Besê Erzincan: Women will determine the direction

Besê Erzincan of the KJK says that it is not the crisis of the global hegemonic system that will determine future developments, but rather the organised, planned and goal-oriented intervention of women.

Besê Erzincan from the Coordination of Kurdistan Women’s Communities (KJK) spoke in an interview with ANF about the state of the women's liberation struggle among the guerrillas, in all parts of Kurdistan and in the Middle East.

What is the significance of the women's guerrilla army in the developmental history of the women's liberation struggle?

Throughout history, women have always been prevented from being a strategic force in life. They have been put into a powerless state and forced into the position of slaves and prisoners. The enslavement of women has begun with the destruction of their self-defence system and organised life structures. Violence against women is directly related to the lack of opportunities for self-defence. In the Kurdish liberation struggle led by Abdullah Öcalan, women have built up their own system and decision-making mechanisms within the guerrilla army. Thus they play a strategic role in the defence of women and their country. The emergence of a radical women's liberation struggle has its origin here.

Women in nation-state armies become masculine and sometimes find themselves in danger. It is almost impossible for a woman in a male army to preserve her personality and femininity and emerge from it unscathed. Nation-state armies are nationalist, racist and sexist. They are shaped by a culture of rape.

Thus, the strategic presence and leading role of Kurdish women in a guerrilla army is of historical importance. It is about the challenge of the five-thousand-year-old male ruling system. With the participation of women in the guerrilla army in Kurdistan, the falsehood of the patriarchy has been exposed.

The women in the guerrilla force are an incredible source of freedom and equality. They play an extraordinary role in making the historical reality of women visible. The women's guerrillas have razed to the ground all mythological, philosophical, religious and scientific representations of women as slaves and second-class sex. Women are present in the guerrilla with their own identity and their own structures of decision-making. Their democratic and liberal manner affects the entire guerrilla. In our ranks are the greatest female guerrilla commanders in history. A women's command level has been created, which has great experience and leadership qualities and can implement combat tactics. The women are leading the guerrilla both in action and in life. They also command male units. Free women are a strategic element also for the creation of free men and an alternative life. The women's guerrilla is the centre for the creation of a free life.

The struggle of women in Turkey also has a long history. With which perspective can these struggles be connected?

The women's struggle in Turkey goes back to the Ottoman period. Before the founding of the republic, there were women's organisations, communities and parties, especially in the region of Istanbul. After that, many women's communities were closed or lost influence. The women from Turkey must recognise their own strength, their struggles and their history. In the history of Turkey and also today, a serious and difficult women's liberation struggle has been and is being fought, both within leftist and democratic movements and within feminist movements. There is an important tradition and experience in women's struggle. In this respect, the struggle for freedom of women from Turkey is also our struggle.

The women in Rojava have shaped the revolution and have made a big echo in the world. Why does this fact disturb the hegemonic system and with what methods does it express this unease?

The attitude and system of women in Rojava is very disturbing for the system of capitalist modernity. The male system of domination does not want women to be liberated, to cease to be commodities and property and to participate equally in the whole of social life. Therefore, the resistance of the YPJ is causing serious unrest. Women's liberation is not tolerated. The YPJ have cracked the codes of life based on male domination and female slavery. Humanity has been saved by YPJ fighters. Mankind is not saved by the male armies of the hypocritically propagating freedom and democracy, but by popular armies led by sacrificial women who practice democracy and freedom in their lives and personality. This has been proven. And this system is now wanted to be destroyed. Male dominated armies want to make the struggle of the YPJ, the YPG and SDF invisible and push themselves to the fore. This cannot be allowed to happen.

The attacks in the Middle East, which are concentrated on Rojava, are intended to darken the sun of the women's revolution. The Middle East has been advertised for redistribution by the hegemonic male system. In this distribution, women and Kurds are not to be given any space in any form. Our struggle for women has influenced and awakened the Arab, Turkish, Persian, Armenian, Syriac, Alevi and all women and peoples of the region. It has created an awareness. In Rojava a system based on women's self-defence is being built up with the democratic principle of equal representation: women's confederalism. A new life model is developing. With this attitude the women's revolution in Rojava shall only be successful.

On what level is the struggle of women in Southern and Northern Kurdistan?

Actually, women have participated in all popular uprisings in the Middle East with great enthusiasm and conviction, especially in Iraq, Iraq and Lebanon. In Rojava and therefore in Syria, a women's revolution is taking place anyway. In Turkey, too, it is women who are raising their voices against the prevailing fascism and are resisting it.

At the beginning of the year, women in Southern Kurdistan succeeded in taking a common position against patriarchal laws, fatwas, child abuse and feminicide. There is a rapprochement among women. We observe an increasing unity and sympathy, regardless of the political attitude or ideology. Patriarchal behaviour, which forces women back into the home, excludes them from politics and social life and underrates them, is less and less accepted. This is a very important development. In Southern Kurdistan, steps are being taken for an even better organised and common women's liberation struggle.

There are also developments in the women's struggles in Eastern Kurdistan and Iran despite massive repression. The resistance is growing. The women want to belong to themselves and make their own decisions. The awareness, the search for freedom and patriotic feelings have grown among Kurdish women. One can speak of a progress and a development towards the women's question.

After Ferman (genocidal persecution) and the days of the massacres, the women in Shengal have built up their self-government and councils and thus experienced a rebirth under the most difficult circumstances. The women from Shengal become more conscious, organise themselves, take over their self-defence and develop further. This development will continue.

The reason for the rise of feminicide in the Middle East and worldwide is the ever-increasing liberation struggle of women. The hegemonic man, the ruling male system wants to break the resistance of women. Moreover, feminicides can no longer be covered up so easily by the organized struggle of women. The alliances in which women in Istanbul have joined forces against violence are exemplary. The women stand up for each other and do not leave any woman alone. They hunt down the male murderers and fight for the perpetrators to receive the punishment they deserve.

Male and state violence against women comes from the same source. It is well known that the oppression of women, their restriction to the domestic environment and enslavement in the service of men is one of the most important methods for this. Women are wanted to be kept in their slavery by violence.

Because women's resistance is growing, because women stand up for each other and keep the issue constantly on the agenda, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the state and dominant masculinity to assert themselves. We believe that our struggle will become more and more proactive and self-confident. And we know that freedom begins in the mind.