News from the Revolution in Rojava and Wider Kurdistan
A number of days ago we posted excerpts of an article by Halil Deniz on the newly formed YPJ. Today we are adding two more interviews from that article in which Deniz spoke with two young YPJ fighters. The article appeared in modified form again yesterday in Özgür Gündem. The words of the fighters have been translated into English below.
Soran: I am from Afrin. I recently finished my three months training for the YPJ and I was assigned to my battalion ten days ago. When the events first began in Syria I was 15 years old. When the events started our school closed and we slowly began to be affected. Kurdish youth began political work at the start of these events. I also started to work with them. I saw how within that work the Kurdish youth began to investigate the regime’s system and to look for ways out of that system. Events were developing quickly. We were children. How can a 15 year old child understand the what and how of a system? But under these conditions we were forced to grow up early. Events were getting bigger. I immediately went and joined them. I underwent political and military training for a period. This year in March there was a YPJ conference and I went and joined up. Then I left the YPG and joined the YPJ. Why did I join the YPJ? For the freedom of women. Because I believe that only women cannot bring about the women’s freedom. On the hand we are fighting for our country and our people, and on the other hand we are fighting for the freedom of women. Now there will be female direction in this war.
This revolution is women’s revolution as much as it is a national revolution. The old social role given to women has been broken in this process. We broke it as female fighters with our own practices. I mean that traditional thought structure is coming down more and more every day. Both the role given to women as changed in this process and we as women have gotten to know ourselves. Until now we had been women who were accustomed to living according to men, but in this war and in this revolution we saw and understood what would could be in every social space. I mean we became aware of our strength. Now we can say that women are a force in the revolution in Rojava and that the revolution is stronger because of this force. When you look at the other work being done within the current revolutionary process you can see that the most selfless people working toward the revolution are women. At the same time the revolution and the strength of women is growing.
We are a defense force. We developed a philosophy to defend our own people and country and we are acting on that philosophy. We are not an attack force, and we do not attack and kill anyone. In fact there are people from other ethnicities who see our practices and get to know and so they come an join use. There are not only Kurdish fighters with us. There is participation from Armenians, Arabs and other nationalities. In this sense we are also a force defending other ethnic and national groups. We know from history that every revolution that is able to defend itself ends in success. We too will succeed and our future will be one of freedom.
Efrin: I have been involved in the revolution for a year. At 15 I began to be active in youth work and later I joined the YPJ. I received military and political training. The thing that changed me, transformed me and made me the fighter I am today were the courses on the History of Kurdistan and the History of Women. After our theoretical education I realized that I had never understand myself or my gender. After my political education when I began my military training I was afraid of weapons more than anything else. “Women don’t fight, they cannot protect themselves, women cannot do what men do.” These were the foundations of a thinking that was taught to us and which we accepted. However in my theoretical education I got ahold of information that helped me to get away from this thinking. Here the most important factor were the books of Apo. I understood the women’s movement. And I realized that it was not necessary to live in the way to which I had become accustomed and I decided to live completely differently. For a longtime I fought with miyself, the woman inside myself, and the woman that was taught to me and I understood clearly after a while that I was not the woman that they told us we were. I set my goal: I would both take a step toward a new life and I would fight for the freedom of women that this society has kept from us for thousands of years.
There is war everywhere in my life. A person fights with herself. Today when you look at our country and you look at Rojava yes there is a war. And as women we have find our place as fighters in this war. It is not only man’s prerogative to defend one’s country. Women can fight very well. And with our own practices we have put this out in the open and proved it. Yet our war does not end with defending our country, we are also fighting for the freedom of women.
Today the most interesting thing here is this: now there are actually armed gangs from other countries calling themselves jihadists that are attacking our country and our people. When they come across women fighters as a defense force against their attacks they are shocked. According to them a woman is someone who stays at home and is a servant for men. According to them women have an inferior existence. The mentality of this groups is open and known from the words they have spoken and the religious fetvas they have written against women. But today when they come across women on the front it drives them crazy. Actually they take on a really tragic-comment disposition. We are really enjoying this disposition. They are fighting with men and women and above all they are losing. They have no chance to win against us. They attack and they lose. Those who die die and those who remain do not even know what to do out of shame, wondering how is it that they cannot be successful against women. Those who come from villages across the way come and explain this to us. First they do not believe that we are women, and they are constantly trying to figure out if we are women or not through their binoculars. In the most recent fighting they realized that we were all women. Actually if you look at it the way these groups fight is really very haphazard. I mean they are not fighters, They have no tactics or system. They think they can manhandle us and win and end up very miserable. War has a formula and a morality but they are gangs and predators and in one sense we are sad to be fighting with them. They are nothing but people wasting their time. They come out with their giant bodies and beards and are brave enough to fight but they have no idea how. For this reason they can never win any clashes and will never win. We do not discount them and we fight them seriously but this is the truth.
Lastly I have some words for those who left Rojava and fled. War is terrible, it is ugly and difficult. This is true. No one wants to die for nothing. But the situation in Rojava is not this way. There is no reason to get up and flee. In particular I do not understand why the young men fled. What can a person leave their country and flee for? Young men are fleeing. So where is that so-called masculinity? Does a person leave their country and land and flee?