THE CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD ? : ‘Rojava has established the first administrative system of democratic modernity’ (Sabri Ok – PKK)

Sabri Ok: If Kurds are not recognised as a third party they’ll reject Geneva

CİHAN ÖZGÜR – Behdinan 16.01.2014 – KCK Executive committee member Sabri Ok says Kurds should reject Geneva II if they are not recognised as a third party. “They say the Kurds can only come to Geneva without an identity. This is injustice and an insult to the Kurds.” Ok added that a model for resolution of the Syrian crisis would not succeed without taking the Kurds into account. “A status for Kurdistan without the approval of the Kurds is a non-starter. Rojava has already established its own status.”

As regards a comparison between Geneva II and Lausanne, Ok said: “Neither the Kurds are the Kurds of the Lausanne era, nor do the international powers have the advantages of that period.” KCK Executive committee member Sabri Ok assessed the situation in Rojava relating to Geneva II for the ANF.

“A historic revolution has taken place in Rojava”, said Ok, adding that the Kurdish people had begun to construct their own freedom, defence, and system without hostility to anyone. He continued: “but the conflict and crisis in Syria is continuing on a sectarian and ethnic level after the intervention of international hegemonic forces.” Sabri Ok added that Rojava had to a large degree been liberated following the revolution of 19 July, and that it was imperative for the people that they construct their own system. “This was both an imperative and the most natural right. Life will not permit a vacuum to exist. If a people has attained freedom it has to govern itself. Under the leadership of TEV-DEM the construction of a system that meets the needs of the people and solves their daily social, economic and other problems has begun with the participation of many different ethnic groups, tribes and belief groups.”

‘Rojava has established the first administrative system of democratic modernity’

Ok said that the first administrative system of the democratic modernity system in line with the ideas of the Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan had been established in Rojava and that this system had potential for the Middle East and even the entire world, and was not only for Kurdistan. Ok added: “The word canton is French, and means the administrative subdivision of a state. We perceive this as a people without a state establishing its own self rule in the form of democratic autonomy in the territory where it resides. We understand this as the self-government by the different groups living there, women, young people, other social strata and cultures. Examples exist of cantons in Switzerland, Belgium and Italy. Even in times of empire communities governed themselves. For instance, in Ottoman times the Kurds. The Ottomans could not govern everywhere with a central system, so even if it was a necessity, the Ottomans had provinces. For example, Kurdistan or Lazistan. There were principalities and sanjaks. In the present day the canton system in Europe is more democratic. Of course this is being implemented within the framework of a system of capitalist modernity.”

Sabri Ok added that the Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Yezidi and other groups in Rojava had an important role to play in this model of administration, underlining that the Kurds had developed their struggle with the perspective of a democratic Syria. “The role of all these groups in the administration has been safeguarded by the agreement. We attach great importance to the self-organisation and the establishing of democratic autonomy by all the peoples of Rojava.”

Ok emphasised the positive influence that the Rojava revolution would have as regards creating a model for a democratic Syria. The social accord in Rojava is the most advanced constitution. Sabri Ok said the following regarding the social accord that is characterised as the constitution of democratic autonomy:

“The distinguishing factor and significance of the system being developed in Rojava is that it is the first administrative system with the perspective of capitalist modernity. It will have important effects on the other parts of Kurdistan and on the whole region. Bolivia is cited as having the most progressive or democratic constitution in the world, as being a country where local administrations have gained more prominence. I cannot claim we have examined every constitution in the world, but we are aware that the ideological, political and philosophical influence of the hegemonic international powers on the current system is a determining one. These systems are all, in essence, versions of capitalist modernity, based on nation states. The ideology is liberalism, a system that holds capital, that eats away at society, above everything and has no moral values. Judicial systems and laws are in accordance with this. In this respect Rojava is exemplary. It has the most democratic constitution, a social agreement. Women’s rights, the representation of women on all levels, children’s rights, ecology, a freedom-based balance between individual and society and nature, health, relations with neighbouring peoples, … this accord meets the most democratic rights of the people and accords with the will of society. There is no ethnic, religious or gender-based nationalism in such a social agreement. It is the same with economic goals. The economy is seen as something that meets the needs of society, not as something that monopolises everything. Therefore, it would not be wrong to say that the social agreement in Rojava is the most democratic and advanced, and if the international hegemonic forces do not apply pressure, and the people establish this system it will be an example for all the peoples of the world.”

