Grandfather against Franco, grandson against Erdoğan

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Catalan revolutionary Rok Brossa is on his way to Afrin to support the resistance. Brossa also has a call: “If you want to embrace the revolution, you must be here today.”

From the lands internationalist revolutionaries from around the world rushed to, in response to the call of the peoples of the Iberian peninsula against the Franco fascism almost a century ago, there is a journey in reverse today.

The popular resistance displayed in Afrin against the invasionist attempts of the Turkish state is reviving the history of the struggle against fascism, bringing it into the present day. The international solidarity around Afrin grows and expands by the day, while meaningful instances of internationalist solidarity emerge. From the lands internationalist revolutionaries from around the world rushed to, in response to the call of the peoples of the Iberian peninsula against the Franco fascism almost a century ago, there is a journey in reverse today. Catalan revolutionary Rok Brossa is on his way to Afrin to support the resistance.

We met with Brossa in the internationalist commune in Rojava before he headed to Afrin. “I feel a responsibility to the internationalist revolutionaries who came to join the fight against fascism in Spain,” said Brossa, whose personal history is filled with pains similar to those in Afrin today.

RELAY FROM GRANDFATHER TO GRANDSON

His great grandfather was killed by fascists during fight the peoples of the Iberian peninsula waged against Franco fascism between 1936 and 1939 accompanied by revolutionaries of the world, possibly the most poetic one of its kind: “My great grandfather was killed by the Franco fascism during the Spanish Civil War. My grandmother grew up without a father. This affected her a lot, and growing up with my grandmother, I felt the effects of this a lot as well,” said Brossa, as if to say he already belongs here.

Listening to Brossa’s story, I couldn’t help but think, maps are so often deceptive. It’s as if Catalonia and Afrin have always been neighbors, and like the famous Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca said, today “the olive trees are laden with screams” still.

Brossa said the “screams” of the olive trees were part of the reason he set out on this path: “The war is severely damaging the environment in Afrin. We go there now, and when the war is over we will make Afrin green again.”

“JOURNEY TO WITNESS A REVOLUTION AND TO KEEP HOPE ALIVE”

Rok Brossa was closely following the freedom struggle in Kurdistan, as he studied music in Barcelona. This is what he had to say about his story: “I was in a band for a long time. In 2011, the social injustice I began to see and understand better led me to political efforts. It was when the Arab Spring uprisings were beginning. In the first years, they had an impact in Europe. During that time we organized with mostly anarchist groups in social centers. We had work groups. I taught media and computer sciences. I worked in Europe and North Africa on these topics. I became involved in the internationalist efforts in these social centers as well.”

Brossa said before he came to Rojava he participated in activities organized in the Azadi Solidarity with Rojava Group, and stated his reason: “I came to Rojava to witness a revolution in the flesh and to keep hope alive.”

Listening to Brossa, you can easily tell that he is well versed in the political discourse and way of thinking of the Kurdish movement. Brossa explained the reason for that himself:

“I HAD THE CHANCE TO GET TO KNOW ÖCALAN’S IDEAS”

“Before I came to Rojava, I was part of the group that translated Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan’s books to Spanish, so I had the chance to get to know Öcalan’s ideas well. I ended up here as a result. If you really wish to understand, you have to go and see. That was how I decided to come to Rojava. We worked hard within anarchist groups in Madrid and Barcelona for the revolutionary struggle, but we didn’t know quite where to start. To come to Rojava and to witness the revolution in the flesh was very important for me, there is a struggle here that goes back years and this is a great opportunity to learn. For all revolutionary movements throughout the world, Rojava is a way out.”

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES TODAY IN QAMISHLO

Brossa’s journey in Rojava continues today from Qamishlo to Afrin. Brossa said he is going to Afrin as part of the “call for mobilization” and continued: “I have been following the Afrin resistance closely since the war first began. The people there resist with such a strong will. Erdoğan said he would be in the canton in 24 hours, then he changed that to a week, but it has now been a month. One must keep this in mind: People there are fighting against the second largest army in the NATO. They are defending their own lands, their own country. As the internationalist commune, we have launched a campaign to make Rojava green again. The war there is destroying the environment in Afrin, and this is our issue.”

CALL FOR INTERNATIONALISTS: “YOU MUST BE HERE”

“When we go there, we will support the resistance. And when the war is over, we will make Afrin green again,” said Catalan revolutionary Rok Brossa and concluded his words with:

“I may not go as a fighter, I will be there to support the resistance. We will be a bridge for internationalists. And we will have a call when we arrive in Afrin. If you want to embrace Rojava and the revolution, you must be here today. Not in just one area, people can support the resistance in many ways. They could contribute to civilian efforts and rebuilding efforts.”

Some forty thousand revolutionaries “with carnations and black scarves” from more than 50 countries had rushed to the barricades in Madrid and Barcelona in 1936. The barricades of the fight against fascism have been set up in Jindirese, Rajo, Shera and Sherawa today, to “keep hope alive” in Brossa’s words, and they are waiting for their comrades.

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