Network for an

for an
Program for Conference
3–5 April 2015, Hamburg University, Audimax
3 April 2015 – Friday
12:00-13:00 Welcoming Speeches and Messages
Welcoming Speech | Gülistan Kahraman is studying law and has been active in the Association of Students from Kurdistan since 2010.
Welcoming Speech | Dêrsim Dağdeviren is a pediatrician and chairwoman of the Network of
Kurdish Academics (KURD-AKAD).
Welcoming Speech | Prof. Norman Paech is professor emeritus for constitutional and international right and a former member of the German parliament for the left group.
Introduction | Prof. Elmar Altvater is professor emeritus for political sciences. He is regarded
as a co-founder of an ecological economy and an early critic of a deregulated globalization of
Eröffnung | Reimar Heider ist Arzt und Menschenrechtsaktivist. Er ist einer der Sprecher der
Internationalen Initiative »Freiheit für Abdullah Öcalan – Frieden in Kurdistan« und Übersetzer mehrerer Bücher Abdullah Öcalans.
Message of Greeting | Abdullah Öcalan
13:00-15:00 Session 1
Dissecting Capitalist Modernity
Moderation: Dr. Thomas Jeffrey Miley is Lecturer
of Political Sociology in the Department of Sociology
at Cambridge. He received his B.A. from U.C.L.A.
(1995) and his PhD. from Yale University (2004).
He was a Garcia-Pelayo Research Fellow at the
Center for Political and Constitutional Studies in
Madrid (2007-2009). His research interests include comparative
nationalisms, the politics of migration, religion and politics, and
democratic theory.
1. 1. Scientism – Re-colonization of the Mind |
Dr. Muriel Gonzáles Athenas is an activist in
feminist, anti-racist, and autonomous networks. For
two years, she has been working with the Kurdish
women’s movement in Europe on a new departure
for emancipatory movements. In 2013, she opened
an exhibition in several Catalan cities, called “…so that freedom no
longer remains a utopia”, informing on the current positions of the
Kurdish movement. She is a historian and a research assistant at the
University of Cologne. Her research focus is on gender studies, labor
and capitalism, Eurocentric geographies, feminist epistemology and
historiographic methods.
Certain patterns of thinking determine the way we see ourselves
and the world around us. These epistemologies are impregnated
by the existing power relations. How did feminists criticize these
ways of thinking and how do we have to go one step further?
What can a feminist science look like?
1. 2. Capitalism – Accumulation of Value or
Power? | Kenan Ayaz is a Kurdish human rights
researcher and activist who was imprisoned in Turkey
because of his political views for twelve years. He is
active in the Kurdish people’s struggle for freedom.
Capitalism is more than a kind of economical
organization. It is a system of complex relationships of accumulation and exploitation. An attempt to clear up some things and to
expose capitalism.
1. 3. Nation State – God on Earth? | Prof. David
Harvey is the Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography at the Graduate Center of the City
University of New York (CUNY). He received his
PhD in Geography from the University of Cambridge
in 1961. Harvey authored many books and essays
that have been prominent in the development of modern geography as
a discipline. He is a proponent of the idea of the right to the city.
The nation-state, the dominant form of state organization of
recent times, appears to be in crisis. This is especially true for the
Middle East. What can emerge from today’s chaos?
1. 4. Industrialism – Law, Science and Imperialism | Dr. Radha D‘Souza is a Reader in Law specializing in International Law & Development, Law
in Third World societies and Resource Conflicts in the
Third World. She is a social justice and civil liberties
activist working in India and internationally.
Industrialism and democracy are incompatible ideas. Industrialism relies on command-control mechanisms. Contemporary
imperialism is the expansion of industrialism to militarism. Democracy must be underpinned by a very different kind of science
and law. Democracy and capitalism must be delinked in public
discourse and political practice.
1. 5. Religionism and Secularism – Religion and
the State | Rojda Yıldırım is a woman rights activist
who was imprisoned for 10 years because of her
political views. She is active in the Kurdish people’s
and women’s struggle for freedom. She is presently
researching different belief systems.
