The Kurds have had a dream for a long time. A dream of autonomy, of independence, of being finally accepted and recognized in Turkey. A dream of a democratic and egalitarian society in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan).
Despite the war, Syria’s Kurds continue to develop a project for a revolutionary and democratic society where each citizen has a say, where men and women are on an equal footing, where religion does not impose its law … Of course, between this idyllic project on paper and reality, there is a gap. But could this be a model for the region?
Be this as it may,the Kurds have today other problems to settle, such as the management of the Roj and Al-Hol camps which house tens of thousands of people, mainly women, many of whom remain attached to the Daesh ideology. And then there are the children, many originally from Europe, but whom European countries are reluctant to repatriate. There is, however, a real danger here. These children, if abandoned, are in danger of becoming radicalized in their turn. And already in a camp like that of Al-Hol, Daesh has begun to reign supreme… Is it this context which very recently pushed Alexander De Croo to announce that Belgian children should be allowed to return to the country?
Rhodi Mellek is President of the Kurdish news agency Hawar News. She has lived in Belgium for over twenty years. She recently visited the Roj and Hal-Hol camps in Rojava. She is also a V-Europe consultant for the Middle East. V-Europe is a Belgian association created after the Brussels terrorist attacks to accompany the victims of such acts
Thomas Renard is Senior Researcher at the Egmont Institute, one of the main international policy research centres in Brussels. For more than ten years, he has specialized in questions of combating terrorism and radicalization. He has published numerous studies on the subject, which he has also discussed in many forums, including in front of the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the United Nations. In numerous publications he also addresses the issues of foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) and “returners”, as well FTFs detained in Syria and their possible repatriation. His book The Evolution of Counter-terrorism since 9/11 will be published in autumn by Routledge.
Thomas Renard obtained his doctorate from the University of Ghent, and has degrees from George Washington University and the Catholic University of Louvain. He teaches at the VUB.
The conversation will be moderated by Paul Germain, now correspondent for TV5MONDE in Brussels, and former presenter of the RTBF’s television news and of discussion programmes such as Ecran Témoin.