An interview with Gönül Düzer about standing up for Rojava in the face of Turkish invasion
For this special podcast episode I spoke with Gönül Düzer, who is a labor activist, math teacher, and a board member of the Kurdish Cultural Center in Chicago. Gönül was willing to take the time to speak on the current Turkish invasion of Northeast Syria, some history that would be useful to keep in mind when considering current events in this region, the complex tensions of being an anti imperialist and calling for US support, and about the Global Day of Action on this Saturday October 12th against this current invasion into NE Syria which has been brought about by actions by the US and many many more topics.. She also talks about Rojava, the role that this region plays in the area, and some ideas about how to get involved against the current invasion.
The audio quality for this podcast special is a bit low, so I recommend listening in a quiet place with headphones if you can manage that.
We will be airing a version of this episode on Sunday, the day after the Global Day of Action, so you won’t hear from us that day via this platform, but we will be back in your podcast feed next Sunday with more content.
A content warning for this episode, Gönül describes some brutal actions on the part of Daesh or ISIS, including rape and sexual assault. The descriptions are not graphic but may be difficult to engage with.
You can also visit the link for a way to support the Rojava Medical Emergency Fund. Since the majority of medical NGOs have pulled out of the region, it has become necessary to pull together whatever medical needs fighters may have from a rapidly diminishing resource pool. This fund is for on the ground medical supplies and secure communication equipment for those people defending NE Syria.
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For a radio version of this episode, airing on 10/13/2019, you can visit our Collection on archive.org. This episode contains more music, including a song written in support of Tekoşîna Anarşîst (Anarchist Struggle), an anarchist group fighting in Rojava, plus some audio submitted by a listener of a pro Rojava, anti-imperialist rally held in Chicago on the Global Day of Action on 10/12.
Please help spread this information! One thing that people in Syria are asking for is informational, educational efforts on the part of allies abroad.
This week, Bursts spoke with Şoreş Ronahi of the Youth Movement of Rojava (Yekîtiya Ciwanên Rojava), an autonomous movement within Tev-Dem, the movement for Democratic Confederalism in Rojava (located within Northern Syria). Mr Ronahi speaks about the Turkish assaults, aided by ISIS/DAESH forces now flying the so-called Free Syrian Army flag, to attack defense forces and civilians in the Efrînê Canton (also spelled Afrin or Efrin elsewhere). We talk about the political stance of the Turkish government as relates to Kurdish people within and without the borders of Turkey, with the Social Revolution in Rojava, the shifting U.S. relationship to the YPG & YPJ militias under the control of the PYD administration in Rojava, the Revolution’s approaches to engaging and fighting patriarchy and ethnic hatred in Syria and the region and more.
As a side note, although Rojava is not an explicitly anarchist project, it is an anti-nationalist, anti-state movement that holds as its pillars ecology, anti-capitalism & feminism and is in part inspired by American former Anarchist turned Communalist, Murray Bookchin. Beyond Bookchin’s impact, Bursts personally feels that Rojava adds an IRL experiment in combat and revolutionary organizing that many anarchists have engaged in in the form of the International Revolutionary People’s Guerrilla Forces, The Queer Insurrection and Liberation Army, within other elements of the International Freedom Batallions as well as in the PYD administered YPG & YPJ militias on the front lines fighting DAESH.
The fallen YPJ soldier that Şoreş mentions at the end of the interview is Avesta Xabûr.
For past episodes on #Rojava on this show, check out our conversations with Kurdish feminist Dilar Dirik (pt 1 & pt 2), our conversation with American anarchist Guy McGowan Steel Steward fighting with the YPG (pt 1 & pt 2) and our discussions with anarchist and writer, Paul Z. Simons after his study and visit to Rojava (pt 1, pt 2 & pt 3)
This week, we’ll be featuring a short roundup of some of the events inside and outside of the prison walls during the beginning of the Prisoner Work Strike that started on September 9th in the United Snakes with the goal of ending Prison Slavery in U.S. prisons. After that we’ll hear the last half hour of Gil O’Teen’s conversation with Guy McGowan Steel Steward, an American anarcho-communist about his joining the Rojava Revolution alongside Kurdish and other folks in Northern Syria. This portion, they discuss nationalism and national identity in Rojava, the draft, the decision to adopt Federalization within Rojava and more. This is within the context of recent Turkish incursions into the Kurdish regions of northern Syria which have led to deaths among civilians and YPG/YPJ forces of the Kurdish Resistance. These deaths include foreign fighters who’ve joined the Rojava struggle. Happily, Guy is not among those dead. There is an interesting discussion and an homage to american anarchist fighter Jordan MacTaggart, an interview with Rojava Solidarity NYC, plus much much more in the latest episode of The Ex-Worker podcast, available at http://crimethinc.com/podcast that I suggest folks check out and share with friends.
