Rojava, International Solidarity and Appropriate Allies

It is natural that outsiders are really curious about the situation in the Middle East, Syria, Iraq, about the Kurds and Daesh and who the different ethno-religious actors and players are in this conflict, especially if there was no prior interest or awareness. People are thirsty for real information, and as a result outsiders are listening, following, sharing and supporting all who appear to be “legitimate” voices.

Authenticity of activism is not something that can be determined by outsiders. However, not all forms of activism are equal either. “Activists” whose core message relies on the promotion of undemocratic, exclusionary, racist, sexist tropes are not “real” and “authentic” activists. It is natural that one should have filial loyalties to one’s own people and culture, but any activist, especially those who come from dominant ethno-religious majorities, who promotes racial supremacy above other races, decries and deligitemizes the efforts of further marginalized groups from engaging in processes of self liberation are not real activists. Activists who for instance, promote Arab racial supremacy and deliberately, actively fuel the fires of racism towards a particular group, especially if the other group is a minority and has experienced decades of violence, terrorism and ethnic cleansing at the hands of dominant groups (who they happen to be a part of), to build their platform are opportunists with problematic and self serving interests. You cannot claim to be a Syrian activist who is against “imperialism” but then reproduce racist and sexist tropes against Kurds or other minorities, selectively failing to acknowledge that these stereotypes were produced by the very imperial and colonial practices that produced the artificial entity that is Syria. You can’t be selectively against particular imperial endeavors and ignore the impact of other imperial by products. When you are anti-imperial then you recognize that minorities have the right to determine the course of their liberation and revolution, even if that means that the means of their liberation is in shattering the boundaries of the Syrian state, because your commitment to anti-imperialism, to justice, to humanity, is greater then your feelings of unresolved racism. If your platform for the liberation of your people is reliant on promotion of deliberate, tacit and implicit violence towards another oppressed group, especially if relative to your people they are a minority, then your part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Just as problematically, If you are gleefully, uncritically, and in un uneducated manner using your people’s oppression to become a social media star then you need to sit down because you are using terrorism to promote yourself. These violences that destroy communities, shatter lives and limbs, traumatise once sound minds and bodies and cause ripple effects of pain and suffering across generations; these violences require real work, require a love so revolutionary that you are motivated towards endless learning and unlearning to speak of them adequately. These violences, which change the bright hues of hope and possibility in the eyes of children into fear and terror; and teaches them to recognize the sound of bombs like the beating of their frightened little hearts; these violences require deep intellectual efforts. Speaking about these issues is not a joke or a hobby, or a self-promotion opportunity. It should ONLY be an opportunity to end violence and increase collective humanity.

Today everyone is an activist, and it’s good that people are politically motivated and informed. However, activism involves great responsibility, active self education, active unlearning and re-learning, growing and developing constantly ideologically, intellectually, emotionally and psychologically so that you understand the great and immense responsibility that comes with being the voice and representative of a people. It is hard to be an activist and take on this immense responsibility; it requires tremendous effort, sacrifice, love, courage and strength. However, not all activists are equal or as effective or informed or engage in the necessary work required. True activists are revolutionaries who believe in the great capacity of humanity towards collective progress and change so they attack systems of power and privilege. They attack ideas and institutions; they especially don’t attack and target other oppressed peoples, entire cultures and individuals from other minority groups; they definitely don’t selectively attack systems of power and privilege for the purpose of maintaining the ethnic and religious status quo which happens to be skewed in favor of their people. True activists are revolutionaries whose every effort is geared towards increasing love, peace, humanity and ending oppression towards and between marginalized people, but recognize and function on the fundamental belief that they can only end oppression towards their own group if they see the inherent interconnectedness of violence towards others.

Hawzhin Azeez

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