Commander Çiyager, a mother's tale

Saliha Türkan, mother of the legendary Sur resistance commander Çiyager said: "When they come and ask me : 'Is commander Çiyager your son?', I reply: 'No, I am his mother'. I wished I had brought into this world hundreds of children like Çiyager."


Saliha Türkan, mother of the legendary commander of the Sur resistance, Cihat Türkan (alias Çiyager) whose famous words: "No matter what happens, the end will be spectacular" still resound in the ears of the Kurdish people, recalled Cihat's childhood and life. Mother Saliha said: "With the shining in his blue eyes he became a beacon of hope for Sur and a symbol of peace." Çiyager's mother stated that as long as she is living, she will always stand by her son's cause.

Cihat was born in 1982 in the village Kedile (Yolüstü) in Batman's Hasankeyf town. Already in his childhood he witnessed the violent aggressions of the state. In consequence of the state's terror his family could no longer remain in their village and was forced to migrate in 1984 to the district Seyhan of the metropolis Adana. In Adana Cihat was enrolled in elementary school, but also in school he had to face humiliations due to his Kurdish identity. His experiences during his childhood drifted Cihat to the ranks of the freedom struggle. After registering in college he partook in the youth's activities, spent the years to come within the struggle and developed afterwards to the famous commander of the resistance in Sur, which has gone down in history.


Salih Türkan described her son Çiyager as being very kind as a child and intolerant towards any kind of injustice, saying: "Already as a child it was evident what revolutionist Çiyager would grow up to become". Türkan stated that Çiyager never allowed injustice be done to any of his friends be it at school or elsewhere, continuing: "One day he became very infuriated. I asked him what happened, why has became so angry and he answered: 'I learned so hard for my homework, I did not copy it at all but the teacher accused me of having replicated my homework and has therefore reduced my points. All my hard work is gone for nothing'."


Çiyager's mother continued; "After he said this to me we went together to his school and we talked with the headmaster. I showed my reaction and asked: 'Why have my son's points been reduced?'. After a long discussion the headmaster said that they will take my son and subject him to a solitary test and evaluate his achievement anew. Çiyager repeated the test and received a total of the maximum 100 points. After this incident the headmaster apologized to my son. My Çiyager was one of this kind, he never accepted injustice be imposed on him or on others."


Already in his childhood Çiyager went to work after coming home from school, to provide his family with financial support. Starting to help at his uncle's shoe workshop first, he later worked also for a turnip merchant. He was without exhaustion in search of new and was always in pursuit of an activity. Even though he was managing every day hard labour, his school marks remained outstanding. He mastered the college examination at the Dicle University in the subject of Mathematics with great bravura.


Çiyager studied at the Dicle University. His mother recalled those years saying: "Because he did not go to work while in college we sent him regularly some money to get through. One day while talking with his father he asked for some more money to be send to him. On his father's question what the reason behind this is, he replied that one of his college friends from Şırnak is in a very bad financial situation and he wanted to help him out".


"He was immensely bright and skilled. Many a person advised him to give mathematics lessons but Çiyager rejected everyone's suggestion because he did not allow himself to become a slave of money. My son used to say that knowledge is as precious as it can not be weighted with money."


Çiyager came to know the Kurdish capital Amed when he was 20 years old, taking part in activities during the university years. In 2005 he decided that his time has come to join the ranks of the freedom struggle. His years long ties to his family were completely severed. Only through one of his friends his family came to know that he had gone, and after some time they resigned themselves to his choice. Mother Saliha Türkan said that for years they tried to learn whether he was still alive, continuing: "We always followed the news in the hope to glimpse at least a picture of him. After our son joined the struggle, the state's aggression against us as his family grew enormously. Sometimes they raided our house, sometimes they stopped our children at some corner of the street and asked them questions."


Çiyager was now embedded in the historic resistance of the city Sur. On hearing this, his family who was determined to leave for Europe due to the state's growing pressures on them, halted their decision immediately. But as words about Çiyager's presence in Sur also spread to the Turkish state's ears, it started to assault the family the more. And no matter how much his mother wrestled with the idea to leave, in the end they had no other choice than to leave.

Mother Türkan told: "I thought when we left behind our son, something would happen to him". While in exile they received the news that the months long curfew on Sur had been lifted. At once she sensed that her son has fallen martyr and shared it with her husband. One can wonder whether it is possible to sense one's child death, but mother Türkan persists on her intuition about the loss of her son and only waited for the official announcement. It was merely a matter of time for the family to receive news of Çiyager's martyrdom. After hearing it, they returned their home.


Mother Saliha TÜrkan continued: "My son Çiyager chose this cause and our forced displacement of our village played herein a decisive role. He always told us: 'Come to know yourselves and do never become slaves of the system'. We tried to become worthy of our son. Like any mother also my hearts burns in pain for my child, but I never gave myself away to complaints. He chose an honourable life against all dishonourableness. I wished all Kurds could bear this in mind and dedicated themselves to their own cause. My son never bowed to any sort of assimilation, aggression and assaults. With his shining blue eyes he became a symbol of peace and hope. With those blue eyes he wanted to lighten Sur. He grabbed his comrade's shoulders and fulfilled his duty towards his people."


Saliha TÜrkan said: "When people come asking me: 'Was commander Çiyager your son?', I always reply: 'No, I am his mother'. I wished I could have brought into this world hundreds of children like Çiyager. Same way, all the comrades of Çiyager are my children. I will try to become a mother to all of them. As long as I live I will stand for his cause. And the Kurdish people shall never forget Çiyager and his comrades, neither the resistance of Sur. For this people they have struggled 103 days against an arsenal of the Turkish state's tanks and rockets."