10 Jahre Rojava – From a democratic experiment to a beacon of hope for the region

Ercan Ayboga is the deputy regional office manager of RLS Hessen and a long-time activist of the Kurdistan Ecological Movement. He worked for several years in Northern Kurdistan (Southeast Turkey) and helped to build the initiative to save Hasankeyf 2000, which fought against the destructive Ilisu Dam. Ayboga is a co-initiator of the Ecology Movement of Mesopotamia. The network connects eco-activists in North-Kurdistan. Ayboga is also co-author of the book "Revolution in Rojava" which was published in 2015.

Sherwan Bery is one of the founding members of the Kurdish Red Crescent and was co-chair of the emergency aid organization founded in 2012. With more than 2,000 employees the KRC is now one of the main players in humanitarian aid in northeastern Syria. The aid workers respond in all times of crisis - whether war or pandemic. They organize health care for the population in northeastern Syria and care for hundreds of thousands of refugees in the camps in the northeast.

Kamal Chomani is a non-resident fellow of the Kurdish Peace Institute.

Dr. Dilar Dirik is a sociologist at the Oxford University. She is the author of the book "The Kurdish Women's Movement: History, Theory, Practice" (July 2022, PlutoPress) which is based on her research on the Kurdish women's movement. Her academic work focuses on political resistance, feminisms and revolutionary women's movements, statelessness and non-state struggles for autonomy and self-determination. She grew up in Offenbach am Main and is organized in the Kurdish women's movement in Europe.

Îlham Ehmed is the chair of executive body of Syrian Democratic Council and former member of the executive body of the Movement for Democratic Society.

Martin Glasenapp, former Middle East speaker at medico international. He traveled the region for many years and published on Kurdistan, Turkey and the Levant. Shortly after the victory against ISIS in the Syrian-Kurdish city Kobanê he was there and reported about the situation. For many years M. Glasenapp accompanied medico partners in the Kurdish regions. From 2016 he worked for the chair of the Left Party in Germany. Since February 2022 he has been head of the office of Katja Kipping.

Kristin Helberg is a journalist and political scientist. She reported on the Middle East from Damascus for seven years for German, Austrian and Swiss radio programs as well as various print and online media. Today she works as an author and Middle East expert in Berlin. Herder Verlag published “Verzerrte Sichtweise – Syrer bei uns. Von Ängsten, Missverständnissen und einem veränderten Land“ (2016) and „Der Syrien-Krieg. Lösung eines Weltkonflikts.“ (2018) As a fellow of the Mercator Foundation she researched on the Syrian diaspora in Germany.

Nicholas Hildyard works for the British NGO Corner House, whose principles are solidarity and mutual learning. Hildyard has been involved with water issues in environmental and social justice movements for over 40 years. He was involved in the struggle against Turkey's construction of the Ilisu Dam on the Tigris River and is currently active in social movements in the region to advocate for water as a means for peace and cooperation.

Egid Ibrahim leads the human rights organization "Right Defense Initiative" (RDI) based in Qamislo, which medico is supporting since 2020. The staff of RDI documents human rights violations throughout the region. For this purpose, they conduct interviews with victims of torture. They are now working with IIIM - the UN mechanism to support the prosecution of international law crimes in Syria. Ibrahim spoke at the UN Human Rights Council on March 18, 2022.

Adnan Khalil is the executive director of the humanitarian organization Purity, that is based in Qamishlo. Purity is a local NGO specializing in psycho-social support and education and a partner of medico international. Purity runs a project with detained IS minors in two prisons and a rehabilitation center to improve their situation and work with them on a social and psycho-social level.

Nilüfer Koç is a Middle East expert and spokesperson for the Foreign Policy Commission of the Kurdistan National Congress. She came to Germany in 1976 as the child of Kurdish migrant workers and studied political science at the University of Bremen. Between 2013 and 2019 Nilüfer Koç worked as Co-Chair of the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) and spent most of her time in Rojava and Southern Kurdistan.

Katrin Langensiepen is a member of the European Parliament for Alliance 90/The Greens. She is a substitute member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament and responsible for the Greens/EFA group for the regions Syria and Sub-Saharan Africa. She has been aware of the war in Syria for many years and was an observer at the Koblenz trial, the world's first trial for murder and torture by the Syrian regime. In the European Parliament, she is committed to ensuring that war crimes and crimes against humanity are not forgotten and that the EU does its utmost to end the inhumane methods of the Assad regime against its own population and to ensure justice, humanitarian aid and comprehensive protection for refugees.

Christin Lüttich studied political science and is part of the management team of “Adopt a Revolution” a German-Syrian solidarity initiative that emerged in the wake of the Syrian uprising in 2011. She is also a freelance expert on Syria and Lebanon. She is involved in independent artistic projects in Berlin.

Matthias Monroy is Knowledge worker and activist. He works also as an editor of the magazine "Bürgerrechte & Polizei/CLIP." His main focus is on policing in the EU, migration control, surveillance and interception technologies, satellite reconnaissance and drones. Monroy has published texts in various left-wing newspapers and online media such as netzpolitik.org and Golem.

