Armenian women organise self-defence in Rojava

An Armenian women's council has been founded at a conference in Hesekê. The aim is the self-defence of women at all levels.

On 31 August, 150 delegates gathered in Hesekê and founded the Armenian Women's Council in North and East Syria. Mezopotamya news agency spoke with spokesperson Anahit Qesebiyan about the goals of organising.

"No attack could slow down our enthusiasm to organise"

Qesebiyan reported that before the conference, 80 meetings were held in different locations to reach all Armenian women in the region. However, this was difficult: "Organising the meetings posed a big problem, and then Turkey's air raids started as well. However, none of these attacks could stop our enthusiasm to organise this conference and we came together on 31 August as Armenian women. This was also evident from the wide participation of delegates at the conference, with Armenian women coming from Raqqa, Ain Issa and Dêrik. In addition, representatives of women's bodies from political parties, self-government and institutions also participated.”

Education in self-defence

Qesebiyan recalled that 107 years have passed since the genocide of the Armenian people and underlined that the damage of this genocide can still be seen in Armenian women today. In this context, Anahit Qesebiyan reported on her experiences in the run-up to the congress: "During the preparation of the congress, we could observe how alienated Armenian women are from their language, culture and history. We found it very difficult to reach these women, who now live in Arab, Kurdish and Assyrian communities, and realised that the women we brought together were under the influence of the patriarchal mindset and the regime. In this respect, it was a difficult test to bring Armenian women back to their roots, language and history. With the support of women's organisations, we work shoulder to shoulder to educate Armenian women on physical and ideological attacks. We see these trainings as our responsibility to prevent genocide and massacres against women from happening again."

The importance of the revolution

The spokesperson pointed out that participants came to the conference from many places and that the Rojava revolution has clearly boosted women's morale: "By strengthening our work within the autonomous administration, we want to respond clearly both to the genocide that happened 107 years ago and to possible new attacks."

"We are here and we have risen"

Qesebiyan stated that numerous airstrikes were carried out during the conference and each attack increased their resolve. She said that women now have a better understanding of the importance of such conferences. "Millions of people died in the genocide. The focus of these attacks was on women. With this conference, we have shown the killers that we still exist and that we have stood up. We sent the message that we will not relive this great genocide where we were driven out of our homes years ago and the women were raped and murdered," she explained.

The decisions taken

The conference decided to expand ideological education for women so that they can play a decisive role in society and the family. In addition, an appeal was made to women to provide mother-tongue education for their children. Preparations for this have already been completed. The local government is working on introducing school lessons in Armenian.

In addition, women are to receive military training and improve their ability to defend themselves. At the same time, links are to be established with Armenian women who have been assimilated or are in exile, and they are to be supported in returning to their roots, their language and their culture.