Feeding The Revolution!

In March, 2016, I visited Rojava, the autonomous region of northern Syria that is currently in the midst of a furious, beautiful, conscious revolution.

I travelled to the region with two friends as part of an invited women’s delegation of journalists and activists. As we suspected it would, the two weeks we spent in the region have somehow changed each of our lives, and also the very fabric of who we are, causing us to question all kinds of preconceptions and ideas that we previously held.

I will be writing about all of this in due time on this blog, and also on a number of other platforms, but for the time being I would like to draw your attention to this project, which is in need of your support.

One of the three of us decided to stay in Rojava. This is what she is doing now.

Kurdistan, Rojava, organic farming, fundraiser, cooperative, cooperatives, co-operatives, co-op, co-ops, co-operative, food sovereignty

Rojava needs your support.

At the time of writing this, there are only 17 days left to raise the money needed for this highly ambitious, life-saving project to #FeedTheRevolution.

The plan is essentially to stave off mass famine in the region, while simultaneously creating a closed-loop system of waste recycled into organic fertiliser, transforming Rojava from a chemically-produced wheat monoculture into a system of self-sustaining organic farming.

The project is being implemented by Rojava Plan, who are offical members of Rojava’s Economic Committee. As I will explain in future posts, the Democratic Confederalism system being implemented across the region is essentially a system of interlinking communes and committees, where decisions are made at the lowest possible level and elected representatives are sent up to the next level on a rotational basis.

This is what my friend and the other members of her collective say about the project

Feed The Revolution is the most vital project for Rojava right now. The embargo from all sides has come to a tipping point, where the resources in Rojava are now coming to an end. Since the embargo from the KRG (Iraqi Kurdistan) began at the beginning of the revolution in Syria, people had to pay large sums of money to the government there in order to import certain products into Rojava. This obviously worked against the ideology of the movement and the new democratic values of the revolution in Rojava, as only rich capitalists were able to pay these fees. But two months ago, even this was stopped, the border is now completely closed. The KRG border was the last option of trade for Rojava. Since not only is the lack of imports effecting the needs, but the inability to export is massively affecting the economy too. The movement is keeping essentials such as bread at the same low price as before, but this means that they have to sell it at a lower price than it costs to make. The movement is subsidizing farmers for this lost cost and baring it themselves. This might sound like a viable solution for the people to continue their lives but that money has to be taken from somewhere else, since the economy is crashing, from other essentials such as education and the defense against ISIS.

Now, Rojava is facing the situation of having to be completely self-sufficient. As this area of Syria was the poorest and least developed in the country before the revolution, this is a huge feat to aim for so suddenly. Add in the fact that all the land in Northern Syria was owned by the regime, which only produced a monoculture of wheat and also repeatedly used imported chemical fertilizer, then you can see that there was absolutely no thought about the long-term effects of losing the soils fertility because of the lack of crop diversity and the chemical imbalances.

So what’s the solution? Rojava needs to produce its own food on a scale large enough to feed the entire population. In order to achieve this, the movement has made massive steps to encourage people to work on the land collectively through cooperatives, which, again, is in line with the ideology of democratic confederalism. But the problems mentioned above mean that food crops are not growing to their full potential. This year, only a third of the usual yield will be produced. Fertilizer is needed immediately in order to create a short term solution for the food crisis Rojava is now experiencing.

We have not only developed a short term solution, but also a long-term solution. Our plan is to build facilities here that will produce organic fertilizer from the natural waste of the local population; from egg shells to tea leaves to manure. We are working within the movement to give education to teachers who will then teach the local population about the importance of separating their waste and about the direct and indirect benefits of composting. This system of educating will be easy, as the people already organize in their neighborhoods in accordance with the grassroots level of participatory democracy of confederalism. This education is essential for many reasons. One is that it focuses on achieving ecological requirements needed in our lifetime. Another is that it involves the people, not only by increasing their knowledge on important topics like this, but also further encouraging the participatory democracy which the revolution is currently promoting and achieving. Another is that it then gives all people the ability to replicate the project all across Rojava and become completely self-sufficient on the most essential need of humanity: food. They will no longer need to rely on capitalist trade from countries which want to dissolve the revolution or on corporations which will demolish the truly democratic system which works in favor of the people and for their autonomy.

4 thoughts on “Feeding The Revolution!

    • Hi, thanks for dropping by and leaving your comment. I’m just reading your article now… Although I don’t share some of your analyses of the situation in Rojava, I am really happy to see someone making comparisons between the revolutions in Rojava and wider Syria, and am especially happy to find something new written about Omar Aziz in English. You don’t know how many hours I have spent scouring the internet for information about him and about what remains of the very real revolutionary current in Syria. If you have contacts who knew him personally, or who have contacts in liberated parts of Syria today that are continuing this kind of struggle, I would love to get in touch with them.

      As for talking about Rojava, I visited with a list of claims which I wanted to investigate and found many of them to be unfounded. For example, I met Arab children in schools and saw them teaching Arabic. I met an Arab woman in the YPJ (I have read claims that this is impossible) and she told me that the reports about ethnic cleansing were “bullshit”. I’m not denying that there could be issues with some of the independent militias which need to be sorted out, and it’s also worth bearing in mind that a massive percentage of the population is armed, but this kind of action is not at all condoned by the movement itself. What I have witnessed is a very real will to involve people of all ethnicities in the region, to encourage communities to set up their own councils and civilian self-defence, and to especially get Arab women involved in the organising structures. There has undoubtedly been some success with this, but it’s true that the majority of people working actively in the movement are still Kurdish. Hopefully that will continue to change, as it remains one of my biggest criticisms.

      I was there at the time that the confederal system was announced, and this was not just the PYD. I personally witnessed a meeting involving Arab tribal members, and the declaration was written first in Arabic, then translated into Kurdish.

      About linking the cantons, Afrin is currently under a full embargo and is completely cut off. It seems pretty obvious to me that they are going to want to link it to Kobane via at least a road.

      About the asayish, there are not only Kurdish asayish. And yes, the HPC is gradually replacing them. I had a very long informal conversation with someone in the HPC with a huge amount of experience in the movement and this is what he told me. I will write more about the conversation with him when I get around to writing more on here about my experiences in Rojava, as he was one of the people I learned the most from.

      One important thing I have noticed is that most of the writing about Rojava on the internet, both favourable and critical, does not seem to understand what is actually happening there. There are a lot of rumours, speculation, and people cut-pasting their own experiences onto what they think is going on. Even most solidarity activists don’t seem to really get what’s going on. I was very surprised at how open the movement is, and how incredibly developed it is. In terms of social movements, it is by far the most developed of anything I have come across in over a decade of searching.

      Anyway, I would be super happy to work with you to nurture solidarity for the Syrian revolution in any way I can. Oh, and I really agree on your criticism of how both revolutionary Arab and Kurdish people so often negate the others existence in a very lazy way. I have had arguments with many Arab and Kurdish friends about this (hope I read you right there).

  1. Pingback: Feeding The Revolution! | A Girl and Her Thumb – WORLD ORGANIC NEWS

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