The Tiny House Warriors: Vol 1is a part of a mission to stop the Kinder Morgan TransMountain pipeline fromcrossing unceded Secwepemc Territory.
Ten tiny houses will be built and placed strategically along the 518 km TransMountain pipeline route to assert Secwepemc Law.
Subversion #1312 broadcasts out of Brisbane. Brisbane is Australia’s third largest city.
Currently the anarchist movement in Brisbane is in what perhaps could be described as a state of flux. New inspiration is needed to reinvigorate the scene.
In the past however anarchists in Brisbane have been more active. Barbara Hart is someone who was involved in Brisbane anarchism in the 70s and 80s.
I had a chat to her about what anarchists got up to in Brisbane in the past.
We also talk about social movements internationally.
Linda: I recently did an interview with a person who does a radio show in America, an anarchist radio show, and so I had to talk about the history of anarchism in Brisbane and the current state of anarchism, and you mentioned the bookstore and there were other initiatives happening then, like anarchists aren’t as active in Brisbane as they were from the time that you’re talking about it or at least it doesn’t seem so.
Barbara: Yes well I don’t think any of the ‘ism’s are, all the left wing groups are much much smaller and I’ve thought about this a lot.
Why is that so? One of the reasons was that the generation from the 70s, 80s, and 90s was getting old of course but we were baby boomer generation so it was a very large group of people but the next large group of people that came along apparently was the late 80s cause I looked at the statistics cause I was trying to work this out one day: Why? Why is this happening?
I thought maybe they had a small population bulge thing but they’re now people who are in their late 20s, early 30s, so when that bulged people who were that age it was quite a bulge in population then for whatever reason, so that wasn’t a reason. The other reason I think is that a lot of people are online and just getting caught up in a sort of echo chamber thing, they just communicate with friends and people they already know, and not so much going out into the street and trying to do things in a material way like in the real world, that’s a problem with a lot of, not just people on the left but in a lot of things and also a big reason, and I have to be honest about this, a big reason is the dole, now when I was young the dole was extremely easy to get and I remember when I moved to Sydney in the 80s I went to the dole office in Newtown and after I’d filled in all the forms and spoken to somebody at the counter I was ushered into a room where a guy who looked like an older hippie guy read me out my rights and I was so surprised because I’d come from Queensland where a lot of it was quite savage.
Even though the dole was ok but because it was in Queensland it was interpreted in a much harsher way than New South Wales so because you actually had that safety net, the money was still terrible, but because you had that safety net there people had the energy to put into creative things like bands, social centres and whereas young people today, and even not so young people who are unemployed or partly employed just it’s so vicious that it’s a constant runaround trying to fulfil all these job network things you know?
And I think it’s very exhausting, and even people who are in part-time work it’s not secure it’s very very exhausting. I think the economic situation has changed and housing was, well compared to what we were getting for the dole housing was still expensive for us but it was more plentiful in the inner city whereas a lot of the housing’s been bought up by well-off affluent people in the inner city.
Linda: Do you think that’s it’s got to do with the fact that things were more oppressive then like the Bjelke-Petersen regime?
Barbara: Oh undoubtedly things are actually more oppressive now in some ways but they’re oppressive in a way that’s hard to make real for new people coming in. You talk about something like globalisation it’s a little bit harder to bring that down to the day to day although it should be done but back then every young and not so young person suffered from the Bjelke-Petersen regime, I mean the police were just so terrible and you’d have a dance, you’d organise a dance and the police would arrive, lock the doors, and not let anyone out unless they walked out in single file and they sort of took your name if they wanted to you know things like that were happening or in the case of a friend of mine you go to a dance and as you spilled out onto the footpath, because the police had arrived you got bashed up so it was very clear to see even for people who hadn’t read any books or anything it was quite visceral you could see what was going on so that was quite clear.
Linda: There’s an uprising in France at the moment and it got me thinking again of this theory I have that where there’s greater concentrations of population it’s more likely that there’s going to be resistance movements.
