The Flowers of Rojava: A Feminist Revolution in Northern Syria


Janet Biehl, author of a newly published book about Vermont social ecologist Murray Bookchin (Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin), speaks about her recent visit to Rojava, Kurdistan where Kurdish men and women have organized themselves into a democratic autonomous region based in part on principles advanced by Bookchin. This talk was organized by Toward Freedom and took place in Burlington, VT on November 19, 2015. Filmed by CCTV.

Video of Janet Biehl’s talk:

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Janet Biehl, author of a newly published book about Vermont social ecologist Murray Bookchin, spoke at theQuaker Meeting House (173 N. Prospect) in Burlington, VT at 7 pm on November 19 about her recent visit to Rojava, Kurdistan where Kurdish men and women have organized themselves into a democratic autonomous region based in part on principles advanced by Bookchin. The title of her talk – and short film – is The Flowers of Rojava: A Feminist Revolution in Northern Syria.

Rojava occupies a sliver of land in northern Syria along the border with Turkey. Its people, mostly Kurds along with Arabs and Armenians, have attracted world attention for their efforts to build a new society based on gender equality and democracy in defiance of the misogynist and medieval practices of ISIS terrorists. Kurdish women are playing a leadership role in this movement and can be seen taking up arms alongside men to fight off ISIS as well as soldiers from Turkey, which has long been antagonistic to Kurdish independence movements.

Ms. Biehl spoke about her recent trip to Rojava where she participated in a New World Summit organized by an international group of artists, designers, and theorists to help the Kurdish people forge a model of democratic confederalism, also known as “stateless democracy.” She elaborated on how the writings of Murray Bookchin inspired Abdullah Ocalan, who is the founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and is a leading theoretician of the Rojava revolution. Ocalan is serving a life sentence in Turkey for his role in trying to create an independent Kurdish state. While in prison he read Bookchin’s books, which helped convince him to abandon the nation state model for Kurds in favor of adopting autonomous confederalism, which takes into consideration the religious, ethnic and class differences in society in order to create a genuine grassroots democracy.

Ms. Biehl also discussed the transformation of women’s roles in Rojava as a result of the formation of women’s academies and the revolution’s encouragement of women to become equal participants in all spheres of life. She introduced her new book:Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin.

Special thanks to Channel 17/Town Meeting Television and CCTV Center for Media & Democracy for technical support and for filming the event.

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