Interview with Kurdistan Washukani, YPJ Commander of the Euphrates Region
The journalist Avrîn Masûm of the Kurdish TV Channel Ronahî TV spoke with the YPJ Commander of the Euphrates Region, Kurdistan Washukani, about the developments in 2019 and the aim of the Turkish invasion against North and East Syria as well as the plans of the Women Defence Units YPJ in the Euphrates region for the year 2020.
The YPJ Commander started her evaluation of the year 2019 by commemorating all the fighters that transformed themselves into living shields to ensure that the people of the region could live in peace, tranquillity and friendship. Kurdistan Washukanî renewed the promise to fulfil their dreams and aspirations. She explained:
From winter 2018 until spring 2019, QSD forces, including YPG and YPJ and all regional forces, took part in the great resistance in the desert region of Derazor. In the spring Daesh was defeated in Baghoz region. Therefore the celebration of Newroz day brought the most beautiful message to Kurdish people, the victory of the freedom fighters. The defeat of Daesh forced their sponsors like the Turkish State, Qatar, and the imperialist forces to carry out new plans to give Daesh another breath. The Turkish state became the representative of Daesh by threatening to attack Rojava and the regions of North and East Syria. With these threats they wanted to create fear in the hearts of the people, to destroy the stability and friendship of the peoples that has developed in the region. Daesh built fear by brutal beheadings , the Turkish state built fear by its threats and attacks.
With the celebration of Newroz, as defence forces, we met with the peoples through all the region of Euphrates to build a new life, with civil and military people’s councils. In this way as a military force, we wanted to mobilise our people to join the resistance and to ensure our success against Daesh. On this basis we began to build councils in all districts of the Euphrates region like in Tabqa, Raqqa, Minbic, Kobanê and Gire Spi. Our aim has been to rebuild and reorganise the society, to educate people and to introduce the system and the ideas of Rêber APO to them. Arab, Kurd and Turkmen people welcomed this work with joy. They perceived this as a possibility to be able to live in peace and on a basis created by themselves.
Reber APO always says ‘every plant grows on her own roots’. For 8 years the people of this region have joined the huge resistance against Daesh and finally we have defeated Daesh. This was a great happiness for the people of the region. So we want to transform this happiness into a life system, a philosophy, an idea we share with all the people. Everyone wanted to find solutions for their problems in the region and to develop a new will as residents of this region.
What has been the role of women in building up a democratic society and self-defence councils?
Kurdistan Washukani: If you can liberate woman you can liberate society. When you build a society around women, you also build an ethic. This frightens the reactionary forces of the dominant male system the most. A lot of people look at those assemblies and councils with doubts, wondering if the people of the region will be able to lead, to protect and organize themselves . We, as the children and fighters of this land, believe in ourselves because we passed an 8 year exam. Our exam was a revolution. This made the transformation of our struggle into a social, cultural, and political revolution possible. This reality made women believe in themselves. Kurdish women and also Arab women gained morale and courage. This also allowed Turkmen, Syriac, Durzi and women from all the different peoples of the region to gather around this philosophy and wish to become part of this resistance. Hereby they gave an answer to their own people. This had also a big impact on men and on Arabic society.
In Minbic, Kobanê, Tebqa and Girê Spî 50 % of the women in YPJ units are young Arab women. We know that in Kurdish and Arab society, women have for a long time been seen just as housewives who raise children, make food and meet the needs of men. But today women’s will and their dedication to the defence units has created a fear in the heart of the reactionary and statist man. This creates great courage in the hearts of all women who want to become the voice and the will of their own people in the councils. The pride in their participation brings out their natural will. So they become an example for all women in the region.
The participation of Syrian Arab women in the QSD became a topic of interest to the world. This women’s resistance gives great courage to women in the rest of the world as well. The YPJ women’s army regained the material and moral heritage of society, which society had been deprived of.