Barbara: Well that’s right Australia is dominated by outlying you know big suburban sprawl.. Which makes things more difficult but I’ve noticed that the places where there is a lot of rebellion like France, Spain, Greece, Mexico they are all places where during the 20th century or even the 19th century there were big uprisings … big uprisings… you know France 1968 which is now the 50th anniversary coming up … there was a big uprising in the 70s that got rid of the military dictatorship in Greece … Spain of course had the Spanish Civil War, Mexico had the Zapata uprising in the early part of the 20th Century and now it’s got the modern Zapatista movement and also in this century it had the OaxacaCommune where the teachers union had an uprising and took over the town basically.
So in these places and things are still happening in these provinces in Mexico so I think where there’s a tradition it’s very important for people to keep doing things even when it seems like it’s a really dry period .. activist wise because it all builds up … it’s sort of like a well you know if you’ve got no water in the bottom of the well it’s going to be harder to get water up.
That’s the only thing I can think of but if there’s a little bit there at least it can ….. if people have done things in the past it enriches the whole tradition.
The Dispossessed is a science fiction novel written by Ursula Le Guin. The book has been of interest to anarchists because it explores many themes, including anarchism and revolutionary societies, capitalism and individualism and collectivism.
As we are based in Brisbane I spoke to local anarchist Barbara Hart about the book and the influence it has had in the East Coast of Australia.
Linda: Ursula Le Guin passed away earlier in the year.
Barbara: That’s right, January 22nd I think.
Linda: She was a science fiction writer but also an anarchist.
Barbara: Yeah, well she never actually said openly that she was an anarchist because one of the things I read she said she didn’t know whether she was good enough to come up to that title of being an anarchist you know?
And also she didn’t want to have something pinned on her but all her books like especially are really about anarchist societies, so yeah she was an anarchist but she just didn’t pin that label on herself so she could appeal to lots of different groups I think.
Linda: Yeah, okay. A lot of people have said was a very formative novel for them, and I’m actually reading it at the moment, I’ve been wanting to read it for a few years so I’ve finally gotten around to it. Can you just tell us the story-line?
Barbara: Well I haven’t read it since the 80s but I remember the story-line was about a revolution on Earth, well it doesn’t say Earth they’ve got different names for the planets, and the group almost won but not quite or something, so they were allowed to go to the moon of this planet which is a very barren place, and set up their anarchist society.
The main character that they concentrated on was Shevek, and what they had wanted was to have complete decentralisation but because they were making a lot of the decisions and getting information with computers it just so happened that it was easier to have a central place for that and they realised that this could become a problem because you could get centralisation, and when the book opens the society’s been going for about 170 years or something like that and some of the characters are a bit worried that it’s starting to crystallise, like the old spirit’s not there anymore.
So that’s sort of like the main thesis, like how you keep a revolution fresh, and one of the things that Le Guin believed is that you don’t make a revolution like in the old Marxist sense of “you make a revolution and you know you’ve sort of made it”, it’s an ongoing continuing thing all the time and people have to really believe in the ideals to keep growing, because there’s no end, it’s not an end, revolution isn’t an end it’s a continuing process and this is another thing brought out in the book.
Linda: And the one planet Urras, that’s the planet that’s sort of more capitalistic.
Barbara: Yeah that’s right, it’s just like Earth because the main character does go, and he’s in a group that’s trying to think “How can we refresh the whole thing?” and he goes off to Earth to see if there’s any answers there cause he wants to have an open mind and he just finds it’s exactly like they’d been taught that by the founder, the philosopher who’s sort of like a combination of Kropotkin and Emma Goldman, everything’s based on money and social relationships are sort of hierarchical and eventually he decides he’s gonna go back and he does actually talk at the United Nations and stuff he actually does, he has to escape eventually because he’s talking to people there and he goes back to the moon where the society is and he decides he’s going to try and refresh the whole thing. That’s the basic story outline.
Linda: Yeah what I’ve come up to so far in the book is that he’s on Urras and he’s starting to wonder like where the other part of society is, he’s only seen the sort of rich and-
Linda: Profiteering yeah.
