Turkey : Interview With Kurdish Women’s Protection Unit YPS-JIN

30 January 2016

Formed during the self-rule declarations in North Kurdistan (E/SE Turkey), the armed Civilan Protection Units – Women (YPS-Jin) are growing their organisation day by day with the slogan “we want an equal society” says YPS member Leyla Botan.” We spoke to her about the struggle of Kurdish women behind the barricades in Mardin’s Nusaybin district.

Declaration of Political Resolution Regarding Self-rule

The Kurdish Self-Governance Movement in Turkey’s South East

The martial lockdown, curfew and siege of Nusaybin by Turkish state forces has been continuing for months now, but so has the resistance against it behind trenches and barricades. The formation of the Civilian Protection Units (YPS) was followed by the declaration of the YPS-Jin. Leyla Botan spoke to ANF about the establishment of the YPS-Jin, its role and aims.

Who is YPS-Jin?

The YPS-Jin was formed by Kurdish women in North Kurdistan as part of the general YPS. Kurdish women need to be able to protect themselves and their spaces using arms when necessary. The enemy (Turkish state/government) uses every possible means against women, so we organised against this. The society in general we find ourselves in at the moment imposes a regressive role and responsibility on women. They must know that we will use legitimate defence to protect primarily women and the whole of society against any and all attacks.

Is the YPS-Jin addressing other problems society has?

It was inevitable that the YPS have a women’s organisation under its umbrella. Women have no other choice but to organise in all areas of life; they will do whatever is necessary to protect their will and a free life in these lands. All the attacks and massacres against women are being orchestrated by the state today. For this reason, not only Kurdish women, but also all women must join the ranks of the YPS-Jin against the rape-culture and violence of the state.

Could you expand on the role and aims of the YPS-Jin?

All sorts of atrocities are committed against women within the system. Women are expected to fit a certain mould and be subservient. But as YPS-Jin we are going to demolish all these moulds. Women’s love for freedom was manifested in the Kobanê resistance for the world to see. When necessary women turned themselves into bombs to not fall into the hands of ISIS rapists; two examples of this are Arin Mirxan and Martyr Slava. If we look at the role of women from this perspective we can see that throughout history the spirit of women does not carry within it treason. In Dersim (1937-38) the Turkish state would rape women it captured alive, but Besê threw herself off a mountain rather than surrender to the army, she led the way for all women. Martyr Beritan (PKK guerrilla) carried on this tradition of resistance and rather than surrendering her body to traitors she made a cry of war and released her body into the abyss.

You touched upon the women’s struggle in Kobanê. Women have been on the battlefield for weeks here in Nusaybin, are there similarities?

From now on we are going to take a stand against any form of regressive policy and violence targeting women in this part of the world. Initially our people are going to be educated about this, but violence on a woman’s body is not going to go unpunished. The state and those supported by the reactionary mentality of the state will not go unpunished either. It must be known that we are ready to sacrifice everything in the struggle to defend our people and its existence. From the first day it has been Kurdish women primarily who have stood side-by-side with their children in this area of self-rule. Women have struggled the most to prevent the enemy from entering our neighbourhoods. 70 year-old mothers have been carrying stones to the barricades in their bags. 24-hour curfew declarations were met with cries of resistance, entering the ears of the enemy like a bullet. The free-woman’s consciousness has spread across this geography and Kurdish women see these days as honourable days. The mothers of the young women who have joined the ranks of the YPS-Jin have also become volunteers of this struggle.

Do you have an alternative project to the current one which only creates violence against women?

The Kurdish people have been fighting for their existence until today, with Kurdish women playing a great part in this struggle. Is it not our mothers who have protected the Kurdish language from assimilation for the past hundred years by being teachers to their children and the carriers of this language? The system and enemy knows this and attacks the people’s culture, even women’s traditional Kurdish clothing. Kurdish women are part of an epic struggle today and as the YPS-Jin we will either create a free life or die resisting against the slavery that is being imposed on us. We want our people to be hopeful; Kurdistan is going to be a reality soon. If a sacrifice needs to be made, we will make the sacrifice but our people will have their freedom.

I would like to call on all free and organised women to join the ranks of the YPS-Jin and struggle against the exploitation and violence of the enemy.