Speaker Profile: John Hunt

Building an Economy for People Not Profit
January 21st 2016
John Hunt: Session Speaker – Co-operatives Rebuilding War Torn Rojava:
john hunt

John Hunt is a freelance journalist, editor and the co-author of ‘Warrior, A True Story of Bravery and Betrayal in the Iraq War’. He has covered popular movements and elections on four continents. In 2015, he joined Peace in Kurdistan delegations that independently monitored both parliamentary elections in Turkey at the invitation of the pro-Kurd HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party). in June 2015, he visited Kobani in Rojava and Tel Abyad shortly after its liberation from ISIS occupation.
 
John’s Statement:
 
When ISIS laid siege to Kobani in September 2014, thousands — including the city’s elected leaders — resisted the better-armed, pitiless foe. Against the odds, the men and women of the YPG/YPJ fought back, street by street, for more than four months and, with eventual US airstrike support, they gave ISIS its first defeat.
 
Now they are working to rebuild their city.”Reconstruction is another form of resistance to terrorism”, they say. Kobani was shattered by the siege. About 80% of its buildings were destroyed and the rubble still hides tons of unexploded bombs. In late June ISIS raided Kobani and nearby villages at dawn, slaughtering 233 civilians. But they were driven out again and today, with minimal resources and despite a blockade by Turkey, schools are being re-opened and clinics built.
 
Local official Xalid Berker told me of plans for a new Kobani with “beautiful schools, parks, playgrounds, wide streets, no buildings more than three storeys high and everywhere with the same services – no rich and poor areas”.
 
Kobani is part of the autonomous region of Rojava, established in northern Syria during the civil war, which wants to be a peaceful model, for the rest of Syria and the region, based on equality of gender, nationality and religion, direct democracy to maximise grassroots involvement and what they describe as a community economy.
 
Abdurrahman Hemo, economic development adviser for Rojava’s Cizîre canton, explains what this means: “Our economic project is the same as our political project. We call it “community economy,” and all parts of society participate. It’s cooperative. We have started to build cooperatives in all different sectors: we have trade cooperatives, company cooperatives, construction cooperatives. The organizational model for our economy is the cooperative. Our aim is to be self-sufficient. If there is just bread, then we will all have a share. This is the main principle of cooperatives. The main economic activity here is agriculture, and so the majority of cooperatives are concentrated in agriculture”.

The “Building An Economy To Serve People And Not Profit” conference will take place in Manchester on Thursday 21st January (10am-4pm) in the Central Hall.
Admission (including lunch and refreshments) is £45.00

For further details, www.wf4.eventbrite.co.uk or contact Phil phil@cbc.coop 07901 338700

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