A suicide attack killed at least thirty young revolutionaries in Suruç in Urfa, the Turkish city near the Syrian border, on 20 July 2015. The attack on the Amara Culture Center, where at least three hundred young people affiliated with the Federation of Socialist Youth Association (SGDF) were staying, was committed just before their departure to Kobane.
The young revolutionaries had departed from Kadikoy, Istanbul yesterday, presenting themselves as the children of Gezi, the wave of protests that started in Istanbul in June 2013. They were going to participate in the reconstruction of Kobane as revolutionary socialist youth from the west of Turkey. They arrived in Suruç on the morning of July 20th.
In a video that they released to publicize their campaign, a young socialist woman from SGDF explains their plans as such: We will plant five hundred trees in the name of revolutionaries who were killed in the resistance against ISIS in Kobane. We will also plant fruit trees in the name of Berkin Elvan [who was killed during the Gezi protests at the age of fifteen], reconstruct the war museum in Kobane, rebuild the library and nursery at the cultural center, build a playground, and join the cleaning efforts in the city center of Kobane. They were carrying toys, books, clothes, and trees to plant.
Solidarity efforts with Rojava have been continuously obstructed by the Turkish state. Last fall, solidarity tents with refugees fleeing from ISIS were destroyed, and the human chain formed by peace activists has been gas bombed by the Turkish state. While there is a blockade for peace activists and NGOs that want to try to help reconstruct Kobane, there are various reports of ISIS militants passing through the border.
After months of struggle, life is getting reorganized in Rojava. Hundreds of volunteers from different lands are taking part in the reconstruction of the war-ridden cities. While the resisting peoples of Rojava call for solidarity campaigns and new links are being formed with the west and east of Turkey, and between the years-long organized Kurdish movement and the wider leftist activists from all around Turkey, these kinds of attacks are far from accidental.
President Erdoğan, while visiting Cyprus for to the forty-first anniversary of the “Cyprus Peace Operation” (also known as the Turkish invasion of North Cyprus), condemned the attack and stated that they are following the case. However, it is very well known that this group of young socialists was being followed by the intelligence services from the very moment they departed from Kadikoy. Their bus was under surveillance. One month ago, the governor of Urfa had requested the arrest of journalists who were posing questions about the presence of ISIS in the town.
These attacks are meant to break the solidarity ties between people living in the west and east of Turkey. While the convoy departed from Istanbul, the funerals burnt those from a number of cities, from Bursa to Agri, challenging the division of the west and the east once more. It is meant to scare every initiative of building organized solidarity efforts across artificial borders. That is why security measures are only employed against people who try to give a hand to reconstruct Kobane, and not against the Islamist terrorists organized across borders.
It is time for the international community to put pressure on the Turkish state to stop obstructing solidarity actions across borders, and to use its police force and surveillance technics not against peaceful social and political movements but against the Islamist terrorists nesting within its borders. This week, protests have been organized in Turkey and abroad, in front of Turkish embassies.
The young revolutionaries were on their way to reconstruct Kobane and plant a memorial forest for fallen revolutionaries of Kobane. It is time to strengthen internationalist solidarity across borders and lift the banner. As the poet Ataol Behramoglu wrote in 1974: “the executioner woke up one night in his bed and said, what a dilemma, my lord, the more I kill, the more they multiply. But I die off the more I kill.”
[An earlier version of this article was first published on grenzeloos.org and can be found here.]