[Music: Autonomy by The Buzzcocks]
You’re on 4ZZZ’s Subversion1312 and you’re listening to an interview I did with Barbara Hart about Ursula Le Guin’s book ‘The Dispossessed’.
[Music: ‘I I want you autonomy‘ fades out]
Linda: You were saying that in Brisbane it informed some books [shops] and anarchist’s movement in Brisbane.
Barbara: Well in Brisbane it was tremendously popular, and especially in the 80s a group of people who were around an anarchist punk group called The Tape Loops and their friends formed a social centre called Anarres which was in the shop front on Baines Street and anyone who knows West End/Highgate Hill knows that shop front in Baines Street. It’s been made into flats now but it was a whole shop front they had a garden there and they used to have music there and it lasted probably a little over a year and the other initiative was a person who had been involved with the beginning of Jura Books and Black Rose Books in Sydney moved to Melbourne in the early 90s and he set up a postal book service you know you could actually ask him for a book look at the list of books he had and you’d pay him and he’d sent them to you… so like of anarchist books and he called that book service Anarres as well
And he’s got a web page which is named after one of the characters in Anarres and it’s a minor character Takver and he said he picked that character rather than Shevek the main character because he wanted to show and give honour to the ordinary people in that book who were really idealistic and really fighting for what they believed in so that’s why he named the book .. sorry his webpage after Takver and on this webpage he has lots of anarchist history from the 70s in Sydney and Melbourne. And so that lasted for about 15 years until about 2009 and then he… his first name is John, he would have been close to 60 then … he passed the service on to a group of younger people who wanted to take it over and put some energy into it so it’s still going er.. Er…
Linda: And he’s still writing as well …
Barbara: That’s right he’s still writing he’s very much into environmental issues yeah and he really said it was one of the major inspirations of his political life that book so …
I think think a lot of people found it like that….. cause it’s actually a story a story about with the ideals of anarchism in like the sorts of people like Kropotkin but how many people have read those books from the 19th century but you put it in a story it’s much more accessible and also it shows shows it’s not like pie in the sky you know everything is going to be rosy it actually shows the problems you would have with an anarchist society and it shows that people aren’t perfect…… but it shows ways that anarchists would try to solve any problems that arose… so it’s actually interesting it looks at an anarchist society with warts and all.
The Stolenwealth (Commonwealth) Games occurs every four years, and travels around the globe revisiting (invading) a country where the indigenous people have suffered at the hands of the British Empire.
This year the games were held in Australia on the Gold Coast in (not the) Queensland.
I’m from the Gomeroi people I’m from Moree,North West New South [Wales}.
You know I’m part of the national working party with the rest of the mob … this is not just a Embassy thing this is not just a WAR [Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance] thing … it’s a national event that’s been organised over the last 12 months. And with a strong collective voice from many people from many nations. Yeah.
I’m up here to show my support and deliver a message to the world Linda.
Why is it being called the Stolenwealth Games?
Commonwealth is colonialism … Colonialism is stolen wealth. If you look at the 45 or 46 colonies that are involved in the Commonwealth Games they’re all countries that have been invaded by the British imperialism.
We have an international media here and it’s about us getting our message out there to tell them the truth about what is happening here in Australia.
We’re talking about treaties we’re discussing treaties we’re talking about a war commision a truth commision in regards to the treatment of our people past and present here in Australia.
There’s a camp can you tell me about the camp ?
We’re situated out a Doug Jeninings Park which is on the end of Sea WorldDrive past the resort down near the spit. We’ve been here since the… oh what day did we start? I can’t remember what day we start but I’ve been here for two weeks… yeah from the forth until the 16th.
What’s going on?
A few hundred people here women. Children, men, elders you know it’s all pretty spread out we’ve got proper facilities, showers, toilets … we’re being well looked after .. and yeah all of our volunteraty mob standing in solidairty helps us out.
The [inaudible] support there from them. You know being fee well tonight we’re actually having turtle so we’re being spoilt down here Linda.
I have heard though that’s there’s been some trouble with white supremacists or nationalists.
Yeah you know like every Aboriginal embassies you know most of our embassy and camp sites we’re always having issues with a few of the non indigenous community where there was an incident where you know that was controlled contained just had them drive by and just acting stupid .. hooligans like they are.
What have been some of the highlights so far during the protest?
Wow some of the highlights what can I say you know the opening the baton rally, this morning especially with sunrise they weren’t expecting that and as we know from Sunlies you know they’ve lied about it but you know the other media were there and I’m sure they’re pick them up on their lies what they made this morning.
Can you explain what happened this morning?
Um what had happened was well we all went down to sunrise to be their blackdrop. They weren’t expecting us … when we were just like everyone else … we’re a tourist we were going down to check it all out … we just happened to be there and created a colourful scenery from the background..
And did they try to black out…out the?
Oh yeah they put it out they stopped the segment, they had Koshi on one side they had Samantha on the other I’ve actually gone live if you want to have a look at my Facebookwall we went live from as soon as we arrived there you can see the incident of what had actually happened this morning. And um yeah we were there to protest against Sam Armytage and the Sunlies Sunrise and their lies.
You met with the Games committee Peter Beattie. What happened there?
Well um as again I said we had a um there was four of us, myself, Dale Ruska,Ruby Wharton and Dylan Vollar … Dale delivered a statement in regards to the War and Truth Commission, war crimes commission and we discussed some of the other issues I also spoke in regards to colonialism and incarceration within his statement he said that he’s quite willing to come back and meet with the people and look into the number of cases we brought up to him then which was Zac Grieves and Kevin Henry…. Kevin Henry case … he actually mad a fool out of himself because [inaudible] aboriginal people because when Kevin Henry got locked up he was actually premier of Queensland so… that goes to show… you know they say one thing and we all know they … are pretty good at doing the opposite things. But as I said we’re arranged a meeting with Wayne to meet with a delegation here on Thursday … I’m not quite sure of the time or venue of that as yet or the delegation that will be going there but I’m sure it will be a combination of elders, traditional owner elders and members of the national working party.
That follows on to my next questions which is about what else is happening until the camp closes on the 15th ?
Well we still have workshops and discussions we’re getting a lot of feedback from around the country suggestions and you know we’re getting positive and negative … we spoke today about setting up a national committee so people are not intimidated that it’s not run by one particular body we’ve seen the way the media um the media has fear-mongered a lot of our people in relations to using names such as the Brisbane Embassy and WAR and aboriginal embassies in general I suppose . So what we want is to yes we know we are part of this group but also this is a part of a national group and that we’re not part of any organisation in general you know what I mean we’re not incorporating ourselves to be any ‘body’ we want to establish this war and truth commission.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Just that it’s been great down here you know we’ve been looked after down here … we’ve had a bit of rain but the camp…. it’s actually it’s awesome … we’ve got the elders in the caravans and that but um … and tonight we’re enjoying some turtle so sorry you can’t be here Linda so try to get down if you can and anyone out there that’s listening we’re here until the 15th so come down check it out you don’t know unless you ask so yeah…
Thank you very much for speaking to us today Gwenda?
No thank you very much Linda and any time … give us a call and we’ll fill you in on what’s happening and where we are.
This interview with Ezel Anirshik who is fighting with the Kurdish forces in Rojava Syria, was conducted and translated by Hafez Rahimi and recreated in English with the help of some friends.
Can you tell me your name and where are you from?
My name is Ezel and I’m from Amed which is north of Kurdistan. But for some political reasons I moved to Italy 16 years ago.
Can I ask you what were the reasons if you don’t mind?
Yes, sure. I’ve been arrested by Turkish police three times. First time I was just 13 years old when I spent six month in the jail. After three years I was arrested again but for one more year. Third time the court decided about my imprisonment. So I runaway to Italy.
How long have you been living in Rojava?
