“Rojava”, as the Kurds call the part of their nation under Syrian administration, two months ago declared itself to be a sovereign, autonomous territory. Made up of three cantons of Kobani, Cizîre and Efrîn, Western Kurdistan is now the pilot project of a multicultural society ruled by local grassroots assemblies, open to all ethnic and religious minorities inhabiting the region, traditionally battered by Al-Assad’s governments (father and son).
In order to get a close look at this process of political transformation in the heart of Mesopotamia and to show support from Catalonia, a Catalan delegation made up of Catalan MPs Sara Vilà (ICV), and Quim Arrufat (CUP), former director of the Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation and ERC member David Minoves, and representatives of civil society organizations such as the Escarré International Centre for Ethnic Minorities and Nations (CIEMEN) and other cooperation and feminist movement activists, have been visiting the region in recent days.
Access to Western Kurdistan was impossible given the fact that the Iraq’s Kurdistan government -self-governing since 2005- has kept for a few days closed the only border pass with Syria that can be crossed in a somewhat safe way. The political goals of the trip, however, were fulfilled as the delegation visited Amed (Diyarbakir), Turkey’s Kurdistan capital city, which finds itself amid a campaign ahead of Turkish local elections on 30th March.
After participating in the International Conference on models of national emancipation, organized by the city’s mayor office -which involved, among others, Bolivian MP Flora Aguilar (Movement for Socialism) and Basque MP in the Spanish Congress Jon Inarritu (EH Bildu)-, Catalan representatives met Democratic Union Party (PYD) Co-Chair Asiya Abdullah, which is promoting the democratic process in Rojava.
Abdullah expressed her conviction that building an inclusive democracy in terms of ethnicity, culture and gender is the only chance there to overcome the Syrian war and prevent the outbreak of other armed conflicts in the Middle East.
The tour, organized by CIEMEN, ended with visits to several Party for Peace and Democracy (BDP) offices. This Kurdish party has encouraging prospects for next Sunday’s local elections in Turkey, in which it expects to gather more than 75% of the votes in the Kurdish majority territories, surpassing their 2009 results and securing victory in cities such as Urfa, which the party is not ruling now.
The Catalan delegation encouraged candidates and participants to continue to fight for their national, social and democratic rights. Its members also talked about the latest informations on the Catalan self-determination process and November’s referendum on independence.
Nora Miralles is a journalist and member of the Catalan delegation
Kurdistan/Kurdistan : General information
Population: between 30 and 40 million inhabitants
Area: 350,000 to 500,000 km²
Institutions: Kurdish Autonomous Region (Iraq, legally recognized); autonomous cantons of Afrin, Kobanê and Cizîre (Syria, self-proclaimed)
State administration: Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria
Major cities: Mûsil (Mosul), Hewlêr (Arbil) and Kerkûk (Kirkuk), Amed (Diyarbakir), Bedlîs (Bitlis), Kirmaşan (Kermanshah), Sine (Sanandaj) Mehabad (Mahabad) and Qamişlo (Al Qamishli)
Territorial language: Kurdish
Official language: Turkish (Turkey), Kurdish and Arabic (Iraq), Persian (Iran), Arabic (Syria), Kurdish, Arabic and Syriac (Cizîre canton)
National Day: 21st March (Norouz Day)
Major religion: Islam, with some Christian and Yezidi minorities