On 25 February 2018, Reuters reported on the arrest of Rojavan foreign relations official Saleh Muslim by Czech authorities, acting under pressure from Turkish President Recep Erdoğan, who has requested Muslim’s extradition to Turkey.
Saleh Muslim was a leader of the 2012 Rojava revolution, during which Kurdish, Arab, Assyrians and other peoples of the region joined forces to declare the northern-part of Syria (West-Kurdistan) autonomous from the Assad regime. Since 2012, Rojavans have developed their own model of “stateless democracy”, based on principles of local self-governance, gender equality, secularism and communal economics.
The Rojavans stand at the forefront of the fight against the Islamic State, playing a fundamental role in the siege of Kobane, among other military operations again IS. Thousands of lives have been sacrificed by the People’s and Women’s Protection Units (YPG/J) in order to liberate territories in their journey toward Raqqa. In these territories, the YPG/J have introduced a new stateless democracy to promote a more durable peaceful cohabitation.
Today, the Rojavan canton Afrin is under ongoing attacks of the Erdoğan regime, which claims that Rojava is a “terrorist” network due to the inspiration it draws from Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). This means that the new democracy of the Rojavans — the only actor in the Syrian civil war that abides by the Geneva conventions, and the only effective force fighting still today against the Islamic State — is threatened by the second biggest NATO ally.
DiEM25 calls to:
* Release Saleh Muslim immediately, and for EU member states to guarantee his protection and freedom of movement, rejecting any and all calls for extradition to Turkey
* Release the Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian activists, journalists, academics, artists, and politicians that have been imprisoned in Turkish jails without due trial
* End the Turkish siege of Rojava and stand with Rojava’s new democratic project, recognizing it as an ally and inspiration of democratic movements the world over
DiEM25 stands in solidarity with Rojava and the Kurdish struggle for democratic peace. In 2016, DiEM25 Coordinating Collective member and European Alternatives representative Lorenzo Marsili engaged in direct dialogue with Saleh Muslim and other representatives of the Rojava Revolution. During a more recent meeting in Berlin, DiEM25 members backed policy to build active relations and solidarity networks with Rojava.
About the Rojava Revolution Saleh Muslim has said: “It is a revolution of life, and as such, our struggle is a struggle for humanity.” It is time that humanity recognizes this effort, and for DiEM25 – as a transnational movement – to lead the way in durable European-Rojavan relations.
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