The streets of Rojava in the corona era

Filmmaker Shero Hinde explains how the life in Qamishli in northeastern Syria has been affected by the coronavirus. Hinde says that measures against the spread of the virus were adopted in Rojava earlier than in other parts of the world. Up to now, not a single COVID-19 positive case was reported in the region.

Metin Yeğin

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, we have heard stories from Oslo, Caracas, New York City and Berlin. Now thanks to filmmaker Shero Hinde, we also get an idea of what it’s like in Qamishli, northeastern Syria. Hinde explains: 

"The coronavirus has affected the rhythm of life in the entire world. But this applies to Qamishli, different protection methods and manners have been developed there. In fact, measures were adopted much earlier here than in other parts of the world. 

A curfew was imposed in Rojava long before it was imposed in many countries. This began about a month ago. Work in public institutions came to a halt. Several health points were established, though as many as the means could allow of course. While the region’s economy was severely affected by the war and remains very shaky, the people largely accepted the confinement measures.  

Most people stay at home and fulfill the guidelines set by health officials and doctors. Though supplying vital need to everyone is difficult, the harmony between society and the administration made it easier. Up to now, there has not been a single case of coronavirus in Rojava. People who arrived at Qamishli airport were quarantined for 14 days. 

I’m a filmmaker and all cultural institutions here, including the Rojava film commune, have stopped working. Still, like many other people across the world, we work from home. Though I’m from Qamishli itself, my house in the countryside. It’s a small house with a garden in which I have planted trees. I have my own chicken. 

This crisis is revealing much of the capitalist system’s shortcomings. While billions of dollars are spent on armament, health equipment is scarce. Besides, we now see that health is a global concern that no country can shut itself off from. Concerted action is necessary. My own elderly mother, currently follows the news in the U.S. and China. 

With this pandemic, all people across the same are concerned about the same issue. Sorrows are now shared all over the globe and I do think the coronavirus has brought countries and people closer to each other.

In Rojava, we have a communal, joint and social administration established by society. Communes support each other. Each neighborhood commune helps those who cannot earn a livelihood. Not everything is done perfectly, but overall, daily needs are met. 

The communes also take care of the children and relatives of those who have to work on daily basis. In fact, Rojava is practically self-sufficient. There is little it needs from abroad. Our soil is rich, and many people have their own animals. 

As summer approaches, a saying here goes “the summer is the father of the poor.”