Remembering means struggling – International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

On 25 November, women all over the world stand up against patriarchal violence and oppression, because this day has become a symbol of women’s struggle for freedom. 25 November is dedicated to the Mirabal sisters who fought against the Dominican dictatorship. For this reason, they were murdered on 25 November 1960 by the Dominican dictator’s secret service. They were pioneers and an inspiration to many women around the world who resist patriarchal, fascist and capitalist system that exploit women, nature and the whole society. Today, 25 November is the day to end violence against women worldwide and reflects what feminist and women’s movements demand 365 days a year: a life without violence, rights and freedom.

In North and East Syria, the revolution, also known as women’s revolution, has brought about many achievements for women. With the struggle of YPJ, it also became clear in the public that women can organise themselves autonomously in self-defence forces, as has long been the case in the Kurdish women’s movement. But especially organisations like Kongra Star and Mala Jin, enable women to lead an organised and effective struggle against violence. However, as much as on 25 November we can look at how successful within society women’s organisations are in standing up against violence and oppression, there is still a great danger from Turkey’s occupation attacks. It is women who are most affected by wars, and so 25 November in North and East Syria also means standing up against the war of occupation. Because all over the world, many women who fought for freedom and against dictatorial, oppressive and monopolistic systems were murdered by states and their henchmen. Their struggle often expresses the quest to overcome patriarchal oppression. On 25 November, we commemorate them and would like to introduce some of them:

1. Sosîn Bîrhat is from Afrin and grew up in Aleppo, where she participated in Kurdish folklore groups. She was part of the revolution in Rojava from the beginning and became a successful commander of the YPJ (Women’s Defence Units). She fought against ISIS and Turkish attacks and participated in the legendary resistance of the Şêxmeqsud neighbourhood in Aleppo when the local population became one with the YPJ and YPG units. When Turkey hit her and 4 YPG members in a targeted airstrike on the Military Council in Till Temir on 19 August 2021, Sosîn Bîrhat became a martyr.

2. Saada al-Hermas was co-chair of the Stat Til El-Shayir Council in the Heseke region. She had two children and was a single mother after she divorced. As an Arab woman and mother, she took a leading role in building the Autonomous Administration and organising a democratic society, as well as advocated Democratic Confederalism with conviction. On 21 January 2021, ISIS carried out a targeted attack on her and Hind al-Khedr and both women became martyrs.

3. Hind al-Khedr, a young Arab woman, also worked in Til El-Shayir for the Autonomous Administration in North and East Syria and was a member of the economy committee of her city. She was very enthusiastic about the activities of the Autonomous Administration. She had a daughter and raised her daughter as a single mother after her divorce.

4. Deniz Poyraz, a courageous young Kurdish woman from Mardin who lived in Izmir, worked in the local office of the grassroots and pluralist HDP. Where, despite the massive fascist repression of the state, she stood up for a democratic society against the fascist AKP-MHP regime. On 19 June 2021, a heavily armed fascist attacked the HDP office in Izmir in the presence of the Turkish police and Deniz Poyraz became a martyr.

5. The guerrilla commander of the Free Women’s Army YJA-Star, member of the Kurdish Women’s Association KJK and co-founder and developer of the Jineoloji Leyla Agirî was martyred in June 2020 during airstrikes on the Mediya defence areas in Southern Kurdistan. She was an experienced leader of the Kurdish Women’s Movement and was known for wanting to help every woman develop a revolutionary consciousness.

6. Nûcan Serdoz was martyred on 25 June 2020 in Hefatnin in the mountains of Southern Kurdistan when Turkey launched a war offensive against the area. When her friends from HPG and YJA-Star units found themselves in a hopeless situation, she selflessly rushed to their aid. Hailing from the Northern Kurdish province of Mardin, she had organised and fought for many years in the Young Women’s Movement and YJA-Star and became a symbol of a selfless, determined search for freedom and friendship that is the spirit of the Kurdish Freedom Movement.

7. Zehra Berkel was coordinator of Kongra Star Women’s Movement in the Euphrates region of Rojava and dedicated her life to building the institutions of Democratic Confederalism since the beginning of the revolution. On 23 June 2020, the Turkish state carried out a targeted air attack against her, Hebûn Mele and Emîna Weysî, who also played an important role in Kongra Star women’s movement.

8. Kerima Lorena Tariman was a fighter of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the Philippines and fought against the corrupt and fascist state that oppresses the indigenous people. She was also a revolutionary artist, poet and journalist. Although she grew up and studied in the city, after seeing the reality of the Struggling Peasant Workers, she decided to devote her life entirely to the revolutionary struggle of the NPA. She became a martyr due to an attack by the Phillipine Army on 20 August 2021.

9. Malalai Maiwand was a young journalist in Afghanistan who fought for women’s rights. She worked at a local TV and radio station and was threatened by both the Taliban and ISIS, but she did not give up her work as a reporter. On 10 December 2020, she became a martyr when she was attacked on her way to work.

These women, their stories and struggles are just a few examples of resistant and struggling women who are striving for freedom with full determination under the most difficult conditions. Capitalist modernity fights revolutionary women and other oppressed genders with all means. They have been targeted by states and oppressive groups, but the resistance against patriarchy, exploitation and oppression cannot be broken. Their struggle continues today in the struggle of all revolutionary women and those in struggle. Only by understanding their quest for freedom, exploring their methods and following their path can we give proper meaning to their struggle. The fallen are immortal.

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