In conjunction with the International Day against Violence against Women, held on November 25th each year, ANHA agency interviewed with Women's Protection Units Commander (YPJ), Zanarin Qamishlo, to highlight their role in combating the systems of threats against women and the cause of women's liberation.
The dialogue reads:
* In conjunction with the International Day against Violence against Women, what is your assessment of the Women's Revolution in Rojava and NE, Syria?
Recognizing the Day against Violence against Women is valuable, but we need to be well aware that it is not enough, as has been declared March 8th as the Day for Women. It is also the Day against Violence against Women, thanks to the resistance and sacrifices of women, and the question is this enough? Were we able to free the woman? The entire world faced many problems, but if we touched on the specificities of women and the role they played in society, we would note that those who were currently suffering and being subjected to violence were women, which did not mean that the Declaration of the Day against Violence against Women was of little value but not enough.
Calls and appeals to support women are not enough. For this reason, we in NE, Syria, Rojava and the protection forces support this day, join forces with the women of the world, demand that they not be subjected to violence or abuse whether physical, psychological or intellectual. We seek to liberate women from restrictions, raise their will and step up their participation in building society to advance further. We will continue to support and give value and strength to this Day. We will seek to raise the awareness of men and society about the importance of this Day. Giving society the knowledge about this Day is of great importance and value to us, so we are fighting for the rights of women in depth as well as delivering our voice to the entire world to tell women that we are with you in the struggle, self-perception and the gain of knowledge.
* What is your role as the Women's Protection Units (YPJ) in building a free, democratic society free from violence?
At a time like this when women are exposed to violence, have they been able to gain interest and knowledge and engage in building society? If the mindset of the authoritarian man is observed, it will not allow the woman to engage and participate in building society, and even if it allows her the opportunity, it will be in favor of his desires and mentality, as he sets limits for women to restrict her endeavors the patriarchal mentality is a capitalist mentality that pursues oppression and authority, but in NE, Syria and Rojava, we sought as a first step to show the reality of women, and make them realize their truth, strength and the importance of their presence in society, because this will push women to benefit society and develop it.
Women’s Protection Units supported and protected women from any violation and sought to direct and organize them at a time when the occupier was constantly targeting our areas, and had it not been for this protection provided by the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), the society would not have been able to withstand and progress, and in addition to protection, it sought to create knowledge for women. Therefore, the Women’s Protection Units had an impact, both from the military point of view and how to develop it to protect the people or from the social side, and how to influence the authoritarian masculine mentality to change it and push it towards justice and equality, and how for women to become a strong and beneficial will that can break the shackles of outdated customs and traditions.
YPJ was able to protect the land and woman as well as to change the authoritarian mentality and returned its real core, courage the women to get more knowledge and strength and mixing them together.
It changed the stereotyped image of women's military organizations, as the female fighters presented battles to liberate cities and villages from ISIS mercenaries, took up arms, and not only fought the enemies, but fought the male mentality that permeates the details of life.
* The male-oriented capitalist regimes have never been a source of protection for women or a security agency that protects them from violence, but rather a source of problems. What is your response to that?
In the thought and analysis of the leader Abdullah Ocalan of capitalism, he describes it as a thief from the people of the house, where the thief works to loot money and equipment. So, he established the law to show itself as its owner, capitalism suppressed the women and prevented her rights, did not give her any importance looting her core, the women had been changed to as tool of promoting and media, exploited her body in order to lure the man.
We see that women are suffocating and being dragged into the depths of the capitalist system. They see her only for procreation and reproduction, and the increase in the population, and they do not see her as a human being with will, strength, creation and creativity.
In European countries they know the freedom of women to live alone, do what they want, far from society, unfortunately they are convinced of that, but in the Middle East under the style of religion and dogmatism (a state of intellectual stagnation), under the name of custom and traditions, women are persecuted for that I am not with Middle Eastern dogmatism and with openness in European countries. These two ideas become a force and a source for capitalism to enslave women.
In capitalism, there is no project for women and it will not exist either. In their view, it is to satisfy men sexually, increase the population and reproduce, otherwise they do not see women as an entity with rights, duties and requirements, so when we criticize capitalism, we want to create an alternative system for it.
* In the midst of all these conflicts and disputes that the world is witnessing, where do the Women's Protection Units find themselves? Can you assess that?
There is no doubt in the world and we talked about it when we see the displaced today, we suffer a lot, because the roots of humanity are not like that, today everything has turned upside down, and this hurts the human being, We, the Women's Protection Units, suffer from seeing this, as the biggest victims are women, children and the elderly.
On this land the principles of morals grew, medicine was discovered, and on this land man knew how to establish himself and adapt to his natural life. Social life, on the land of Mesopotamia, and on this land life was born, but what we notice now is the transformation of man from rebirth to urbanization, capitalism and occupation, because the place from which life arose was stifled by the authority of wars, conflicts, killings and hunger, and cutting roots from all sides, it is very unfortunate when we see migration from the region in which life was established to foreign countries.
