Report-Back From Northern Syria: Talking With an Assyrian Anarchist In Qamishlo

Report-Back From Northern Syria: Talking With an Assyrian Anarchist In Qamishlo

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(All photos: The Renegade/Atlas News)

Assyrian-Syriac-Chaldean peoples, the original inhabitants of modern-day Syria which the state owes its name to, have lived in the region for millennia. Today they reside mostly in the northeast of Syria, where they have autonomous social and political structures as part of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), also known as Rojava or Northern Syria.

During the march against chemical weapons in Qamishlo on Sunday, I met a passionate Assyrian anarchist in Sutoro (autonomous Assyrian-Syriac-Chaldean security forces). He elucidated to me the many layers of being an anarchist in a so-called police force, and the broader context of the Assyrian-Syriac-Chaldean communities of the region.

“When people ask how can an anarchist be a cop, I tell them it’s my struggle,” he laughed.

“I wish that people didn’t look at us as cops…We do not like the violence that happens, especially back in the days with the regime. We are not here to oppress people. We are trying to change the image that people have of security. We are not like the regime police, we are not gonna arrest you for doing nothing. We are just Assyrian Syriacs practicing our rights of protecting our ancestors’ land alongside Arabs and Kurds and Armenians. We are going through hard times, and we are doing these things to protect civilians.”

Though Sutoro does not function as a conventional police force and is community-driven, the Assyrian anarchist suggested that he is willing to bear some contradictions with his ideology for the greater defense and autonomy of the Assyrian-Syriac-Chaldean peoples. He went on to explain how the Autonomous Administration-aligned Syriac Union Party is the most autonomous and democratic vehicle for Assyrians in the region, as opposed to the Syrian state-aligned Gozarto Protection Forces (Sootoro), which prefers an Arabized Assyrian identity.