Irish poet writes poem for the people of Afrin

Irish poet Séamas Carraher, who has written a poem for the people of Afrin, stated that Rojava is a huge experiment trying to put people and the planet first.

Séamas Carraher is a working class poet and writer born on the southside of Dublin, Ireland.

He has worked many jobs to pay the rent as well as being a human rights activist for over 30 years in the struggle against poverty and injustice.

Currently he splits his time between supporting long term homeless street drinkers and writing (in various formats) on the many silences our world hides itself within, including the “personal” and the “political” that shape all our search for “freedom”.

He writes regularly for Global Rights (, where many of his articles and poems can be found, as well as on twitter, @wretchedearth2 and on his own blog

Carraher has been writing extensively about Rojava and Kurdistan in the past three years and he has dedicated more than one poetic work to the Kurds.

ANF spoke to Seamas Carraher shortly after the publication of a new poem dedicated to the people of Afrin, which was published by Global Rights 

The poem can be read at the end of this interview.

How did you get to know the Kurdish movement?

To my shame and sorrow I only became acquainted with the Kurdish struggle in, I think, January 2016, following the vicious Turkish assault on the Kurdish communities in Northern Kurdistan after the ending of the “Solution [Peace] Process” in July of the previous year.

We are well informed here in Ireland of the Palestinian struggle, and even of the Armenian Genocide but we hear almost nothing of the situation of the Kurdish people struggling in the various parts of a divided Kurdistan.

Through Global Rights, the online journal (, and in particular the writing of a journalist friend who was then (January 2016) covering the so-called Turkish Military “curfews” in Diyarbakir, I learned of what was going on there.

One particular document I remember being affected by on reading was The List Of Civil Casualties during the Turkish State’s Operation from 12 July 2015 to 18 January 2016, as well as the horrific murders perpetrated by the Turkish Military in Cizre...

I was shocked that such aggression could go unpunished and that it could be surrounded by so much silence and a lack of protest by the European governments who have so many contacts with the Turkish regime (not least as members of NATO).

Obviously, also, because of so many similarities between the Irish situation for so many years - a people unwilling to tolerate the denial of their legitimate right to freedom and to express their identity - and the Kurdish freedom movement which for the Kurds has been an ongoing desperate struggle and particularly now at the moment... interest has been ongoing since then.

What in the Kurdish struggle ‘triggered’ your creativity, so to speak? in other words, why poems on Kurds and their struggle?

Discovering the plight as well as the struggle of the Kurdish people brought with it much heartbreak for me as well as some of the old anger we know well here witnessing the arrogance of a more-militarily-powerful state seeking to impose its will on a people through aggression, terror, death and war.

Prior to this long poem of anger and despair at the invasion of Afrin, a safe refuge for many from the brutality of the Syrian Civil War I wrote other poems at times where I felt particularly helpless at what was going on in Northern Kurdistan – south east Turkey.

For The Kurdish People in Diyakabir and Beyond / 29 Feb 2016 (

By the Banks of the Tigris River My Soul Sat Down and Wept, for the people of Cizîr, 03 Apr 2016 (

Birinci Bodrum The First Basement 09 Lug 2016 (

November in Northern Kurdistan 07 Nov 2016


For Asli Erdogan 17 Nov 2016 (

These were all my own struggling response to the simple shared human pain of what the people in Cizre and Diyarbakir had to be experiencing, and despite all, surviving, as well as offering to the world the spirit of what freedom means and also what humanity will come to mean for those of us whom others have sought to destroy.

So to the heartbreak and anger that fueled my desire to speak out (if I was able to sing I would have written some songs!) was added my admiration and my belief that we have so much to learn from these brave people - that his Excellency Turkish President (and Chairman of the ruling Justice and Development junta) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calls both “terrorists” and “mountain Turks”..!

There is much talk - there has always been - about the role of poets and intellectuals more in general with relation to the world he lives in? What’s your view on this?