The last decade has seen the introduction of Islam as a source of
legislation in several countries. In Turkey state-imposed laicism is
on the descent. Syria and Iraq are faced with a group that claims
to resurrect the caliphate. Why does the Western model of secularism fail? And what are the deeper reasons for the renaissance of
religion in state affairs?
Call for Papers Topic
1. 6. From Marxism and nationalism to radical
democracy: Abdullah Öcalan’s synthesis for the
21st century | Dr. Tamir Bar-On is professor for
political sciences at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Querétaro, Mexico. He
studies the French Nouvelle Droite or Europan New
Right and its relationship to fascism.
Although Öcalan only was able to read Gramsci very late, he
reaches similar conclusions with different dimensions. Öcalan also
finds it important to delve into the definition of an intellectual
and its role in the transformation of the society. They are also
both critical about a class rule, no matter which class it is. How
do Öcalan and Gramsci differ and how much are they similar is
the main research topic of this paper.
15:00-16:30 Discussion
16:30-18:00 Dinner Break
18:00-20:00 Session 2
Democratic Modernity
Moderation: Eirik Eiglad has been involved in a
broad range of social ecology projects in Scandinavia
for more than two decades, as a movement activist,
writer, translator, and editor. Eiglad co-founded the
New Compass collective. He is the author of The
Anti-Jewish Riots in Oslo and Communalism as
Alternative, and the editor of Social Ecology and Social Change.
2. 1. New Concepts – Democratic Confederalism – Democratic
Autonomy | Havin Guneser is an engineer, journalist and a women‘s rights activist. She is one of the
spokespersons of the International Initiative “Freedom
for Abdullah Öcalan – Peace in Kurdistan” and
translator of Öcalan’s several books.
Socialism is not out of fashion, but after long theoretical debates the Kurdish movement suggests a set of new terms
and concepts. “Democratic autonomy” and “democratic confederalism” are becoming practical already in Rojava. The overall
concept is “democratic modernity” as the alternative to “capitalist
modernity”. What does this all mean?
2. 2. Liberating Life: Political and Moral Society
| Emine Ayna had to abandon the University of Çukurova shortly before the completion of her studies of
economics due to political reasons. During her studies,
she worked with the first organization of Kurdish
women. She was elected to parliament as deputy of
the DTP and was its co-chair shortly before the party was banned.
She was arrested several times. There are still about 700 proceedings
opened against her. She is also a founding member of the platform
“Freedom for Öcalan, for peace”. She is currently an MP for HDP
and co-chair of the DBP.
In Kurdistan, people have been taking their life into their own
hands for a long time. Feudal structures have been smashed,
women advanced. The society is highly politicized, but the movement has even higher aims. Stating that the moral and ethical
fabric of a society are more important than the laws of the state
that rules, they envisage a political and moral society where people
build up an alternative to the state.
2. 3. Democratic Nation – A Cure for Nationalism? | Asya Abdullah is co-chairperson of the
Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Rojava/Syria.
Due to repression under the Assad regime, she was
forced to leave university and devoted herself entirely
to politics. She sees herself as a feminist activist and
has also been active in the Kurdish movement in Rojava for a number
of years. She is a founding member of PYD and was elected co-chair
along with Salih Muslim in 2011.
Nationalism of every kind has devastated also the Middle East in
the last 100 years. The nation-state, a European import product,
was never really at home there. Can the project of a multi-ethnic
“democratic nation” in Rojava be a historical turning point?
Call for Papers Topic
2. 4. Truth and Power: Analytics of Power and
Nomadic Thinking as Fragments of a Philosophy of Liberation | Michael Panser studied history.
Since 2011 self-study of philosophy and political
theory with a focus on nomadology, internationalism
and revolutionary liberation movements.
Foucault’s power-knowledge-complex is closely related to Öcalan’s
concept of regimes of truth. Every way in which we organize our
thinking, our perception, implies a string of possible ideas and
acts. Knowledge means power to act, while being separated from
knowledge about oneself means powerlessness.
