Lorenzo and “Shehid Namirin”: The Light that Leads Our Way Against Fascism.
“Forgetting is betrayal”- Abdullah Ocalan
Last night I had a dream. I dreamt of all the hevals, the friends and the comrades knew who lost their lives in Rojava fighting against ISIS terror. I recalled their faces, one by one, the moments we sat around a simple tray of food, or sharing a hot, over sweetened cup of tea, the discussions around Takmil wondering how to improve the practice of rebuilding Kobane. The arguments over which method was best, the long hours spent in meetings. The daily moments of life lived together in pursuit of a common goal, knowing that even when we disagreed we were on the same side. There are some faces, some people, some moments that are etched into my mind forever. I think of them regularly, categorizing them, sifting through them like a mental album, mentally smiling at certain moments, others can only be healed through the endless sorrow that can never be verbalized. We must not forget. Ever. These names, these people who gave the ultimate sacrifice- to forget is to betray them and their cause, their courage, their love for humanity.
As Kurds we say that “Martyrs are the light that lead the way.” This is a profound statement which has often been misunderstood, especially by critics who have accused the Kurds of promoting a culture of martyrdom. As an oppressed, stateless society divided between over four dictatorial, fascist states who have built the foundation of their states on the genocide and massacre of minorities like the Kurds the language, the collective psychology of liberation, the approaches and the mechanisms we have come to utilize in the process of self and collective liberation is naturally different. The placement of the ideology of Jineology (essentially women’s history, science and liberation) as coming before national liberation, the essentiality of ecological sustainability, the importance of mutual co-existence, the deep and profound promotion of respect for multiculturalism and seeing the protection of the rich mosaic of cultures as essential to a free life and radical democracy based on humanity and ethics. The essentiality of knowing the past, respecting and being informed by the past, by the reproduction and creation of historical institutions of power and domination, for the purpose of challenging and dismantling these structures.
The Kurdish Liberation Struggle for these reason is incredibly unique and represents an essential and profound rupture in the trajectory of liberation and revolutionary struggles of stateless, oppressed minorities and Indigenous peoples. The immense progresses that have been made to date have occurred on the backs and sacrifices of people who have been willing to give everything so that we may live in a better, safer world. These gains were not free, were not handed over but fought for by blood, drop by precious drop. To forget is to betray them. To forget is to betray our very humanity. To willingly forget hope and to turn away in false sense of despair and hopelessness.
The Kurds, more than most know the meaning and the structures of oppression that shape our lives so intimately and irrevocably. For us, the trauma, accumulated across generations travels from generation to generation and has become an ingrained part of our psychology. We struggle, collectively and internally, to dismantle the colonizing aspect of victim mentality in an international system focused on denying and erasing the reality of our existence: the massacres, the genocides, the mass graves, the lost, the disappeared, the executed, the tortured, and the fading, fraying photographs of martyred freedom fighters on our walls. The years go on, decades pass and a new generation of photos line our walls. Our humanity informed by erasure, by denial, by silence of an international system giving lip service to human rights and democracy. Through the prison writings of Abdullah Ocalan we have started the long process of dismantling feudal, conservative traditions and replacing it with ethics, humanity and ideology of mutual respect and peace and mutual rights and truths. We do not claim to be perfect, nor do we claim to have the final formula. We only claim that we have started a process that is the synthesis of the oppression in our lived experiences, and we determined that without ethics and humanity the cycles of violence and repression will only reproduce themselves in ever more terrifying ways. That cycle stops with us, here and now, and we call it Rojava, we call it Ocalan, we call it Democratic Confederalism.
It is this ideology, like a candle blowing in the suffocating darkness of the world that we live in, which has drawn remarkable souls across the world into the folds of the Kurdish cause and our liberation struggle for all. People like Asheley Johnson, Kevin Joachim, Reece Harding, Jamie Bright, Costa Scurfield, Ivanna Hoffman, Anna Campblell, and now in that long, honored, beloved list is that of Lorenzo Orsetti. They gave their lives, willingly, with such profound love for humanity that hatred and terror can only bow in shame and self-loathing in the face of such valor. We owe it to them to continue the struggle, to not forget, but to pick up the mantle of anti-fascist, anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal and anti-xenophobia of all kinds.
At a time when the world is terrorized by the fascist values of Right-Wing terror and Islamism these people, and the fight for democracy, for gender liberation and equality needs to be seen as a beacon of hope and humanity.
Yes, these are dark times. In light of the tragedy of Christchurch and that of the Jolo Church attacks in the Philippines, the gun attacks in schools murdering children, in theaters and malls, in synagogues and universities, the rise of openly racist politicians and “Make America Great Again” versions going around the world we are right to be concerned. More than ever, the fight against fascism is complex, multifaceted, present and urgent. In the words of Lorenzo “Even if everything seems lost, and the bad things that afflict humans and the earth seem unbearable, keep on finding strength and inspire it in your comrades. It is exactly in those darkest moments that your light helps. And always remember: “Every thunderstorm begins with a single drop.” Try to be this drop.”
Yes, these are dark times. But it is also a time of hope, of humanity, of Lorenzos and Annas and Costa and Ashleys. It is a time of revolution and resistance. It is a time of liberation and Rojava. It is the time that ISIS is ending. They are the candles of hope that burn bright, resisting and lighting the way for us as the winds of terror and hatred continue to blow.
How can we despair, how can we claim to be lost when such light, such hope, such humanity lights our way?