When most students bring baked goods on campus, it’s usually for a bake sale a group of them are hosting to raise money for a respective club.
Nonetheless, members of TRUSU Engage for Change Club gave out free cupcakes, cookies and pins to help raise awareness of a serious humanitarian crisis currently taking place in Rojava.
On Friday, Nov. 15, the club rented a table on Student Street in the Old Main Building to encourage students to stand in solidarity with the Kurds and inform them of the different things they could do to pledge their support.
“Engage for Change is a club that has a two-part mandate,” Jeff Diment, one of the club’s directors told The Omega.
“We facilitate students finding volunteer opportunities and we also run awareness and solidarity campaigns around global issues.”
Diment explained that Rise Up for Rojava is an “international solidarity campaign” in support of the Kurdish government in Rojava.
“The Rojava government is a decentralized, council-based government modelled after the ideas of American philosopher Murray Bookchin,” he said.
“It’s frequently called anarchist as a simplification of what it is and it really is based on anarchist ideals.”
According to Diment, the Kurds are an ethnic group comprised of 30 million people who have occupied land that has “long been” divided between Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.
Following policies enforced by the Damascus government through the Arab Belt project, many of the Kurds lost their citizenship.
This caused a significant number of Kurdish people to become stateless.
Kurdish language was also banned and repressed and those who attempted to advocate against the injustice were tortured and murdered.
“The Syrian government is allowing Rojava to operate on its own within Syria but it borders Turkey,” Diment said.
“Turkey, for the past 50 or 60 years -basically since the end of WW2- has been fighting the Kurdish people and committing ethnic cleansing against the Kurdish people.”
Diment explained that the Turkish government considers the Kurds to be terrorists and recently justified invading Rojava.
“Turkey claimed that this was to create a safe zone to allow Syrian refugees to go back to Syria, but the UN and Amnesty International both say Turkey’s motivation is territory and the destruction of the Kurdish people, not safety for Syrian refugees,” Diment explained.
“Most western countries -most of the EU and Canada- have officially condemned Turkey and have cut off military aid and trade to Turkey,” he added.
Diment said a ceasefire was reached on Oct. 18 and since then Turkey has taken control of the Rojava-Turkey border, forcing the Kurds to “pull out their fighters.”
“Calling it a ceasefire is not a very accurate term because although the air forces have been pulled back, ground fighting is continuing,” he said.
“People are still dying on both sides. The Turkish military and the Turkish backed jihadist militias are still attacking Kurds and the Kurds are still fighting back,” he insisted.
Stating that the overall goal of the table was to help make more people aware of the situation, Diment said he hopes the club’s efforts inspire the TRU community to do more research for themselves.
“We’re handing out pins to students and faculty so that they have a way to physically show their solidarity with Rojava and with international fighters, including Canadians, that are over there volunteering,” he said.
“We just want to encourage people to talk about the importance of allowing Rojava to exist because it could be an example of what’s possible when people work together for a democratic goal.”