The participation of leaders of the Arab tribal community and their declarations created a bigger respect for the political and military councils. All women, Kurdish and Arabic women, played an important role in those councils, and Syriac women also created their own councils. They suggested also to other women of the Middle East to benefit from this experience and to make it a base for a resistance in their own countries.
In 2019 there was widespread participation in the defence forces especially in the YPJ. In the regions where the majority of the population is Arabic in the beginning there was a fear towards the participation of women because that participation creates a revolution inside her own family. Women’s participation to the YPJ is not only participation in military structures but creates a social, political, cultural and moral revolution. Especially in feudal Arab societies where women have never been allowed to go out of the house and where women without permission from the man cannot go anywhere this means a fundamental change. Today women discuss in their councils social and family issues. That they discuss political issues to find a solution for the region, and for Syria, is a revolution in itself. This has been the success of the social revolution since it has created a political and cultural transformation in Arab society.
What impact does the participation of women have on the different parts of society?
Kurdistan Washukani: Women have gained more influence. In the Middle Eastern point of view, a man who joins the army does not attract much interest, because it is seen as a men’s work. All armies are made by men and men have the duty to go to the military. But the participation of women in the military defence forces, especially of Arabic women, is not an ordinary thing. This helps to create revolution in everyone’s mind. Because women had eyes, but could not see. They had a tongue but could not speak. This situation has changed now. Women have now become pioneers of the revolution and the future of an ethical and political society.
Since 2011 the revolution in the Middle East began in the name of the people’s revolution. Afterwards the Muslim Brotherhood utilized it and the gangs wanted to seize the revolution. They launched the first attacks against Rojava. But the revolution couldn’t be choked. The revolution here didn’t loose hope against the attacks of the system. Only in Rojava has thewill of the people not been distorted and it has not been emptied of its essence. Against Erdogan’s attacks on Rojava, the world rose up. Because Daesh is the enemy of the entire world and humankind and it was the Kurdish people, the peoples of the region and particularly the women who fought Daesh.
At the same time we established our institutions. The Syrian Democratic Council SDC was founded as the general assembly of Syria to to develop a project for a democratic Syria that can overcome the crisis. Syrian Democratic Forces SDF became its military force. The revolution became a Middle Eastern revolution and influenced the whole world. Because there is a general lack of ethical and political movements. The European movements that claim to be the most ethical often carry out policies of deception. But politics is a way and a method of life, the solution of life and unity of thoughts and actions. Because of this the example of the Rojava revolution and its institutions have had a big impact on the region. Hereby the Kurdish people finally have been accepted as human beings in the global society of peoples.
What is the aim of the Turkish state’s attacks on North and East Syria?
Kurdistan Washukani: Behind the attacks of the Turkish state against Rojava there are those who gave Erdogan the permission to attack. They are the colonial powers that don’t have a solution project for the Middle East and just want to deepen the crisis. There are two main forces in the area, the USA and Russia. They don’t recognize the people. They do not acknowledge their regional, social cultural and military existence. With this revolution the society opened their eyes and came back to life. These powers reject the autonomy and self-reliance of the people. Therefore they put them into a crisis.
Since the Ottoman Empire broke down, Turkey is afraid of loosing more territory. The Kurds, the Alewites and Armenians still demand their rights. But Turkey denies their rights. Therefore Turkey seeks to eliminate the Kurdish people that have created stability and an autonomous system.
But the people don’t accept the alliance among Erdogan, Putin and Trump. The attacks against Serekanye and Gire Spi made the world rise up to say that this attack is immoral. It is a political and an imperialistic attack. Also the American people and the US senate rose up against Trump. What opened the way for the Turkish invasion was the Russian and US-American imperialist politics that don’t have any respect for the people and act without any morality, just according to their profit interests. Every day women and children are getting killed. They become refugees and live in tents. The attack was committed by the imperialist states against the stability, the resistance and the culture of the people of our region.
Against the Turkish state’s invasion called ‘Peace Spring’, you started the Campaign ‘Berxwedana Rûmetê’ (Resistance of Dignity). What has the role of the YPJ been in this campaign, especially in the Euphrates region?
