Martyr Kasim Engin’s obituary for Martyr Bager Nûjiyan
A socialist fighter: Şehîd Bager Nûjiyan – Text written by Şehîd Kasim Engîn
The freedom movement is like a river. For years, exceptional fighters from all four corners of the earth have been flowing into this river. When the process of becoming society, also called sociality by scholars, becomes the ideological beacon of hope for humanity, Kurdistan becomes the home for a person from the other part of the world. A socialist from Kurdistan, as a revolutionary, also sees the other side of the world as one’s home.
As Che Guevara said in his time, “Above all, always be capable of feeling deeply any injustice committed against anyone, anywhere in the world. This is the most beautiful quality in a revolutionary”. These words grace the heart of every revolutionary.
We know that Che Guevara was a personality with a spirit of uprising, against every injustice and the imperialist system that produces this injustice. This uprising is not only with words. It is also not a resistance that is without plan, aimless and frugal. Che’s uprising is taking responsibility for his inner voice and conscience. Che is dedicated to people. His devotion to people is dedicated to all humanity. Against occupation, exclusion, enslavement, oppression, and humiliation, he cultivates an infinite anger and wrath. He wants a just world. He is longing for a world in which human beings live like human beings, together and equal.
Our friend Bager listened to the voice of his heart and, in the spirit of good fellowship and friendship, followed the footsteps of Che and his socialist thinking. Our friend Bager took Abdullah Ocalan’s words, “Do not betray your childhood dreams”, as a basis for himself and followed his path in this sense. Isn’t the most beautiful description of the guerrillas the fact that they are children of nature? Or when one says that they are loyal fighters of their dreams and utopias? Could the description “those who have not betrayed their childhood dreams” be an even better one? Could it be that they are the ones who, in the spirit of the greatest utopias, set out into the free river of life and are inspired? By never bowing down, with their proud attitude, as the strongest weapon for the implementation of justice, they take their heart into their hands and rise up in resistance against death in the most difficult circumstances and conditions – aren’t the guerrillas, with their great faith and conviction for the creation of a free future, first and foremost, those who follow the dreams of Che?
When we speak of Che, it is appropriate that our friend Bager Nûjiyan comes immediately to mind. I met Heval Bager in the spring of 2018. Before that, I had already heard of him. He wrote in a 15-page report, which he had addressed to the party, that he wanted to get to know the new paradigm from close up and learn about it, especially at the Central Party Academy. His proposal was considered to be a sensible one. His report was considered to be very thorough and profound. Overall, his report looked at socialist thinking, socialism and the new human being. The friends told us that he had shared extensive thoughts and deepening in his report. As I myself am also partly involved in the educational work, I also heard from Heval Bager in this context. Since I myself, coming from Kurdistan, grew up in Germany, I always have a special relation to the friends who came from Germany and also a special relationship and attention for the young people who came to the mountains of Kurdistan from other countries of the world. We, as revolutionaries, see ourselves as part of the revolution worldwide.
Therefore, our relationship and attention to internationalists of the world, coming to the mountains, has always been a special one. In this context, I always had a special relationship with the German friends, who came to the mountains, because we simply develop a relationship with each other in a natural way. Well, before I met the friend Bager, I had already been told a lot about him. However, in order to understand someone, to recognise someone, to form an opinion about someone, one has to get to know the person, to spend time together, to experience each other, to discuss – in short, and said in the Kurdish way, to live together.
When one first saw Heval Bager, a calm personality, with strong ability to observe, to listen, to be a bit reserved when talking, but at the same time very enlightened, a person who knows where to say what, and in this respect, with a great awareness in life; in short, one saw a person with a personality and characteristics that are inherent to a revolutionary.
When people discussed with Heval Bager and got to know him, they noticed that he had a profound knowledge and they recognized his belief in socialism. When we speak of socialism, we do not speak of socialism based on domination, state, and the dictatorship of the proletariat. The socialism we take as a basis is a socialism beyond the state, far from statehood and domination, and against any form of hierarchy and oppression.
When we first met, we talked in German. The more I got to know him, however, I saw that the friend Bager could speak Kurdish better than many Kurds. His Kurdish was so beautiful and I noticed that he was teaching reading and writing Kurdish at the Mazlum Dogan School as well as reading many incoming perspectives and explanations in fluent Kurdish in front of the whole school class. I was more or less aware that Europeans are well qualified to learn new languages. Even though I am not aware of the historical and sociological basis for this, I am aware of the fact that Europeans, and especially Germans, simply learn languages. But a person who is from a foreign place and teaches the fighters of this people in Kurdish was really of great interest and insightful for us. The moral evenings among the guerrillas are well-known. When we talk about moral evenings, we mean the following; every 15 days, each guerrilla unit organises a moral celebration in order to develop their own cultural skills. At these celebrations, some friends recount memories, some recite their own poems or the poems of well-known revolutionaries and socialists, some friends sing songs, some imitate the movements of other friends, and, if circumstances permit, there is also traditional dancing, theatre, or pantomime.
A revolutionary or guerrilla is not only a good fighter; since one’s struggle is for the creation of a new human being, it is first and foremost a cultural struggle. One is a fighter against every regression, exclusion, injustice, and inequality. Therefore, a fighter for being and becoming oneself. For this reason, every guerrilla should possess the precision and sensitivity of an artist. If one’s life is not artistic, then it is flawed and wrong, and it is incorrect as a guerrilla to use the wrong methods in life. As Che Guevara says, “The new man is only possible with the developed culture of the revolutionaries”. A developed culture is the love of freedom, and means a proud and dignified attitude against any form of oppression and humiliation!
Perhaps you are now saying “why are you telling us this”; since in recent years, Heval Bager was always at the forefront and played a role, even before all others, both at the official celebrations and on special days and anniversaries held where friends participate with their tembûr, guitar, drums, and their other instruments. Heval Bager sang revolutionary songs at the official celebrations, of course, in many languages and together with the other friends, and he shared dozens of songs one after the other with the others at the spontaneous moral evenings. Every friend watched with enthusiasm the internationalist revolutionary comrade who had come from another country. Especially, when he sang the song of Natalia, called “Commandante Che Guevara”, all the friends were clapping and singing along with all their hearts. Another song that Heval Bager always sang is the song “Sê Jinên Azad – Three Free Women” by his friend Delîla. This song was directly associated with Heval Bager in the school. Another song that everyone associated with him was a different song by Heval Delîla called “Zîlan”. At first I got to know the friend Bager in this way. Without a doubt, our getting to know each other didn’t stop there. The more people got to know him, the more his love and trust towards people became visible, as well as his connection with socialism, and without a doubt his deep love for the paradigm of Abdullah Öcalan.
I hope it is not misunderstood when I say that the environment in which people grow up influences and shapes them. Europe is the centre of capitalist modernity. It takes its centralism above all from the peculiarity that it does not leave a single person alone until they are integrated into the system. It is such a centralist attitude that looks down on other people around it. Up to the point that in the days when people from Africa were sold at markets, there was a discussion about whether they were people and whether their bodies felt pain or not! It is a modernity that is so convinced of itself that it was precisely very humanitarian people who put them in this position. Such forms of rapprochement ensured in the days that Christopher Columbus and his companions did the same thing against the indigenous Americans. At the same time, these undertakings, which deprived people of their humanity, are legitimised by biblical psalms. We can read about what happened in dozens of writings by popes and pastors.
Thus, Europe is selfish and centralistic. And this is exactly what it passes onto its society, or it is drilled into them. Its society and the individuals in it make them feel that they are very special people, thus making them supporters of its worldwide colonialism and silencing them. In short, European people look from above down onto people in Africa, Asia, and of course the Middle East. What I am talking about does not have its source in the good or the bad of human beings. The system of capitalist modernity, through its educational system, does everything possible to put European people into this position. The deceased writer Immanuel Wallerstein did not say, without reason, “We are all a little bit children of capitalist modernity.” Although it is not their intention to exaggerate, to condescend others, to put themselves in a position of domination. All this is also visible in our units.
However, I can say that I did not see even a little bit of selfishness and of egoism in the personality of Heval Bager. At school, he was perhaps the most communal of his friends, the one who shared the most, who interacted with everyone, who tried with all the strength at his disposal to find solutions to the worries of all; in other words, he was a societal role model from his own standpoint and was very modest with his attitude in life.
If one looked at him in this way – if he had not had his red and blond colour – one would not have noticed that he was a German friend. Therefore, on his way to the mountains he had taken Che’s methods as a basis. When Che said goodbye to his mother, it was not without reason that he had said: “Once again I feel beneath my heels the ribs of Rocinante. Once more, I’m on the road.” And when Che left Cuba and set out in the service of the revolution to a still unclear country in Africa, he said to Fidel, not without reason: “Other lands of the world are demanding my humble efforts.” A person who attempts to give their modest help in another country in the world must first become one with the revolutionaries on the ground and the society there in order to succeed in their efforts. The problem is not the backwardness or the progressiveness in these places; the problem is the injustice that happens there, to be able to feel it in a profound way, and thus, to find a little bit of a solution to their problems. This solution can undoubtedly be put into practice through modesty.
The friend Bager was really as much as he was enthusiastic about Che, also a good comrade of his. He was the kind of person who, in order to become a revolutionary, first travelled to the country of Che and then to many countries in Latin America. Besides German and English he also spoke Spanish. Language is ultimately the pivotal point of any exchange. To build a good relationship with people, you have to talk to them. To be able to speak, you have to know the language. Heval Bager recognised this truth early on and wherever he went, he learned and spoke the language in the best possible way.
A fundamental characteristic of a revolutionary is also to maintain contact and exchange wherever one goes. The great Turkish internationalist and comrade Kemal Pîr said: “If I don’t see the faces of a hundred people every day, I cannot remain calm.” Looking into the faces of a hundred people means making connections. To become one with them in spirit. To feel one another from the bottom of the heart. The comrade Bager, both through his exchange and through his unity in spirit, became a mature fighter of the mountains in a very short time. There is no doubt that one cannot always and everywhere meet such a comrade or meet such a friend whenever one wants to. Sometimes fate brings one into contact with such an angel-faced, tender, loving, sensitive, and considerate revolutionary, with great intellect, devoted in his efforts, and by his attitude a revolutionary. Our friend Bager was such a complete and chosen revolutionary and fighter. One is always on the lookout for such personalities and comrades and we long for them. He was the kind of friend that one patiently pushed the marbles of one‘s Tezbî chain onward until he said his words. He was the sort of person that one would walk for miles to see him, to look into his lively face, and when greeting him, embracing him deeply and extensively, and asking about his condition from the bottom of one’s heart and in deep connectedness. He was a personality that people do not forget. Although being revolutionary is something communal, such comrades are always with us in the depths of our hearts.
If I am not mistaken, I had two lessons at the school where Heval Bager was staying, as well. One of them was on the history of Kurdistan. If we treat the history of Kurdistan as a lesson, we are of course not only considering the Kurds and Kurdistan. We are looking at the forces of democratic modernity, which take their place in the front against the authoritarian, violent, and state-based capitalist modernity. When we dealt with the slave-owning Roman Empire in this context, we especially evaluated the internal Christian movements that were in revolt against slave-owning Rome, as well as the movements from the North and the Germanic peoples who, in order not to become slaves, made their way to Rome, wave after wave, and took their revenge. Moreover, also the movements of the Teutons, the Alemanni, and undoubtedly also the Gauls, the Normans, and all those peoples who resisted against the slave rule of Rome. When we deal with them and evaluate them, we try in particular to understand their character. We try to understand and recognise the heritage of those who were not enslaved. From these analyses we try to draw the lessons that are necessary for us. Therefore, the deepening of the role of these movements is very important for us. On the one hand, we recognise the Germanic-Alemanni who do not surrender and do not bend, and on the other hand, the Germanic-Alemanni who are arbitrarily simple-minded, stubborn, narrow-minded, angry and know no one but themselves; we deal with these issues and discuss them.
In these discussions, we accompanied our friend Bager into the depths of German history and asked him many questions. What is very impressive is that no matter where in the world we live, if it is in a place where tribes have lived in a very pronounced way, then we resemble each other. Now, when Heval Bager stood up and explained a little bit about himself and a little about the Germanic tribes, the whole school was impressed by the fact that Germanic and Kurdish people, and therefore also Germanic and Arab people, Germanic and Persian people, and other peoples with tribal traditions in other places of the world, resemble each other. If anything has changed, then especially in the last 200 years, that is, by nothing other than the age of the monster called the nation-state, racism, fundamentalism, sexism, and positivist ideologies which divide peoples and make them enemies to one another. The more we become aware of this, the more we embrace communal and natural life and develop more and more our utopia in the fight against racism and every other disease that the nation-state has spread.
As we connect everything, we see Che standing up in one part of the world and setting out on his way to Africa to bring about the revolution. The comrade Bager also comes from one part of the earth to another part of the world, to another country, in order to take part in the ranks of the revolution for the revolution and freedom of a people with the fighting spirit of his people. In this way we have discussed with our friend Bager in many lessons. He asked and the friends answered, the friends asked and he answered. Is being revolutionary not just about completing each other? If being revolutionary is completing each other, then the friend Bager gave the friends what he could give and the friends gave what needed to be given and to be enriched.
The more we saw the deepening that went on inside the friend, the further our discussions carried us to many places in the world. It soon became clear that the friend Bager had deliberately chosen and had come to the mountains of Kurdistan. In this way, I understood from him the great interest with which the paradigm of Abdullah Öcalan is being received, first in Europe, but also in many other places around the world. First since 1990 until today, he enumerates one by one the new quests that have developed in many places worldwide. Really, the more he tells, the broader my horizon and that of all the friends becomes. When one learns that one shares the same feelings and thoughts with comrades in another place in the world and lives in the same spirit, it expands the heart of each individual and broadens the horizon of each individual. Of course, there is research that we do and study, especially with many German friends that I have met, with whom I have discussed, with the many internationalists that I have met. But I can clearly say that I have discussed Abdullah Öcalan’s paradigm most of all with Heval Bager.
The educational journey was coming to an end. We have platforms before the end of education. Our platforms are the pivotal point for the awareness and change of each and every one of us. The criticism of friends for us and our self-criticism for them – we understand life as worthy of criticism and we correct it. Platforms are our form of action for this. The most effective weapon of freedom fighters is criticism and self-criticism. The most fundamental goal of these platforms is to recognise for ourselves our characteristics that do not correspond to democratic modernity and to overcome them through criticism and self-criticism.
The platform of Heval Bager took place as well. In the platform it became clear how much the friends appreciated and respected Heval Bager. There is no doubt that a revolutionary oneself creates the respect that one is distinguished by. What formed the respect that was shown to him was his socialist and loyal personality.
