[Kobane] Interview with Erol Ekici, from the Construction Workers Trade Union of Turkey

Written by Corriente Roja – Spanish State
Wednesday, 05 August 2015 21:41
This is a transcript from an audio interview given to the Corriente Roja’s correspondent in Turkey.
During the Kobane war, it was a big tragedy and it was near us and as the Construction Workers Trade Union we could not be out of this question. We couldn´t go to fight against ISIS but after the destruction of the city we talked that we could put our effort to rebuild the city and we went there.
After the destruction and the victory of the Kurdish forces there, we decided to go and we contacted with the Kobane administration in that period. We went there as a group of six workers. We wanted to see the situation by going there and also we wanted to ask them what could we do for Kobanê. It was early summer and the problem after the destruction of the city was to find bodies under the destructed buildings and the risk of spreading diseases because of that. 80% of the city was totally destructed. They needed especially health aid and they took some health service from Turkey, but Turkey put an embargo in this question so it’s not regular. We proposed to the Kobane administration that we could start a campaign to build a small hospital and we could stress on the question that a humanitarian corridor could be open, a humanitarian corridor to Kobane.
When they went there was a population of around 30.000 but later after the victories against ISIS in the villages the border with Turkey opened again, a lot of people came back and now the population is around 80.000. As you can imagine the production conditions are not available, there’s no production there and the people are depending on the organization PYD. The people are organizing bakeries to produce bread. Bread is very important. Water, bread and other basic needs for the people are organized by the PYD and maybe in the villages now they are producing something. I’m not sure about it, but maybe some agriculture is back in some villages. The basic thing is humanitarian aid. Most of the food is coming from Turkey, from campaigns organized by left groups and also the municipalities of HDP. Platforms of solidarity and much humanitarian aid are coming from. The border is closed, but Turkey opens it sometimes because of the pressure of the people and pacts between the PYD and Turkey. There is an essential problem, they need a humanitarian corridor open all the time, so everything can go there more easily. The PYD came to Turkey and to demand a humanitarian corridor, but there were no real results on this question.
As a trade union, we made a report about the situation in Kobane. Food, agriculture, the water problem and all the other problems and needs of Kobane. We made a press conference and a demonstration in Kadikoy and the police attacked the demonstration. This show what the AKP government thinks of Kobane and their attitude against it. After our report, six construction workers came from Germany to talk with us and we contacted with other groups from Turkey. Also, the Australian Construction Workers Trade Union sent a message saying they would support our campaign. However, we could not receive any big support except from an association of Turkish workers from Germany that sent us some financial support, around 3.000 euros. We’re selling some cards and collecting money for this campaign. We’ve collected more than thirteen thousand euros here in Turkey, but we need around 25.000 euros more. Only the construction of the hospital will cost around 40.000 euros so we still have to collect more money, so our campaign is still going on. We want to build the hospital with the help of construction workers from all over the world. During the construction process, we will call again all the construction workers to go there with us and build the hospital.
In fact, there was a big support to Kobane but the Turkish nationalists reacted to this process. In fact, at the time of the Kobane war the Turkish population was divided in two. On one side there was a big sympathy for the defense of Kobane, but on the other side there were many people saying let them die, ISIS is better than PYD, even some forces who call themselves nationalist-left. Also in the Kurdish population the Kurdish Hezbollah attacked the solidarity demonstrations, more than 40 people died in several days in those big fights. The situation in the Kurdistan was very tense because of the Islamic forces, the Hezbollah. This shows how they can be manipulated. All this process shows how our campaign is very important because we, as construction workers, are working on the rebuilding. In our group there are many religious and ethnic sectors but we are all workers. There are Kurdish, Turkish, Alawites, people from the black sea, from a lot of regions in Turkey. The fact that we are all workers will unify us. If you care about our origin they can divide us, but if we are all workers we will be unified. We are stressing this point. Of course, we have to separate Lebanon Hezbollah and Kurdish Hezbollah. They are completely different. Kurdish Hezbollah is a sort of counter-Hezbollah because it’s a kind of counter-guerrilla, like the Colombian paramilitaries, a force that can be mobilized alongside with state forces.  On the 2nd and 3rd of June, there was a meeting of the platform for the reconstruction of Kobane. Our friends went to Kobane and talked about how we can start the project and now we are waiting news from the Kobane administration about how we can start the process.
They stressed on this point, PKK is also stressing on this question. Rojava revolution is a women’s revolution. There are more women fighting with arms in hands than men. Women are the majority in the brigades. This is very important for the Middle East because the society of many countries doesn´t allow women to participate in the social life. When you look at the Rojava situation, women are there and we have to look very carefully to defend this part of the revolution, it’s very important when you compare to other societies in the Middle East.
How is the situation now?
Many villages around Kobane are liberated from ISIS and life is coming back in many aspects and of course the destruction was very big but it’s going well. Now the administration is very open, anyone has the right to talk. Socialists, Kurdish, Arabs. Everyone can present himself in the assemblies.
The relationship between Arabs and Kurds is good?
There is no problem. There are some exceptions, some villages helped ISIS, were affiliated with ISIS and some of this villages were emptied by the PYD forces. The case in Tal Abyat is a similar case.

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