A difficult (impossible?) question to answer. “The pen is mightier than the sword”, maybe, in the end? I would hope so.

At the end of the day I sense what really defines us as human animals is something elusive, something that probably has not yet come to fruition in our species despite all our technology, development and social revolution.

I believe that that spirit is nurtured and sought after by “poets” and all other “creative” people – the spirit within seeking to bring a better world, a humane, caring and compassionate world (and being) into being... after the wars are fought and won and lost, after all the technology has created as many problems as it has solved, there is always this elusive spirit pushing us on, reminding us of our responsibility to each other, to this beautiful yet tormented Planet that continues to nurture us despite our abuse of it and calling on us, because of our so-called “power” over other forms of life: to be guardians rather than predators of this wonderful ecosystem?

It is the ‘poet’s’ work to give voice to this spirit and keep it alive for future generations, I believe. (Of course, in Ireland, before the English colonisation was complete, the poet also had a role to shame and criticise bullies and tyrants, I believe).

You wrote a poem about Afrin, do you think the so called international community is listening to Kurds?

Is the so-called international community listening to Kurds? No. Tragically and cruelly: definitely not. Not to any significant degree that goes beyond the crudest of self-interest.

It is an outrage that the crimes perpetrated against the Kurds by the various states that have been given governance over their land have been perpetrated with impunity and tolerated cynically by the rest of the “international community” and that, instead, there has not been an international initiative, at least by a body like the UN, to undo the damage done at the beginning of the 20th century to the Kurdish people by the arrogance of the “imperialists” who felt it was their prerogative to divide up the world in any way that suited them. 

The situation of the Kurds, about 35 million of them, and the fragmentation of a geographical Kurdistan, meaning they are the largest group of people alive today without a place to call their own, demands that, at least, from the “international community”.

On a more personal note I stood in the centre of Dublin (O’Connell Street - Sráid Uí Chonaill), on Wednesday 28th March, Ireland’s DAY OF PROTEST for Afrin, with the Irish Kurdish Community ( to reject the Turkish State’s sophisticated propaganda campaign that they were liberating Afrin from the “terrorists” (where have we in Ireland heard that before!) Again to my shame and sorrow there were only 2 other Irish people present. Which reminded me of the now famous saying that the only friends the Kurds have are the mountains.

There is a great need to end this silence. Perhaps this is starting to change with more and more voices coming out in support of the Kurdish right to their freedom. I would hope so.

What do you think of the Rojava revolution and of the governance model they propose?

To me as a working class person who grew up with the poverty and brutality that that entailed in Ireland in the second half of the last century, the greatest failure of that century was not the defeats the socialist movement suffered but our successes.  Let me emphasise that.

In every so called successful working class revolution that was meant to herald a new era of freedom for all of humankind what happened next was a step backwards rather than a step forwards; that is: one step forwards and, usually, 100 steps back...

Maybe we as a species have not yet discovered what that step forward is yet, despite all our Marxist (and other) philosophy and Leninist or anarchist praxis.

But in my humble opinion, that century has left us, the 99%, without a map to even peer into the future and what it might hold for us as a species.

I am obviously not an expert here but as a socialist I accept the responsibility we, as radical socialists, must assume for a model that will bring an era of real justice and freedom to our planet. But since the corruption or collapse of all models in the last century we seem to have reached a dead end. That suits the enemies of socialism of course, but they have even less answers if the truth be told. In fact it is their model of endless growth, of profit before people (or before the planet itself), of war-being-good-for-business (look at the amount of arms sales internationally) that is on a headlong collision course to destroy the entire planet so it will be fit for no species, least of all, us human animals with all our illusions of wealth, of power and superiority.

With that great dilemma I can totally empathise with a passionate activist and writer like Murray Bookchin (who, as far as I know, Abdullah Öcalan studied in shaping his theory of democratic confederalism) who witnessed at first hand and then tried to address the dead-endness of 20th century socialism and communism and anarchism.

