Kurdistan fights on: the women's village of Jinwar

Women and girls at Jinwar Village

In Baghouz, Northern Syria, Syrian democratic forces (SDF) are fighting the last battles against a now almost completely defeated ISIS.  This is a much different picture from just 5 years ago, when ISIS was on the offensive.  Back then, as now, it was the Kurdish-led forces that were on the front lines of the struggle.  In 2014 when ISIS pushed through from Iraq across the border into Sinjar, KRG Peshmerga forces pulled out and ISIS were permitted to occupy the region, forcing thousands of Yazidis to flee into the mountains. YPG (People’s Protection Units) and YPJ (Women’s Protection Units) along with PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) fighters moved in to push ISIS back and provide an escape route for civilians.  It is estimated that between 2,000 – 4,000 people were killed and 4,000 – 10,000 kidnapped by ISIS gangs.  Without the assistance of the YPG/YPJ and PKK it could have been much worse.

Now, 5 years on mass graves are still being unearthed.  Nine mass graves have so far been detected in Sinjar and the gruesome process of identifying the dead is ongoing.  Yazidi men were massacred and women were forced into marriage and slavery.  But now, women are forging their own path and building institutions for women’s liberation and Yazidi women are centrally involved in this process.

In Sinjar, once the scene of a bloody genocide, the Asayish Yazidi Women’s unit has been formed in which women take responsibility for internal security and self-defence. In Rojava, a village named Jinwar has been established.  A commune set up by women from the local administration that provides a space where women can be independent.  In their own words:

‘Jinwar Free Women’s Village is an ecological women’s village currently under construction in the heart of Rojava (West Kurdistan/North Syria). As images of the Women’s Defence Units’ (YPJ) successful resistance against ISIS continue to spread all over the world, the Rojava Revolution has shown the true potential of women. Now, the women of Rojava have come together once again to continue in their struggle for a free and peaceful life through the creation of an ecological women’s village called Jinwar.

‘Jinwar aims to create a way of life in which every woman can reach her full potential free of the constraints of the oppressive power structures of patriarchy and capitalism.’ [1]

Here, women bake their own bread, build their houses, farm and live independently. There are plans for a second commune in Deir Ezzor, an Arab province that is still the scene of fierce fighting to destroy Isis.

In 2019, Kurdistan represents a glimmer of hope in a world of growing inequality where imperialism is on the offensive.  But the future for Kurdistan is uncertain, with the recent decision by the US to withdraw from Northern Syria and the ongoing Turkish assault on Afrin continuing.  However the people of Kurdistan are determined to resist. Cigdem Dogu, of the Kurdistan Women’s Communities, warned last year that the war on Afrin would be Turkey’s Vietnam and end President Erdogan’s rule: ‘He has ordered his own death. It will be the will of the peoples who will fight and who will prevail, not his advanced technology.’

A year on, the people of Afrin continue to resist invasion and occupation.  While discontent and economic uncertainty within Turkey grow.  End all British arms sales to Turkey and all British military political collaboration with the Turkish state! Victory to the Kurdish-led resistance!

Lucy Roberts

[1] www.jinwar.org/about


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