Çewlîk: 'Freedom for Öcalan and a political solution to the Kurdish question' campaign will succeed

Zozan Çewlîk, commander of the Free Women’s Units (YJA Star), assessed the war in Kurdistan and the resistance to it from the perspective of women's guerrillas.

Zozan Çewlîk, commander at the central headquarters of the Free Women’s Units (YJA Star), assessed the war in Kurdistan and the resistance to it from the perspective of women's guerrillas in a special program on Stêrk TV looking back at 2023.

How was the year 2023?

Before I answer your question, I would like to note that the YJA Star celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in 2023. Rêber Apo [Abdullah Öcalan] accomplished the greatest work of our fifty-year revolutionary march. I want to send him our greetings and our love.

A war against Rêber Apo is currently being waged in Imrali. For us women, his person represents existence, identity and freedom. A life without Rêber Apo is out of the question for us. This is also what the international campaign “Freedom for Öcalan and a political solution to the Kurdish question” stands for. It is a campaign in which the political prisoners are taking part with a hunger strike since 27 November. As YJA guerrillas, we bow to the resistance of these comrades.

Coming to your question, 2023 was an extremely difficult year of war, which, broadly speaking, was managed under the aegis of the sacrificial guerrillas. In general, it was women who took the lead in the war and in the resistance. The occupying Turkish state's total war of annihilation against our liberation movement, which was labeled the "Destruction Plan". It is a military and political concept of annihilation against the dialogue process with Abdullah Öcalan in 2013-2015 and continues at the highest level. This situation continued during the series of earthquakes in February, which affected large parts of Kurdistan. Despite this catastrophe, the occupiers continued their attacks intensively. The YJA Star and HPG, on the other hand, went into passive defense after a call from the KCK for a ceasefire in the face of this calamity that had befallen society and due to the general and presidential elections.

The cessation of all guerrillas’ actions continued in some cases up to four months after the elections in Turkey. This actually offered the country and the government in Ankara a tangible opportunity to solve the Kurdish question. However, the reality was different, and the regime continued its brutal attacks in all parts of Kurdistan - from Shengal to Rojava.

At the same time, various waves of arrests were carried out in North Kurdistan and the political campaign of extermination gained significant momentum. Against the enemy's concept of destruction, we as YJA Star celebrated the year with the inspiration we received from our leader. With their own strength, the YJA Star turned 2023 into a year of resistance.

In 2023, the Turkish state was accused with clear evidence of a whole series of war crimes against the Kurdistan freedom guerrillas. How have your forces' actions developed against these attacks?

The history of the fascist Turkish state is immensely rich in crimes. There is no other state in the world that is riddled with such a criminal history, because its existence is based on the destruction of societies, religions and cultures. We know this reality all too well. It is a state that even burns its own soldiers. Meanwhile, chemical warfare agents and other banned weapons were again used against the guerrillas. The unspoken goal was to break the will of the guerrillas. But once again the reality emerged that the guerrillas fighting on Rêber Apo's line cannot be defeated. The enemy cannot break the will of the guerrillas. And because he is unable to claim victory, he attacks the people.

These attacks are expressed, for example, in the fact that the remains of our comrades who died in the war are handed over to their families in plastic containers. Our martyrs are sacred to us. They are our dignity and also the dignity of the people. Sending their corpses packed in boxes to their relatives by post is an attack on the will of our people. These are also war crimes. Our families know that the enemy is dealing with this, and they know that the dignity of the Kurdish people and their desire for freedom are hidden in these boxes. And it is precisely with this awareness that the guerrillas fight. With each death we experience, our anger and need for revenge increases. The YJA Star channels this anger into effective actions.

After the death of Leyla Sorxwîn, who belonged to the command council of the YJA, the nature of the war changed. How did this new spirit emerge within the YJA Star?

I remember with respect Leyla Sorxwîn, commanders Axîn Mûş, Hêjar Zozan, Gulçiya Gabar, Baharîn Afrin, Dilgêş and all other martyrs who lost their lives in 2023.

As to your question: The Turkish occupying state tried to implement the strategy of driving the guerrillas out of North Kurdistan. The resistance of the martyrs put limits on this plan. Leyla Sorxwîn has been in the resistance since the beginnings of the women's guerrilla. She went to the mountains in Botan and was one of the leading commanders who did great things for the women's guerrilla army. Her attitude has always been an example for us. Comrade Leyla was a person who always brought resistance to a higher level, both in war and in everyday life. When we launched the revolutionary guerrilla operation named after her, we were confronted with the fact that there was a deep connection to the path created by Leyla. All the martyrs demonstrate the existence of this line. The YJA Star has spent 2023 following in the footsteps of our commander and avenging the fallen.

What can you say about YJA Star's effective actions in 2023?

We carried out formative actions and played a leading role in the war. The line of resistance was further strengthened by the sacrificial actions carried out by Sara, Rûken, Rojhat and Erdal. These actions created great morale and sent an important message to the enemy. The enemy wanted to complete the genocide of the Kurds by taking the war out of Turkey without anyone taking notice. However, Rêber Apo's sacrificial fighters did not allow this. In 2023, YJA Star units played a leading role, especially in the war on the Western Front in the Zap region. For example, offensive attacks, raids and coordinated actions were carried out.

Many guerrillas became visible, especially in the Şehîd Delîl area. One of them was Comrade Doğa. I remember her with respect. She was responsible for the mobile units and fulfilled her tasks in a goal-oriented and effective manner, both in terrain warfare and in the resistance tunnels. She took part in a number of actions. The YJA Star's forces have both defended themselves and attacked the enemy. This is important. Many tactics, from the use of heavy weapons to sabotage, have been pioneered by female fighters. This is where the competence of women was shown. Compared to 2022, the level of war and resistance in 2023 was much higher.

Women's know-how in war is more advanced and therefore crucial. The YJA Star internalized warfare. In the north, in Metîna, Avaşîn, Xakurke, Zap, it was women who were at the forefront of the war. During the Girê Cûdî operation, for example, the comrades penetrated the enemy positions and confiscated the occupiers' weapons. This is very important. The YJA Star 2023 carried out a total of 510 activities.

How do you assess the year 2023, and what are your goals for 2024?

Just as 2023 was a year of war, so will the one ahead. The campaign “Freedom for Öcalan and a political solution to the Kurdish question” continues. As YJA Star, we see ourselves responsible for the success of this initiative. The isolation against Rêber Apo is unacceptable. We are fighting for the end of isolation and achieve the physical freedom of our leader. We will never back down. We will pay whatever price is necessary, but we will achieve freedom no matter what. The style and tactics of the current phase were set by friends Rojhat and Erdal on 1 October in Ankara. This year we will fight in the line of Zîlan, Sara and Rûken. This is the style of attack of this time. We will accept nothing other than success. It will be a successful year for the YJA Star. There will certainly be difficult phases that we will face with resistance - just as Leyla Sorxwîn and Axîn Mûş did. We have paid a high price on the path to success, but whatever the price, victory will be ours. On this basis, we are ready for the new year.