Call for Papers Topic
2. 5. Social Ecology and the Non-Western World
| Federico Venturini is a PhD student of geography
in Leeds. He holds a master degree in Philosophy and
one in History and European Culture. He researches
the relations between modern cities and urban social
movements, using Social Ecology as research framework. He is working with social movements in Rio de Janeiro with
participatory/militant methodology. He is a member on the of the
Transnational Institute of Social Ecology (TRISE).
How do Murray Bookchin’s social ecology and libertarian municipalism and Öcalan’s “women’s freedom ideology” and democratic
confederalism relate to the attempts to implement them? What
problems does the concrete political movement face and struggle to overcome, how does this in turn contribute to the further
development of theory?
20:00-21:30 Discussion
10:00-12:00 Session 3
Ecological Industry and Communal
Moderation: Thomas Konicz studied history,
sociology and Philosophy in Hanover and Poznan.
He is a freelance journalist and publicist working for
various left and left-liberal publications, including
Konkret and Telepolis. Recent publications by him
include ebooks on the ideology of the capitalist crisis
and alternatives to it.
3. 1. Communal Economy: The Case for the
Commons | Silke Helfrich, Freelance journalist
and co-founder of Commons Strategies Group and
of Commons Institute e. V., for many years representative for Central America, Mexico and Cuba of the
Heinrich Böll Foundation. Editor of “The Wealth
of the Commons: A World Beyond Market and State”, “Wem gehört
die Welt?” and “Was mehr wird, wenn wir teilen”. She is currently
researching patterns of commoning.
Marx described the enclosure of the commons as a factor in the
emergence of capitalism. Not only since the works of nobel prize
laureate Elinor Ostrom we witness a re-discovery of the commons,
whether as digital knowledge commons or in commons-based
peer production. How can we arrive at a world beyond market &
3. 2. Bağlar Women’s Cooperative |
The cooperative was founded in 2005. It combines
economical and political activities. The women fight
against the patriarchal system and for democratic
administration and a communal economy.
In North Kurdistan several women’s cooperatives
have been established lately. In a video conference, Saniye Varlı
from the cooperative will join us live from Bağlar, a suburb of
Amed (Diyarbakır).
3. 3. All Economies are Ultimately Human
Economies | Prof. David Graeber teaches anthropology at the London School of Economics. Active in
a number of anti-authoritarian activist projects from
the Direct Action Network in 2000 to Occupy Wall
Street in 2011, he is also the author of books such as
“Debt: The First Five Thousand Years”, “Lost People”, “Direct Action:
An Ethnography”, “Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology”, and
most recently, “The Utopia of Rules.”
The creation of material wealth is always simply one moment in
the larger process of the mutual shaping of human beings, caring
labor is really the primary form of labor. Capitalism is perhaps
unique among all economic systems in that it entirely inverts this
and teaches us that the purpose of human life itself is the production of material commodities. This is a form of social insanity.
How do we turn things around?
3. 4. Common Political Imperative for a Revolutionary Prospect | Penny Vounisiou works as a
conservator of antiquities and works of art. She is an
active member of the group “Platform for Autonomy,
Self Sufficiency and Equality” and a member of the
Cretan movement against the industrial renewable
energy resources. She also participates in a new group which works on
the struggle against privatization of the social possessions.
The myth that capitalism promises prosperity to all, is still powerful-despite all realities. To overcome it we need the vision of a
different world, a different society and a different economy. What
is the role of autonomy, self-sufficiency and equality?
4. 2. New Concepts of Self-defense | Fidan
Yıldırım is a journalist and a political activist. Since
the 1980s she has taken part in activities to further
Kurdish people’s and women’s freedom. She worked in
various Kurdish newspapers for many years and continues to write articles for them. She was imprisoned
for 11 years in Turkey due to her political views.
Kurdish women caught everybody’s attention in the brave fight to
defend Kobanê in 2014. But they have been fighting before that,
and armed defense is only one part of their concept of self-defense. It encompasses education, self-organization, civil obedience,
and other forms of struggle.