The last five years.
I’ve heard Afrin is defeat is it right? Or would you like to say something different? What is the correct situation in Afrin?
We never accept that Afrin was defeated but my angle of view is completely different. Afrin did very well.
I mean in fact the second biggest army of NATO had said they defeat Afrin in 24 hours and it’s happened after two months by using plenty of weapon including jihadist forces. Some of our friends are still fighting and as you know the YPJ has said we are not leaving Afrin, we have just changed the war method for avoiding the genocide of people.
The YPJ helps people in leaving of the city so how we can say this is defeat.
What makes wars different between war in Afrin and others which are happening all over the world?
In Afrin actually exist heavy war. The war is between two forces. The first one represents evil and darkness. The second one represents good. It’s between the leaders of all countries which been supporting Erdogan and his regime against activities of people living in this autonomic territory – anarchists, communisms, feminists and etc. So this is kind of World War III.
Why people say the Rojava revolution is the women’s revolution?
That’s right actually. Women in Rojava have a different laws than women in others part of country. For example they are allowed to have only one husband [men are allowed only one wife] and they [the women] are having education.
By the way we have a village in here called Warejena which is a place where women teach women. It’s been only for women and some NGO.
So yes, one of the characteristic is revolution for woman but it is not just for them, the revolution was triggered for more reasons than we think.
In your speech you has mentioned international forces. What do you mean exactly which forces?
Let me explain you why the communist people came to Rojava as well like feminist, anarchists, people from this territory and others. All of them came because of Rojava.
It’s caused by their hearts; by humility to nature, animals and love for freedom which is hidden in every single human.
And these our friends with a big heart are fighting together against the Turkish state, even when they have a different ideology and perspective.
Can you tell me about feelings of women in the revolution?
I think the women have a good perceive about revolution. That’s right, the revolution is for women so don’t forget for their support came forces to Rojava. I think Rojava is land for all of them.
What can people do for any help in this revolution?
This is a good question. All people who have feeling of similar human values don’t be shy and join us. If you can’t go make a protest in your hometown everywhere in front of the council, in front of the Turkish Embassy and join that protests everyday, don’t give up until we win.
Recently sexual assaults within the Australian Greens have been gaining more attention. Jasmina Brankovich lives in Perth, Western Australia and has been following this issue closely.
In this interview we talk about sexual assault within the Greens and the lack of structures to deal with them.
In the second part we talk about this issue in the broader left and anarchist community.
Jasmina:For the past few years especially last year I think we’ve had a number of allegations covering all shades I guess of a male sexual violence as I prefer to call it in the Greens, and it’s seemingly across all branches… so I think that I’ve heard about the New South Wales, Victoria, WA and at the very least those those main branches… so what we had is basically a number of allegations across a number of branches portraying there’s complete lack of interest in dealing with them, there’s also lack of structures structure for instance a lot of branches and I know about WA one of those allegations arose do not have anything like the sexual harassment policy and processes to deal with them not-with-standing the fact that some branches and at them at the national level are developing their policy now.
For instance the case of sexual assault allegations against Jarah Cook in New South Wales has been also covered extensively on Twitter not least by the woman who actually accuses him of sexual assault Lauren Ingram and and they’ve been out in the open… what has not happened and what should happen is an automatic accountability processing place to investigate these allegations at least that I’m aware… of my understanding is that nothing like that has happened in the Greens and clearly clearly what happens when these things are ignored what is that things fester and they break out into the public arena and for most people the way to actually do that publicly is the use of social media and in particular Facebook and Twitter so in a way social media is used as a last resort by the victims, by those people were affected……. by anyone who actually cares to call organisations to account…. to make them accountable and to seek some sort of justice for the people affected. So that’s kind of what’s happened.
So I think we find ourselves now in this post #MeToo moment where we really have to figure out exactly how we deal with this and the reason that I’m interested in dealing with it is because I think it affects people a lot of people… like you know a lot of people who have a lot invested in the movements that we are apart of, a lot of people have a lot of invested in calling for you know global justice and that’s why I think it’s important that the left actually finally faces its own problem…. sexual assault is obviously one of the the more extreme cases of this problem but it really comes under the one umbrella and that umbrella is the very deep seated misogyny on the left.
