Democratic autonomy is a movement which aims to establish a network of grassroots assemblies in Bakur (the Kurmanji Kurdish word for the area of Kurdistan within the borders of Turkey). Corporate Watch carried out interviews with several of the organisations involved in the process of democratic autonomy in June and July 2015.
The democratic autonomy movement in North Kurdistan is part of the wider movements for ‘democratic confederalism’ in Kurdistan. In the writing of Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), ‘democratic autonomy’ is achieved when people begin to organise themselves through grassroots assemblies or communes. Following on from this, the term ‘democratic confederalism’ is used to describe networks of these local assemblies joining together in a confederation.
The most well known example of the application of the ideas of democratic confederalism is in Rojava, the autonomous largely Kurdish region in the North of Syria. However, people across the border in Bakur have been putting the ideas of democratic confederalism into practice since long before the Arab Spring. In around 2005 the PKK had created the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organisation aimed at uniting Kurdish people living within all four parts of Kurdistan and the diaspora and achieving democratic confederalism throughout Kurdistan.
The Democratic Society Congress (DTK), set up in Bakur in 2007, acts as an umbrella organisation, and aims to establish democratic confederalism in Bakur. It meets every three months and is made up of representatives of different ethnic groups and political parties as well as representatives of local assemblies. It operates as a parliament, and attempts to create a new society under the weight of repression from the existing one. Since the establishment of the DTK, local assemblies have been set up all over Bakur. The DTK has also set up regional commissions to deal with issues such as ecology, economy, education, language, religion, culture, science, diplomacy, women and young people.
We interviewed Hilmi Aydoğdu and Hasan Hüseyin, both directors of the DTK in July 2015. Read the full interview.