Living inside the war for 20 years

For the last 20 years, Yusuf Aslan has been marching on mountainsides, steep cliffs, deep valleys, plains lit by outposts and the outskirts of towns with his gun on his shoulder and hope-filled bag on his back.

20 years on the thin line between life and death, in snow, rain, mud, freezing cold and scorching heat, under bullets, bombs and artillery. Guerrilla Yusuf Aslan has been facing the enemy, fighting and marching on the path of his cause for 20 years straight.

Yusuf Aslan was born in 1975 in the Kırkısrak village of Kayseri’s Sarız district. Aslan describes the place he was born as: “It is a village of Alevi Kurds who were exiled in the 17th century. These are the Kurds exiled to Middle Anatolia during the Çaldıran War. The village is at the skirts of the Binboğa mountains in the triangle of Maraş, Sivas and Malatya. The land is barren and infertile, but it has never bowed down to oppression. The Alevi tradition is dominant, the people have kept the characteristics of the natural society. They are patriotic and revolutionary. Hüseyin Inan was born in the next village, he had visited the village various times with Deniz Gezmiş and Yusuf Arslan back in the day. There are many children in the village named Hüseyin, Yusuf, Deniz and İnan. Our village is one that took up arms in the ‘80s and rejected the state’s authority. It is a village that doesn’t accept statism, colonialism, pillaging and thievery.”


Aslan encountered labor at an early age, and said the following on the time he came across the Kurdish Freedom Movement: “I grew up and went to primary school in such a village. Then I went to 4th and 5th grades in the Sarız district. My family is poor, my father is a shepherd and my mother is a housewife. I encountered labor at an early age. I was the oldest in the house, so I went to school in the mornings and worked as a painter in the afternoons. I had the duty to bring home the bread and earn money for the home. I encountered Kurdishness at an early age too. The negative approach of the Turks in the district had an effect in reaching this awareness. I wasn’t ashamed of my Kurdishness, my poverty, my Alevi religion. In my high school years, my Kurdish awareness deepened. I came across the revolutionary youth. When I went to the village in the summers, I wanted to see and meet the comrades. My family wanted to send me to Europe to keep me away from the PKK. My uncle took me to Europe in 1992.”


In Europe, he met his friends in the TDKP and started working in the Young Communist Party. He sold publications, handed out flyers, put up posters and participated in demonstrations in Frankfurt but realized that it wasn’t enough for him. “Every night, I dreamed of the mountain, my village and the fountain there. They pulled me in. At that time, I met with people from the Kurdish Freedom Movement and frequented Kurdish associations,” said Yusuf Aslan and continued: “First I was involved briefly in the YCK efforts. After 3-4 months of youth work, I joined the front efforts and worked in the ERNK activity. The comrades sent me to a youth camp. I received a 15-day training. All others decided to join after that training, but I couldn’t.”


Yusuf Aslan joined the PKK after Zeynep Kınacı’s (Zilan) action in 1996. He went to the Netherlands and received training in a camp for three months, and was asked to participate in the efforts in Amsterdam. Having been given duties and responsibilities affected him, and he went to Rotterdam after his efforts in Amsterdam. By early 1997, he submitted his request to go to the country after receiving training. The response was positive, and he went to Iran and Eastern Kurdistan first.


There he and others were greeted by Mustafa Karasu from the PKK administration: “Comrade Karasu took us to Tehran with a car. We had a chat all through the trip. In this talk, he said he had stayed in our village and knew the area. We stayed in a house in Tehran for a short while, then we crossed into Urmia from Tehran with comrade Karasu. After a short while there, my journey to the Zagros Mountains started.”


He was taken into the new fighter training in Xakurkê: “The one giving the new fighter training was comrade Martyr Mazlum Amed. After the training, I went to comrade Şerif who Sinanê Sor was responsible for. The comrades had surrounded the Çoman and Sideka areas at the time. We participated in the defense of this siege at once, and thus I entered the guerrilla life. I was in comrade Şerif’s unit in 1997. I witnessed the martyrdom of comrades Şerif and Berçem, and that had an impact on me. Comrade Berçem was my platoon commander. She had studied in the university and been trained in the Leader field. Comrade Şerif was a villager, and he was bold and giving. Until 1998, there were annihilation operations on guerrilla areas by the KDP-Turkey cooperation. We had contact with the enemy many times during these operations. There were many clashes. In ’98, we were stationed in the Zerzan area as a unit. Then I was sent to the Çarçella area in Zagros. From there, I crossed into Çemço. And into Garê after the international conspiracy. I stayed there for 3 or 4 years.”


With the June 1 Leap, he was sent to Amed, his childhood dream. He stayed in Amed until 2009. Later he returned to Medya Defense Zones. After a training, he crossed into Metina. He stayed there for 3 years, after which he received more training. After that bout of training, he was sent to the Xakurkê area where he first received his training to be a fighter.


Yusuf Aslan considers himself lucky to be Kurdish and to be a guerrilla with the Kurdish Freedom Movement. He continues his struggle in happiness and enthusiasm for fighting for the freedom of peoples in the mountains of Kurdistan, and calls on all the youth of Kurdistan to join in the dignified struggle of the Kurdish people.