Linda: Do you think what’s happened with the Greens is that we’re hearing these things more now because the Green’s have become a more popular party they’ve got a broader base….. there was a man commenting on your Facebook the other day and he was being terrible and like women shouldn’t swear and that it’s men’s language and he was a member of the Greens
Jasmina: That’s possible, that’s kind of logical if you have more people in your party or supporting your party of course you gonna get more exposure for what’s going on but I also think there’s been a shift in how women actually articulate and how open we are with throwing these concerns out there.
I think and when I say a shift it’s actually you know clearly there is still a lot of women who do not feel prepared to come out and actually lodge complaints there’s all sorts of things that that are missing in place …. like I said if you don’t have policy and procedures then it’s a bit difficult to lodge a claim when there’s actually no process for it right? So I think that it’s a bit of both I think that we have you know after #metoo that it’s it’s a bit of both I think we have actually gain some courage and and kind of decided well no this is just not gonna do anymore and I think the party has become more visible thereby gaining more exposure and you know of course that is actually got a draw more people into into the whole discussion.
Linda: And the Green party don’t have the structures cuz I don’t know they didn’t make them ….
Jasmina: Well well see…. it’s a bit of a complicated thing so just to make it like really simple for instance the Greens party is divided into state branches who then have regional groups so on and they are operate largely on the politics of consensus which is not a bad thing in itself but so far the WA branch for all I know and that’s the one that I’m most familiar with they do not have a policy or process it place they don’t have those structures to deal with it so that’s now I believe that there is a policy that has been up for membership discussion that has been rejected it as it is but people are tweaking it so it may actually happen but up until now they did not actually have that.
Linda: I think my point too in doing this interview on an anarchist show even though it’s party politics is a lot of people think that this wouldn’t happen in the Greens…
Jasmina: I think that a lot of a lot of people think that this these things don’t happen on the left in general and I think that’s that was kinda one of the first things that we have come across this is not something that is systematic on the left and I think that in having more women come forward and write about this and we have for such a long bloody time… you know I mean 30 years ago when I was a teenager and you know not 30 25 20 25 years ago I’m not that old… I was at uni and it was exactly the same issues you know and I think we have come a bit of a long way since then but not nearly nearly far enough I think to actually say that we’ve actually dealt with in any reasonable way.
[Lauren Ingram on ABC Q&A] I’m one of the millions of people who’s case fell through the cracks of the legal system but then I also want to say that very many people don’t feel safe within the legal system and don’t see justice fulfilled within it, last time I checked 98% of women that are raped never see their are offender spend any time behind bars it’s the most under reported crime in the world so that also speaks volumes of women not feeling that if they go and try to get justice of that they will be received well … that they will be believed.
[music by Les Rosevere. Music for Podcasts]
Jasmina: When we talk about the broader left and let’s talk about the broader left… I mean anarchism isn’t really an organised grouping it’s more like there is a sense of movements to it in Australia but it’s we don’t actually necessarily have organised groups… organised spokespeople there’s a lot of anarchists in the Greens in the first place that’s how it came to be exposed in the first place because those people, who put a lot on the line and decided that they will go actually say exactly what has happened.
So we are at this moment kind of acting against that kind of systematic misogyny on the left in which ever way we can… so we do it whether it’s you know as members of the group that we are apart of, whether it’s as members of a you know city or town based a broader left we don’t I don’t see that necessarily as a weakness the fact that we don’t have you know… I’m not really into organised groups with manifestos and constitutions and whatever… I think that we actually work a lot better when we work together within various groups that we’re a part of.
So at the moment I think what we are seeing is the real tension and the tension between realisations that something really terrible is going on on the left … that the women are not really having it anymore .. and lack of a wherewithal, lack of skills, or lack of knowledge and I think to some extent lack of political will… which is my key problem my key issue to make sure that these things start happening.
