After the Syrian Kurds’ fight for Kobane against ISIS in 2014-5, many across the world were suddenly made aware of the Kurdish women’s movement in Rojava, northern Syria. But it was already flourishing across the border in SE Turkey, where women joined in taking up the ideas of imprisoned Ocalan and intense cultural and political change to a horizontal anti authoritarian way of life was in full swing.
All this was suppressed in Turkey with Erdogan’s police and military crackdown in his bid to demonize the Kurds in a racist bid for dictatorial power. To his fury the revolution has continued and blossomed in liberated Rojava, with echoes in Europe and beyond, despite Turkish support for ISIS and Al Qaeda, the economic blockade and the 750km long wall.
Here we republish a great interview on the birth, growth and suppression of the Feminist movement in Kurdish Turkey (Nth Kurdistan).
Screenshot: Banner of the TJA website.
“Actually we have been calling our experience World War III. This is a war of destruction. The state does not call it a war, but this is the experience of those affected.”
After the Syrian Kurds’ fight for Kobane (a Kurdish city in northern Syria/Rojava) against ISIS in 2014-5, many across the world were suddenly made aware of the Kurdish women’s movement.
What has not reached us, however, is a much wider context that enabled the Kurdish women-fighters to confidently take up arms to defend themselves and their people. The unprecedented accomplishments of the Kurdish women predated Kobane and the war in Syria.
They are rooted in the evolution of Turkey’s Kurdish liberation movement, as it is represented by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and in the ideological shift of its leader, Abdullah Ocalan.
In what is regarded as a departure from the Marxist-Leninist perspective of national liberation, Ocalan developed a theory of democratic confederalism and democratic autonomy, making liberation of women into one of the central pillars of his struggle, alongside radical democracy and social ecology. The new ideology was first put into practice in Bakur (the Kurdish region in the southeast of Turkey) in the early 2000s and, despite continuing state oppression, the focus on and efforts towards women’s liberation within the movement brought visible results: a dramatic increase in women’s participation in the political and social life of the society, an evolution in their consciousness and the creation of various tools and spaces for their empowerment.
In Bakur, since the early 2000s, the Kurdish movement has been coordinating womens’ associations, women’s shelters, women’s local councils, cooperatives and academies, that have often functioned in cooperation with elected officials from the Kurdish parties in local government. Continue reading “The Underground Free Women’s Movement (TJA) in Kurdish Turkey”