Anna Campbell, freedom fighter
Anna Campbell decided to go to Rojava to join the Women's Defense Units (YPJ) in the fight against the Islamic State in May 2017.
Anna Campbell decided to go to Rojava to join the Women's Defense Units (YPJ) in the fight against the Islamic State in May 2017. Originally from Lewes, in East Sussex (UK), she was a plumber by profession, but she did many other precarious jobs like most youth in Europe.
Anna was a freedom fighter, that was her true vocation. She participated in many political struggles and movements. Anna identified with anti-authoritarian movements. Many describe her as an anarchist, feminist, queer and antispecist. Anna was part of the collective Empty Cages Collective, an anarchist-oriented group that fights for the abolition of prisons and against imprisonment as a business model. She actively participated in many anti-prison campaigns such as Community Action on Prison Expansion, Smash IPP and Bristol ABC (Anarchist Black Cross). Anna believed in the abolition of prisons as part of a larger problem that is the system of oppression in which we live.
Furthermore, Anna was also an active part of the fight against fox hunting, a bloody but common practice in the U.K. Anna tried to be as coherent as possible with her anti-species ideas, trying not to hurt or kill any animal. She sought the freedom of all living beings on this planet from a non-androcentric vision. Anna also participated in the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) union, being a "key organizer" in the words of the organization itself.
Anna arrived in Rojava just at the moment when Turkey, with the complicity of the US, launched an attack on the base of the YPG / YPJ on the mountain of Qereçox. Key members of the self-defense militias were lost their life during the bombing of Turkish aviation. For this reason, Anna was offered the name of Hêlîn, in honor of one of the companions who fell in the Turkish attack. Hêlîn means "nest" in Kurdish. Later, she would decide to choose the surname Qereçox, the same one used by all the YPG internationalist fighters who had crossed the border with her in those days.
Anna came with the intention of joining the Women's Defense Units (YPJ) and fighting against the Islamic State. She was always very clear about her objectives and never gave up despite the many difficulties and contradictions that an internationalist woman has within the YPJ. Anna had an outgoing, positive and open personality; a great facility to establish relations of friendship and trust with all the people with whom she was. All those who knew her can assert that her passion for life, her enthusiasm, were contagious. From the first moment she became interested in studying Abdullah Öcalan and read several of his books. During the perwerde (education) always tried to listen and participate, seeking to open the intellectual and political curiosity to the companions with whom she shared the education of Shervana Nû (New Combatants). She made a huge effort to learn Kurmancî. All the people who knew her were surprised by the speed with which she learned the language.
After several months of perwerde, she was finally assigned to the front of Deir ez-Zor. She fought on the front with will and tenacity. Without fear. Despite the long hours of waiting, she never got beaten by laziness and did sports every day, read and sought discussion and reflection with her classmates. The strong will of Hêlîn was one of her great virtues. She always sought to improve, learn, fight against the part of her personality influenced by capitalist modernity.
Hêlîn was proud to be part of the YPJ, a women's militia that fights for the freedom of all women in the world. She believed in this principle. And precisely because of this, when the invasion of Afrin began, she insisted tirelessly on participating in the defense of the canton. She did not differentiate between the fascism of the Islamic State and the fascism of the Erdogan government. She knew that it was the same patriarchal, state-nationalist and capitalist mentality that drives both forces in the destruction of the project of the Northern Syrian Federation.
Hêlîn knew the risks of fighting with the YPJ against fascism in the Middle East, and assumed them with the conviction that what she did was the right thing to do. For this reason, all the comments of opinionated people in social networks and media talk shows who have declared her death as "futile" or her personality as "naive" are degrading. Regrettable is the paternalistic patriarchal mentality of journalists and males in social networks, who openly declare that the British government should take more care that its young citizens do not join revolutionary militias. These males basically say that young, white, European women are beings who cannot make responsible decisions and who need a patriarchal authority (be it a father, a boyfriend or a State), that is in charge of protecting them from dangerous and unconscious actions.
It is shameful to see how these comments have never been expressed in relation to any of the other seven British martyrs or other male internationalist martyrs of the YPG. These comments reflect that, although many people say that equality between women and men is a fact in Europe, the system continues to think that women should be under the tutelage of a paternalistic authority.
What the media does not mention is the involvement of the British State in the invasion of the Afrin Canton by the Turkish State and the jihadist militias. It is located precisely in Bristol, the city where Hêlîn lived, one of the centers where the weapons with which the Turkish army ended her life are developed and manufactured, as well as the lives of hundreds of other combatants and civilians. What the media does not mention is that the British government, with its complicit silence during the Afrin massacre, encouraged by the economic and geopolitical benefits, maintains intact the system of conquest, exploitation and misery of the Middle East, a system against which fought Hêlîn and the same one that ended her life.
Hêlîn fell martyr on March 15, 2018 in the defense of the city of Afrin. She gave her life in the struggle for freedom. Much has been speculated about the circumstances of her death, but an eyewitness confirmed that she died when the noqta (position) she was defending was bombarded by the Turkish artillery.
Hêlîn died for a revolution that fights against the nation-state, capitalism and patriarchy. On March 17, just two days after Hêlîn, hevala Lêgerîn Çiya, an Argentine revolutionary companion and participant in the Movement of Free Women of Kurdistan, fell martyr in the city of Haseke.
The lives of both are an example for all the revolutionaries of the world, as well as for all internationalists and especially for all women. Both have become immortal and have become a symbol for all internationalists. Their deaths have raised solidarity around the world. The multiple messages in memory of Heval Lêgerîn and Heval Hêlîn are always in the same direction: "To honor her memory we must continue fighting stronger, more tenacious, without fear".
Her path in search of freedom for all peoples will be for many a guide in the struggle against the system of exploitation and domination that condemns us all, without exception, to a life of misery.