Background and Inside Resistance
As many of you are probably aware, Friday September 9th kicked off the largest and most coordinated prisoner work stoppage in the US in all history, on the 45th anniversary of the Attica Prison uprising. Organized in conjunction with incarcerated members of the Free Alabama Movement (FAM) and the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), this work stoppage is turning a bright spotlight on the continuing condition of slavery in the United States, a slavery upon which this country’s economy is cripplingly dependant. Prisoners are also forced to be responsible for running the actual prisons themselves, working in the laundry, cafeteria, and so on, pretty much in any non-administrative capacity you can think of. I don’t think it should go without saying that much of this labor goes unwaged, though the on average 13 cents an hour that inmates get paid is nothing compared to the exorbitant costs of goods in prison stores.
Friday kicked off the actual strike, but resistance from within prison got started well before then with fires being set at Lincoln Correctional Center in Lincoln, Nebraska on September 6th, a 4 dormitory wide riot at Holmes prison in Bonifay, Florida on the 7th which hopped from dorm to dorm in the facility keeping just ahead of the CO’s attempts to quell the rebellion, creating a Whak-A-Mole type situation that I’m sure the prison officials just loved. Also on the 7th inmates at the infamous military detention center Guantanamo Bay remain on hunger strike to protest their indefinite detentions, many of whom were captured as part of the xenophobic and racist governmental response to September 11th, 2001, 15 years ago today.
September 9th at noon saw a complete work stoppage at Holman Correctional in Atmore, Alabama where our comrade Michael Kimble is held captive. There is no incidents yet from prison officials, and guards and COs were forced to perform all tasks. Sit down strikes and work stoppages were also held in Bonifay, FL in the aforementioned Holmes Prison, amid the ashes of the fires set only two days prior. In Troy VA, there was a work stoppage at a women’s facility, and all across this state of North Carolina prisoners refused to report to their jobs. At a women’s facility in California 10 or so brave souls refused to work and effectively shut the whole prison down because of fear of a riot. Disturbances were reported at Gulf and Mayo prisons in Florida, and three guards were injured in scuffles at Tecumseh Prison in Nebraska.
Yesterday saw a continuation of resistance in Nebraska at a women’s facility, from all over South Carolina, and continuing resistance in Atmore. Solidarity from overseas has been flying in fast and furious, with statements from prisoners in Greece, Australia, Lithuania, and Sweden among many others.
Repression of those who are striking has mostly consisted of prison lockdowns and targeting of people who have been designated the “ringleaders”. It will be very important for people to recieve solidarity from those on the outside in order for this resistance to continue. Keep your eyes on itsgoingdown.org and the live updates at http://maskmagazine.com for current info and calls for backup. You can visit the IWOC at iwoc.org for a list of concrete anti-repression tactics to share with those who are incarcerated and otherwise.
Local Events, Arrests, and Donations to the Legal Fund
Now, let’s take a gander at some of the events we were able to find that took place outside of the prison walls, per se, around the U.S. and around the world.
A full narrative of outside support events would take a very long time, which is a good thing, so we’re going to read through some highlights starting local to get the attention of the folks locally on this. We’ll be giving precedence to two local struggles in which arrests occurred. If folks from elsewhere have an experience they want to share, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or add it to the growing lists of solidarity by emailing email@example.com.
First off, let’s begin with Western North Carolina.
This text is from a fundraising site to cover legal costs :
“In the early afternoon of Septmeber 9th, comrades held a banner outside of the Avery Mitchell Correctional Facility in Spruce Pine, North Carolina. This was an attempt to offer support to any of the 816 prisoners at the facility involved in prison functions who may have chosen to withhold their labor as part of the wider strike against prison society. 5 arrests were made and trespassing charges were issued.
Later that afternoon in downtown Asheville, and following a #NoDAPL solidarity march and protest at TD Bank, there was a march through downtown in support of striking prisoners. 60-70 folks banged pots and pans, held banners and signs, passed out leaflets and chanted “Brick By Brick, Wall By Wall, We Will Make Your Prisons Fall” and other classics. Police followed the march blaring requests to get out of the street and eventually attempted to push the marchers onto the sidewalk with their vehicles. Attempts to engage the Friday night drum circle into hitting the pavement fell on deaf ears as folks made their way towards the Buncombe County Detention Facility. While passing by the local Goombay festival, flyers were distributed and a group of folks backstage answered our chants of “Our Passion for Freedom…” with their own melodious note of “Freedom”. A few minutes later and a few blocks away, 3 of ours were arrested, accused of blocking traffic and one with an additional charge of resisting arrest. By midnight the 3 were out.
