Martyr Beritan remembered in Kurdistan

It was the 25 October 1992 when a Kurdish female guerrilla, Beritan, threw herself off a cliff, rather than surrender to a group of KDP peshmergas collaborating with the Turkish army.

Her heroic action has been remembered since 1992. Commemorations and tributes have been organised in many different cities and towns of Kurdistan.

On 25 October 1992, a Kurdish female guerrilla, Gülnaz Karataş (nom de guerre: Beritan), was surrounded by a group of KDP peshmergas on a hilltop in Xakurke, in South Kurdistan.

A Turkish operation against the PKK on South Kurdistan soil had just begun and Beritan was in Xakurke. She fought bravely against the Turkish army and its KDP collaborators.

The peshmergas had attacked a PKK position in Xakurke. Despite being outnumbered and outgunned, Kurdish guerrillas fought and resisted.

Gülnaz Karataş was one of the few female fighters at that time. She joined the PKK in May 1991 and had limited experience of guerrilla warfare. Her group was defending a hilltop position. She ordered her team to withdraw to a safer location. She fought until her last bullet.

When the peshmergas realized that Beritan had no more ammunition left they started to move closer. The commander of the peshmergas called on her to surrender. She did not respond.

The peshmerga commander got closer and closer, talking constantly to her, trying to convince her to surrender. When he saw Beritan, she was standing on the edge of a rock. Instead of surrounding to the peshmerga she made a quick move and threw herself off a cliff. She chose to die in dignity rather than surrender to the enemy.

Beritan and her action soon became a legend in Xakurke and beyond. Her story was told by the peshmergas who tried to capture her. Most of them laid down their arms and stopped fighting against the PKK after what Beritan did.

Because of her exceptional courage and her passionate character, Beritan soon became an icon for Kurds. Songs were written and innumerable newborns were named after her. Her life was portrayed in the movie “Beritan” by Kurdish director (and guerrilla) Halil Dag in 2006.

Her grave was discovered in 2005. Her remains were moved to guerrilla-controlled area and reburied in a huge ceremony.

Who was Beritan

Gülnaz Karataş, Beritan, was born in Solhan a distict of Bingöl province in 1971. Her family is originally from Dersim. She attended school in Elazığ and wasn’t aware of her Kurdish identity until she was 18 years old.

She was arrested for her activism in 1990 but released soon after. She joined the PKK on 9 May 1991 in Cudi mountains, Şırnak. Because of her bravery she was sent to the area of Şemzînan (Şemdinli) in 1992 as commander of a small force.

When the Turkish operation against Southern Kurdistan started Beritan was in Xakurke.

As a guerrilla fighter, who had been in the mountain for just one year, Beritan established military and ideological standards, especially for the women's movement, and became a great symbol of the PKK’s resistance.

With her action she showed every woman that an alternative choice is always possible against oppression, patriarchy, betrayal and surrender.