In memory of Sakine Cansız, Fidan Doğan, and Leyla Şaylemez, assassinated in Paris in 2013 and three KJA executive members, Sêvê Demir, Pakize Nayir and Fatma Uyar, assassinated in Turkey 2016.
On the 107th International Women’s Day, 2017, we salute the heroic resistance of Kurdish Women in Syria, Turkey, and Iraq.
For 7 years the women of the YPJ (Women’s Protection Units) have battled to liberate themselves not only from the systematic sexual violence of ISIS, but also from the patriarchal values expressed in minds, in communities and across all regions of the world. Their slogan is “We will defeat the attacks of the Islamic State by securing the liberation of the women of the Middle East”.
The Kurdish women’s movement characterises capitalist patriarchy as “rape culture”, and therefore they see ISIS as representing just an extreme form of this exploitative culture. The woman-centred society developing in the autonomous federal region of Northern Syria represents the antithesis of this rape culture and the women, in realising that they cannot rely on the protection of men, have organised to defend themselves, not only ideologically but also militarily, two aspects of the struggle which must go hand in hand.
Most recently we have see this in Shengal, where Yezidi women’s protection units have mobilised in self-defence and formed an autonomous women’s council for the first time. On 3rd March 2017 the Yezidi communiites, the survivors of the genocidal attack by ISIS in August 2014, were again attacked, but this time by forces trained and financed by the KDP (the ruling party of Iraqi Kurdistan) and Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MIT). During the attack seven people were martyred and 20 were injured.
The Shengal/Women’s Resistance Units (YBŞ/YJŞ) Commands released a statement about the attack underlining that, “In every condition and possibility we will defend the region. We have the power to respond to every attack on our soil. For two and a half years, we’ve paid much for this.” We stand in awe of this determination.
We also remember that over the last year in Turkey, the authorities have as part of the slide into authoritarianism, targeted autonomous women’s organisation. In April police raided the centre of Free Women’s Congress (KJA) in the early hours of the morning, arresting and detaining 16 politicians, including 6 women who are members, administrators and activists of KJA, and imprisoning 4 women members, Çimen Işık, Pero Dündar, Olcay Kanlıbaş and Zozan Toprak.
Later in November the government arbitrarily closed 370 NGOs, 200 of which were Kurdish and many of which were autonomous women’s organisations providing essential services for women survivors of violence. The Kurdish political opposition had clearly condemned the coup attempt but nevertheless Erdogan took the opportunity to try to crush the Kurdish movement, with a particular focus on Kurdish women.
It is no surprise therefore that Turkey ranks 130 th out of 144 countries in the World Economic Forum Gender Discrimination Rankings. In this context it has been of the utmost importance that across the region Kurdish Women have played leading roles at all levels of political organisation. One manifestation of this is a dual leadership principle, so that every meeting in every organization has dual leaders, a man and a woman who play complementary roles in organistion and representation of the organisations. For example, the HDP has two co-chairs , Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, currently detained following an flagrantly unfair, political trial, and the city of Diyarbakir had two co-mayors, until their illegal detention in October of 2016, one woman and one man, Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli.
These women and the political organisations they represent are under attack precisely because they are strong. They are principled and courageous. They stand for all women and believe in emancipation for all regardless of ethnicity, or religious background. We send them our support and solidarity always.
Peace in Kurdistan
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
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Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie Gingell – Tel: 020 7272 7890
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