We are trying to return the authenticity of humanity to its rightful place through the Rojava Revolution, and through the project of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, that is, society can manage itself without authority, establish its institutions and solve their internal problems by themselves, this system is a very rich system, and women in Rojava played their role in this system, and gave special importance to women, who became an example to the world, in addition to their military forces to be able to defend itself.
We, as Women's Protection Units, have worked on this through our academies, our military forces and giving the utmost importance to self-training, strategy and tactics to reach the desired goal, in addition to protecting the liberated areas. As for the areas occupied by the Turkish occupation and the Justice and Development Party, we regather our forces to restore them, and whatever we can to secure safe areas, we can create a safe life for women and a free life for the community around women, so we, the Women's Protection Units, strive to do so.
Weapons are not the effective solution to get rid of violence against women. Protecting women begins with changing the authoritarian patriarchal ideology, which unfortunately most women like, the Women’s Protection Units were aware of this fact, and in order to overcome this obstacle in the course of their struggle to liberate women, YPJ organized intellectual courses to advance women from through educating female fighters, believing that real change begins with women.
* In all wars and armed conflicts, women are primarily targeted in your opinion, what are the consequences of that, and how can they protect themselves and what falls on their shoulders?
As we mentioned earlier, that society is the victim of these policies applied to it, including women in particular, let us note that within the displacement camps, who are subjected to injustice and persecution, it is the woman, we must ask ourselves how we can rid women of this suffering, and that the continuation of the system in its current form will be difficult among the tasks of the woman.
The victims of most wars are children, women and the elderly, to prevent this from happening, how much can we deepen in ourselves the roots of self-organization and knowledge, there is a system of power clinging to it, and this is a visible fact, but if society unites with each other, it can change this system, and if the women of the world unite In the face of this masculinity, they will be able to end it, but in our society there is intermittent struggle, intermittent union, and this does not produce the desired result.
We saw in the Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî attacks, a large societal alliance, and for the first time, societal institutions imposed themselves on authoritarian regimes, and the power of society appeared in public, and we saw this alliance during the battles in Kobani, the society was able to break its silence in front of the authority that is administered on society and it created many developments, as it announced the International Day of Solidarity with Kobani, although the geography of the region is small, but it was able to restore the social spirit again among the segments of the world, and they directed their message to the authoritarian regimes, that they do not accept this unfair war against society.
* With ISIS mercenaries occupying several areas in Syria, a large number of women captured at ISIS’ hands, and during the liberation operations you presented, they were able to liberate them. Can you describe that feeling, as a woman saves its gender?
In the occupied territories, the occupation of these areas in itself is a pain for us. When we see our displaced people from Afrin, Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî, they ask us about their return to their areas. What is difficult for a person when he does not have a shelter to shelter, and this question requires us to be the protection forces of this community. On the other hand, the occupation itself is an immoral and inhuman act. In the occupied areas, women are targeted and their number is greater. The enemy is also aware of this fact, and when we mention the term “enemy,” we highlight the patriarchal mentality that has been applied to it for 5,000 years. Attacking society, values and morals, and destroying humanity.
Authoritarian regimes fragment society and then eliminate it easily, and this image appeared when ISIS appeared, targeting women, kidnapping young Yazidi women, and trading them in the slave market. ISIS mercenaries apply the same masculine mentality applied for 5,000 years, and this mentality is run by the government of the Justice and Development Party and Erdogan, after his failure through ISIS, here he is applying the same mentality in Afrin and Serêkaniyê, there is no difference between the mentality of ISIS and the Justice and Development Party.
* By the Day of Elimination of Violence against Women, do you want to send a message to the women of the world, and if you do, what is its content?
On the occasion of the Day against Violence against Women, there are many appeals to the women of the world, when a woman wants to liberate herself we must realize the danger of the capitalist system, how it supresses our identity and distances us from our true essence, and makes us dragged into slavery, first we must be alert to the policy of the capitalist system and struggle against it Second, every woman must know herself, her entity, her history, and the role that falls upon her, and she must realize what she wants and what she does not want. Third, we as women must be organized today.
Women must be organized and protect their gender, demand their rights and requirements, and hold accountable all those who violate their rights, otherwise their rights will be wasted.
In Kobani and Serêkaniyê, we confronted all attacks and fought the patriarchal mentality, and today we are subjected to threats and attacks from time to time by the Justice and Development Party government. Today we are exposed to the same threats, as the land that fought ISIS and purified the land of its abomination, for that to the extent that you (the international community) can be supportive of this land and the free democratic system with the vanguard of women, In the occupied areas, women are subjected to the most heinous violations, and NE, Syria are subjected to UAVs attacks belonging to the Turkish occupation, and all this is before the eyes of the world. A large number of diplomats and representatives of their countries visited NE, Syria, and got acquainted closely with the Autonomous Administration, the mosaic panel, expressing their great admiration for this project.
On the occasion of the Day against Violence against Women, we ask all women around the world to be of one strength and will, to rise up against violence, and protect women every day.