Rally Today (Saturday) for Freedom in Sudan? (SF City Hall, 1pm) / Rally Tomorrow for the Kurds (Union Square, noon)

Heard it mentioned on the radio that a rally about Sudan is happening at 1:00 p.m. at City Hall (presumably outside the Polk Street entrance). However I can't find anything about it online. I may take a chance and go down there anyway. The Sudanese people deserve support in their current protests that have led to a widespread uprising against the regime of the Islamist dictator Omar al-Bashir who has held power since overthrowing a democratically elected government in a 1979 coup.

  In a separate event I was told about by a Kurdish guy from Turkey who works at a restaurant near my place, a rally is happening tomorrow, Sunday Jan. 27, at Union Square from noon to 2:00 p.m.:


   The politics of this one are a bit more complicated. Basically it is supporting independence for a Kurdish region of northern Syria which currently enjoys de facto independence but is threatened by both the Erdogan regime in Turkey which opposes the creation of a Kurdish state, and the brutal Assad regime in Syria. To the best of my knowledge, the people who live in the area generally favor independence, and the area has been declared as the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria.

  Interestingly, according to the Wikipedia page about the conflict (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rojava_conflict), the area is said to be practicing "libertarian socialism":

"The supporters of the DFNS argue that the events constitute a social revolution[6] with a prominent role played by women both on the battlefield and within the newly formed political system, as well as the implementation of democratic confederalism, a form of libertarian socialism that emphasizes decentralization, gender equality and the need for local governance through semi-direct democracy...."

  The page goes on to say more about what they call the "Rojava Revolution", including intriguingly a claim that there are "no required taxes" there:

After declaring autonomy, grassroots organizers, politicians and other community members have radically changed the social and political make-up of the area. The extreme laws restricting independent political organizing, women's freedom, religious and cultural expression and the discriminatory policies carried out by the Assad government have been superseded. In their place, a Constitution of Rojava guaranteeing the cultural, religious and political freedom of all people has been established. The constitution also explicitly states the equal rights and freedom of women and also "mandates public institutions to work towards the elimination of gender discrimination".[6]

The political and social changes taking place in Rojava have in large part been inspired by the libertarian socialist politics of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan.[6]

Cooperative economy

The Rojava economy is a blend of private companies, the autonomous administration and worker cooperatives. Since the revolution, efforts have been made to transition the economy to one of self-sufficiency based on worker and producer cooperatives. This transition faces the major obstacles of ongoing conflict and an embargo from all neighboring countries: Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and the various forces controlling nearby areas of Syria. This has forced people to rely almost exclusively on diesel-run generators for electricity. Additionally, strong emphasis is being placed on businesses that can bring about self-sufficiency to the region.

There are no required taxes in Rojava.[36] Instead the administration funds itself through the sale of oil and border commerce (which is clandestine because of the embargo). There are partnerships that have been created between private companies and the administration. The administration also funds the school system and distributes bread to all citizens at a below-market rate.[37]

The Movement for a Democratic Society Economic Committee has been helping businesses move towards a "community economy" based on worker cooperatives and self-sufficiency.[37]

Cooperatives first formed in the agricultural and infrastructure sectors. In the Jazira Canton there are 18 agricultural cooperatives, 12 general co-ops and six women-run co-ops.[citation needed]

Other cooperatives involve bottled mineral water, construction, factories, fuel stations, generators, livestock, oil, pistachio and roasted seeds, and public markets.

Additionally there are several agricultural communes with families collectively working the land.[38]

Direct democracy

The Rojava Cantons are governed through a combination of district and civil councils. District councils consist of 300 members as well as two elected co-presidents- one man and one woman. District councils decide and carry out administrative and economic duties such as garbage collection, land distribution and cooperative enterprises.[39] Civil councils exist to promote social and political rights in the community.

Ethnic minority rights

Closely related to religious freedom and the protection of religious minorities is the protection of ethnic minorities. Kurds now have the right to study their language freely, as do Assyrians. For the first time, a Kurdish curriculum has been introduced to the public school system.

Residents are also now free to express their culture freely. Culture and music centers have formed, hosting dance classes, music lessons and choir practice.[40]

In some areas, in addition to the gender quota for councils, there is also an ethnic minority quota.[41]

Restorative justice

The criminal justice system is undergoing significant reforms, moving away from a punitive approach under the Assad government to one based on the principles of restorative justice[citation needed]. Reconciliation Committees have replaced the Syrian government court system in several cities.[42] Committees are representative of the ethnic diversity in their respective area. For example, the committee in Tal Abyad has Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and Armenians.[43]

  All may not be sweetness and light – another site (https://mesopotamia.coop/the-economy-of-rojava/) goes into more detail about the secessionist region, and reports on a book noting that, "The right to large private property was abolished in 2012. The social contract stipulates that natural resources, land, infrastructure and some businesses are public wealth". However, again intriguingly, it qualifies this by adding, "Speaking of nationalisation would be misleading, since the Kurds of Rojava have adopted a clear anti-state position."

  A Dutch social researcher is quoted as follows: "In the social contract of Rojava, land was declared to be under common ownership — but the land of big landlords has not been expropriated because the movement ‘does not want to use force’. Still, if the social contradictions deepen, what is the alternative? At the moment the movement in Rojava has not really been confronted with this issue yet. Many of the landlords have fled and it is not clear what will happen when the war ends, and whether these landlords will return."

  Remarkable! It's hard to guess how this experiment may turn out if the nascent state of Rojava (nee D.F.N.S.) is able to maintain its de facto independence, but it promises to be of significant interest to the libertarian movement.

  We must also remember that all this is going on in a region where things clearly could be (and often are) a lot worse. And all people everywhere deserve the freedom to form independent states where a majority wants it, as appears to be the case here. So hope to see some of you at Union Square on Sunday!

Love & Liberty,

((( starchild )))

Oops, slight correction – the coup that brought Al-Bashir to power in Sudan was in 1989. Here is the Wikipedia page on the recent Sudanese protests: