Ehmed: The rulers see organized and free women as dangerous
Zelal Zagros fought for women's liberation. She was murdered by the Turkish state on 18 January. "The rulers see organized and free women as dangerous," said Rûken Ehmed.
Zelal Zagros was shot dead in Kirkuk on 18 January. Her real name was Firyal Silêman Xalid. She was a leading member of the Kurdish freedom and women's movement. The Turkish state is responsible for her murder. Rûken Ehmed, co-chair of TEV-DEM (Movement for a Democratic Society), spoke to ANF in Hesekê about the targeted murder of many leading figures in the women's movement.
How do you assess the targeted attacks on women?
When we look at Heval Sara's (Sakine Cansiz) biography "My whole life was a struggle" and the history and struggle of women, or when we talk about the YPJ fighters who defeated ISIS, or about how the revolution in northeast Syria is a women's revolution, we can understand why attacks on women are carried out. The attacks are carried out to break women's resistance. Rêber Apo [Abdullah Öcalan] said that the 21st century will be the century of women. The dominant mentality is increasingly pushed into a corner by organized women. The genocide policy in Shengal in 2014 was also broken by the resistance of women. The simultaneous attacks on Northern and Eastern Syria were also largely repelled under the leadership of women. Women-specific and women-centered organizations were founded for the change and transformation of society. Once a woman has achieved freedom, it is no longer possible for her to choose slavery again. Women who choose the path of freedom are seen as dangerous to those in power. Just as a slave is a threat to freedom, a free woman is a threat to power. Those in power see organized and free women as dangerous.
What kind of society does the male-dominated mentality want to create?
I give an example of the wars that are being waged. In the war between Israel and Hamas or between Russia and Ukraine, it is society, women and children who are victims and are subject to displacement and expulsion. The male-dominated mentality wants to create a slave society, a society without struggle, without attitude and without life. The system that women want to organize is directed against the system of male domination. Women are rebelling against this system. They make it clear that they do not accept the male-dominated mentality and reject the system that has been imposed for five thousand years. They break the chain of slavery and strive for freedom. Women fight for a social system in which there is democracy, equality and freedom. An example of the prevailing system is the Turkish state. Turkey is attacking the infrastructure in Northern and Eastern Syria to impose its own system. Society's and women's response to this is organization and rebellion. Today's war is a battle between those in power and those who want to create a free society. And it is women who lead society.
You have known Zelal Zagros for many years; she was one of the leading figures of the women's liberation movement. What kind of person was she?
Heval Zelal was involved in the Kurdish freedom struggle for 31 years. She was a Kurdish revolutionary who fought relentlessly. I had known her for a long time. We worked together in Manbij in 2016, during the liberation of the city, that was occupied by ISIS for four years. To be active in such a place, you have to be strong and resilient over many years so that you can protect society from becoming part of the system. Manbij needed a personality like Heval Zelal. She was as clear as her name and expressed her opinions and criticisms not indirectly, but courageously, without ambivalence. She was also a self-sacrificing person. Wherever there were difficulties, Heval Zelal was there. She focused on the needs of the movement and did not express any special requests. She also never said that she was too tired or couldn't do something. Many of the women she cared for, organized and were her comrades are still taking part in the struggle. In the face of attacks on society, she stood tall and demonstrated clear behavior. She took part in the activities of all institutions and organizations and was an inspiring figure in the liberated areas. Her comrades were very important to her. Where Heval Zelal was, a relentless battle was felt. 31 years of military, political and organizational struggle and the construction of the Democratic Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria after the Rojava Revolution may sound easy, but Heval Zelal's struggle was a breathless journey. She was one of the leading figures who fought for the representation of women in the establishment of the Autonomous Administration. She knew the sociology of women and fought hard for women to regain their essence. She had a humble personality and did not differentiate between small and big work. For Heval Zelal, every work was a service to the revolution.
Why Zelal Zagros and why in Kirkuk?
The women's organization in Northern and Eastern Syria has become a role model for women in Başûrê Kurdistanê (South Kurdistan). There is dirty politics going on in Kirkuk (Kerkûk). The region's Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen populations are victims of the power system of the Iraqi government, the Turkish state and the KDP. Kirkuk is a city where peoples live together. The Turkish state wants to turn it into a Turkish city. It is women who oppose the system that pits peoples against each other, seeks to unify them and deepens chaos and crisis. The end of contradictions and wars between peoples can only be achieved through the organization of women. With her stance, Heval Zelal has strengthened the women's organization in Kirkuk and sensitized and educated people. The murder of Heval Zelal was intended to deepen the contradictions in Kirkuk.
How does the targeted killing of women affect society?
In Rojhilat (East Kurdistan), dozens of women were arrested following the uprisings and death sentences were handed out against women. In Bakur (North Kurdistan), politically active women are being put in prison. Women's resistance organizes society. The women who were murdered fought against the ruling system, and the women in prison continue to resist. Women are in resistance everywhere. The struggle of Heval Sara has grown and reached the present time, becoming the voice of society and contributing to the organization of society. Women's resistance is a struggle to create a system of peoples. Women fight against the system of genocide and persist in it, even though it makes them targets. They are role models for society. The dominion system has built walls of steel to keep its power from collapsing, but the fight for freedom melts the steel.
Hundreds of leading women, such as Zelal Zagros, Jiyan Tolhildan and Hevrîn Xelef, were murdered. What attitude should the women's movement take towards these massacres?
Heval Jiyan fought not only for Kurdish women, but also for women in Syria and the Middle East. ISIS wanted to conquer the world, and Heval Jiyan Tolhildan fought against the Islamist mentality. She was a leading YPJ commander and a hope for all women. For this reason, feminists and women from all over the world should take up their cause and fight against the looting, murdering and male-dominated system in their countries. Hevrîn Xelef was a young Kurdish woman who stood up for the brotherhood and unity of peoples and not only fought for Rojava and Syria. She was murdered by the mercenaries of the Turkish state. Heval Zelal was a representative of Kongra Star and went to Kirkuk to organize women against the ruling system. Her fight was not just for Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen women, but for all women. Global women's movements must resist the patriarchal mentality. Zelal, Hevrîn and Jiyan fought for women's liberation and fell in that fight; they were murdered. For us, every murder of a woman in this world is like an attack on us. We see the murder of Heval Zelal as an attack on all women and, in this sense, we strengthen our fight. All women's movements should think along these lines. Heval Zelal was murdered with eight bullets. Should only Kurdish and Arab women assume their responsibility and fight against this crime? All women have to fight.