Revolution in Rojava

4-8pm April 22, 2017 @ Nightingale Cinema, 1084 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL

In 2017 the war with fundamentalism rages on for the Syrian Democratic Forces– northern Syria’s multiethnic armed coalition animated by the Democratic Confederalist ideology. They are currently at the threshold of the capital of al-Baghdadi’s brutal “caliphate,” Raqqa.

The northern Syrian territories, liberated from the control of both the Ba’athist regime and local jihadists, are also facing serious challenges, from the direct ground invasion and attacks of Erdoğan’s increasingly authoritarian Turkey to conflict with the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, all while struggling to rebuild a ravaged landscape, and still advancing an unprecedented experiment in egalitarian, participatory democracy and the elimination of ancient patriarchical norms.

At the same time, the revolutionaries’ tactical cooperation with imperialist powers, the US and Russia, as well as with the Assad regime, has sparked significant controversy in numerous circles on the left.

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.


From the Mountains to the Sea: Kurdistan, the PKK, and the Rojava Revolution

6-8:30pm, April 23, 2017 @ University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Bolton Hall room B46

“No friends but the mountains”
–Kurdish Proverb

The Kurds, a people numbering 40 million worldwide, have been on the world stage the last few years once again for the last few years. We hear them mentioned in passing on the news often enough, particularly about their fight against ISIS. But hardly any of us know they are arguably leading the struggle for peace, freedom, women’s rights and secularism in the middle east–particularly in Rojava, a confederation of cantons in Northern Syria governed by the neighborhood assemblies.

At this event we’ll hear expert scholars, educators, and an individual who lived in Rojava while serving in the People’s Protection Units, share their different experiences in the Kurdish struggle for interdependence and dignity. From there we can start building the bridge for solidarity between our communities and Kurdistan, toward a better world for everyone.

Rojava and Shengal: Women’s Empowerment and Humanitarian Crisis

7-9pm April 26, 2017 @ room 426, Mergenthaler Hall,  Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore

Ms. Lucy Usoyan recently returned from a visit to Rojava in northern Syria, the Ezidi city of Shengal (Sinjar) in Nineveh Iraq and refugee camps in the Kurdistan Regional Government area of Iraq. She will address the reality of Women’s empowerment in the Middle East and Rojava. Its implementations and challenges, implementation the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, implementation of the “Women’s Law” of Rojava and its impact, the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Rojava and Shengal addressing the access of medical workers like Doctors Without Borders, closure of the Rojava aid hospital for severe injuries in Duhok, the shortage of medical supplies, the blocking of UNHCR vaccinations, other humanitarian material matters like electrical shortage, potable water and food security, the freedom of movement of refugees and internally displaced peoples in Syria and Iraq.

Lucy Usoyan is the founder and president of the Ezidi Relief Fund and a Director of the Kurdish Policy Research Center.

This event sponsored by the Program in Islamic Studies at Johns Hopkins University, Ezidi Relief Fund, and Alliance for Radical Democracy.

A Road Unforeseen: Women Fight the Islamic State

7-9pm MAY 5, 2017 @ Bluestockings Books
172 Allen Street, New York, NY 10002

Leftwing Kurdish feminists in Syria and Turkey are taking a leading role in fighting ISIS and building a bottom-up democratic and pluralistic society in Rojava (Syria). This discussion, led by Meredith Tax, author of A Road Unforeseen: Women Fight the Islamic State, will focus on how women transformed the Kurdish liberation movement from a classic guerilla struggle to something much more complex, how their feminism works out in practice, what obstacles they face, and what ideas they can offer US feminists.