Everyone is out and no more money for bail is required, but support for legal defense, court fees and lawyers is necessary, and we are asking for your help
At moments like these it is so crucial that we support people doing work to sustain the struggle for racial justice & prison abolition. This allows us to create stronger movements where we can all continue to be leaders in these fields and help a build stronger sense of community, especially in the south. We are all in this together and we need to continuously show up for each other, not just in the streets but in ways that allow us to continue to sustain our lives and our passions for the movement.
Folks in Atlanta took the streets on Friday, September 9th, in the face of serious police repression. From http://atlblackcross.org comes this information:
“Today marks the beginning of the national prison strike. Prisoners all over the country are going on strike and refusing to cooperate with the unjust prison system. They are demanding decent pay for work, decent food and living conditions, and an end to inhumane practices like solitary confinement.
In Atlanta, supporters marched through Midtown and disrupted several corporations which profit from prison slavery. Wendy’s, McDonalds, Aramark, and Starbucks all got a visit. When the march got to Starbucks, police made several violent arrests, using pepper spray and slamming people to the pavement. At one point, police even tried to run marchers over with a squad car.
We are working hard to make sure all the protesters get free as soon as possible, so everyone can continue doing the important work of supporting the ongoing prison strike.” As of this morning, Sunday, September 11th (make a wish!), all defendants are out but are facing some stupidly hefty charges. One demonstrator apparently was taken during their arrest to a police precinct women’s bathroom and choke slammed against the wall for being a part of copwatch in Atlanta. FTP!
More on the Atlanta cases and how to support them can be found at https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/bail-out-prison-strike-supporters
International solidarity with the strike has been tremendous, with banner drops, graffitti and actions ranging far and wide. Here are a few instances of international solidarity, this is by no means a complete list. You can see more information about this, plus photos and full statements at It’s Going Down.
* Horgoš, Serbia: Banner drop in support of prison strike.
* Brisbane, Australia: Solidarity action with US prisoners.
*Melbourne, Australia: Info table with literature about US prisons and the prison strike, along with collected donations.
* Melbourne, Australia: Anarchist demonstration outside US Consulate.
* Malmö, Sweden: Solidarity demonstration.
* Athens, Greece: Demonstration outside Korydallos women’s prison.
* Leipzig, Germany: Rally outside US Consulate.
* Montreal, Canada: Dinner and film screening in solidarity with prisoner rebellion.
* Melbourne, Australia: Noise demo at youth jail.
* Barcelona, Spain: Graffiti messages of support written on McDonald’s.
This week’s show features a conversation with Guy McGowan Steel Steward, an American anarcho-communist about his joining the Rojava Revolution alongside Kurdish and other folks in Northern Syria. Guy was one of two American anarcho-communists featured in a recent Village Voice article entitled “A Hello To Arms” and his writings and images documenting his ongoing time in Rojava can be found at https://www.facebook.com/scenesfromrojava/ . In this episode he’ll speak about training, conscription, nationalism, other internationals and more. The second half of this conversation with Guy will show up in an upcoming radio show.
Podcasting The Show
Starting with this episode, we’ll be available through the iTunes store for easy podcasting under the name thefinalstrawradio, so find us there every week, rate us and tell your friends!
Milwaukee In Revolt
Protests erupted last yesterday in the Sherman Park neighborhood of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, hours after the fatal police shooting of a 23 year old man by MPD the police claim was fleeing a vehicle with a gun. Sherman Park has been witness to increased tension with police and the growth of a community watch program called #WeAllWeGot. The riots that grew from the protests ended up smashing a police vehicle, burning vehicles (including a patrol car), torching a BMO bank and 4 other businesses, including a BP gas station that has been the site of previous tension.
Organizers of the #WeAllWeGot group, a Black Power and police abolitionist group, is raising money for arrest support. You can donate at https://paypal.me/WeAllWeGot
September 9th Prison Strike
But first here is a call out pulled from the anarchist news source It’s Going Down :
“This is a challenge to anyone who is supportive of the September 9th prisoners’ strike but who has remained on the sidelines until now.
In order for this strike to not be snuffed out by a handful of prison censors and violent guards, it needs to spread uncontrollably beyond their reach. And because prisons strictly forbid communication between prisoners, it is our responsibility on the outside to facilitate this contagion.
