The Danielle Mitterrand Foundation dedicated its annual award to “the builders of utopias in North and East Syria” at a Paris ceremony on Wednesday.
A delegation from Rojava received the Danielle Mitterrand Foundation award. Qamishlo municipalities co-chair Suleman Khalil explained how the network of municipalities in the region implements local democracy, local government and environmental policies. Also stepping up to receive the award was co-chair Berivan Omar who highlighted women’s emancipation in her speech. Reforestation activist Ziwer Ceikho joined delegates, along with water expert Rawshen Suleman who said water shortages in the region were in part caused by Turkish dams built along key waterways.
“The Turkish army occupied the city of Ras al Ayn (Serekaniye), taking the water station under their control,” Suleman said. “This station is used as a weapon against the people of North and East Syria, as well as a point of pressure against the Autonomous Administration.”
At the ceremony speakers expressed support for the “exceptional but fragile experience” in the region.
City councillor Zoë Lorioux reiterated political backing from French territorial collectives. “This support is essential because the situation has been getting worse for a while now, with the bombings of the Turkish army”, she said.
French Senator Laurence Cohen said, “Again, Ankara is playing the game of destabilising the region and we fear a new humanitarian disaster in Syria. The cities, targeted by this new aggression, risk the same fate as the city of Afrin; bombed by war planes and artillery, destruction of numerous villages and occupation by the Turkish troops.”
Cohen has initiated a petition against the aggression of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The French government should “end their silence and stop Erdoğan in his deadly escalation,” she said. “We took a photo at the senate this afternoon, showing the diversity of all the political groups that support the Kurds. We wish to go to Rojava as soon as possible to show our support to the Kurdish people and to our Kurdish friends in January.”
Danielle Mitterrand, also known as the “Mother of Kurds”, established the foundation in 1986. She became known for her solidarity work with the Kurds, the Palestinians, Cuba, Chiapas, the Central-American revolutions and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.
The ceremony concluded with all participants chanting “Jin, Jiyan, Azadî” (Woman, Life, Freedom) in Kurdish.