Kurdistan Washukani: The name of the Turkish operation is a fraud. Hitler also burned millions of Jewish people in the name of gaining Lebensraum (‘living space’), Every dictator and every tyrant uses the name of democracy to create a mask to hide his real face. So Erdogan called this operation “Peace spring” to hide his real face.
In our country there was no war that Turkey could bring peace to. Everybody maintained their existence peacefully. There were no problems among people. The one that has created the problem is the Turkish state itself. Our duty as people of the region and the defence forces was to mobilize border forces, to protect the region and to build up councils. Our resistance is continuing against this war which brought misery to the people.
Young Kurdish and Arabic women transformed themselves into living shields. Despite the enemy’s tank passing over our friend’s bodies, they did not abandoned their positions. They defended their land. Their stance was ethical and cultural. The principle of welatparêzî (loving and protecting the land) meant to resist without fearing death. Young Kurdish women fought until their last breath to protect the dignity of this land. They said ‘women are not your honour, our honour is our land!’ Hundreds of young women like Zin, Amara and Sara sacrificed themselves and didn’t leave their positions. As a freedom fighters we continue our resistance until victory, so that everybody can live peacefully, on the land of Rojava. All our comrades are at the frontlines to resists these illegitimate attacks.
The attack by the Turkish state wants to break the will of rebellious woman like we saw with the attacks against the secretary-general of the Syria Future Party Hevrin Xelef and YPJ fighters like Çîçek Kobanê and Amara Rênas. How do you see and evaluate this?
Kurdistan Washukani: This war is waged against women, society and morality. To be able to stop this war and achieve the victory, we never had an approach based on the concept of our being “honour”. Because as women, we perceive our honour as our land, our culture, our ethics and our political identity. We overcome the feudal concept that see woman just as honour. Now hundreds of women are at the frontlines. In these brutal attacks many of our friends became martyred and others fell in the hands of the enemy. They want to break our will and dignity. But with the murder of a woman, women don’t give up. Our body can be captured but they will never be able to capture our hearts and minds. We have sacrificed our body to this land. This is the price for freedom, because freedom cannot be achieved without a price. First of all the enemy says ‘kill the women first! Injure them, capture them!’ Hereby they want to break the will of women and society. Because women are the identity of the society and represent the principles of life. By enslaving women the enemy wants to domesticate our society and make our people lower their heads. But we say to our people ‘don’t fall in the traps of the enemy!’
Now our new fighters take on the names of Hevrin and Amara and join the ranks of defence forces. This is also a strong response to Erdogan who wants to break the will of the people and of free society. By enhancing the YPJ units, strengthening and training YPJ fighters we are giving the strongest answer to these attacks.
What was the reaction of the peoples in the Euphrates region against these attacks?
Kurdistan Washukani: The revolution in this region is not very old. Minbic was liberated in 2016 and Tabqa in 2017. But the Arabic people in this region became living shields and played their role along the side of the freedom fighters. They didn’t take a step back. The Arab people and all people joined together on demonstrations and declarations against Erdogan.
This attack is the result of a political agreement. Because the treaty of Lausanne will finish and the state system is being rebuilt. But we don’t accept those political agreements against us and we will not surrender to their deals and trades.
Our plan for the new year is to strengthen our education. We prepare and train our forces to be able to resist against those attacks and develop our society in a political way. So we strengthen our communes and people’s councils. We will do what is necessary to be able to protect ourselves with a revolutionary philosophy so that the revolution can rebuild and defend itself.
My last message for the Kurdish people is to strengthen each other by participating to the continuing resistance. We have to stop making small calculations related to family or tribal interests. We have to be active in building up our national unity and come together to establish a joint political and military will.
We thank the people all over the world for having been with us in our political, social and ethical resistance against this occupation war. As Kurdish women and women of Middle East we will continue to resist shoulder to shoulder against fascism.