Rojava – Jin, Jiyan, Azadi (Women, Life, Freedom)

Presented by City Kurds // Emergency Committee for Rojava // American Kurdish Association
Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (MoRUS/C-Squat)
155 Avenue C
New York

As people around the world organize for future societies where respect for life is paramount, many are looking for examples of how it can be done. We believe that Rojava can offer immense guidance and hope in that respect. Caught in between an imperialist proxy war in Syria, Turkish colonialism, and one of the strongest terrorist organizations the region has seen, the Kurdish freedom movement has managed to build a society where power remains firmly in the hands of the people. Rojava’s implementation of democratic confederalism has resulted in autonomous communities that practice alternative justice, ensure their own safety, improve environmental sustainability, and much more.

Just as the region’s political system has been rebuilt from the bottom up, so too conflict resolution is now handled at the local level by community members. This is done through neighborhood-based reconciliation committees that function as part of Rojava’s commune system. Women’s houses are a similar mechanism of restorative justice, but one that was set up specifically to protect women’s rights when it comes to family and marital issues. Similar to the revolutionary movement’s attempt to communalize politics and economy through the construction of communes and cooperatives, the new justice mechanisms aim to communalize conflict resolution. Community members now have a place to come together to handle disputes by themselves without outside actors and institutions such as courts.

The following quote from Dilar Dirik’s book, The Kurdish Women’s Movement History, Theory, Practice, helps encapsulate the movement’s unique position and potential:

“Democratic Confederalism is not merely a material structure: it is also a moral and political attitude, a way of life, a philosophy, a revolutionary social contract, and it is already under construction in hearts and minds of people who imagine life without the state. In an environment in which politics, citizenship, and democracy are increasingly tied to the state and the capitalist world-system, with neoliberal non-governmental organizations playing a growing role, the Kurdistan freedom movement creates ungovernable organized communities outside of the gaze and control of the state.” 

Our workshop would include group activities where participants would share potential solutions to serious issues faced in our communities (ex. prison- industrial complex, institutional racism, poverty) followed by a presentation on Rojava and how they address these issues. We will be joined by several activists who spent time in Rojava volunteering in its various structures.