So what Rojava is coming to mean to me – and in particular now, at a time of great peril for the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria – is an enormous experiment to find a way through that impasse that puts people and the planet first; that says no to any form of oppression (I am not sure how they are on the question of animal liberation!).

We have had small moments of hope like shooting stars in this terrible darkness, like the Zapatistas in Chiapas, or the many un-connected-grassroots movements in so many places, on so many important issues, but here and now to be privileged to witness a new society attempt to be constructed on the backs of its children’s sacrifices (both female and male who were willing to die for their communities) is a moment of great hope I sense. One, of course, the world seems to be missing because we have the television turned on so high...

Likewise, to my understanding, the work they are investing in participatory democracy would appear to be the only way we can escape both the corruption (rampant) and the cynicism (games being played) of our own so-called representative democracy.

We have no other map to explore where the future for human freedom lies.

Likewise, in an area like the middle East where States, as Abdullah Öcalan points out so graphically, only mean more suffering for many of the people who are forced to live within their boundaries, the notion of a democratic confederation seems to offer the promise of peace to those who want an alternative to this so-called “power” that we are seeing right now in Turkey with a head of state like Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is managing to bring back the darkest of dark ages to a time and a place where we might have assumed that democracy could be taken for granted.

Nothing  concrete then... but from where we are right now as we watch the many sharks circle in Northern Syria, many people have drawn the similarities with Republican Spain in the 1930’s where a broad alliance of progressives, (republicans, socialists, anarchists and communists) were struggling to bring Spain into a 20th century of democracy with economic and cultural justice and where socialism was still not a dirty (if still a difficult) word.

I sense a similar moment here in northern Syria.

If the Democratic Federation (the Rojavan Revolution) were to be widely supported and encouraged (as it should), who knows what it might promise to the whole region in terms of peace and a balanced form of development, to say nothing of an end to the oppression women suffer in some of the nearby societies but also the many minorities, I understand, that have suffered so much at different times down the years?

Or are we just dreaming, in among the F15 fighter jets (Turkish, of course) raining sharp metal and fire on children and old women and men..?

Finally, where else, do we witness such an upsurge of creative energy at the moment? Despite the cruelty and horrors that have been inflicted on the region?

We need to turn down the sound on the Television and see what we can learn here, before it is too late...

What other way to see this than in the midst of an earlier century’s storm coming over the enormous unmanageable horizon, Walter Benjamin wrote:

It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us."

Yes. And Yes.  Bijî Kurdistan! And its brave people.


On a Winter's Day

(at War)




On the cold dark winter's day

they buried Dolores O Riordan

in Ballybricken

German Leopard (2A4) tanks

and steel sharp jets

tore the guts out of another 4 villages

in Afrin Canton, in Rojava, Northern Syria


in Rojava, blood-red Rojava

where the people build freedom

brick by brick

day after day,

out of dust and sand and rubble

- out of their dead


in Rojava, Kurdistan

land of Arin Mirkan (of

Deilar Genj Khamis)

land of the singer Viyan Peyman

(Gulistan Tali Cingal) who sang

               "oh mother!

Today again our Kurdish boys and girls

have made their chests into shields

against the tanks and bombs …
Oh, mother, woe to me!"

then went out and died, Jazira Canton,

Monday, April 6th, 2015...

Land of Hameera Muhammed, of Berivan Fadhil,

of Ruhan Hassan,

land now drowning in blood,

Rojava, red Rojava, where our revolution

begins each day

- at daybreak.



