Civil disobedience

When Thoreau spent a night in jail in 1846 because he did not want to enable the war against Mexico with his taxes, he was visited by a friend. The latter asked, 'What are you doing in here?' Thoreau replied, 'What are you doing out there?'

When the American government declared war on Mexico in the summer of 1846, Henry David Thoreau made a consistent decision: he would no longer pay taxes, as these were used to finance a war of aggression. Thoreau was then arrested and imprisoned. He was released from custody after just one night. Friends had paid Thoreau's tax bill - against his will. Only a few years later he wrote his essay Civil Disobedience, which is still read today all over the world.

On Friday NATO started a new war of aggression. Turkish planes bomb the South Kurdistan regions of Metina, Avasin and Zap. Helicopters drop soldiers who engage in heavy fighting with the guerrillas on site. So far there have been reports of heavy casualties in the Turkish army. So heavy that the Turkish generals and political leaders are evidently willing to use poison gas against the guerrillas[1].

This is not an 'ordinary' war. The extensive preparations that were made for it prove this: After the heavy defeat of the Turkish army in Gare in February of this year, the Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar traveled to London, where he held talks for over two days[2]. A little later Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel - the highest political representatives of the EU – traveled to Ankara. Finally, the US President called Erdogan[3]. The air and ground attacks on South Kurdistan began just a few hours after they had spoken on the phone. If the Turkish army succeeds in bringing the regions of Zap, Avasin and Metina under control, it will direct its next attacks against Qandil and Sinjar. It will occupy South Kurdistan and will want to drive out the local Kurdish population. What happens today in Afrin would be a reality tomorrow in all of South Kurdistan. Systematic expulsion, murder, rape and settlement of Islamists and their families - in other words: a Kurdish genocide.

Over the past few weeks, London, Brussels, Berlin and Washington have given the Erdogan-Bahceli-government the green light for the war of aggression that has now begun. They have promised Erdogan not to build up effective political pressure, to continue providing weapons and money and also to approve of the use of chemical weapons. The first hours of the attacks on Zap, Avasin and Metina prove this. The planners and instigators of this renewed war are based in London, Brussels, Berlin and Washington. It is therefore just as legitimate as the guerrillas' resistance to the direct attacks on the ground to take a resolute stance against the political system and the individual leaders in the aforementioned western cities.

But how? Demonstrations are good and important. Especially if they have specific, local goals and do not limit themselves to attracting the attention of the local population along familiar routes in the city center. Demonstrations can block institutions, visit the places of work and residence of responsible bureaucrats, managers and the generals, or shut down ports, roads and airports through which weapons are delivered to Turkey.

But more is needed against a war like this. A war which is aimed at genocide. It takes steps like those Thoreau took over 150 years ago. If wars are paid for with taxpayers' money from the British, Belgian, German or American society, then it needs people who refuse to continue paying their taxes. If wars are made possible by the population's silence and 'just going on like this', then people are needed who end their usual lives and stand as living barriers in front of the arms factories, ministries or homes of warmongers 24 hours a day. Who forego sleep, food or comfort when necessary. And if a war like the one against the Kurds is made possible by the fact that Turkish fascists can move unmolested in the capitals of England, Belgium, Germany and the USA, then it needs people to close the places of work and entertainment of these Turkish fascists.

When Thoreau spent a night in prison in the summer of 1846 because he did not want to use his tax money to make the war against Mexico possible, he was visited by a friend. His friend asked Thoreau `What are you doing in here?’, whereupon Thoreau replied with a counter question: `What are you doing out there?’