearing him and I’m excited to share him with the audience. Thank you.
RG: Yeah, thank you for taking so much time to talk to me and being patient with all this, tech issues and everything. *chuckles*
TFSR: *laughs* Blasted technology. And pass my love and appreciation to TA please.
RG: I will do that, thank youTags: genderhealthLGBTQRojavaSyriaTranscribedTurkeywarzinethe final straw radiopodcastinterview