Back at the Border, Near Kobanê


By Ulf Peterson of TATORT Kurdistan

Yesterday we visited the family of a friend from Cologne in the border town of Mizaynter, where a solidarity vigil was being held. Twenty-eight refugee families have been added to the village’s twelve families; they are living, in part, in mud huts intended for animals. Our host explained that up until 1924, the villages on the Turkish side of the border had belonged to the Kobanê district—the border had been open. Only after the Second World War, during the Cold War, was the border enforced, and then the Turkish army laid 650,000 landmines, against smugglers and PKK: ( [German]).

Thereafter the families were separated. In 1990 construction of the Ataturk Dam was completed. It diverted water to the adjacent plain of Harran ( [German]), but it parched this area. Previously the people had been able to farm the fertile land on the Syrian side of the Kobanê district, as their ancestors had long done, but no more. The poor were left to smuggle tea, sugar, and tobacco for an income. The war has destroyed even this existential source of support.

The battle for Kobanê has been raging for forty-one days now. The day before yesterday, in the “press hill,” we met the ARD correspondent Martin Weiss, who delivered this fine short report for Mittagsmagazin: [German] In the evenings we watch on Kurdish TV reports by the courageous journalists who, cameras in hand, accompany the fighters.

Day and night, throughout city, we can hear gunshots and armor-piercing shells. But yesterday only two air attacks were launched on the Islamic State. An old acquaintance, a member of the executive of the HDP (People’s Democratic Party), said: “Before the IS invaded the city on October 6, while it was still hunkered in its tanks in the countryside, it was like sitting ducks. But back then it wasn’t bombed. Only after the IS invasion, and the great uprising of the Kurds in response, did the coalition strengthen its air attacks, somewhat.”

Our host family, their strong and joyous children, and the militant village commune in Mizaynter, all affirm that “resistance is life” (Berxwedan Jiyan e). But resistance is death, every day. The ambulances from Suruç overtake us with the dying and the survivors.

Traveling with Brigitte Kiechle, Gül Güzel, and Nick Brauns
Urfa, October 26, 2014

Human chain near Kobanê

Human chain near Kobanê.

Stand Guard for Solidarity

I thank Janet Biehl for the translation into English at: [and at]. Tomorrow the article “Brutal Game in Kobanê,” by our traveling companion Nick Braun, will appear: [German]. On the rise of the Islamic State, I recommend:!148217/ [German].

Translated by Janet Biehl. This article originally appeared at