Perhaps it will strike you particularly, but I want to say it again. The reality that we freedom fighters defend in the highest way is that each one of us contributes to the revolutionary struggle with one’ s own way and colour. We want everyone to contribute with one’s own colour and culture. Whoever comes from the Arab society, with the colour of the Arabs, a Turk with the colour of the Turkish society, an Armenian with the colour of the Armenian society, a Syriac participates with the colour of the Syriac society. Or also Alevi, Yezidi, or another faith participates with the colours of their society. Those who do not participate with their own colour in the struggle of the revolution cannot develop their full potential. Who instead imitates someone or some others cannot become conscious of oneself. Heval Bager had a mature and conscious attitude in his life, his approach, his language, his songs, and the relationships with his friends. In the platforms, his exemplary attitude became a real criticism for the friends who had not written their report in Kurdish. At the same time, he always reflected deeply on the reality of German society in his platforms, because every herb and every flower blossoms on its own roots. So, a German friend should not become a Kurd; to understand the Kurds, an empathic approach is undoubtedly necessary; accordingly, he has done so. Heval Bager was such a friend. He was so united with being guerilla and being revolutionary that his friends admired him. At the end of the educational unit, the music group Amara came to the celebrations of the Party’s Mazlum Dogan School. Heval Bager sang dozens of songs in various languages with the group and inspired all his friends. As a friend who grew up in Germany, I asked him to sing the song “Roter Wedding”, which he did with great joy. After years, hearing the German revolutionary song “Roter Wedding” with the voice of Heval Bager brought me great joy and motivation. Almost all friends knew about the skill and abilities of Heval Bager. Among many talents, he played the guitar and violin beautifully. All students at the school saw and knew that he played the guitar. The friend Bager not only played the guitar and violin, but he also beautifully sang songs to it. There was much discussion and a cultural committee was set up to create songs in many different languages. The basic aim was to write and sing songs in different languages about the great commanders and revolutionaries Erdal – Engîn Sîncer, Atakan – Suleyman Çoban, and Egîd – Mahsûm Korkmaz. For a whole winter, they wanted to create songs together with the music group Awazên Çiya to make these friends immortal like Che Guevara with his song. For this purpose, Heval Bager was also transferred to the cultural work for a certain time.
When Heval Bager was in the cultural work, we also saw each other sometimes, but more than seeing each other we wrote to each other. Since he made very profound ideological evaluations, he sent me some texts to pass on. I had also suggested that he write texts about the paradigm. He also asked me for material and sources on German-Turkish and German-Kurdish relations to do research on it. I collected the material, requested it from archives, compiled it, and sent it to him.
At a time when we were full of expectation for the guerilla of Kurdistan and for the paradigm of democratic modernity, for its deepening, multiplication, and in this respect its new creation in cultural and artistic terms, planes of the fascist Turkish state attacked the Medya defence areas on 14th December 2018, and we received the sad news that he had fallen. It is appropriate to say that all friends who knew Heval Bager shattered. The words had dried up in their mouths! The severity of winters in Kurdistan is well known. In this month of heavy winter, the friends lifted the body of Heval Bager from the place where he had fallen and brought it to the cemetery of the fallen with an impressive memorial ceremony. When his body was buried in the cemetery, I was present. No friend was able to say a single word, but the tears in their eyes did not stop. Almost all the friends who buried him knew him themselves. The greatest anger of the friends was that a friend came from the other part of the world, reviving Che’s way and manner in order to fight for the revolution in Kurdistan and making his last journey among us. Fighters who join the revolution know that, once they take their steps in this struggle, revolution and being a revolutionary has its price. Those who believe that another world is possible know without a doubt that this will not happen without sacrifices. Therefore, tens of thousands of beautiful souls have already dedicated themselves to the revolution in the freedom struggle of Kurdistan!
The attitude of every revolutionary who has turned towards the mountains and towards the guerrilla is always hidden in these words of Che, in the feeling “Wherever death may surprise us, let it be welcome if our battle cry has reached even one receptive ear, if another hand reaches out to take up our arms, and other men come forward to join in our funeral dirge with the rattling of machine guns and with new cries of battle and victory.” As much as we are aware of this, our heart does not let go and does not accept that a friend from the other side of the earth came and fought shoulder to shoulder with us on our land for the revolution of Kurdistan, became the bridge of the revolution, was taken from us and had to leave. We never accept this. With the words of Emma Goldman, “Until the dreams are only a grape in the sunlight”, we, in the personality of Heval Bager, will continue our struggle at the highest level until we succeed to realise the dreams, utopias, and goals of all revolutionaries for freedom.
Our words for life, our quest in life, and our benchmark in life always and at every step:
Hasta la Victoria Siempre!
– An Sosyalîzm to Sosyalîzm! Either socialism or socialism!
– “Jiyan an dê azad be yan azad be!” “Life will either be free or be free!”