"She discovered hidden aspects of herself in the mountains"

An internationalist friend remembers his time in the mountains with Şehid (martyr) Sara Dorşin.

You and Ş. Sara Dorşin got to know each other in the mountains where you took part in an education together. What was your impression of her back then?

At first I knew her as a very quiet person. Reserved is not the right word to describe her but she definitely did not make too much of herself. But her personality changed and developed very quickly in the mountains.

What was she like during the education? What kind of an impression did she make on you?

As for anyone who joins from Europe life in the mountains and in the party is a challenge. It is difficult at first. But despite the difficulties everyone has she managed to develop a militant personality very quickly. Her development from being quiet to becoming a militant and a good guerilla fighter was very quick. She very quickly developed and adapted to the skills necessary to become a guerilla fighter.

What exactly where these features that she developed and that made her a good militant and guerilla fighter?

Concerning the military aspects during the training and military drills that we had it didn`t seem like all this was something she was learning from scratch but more like she had already had all this in her blood without herself being aware of this. It seemed like this was some unknown side of herself that she had in her blood and that she hadn`t known about. Up until then she hadn`t realized that she had such a potential. And when she started to realize all this it led to a very big change in her personality. All the skills you need as a guerilla fighter to survive she had had from the very beginning on. I clearly saw that in her. She was very disciplined and also a very good shooter. The way she moved in the landscape and around trees, her way of reacting to UAVs etc. - all these things she handled perfectly.

So you would say that she adapted quickly to the life as a guerilla fighter in the mountains?

Yes, I would say so. I could also clearly see that in the event where she would stand face to face with the enemy she would respond instinctively in the necessary way. I saw that she had qualities which in the event of a real war would allow her to act instinctively rather than think very long about what she had to do. During the military training I recognized in her the ability to act instinctively.

Were there things she struggled with in the mountains?

Yes. As a feminist from Europe in the beginning she struggled with the fact that she was living with friends from a background where women tend to accept that they are both physically and mentally weaker than men. This was a really difficult aspect for her to handle and something which at some point led to frustration. She was sometimes not able to do certain jobs that she wanted to do because this was said to be too heavy for a woman to do. It was obvious for me that both her physical and mental strength by far overcame her physique. She was not a big person but she was extremely strong both physically and mentally. It can be a struggle when you come to the Middle East where there is this mentality even amongst women themselves that they just accept being physically weaker than men. And for her being a feminist it was a daily struggle to make others accept that she could do work that was as physically demanding as for men. To give you an example: We were building our camp from the sleeping area, to the kitchen, school and the common area. I was working with her in the same team. We were using shovels and pickaxes. She couldn`t speak about this issue with anyone else. She probably felt that me being a Westerner it was more comfortable to share her thoughts about this with me. During our time building the camp she would sometimes be held back from certain works because it was expected to be too physically demanding for women. But she didn`t accept this because she knew that she was able to do these kinds of works and she also really wanted to do them. She didn`t want to be held back from working on the same level as men just because she was a woman. That was something that made her really angry and she struggled with this almost every day.

What were the topics and questions she was interested in with respect to political and ideological issues?

I didn`t have a lot of ideological and political discussions with her because during our free time male and female comrades had different spaces to rest during the day. So naturally I didn`t get the chance to spend one-on-one time with her to have relaxed discussions about these kinds of topics. So this was a side of her that I unfortunately didn`t get to know very well. But still through her behaviour during the daily life it became clear that she learned a lot during the theoretical education in the classroom. So even though I didn`t get a lot of chances to have ideological discussions with her it was still very obvious that she was a very ideological person. I can clearly say this based on how I saw her during the daily life.

Did she participate in the classroom discussions you had during the education?

Yes, but there was also a language barrier. Şehid Bager used to also translate for us. But yes she did participate. Maybe not so much due to the language barrier but she was still very interested and paid very high attention to our classes.

When you think about Sehid Sara what is the most striking memory you have of her? What is it you connect with her the most?

Often times when I see other internationalists especially women, I still see her and it reminds me of her. Because Şehid Bager, Şehid Sara and I were three internationalists together in the same education. So, every time I see and internationalist it reminds me of both Şehid Bager and Şehid Sara. And it also makes me reflect about the foundations the party was built on. Every time I read books about the history of the party Şehid Bager and Şehid Sara come to my mind. When I walk through a forest or walk on rocks it also reminds me of Şehid Sara because I remember during the military training she had natural talents related to how a guerilla fighter should move between trees or on rocks without making a noise. So, every time I walk on rocks somewhere her face suddenly comes to my mind. Every time I walk through a forest or on rocks I think about where I could go in case the enemy attacks. I play through certain scenarios in my head. It is especially in moments like these that I think about Şehid Sara.

Did you also have discussions with her about Europe and her life there?

I actually didn`t talk to her about this so much. Most of our discussions where related to the education and her daily struggles being in the mountains. Even though of course these struggles you encounter in the mountains are related to the society you come from. We mainly had discussions directly related to the struggle of living like a guerilla.

Did you see her again after the education?

No, after the education was finished, we were assigned different tasks. If I am not mistaken, she was sent to the region Gare. But that is really all I know. After the education we separated ways and never saw each other again.

How did you hear about her falling Şehid?

At that time, I was not in the mountains anymore and I actually saw it on TV when I was watching the news.

What did you feel when you found out?

Of course, it is natural that you are sad when you lose a comrade, any comrade. But especially in connection with someone you have spent months with during your first days as a cadre of the party. It is only natural that this has an extra effect on you. Of course, it is always sad when a member of the party falls Şehid, no matter in which part of Kurdistan. But I can say at the same time it made me proud and happy. Also for me as an internationalist it made me proud in the sense that an internationalist friend who had come from Europe dedicated her life to our struggle and gave her oath as a cadre. I am especially proud of internationalist martyrs because the first Şehid of the party was himself an internationalist. So in this sense this is a continuation and it is a proof that the values that our party struggles for go beyond just being a Kurdish struggle for Kurdish rights and the right of Kurds to exist. Şehid Sara`s martyrdom is also a proof of the fact that our struggle is a struggle based on human values. It made me happy to see that she became a Şehid for our cause and that she didn`t suffer from a meaningless life in Europe. That she didn`t die living this kind of life without meaning. So that she instead decided to join the party and eventually became a Şehid is something which makes me both proud and happy.