The first obvious step is to begin sending in word of the strike, immediately. If people on the inside are to be able to meaningfully act, they are going to need some time to begin spreading the word to their friends and formulating a plan. To that end, we are suggesting that outside accomplices begin printing strike announcements and mailing them inside prison walls en masse.”
To access these prepared strike annoucements, in English and Spanish, and for more information on how to send literature into prison and to whom, you can visit the aforementioned news website itsgoingdown.org and scroll down to the article entitled “A Challenge: Spread the Strike to Every Jail, Juvie, and Prison!”
Here is an announcement concerning Siddique Abdullah Hasan, who has been targeted by prison officials and COs in direct relation to the September 9th prisoner work stoppage. He was recently visited by the FBI in prison and placed in solitary confinement. This is from itsgoingdown.org:
“Around noon eastern time on August 11th, Hasan got word out through lawyers that he was doing fine and that if anyone wanted to correspond with him they should include a stamp for the reply since he could not go to the [jpay] kiosk.
Hasan has access to postal mail, and presumably to JPay, but not the kiosk machine, so if you write him an email (and visit JPay.com to find out how if you don’t already) be sure to click the “include a stamp for reply” box before sending.
Please also continue to call the prison 330-743-0700. They are routing all the calls to a specific person, so lets keep her busy. Ask when he’s going to be let out of the hole and demand that this bogus investigation end immediately.
Also, write to Hasan, the more mail he gets the more support we’re demonstrating. You can include a total of 5 sheets of paper and 3 embossed envelopes, so if you have any handy, slip them in to make sure he’s got supplies to write people back.
Siddique Abdullah Hasan
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd
Youngstown OH 44505
Free Alabama Movement
On August 1, 2016, following rebellion in one of the dorms, the riot squad attacked individuals at Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama, placing multiple individuals in segregation. In violation of Department of Corrections policy, the prisoners have not received a 72-hour investigation notice of the reason for their being placed in segregation, and have not had their personal property returned. The comrades have had to go without shoes, clothing, deodorant, and toothbrushes, and have not had access to their addresses and phone numbers.
Call Warden Mitchell and demand that those put in segregation after the recent riot be released and have their property returned.
Phone number: 251-368-8173
You can visit https://anarchylive.noblogs.org and search “August 1st rebellion” to learn more and for suggestions on what to say to the warden when you reach him.
These are the words of Laron McKinley Bey, who is a prisoner in Waupun who is participating in the ongoing hunger strike there, to protest the conditions under which they are forced to live:
“In a nation that would not tolerate shutting in zoo animals 23-24 hours per day the State of Wisconsin has no compunction confining prisoners to indefinite isolative Administrative Confinement (AC) alone in a parking-space size cell for 164 of the 168 hour week. Such prolonged social, environmental, and occupational isolation and lack of stimulation is well known to pose a substantial risk of harm to mental and physical health.
Norman Uhuru Green and I, 2 of the longest standing Wisconsin prisoners held in this type of endless isolation at 18 years, and nearly 28 years respectively, together with Cesar DeLeon, form the 3 remaining original ‘Dying to Live’ movement hunger strikers who continue to refuse to eat or drink in hopes of forcing an end to the state’s practice of indeterminate seclusion.
On June 7, 2016, a group of 10 Wisconsin prisoners in solitary confinement at the Waupun and Columbia correctional institutions began refusing nourishment to expose the inhumane conditions of their confinement, and to facilitate dignified treatment of all humans. Within a few weeks the Department of Corrections had obtained court orders to force-feed Uhuru, DeLeon, and I 3 times daily which entails being placed in full restraints, and then strapped into a ‘restraint chair’ and having a nasal-gastro tube inserted in one nostril to the stomach where a liquid mixture of nutrition is funneled. Besides violating the sanctity of our bodies, this procedure is an invalid state response to a dignified struggle and it can cause significant internal injury.
Despite this, our strength and morale remains high, and we are determined until we see substantive change.
Among our reasonable demands are a 1 year cap on the length of AC, and a 15 day cap on punitive isolation. A coalition for support of prisoners on the outside has carried our reasonable demands to the DOC officials and state legislation, which may lead to proposed legislation on a negotiated settlement.”