Linda: I mean it’s not just sexual assault it’s also in Brisbane people sort of put up with terrible behaviour by men because because I think because they see them as a strong force and they don’t actually look at their behaviour in depth.
Jasmina: Right I think that there is an element of hesitation to deal with it because you are on the one hand you’ve got the oppressive state parameters and the system in which we live…… that you don’t really want to reinforce and you don’t really want to propagate and you look at a new kind of good well there’s no real solutions out there but on the other hand you know there are other things that are at stake, the things that you have in common… I think what has to happen, what we need to happen is we need to realise that we are accountable to other people for what we do and if we don’t solve these issues they will continue to happen, you will lose many good women and men as active members of the group that are working on all sorts of issues…. you will make it impossible for new people to get involved or new people will simply try to avoid you.
So that actually works against the interests of the entire movement if you like and does not actually deal with the core which is really about misogyny which is really about making sure that the structures and the systematic patriarchy within the left is actually dealt with.
Linda: Anarchism I think I think does tend to be a bit of a boy’s club, can be a bit of a boy’s club….
Jasmina: Yeah and the whole of the left is a little bit of a boy’s club it is dominated by men, the key roles in the movements of the left are occupied by men, women are quite often relegated in these movements and groups to the care taking roles so to speak … I think that’s a problem .. I think that issues such as sexism and are not just add ons to any class struggles that you might be leading, they’re actually quite instrumental they should be intrumental to what we are fighting against there’s a whole raft of thing that does need to happen but I do think that male domination and male dominance on the left is the key cause and so are learned gender roles and the wyas in which women on the left are perceived and the way in which their contribution is perceived.
And again that is a cultural and a structural issue.
[music by Jandy Rainbow + I’m a Better Manarchist than You by Jonathan Cobb]
I did this interview with Claudio Locatelli in February . Claudio is an Italian journalist, media activist, & YPG Kurdish fighter.
This is a transcript of the first part of the interview.
Claudio with members of the women’s unit (YPJ)
Claudio: I’m Claudio Locatelli. I come from Italy and I was a YPG fighter. So I was fighting in the People’s Protection Unit in the North of Syria in the battle of Tabqa, Iraq, and I’m usually a media activist and journalist in the Middle East and Europe. And I have always been active in society.
Linda: How long have you been back in Italy?
Claudio: I came back in October and I have been in Rojava for seven months and a half, more or less, and exactly the end of February of the last year. Actually, it was exactly one year ago because today is the 27th. So it was exactly the 27th of February I took off with the plane towards Iraq. From Iraq I passed to Syria. I crossed the border to Syria.
Linda: Why did you join the Kurdish forces in Syria?
Claudio: Well first of all, because there was a big enemy and the enemy was not only ISIS. The enemy was whatever is considered oppressive and a patriarchal society, and ISIS is a theocracy, patriarchal society and oppressive. And that was intolerable for me and was unacceptable. So that was the main reason. The second reason was what the Kurdish society and the DEMCON- the democratic confederation together with the rest of the people in the area Christiana, Yazidi, Turkmen, and many other people of the area… they are building something different from ISIS. Something where the women are included, have the same dignity of the men. Something that takes care of the ecology.
Something that really cares about democratic, social, and inclusive values.
That’s what the second main reason is… as a media activist and journalist, I was already in the area especially in the Eastern part of Turkey in 2014 in 2015, and I was an international observer during the Newroz day Kurdish festivities, because there was a risk of attack or military presence of Turkey. In that period at the end… sorry at the end of August of 2014 and then in 2015 there was a big issue; the Yazidi genocide. I remember clearly in my mind, the imaging on the television these people escaping from Iraq, from the Sinjar mountain. Many women were enslaved by ISIS. For me that was the limit. I
couldn’t accept more that… in this world.. in 2018, there was a strong force like ISIS that was enslaving women, and raping them, as a low. This for me was unacceptable.