Abdulkarim Omar is the co-chair of foreign relations department in Northeast Syria AANES.

Cemîl Qoçgirî wurde als Kind einer aus Dersim stammenden kurdisch-alevitischen Familie in Duisburg geboren. Die türkische Administration nennt diese Provinz seit 1937 Tunceli und will damit ihre kurdische und armenische Geschichte auslöschen. Das ist ihr bis heute nicht gelungen und auch Künstler haben daran ihren Anteil. Cemils Instrument ist der Tenbûr, eine Langhalslaute mit nur drei Saiten. In seinem Spiel schlägt er Brücken zwischen Tradition und Moderne. Mit seiner eigenwilligen Spieltechnik stellt er die leisen Töne in den Vordergrund, ohne in der Stille zu verharren, immer wieder Akzente setzend und auf der Suche nach neuen Klangwelten.

Dr. Sardar Saadi is the director of the institute of social sciences at the University of Rojava. He is also one of the co-founders of the Center for Solidarity and Cooperation with Universities of North and East Syria (CSCUNES) that is based in Paris. At the same time, he is a postdoctoral fellow at Wageningen University. Dr. Saadi graduated from the doctoral program in Sociocultural Anthropology at the University of Toronto in 2020. His PhD research examines urban dynamics of the Kurdish struggle for self-determination in Diyarbakir, Kurdistan. He has published in different journals and online publications, and he has been interviewed by Canadian, Kurdish and Persian media. He is the host and producer of a podcast called The Kurdish Edition.

Thomas Schmidinger is a political scientist and social and cultural anthropologist in Austria. Since 1999 he is travelling to Syria and Kurdistan. In 2014 he published his book "Krieg und Revolution in Syrisch-Kurdistan", later "Kampf um den Berg der Kurden" (2018) and “Die Welt hat uns vergessen" (2019). Schmidinger teaches at the University of Vienna and the University of Applied Sciences - FH Upper Austria and advises some Austrian EU parliamentarians. In addition to Syria and Iraq his work includes the Sudan and Kosovo, as well as the relationship between religion and state and religious extremism. Since 2013 he has been co-editor of the Vienna Yearbook for Kurdish Studies.

Andreas Schüller has been working at ECCHR since 2009 and heads the program area of international crimes and legal responsibility. He studied law in Trier and Orléans (France), holds an LL.M. (adv.) degree from Leiden University (Netherlands) in international law with specialization in international criminal law. Schüller's main areas of expertise are the U.S. torture program, the U.S. drone war, torture by British soldiers in Iraq, war crimes in Sri Lanka and Syria. In his publications and lectures he devotes himself to international criminal law and human rights protection.

Dr. Kamal Sido has been Middle East expert of the human rights organization Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) in Göttingen since April 2006. The STP campaigns for persecuted and threatened ethnic and religious minorities, nationalities and communities. Kamal Sido was born in the Syrian Kurdish region of Afrîn.

Chloé Troadec is one of the founding members of the Rojava Information Center. She has volunteered in the international news and outreach center as a researcher for almost two years, focusing on issues including the establishment of AANES's political system as well as the broader economic, military and political situation.

Jan van Aken works on international crises and conflicts for the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. He is graduated with a PhD in cell biology and he was a bioweapons inspector at the United Nations in New York from 2004 to 2006. Then he worked for three years as a campaigner for Greenpeace International in the area of agricultural policy, coordinating campaigns in their Asian offices. From 2009-2017 he was a member of the Bundestag and most recently foreign policy spokesman for the parliamentary group DIE LINKE. He traveled to Rojava in early 2014 when the Kurdish self-defense units were still fighting IS.

Michael Wilk is a doctor and psychotherapist in Wiesbaden. He has been supporting the "Kurdish Red Crescent" in Rojava for years. In April 2022, his book "Erfahrung Rojava" was published by Edition AV. In his book he reports of his stays and writes with companions about questions of practical solidarity work.

Civaka Azad – The Kurdish Center for Public Relations based in Berlin publishes texts and background reports on the current situation in the Kurdish regions. The center is a contact for journalists, academics and interested parties. Together with medico, the organization published the appeal for donations "Support for a democratic experiment" in April 2014.

ECCHR is a non-profit and independent human rights organization, and its partners have been supporting the prosecution of international crimes in Syria since 2012. The focus so far has been on crimes committed by the regime, especially murders, torture and sexual violence. First successes are the arrest warrant against the former air force intelligence General Hassan as well as the proceedings before the Higher Regional Court Koblenz according to the principle of international law. ECCHR is active in case work throughout Europe. It accompanies and supports victims and Syrian civil society in the search for justice.

The Rojava Information Center (RIC) is an independent news center based in Qamislo, northeastern Syria - founded in 2018. The RIC employs international journalists and media activists who produce up-to-date reports and background reports on various aspects in the region. They also support research and provide local contacts to leading international media (including BBC, CCN, AFP).