Call for Papers Topic
3. 5. Building a Communal Economy in Kurdistan | Azize Aslan graduated from the economics
department of Marmara University. She has a master
degree in Development Economics and is currently
working on her doctoral degree in Public Administration and Political Science at Istanbul University. Her
doctoral thesis deals with the economic politics of democratic autonomy. She is engaged in the economy works within the framework of
the Democratic Society Congress (DTK).
From Braudel’s, Wallerstein’s and Öcalan’s critique of capitalism to
building a communal economy in Kurdistan. What are the discussions, which are the concepts? How does economy relate to the
goals of democracy, ecology and women’s liberation?
4. 3. The Centrality of Women’s Freedom | Sara
Aktaş graduated from the Philosophy Department in
Ankara. After 1990 she joined the Kurdish liberation
movement. Due to her political activities she spent 11
years in prison and was released in 2004. She was a
founding member of the DTP and actively worked
in the women’s councils. In 2009 she was arrested again due to her
activities in the Democratic Free Women’s Movement (DÖKH). She
spent another 5 years and 3 months in jail and was released on a
pending trial. Currently she is a spokeswoman of the Free Women’s
Congress (KJA). She writes for various newspapers and magazines on
women’s liberation.
Many real socialist movements that deal with the liberation of woman see these problems as not as central or important as the class
contradictions. What are the views of Ocalan and the Kurdish
freedom movement in that regard? What are the perspectives?
12:00-13:30 Discussion
13:30-15:00 Lunch Break
15:00-16:30 Session 4
Overcoming the Stumbling Blocks of
Revolutionary Theory
holds lectures.
Moderation: Ismail Küpeli is a political scientist
and journalist. He analyses the conflicts in Turkey and
the Middle East and reports on social protests and the
results of the neo-liberal crisis politics in Europe. He
writes for daily and weekly newspapers, magazines,
online media, gives interviews to radio stations and
4. 1. Reproducing Capitalism: Consumption
and Habits | Ehmed Pelda did his higher education in economics. He works on economics and social
change in Kurdistan, alternative economics, ecology
and technology. He was a columnist for the newspaper Azadiya Welat and now writes for the Özgür
Gündem. On the TV channel Stêrk TV he hosts the program “Economy and Ecology”. In his latest work he deals with the distribution
of resources in Kurdistan.
Capitalism abstracts humans from nature, holds them in a circle
of production and consumption and uses them for the accumulation of capital and power. How does the system achieve this, and
how can we break out?
4. 4. Power Relations: State and Family | Dr. Nazan Üstündağ is an associate professor for sociology at
Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. Her fields of interest
include feminist theory, post-colonial theory, state and
violence issues and narrative methods. Her columns
are published by Bianet and Özgür Gündem. She is a
founding member of the Peace Council, Women for Peace and Academics for Peace. Üstündağ is also a member of the Peoples’ Democratic
Party (HDP)’s central executive committee.
Power relationships exist in a state as well as inside a family. How
do statism and patriarchy mutually depend on each other? In
what sense is the family indeed the nucleus of the state?
Call for Papers Topic
4. 5. Feminism and the Kurdish Liberation
Movement | Dilar Dirik holds a degree in History
and Political Science and wrote her Master’s thesis on
women’s liberation and the PKK. At the moment, she
is working on her PhD at the Sociology Department
at the University of Cambridge. Her doctoral thesis
tries to compare the nation-state system to the paradigm of democratic
confederalism from the perspective of women’s liberation.
The Kurdish women‘s movement is the strongest in the region –
to say the least. But how do their theoretical foundations relate
to socialist, radical or anarchist feminism of Western provenance?
Which are the original approaches in Kurdish feminism, and why
is the most read feminist – a man?
16:30-18:00 Discussion
18:00-19:00 Evening Break
19:00-21:00 Concert
19:00-21:00 Konzert
mit: Rotînda, Zelal Gökçe, Meral Tekçi, Mehmet Akbas
5 April 2015
– Sunday
Lessons to be Learned from
Alternative Practices
Moderation: Anja Flach is an ethnologist and
member of the Rojbîn Women’s Council, Hamburg.