On this dark winter's day

with armoured and non-armoured military vehicles

(KIRPI, the mine-resistant-ambush-protected vehicle,

and AKINCI the armored combat vehicle)

with NATO weapons and German tanks

with fighter jets and warplanes

with shell and mortar fire,

with cameras, radar, weapons and ammunition,

with their big fat T-155 Firtina (Storm) howitzers

(now raining fire near Reyhanli and Kirikhan districts)

"can shoot targets within the range of 40 kilometers"

- 24.8  fucking miles away,

the Turkish General Staff tells us, proudly,

with their helicopters and their rockets

with their T-122 Multiple Barrel Rocket Launchers (MRBL),

with their drones and their knives

and their reptilian brains


with their bombs and their tanks and

their guns


on this twice dark winter's day 

like the day before ISIS came to Manbij, or Kobane or Raqqa

the day before the Turks came for the Armenians

the day before the rapist Daesh came for the Yazidi women

the day before dead Saddam came north for the Kurds

the day before Mount Sinjar

the day before Mosul,

the day before...

and the day after...

and every fucking day after that...


on this dark day,

O, all i could see

(with my teeth clenched tight)

all i could say

and all I could do,

all i could dream

(all i could whisper, sweetheart

in rage and in terror)

and all I could pray



in yer head in yer fucken head

in yer yer head...


Dolores, O Dolores!

- all our dead.




The sound of these killer jets

(like children crying in the dark)

keeps me awake at night

like the pain of the dead

does too

as if the dead could feel it all

with their tanks and their bombs

and their bombs and their guns...

even here on Thomas Street

and James Street

- as i walked out

not a sound could sigh in this silence

- as I walked out

not a flag lowered its lament,

just these cold sharp prayers

like bullets for the dead

just the rain

like steel shrapnel,

just this fire burning here for our dreams

and another one, there, lit with corpses

and another, louder than death, like

all brothers-and-sisters-in-arms

now sacrificed

in the distance then,

sacrificed, incinerated, slaughtered...martyred

and my head in a mess and

O, your beautiful voice bleeding, Dolores,

over and over, over and over

in yer head

in yer fucken head


- our lament for all these

Syrian dead...




On a dead dark winter's day

the day the killer airplanes came to Afrin,

this desperate-day and

this destructive day and this

damaged day,

this day of the children and

in villages across the Turkish border

in Kurdistan, sad Kurdistan

in Balbala, Raju, Jinderis,

in Shia and Shara,

in Cindirês‎ district and its dwellings

in Hemam village,

where 6 civilians were martyred

16  wounded,

two  hundred and eight nine civilians now, all martyred

hundreds wounded





erased for all time

and all the dead denounced

in Erdoğan's propaganda

"Turkey ‘neutralizing’ PYD/PKK terrorists."


Shame on you!


But in my head, O, here in my head

"there are women and children among the massacred"

like 11-year-old Yahya Ahmad,

"an #IDP who fled from the violence in Idlib with his family

and to #Afrin,

died after being heavily injured in Turkish air strikes today."

"One-year old Wael al-Hussein, a refugee from the village

of Jebbarah,

killed on 21 January,

Six-year old Moussab al-Hussein, refugee

Six-year old Salama Al Hussain

Eight year old Ghaliya Al Hussain

Ten year old Hadil Al Hussain

Ahmed Al Hussian, 17 years old"

All brothers and sisters in a life without mercy

in this unholy life,

now Rahaf Al Hussain, father to orphans

and a widow, dead now himself, at 33 years.



O, what a day to be buried, Dolores.




The day they buried poor Dolores

in her father's grave

in a Limerick graveyard

west of the River Shannon

and south where the sea

can still sing

11 Kurdish children were buried in brick and rubble,

3 uncles burned alive,

1 brother and a sister torn in two,

this family of 7 murdered, massacred,

martyred in their home

("at around 04:00, Turkish warplanes bombed Mabata district centre.

One of the bombs hit a family house killing seven")

three grandmothers decapitated

while Turkish President 'In Yer Head'

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

dances round the fire

"terrorists, terrorists"

“3,820 terrorists” all dead (in Turkish too:

"teröristler teröristlerin hepsi ölü)

and still Dolores sang:

"In your head, in your head

Zombie, zombie, zombie

Hey, hey

What's in your head, in your head

Zombie, zombie, zombie

Hey, hey, hey, oh

Dou, dou, dou, dou

Dou, dou, dou, dou

Dou, dou, dou, dou

Dou, dou, dou, dou."


in yer head in yer fucken head

Tayyip Erdoğan

with yer guns and yer tanks and yer bombs

in yer head in your fucken head


- you can't kill us all.






