International delegation members meet Peace Mothers in Sulaymaniyah
Women from the international peace delegation in South Kurdistan visited the women's association in Sulaymaniyah and exchanged views with Peace Mothers who have lost their children in the war, some have children with the guerrilla and the peshmerga.
On Saturday, some women of the international peace delegation Defend Kurdistan met with peace mothers and representatives of the women's umbrella organization RJAK (Organization of Free Women of Kurdistan) in Sulaymaniyah city. The Peace Mothers with their white headscarves and dignified and warm demeanor conveyed to the peace delegation both the suffering that runs through their lives and with great clarity an analysis of the political situation. After the talk, a press meeting with journalists was held in the garden in front of the house.
The representatives of the peace delegation were warmly welcomed in the premises of RJAK and their presence in South Kurdistan was evaluated as very significant. A great gratitude was expressed for the visit as a peace delegation to South Kurdistan, working towards an end of Turkey's war, preventing further occupation and achieving the beginning of dialogues instead of a threatening war among Kurds.
Beyond the commonality around these concrete, urgent goals, a deep connection with women's movements worldwide was expressed. "Women's revolution unites women worldwide against capitalist modernity," said one Peace Mother. They themselves, she said, are on the way to making a women's revolution. “For this, education and awareness work is taking place. In this way, a mental revolution can take place. This strengthens us, and with this strength we can no longer be beaten. We see ourselves as a conscious part of the revolution.”
"Our hearts were torn out of our bodies”
The peace mothers present also spoke on behalf of other mothers who were unable to attend the meeting due to the cramped quarters. They have all lost their children, some already through the poison gas attacks under Saddam Hussein in the late 1980s, including in the massacre in Halabja in 1988, others through poison gas operations by the Turkish military against the guerrillas in the mountains. They have lost children who died as peshmerga, as well as children who died in the guerrilla - sometimes both being in the same family. The mothers' suffering is great and shapes their lives. Several of them said, "Our hearts were torn out of our bodies."
They name their suffering in clear words, yet they focus not on pain but on resilience. They describe the responsibility they assume as older women to provide a future for the younger ones. They have already experienced many occupiers and stood against them. Currently, they are fighting against Turkey's military onslaught and the threat of Turkish occupation with ethnic reorganizations and displacement of the Kurdish population, which would mean massive violations of human and women's rights. To understand what they are threatened with, one would only have to look to Afrin and the other areas occupied by Turkey, they explained when asked.
Together with the representatives of the umbrella organization RJAK, the Peace Mothers not only oppose patriarchal oppression within their own four walls, but also oppose oppression as Kurds in all areas of society and oppression worldwide. They also link the prevention of ecological destruction to their struggles. They say that the war also brings a huge destruction of nature and that they are trying to take away the land of the Kurds and to drive them away with all means of war that are available. The water is controlled and the inflow is prevented. Trees are cut down and forests are burned, genocides are practiced, poison gas operations, drone attacks, aerial bombardments take place. In solidarity with nature, the earth and the land, further extermination attacks and expulsions should be prevented, they stated.
Education and cultural work
In addition to participation in demonstrations and rallies, the activities of the women's organization also include the organization of cultural work, singing, art, dances and Kurdish courses. There are separate rooms for this. Specific skills are also taught to women there. In order for women to become economically independent, they learn tailoring, for example. All the work is done on a voluntary basis. Since the women receive no financial support from the government, for example, the work can only develop slowly. In order to advance the revolution, to wake up and unleash women, they need emotional as well as financial support, it was said.
But at the moment, the first priority for the women in Sulaymaniyah is to prevent the occupation by the Turkish state. A discussion between the Peace Mothers and the women's umbrella organization RJAK with the Iraqi government to advocate for peace has so far been refused.