Resistance that makes history: Kobanê

Kobanê attracted the attention of the whole world with its historical resistance, and the 134-day resistance gave hope to the peoples.

News Center-Today, the Kobanê resistance shows the people the picture of a common life with all its details. The people fighting for freedom managed to make their voices heard in 134 days despite all the darkness. Kobanê, which is still under attack, planted the seeds of new life during its resistance.

The protests and uprisings, known as Arab Spring, in March 2021 evolved into a conflict and occupation that caused great destruction.

 In 2014, ISIS occupied the Syrian city of Raqqa and captured the Iraqi city of Mosul on June 8 and took control of many areas. On August 3, 2014, ISIS attacked Shengal (Sinjar) and committed a genocide against Yazidi people. On September 15, 2014, ISIS attacked the Kurds, who formed cantons in North and East Syria. ISIS tried to take the control of Kobanê as it took the control of many cities of Syria and Iraq; however, it met one of the biggest resistances in history.

The resistance in Kobanê made an overwhelming impression

On September 15, hundreds of ISIS members attacked the members of the YPG/YPJ with all of their means. The fighters of the YPG/YPJ resisted the attacks for 24 hours at a village school where they were stationed. Rodî Efrîn, the commander of the fighters, sent her message over the radio to the YPG/YPJ command, “We will resist to the end and will not allow the enemy. We know that we will be martyred, but there are those who will follow our path.” This determination of the fighters is considered the beginning of the resistance. The resistance of hundreds of people, particularly the resistance of Arîn Mîrkan, who lost their lives in Kobanê, made an overwhelming impression all over the world.  After the message of Abdullah Öcalan, the resistance gained strength.

On September 22, when the attacks on Kobanê intensified, PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan sent a message reading, “The fall of Kobanê will mean the fall of the whole of Kurdistan. Everyone should act according to this reality.” After his message, including a call emphasizing that the key to the solution of the Kurdish question is Kobanê, the Kurds pointed to Kobanê. While the message of Abdullah Öcalan energized the fighters, it also led the whole world to embrace this resistance.

International support after protests

The Kurds took to the streets after the message of Abdullah Öcalan, the photographs of Turkish state soldiers and ISIS members side by side at the border were shared, and AKP President Tayyip Erdoğan said, “Kobanê has fallen, it will fall”. Many protests were held in Turkey and all over the world. Following these protests and the defeat of ISIS in Kobanê, international coalition forces joined the war in some areas and supported the defense forces.

The defeat of ISIS

A 134-day resistance took place in Kobanê. On January 26, 2015, Kobanê was completely cleared of ISIS thanks to the resistance. The defeat of ISIS in Kobanê was the first defeat of ISIS. Hundreds of thousands of people having different faiths embraced the resistance and fought for freedom in Kobanê. The presence of women fighters in the resistance, which lasted for days, attracted everyone's attention. Many songs have been written and many films and documentaries have been shot about the resistance in Kobanê.

World Kobanê Day

In 2014, many writers, artists, academics, activists, philosophers, historians, journalists, representatives of NGOs and parliamentarians signed a statement to express solidarity with the city and demand humanitarian assistance for its residents. Thousands of people took the streets in many countries all around the world to show their support to Kobanê in its struggle against ISIS.

The EU-Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) and the Peace Camping initiative against ISIS launched a petition to call for “Global mobilization for Kobanê and humanity”. 130 well-known people signed the petition in the first four days. 130 international signatories, including American linguist Noam Chomsky; Adolfo Perez Esquive, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 1980-Argentina; Bishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in 1984 and Michel Roland, President of Médecins du Monde called for a global rally against ISIS for Kobanê and for humanity.

In the statement, the signatories wrote, “The so-called international coalition to fight ISIS has not fulfilled their real international legal obligations. Some of the countries in the coalition, especially Turkey, are among financial and military supporters of the ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria. If the world wants democracy in the Middle East, it should support the Kurdish resistance in Kobanê. We encourage people all over the world to show their solidarity with Kobanê. Go to the streets and demonstrate.”

On 1st November of 2014, millions of people around the world took to the streets to express their solidarity with the heroic resistance of Kobanê. Since then, November 1 has been celebrated as World Kobanê Day.

How did the Kobanê protests start in Turkey?

In September and October 2014, with the intensification of ISIS attacks on Kobanê and calls for resistance, people took to the streets in many cities of Turkey to support the resistance in Kobanê. After the Kobanê protests in Turkey, a different process began through the judiciary. A legal procedure, known as the Kobanê trial, was started against politicians on charges of “disrupt the unity and territorial integrity of the state”. During the protests in 35 cities and 96 districts, 37 people lost their lives and 761 people, including 326 security forces, were injured. According to the report released by the Human Rights Association (IHD), 46 people lost their lives in 2014, between October 7 and 12. 197 schools were burned, 269 public buildings were destroyed, 1731 houses and workplaces were looted, and 1230 vehicles were damaged in the Kobanê events, the report said.

After 7 years

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the HDP of the deaths at the Kobanê protests for calling people to take to the streets. On May 20, 2016, the parliamentary immunity of 40 HDP MPs was lifted. On November 4, 2016, the MPs were detained in house raids.

The legal investigation began in 2014 but the former Co-Chairs of the HDP Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yüksekdağ were questioned in 2019. On December 30, 2020, the prosecution presented an indictment to a court in Ankara in which they charged 108 politicians of the HDP, including former HDP Co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, who have been behind bars.