Activists have declared November 1 to be “World Kobane Day” in commemoration of a victory by the People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Women's Protection Units (YPJ) over ISIS in January 2015. The battle of Kobane, as it's now known, lasted 133 days and was supported by US-backed coalition airstrikes.
Kobane is located in Northern Syria, or Western Kurdistan, and is in the Kobane Canton — one of three cantons that make up the region known as Rojava, alongside Afrin Canton and Jazira Canton. On March 17, 2016, the de-facto administration of Rojava independently declared the establishment of the Federation of Northern Syria – Rojava (in Kurdish, “Federasyona Bakurê Sûriyê – Rojava” and in Arabic “منطقة الإدارة الكردية في شمال سوريا”).
During the siege of Kobane by ISIS in 2014, many people, international organizations, and intellectuals around the world signed a statement to express solidarity with the city and demand humanitarian assistance for its residents. Afterwards, hundreds of people around the world called for rallies in places like the United Kingdom, the United States, Turkey, Belgium, Germany, South Africa, and Venezuela, among others, to show their support to Kobane in its struggle against ISIS.
This year, the website World Kobane Day called for a “Global Day of Action to Celebrate the ‘World Kobanè Day’” on November 1. Cities including London, Toronto, Berlin, Paris, and Stockholm, among others, have participated the event.
— b9AcE (@b9AcE) October 31, 2016
There is also an “Open Letter” now circulating, advocating that November 1 become World Kobane Day. According to the Helpkobane website, the “Reconstruction Board in Kobanê Campaign,” aims to “document and highlight the projects necessary for the immediate reconstruction of the canton” through art, such as an art project “Colori per il Rojava”
Kobane Day in Sweden
Sweden has joined the rallies to show solidarity and demand the establishment of a humanitarian corridor, in order to facilitate the reconstruction of Kobane. In many Swedish cities, such as Stockholm, Örebro, Goteborg, and Umea, people rallied for Kobane. The Rojava kommittéerna, located in Sweden, has also asked for international support to reconstruct Kobane.
The Kurdiska demokratiska Samhällscenter i Örebro – NCDK, which has supported “the positive political developments going on in Rojava,” joined a rally in the city of Örebro. Speaking to Global Voices, a representative from NCDK answered a few questions.
Global Voices: Why would Sweden support kobanî and Rojava?
NCDK: Kurdiska demokratiska Samhällscenter i Örebro – NCDK: All minorities have been guaranteed the right to speak and teach in their own language, something that was forbidden during the dictatorship. A constitution has been produced as gender quota law principles in all decision-making bodies. A plan has been formulated for how to govern society in an ecologically sustainable way. That such a development has taken place in a country where a vicious civil war now raging! we think Rojava is worth all the support it can get from Sweden and all the countries in the world that claims standing for human rights. There is also a possibility of a future model of society for a future Syria, which the Syrians themselves must decide, without interference from big powers. Worth pointing out is that the areas controlled by Rojavas’s self-defense forces YPG / YPJ now are safe return of refugees and internally displaced within Syria also moving there. Therefore, there is a great need for international support including Sweden for the reconstruction of the areas destroyed.
Why is Kurdiska demokratiska Samhällscenter i Örebro rallying?
World Kobanî Day November 1st is a global day of action to draw attention at Kobanî which both were the first to be freed from the dictatorship but also the city most affected by the Islamic state's brutality. On this day we express our support and solidarity to the people fighting for their freedoms and the organization of a democratic society. Theirs struggles are an inspiration and lesson to all of us! NCDK- Örebro.
Another city that participated in Kobane Day was Goteborg, a city gathered to show its support for Kobane by performing a rally with music. Global Voices asked Minoo Koefoed, who is a member of the Kobani committee in Goteborg, to explain why Sweden supports Kobane:
The Kurdish canton of Kobanê is in a terrible condition after years of war, and there is an urgent need for emergency assistance, medical aid, ambulances, machines, tools, skilled medical staff, and medical equipment, as well as all sorts of financial and material support for the reconstruction of Kobanê. Crucial infrastructure and buildings are completely destroyed, such as hospitals and schools, preventing people in the region to live normal, decent lives. The basic needs of the people in Kobanê can absolutely not be fulfilled under the current material conditions in the area. According to Kurdish sources, during the fighting about 80% of the residents of Kobanê fled to nearby places like Iraq and Turkey, and now many of these are returning home. This situation will create additional pressure on the already very limited medical facilities in the region. Before the war, there were about 14 medical centers and hospitals providing medical services to the approximately 500 000 people living in the area. Now, the situation is even worse. But it is also important to take the psychological and emotional dimension of the current situation for the people of Kobanê equally serious. Particularly children and youth in the region desperately need facilities where they can play, enjoy, explore, sing and laugh! Sweden should support Kobanê in all thinkable ways.
What is the festival about?
The World Kobanê Day is a global day of action and support in solidarity with the people in Kobanê, and their resistance against the oppression and violence of the Islamic State and other destructive groups.