To write to Bey, address letters to:
Laron McKinley Bey, #42642
Waupun Correctional Institution
PO box 351
Waupun, WI 53963
Here, we present both parts one and two of an interview with Merve Arkun, Hüseyin & Özgür, members of Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet, or DAF. DAF translates to Revolutionist Anarchist Action and is a network of overlapping collectives in Turkey. They are based out of Istanbul and run an office and two cafe’s, both called 26A, which is a meeting space and employer for collective members. This conversation was conducted on March 19, 2016, a few short hours after a DAESH (ISIS) bombing occurred in the Beyoğlu neighborhood of Istanbul, on the touristy street called İstiklal Avenue, just a few blocks from one of the collective’s cafe’s and their newspaper office.
The bomb killed 5 people (4 tourists plus the bomber), and injured some 36 more. The tension in the city in the days before the bombing was palpable as trucks of riot police roved around the neighborhood, and embassies and foreign schools closed for security reasons. The approaching Newroz celebrations, or Kurdish New Years, were slated to take place a mere 2 days after this attack in the contentious Taksim Gezi Park so recently after the resumption of military and legal hostilities between Kurdish groups and aligned leftists and the Turkish government headed by the AK Party of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This decision most certainly would promise demonstrations and conflict
between security forces and civil society around the right to the contentious park, and against the war on the Kurds both in Syria and Turkey by Erdoğan’s government.
Besides the 26A cafes, DAF includes an Anarchist Women’s collective, a publishing project in the form of the Meydan Gazette (published monthly in paper form), and a youth collective, the Lycee (or High School) Anarchist Federation called LAF. In addition it organizes arts events and projects, and participates in labor organizing and solidarity with Kurdish resistance and the Rojava Revolution. DAF also organizes in tandem though autonomously with anti-militarist and anti-conscription activists in Turkey.
Merve is an active member of the Meydan Gazette publishing crew, the Anarchist Women’s collective and also in a seperate but related anti-militarist group. Hüseyin is a main editor of the Meydan Gazette and involved in the 26A cafes. Özgür is involved in Meydan & the self-defense program and the PATIKA ecological collective.
Throughout this first hour: Merve, Hüseyin & Özgür talk about the collectivized economic and living structures of DAF and how that pans out to support collective members and build collectivized models for survival within and against capitalism.
In the second podcast episode, the interviewees discuss: PATIKA Ecological Collective and their publication, organizing with communities in the Black Sea region against a hydro-electric dam, and more; Merve’s work with the Conscientious Objector Association against militarism and conscription; Meydan Gazette and their other publication projects; the modern anarchist movement in Turkey since 1989; solidarity with Kurdish populations in Turkey; organizing material support for the Rojava Revolution and aiding in helping anarchists join the struggle there; and more. Download Pt 2
******A quick announcement: There will be a vigil tonight at 9pm at Firestorm Books and Coffee at 601 Haywood Rd in West Asheville for the victims and community affected by the shooting that occurred last night in Orlando, Florida. The shooting occurred at the Gay dance club called The Pulse and media outlets are announcing that there were 50 people killed in what appears to have been a targeted attack by someone from outside of the area wielding an assault rifle and a handgun. The hostage situation that developed was ended by a SWAT invasion at 5AM this morning (6-12-1016). Come out tonight and support this community.******
Notes From Sean’s Segment
Sean Swain speaks about a comrade of his in his facility, a trans woman who was put away for defending herself against an assaulter. Her government name is Adam Bockerstette, and while she can receive mail
under her chosen name (which is Kara), we were unsure about how to spell that. So if you do choose to write to her, your letters can be addressed to Kara Bockerstette, but note that your envelopes should be addressed to:
PO Box 120
Lebanon, OH 45036
Also keep an eye peeled at http://seanswain.org/ for more updates about Kara and her situation.
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Good news for our comrade on the inside, Oso Blanco, who was sentenced to 80 years in maximum security prison for a series of bank robberies and a firearms violation. Oso Blanco is someone of Cherokee descent, and has been politicized during his time in prison and before. Recently there has been a massive fundraising effort on the part of his support team to get him transferred out of his former facility, and for legal fees to get his sentenced reduced. Both of these efforts have been
Thanks to fundraising efforts and donations, they have reached their fundraising goal at this time. Of course, money will always be needed until Oso Blanco is completely free – donations are always welcome. The support in donations and spreading the word was fast and amazing! Oso Blanco has been assigned a lawyer who he feels comfortable with and he is moving quickly to make sure the motion is filed by June 25th, 2016. Communication with Oso Blanco has been iffy at best. Please write him to
show support. If you donated, write and let him know as it will help immensely to raise his spirits. If you would like to donate further, and for guidelines on what mail will and won’t get into his facility, you can visit his support website at: http://freeosoblanco.blogspot.com/
To write Oso Blanco at his new location, you can address letters to:
PO BOX 1000
Lewisburg, PA 17837