On the day they buried

sad Dolores

six feet in the ground

on that cold dark day

they buried Dolores

the day we all wept

like angels

looking for a job,

thousands of miles away

and down a dusty road

and behind that wall of steel

and with barrels of money to burn

and with their poison

and sharper than their knives

and more cruel than a politician’s

corpselike word

and dirtier than the depths of a sewer

and more rotten than those bodies

left in the sun:

25,000 thousand armed thugs

(the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement,

the Al Nusra Front,

and Ahrar Al Sham,


"'one of our women is worth a hundred of their men".

said the YJA)

and 10 thousand terrified Turkish troops

a few generals and

a lot of unemployed conscripts...


on the day Dolores went to sleep

fighter jets bombed the Raco and Moseka hills of Rojava

men and women died

on Batman hill and the Baxtiyar hill

on the Iska Hill


in yer head in yer head

Kurd, Armenian, Irish, and Negro

in your head, O, in your head

In your head they're still fightin'


- now it feels like the end.






On an evening after Dolores slept

and didn’t wake up

and the sun went down

on Ballybricken

and storm Eleanor came in

off the Atlantic

and no one stirred a muscle,

where the stray dogs and the cats

on Thomas Street and

on James Street

went on the run

and all the beggars and

all the drinkers fell asleep

and with the phones in my ears

and these ghosts in my brain

and my eyes nearly blind


how my mind can still fly

like a bird

over villages

i have never seen

over mountains

and houses

and ones i will never see now

and all i could hear was

with their tanks and their bombs

and their bombs and their guns

in your head,


in your head they are cryin'


and all i could howl

all i could scream

and all i could surrender

all i could embrace

and all i could hope

and all i could hate

and all these two-faced lyin' politicians

and these generals

(Turkey Lt. Gen. İsmail Metin Temel

Operations chief commander

 Maj. Yasser Abdul Rahim

Sham Legion commander

 Lt. Col. Muhammad Hamadin

Third Legion and Levant Front commander

Abu Muslim

Levant Front commander,  Fahim Eissa

Second Legion commander...)

and all these ghouls and these zombies

and with their words

choking in my throat


in yer head in yer fucken head

In your head they're still fightin'

was all i heard


- O

what will you do when

there’s no one left to bury the dead?




And here where nothing will ever work again

where not a single child will be brought back from the dead

where no Christ will be resurrected

where freedom is still a dream


O, here at the dog's end of James Street

at the dogend of my life (and your life too),

here at the homeless heartbroken end

of Thomas Street

here at this collision among the Empires

here where no one is safe, not me, nor you

not your children, your grandmother, your lover,

here in the dream that Rojava is

here in the land of the Kurds

here where we are all Kurds

and Yazidi, Assyrian and Armenian

all Irish

all dead

all resurrected


all fucking dead

year after year

over and over

i thought



where hope is nailed to a cross


and again

here, soldier, is the land

the lonely land

in yer head

in your fucken head.




And all i could say

or think or feel

all I could hope

or ache or yearn

all I could grieve or cry

all i could endure




all i could choke

cursed with these men in their diplomatic suits

cursed with these cruel men in their cheap suits

with their politicians and their diplomats

with their generals and their medals

with their guns and their planes

and their bombs

all i could say

while we waved Dolores goodbye

while a hard hot rain fell on Afrin

and while the life we loved

fled with these corpses

while my blood went cold

while these young men and women

went off to war

while the jets kept buzzing overhead

in their shiny polished suits

in their steel and their murder

in their arrogance and pride

with fire and with bullets

all i could cry

all i could dream



in yer head, in your head







you blind, two-faced, lyin'

murderin' politician

sons of bitches

with your fucking tanks and your guns

and your bombs

with your lasers and your radar

and your wretched wicked lives...


On your head, now.

So be it!