Rojava

Rojava: Imperfect Solidarity, False Allies

False friends. False allies. False solidarity. Pregnant with expectations of failure before we even stumble; outraged by our refusal to accept their efforts to mould and shape from a privileged distance; demanding generosity shrouded in layers of Eurocentric racism and orientalism (when their minds are more colonised than ours). Quick to condemn, to denounce, to critique a revolution they barely understand; too slow to self educate, to learn and unlearn; to stand back silently; to listen where needed, instead they condemn the liberation and self preservation tactics of a colonised, brutalised people before they even know the colours of our name – do you even know who we are? we are named Halabje and Roboski and Shengal and Nuseybin and Kobane and Qamishlou, and Dersim and Zilan and Serdesht!

This revolution is not contradiction free; it is complex, pure, simple, complicated in all its faults and beauties; in all its 10 steps forward and 5 steps back- a dance as old as time that we are relearning; our revolution reflects the trajectory of our liberation psychology and our unlearning and the shedding of thousands of years of oppression branded into our psyches- visible, shameless acts of oppression(s) which occur before you – because they are sure of your silence, your selective empathy, your expectant, false, fair weather solidarity.

This revolution is imperfect perfection. A perfect contradiction of love, of failure, of humanity, and of rebelling colonised bodies and colonised minds- against ancient hatreds they told us was as natural as our state of slavery, as they tried to force the taste of freedom from our tongues. And in your impatience, pregnant-with-expectations-of-failure-solidarity, you fail to see that the revolution is in our trying. In our unlearning. In shedding the hate the system you still benefit from tried to imprint in us; and as we continue to burn because of their all consuming hatred- despite your silence, with your selective speeches of conditional, selective solidarity- we rise from the ashes again and again and we destroy and we dismantle all that is undismantleable, unconquerable, unlearnable.

And perplexed, still you don’t understand. Because you don’t listen when we tell you we are named Halabje and Roboski and shengal, and nuseybin and Kobane and Qamishlou, and Dersim and Zilan and Serdesht!

You don’t understand that this revolution can only be understood by seeing the sparkling, brilliant depth and hues of a guerrilla’s eyes; in the weathered, lined hands of a grandmother holding an AK-47; in the fierce, sun kissed, intertwining strands of a YPJ’s braids; in the mountain songs of the freedom fighters; in the way a bright scarf wraps itself protectively across the face of a resisting teenager in the alleyways of Sur; in the silent, speaking-a-thousand-words, unshed tears of a father of a murdered son; in the stilted laughter of our children born in refugee camps; in the curved spines of the orphans; in the visible and hidden graves scattered across our plains; in the poor labourers heart calling for freedom; in the bullet-ridden homes in Nuseybin; in the inches of prisons filled to the brim; in the cry of pain that our ancient forests make when deliberate fires run ragged across their hearts; in the way the streams flow in our remote unconquerable mountains, reminding us of who we were once, long ago.

The music of our revolution is in the way that we sing a collective song of liberation that only we hear; a dance that the privileged can only watch but can never learn because only those who have learned the selective, silent, beating drums of massacres and genocides, of freedoms denied, can hear.

And all you should do is simply listen.


Hawzhin Azeez holds a PhD in politics and international relations. She is a women’s rights and refugee advocate. She is currently chair of the Kobane reconstruction board and is situated in Kobane, Rojava. She is also the creator of the Facebook page The Middle Eastern Feminist.

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