Zekî Şengalî - A victory in the war for historical memory

The Internationalist Commune of Rojava remembers the Kurdish-Yazidi politician Zekî Şengalî, who was murdered a year ago by the Turkish state in Shengal, South Kurdistan.

On 15 August 2018, Turkish air force units invaded Iraqi airspace and killed the Yazidi-Kurdish revolutionary Ismail Özden, battle name "Zekî Şengalî", in a targeted attack.

The house press of Turkish fascism cheered. Because Zekî Şengalî had been linked to the cause of the Kurdish liberation movement for over four decades, belonged to the Yazidi coordination in the Shengal region and to the Executive Council of the Union of Kurdistan Communities (KCK).

The cowardly murder of Heval Zekî had and has a symbolic meaning. On the one hand, because it shows the interaction of the US imperialism, which controls the airspace over this area, and the NATO partner Turkey. On the other hand, because it illustrates the furor with which Turkey is hunting down those who have defeated the terror of the Islamic state and promoted the construction of a democratic, socialist community in the Middle East.

The day was not chosen by chance either, because on 15 August 1984, the PKK shot the first bullet not only at the colonialists, but at the same time a bullet at the Kurdish way of thinking that accepted colonialism.

The conditions in Kurdistan at that time (especially Northern Kurdistan) were characterized by self-denial. It was the result of decades of colonialist assimilation politics aimed at the complete annihilation of Kurdish identity. Under these circumstances, the armed struggle proved to be a deeply emancipating and liberating process. Therefore, the population of Kurdistan celebrates August 15 as the day of the resurrection.

But the deadly attack on Mam Zekî is even more than that. It was an attack on the historical memory of the revolutionary movement. Because comrades like Zeki are the ones in whom the history of an entire region, its people, its struggles remain alive. Ismail Özden was born in 1952 in the village of Oguz in Northern Kurdistan, which is mainly inhabited by Yazidis. In 1969 she moved to Germany. In 1979, one year after the founding of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), he joined the Kurdish liberation movement, spent time with Abdullah Öcalan at the party academy and worked as editor-in-chief of the Serxwebûn magazine. He gave 40 years of his life to the struggle. He knew the realities of the Kurdish guest workers in Germany as well as those of the rural village population in the rural areas of Northern Kurdistan. He knew the war and the efforts for peace. He was a diplomat and a warrior, a practitioner and a philosopher. Anyone who spoke to Zekî found a patient teacher, a comrade at eye level, but with the natural authority of the elder's experience.

Abdullah Öcalan writes that cadres are those militants who "best internalize the Party's mentality and programmatic foundations and enthusiastically try to put them into practice. Those militants "artistically unite in their personality the social morality and the creativity of politics". "Firm conviction" and "determination" are as much a part of their characteristics as "establishing the connection between theory and practice" and "effectively fulfilling leadership functions in mass organization".

Mam Zekî was a militant in this sense described by Abdullah Öcalan. And Öcalan adds: "Many groups without cadres inevitably disappear into the depths of history and fall into oblivion".

The fact that the Turkish fascists and their comrades-in-arms in Washington make endless efforts to exterminate these comrades is because they know that a movement cannot be defeated as long as it has comrades like Heval Zekî. That is why they persecute them with such hatred.

The targeted assassinations of cadres, especially those personally trained by Abdullah Öcalan, serve to make the revolution "disappear in the depths of history" and fall into oblivion. But the memory of Mam Zekî also shows that this attempt is doomed to failure. Tens of thousands of people - women, men, children and the elderly - took to the streets after August 15, 2018, attended commemorations and shared stories about the revolutionary's life. Thousands and thousands shouted "Şehid namirin", the martyrs are immortal.

"You can kill a revolutionary, but not the revolution," Black Panthers activist Fred Hampton once said. Remembering Heval Zekî and the martyrs of the struggle for democratic socialism in the Middle East shows the truth of this sentence. Because for every Heval Zekî who falls in the struggle, dozens of others go the way he has gone before.