Italian Bolzano Province sends emergency aid to Shehba

The Italian Province of Bolzano (Trentino Alto Adige region, in the north of Italy) has approved a 40 thousand euro emergency fund to be sent to the people of Afrin now displayed in the camp in Shehba.

The Italian Province of Bolzano (Trentino Alto Adige region, in the north of Italy) has approved a 40 thousand euro emergency fund to be sent to the people of Afrin now displayed in the camp in Shehba.

The Province has approved the delivery of this emergency and first aid fund after meeting to assess the situation of the people of Afrin, forced to leave their houses as a consequence of the military operation carried out by Turkey.

In a press release the Province of Bolzano’s government states that “from 7 years Syria is witnessing a violent war, also in the north zone of the country where the province of Bolzano has been present with a number of cooperation projects which have been set up for years. In the autonomous region of Rojava, the so called Syrian Kurdistan, is the city of Afrin that up to some months ago represented a sort of “peace island” where refugee from other parts of Syria and of different nationalities were living together with the local population”. 

The press release reminds that “since last January Turkey has begun a military operation which caused hundreds of victims in Afrin (both the city and the canton) as well as in the Rubar refugee camp. Over 50 thousand people have been forced to flee their houses”.

The president of the Province, Arno Kompatscher has said that this emergency fund is “above all to help the people who have remained in Afrin. The funds will be used to buy food, medicines, clothes and other basic products. The Kurdish organization Heyva Sor (Kurdish Red Crescent) will help in the logistics of the whole operation.

In September 2016 the Provincial Council of Bolzano had approved a motion recognising the right to freedom, safety and autonomy of Kurds and the other ethnic groups living in Rojava.

In the motion the Province Council stated: “Characterised by the presence of three linguistic and cultural groups (German, Italian and Ladino) the Province of Bolzano is an elaborated political autonomy within the institutional structure of the Italian State and identifies itself with the values and principles of peaceful coexistence, pluralism, plurilingusm and local self-government, as well as the democratic principles, gender equality and fundamental freedom promoted - although through a different political and social system - by the autonomous authorities of Rojava. The political autonomy of the Province of Bolzano has ended the ethno linguistic conflict, safeguarding the pluricultural reality of its society and favouring the peaceful coexistence of the linguistic groups”.

The Province of Bolzano has set up 10 cooperation projects in Syria, since 2014. The Threatened People Association (Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker (GfbV) is a humanitarian association based in Gottingen, Germany and has worked for many years with the Kurdish community in Bolzano, promoting initiatives and cooperation projects in Rojava.

During the siege of Kobane, in 2014-15 the Kuridsh community together with the GfbV and other local associations has organised demonstration and a fund collection for the population under siege.

The Kurdish community in Bolzano has built strong relations with the local people and established deep links especially because of the attention to the issue of identity in the Province.

In January 2013 the city of Bolzano promoted a vigil to remember PKK founder Sakine Cansiz and Kurdish women and activists Fidan Dogan and Leyla Saylemez, killed in Paris on 10 January 2013.

In September 2013 the Library “Culture of the World” in Bolzano produced a CD called “Justice for Roboski” a collection of songs by Italian, Kurdish, Cuban and Basque musicians and artists to support the families of the Roboski massacre (28 people killed by Turkish air raids on 27 December 2011).

In 2016, the Cooperation Office of the Province of Bolzano has co-financed with 50 thousand euro the Women’s Academy in Kobane, together with the Valdese Church, and the association Ponte Donne.

In april 2017 the Research Institute of the Province of Bolzano, Eurac, has organised together with the Province, GfbV and UIKI, the international conference: “Democratic Confederalism: developments and prospectives of the autonomous experiences in Rojava - North of Syria”.

After the Turkish-jihadist invasion of Afrin, last January, several initiatives have been organised in the city of Bolzano and the 8 of February 2018, the Province council approved unanimously the motion “Solidarity with the autonomous region of Rojava/North of Syria: Stop the Turkish military advance towards Afrin”.