She published tow books on the Kurdish women’s
army. Recently she co-authored a book on the
revolution in Rojava.
5. 1. Internationalism – an Evolving Concept |
Arno-Jermaine Laffin studied Political Science and
Law in Marburg and Hannover. As a member of
the Association of Students from Kurdistan (YXK) he
has been active in the Kurdish freedom movement for
many years.
The concept of internationalism was filled over the last one hundred years with different ideas and preconceptions. The Kurdish
freedom movement defined itself as internationalist from the start.
In the last few years new concepts have opened up new perspectives for internationalist struggles.
5. 2. Individual and Neighborhood: Citizen and
Assembly in Montreal | Dimitrios Roussopoulos
is a Montreal based political activist, ecologist, writer,
editor, publisher, community organizer, and public
speaker. Educated in philosophy, politics and economics at several Montreal universities and London.
How were the tools of community organizing developed and
used in Montreal neighborhoods to help individuals become
participating citizens? How were citizens helped to understand
the importance of local community priorities, broaden the idea
of citizenship into urban citizenship, and mobilize citizens into
assemblies wherein direct democracy found a place? Empowering
citizens, who insist on taking decision-making into their hands
and forming assemblies, naturally threatens the power elite. What
are the fruits of the Montreal model and experience?
5. 3. South Africa: Progressive Politics in a Capitalist Country? | Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo
is an electrical engineer and jurist. He is currently
studying towards a PhD at the University of the Witwatersrand with focus on the relationship between
economic and social development. Mashilo is the
National Spokesperson and Head of Communications at the South
African Communist Party.
South Africa is one of the few countries in the world where a
communist party is part of a government coalition. But despite
certain hopes (or fears) that socialism would take over, this did
not happen. South Africa is facing huge problems but also opportunities to overcome them. What are the perspectives for progressive parties in capitalist states in the 21st century? What kind of
progressive role does South Africa play on the African continent
and perhaps the greater world?
5. 4. Gandhi’s Vision for India and Democratic
Confederalism | Joám Evans Pim is a father, farmer and activist in Galiza (a territory under Spanish
occupation). He works with the non-profit Center for
Global Nonkilling and seasonally teaches Nonviolence at Åbo Akademi University in Vaasa, Finland. He
is a member of the Advisory Council of the Transnational Institute
of Social Ecology and has been involved with the IntegraRevolucio
Gandhi imagined small self-sufficient village republics that should
be “capable of managing its affairs even to the extent of defending
itself against the whole world”. Things turned out differently in
India. How does the Indian experience compare to the project of
democratic confederalism?
Democratic Confederalism in Kurdistan
– Work in Progress
5. 5. Rojava: The Cantons – Resistance and
Construction | Mustefa Ebdî is jurist and minister of
local governments and municipalities in Kobanê. After
high school in Kobanê he studied law in Aleppo. He
worked in the municipality of Kobanê even before the
proclamation of the canton. He is also the co-chair of the
organization for the rebuilding of Kobanê.
The three cantons in the Rojava region in Syria are under military,
political and economic attack from many sides. Struggling against
tanks as well as embargoes, the people nevertheless fight for an
ambitious, revolutionary project: a democratic self-administration
unlike any other in the Middle East. Kobanê is just the tip of the
5. 6. Başûr: Stuck between Freedom and the
State | Şîlan Şakir lives in South Kurdistan (Iraq).
She is co-chair of the Freedom Movement of the Society in Kurdistan (TACK) and has been active in the
Kurdish women’s movement for many years.
In South Kurdistan (Irak) a de-facto-state has emerged whose authoritarian tendencies by now have become clear. The
contrast to Rojava is obvious. What is the vision of the women’s
movement and the newly founded Freedom Movement?
