Would you like to educate your community about Rojava? Friends of Rojava in North America can help you organize an event and invite a guest speaker with first-hand knowledge of the Kurdish struggle. Possible guest speakers include returning YPG fighters, teachers and professors fired by the Turkish state in the recent wave of political repression, and academic experts. If you’re interested in booking a speaker, get in touch.

Speakers

Mike Fonda joined the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the spring of 2015 where he served on the front line in Cizîrê‎ Canton, Syria as an infantryman, linguist and interrogator. Prior to joining the YGP, Mr. Fonda served in the Marine Corps for 6 years as an infantryman and linguist, deploying to Iraq twice and receiving the Purple Heart. After the Marine Corps, Mr. Fonda deployed as a Defense Contractor to Iraq and Afghanistan as a Counterintelligence Specialist. He holds a Master’s Degree in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Ferit Kut was fired from his position as a lecturer at Dicle University in February 2015 in retaliation for his advocacy for the right to native-language education. He is a PhD candidate in Pedagogy of Early Child Development at Yeditepe University and holds an MA in the same field from Dicle University. Currently, he is a board member of the Kurdish Cultural Center of Illinois.

Gönül Düzer is an activist Zaza woman who grew up in Istanbul, Turkey. She received an International Relations BA at Middle East Technical University and a Global Political Economy MA at University of Kassel. Her master’s thesis was “A Feminist Analysis of Women Workers’ Engagement in Labor Resistances: a Case Study of Istanbul’s Garment Industry”. She has been an activist on labor, gender and immigration issues in Turkey, Germany and the US. She has worked as a waiter, salesperson and labor organizer. Currently she is working as a math tutor in Chicago. She is a board member of the Kurdish Cultural Center of Illinois, and a member of Chicago Committee for Solidarity with Kurdistan and Rojava.

Saladdin Ahmed holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Ottawa, Canada. He worked as an assistant professor of philosophy at Mardin Artuklu University in Turkey during the 2014-2015 academic year. At the start of the ongoing crackdown on the academic community in Turkey, the university administration unilaterally terminated his contract in the summer of 2015, along with the contracts of 13 other foreign instructors. He is now a member of New York University’s Scholars at Risk Network. In addition to his academic research, Saladdin writes commentary pieces on Middle Eastern affairs, which have appeared in the Jerusalem Post, OpenDemocracy, Al-Jazeera English, The Huffington Post – German Edition, and CounterPunch.