‘The Kurds are not the Kurds of the Lausanne era’

KCK Executive Committee member Sabri Ok also assessed the situation regarding the Geneva II conference and the question of whether the will of the Kurds would be recognised there.

In comparison with Lausanne, Ok said: “At Lausanne a people’s will was deemed not to exist. Kurdistan was split up and shared out. Before Geneva II neither the Kurds are the Kurds of the Lausanne era, nor do the international powers possess the advantages of that period. The Kurds are prepared in a way that is incomparable to Lausanne and attach importance to Geneva II, as there will be discussion of how to resolve the existing problems of Syria at this conference and it is intended that decisions will be taken. Naturally, we assume that there will be work done on how a democratic Syria might emerge. If that is the case then a democratic Syria cannot come into being without the expressed will of the Syrian Kurds, as it is not possible for those parties that have slaughtered each other and the Kurds, and supporters of these parties, to reach agreement on a democratic Syria.”

‘They want the Kurds to go to Geneva without an identity’

Ok added that America and, in particular, Britain, did not want the PYD and TEV-DEM to participate at Geneva II, saying: “They say the Kurds can only go to Geneva without an identity. This is injustice and an insult to the Kurds.” Sabri Ok added that the Kurds were one of the most influential forces in Syria and the only one that had only used force for legitimate defence, saying: “The Kurds have not committed any war crimes or crimes against humanity in Rojava. The Kurds have proved by organising and defending themselves against attacks, and by creating a secure area that they are a significant actor in Syria. However, it appears that the Kurds are not wanted in Geneva. They say the Kurds can come as part of the Syrian opposition. That is, without an identity. This is insulting and actually proves which forces are behind the existing denial. The Kurds should go to Geneva with their own identity like all the Syrian opposition. By preventing the Kurdish question being on the agenda at Geneva II is to delay and distort problems. It would therefore be correct and necessary for the Kurds to attend the conference with their own identity and perspective.”

‘If they are not seen as a third party they will reject it’

Sabri Ok pointed out that existing developments demonstrated that the democratisation of Syria was not possible without the free will of the Kurds, adding: “a model for resolution of the Syrian crisis will not succeed without taking the Kurds into account. A status for Kurdistan without the approval of the Kurds is a non-starter. The Kurds will of course reject this injustice. No one possesses the right to speak for the Kurds, or their right to self-determination. This is why the Kurds have been in revolt for a century. The Kurds have the sense, strength and will power to decide who they will live with. Let the Kurdish people make this decision.”

Recalling that the US and the UK in particular did not want the PYD and TEV-DEM Co-chair Salih Müslim and Heysam Menna from the National Co-ordination Council of the Syrian opposition to attend the conference, Sabri Ok said: “This is unfair, if this is the situation then the Kurds, including the SKNC and TEVDEM, should refuse to go to Geneva.”

‘It won’t be the end of the world if the Kurds do not attend Geneva’

Ok added: “The Kurds are neither pro-regime nor pro-opposition”, emphasising that the Kurds should attend the conference as a third party. He continued: “They clash with both sides. The reason for this is that both sides have attacked the Kurds. Recently those who have attacked the Kurds have been gangs that act as if they are part of the opposition rather than regime forces. The Kurds defend themselves and are involved in an ongoing struggle and should thus participate at Geneva as a third party. But if this does not occur it will not be the end of the world. Geneva should not be seen as especially determining. Rojava has already determined its status. What is important is how the effect this status will have on the formation of a democratic Syria will be evaluated. The Kurds were not present at Lausanne, as they were not prepared and organised to defend their rights then. Today the Kurds are organised all over the world, not just in the four parts. They have the ability to wage a powerful struggle to defend their rights.”