Manbij Political Council member: We're already free, don't need Turkey

Manbij Political Council's Turkmen member: ISIS cruelty was the biggest threat against us. Now, the people of Manbij govern themselves. From what will the Turkish state liberate us with this invasion? We are free already.

The city of Manbij, which was liberated from ISIS gangs with the 'Operation Martyr Commander Faysal Abû Leyla' that began on June 1, 2016, is under the attack of the Turkish state and affiliated gang groups.

Emel Dede, a Turkmen member of Manbij Political Council, spoke to ANF and said "The Turkish state and affiliated gangs that have occupied Jarablus and most recently al-Bab, want to take free Manbij back to the days of ISIS."

Could you introduce yourself?

As far as I know, my ancestry can be traced all the way to Konya. My ancestors moved from Konya to Antep and from Antep to Manbij. We disseminated to Manbij and its surroundings, Aleppo, and up to Tal Abyad and Efrîn. Our distant relatives live in these regions. My mother is from Manbij city and my father is from a village of Manbij. We are three sisters and three brothers, I currently live with my parents and two brothers in Manbij.

My other siblings went to other countries during the time of ISIS. I had a smaller brother and we sent him away when ISIS came so that they could not confuse and recruit him. I went to Aleppo when I was a child and went to school there as I stayed with our relatives. After undergraduate education, I became a primary school teacher and did my job for a while until I came to join my family in Manbij when the war in Aleppo started. Later, ISIS came and occupied here and we stayed inside our house until they were removed.

Could you describe the ISIS period, particularly from the perspective of women?

First of all, ISIS limited our freedom, particularly that of women. We had a life and nobody interfered with another before ISIS came. Women lived a life of imprisonment inside the house after ISIS came. We could not ever leave the house. Pressures on women increased and we were tortured with the smallest of excuses. They interfered in what we would wear and when we could go out to the street. There was no such thing as private life. First they interfered in schools and later closed them all. Now, women have taken a great initiative and are progressing towards where they should be. It was women to experience the greatest freedom after Manbij was liberated from ISIS. Women now take part in efforts to make the city more beautiful and fraternal. Women from all peoples living in Manbij participate in this reconstruction equally and with their own will.

You participate in the Manbij Political Council as a Turkmen woman. Could you describe your feelings and the efforts of the council?

I partake in the efforts and works of the Council with own consent and will. Turkmen people thought me fit for this mission. The Council involves representatives from all peoples living in the city. As Arabs, Kurds, Circassians and Turkmens, we are working fraternally and with a shared spirit as we serve and represent our people. Our only goal is to revive Manbij. We are setting up new councils. We are establishing the executive and legislative organs. There is equality and fraternity inside the council. No representative sees themselves as superior than the representatives of other peoples. Decisions are not taken centrally but through an understanding that will serve the peoples' interests.

People support and participate in our efforts. We were not assigned to undertake these works; people elected us as their representatives. Everyone in the council joined it with their own will and consent.

There currently exists a danger upon the Manbij city which the Turkish state and affiliated gangs want to occupy. How do you evaluate this situation?

We announce these attacks as illegitimate. People of Manbij are currently administering Manbij. It is really difficult to understand why and with which right the Turkish state invades these lands and other parts of Syria. We want to live fraternally with neighboring states, cities and peoples; this is our philosophy of life. As the peoples living in Manbij, we want neither the attacks or interventions of any side. Children of Manbij have liberated this city from ISIS. Now, the political council is trying to reconstruct the city.

Nobody has the right to intervene our land. We will foil any right of intervention, both militarily and politically. I wholeheartedly believe that the people of Manbij will resist these attacks until the last drop of their blood, until one single person remains alive. People will not simply abandon their liberated land and occupant forces will not simply be able to invade this territory. Until now, ISIS cruelty was the biggest threat against us. Now, the people of Manbij govern themselves. From what will the Turkish state liberate us with this invasion? We are free already.