Linda: Can you please explain how the fight against patriarchy and these ideas, how they play out in Rojava?
Claudio: Absolutely, that is why this is one of the main points, absolutely something that also in Europe or I guess also in Australia is an issue. For example in my country, in Italy, the salary the income of the month is based on your gender, if you are male or female more exactly. So it’s absurd because in my opinion, if you work well, if you work, if you do something, whatever you’re doing, the income or whatever other things are connected should not be based on whether you are a man or woman. That in
Rojava is something really important. For example, the general commander of the Iraq operations is a woman. I really don’t remember a general commander of the army of Italy being a woman. So this is one of the big revolutions in Rojava. The patriarchal system is also an economical issue because the capitalists/the modern economical system is really using the submission of the women, the oppression of the women as a system.
You know typically you imagine the women in this kind of western society, as the women that stay in the kitchen, that take care of the babies, that provide the assistance for the man to go to work. That is absolutely creepy in my opinion because we don’t consider it (in Rojava instead they consider it): the woman as a full person. There’s the problem. In
Rojava, the entire struggle is fair to women. When we liberated Raqqa, the entire liberation of the town was dedicated to the women. From us from the women, moreover the YPJ, the female section unit, is a specific unit of our army completely composed by women and the main target is to protect women.
So to create a safe environment where women have the same right and condition of the men.
Linda: The argument in western countries is often about not using violence and changing people’s minds by talking rather than violence. You’ve been in an actual war against ISIS and others. What do you say as a response to those arguments now?
Claudio: That’s a very interesting topic. I’ll give you an example. If you are in the winter, I guess you use the ‘jacket,’ if you are in summer I guess you use a t-shirt. So you are not using a t-shirt in winter and the opposite. That’s the point. The necessity of the times, also with violent methods like weapons, sometimes can be necessary. I don’t think that is ‘the way,’ I don’t think that is ‘the way’ in every case.
It’s ‘the way’ in the winter, using the example of before. So we tried to send an ambassador… I don’t know this word in English, people that we send for diplomacy.
Linda: …. ambassador, yeah.
Claudio: Ambassador, thank you. In Tabqa, at the end of the campaign of Tabqa, almost at the end. There was many… surprises on a hill in front of us, so we tried to send an ambassador. You know what happened? ISIS sent him back in pieces in a box. They killed this guy. He was probably 20 or 21 years old and he was killed and sent back in a box. So how can you react to this? With talking?
We tried but actually you can’t really live accepting that an oppression like this can continue everyday, instead of fighting. I’m not for violence, in the majority of contexts, in 99% of the contexts, but I am ready to fight to defend what is right against the oppression when it is necessary. That is my idea on the concept.
Linda: You’ve come back to Italy from the trenches and this topic of violence when it is appropriate or not, in Italy does for example fascists who are quite nasty… What’s your opinion of how to deal with those people?
Claudio: If talking about the Nazis, we can say… racist action because in theory it’s supposed to be at that part in Italy, fascism, Nazis fascism. According to the law but unfortunately for some reason, some ridiculous reason, in the last years, more people and people are joining these extreme right-wing movements. That are actually against our laws, actually against our constitution, actually against our values but the people don’t take this seriously.
I want to tell you something. Also, with the real fascism in 1936, 1937, 8, 9, 40, so during the second World War the people really didn’t take seriously the Nazis and the fascist movement. You remember also Hitler was elected in election. So according with
the question that you asked me, we are to proportion the reaction.
If the Nazis and the fascists become again a violent political movement in Italy, we are to be ready to defend ourselves. To defend our values and to defend our people. In the meanwhile we are to keep an eye on the situation and be purposeful, why, why is something like this? Because our main target is collect the people. We cannot collect the people if we scare the people, but at the same time we are to make the people understand it’ll be more scary if fascists take the power again like they did in the past.
Of course, the way, the method will be the same of the fascism of the past but the logo will be probably different. They change name. In Italy the call Forza Nuova or for example CasaPound. It’s two names really represent two fascist parties.