National Self-Determination versus the Global ‘Counter-Terror’ Regime:
CAMPACC research and public outreach project
Workshop on Kurds 21 February 2015, SOAS, London.
A new Dawn in the Middle East:
Democratic Confederalism: Women's freedom, Ecology and Democracy
This paper will focus on the ideological and organisational transformation of the PKK over the years since 1978. Looking for answers to the crisis of real socialism and national liberation in the 1990s, the movement arrived at new political concepts. Especially striking is the shift of the ideological focus to women's freedom, a distinctive new approach to violence and the nation-state. Taking the establishment of patriarchy in early societies as the starting point for an analysis of the establishment of hierarchies and finally of states, the movement developed a new body of original theoretical approaches.
The movement thus developed a new concept which it calls “democratic confederalism”. It clearly rejects the creation of a Kurdish nation-state or any kind of statist approach and argues for a non-state structure. The basic pillars of this system are direct democracy, gender liberation and ecology. This approach has changed the PKK, Kurdish society and indeed the parameters of Middle Eastern politics. The self-administrated cantons that have been created in the Rojava region amidst the war in Syria, Kobanê being one of them, are the most visible attempt to implement the new strategy–with remarkable outcomes.
Havin Guneser is an engineer, journalist and a women's rights activist with intimate knowledge of Kurdistan and the Middle East. In recent years she has translated Abdullah Öcalan's writings from prison. She is a spokesperson for the International Initiative “Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan–Peace in Kurdistan”.