12:30-14:00 Discussion
14:00-15:00 Lunch Break
15:00-17:00 Session 5b
Lessons to be Learned from
Alternative Practices (continued)
Moderation: Prof. Sabine Rollberg is professor for
artistic TV formats in Cologne. She studied history,
Germanistics and political sciences. She was foreign
correspondent and editor-in-chief of ARTE. Currently she is head of editorial staff of WDR/ARTE.
5. 7. Rojhilat: The KODAR Model | Shirzad
Kamangar has been in active politics for the past 15
years in Iran and Kurdistan. He is a council member
of the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK). His brother,
Farzad Kamangar, a human rights activist too, was
executed on May 2010 by the Iranian state for his
political views.
In East Kurdistan and Iran, the Kurdish freedom movement is
fighting under extremely difficult conditions. The death penalty is
frequently imposed and executed against political activists. What is
the KODAR model and how does PJAK want to implement it?
5. 8. Bakûr: From State to Democracy | Selma
Irmak is co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress
(DTK) and activist of the Kurdish women’s movement. She was a founding member of the DTP. In
the KCK operations she was arrested despite being a
mayoral candidate in Diyarbakir. During her trial,
she was elected as an MP in 2011. After her release from prison in
2014 she joined the HDP group in parliament.
North Kurdistan (Turkey) has its own unique conditions.
Numerous parties, NGOs and organizations pursue the goal of
democratic autonomy while struggling against the AKP and the
state. What does democratic autonomy mean for this part of Kurdistan? How can the transition from state to democracy happen
under these circumstances?
5. 9. The Fourth World War and How to Win
it – A Tribute to Kurds and Zapatistas | Prof.
John Holloway is a Professor of Sociology at the
Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades in the
Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico and Honorary Visiting Professor at the University
of Rhodes, South Africa. He has published widely on Marxist theory,
on the Zapatista movement and on the new forms of anti-capitalist
struggle. His books Change the World without taking Power (Pluto,
London, 2002, new edition 2010) and Crack Capitalism (Pluto,
London, 2010), have stirred international debate and have each been
translated into eleven languages.
We live in a world of increasing aggression against humanity,
which the Zapatistas refer to as the Fourth World War. To win
this war is not just to win particular battles but to put a halt to
the constant aggression. The aggression comes not from the states
from but the crisis of a particular form of social organization (capital). To reach the source of the aggression, our struggles must be
based on a radically different form of organization. The Zapatistas
and the Kurds are the most outstanding examples of this form of
5. 10. The Venezuela Experience | Andrés Pierantoni Giua studied political sciences in Milano.
He worked as a businessman and political advisor.
Currently he serves as co-ordinator of 11 community
councils in the Hatillo-Baruta rural area and as an
advisor to the minister of commerce of Venezuela.
The Bolivarian Revolution has created lots of interest around the
world. How have the past 15 years changed Latin America? What
are the experiences with participatory democracy an communal
councils? What problems does the movement face?
5. 11. New England – Rojava: Assembly Democracies | Janet Biehl is an independent writer on
democracy and ecology, blogging at biehlonbookchin.
com. Her book Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of
Murray Bookchin will be published by Oxford University Press in September 2015. An artist as well, she
lives in Burlington, Vermont.
An example for assembly democracy is the tradition in New England of the town meeting, which has persisted over the centuries
since the early colonial settlements by English Puritans. What are
the connections with Bookchin’s Libertarian Municipalism and
Democratic Confederalism?
17:00-18:00 Discussion
18:00-18:25 Closing speech
New Horizons: Reconstructing Liberation | Gönül Kaya has actively taken place within the Kurdish
women’s freedom struggle since 1991. She is on the
board of International Free Women’s Foundation. She
was a columnist at newspaper Özgür Politika and
at present is a columnist in the women’s newspaper
Newaya Jin. She currently working within the International Representation of the Kurdish Women’s Movement.
In December 2014 we made a “Call for Papers” to write on one of five topics. Students, academics and several political prisoners
responded. The submitted papers were reviewed by a committee and the authors invited to present them at the conference. The Call
for Papers will become a steady part of future conferences.