Internationalist Martyrs of the Rojava Revolution -I: Paramaz Kızılbaş

Countless people from all over the world joined the Rojava revolution and its defence. One of them was Paramaz Kızılbaş. The Armenian freedom fighter fell defending Kobanê in 2014.

Before September 2014, Kobanê was a small town hardly known even in Kurdistan. But Kobanê became the place where the backbone of the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS) was broken. The resistance of the fighters of Kobanê stopped the seemingly unstoppable advance of ISIS and initiated the downfall of the territorial rule of the terrorist organisation supported by Turkey. The courageous resistance of Kobanê was widely echoed around the world. Although the Turkish state did everything in its power to ensure that Kobanê fell to ISIS, and the world community accepted this, enormous pressure developed so that even the USA had to deviate from its course and began to support the fight against ISIS in Kobanê from the air.

Socialists and revolutionaries around the world were looking for ways to join the historic resistance of Kobanê. Members of revolutionary organisations in Europe, the USA, Scandinavia and Turkey crossed the borders to Kobanê to join the Kurdish-led struggle. The resistance of Kobanê, which started with a handful of people, kept growing and crossed all identitarian borders.


One of the first fallen internationalists was Suphi Nejat Ağırnaslı (Paramaz Kızılbaş). Born in 1984 into an Armenian family, Suphi Nejat Ağırnaslı was named after Mustafa Suphi and Ethem Nejat, the founders of the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP). They had been murdered in a massacre orchestrated by Mustafa Kemal's (Atatürk) supporters in 1921, along with 14 of their comrades, off Trabzon on the Black Sea. The revolutionary struggle was a family heritage for Suphi Nejat Ağırnaslı. His grandfather, Niyazi Ağırnaslı, was the defender of iconic revolutionaries Deniz Gezmiş, Yusuf Aslan and Hüseyin Inan, who were murdered by the Turkish state. His family was forced into political exile in Germany because of their active participation in the socialist movements in Turkey.


Suphi Nejat Ağırnaslı went back to Turkey after attending school in Germany and studied sociology at Marmara University. Due to attacks by Turkish fascists, he had to change his university and continued his studies at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. During his studies, he organised himself into student groups and helped prepare numerous cultural and artistic projects. He researched the history of Turkey and neighbouring countries, as well as that of the revolutionary left and the struggles of workers. In this way, he acquired broad revolutionary knowledge.

On 29 April 2011, Suphi Nejat Ağırnaslı was detained under the KCK trial. His lecture notes were made the reason for his detention as "documents of the terrorist organisation". He himself stated: "As an active socialist, I consider the struggle of the Kurdish freedom movement in my heart as my own tradition, and I try to position myself as an organic part of the revolutionary movement in Turkey. I was arrested because all the political activities I have carried out so far are ultimately related to the Kurdish question in some way. The Kurdish question is the most important political problem in Turkey. The thirty-year struggle of the Kurdish people is a legitimate struggle from beginning to end in all its dimensions. If we can talk about the Kurdish question in Turkey today, it is thanks to the spark lit by Mazlum Doğan."


While studying for his master’s degree at the Faculty of Sociology at Boğaziçi University, the intellectual, writer, historian, sociologist and revolutionary Suphi Nejat Ağırnaslı learned about the Kobanê resistance and decided to become part of this struggle. When he joined the MLKP (Marxist-Leninist Communist Party), he was given the fighting name Paramaz Kızılbaş. He named himself after the Armenian revolutionary socialist Paramaz (Madteos Sarkisyan), who was tortured and executed by the Ottoman Empire on 15 and 16 June 1915 together with 19 comrades.


Before joining the defence of Kobanê, Suphi Nejat Ağırnaslı wrote the following to his family: "I have lived my life and learned a lot from everyone who entered my life. I have made a choice based on what I have learned, I have become a witness to the truth or truths, and I have reached this point in the dialectic of life. I hope that it will be of use. I was born as an ordinary man, and as an ordinary man I take leave of you. I know that I have often disappointed you, that I have sometimes behaved unkindly and that I have annoyed you. Forgive me one last time. As an ordinary young man, out of ordinary contradictions, I have made a choice. First and foremost, I have made that choice for myself. I did not set out because of a lofty belief, I set out to enchant the lives of people who had not experienced loftiness, I wanted to enchant the reified world. I learned that my contradictions cannot be overcome individually, because they are social. One can only try to organise oneself in this sense and socialise them at a higher level. That is the point where I have come closest to the truth in my life.

As a Duisburger, Clauberger from Turkey, who was born in Söke illegally, I have no regrets. On the contrary, every misfortune in life is an opportunity that helps people. My only concern was never to grow up, never to be part of the adult world, always to remain a child ... Now I'm going to Neverland, just like Peter Pan, never to grow up. Nothing could make me happier than that. I hope that you will let the seeds of this great awakening sprout, it will enchant the lives of ordinary working people in western Turkey, it will produce ordinary heroes, and that you will continue the search for truth. Every heart is a revolutionary cell! Imagination to power!"


Suphi Nejat Ağırnaslı fought as Paramaz Kızılbaş on many fronts in Kobanê. On 5 October 2014, he fell on the resistance front at the Miştenûr hill. His body was not found until 15 months later, in December 2015. His father stated on social media at the time: "We received Nejat's body after 15 months. According to his wishes, we will bury him as an 'internationalist revolutionary' in Kobanê, in the country where he belongs, in the coming days. We will entrust him to his comrades who fought with him for a free Rojava against ISIS terror."

On 15 December 2015, Suphi Nejat Ağırnaslı was buried at a large ceremony at the Cemetery of Martyrs in Kobanê. His father Hikmet Acun said: "Honourable fighters, Kobanê is the gate to the history of dignity, and it is good that you and Paramaz passed through this gate. It is good that you have liberated Kobanê, this sacred land. I have put the heart of Nejat in your hearts, because Nejat came to be a cry and a hope for Kobanê. You opened the door of Rojava and welcomed us. We say that Rojava is our home. We, you are Rojava. We will come, we are humanity. You saved humanity. Paramaz also wanted that. And he has achieved his wish, his goal. I entrust Paramaz to you."